Saturday 23 March 2013

Making Connections: Pairing Cards


On behalf of the Imperium Ambassadorial Delegation, Madame Hypatia is delighted to announce that the winner of our draw for a Steampunk Tarot: Gods of the Machine app has been won by Constable Brass.  Many congratulations, Constable! Please contact me so that we can arrange to have your app sent to you by Teslerian transfer. The Imperium salutes you!
6 Engines (Wands)
 Those not so fortunate as Constable Brass can obtain their copy  by applying to

The wonderful virtue of the app is that the cards can be viewed at a higher magnification and so the many details can be appreciated.  It is also, of course, entirely portable and so very suitable for expeditions, dirigible journeys or for enlightening your leisure hours during long periods aboard your submersible. Whether at play or at work, the Imperium’s tarot can guide your way.


Let us begin examining the technique of story making which begins with being able to relate one card to another.  This basic pairing of cards lies at the heart of making connections.  As soon as you lay one card next to another, a dynamic reaction begins. In a pictorial tarot like this one, it is either easy or challenging to make connections.  We can make a storyboard step by relating one card to the next.

Captain Engines (King Wands)

10 Engines (Wands)
For example:  Captain of Engines + Ten of Engines (Wands). Here the Captain of Engines sits in his own hover-bubble, supreme over the robotic army he has manufactured. He has a certain easy superiority, even arrogance to him.  By contrast, 10 Engines reveals the overthrow of machines of oppression, while the surviving humans of this civilization are streaming away alive.  The story we could derive from just looking at these cards is: ‘despite his superior engines, the Captain cannot overcome the will of the people.’

But if we read the cards in the context of a well-framed question, such as: ‘what will help me during this persecution at work?’ we can immediately derive the advice we seek from these cards: ‘the management may make you feel like a machine but remember you are a human being who can leave this situation to fight another day.’ OR ‘you are not just a cog in the machine but a living person with rights.’ OR ‘the human spirit is more than the machine/work system.’

Try pairing cards for yourself now by using the Ladder Spread: this is a descent to the truth by means of three rungs or pairs of cards. You read each pair and then consider the two sets of three cards that make either side of the ladder, so you can extend your pairs into triplets.

1. Shuffle your cards while considering the question or issue that concerns you now and cut the deck into two equal piles.  In both piles,  you draw a card for each rung of the ladder until you arrive at 3 pairs of cards:
2. What is your birth day? – count down through the cards that number of days and select a card from each pile. Cards 1 + 2
3. What is your birth month? – count down that month number in the remaining cards  and select a card from each pile. Cards 3 + 4
4. What is your birth year? – add up the last two digits of the year (e.g. 1969 is 6 +9=15) and select a card from each pile. Cards 5 + 6.
If at any point you run out of cards in either pile, then treat each pile as circular and, as with a discard pile in gaming, turn the pile upright and start again.
5.  Read the pairs as below and then read cards 1 + 3 + 5 and cards  2 + 4 + 6
6. Add the numbers of the cards 1, 3 and 5, and add the card numbers of 2,4 and 6 to create a number under 22 which accords with one of the Major Arcana. If your total on either side goes over 22, add the resultant numbers together e.g. 59 = 5 + 9 = XIV Spirit Gauge (Temperance).

  Cards  1 + 2  = Surface Appearances
  Cards  3 + 4  = What lies beneath
  Cards  5 + 6  =  The real state of things
  Cards 1 + 3 + 5 = What has happened
  Cards 2 + 4 + 6 = What action can be taken about it

Here is an example for Marjorie Macclesfield-Sterne, wife of Captain James of the Imperium dirigible, Argonautica: her issue concerns the safety of her husband while he is on a long tour of duty in the Mystarian Ocean.  Her birthdate is 4th November 2176: which is 4 days, 11 months and 7 +6 = 13 years down the piles. These are the cards that she draws:

Birth Day cards:   1. Ace of Submersibles (Cups)  + 2. XX Regeneration Machine (Judgement)

Birth Month cards: 3. Five Submersibles (Cups) + 4. Messenger Leviathans (Coins)

Birth Year cards:   5. Messenger of Airships (Page Swords + 6. VI Explorers reversed. (Lovers)

Ace Submersibles (Cups)
XX Regeneration Machine (Judgement)
1. Ace of Submersibles (Cups)  + 2. XX Regeneration Machine (Judgement)

On the surface of things, Marjorie keeps firmly in her mind the safe operation of her husband’s submersible and the day when it resurfaces so that they can be happily reunited.

