Holy Wild, Mythology & History, Social Justice

The Wild Hunt for the Other God


Our knowledge, instead of leading us to certainty, betrays us…

Guiding us deeper into the confused complexity of the forest, the dark wilds of unknowing. This is holy bewilderment. This is the horizon that is forever receding and can never be reached; the periphery that is everywhere and nowhere. We find ourselves spinning in circles. We look for a centered self that isn’t there, and when we find it, it is deeply bizarre. We are confronted by an Other that can never be centered or normalized. This is the call of the Wild One. Welcome to the hunt…

This post originally appeared on Holy Wild, at alisonleighlilly.com

Featured, Holy Wild, justice, Mythology & History

The Wild Hunt for the Other God

The ghostly stag flees, and I give chase, compelled as if by some enchantment or curse to follow. Drawn by the silent movement among the half-bare trees, like memory through dream, driven by the longing for that which is only half-glimpsed, half-imagined, an elusive intimacy, a wilderness so ancient it is unshakable, yet hidden, soaked into the bone. I am on the hunt for my god…

The Waincraft tradition names this god a Power, Father Wild, the primal power of Wildness itself. This deity was originally addressed as the Shaman-Father, but later the name was changed “in recognition of the plights of indigenous populations in which the term [shaman] originated.” There is an otherness to the Wild One, a seed of strangeness in the soul. It is anotherness so Other that it is even stranger to itself at times; and in experiencing itself as stranger, as Other, so it also participates in and shares the experience of the centered Self, looking out on its own elusive being stalking the edges of the liminal, in search of that which is everywhere and nowhere. Nothing is certain when you are face-to-face with the White Stag. That is the ambiguity of the term “shaman” as applied to this god, and the ambivalence the term provokes among modern Pagans. And so the hunt begins…


The etymological origins of the English word “shaman” are complicated (no, more complicated even than that), and arguably the term may not have originated among the Turkish-Tungusic speaking tribes in eastern Siberia, those indigenous populations that the Waincraft tradition refers to in its honest expression of respect. The English term “shaman” comes, through the German “Schamane,” from the Russian “sha’man” — a phonetic borrowing from the Evenki “šamán,” the word used among some of the indigenous peoples of eastern Siberia for their priests.

However, to say that the word “šamán” originated in and is native to Evenki or the Tungusic language family is inaccurate. As best as linguists can tell, the word “šamán” in the Evenki language is itself a phonetic borrowing from Chinese, “sha mén” (meaning, a Buddhist monk), and the Chinese term is a phonetic borrowing from Sanskrit (through Pali) of the word “sramana-s” (a religious devotee or ascetic). Since the Evenki term “šamán” is most accurately translated as “priest” rather than “monk,” it seems the term had already begun to change in meaning as a result of cross-cultural borrowing by the time it entered the Evenki language.

In discussing the constructed nature of terms like “shamanism,” author Mariko Namba Walter notes that, “When these terms are applied to non-Western communities, then, as in the study of shamanic art, the approach must be self-consciously critical and sensitive to diversity among indigenous and prehistoric communities.”* Walter continues:

[T]he generic shaman […] has currency, so long as (1) it is clear that it is not a fixed, nonnegotiable, value-free term, (2) indigenous art is not directly compared with Western art, and (3) the “art” in question is examined in its specific social context.

While considerations (1) and (3) seem reasonable enough, (2) drives a wedge, invoked by the specter of scare-quotes, that continues to separate “us” from “them,” their “art” from our art. In her book Druid, Shaman, Priest: Metaphors of Celtic Paganism, scholar Leslie Ellen Jones examines how these kinds of assumptions have influenced the academic study of the ancient Celts**:

Malcolm Chapman argues that the label “Celt” is in fact nothing more than a marker used by the civilized world of Greece and Rome — the center — to designate “those savages to the north and west of us” — the Other on the periphery. “Because ‘the Celts’ have consistently been peripheral,” he states, “they have always seemed backward and strange to the center, from which our theories of the social world were typically constructed”. […] However, the inherent fallacy of “center and periphery” anthropological analysis is that the anthropologist invariably places himself at the center and the people being studied at the periphery. The whole notion of conducting fieldwork is based on the premise that the anthropologist makes this journey outward, bringing back insight from the realms of the fringe.

