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.