5 Submersibles (Cups)
Messenger of Leviathans (Coins)
3. Five Submersibles (Cups) + 4. Messenger Leviathans (Coins)

Beneath the surface it looks as if Captain James is worrying about the survival of his crew in dangerous circumstances, but that he has not shared his worries in any despatches he sends home.

Messenger Airships (Page Swords)
VI Explorers (Lovers)
5. Messenger of Airships (Page Swords) + 6. VI Explorers reversed. (Lovers)

The real state of things shows that Captain James is slving difficulties by using radical means, even to the extent of ’going out on a limb,’ but that he never forgets his wife with whom he is deeply in love.

Cards 1, 3 & 5: Ace of Submersibles + 5 Submersibles + Messenger of Airships. 
What has happened to Captain James is that during the Argonautica’s  tour of duty, there have been losses among his crew; he keenly feels their loss and may be dwelling upon this.  A sense of over-compensation and a conscientious responsibility, may be causing him to cut corners and take more radical decisions than he normally would.

Cards 2, 4 & 6: XX Regeneration Machine + Messenger of Leviathans + VI Explorers
The action that Marjorie can take about this: her task will be to recover and restore her husband after this voyage. In the meantime she could send him messages about her life at home to give him a sense of the little daily things of everyday life which could practically ground him. Although he is away from home, they can share their love by this means, keeping their affection nourished, so that James experiences Marjorie as a fellow traveller on this voyage.

Adding cards 1, 3 and 5 =17 or  XVII Comet (Star)

Adding cards 2,4 and 6 = 39, 3 + 9 = 12 or XII Suspension Tank (Hanged Man)

XVII The Comet (Star)

XII The Suspension Tank (Hanged Man)
The XVII Comet shows a research-technician collecting samples from the comet’s tail, while the XII Suspension Tank shows a escapologist demonstrating his resilience and skill. Reading these two together, we get the sense of Marjorie’s undiminished hope that nourishes the Captain while he is away undergoing these trials.

Wednesday 27 February 2013

Navigator of Submersibles (Knight of Cups)
Clymela asks the tarot: ‘I am interested in celebrating my life.  Show me my path out of this dreary Neptune reversed period back into the flow of life.’

Dear Clymela, I respond with  a ninefold spread  which is a Petit Lenormand usage. 

So I invite you to see how we play tarot by the rules of ancient cartomancy!
We read the cards in the following way:

A. The central card reveals the core of the issue.
B. 1 + 9 with 3 + 7 tell us the shape of the story
C. 2,4,5,6,8 tell us about the internal drive of the situation
D. 1,4.7 is the Past, 2,5,8 is the Present, 3,6,9 is the Future
E. 2,7,9 is what’s in the mind, 8,1,3 is the hidden motivation
F. 4,3,9 is what triggers this in the past. 6,1,7 is what propels this to the future.

The nine cards are:

ONE: 4 Leviathans       TWO: Navig. Submersibles   THREE: 2 Engines
FOUR: 5 Submersibles. FIVE: Navig. Airships            SIX: XIV Spirit Gauge
SEVEN: 6 Airships R.    EIGHT: 4 Airships                 NINE: 7 Engines

There are 3 Airships (Swords), 2 Engines (Wands), 2 Submersibles (Cups) and 1 Leviathan (Coins) with 1 God of the Machine (Major). The issue is a serious consideration about moving back into social life and its full enjoyment, but the manifestation point is dependent upon bringing matters into balance. There are also two Navigators (Knights), which is useful for this question. 2 Fours reveal that the sense of stagnation is merely a rest before gathering.