We see this fallacy repeated in the deconstruction and use of (or refusal to use) the word “shaman.” To claim that the English term “shaman” originated among the indigenous tribes of Siberia — and not from the Chinese, or the Sanskrit — is to draw a sharp dividing line between what we consider to be legitimate and illegitimate instances of language borrowing. Further, drawing this line at this particular point in history highlights Russian imperialism but ignores the extensive contact of Siberian indigenous tribes with Chinese culture prior to their contact with Western colonial powers (during which the Tungus and Mongolian peoples were just as often aggressors and conquerors as they were those being conquered).

In other words, this interpretation of the word “shaman” only serves to reinforce a version of history defined by the Western/European perspective, in which Russia is a competing and/or allied imperial power, and indigenous peoples are assumed to be culturally isolated, unsophisticated and perpetually in the process of being conquered and disappearing. This version of history is most often put forward by the very Western academics who are themselves striving to be both accurate and sensitive to the cultures they’re studying. Yet, as Jones points out, they also often operate from the assumption of a “center and periphery” worldview in which the studied cultures are peripheral — the eternally marginalized Other. There is an irony in the fact that the modern Pagan’s desire to avoid using the word “shaman” out of respect for the indigenous peoples of Siberia ultimately rests on a foundation of Western academic navel-gazing which nevertheless (perhaps inevitably) perpetuates certain Western-centric biases.


Do we give up the hunt? Do we retreat into conceptual titles — such as Wildness, the Horned One, Lord of Animals — and risk losing the immediacy and intimacy of the god? Or do we seek out the culture-specific names — such as Gwyn ap Nudd, Herne, or Cernunnos, itself a reconstructed pan-Celtic etymological puzzle — and in doing so lose touch with the thrilling pulse of shared relationship that beats in our veins? I don’t know what to think — except that this absurdly complicated and almost-impossible-to-reconcile history of a name actually reflects the nature of this god (who might, perhaps, be well pleased to embrace the word “shaman,” if only to lampshade this complexity). In a sense, as a modern American Pagan, it will forever be impossible for me to “think my way out” of my cultural heritage. The navel-gazing of educated and culturally sensitive Western academics can still only take us so far. We cannot even safely assume that the indigenous peoples themselves can provide us with a clear-cut answer, for to do so would be to project onto them an overly simplistic, monolithic, reductionist view of these diverse tribes, as if they speak with a single voice, instead of acknowledging that they themselves contain diverse and unique individuals each with their own opinions and perspectives. There may be no straight-forward consensus.

My husband the linguist suggests, “Still, it might be better if we could find a native English word for the same idea…” and in the very same breath asks, “But, then, what is ‘native English’ anyway?” The word shaman entered the English language nearly 500 years ago. There are certainly plenty of words that are more recent borrowings which we consider to be unproblematically “native English” without batting an eye, usually due to our own ignorance about where those words come from. (My favorite — which is to say, most tragic — example is the word bikini, the skimpy two-piece bathing suit named after an island where the U.S. carried out nuclear bomb testing starting in the 1940s, after the forced relocation of its original inhabitants to another island where many of them later starved to death, unable ever to return home. Ad campaigns for the new swimsuit style bragged that it was “so hot, it’s radioactive!”)

How long does a word need to be incorporated into the English language in order to be considered “native”? Indeed, it is our very knowledge of the complicated history of the word shaman — highlighted and preserved by the very Western academics so often accused of its appropriation and misuse — that prevents us from considering it to be English in any uncomplicated way. But then, this is true of almost any word. English, especially American English, is particularly good at incorporating and borrowing from diverse other languages, and these borrowings are not always negative or the result of imperial insensitivity. The more knowledge we have — the more linguists can accurately trace the complex histories of words — the more English ceases to be a discrete and easily defined category. The idea of a “native English” seems to falter and lose meaning.

The language I speak is not even my language anymore. I am othered from my own native tongue.

Our knowledge, instead of leading us to certainty, betrays us — guiding us deeper into the confused complexity of the forest, the dark wilds of unknowing. This is holy bewilderment. This is the horizon that is forever receding and can never be reached; the periphery that is everywhere and nowhere. We cannot move from the center to the periphery without, in some way, bringing the center with us. We cannot reconcile ourselves to the perspective of the Other without becoming Other to our own selves and our own perspective — and yet, even this is not really to unite with the Other in its perception of itself, precisely because the Other is not other to itself. And so the very act of Othering ourselves in order to understand that perspective undermines our ability to do so.

