Tag Archives: Interview

The Secret Key to the Tarot Interview

Reblogged  with the author’s blessing from https://siriusrising777.wixsite.com/

Occult Times interviews the author Sirius Rising about his latest book, “The Secret Key to the Tarot”.

Occult Times: This is the second book you’ve written about Tarot.

Sirius Rising: Yes, that’s correct. My first book is The Tarot and Sex Magick.

Occult Times: Why did you feel the need to write another Tarot book.

Sirius Rising: The Tarot and Sex Magick is really meant for the advanced Tarot and Magick student. The Sex Magick techniques in the book are based on the teachings of Aleister Crowley.

I never recommend that a student begins his or her journey into Magick with Crowley. He’s really a place to end, rather than a starting point. It’s true that I began my spiritual path with the inspiration of Crowley, but I wouldn’t advise that for everyone.

Also, the Tarot and Sex Magick book also looks into curses. That is not a popular subject these days. There is also a dark side to the Tarot not much understood by Tarot readers today.

Occult Times: Would you say that the rituals in the book, namely sex magick and curses are Black Magick?

Sirius Rising: Well, only in the sense that any rituals designed to achieve material gains are a form of black magick. Personally, I see little distinction between White and Black Magick. They are both about the subjugation of the magician’s Will. When the Christian, Muslim or Jew worships God and puts their lives in His hands, then they have subjugated their Will to God. That is what White Magick really is, and clearly a huge percentage of the world practices White Magick.

There is also a lesser known Middle Way Magick, which is known as Buddhism. But that’s a story to be told in another book.

Occult Times: So, would you say that your new book “The Secret Key to the Tarot” is an introduction to Tarot or Magick?

Sirius Rising: Well, both really. There have, of course, been many excellent introductions to the Tarot written over the past 100 years. Crowley’s Book of Thoth is a masterpiece in that it explains Tarot’s profound link with the Ancient Mystery Traditions  such as the Qabalah. Apart from “Magick without Tears”, Crowley never wrote in a simple manner as he assumed he was writing for his disciples who were already thinking in harmony with his philosophy.

My book looks at the Tarot as an initiation ritual that many call the Path of the Fool. It’s an initiation that we all take in our own lives. They are rites of passage in life, which are the way markers and sign posts. Unfortunately, most people get hopelessly lost on the journey of life. This ends in confusion, resentment and ultimately despair. The Tarot is the perfect spiritual road map. I have little doubt, as Crowley did, that Tarot was carefully formulated in Ancient Egypt by the priest class as a gift to their fellow human beings.

Occult Times: Can you sum up the Path of the Fool?

Sirius Rising: The first half of the new book examines the Path or journey that all of us take. It consists of an outbound and an inbound journey. The Path of the Fool is the Major Arcana. The first 11 cards from the Fool to the Wheel of Fortune describe the outward journey. This is really the descent of the young and seeking soul from her blissful state of rest in the Great Mother’s womb into the chaos and chance of the material world. If you like, it’s the same descent from Kether to Malkuth in the Tree of Life.

The next 11 Major Arcana describe the inward journey back to the beginning point of the next life. All of us take our experience from this life and feed it back into our collective unconscious state ready for the next reincarnation. But as I said, the journey can be a lot less confusing with a tool such the Tarot to guide you.

Occult Times: You describe the book as an introduction to Tarot. Does that include how to use traditional spreads such as the Celtic Cross?

Sirius Rising: Yes, most certainly. After the card descriptions and how they relate to the Path of the Fool, I examine three different readings from real life by using three different spread techniques. When I say from beginner to advanced user, I mean that not only will the student be able to read the cards for themselves or for a client, but they will be approaching the readings from a magical or occult perspective.

Occult Times: What is your next book about?

Sirius Rising: I’m working on a book that shows the Path of the Fool from a Buddhist point of view. Again, with Tarot being used as a tool to illuminate the Buddhist teachings. This is what I referred to as the Middle Path of Magick.