Naivgator of Airships (Knight of Swords)
A. CORE ISSUE: The Core of the issue shows the Navigator of Airships who represents the freedom to defend the right and the courage to champion the way forward

B. SHAPE OF THE STORY:  You have been careful about how you assert yourself; this has led to your dynamic drive being held up so that you’ve not been able to move forward.

XIV Spirit Gauge (Temperance)
C. INTERNAL DRIVE:  The ability to steer by your instinct lies within you, as we see with the Navigator of Submersibles taking his sighting by the stars. Acknowledging what has been, but not being defined by it (5 Submersibles), you can determine your course (Navigator of Airships) by adapting to the conditions in your environment (XIV Spirit Gauge) and taking the time to assess and consolidate your way forward.
          The feeling of this combination of cards is that there is some hand-made crafting, where you slowly sculpt your place for yourself. It doesn’t involve second-hand or convenience methods, but uses a real artist’s patience to bring together the ingredients by careful steps.
4 Leviathans (4 Coins)
D. PAST:  Something or someone has treated you with less consideration than you deserved (4 Leviathans) and you’ve learned how to be a survivor (5 Submersibles), but the residue of that trouble is still clinging to you and has made you fear you will be on the end of the next refusal. There might even be some sense of replaying trauma (6Airships).

4 Airships (4 Swords)
PRESENT:  But now you are in the right mode, with 2 Navigators to see you through, to consider your course.  By water and air, you discover ways of blending your feelings and your thoughts. Sit down and contemplate the path you really want before you rush off. (4 Airships)

2 Engines (2 Wands)
FUTURE:  The dynamo is powering up (2 Engines) and you can risk moving forward either on your own or even in partnership with another. Two heads are better than one and socially more fun! You know that you can make the best headway by blending both sides of your nature: the side that does things by hand, naturally, and the fair side that can arbitrate and be considerate. (Spirit Gauge) You gain the tenacity to assert yourself or to stand up for others. (7 Engines)

7 Engines (7 Wands)

E. THE MIND & HIDDEN MOTIVATION:  Your thoughts lead you to be careful of how your pave your path, and you have a strong defensive sense that has contributed here to your sense of being stuck just out of the main flow of things. Your own instinctive path is the destiny that can lead you now.
          Your motivation is blent of a fear of being used and sense of your own good ideas. Exploitation can be avoided when you assess mindfully.

F. TRIGGER FROM PAST & PROPULSION TO THE FUTURE: Your sense of purpose, your survival, is upheld up the good ideas that you still have to accomplish: good working practices, persistence and your care for others shape your path forward.
          What propels you on your path is an aptitude to be generous. Whether you volunteer for an environmental charity or support the rights of refugees or displaced persons, there is a strong sense of you working to make things more equitable for yourself and others.

II Aviatrix (High Priestess)

FINALLY. Because there is one reversed card in this spread, I randomly add a card to augment and support it. This card is II Aviatrix (High Priestess), the card of the lone woman with a strong ethical and educational trajectory guiding her wings. What do your dreams, visions and innate intelligence reveal to you?  Examine these and you will find your way forward.

Thursday 31 January 2013

Do You Keep the Challenging Cards You First Drew?


9 Airships

The London launch of Steampunk Tarot: Gods of the Machine was held at Watkins last month.  You can view the talk that I gave with 124C and Major Jack Squares.

Several interesting questions arose during the question-time afterwards, including the challenge that some of the cards were somewhat dark in their subject matter. This is undoubtedly true as they depict the affairs of the Imperium where war and conflict have frequently arisen. 

In an era when tarot packs now depict topics as various as breeds of dogs to ghosts and spirits, there has been a steady trend for tarot art to become less challenging and more fluffy, comforting or psychologically supportive.   If we look at early tarots, like the Sola Busca or Tarot of the Emperors, the earliest tarot with a pictorial minor, we find quirky, macho images of men at war, serving men at leisure and martial rulers of nobility: they are pretty intimidating.  If we examine early tarot meanings, we find a variety of challenging cards that have become muted over time.  The Swords are largely challenging, the Wands can be disputive or oppressive, the Cups can have an emotional blight and the Coins can be downright hard work.