We find ourselves spinning in circles. We look for a centered self that isn’t there, and when we find it, it is deeply bizarre. We are confronted by an Other that can never be centered or normalized, and because of the very fact that we cannot pin it down, we experience that Otherness as everywhere.

This is the nature of the hunt. It is the call of the Wild One.

Welcome to the chase…


*from Shamanism: An Encyclopedia of World Beliefs, Practices, and Culture, pp. 21-22

**pp. 27-28

Photo Credits:
• “Still life,” modified by Alison Leigh Lilly, original via Barn Images (CC)
• “Deer skull,” by Alison Leigh Lilly © 2015
• “The Horned King,” (CC) Mark Cummins [source]

Art & Aesthetics, Holy Wild, Rite & Ritual

Tending to Your Joy: Pagan Lessons from Pixar’s Inside Out


Inside Out is a modern-day story of the shamanic journey into the Otherworld, a journey of both self-recovery and self-discovery.

Does sadness have a purpose? Is it just a “negative” emotion that helps joy shine more brightly? That’s the question that this movie challenges us to explore, and the answer is more complex than you might expect! Read more…

This post originally appeared on Holy Wild, at alisonleighlilly.com

art, Holy Wild, Rite & Ritual

Tending to Your Joy: Pagan Lessons from Pixar’s Inside Out

Back, back, back in the back of your mind
Are you learning an angry language?
Tell me boy, boy, boy, are you tending to your joy?

– Ani DiFranco, “Back, Back, Back”


Last week, I took my stepkids to see the new Pixar movie, Inside Out, a story about the personified emotions that live inside the mind of an 11-year-old girl named Riley. Spoiler alert: not only was it fun for the whole family — with lots of laughs (pretty much every time Lewis Black had a line) and tears (damn you, Pixar, and your ruthless tugging of my heartstrings) — but it was also a fascinating exploration of what a Pagan might call the “inner landscape,” the wilderness of the soul. From the fey bizarreness of Imagination Land and Dream Production to the perilous realm of Abstract Thinking, the shadowy caverns of the Subconscious, and the vast labyrinthine halls of Long Term Memory (maybe they even lead into the Akashic records?)…

It was particularly interesting to see how each of my stepkids responded to the movie. The youngest (who is ten years old) demanded to know why love wasn’t included as one of the emotions. “Is love just an emotion,” I asked her, “or is it an action, something we choose to do?” After a somewhat skeptical pause, she replied, “No, it’s an emotion!”

Kids. They say the darnedest things. You never know what they’re picking up by osmosis from the rest of society, even without you realizing it.

When I asked them what they thought the movie was trying to say, the littlest piped up again, “That you can’t really appreciate good things like joy, without the bad things, like sadness. You have to have bad things so that the good things stand out more.”

“Really? Where did you learn that?” I asked her. I like to torture my kids with the Socratic method, which has led to some awesome conversations but can also sometimes backfire. This time, I was just too surprised to sound dispassionately curious. The kids could tell that I Had Opinions, and it put them on the defensive.

“I didn’t learn it anywhere, nobody told it to me. It’s just true!” the youngest objected.

There are lots of adults who believe this, too. In fact, there are a lot of Pagans who will use exactly this explanation for why we embrace both darkness and light, both life and death, as essential and sacred aspects of the spiraling cycle of existence. And that’s a fine explanation, as far as it goes…


The trouble is, it doesn’t actually get us very far. This kind of dualism doesn’t even get us to the heart of what Inside Out is challenging us to question: whether our classifications of the world — as well as our own inner landscape and its denizens — as good or bad, positive or negative, useful or useless, is maybe missing the point.

We are used to thinking of certain emotions like anger, fear and sadness, as “negative”… and yet, in the wilds of the inner world, each serves a purpose. Inside Out introduces us to Fear as a desire for safety and stability that allows us to assess risks and plan for the future. The emotion of Anger, the movie suggests, is rooted in our desire for fairness and equality, our need to see that the world is both just and beautiful (and doesn’t contain an abomination like broccoli pizza). Even Disgust (who also has something to say about broccoli pizza) has a role to play: helping us to establish and maintain healthy boundaries, to keep out the literal and metaphorical poisons that might harm us.