Occult Times: I look forward to interviewing you about that book.

You can find The Secret Key to the Tarot here – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Secret-Key-Tarot-beginner-advanced-ebook/dp/B07BPCZ6YQ/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr= 

The BDSM Lifestyle: An Interview With Author Dena Celeste by Rie McGaha

Rie McGaha interviews Dena Celeste

Warning: This article is Adult rated (as so is our site) and may not be suitable for all audiences, particularly those under the age of 18.





Rie McGaha: Welcome to The Pagan & The Pen Interviews, Dena Celeste. I am thrilled to be able to chat with you and get the low-down on this whole BDSM lifestyle. First, let me apologize if my questions seem silly, but this is new to me and I find it quite fascinating!

Dena Celeste: Thank you! No question is too silly, honestly, and everyone starts at the beginning. *smiles*

Rie McGaha: What is BDSM?

Dena Celeste: BDSM is an acronym that stands for a few different things: Bondage & Discipline, Dominance/submission, and Sadism/masochism. It’s really a catch-all term, an umbrella that covers everything from light bedroom play, to 24/7 power exchanges.

Rie McGaha: Most books that include BDSM make it seem like a violent act of abuse. What’s the difference between fiction and reality?

Dena Celeste: The difference between BDSM and abuse involves consent from all parties. There are two acronyms in the Lifestyle: SSC and RACK. Safe, Sane and Consensual and Risk Aware Consensual Kink. I prefer the latter acronym because everything in life has risks, and acknowledging them is better than thinking everything is perfectly safe.

Rie McGaha: How old were you when you first “knew” this was something you wanted to try?

Dena Celeste: I was 16 when I first discovered BDSM as BDSM, but some parts of it went back further than that. The thoughts and urges as I discovered myself confused me for a long time. I didn’t do much about my discovery besides research it voraciously, since learning new things was something I loved to do, and I didn’t want my age to get anyone else in trouble. I also knew that I wasn’t ready to do more than just research. After I turned 18, I joined a variety of websites and began to get involved in the wider Lifestyle community.

Rie McGaha: Did you meet someone who introduced you to BDSM or did you look it up on the ‘net or is there a listing in the phone book? LOL

Dena Celeste: *grins* I read a book, actually, and it really made a light-bulb go on in my head. “So that’s it! That’s what I’ve always wanted and haven’t been able to put into words! And there are other people who need this too. I’m not alone!”

My experience has been guided by a few different people who I came to know and trust. I was recently released by my Master of 5 years, but my connections in the community do go beyond him. I am grateful for the gifts of love and knowledge that he gave me while we were involved.

Rie McGaha: You were released from your “Master”, what does this mean?

Dena Celeste: This means that he released ownership of me and dissolved that aspect of our relationship. He’s still my friend, but we are no longer together that way.

Rie McGaha: Earlier you mentioned “lifestyle,” can you explain that?

Dena Celeste: For many kinksters, BDSM is more than just play in the bedroom. It becomes a Lifestyle, one which permeates everything else. Those with Dominant or submissive tendencies tend to know from a young age that they’re different. Goodness knows, even I had that knowledge at a young age. Discovering the wider community is a tremendous gift. Still, even those who only like one aspect, even spanking, can include it in their lives. It becomes a Lifestyle.

Rie McGaha:  It sounds like something you live everyday, does that mean you are constantly dressed in a leather bustier, tied to the door waiting on your partner to spank you?

Dena Celeste: LOL! No, it doesn’t mean that. I am a slave. It’s something I am every day, something I’m always aware of, the same way I’m always aware of my gender or my heart beat. It’s a part of me. But that doesn’t mean I’m a doormat, nor does it mean that life halts for kink. When I am with a Dominant who I consider worthy of owning me, I can show my submission in a variety of ways. Do some include being tied up at the door? Sure! But life doesn’t always cooperate with those plans.

Rie McGaha: I’m sure you know there a lot of misconceptions about the BDSM lifestyle. What do you think the biggest false belief is?

