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Steampunk Magic:

Working Magic Aboard the Airship

By Gypsey Elaine Teague
published by Weiser Books, 2013

Reviewed by Dana Doerksen, Librarian at The Seattle Metaphysical Library

Steampunk Magic: Working Magic Aboard the Airship by Gypsey Elaine Teague is a guide to a new and inventive magical system developed using the icons, symbols, style and stories of the Steampunk movement. The book discusses the origins and basis for Steampunk Culture and then dives into to describing the magical system and group formation and administration. The ritual tools, altar items and attire are described including different ways of manufacturing or procuring your own.

The final chapters give basic examples of rituals that any system of magic would include in their collection as well as methods of divination and spellwork. There is a fairly extensive resources section which includes books, online shops and conferences to explore. Teague's purpose is clearly to set out the basics for would-be Steampunk magicians and to encourage them to use their own research and imagination to enhance their practice. The book is aimed at an audience that has some familiarity with magical practice or Steampunk Culture or both. I think that it is probably a bit too thin on magical information for someone who is new to magic and its practice in general. I do not think that it was the author's intent to write a 101 type magical book, but instead to introduce a new way to work within this particular popular culture.

Gypsey Teague is an accomplished magician, author, lecturer, university library branch manager, and is one founders of the Upstate Steampunk Conference in South Carolina. A trip to Teague's website ( demonstrates her diverse interests, talents, and varied educational background. She has advanced degrees in Business Administration, Landscape Architecture, Regional and City Planning, Library and Information Science, and Community Mental Health Counseling. She is a High Priestess in the Georgian Tradition of Wicca and the Icelandic Norse traditions. Teague often presents at library, popular culture, and Pagan conferences on various topics. When she isn't writing, you will often find her in her workshop crafting something new, like a Steampunk inspired wand or walking stick or trying to recreate an older art, like a wooden bucket. Who better to innovate a new magical system around the Steampunk Culture.

The first section of the book takes on the question, "What is Steampunk Culture?" Teague argues that it is a "Victorian science fiction grown-up, a futuristic Victoriana, where anything is possible as long as you don't use too much electricity, gas, diesel or atomic power." Popular works of science fiction of the time, such as H.G. Wells, Jules Verne, and Mary Shelley, are used as a vehicle to explore what might have been in an alternative future. The Steampunk movement started in the 1980's and is still gaining in popularity. New literature, movies, magazines, fashions, conventions, balls, and music are all available to discover by the avid Steampunk fan.

Steampunk Magic itself is based on the travel through and manipulation of the substance known as the Aether. Aether was believed by the Greeks and others to be the material that is said to fill the region of the universe above the earth and the known planets. Steampunk magic does not revolve around any particular deity or deities but incorporates aspects of the culture and times of the Victorian era and the works of such authors as H.G. Wells, Jules Verne, Mary Shelley, Edgar Allan Poe and scientists like Nikola Tesla.

The rest of the book focuses on building your Steampunk Airship Crew and assembling all of the magical tools, altar items and attire that you will need to begin your journey. For example, the four basic steampunk styles of dress that Jeff Vandermeer proposes in his book, The Steampunk Bible, are used to populate your group (or Airship) with various task or subject specialists. There is a nice table on page forty-five which presents the roles of these crew members. The altar requires a compass and large cog and the elements symbolic of the fuel needed to power the ship. Teague also includes some basic ritual construction and spellwork for various needs to help you get on your way. The book concludes with an extensive resources section that includes a list of books for further study and inspiration and other online resources to help outfit your airship and attire your crew.

Steampunk Magic: Working Magic Aboard the Airship was an entertaining and informative read. It is clearly written for an audience that has some previous magical knowledge and wishes to add elements of Steampunk Culture to their practice. I can't imagine that anyone who didn't love all things Steampunk would endeavor to create such a practice for themselves, but I know many who do and would take on the challenge with energy and creativity. This book is a great starting point for further research and invention.