And what about Sadness? Does it have a purpose? Is it just a “negative” emotion that we should only acknowledge when we need it to help Joy shine more brightly? That’s the question that Inside Out challenges us to ask ourselves, and it’s what the story of 11-year-old Riley and her emotional upheaval attempts to explore. The belief that “we need negative things so that we can appreciate positive things” is where the story begins, but it’s definitely not where we end up by the closing credits.

My oldest stepdaughter, by now a well-trained diplomat and peacemaker in family arguments conversations, asked me what I thought the movie was trying to say. “I think the movie is saying that Sadness helps us to connect with others, and it invites others to connect with us.” I told her. “Sadness allowed Riley to be vulnerable and open, and she was also able to be gentle and compassionate with others, to offer them a safe space when they were feeling vulnerable. Joy is fun and uplifting, but she can be kind of relentless, even selfish, when she’s not tempered by this awareness of how fragile we all can be sometimes…”


Inside Out is not only about discovering the meaningfulness of Sadness, but coming to appreciate the limitations of Joy — why a life (and a society) built around the pursuit of happiness can sometimes lead us astray. Throughout the movie, Joy struggles to lug around an armful of glowing, bowling-ball-sized memories of happy childhood moments, to hold onto them no matter what and protect them from any touch of Sadness (who can’t seem to help wanting to reach out and touch everything). When we become hoarders of happiness — whether these are experiences of earthly joys, or moments of spiritual ecstasy and divine blessing — those experiences can become a burden that keeps us from living a full and adventurous life. Without such experiences, it’s true that we can begin to shut down. But when we obsess over our own happiness as if it were an emotional commodity, something we can acquire, possess or consume, we risk losing our way and cutting ourselves off from the fullness of life in complex relationship with the world around us.

Meaningful, complex relationships require us to nurture complex inner lives, in which a diversity of desires and values can thrive. Another thing I’ve heard a lot of adults (who really should know better) claim is that “you can’t control your emotions.” This is one of those half-truths that can easily become an excuse to get a little lazy in our journey towards self-knowledge. And it’s one that Inside Out grapples with in a surprisingly nuanced way, considering it’s a kids movie featuring a talking pink elephant-cat-hybrid.

Can you control your emotions? Should you? I winced when, at the beginning of the movie, Riley’s mom asks her to keep smiling because her joyful presence is such a big help as their family struggles with their move to a new city. Warning bells were going off in the parenting part of my brain: You don’t ask a child to be happy for your sake! Riley’s Joy, who acts a lot like a loving inner-parent at times, also tries to circumscribe the role of Sadness in Riley’s inner life. Like many of us, Riley has both internal and external forces at work, and her own emotions play a role in keeping each other in check. Later, after Joy and Sadness get sucked away and lost in the wilds of Riley’s inner landscape — leaving only Anger, Fear and Disgust to man the control board at Headquarters — these three remaining emotions frantically try to keep things running until Joy gets back. They try to “do what Joy would do”… and of course, this only leads to one mess after another.


Is this simply Riley trying to “control her emotions” and failing? Is the problem that she isn’t letting her emotions direct her actions, or do they have too much control? What’s really going on here?

Pagans might call this problem “soul fragmentation.” There are numerous practices and traditions that center on the process of retrieving those bits and pieces of ourselves that have gotten lost or forgotten as the result of trauma in our lives. Inside Out is a modern-day story of the shamanic journey into the Otherworld, a journey of both self-recovery and self-discovery.

In this Other-/inner world, we encounter guides and companions that help us along the way and provide us with magical gifts, as well as monsters lurking in the dark… and even mischievous sprites who delight in niggling us with annoying TV ad jingles. A product of our modern mostly-materialist society, Inside Out portrays this world as entirely within a person’s individual mind, but many cultures from around the world have understood that there are no hard-and-fast boundaries between what is “inside” and what is “out.” The inner world and the Otherworld mix and mingle, with only a thin, ever-shifting veil between them. Either way, the journey into the wilds of this inside-out realm serves the same purpose: it is a time when we are tried and tested, when we discover wildly diverse aspects of ourselves and learn what their strengths and limitations really are.

