The Steampunk Tarot

Review by Terri Clement


The Steampunk Tarot: The Wisdom of the Gods of the the Machine by John and Caitlin Matthews with illustrations by Will Kinghan

Published by Tuttle Publishing,

ISBN: 978-8048-4352-2

Retail: $19.95 US

From a time and place where Steam is king comes The Steampunk Tarot. Just as you find yourself at the threshold of the Imperium - where things are different, familiar yet not, The Steampunk Tarot is not just a theme-based Rider-Waite-Smith deck, it is more of an immersion into the sub-culture of Steampunk.  

This Tarot set includes a 78-card deck and a 160-page illustrated paperback companion book. It comes in a lift off top box constructed of heavy duty cardboard. Inside the box, you will find the deck separated in two, held together by a white paper strip and seated in a preformed clear plastic tray. 

The card edges are a bit sharp and even though each card is flexible, the deck is a bit stiff, but this should work out with use. The cards have a shiny laminate and are a bit sticky out of the box, but this is nothing that a little fanning powder can’t fix.

The Steampunk Tarot’s 78 card images represent the Imperium. Major Arcana are referred to as The Gods of the Machine and are numbered 0 – XXI. The pip cards are referred to as the Four Leagues (Ace – 10). The Court cards are called Legates and are referred to as teacher and guide.

The Major Arcana or The Gods of the Machine represent the heart of the Imperium and many have been renamed:

The Steampunk Tarot Conventional Tarot
Apprentice ………. The Fool
Technomancer ………. The Magician
Aviatrix ………. The High Priestess
Empress ………. The Empress
Emporer ………. The Emperor
Horologer ………. The Hierophant
Explorers ………. The Lovers
Triumph ………. The Chariot
Engineer ………. Strength
Inventor ………. The Hermit
Time Machine ………. The Wheel of Fortune
Brazen Head ………. Justice
Suspension Tank ………. The Hanged Man
Spring-heeled Jack ………. Death
Spirit Gauge ………. Temperance
Cyborg ………. The Devil
Stricken Tower ………. The Tower
Comet ………. The Star
Moon Voyage ………. The Moon
Solarium ………. The Sun
Regeneration Machine ………. Judgement
Cosmic Blueprint ………. The World

The Four Leagues (Suits) have also been renamed:  Airships = Swords, Engines – Wands, Submersibles = Cups, and  Leviathans = Pentacles.


The Legates of the Imperium are the mediators of the Gods of the Machine and are the ambassador representatives of the Four Leagues are and referred to as:  Messenger = Page, Navigator = Knight, Lady = Queen, and Captain = King.

The card backs are reversible friendly and feature what appears to be a pair of metallic winged goggles with a reflection of Earth in the lenses with a fine gold border 1/8th ” in from the edge of the card. The card fronts have a white 1/8th” border on the sides and top, with a 3/8th” border on the bottom which features the title of each card. The cards themselves measure 4 ¾” tall x 2 7/8” wide.


The artwork in this deck is rich and there is depth to each image here are a couple of examples.

The Empress features a red headed woman with her head bowed, wearing a red cape and arms crossed. Above and behind her is a geared machine. In the background there are two statues. In the foreground there are globe terrarium structures containing plants and a mechanic humming bird. As one of the Gods of the Machine, she brings beauty, elegance and fruitfulness to the Imperium.


The Solaruim shows two children in an inside garden looking in wonder at a small plant that looks similar to a mushroom. In the background, there are several glass buildings. The Solarium brings health, joy and energy to all.  

The companion book is a very necessary part of this deck in order to get the most out of it. For each of the Gods of the Machine there is a short general interpretation, a Gate of Opportunity interpretation, a unique spread, Gear Change interpretation, Blockages to clear and Steampunk Wisdom.

For the Four Leagues there is a short general interpretation, Personal lifestyle interpretation, Interaction interpretation, Impact interpretation and Steampunk Wisdom.

For the Legates there is a short general interpretation and interpretations for People, Process and Events along with Steampunk Wisdom.

The final parts of the book contain larger spreads and information about reading the cards.

This deck speaks a language all of its own and does require a bit of study, reading and practice in order to feel fully comfortable with its style. This would be a fun deck for the live action role player, fiction (especially Steampunk related) writers or anyone involved in the Steampunk sub-culture.


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