In addition to writing some fantastic paranormal novels, Gypsey Elaine Teague is the author of Steampunk Magic, published by Weiser.
PYN: What is Steampunk magic?
Gypsey: Steampunk is similar to any other magical system, however, we have the trappings of Victoriana. Being a Georgian Elder, I come traditionally trained. However, a few years ago I realized that Steampunk is similar in some ways to what we do in circle in other magical traditions.
Steampunk is a metaphor. [Tweet this!] So I took what we do in a typical Wiccan or Georgian circle, and looked at how Steampunk Victorians would have practiced magic within this parameter. And I changed a few things and left some things alone. It’s good solid magic – I’ve kept a lot of the underlying verbiage and herbs and foods. Steampunk magic just has more of a Victorian heavy brass and copper, earthy feel.
Then when we looked at the coven, we realized that it is like an airship. Members of the coven are officers and enlisted crew members. Currently, our airship has eight officers and five enlisted crew members and everybody has a function. As can happen with many covens, when we first started, we didn’t have a full airship. So people did multiple jobs and from there we divvied up the duties, as a Victorian officers crew on a ship in Her Majesty’s navy. So the Captain is the leader, the Commander is the second in command, the Adjutant maintains the Book of Shadows, the Shipwright secures the circles – internal and external – and the Artificer makes sure everything is working.
PYN: Can you tell us about aether, and its importance to Steampunk magic?
Gypsey: Traditionally, the Greeks considered Aether the air of the gods – the purest atmosphere that the gods breathed. And I think that’s one of the things that’s struck with us as human beings – we’ve always tried to get closer to the gods, whether they’re actual or metaphoric. [Tweet this!] We tried with the first balloons in the 1700s, the balloons that followed, then airplanes, then rocket ships. But the gods are outside our scope of influence or rationality.
The Aether to us is similar to the ki or chi of the Japanese or Chinese methods. It is that energy that you work in. It’s what a lot of the airships fly through, but it’s also what we look through to get clarity for our visioning, to see what we need to do, to strike a course, to get where we need to go.
Steampunk magic is very strong on visioning. One of the first things our young crew people do is build a set of goggles, so they can peer through the Aether to discern their fate and course in life.
PYN: Can you tell me a bit about the use of a compass in Steampunk magic?
Gypsey: Similar to any airship, you fly by magnetic north. In any ritual you’ve gone to, you’ve probably noticed that they use north, south, east and west. You have to know the direction to set a course.
PYN: What are some of the differences between Steampunk magic and traditional magic?
Gypsey: We have a number of different tools we use on our main altar, unique to Steampunk. One is the compass. But the first thing the Artificer will put on the altar is the direction gear. Ours is fourteen pounds of red silicate bronze. It has north, south, east, and west poured into it, and it’s been ground down and is the most impressive thing on any altar. The Artificer sets up the main altar, gets an idea of north, then sets the ship’s compass on top of the bronze gear, and aligns the gear to magnetic north. At that point, he is able to set up the other four altars for north, south, east and west, so his assistants or crew set out the four quarters.
Other things unique to us, instead of casting the circle with a wand or athame, we cast with a key. Our key looks similar to a skeleton key. It’s on a metallic shaft with the airshift crystal at one end. The captain, or whoever’s calling the circle that night, has it on his or her person, so when the ship is turned back over to the captain, the key is turned to start the engine.
And as long as we’re talking about athames, most are black-handled double-edged knives. Our main “athame” is called a “spike.” It is a long, bronze, closed, eight-pointed wrench that comes down to a belaying pin at the other end. We do have three wands, but the spike is what’s on the altar.
Our most favored tool is our rigging knife. Our rigging knife is not your standard boline, but a very rough, black-handled heavy knife. It’s razer sharp on one edge, and serrated on the other because we do a lot of digging with it to carve things, etc. It’s a knife that you can take on an airship, use on the rigging, and cut yourself out of a bad situation, if necessary. Those are the five real differences of our altar.
PYN: I understand you make wands as well?
Gypsey: Yes, and next year, Weiser will be publishing my Witches’ Guide to Wands. My philosophy is, one simply does not serve soup with a butter knife. So to assume one wand does everything is setting yourself up for failure. [Tweet this!] I do make generic wands, and they’ll do everything but they won’t do anything well. So this book is going to discuss 150 woods, all the metals – royal, noble, and base – hybrids, and histories.
PYN: Where can people buy wands from you?
Gypsey: I’m doing Dragon*Con in Atlanta, and should sell about 200 to 300 wands. I have about 100 different species for witches, but I also have all the woods mentioned in the Rowling books for Harry Potter aficionados. So if you want Draco’s wand, I can make it.
I try not to sell wands on my website because Rowling did get it right. The wand does pick the witch. I will sell Harry Potter wands online, but I’ll take a photo of all the wands in that wood and ask the customer to pass their hand over the photo and tell me which they want. If someone tells me, “I need an Ash wand for a ritual,” or “I’m getting my first coven and need a purple heart wand,” or “I need a poison ivy wand to counteract for dark magic…” I won’t sell it over the Internet. But I’ll try to make arrangements to get that wand to them somehow, so they can actually feel it before making a buying decision.
PYN: What’s next for you?
Gypsey: I’m teaching a Steampunk class this fall at Clemson University. I’ve got eleven shows before Christmas to do, so I’m going to the shop to work all the time. I make Steampunk goggles, walking sticks, specialty magical storage boxes, leather tooling, holsters and other stuff like that. I also have a sequel to Fangs and Claws, my vampire book. I guarantee – you’ll read it and say, “I never saw that coming,” at the end. I’m also writing a new novel on Jack the Ripper and His Grace, Prince Albert, in the fall.
PYN: What other fiction have you written?
Gypsey: Victoria X, which is a steampunk novel, and probably the best I’ve written, and Black Ivory, which is about bath salts and cannibalism. You’ll never look at barbecued pork the same way! All are available on the Kindle.
You can buy Steampunk Magic as well as the other books mentioned on Amazon.