Inside Out even offers us a peek of what might happen if we fail in this endeavor. If you’re one of those folks who likes to sit through a movie’s end credits, you’ll be treated to glimpses “inside” a number of other characters — including the pizzeria hipster chick, the “cool girl” at school, and the angry bus driver. These glimpses are not only funny but shockingly poignant, as they show individuals whose emotions have been reduced to poor copies of each other. The hipster chick’s emotions all roll their eyes along with her Disgust; the bus driver has five versions of Anger at the wheel, all fuming over the traffic. When Joy and Sadness are lost, we see Riley begin to slip down this path as well — her other emotions try to imitate Joy, to make up for that absence. When we lose touch with a part of ourselves, other aspects of the self may step in to try to “play the part.” Perhaps there was a time when that angry bus driver lost touch with his sense of fairness and justice, and so eventually his own joy, disgust and fear were enlisted to compensate. How many of us have done the same, mistaking our self-righteousness or rage for a sense of joy?


Ultimately, the shamanic journey of soul retrieval is about restoring our integrity, the wholeness of the self. Through this journey into the Otherworld, we find that dynamic balance in which our own complexity and inner diversity can shine. When we lose our sense of joy — or our ability to grieve, or our desire for justice, or our strength to maintain healthy boundaries — then we need to “practice happiness,” as the singer Ani DiFranco puts it, tending to our joy, or our sorrow, or our anger. This isn’t merely trying to exert control over our emotions. It’s about cultivating inner flexibility and creativity. The result of such a journey is a wild and complex inner landscape, in which the many aspects of ourselves continually challenge and temper one another, engaged in an on-going sacred conversation of discovery. May we find ourselves centered and grounded in the harmonies of those many voices.

Photo Credits:
All pictures are screenshots from Inside Out, ©2015 Disney•Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

While You’re Wondering:

Are Pixar movies secretly animist? Check out this fascinating article on the personhood of non-humans in Pixar films.

Holy Wild, Rite & Ritual

Q&A: Do you have a familiar?

This question comes from an anonymous user over on Tumblr, where a post about my cat, Cu Gwyn, that I wrote last year has been making the rounds. Anon asks:

Do you have a familiar?

I should probably answer this question with a modest, “No.” Especially if I don’t want to piss off any Trad Witches, some of whom no doubt have spent years studying various medieval texts detailing the practices of cunning-folk and witch-trial testimonies about various dealings with faery cats, demon rats and otherworldly toads. They’d be justifiably angry with me if I went around claiming to practice something that has so many serious books written about it, of which I’ve read exactly none. Aside from the usual stereotypes about witches and their black cat companions, all I know about the concept of the familiar is what a quick Google search can tell me. I don’t claim any extensive knowledge or experience about the use of familiars in magic, ancient or modern.


I’m also not really the New Age type who thinks, just because my cat happens to enjoy watching me wave incense around making a fool of myself in front of my altar, that he has any actual interest in my spiritual or magical development. If he is a wise old soul, he is of a relatively indifferent kind — I imagine that, of his nine lives or more, this incarnation must be his equivalent of retiring to Florida. (He is curled up on the couch next to me as I write this, and when I ask him his opinion, he barely deigns to twitch an ear, his eyes resolutely closed, as if to say: I’m well aware that you’re trying to disturb my nap, which is why I’m ignoring you.) He is much more interested in what time I feed him dinner, than he is in aiding me in my rituals or spellwork.

Still, there is something about my Cu Gwyn that borders on the magical at times. The night after I found him as a stray 6-week-old kitten hiding under our car, I had a bizarre dream about being attacked by a horrible beast with knives for fingers… The next day when I took him in for his first checkup, the vet discovered some half-healed wounds on his belly, probably inflicted by a dog or another feral feline he’d encountered. I could shrug that off as coincidence, the result of an overactive and overly-sympathetic imagination. Except that I’ve had what seem to be “psychic dreams” on many occasions since Cu joined our family — the most vivid of them almost always involving chasing mice, a signal that I was sure to wake up the next morning to find evidence of them in the kitchen. My husband has had similar dreams. I’m a skeptic by nature, though, so I tend to shrug these experiences off as the promptings of my subconscious, which must have picked up on some subtle sign my conscious mind failed to notice.