Every month for the last year, I have sat down and written this monthly blog, but each entry has received few comments and the followers have not been many. Part of this is about the fact that this tarot has not yet published in USA, and that people are as yet not familiar with it, yet I thought I would check this for myself. So I decided, as this is the challenging month February, time of Lupercalia, when cleansing and self-examination are necessary, to ask  ‘Why is no-one reading or commenting on this blog? ’

I drew three cards from the top of three pile cut to represent the answer to this question. These came out on top:

XX Regeneration reversed, Messenger Submersibles reversed, Messenger of Airships

Then I drew three cards from the bottom of the cut, to represent the teaching that guides the top three cards.

XV Cyborg, 3 Submersibles, 2 Airships

Messenger of Airships

The top three are undoubtedly challenging, especially with the first two reversed.  XX Regeneration reversed ( XX Judgement) shows two people emerging from their regeneration capsule, Messenger Submersibles reversed  shows a joyful messenger (Page Cups), while Messenger of Airships (Page Swords) shows the messenger daringly, knife in teeth, about the launch from the wing of her aircraft.

They are saying, ‘You could chose to abandon this association or transform what you have. The spirit messages at this juncture cannot be received while people are overwhelmed. Stay with the challenge of this and find intelligent ways through it.’

                      3 Submersibles

2 Airships

XV Cyborg (XV Devil) shows the part-human, part machine and his dilemma, 3 Submersibles (3 Cups) shows the meeting of three nations to make an alliance, 2 Airships ( 2 Swords) shows 2 rival craft having a truce or parley.

The teaching cards speak of not being limited by the shadow of this challenge. The way in which the Cyborg looks towards the two cards of reconciliation tells me what I need to know: a fruitful alliance is at hand where collaborative energy can meet. I am starting a dialogue which, currently is one-sided, but it won’t stay that way.

It’s interesting that both lines have a major, a cup and a sword. I also note that teaching cards have a 3 and 2, showing that this blog is young and in its fledging years. Cups and Swords say that this reading is about relationship with the principles and discrimination of this pack.


When you draw difficult or challenging cards, the temptation is to slide them back into the pack and reshuffle. But by staying with the cards  we first drew, we often find new illumination. So, in the interests of teaching how we might do this, I kept these same cards and reshuffled them, now setting them upright. I also chose, unseen, three new cards to mix into the shuffle. As you can see, the chief tool of this method of staying with your challenging cards is to ask the right questions. Questions are the key to everything.

This time I asked some relevant questions that had arisen from the previous spread:

1. How do I transform this blog?
2. What do the spirits have to say to those who are overwhelmed?
3. How do I stimulate the dialogue with my readers?

We now have three cards answering each question:

1. How do I transform this blog?

8 Leviathans reversed. XX Regeneration, 9 Leviathans

8 Leviathans

9 Leviathans

Two of the new cards are here; 8 Leviathans (8 Coins) shows a welder at work on a machine, while 9 Leviathans (9 Coins) shows two off-duty airmen enjoying their leisure. They show that the undervaluing I feel from doing repetitive work with no feedback is what needs to be transformed. Maybe I need to let go of it for a few months and have a break?

2. What do the spirits have to say to those who are overwhelmed?

9 Airships reversed, 2 Airships, Messenger Submersibles

9 Airships (9 Swords) shows the dreams of an airman of a dirigible disaster, but this card is reversed. Looking at fears and imaginings in the light of day, with the help of dialogue, enables the message to be joyfully delivered. While we entertain fears, we have no dialogue.

3. How do I stimulate the dialogue with my readers?

XV Cyborg, Messenger Airships, 3 Submersibles

Reclaiming wisdom from fear by dealing directly with the needs of the readers, so we meet on the same footing.

XV Cyborg


     So, if you have read this far, then may I request that you send in your issues for reading on these pages?  I can only do one a month. Answers will be publically shown here, but all  personal details will be unidentified. Please message me on Facebook or append your issue here. I will do my best to respond.