Dena Celeste: Probably that Dominants are abusive, selfish assholes, and that submissives and slaves are doormats just waiting to be walked on. There are some who fit those definitions, but they are the exceptions. There are all kinds of people in this Lifestyle, with all different kinds of energies and personalities. There are demure Dominants and sassy slaves, as well as demure slaves and bold Dominants, and every other shade in between!

Rie McGaha: In your opinion, is this because people are afraid to explore their sexuality?

Dena Celeste: I definitely think that’s part of it. The explosion of the Leather and BDSM communities has helped with many misconceptions, and has helped to educate many people about what the realities of the Lifestyle are.

Rie McGaha:  You mentioned to me earlier that someone you knew heard a radio personality talking about BDSM as something a person needed psychological help for. What do you think about that comment?

Dena Celeste: I think that there’s nothing wrong with therapy. Do some people need it, or would they find it beneficial? Absolutely. But the kind of needs that BDSM can fulfill aren’t a disease, and the APA has even gone so far as to remove those urges from the list of mental disorders! Maybe some people try to use BDSM as a bandage for a wound that needs some kind of psychological help, but that doesn’t mean that everyone who practices BDSM does that. And it would be a temporary bandage at best. The kind of relationship where BDSM flourishes is a STRONG relationship.

Rie McGaha: I know you belong to LAC. What is this and what are the benefits of belonging?

Dena Celeste: I do belong to the Lifestyle Alternatives Center of Palm Beach in South FL. It is a non-profit organization that seeks to create community for kinksters, and to educate those who wish to know more about the Lifestyle! The benefits of belonging are knowledge and fellowship with people who respect the rights of others to choose their own lives.

Rie McGaha: I have to go back to the term “lifestyle.” Isn’t this just really about having rough sex?

Dena Celeste: Hehe, rough sex can be part of it. That’s great too! But it’s not just about that. It’s about exploration, pushing limits, acceptance and self-knowledge. We are who we are!

Rie McGaha: And aren’t the people who participate in this activity sexual deviants and perverts looking for a willing accomplice to allow them to live out their demented fantasies?

Dena Celeste: If so, there are lots of us out there! These needs and fantasies are natural, and we find consensual ways to fulfill them with as much safety as possible. Some people will always think that this is wrong, or perverted, or demented. That’s their right. But I own who and what I am, and I’m not ashamed. I will continue to learn about myself as life goes on, and help others learn to accept who they are.

Rie McGaha: What would you like people to take away from this interview?

Dena Celeste: I hope they take some knowledge and acceptance, for themselves or someone they know. I hope they come away with questions and feel free to ask them.

Rie McGaha: Is there a place where they can contact you personally with questions?

Dena Celeste: Absolutely! They can email me at DearDenaC@gmail.com, or leave a comment on here with an email address.

Rie McGaha: No matter the subject or misconceptions, education and knowledge is the key to understanding. Do you have any plans toward this end?

Dena Celeste: Well, apart from becoming even more active in the wider BDSM community (Just this year, I had the opportunity to volunteer at Beyond Leather [an internationally renowned event!] and present at the Fetish School during Fetish Factory’s 15th Anniversary weekend!), I plan on answering questions on this column here. I will also write about all different kinds of aspects of BDSM, such as different dynamics, what consent is, the differences between the terms used in the community, and much, much more.

Rie McGaha: Thank you, Dena for your time and for putting up with all my questions. Now, where can people find your books and other information about you?

Dena Celeste: People can find me at:





Also, for anyone who is interested in learning more about LAC, they can go to http://lifestylealternatives.org

And just for fun, I’m including some terms people may be interested in knowing.

Glossary of Terms:


BD Bondage & Discipline, D/s – Dominance/submission, SM Sadism/masochism. Can also be referred to as “the Lifestyle” by many.

Collar A formal collar may take the form of neck, wrist, ankle, and other kinds of jewelry (like piercings). It may be metal or leather or even cloth. It denotes that a person is under training or owned. It is also a fashion statement for those who are not into BDSM at all.