But there’s no arguing that Cu Gwyn positively exudes personality. I’m sure a lot of pet owners feel this way about their companion animals. I’m not ashamed of taking that feeling seriously, and treating our cat like a member of the family. Scientists may still argue over levels of consciousness and intelligence in non-human animals — coming to a grudging consensus recognizing non-human consciousness as recently as 2012 — but having lived with animals of various sorts all my life (including cats, dogs, fish, frogs, rats, mice and, on one occasion, a newborn wild rabbit), I have no doubt that these beings possess consciousness, intelligence and personalities all their own. (Hell, if even cockroaches have personalities, how can we doubt that our feline friends do?) It is not mere sentimentality that leads me to sense a wakeful, minded being before me when I look into my cat’s sleepy eyes.

This is why I joke about my cat being my “familiar.” Though he may not realize it, his very presence in my life is an abiding reminder to attend to the familiar things that I may otherwise overlook. Through his languid resistance to my requests for cuddles, he reminds me that the world is not made up solely of my own needs and desires. Cu Gwyn is my familiar when he reminds me:

It’s about the simple companionship of ordinary objects and creatures and beings, and the way their presence shapes our lives even when we think we’re not paying attention. A part of us is always paying attention. There is always something within us that is attending to the textures and contours of things.

Over the past few years as I’ve walked a path more and more shaped by animism, shamanism and totemic work, I’ve felt the pressing need to remain grounded in the real, physical beings that surround me and share the land with me. I attend to the birds in my neighborhood — not the idea of birds I read in some book, or the imagined experience of a bird in meditation — but these particular birds, here and now. The two finches, say, who return each year to nest in my front yard, whose quirks and calls and favorite perches become known to me the same way the habitual movements and muffled noises of my human neighbors do.

One of the challenges of totemic work, I think, is learning to resist the seductive call of the exotic, not to go rushing off towards some other cultural paradigm that seems more interesting than our own…. But instead, to stay rooted in the familiar landscapes and communities around us, which so desperately need us to wake up to our relationships with them. To truly awaken to these familiarities as fully as we can.

And there is nothing more familiar than the placid gaze of my cat beside me.

Do you work with familiars as part of your practice? Do you have a pet or companion animal who has shaped your spiritual path? (Are you a Trad Witch who would like an apology for how under-researched this post is?) Let me know!

Have another question for the Q&A series? Leave it in the comments below, ask me on Tumblr, or email me.

Holy Wild, Muse in Brief

A Steampunk Meditation for Self-Transformation

Today I have a guest post up over on Nimue Brown’s ever-inspiring blog, Druid LifeSteampunk Meditation for Self-Transformation, a blending of Victorian-era esoterica and glibly modern steampunkishness inspired in part by the ancient Three Cauldrons of Poesy. Here’s an excerpt:

What are the Triple Springs? Although the recovered manuscripts are far from complete and I have been unable to find any single, conclusive description of the Triple Springs among the documents as yet, my impression is that these “centers of energetic rotation” are similar to what we might now call “chakras.” This concept of there being energy centers in the body is found in many different spiritual traditions, including the chakras of Hindu metaphysics, the dantian (also known as the Three Cinnabar Fields) of Taoism, and the Three Cauldrons of Poesy described in ancient Celtic poetry. Descriptions of the Triple Springs elsewhere in the collected manuscripts of M. Collwaters suggests an alignment which places the lowest Spring just below the navel, the middle Spring in line with the heart in the center of the chest, and the highest Spring on the brow or crown of the head.

The meditation (and yes, it works) is my latest contribution to the anarchic, silly, and in no way secretive Secret Order of Steampunk Druids, which coalesced sometime back in 2012 between sips of tea and chap hop battles.

If you're not a member of the Secret Order of Steampunk Druids, well -- why the hell not?
If you’re not a member of the Secret Order of Steampunk Druids, well — why the hell not?

Looking for more on Steampunk Druidry? Here’s a collection of previous posts that I’ve been able to cobble together:

If you have a post you’d like to contribute to this illustrious and growing body of work, let us know!

Also, on a more personal note, people living in the UK make me feel lazy. Here I am, sitting at the computer still in my bathrobe sipping my morning tea, while Nimue has already been up for hours and is probably just settling down to her evening tea!

I mean, seriously? 9:30 AM is far too early for it to be 5:30 PM!
I mean, seriously? 9:30 AM is far too early for it to be 5:30 PM!

Photo Credit: “Steampunk Worlds Fair” by Anna Fischer (CC) [source]