This deck – The Steampunk Tarot (Barbara Moore/Aly Fell, just published by Llewellyn) – has taken me by surpise. I had a bit of a manufacturing hiccup which has thankfully now been sorted out by the suppliers, but I have to say that this deck has proved to be a pleasant surprise. I was a bit unsure of what my reaction would be when I ordered it on impulse, thinking it probably wasn’t my usual style of deck, but the few draws I have done with it feel unusually vivid and – more to the point – easy. It feels like an easy deck to read (I haven’t read the book yet). And I don’t mean that perjoratively; I know that a deck is only as easy or as difficult as we make it, but it feels like one of those decks that reads itself, flows like mercury. Cards meld and interlock, like cogs in meticulous machinery of mahogany and brass. Weirdly, the last two nights before getting into bed I have shuffled and drawn a card and both times it has been the same card, The Moon, so I thought I’d take a look at it here. I don’t feel that this is a predictive sign, merely a snapshot that the deck reveals to me, something to reflect on, something to dream on, something to leave face up in the darkness throughout the night.
I have always loved the tarot Moon. Who doesn’t? I love this particular one most of all because of the presence of the cat. I like this juxtaposition of the contented cat (perhaps staring disdainfully at the dog; it’s difficult to make out) and the mechanical crayfish; the purring, elegant and poised against the artificial and clunky. This card speaks of illumination, the artificial illumination of the moon by searchlights, forced illumination; illumination of what should not be quite so bright. It seems wrong to force brightness on what should – according to nature – be a symbol of nocturnal darkness. It also depicts a vaster panorama than the usual Moon card; note the sky, the clouds, the tributary of the river in the distance. No stagnant pool this but a silvery thread that starts on the far horizon and comes wending towards us, illuminated either by a single moonbeam or a refracted searchlight beam. The tower facades are typically full of pipes, staircases, oriel windows and probably contain pumps and pistons and wrought iron balustrades within. I love the composition here, where the light falls and where the dark falls, the fierceness of one impinging on the realm of the other, the towers almost out of the card. Why might I pluck this card two nights in a row? What might it mean? I think I know; I too need some carefully aimed illumination in certain areas of my life which I am trying to leave comfortably in darkness. I think it is telling me to turn on the searchlight and blast the shadows. There has to be artificial, forced illumination sometimes because the unconscious mind gets lazy, lulled into complacency by all the trappings of our daily habits – the “mechanical” obligations that rule us – and we let the inner life recede and thus coast along, no longer paying any attention to the real feelings deep down. It’s easier that way. This card reminds me to turn on those searchlight beams and search undaunted.