“It’s a subculture that embraces the simplicity and romance of the past, at the same time couples it with the hope and promise and sheer super-coolness of futuristic design.” – Richard Castle describes Steampunk in Season 3 Episode 4 of Castle
Today’s topic is not so pagan-y, but it’s a fun one anyway: Steampunk! I love this genre for it’s optimism, gorgeous visuals, and sense of whimsy… and that’s why our Halloween party this year is going to be themed around it.
Steampunk is an alternate reality genre that branched off of punk literature and art in the late 20th century,* but 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea is considered a seminal work of the genre. It rejoices in creativity and handcrafted goods. Instead of electricity and factory pressed, mad scientists create impossible wonders made from steam and clockwork, like airships and mechanical limbs. The clothing style is rooted in the Victorian era, with its bustles and top hats, but inspired by punk subculture – so it’s not out of line to see a motorcycle jacket over a jacquard corset or spiked hair and spats.
For a beautiful Steampunk 101, I recommend this slideshow at The Steampunk Scholar. TSS argues that Steampunk is not a genre but an aesthetic (I can see where he’s coming from!) and his definition is:
Steampunk is an aesthetic that mixes elements of technofantasy, and neo-Victorian retrofuturism.
Some common steampuck characters and other inspirational photos are below. Enjoy!
I think steampunk has some things in common with Paganism, like its anarchist leanings, fantastic contraptions that work like magic, and enthusiasm for the human spirit, and I’m looking forward to putting together a steampunk Halloween!
Some links to check out if you’re interested in learning more about steampunk:
- Steampunk mood boards for women and men
- An acquaintance, steampunk author, and all around cool person O.M. Grey’s blog: Caught in the Cogs
- Not cheap (at all) but this designer’s steampunk Little Red Riding Hood is awesome
- Artists doing steampunk inspired work
- And last but far from least: Steampunk + Star wars = awesome
* Of note, the modern goth revival also branched off of the punk movement, and people often fuse steampunk and goth into some really fun visuals. However, steampunk does not have to have any dark elements to it, and goth doesn’t have to have any neo-Victorian or techno-fantasy elements to it. They both do share punk’s rebellious aesthetic and rejection of mass-produced goods (or, in theory they do anyway).