Safe wordA word not commonly used during a scene, play or sex so that one can protest (say no, or stop) without play ending. A common version of this is to use traffic light colors. Red means stop right now, yellow means to slow down.

SceneA scene is a formal play atmosphere where the roles have been pre-negotiated.

Play May involve two or more people, where BDSM activities such as bondage, spanking, use of toys such as floggers, whips, rope, etc. can occur. Does not necessarily involve sex!

House A House is a formal BDSM family. Started by one or more persons, it can extend protection, mentoring, ownership, and a variety of other things to those who request it. Rules and requests differ from House to House.

Protection Often a more experienced person in the community will take someone of less experience or of a submissive role under his/her wing. This person may vet out play partners for safety, provide an anchor for support and advice, and teach a variety of skills in the role as protector. It differs depending on the relationship.

ConsentA person who can consent is above the legal age limit, and not mentally impaired drugs or alcohol, or some diseases that can affect the ability to give consent.


Books by Dena:

MastersGiftFinal WinterKissesFinal (2)

Review of Her Master’s Gift:

This is easily one of the best BDSM stories I’ve ever read.  I love the way the characters are developed, and…read more:

Reviewer Top Pick: Her Master’s Gift by Dena Celeste


May: Pagan Artist of the Month : Russelle Westbrook

Interview by Brandi Auset



Artist Russelle Westbrook of California is creating beautiful pieces of feminine art. Her website “The Forgotten Goddesses”  is a splendor of color, imagination, and magick. ___________________________________________________________________

Are you Pagan? Do those beliefs inspire your fabulous art?

R: First, thank you for your kind words, they are greatly appreciated. I try never to label myself in any way.  I have always been interested in the whole of humanity: our diversities, our moral concepts and compasses, and how we define our senses of personal integrity.

When did you first discover your talent?

R: Pretty much everyone in my family has been artistically inclined as it runs in our genes. I discovered my own personal voice in 2004 when I started painting for myself instead of painting for others. I discovered that in being true to my own inner voice – others responded.

What is the process behind most of your art? What mediums do you use?

R: Aside from the fantasy portraits that I do, I am not sure that I have a “process” anymore.  Since I paint for myself, I may be inspired by a suggestion from a friend, a concept (such as “The Scared Heart”), or a simple blank white canvas.  A sunny day will inspire me to take my paints outside and start painting.  If there is anything that defines me, it is my attention to the eyes, the “windows of the soul”.  I start there first, and if I don’t get what I want I scrap the canvas.  I work outwards from the eyes, and most of the time finishing the rest of the painting is the process.  As for my medium, it’s oils.

Your work focuses on women, goddess, and the Divine Feminine. How do you feel your subject matter reflects/affects society?

R: I know my work has a profound affect on women for which I am incredibly grateful. As mentioned, women really respond on an emotional level to my work and are not at all put off by the wounds and the scars. Women seem to instinctively understand that I am painting from the inside out. As a woman living in a Patriarchal society, I am fascinated by the way most women, myself included, subjugate themselves without even knowing it, in almost all avenues of their lives, but especially in regards to their relationships. I am also fascinated by the differences in how women and men deal with matters of the heart. Grief. Anger. Wounding, past and present. Of interest, is that my male friends appreciate the visual imagery in my work almost exclusively, but are most often puzzled and/or frightened by the wounds. These differences fascinate me also.

What artists and or musicians–and songs– if any, inspire you and why?

R: The visual artists that inspire and guide me most are the Pre-Raphaelites, my favorite being William Holman Hunt.  I also enjoy, and look for guidance, in the works of Mark Ryden and Kinuko Craft.  I have all my old fairy tale books and re-read them regularly. I also look to them for reference.  Writers give me sustenance and inspiration as well.  I have about two thousand books and re-read them all the time.

If the world was created in the image of your imagination, what would it be like when we woke up tomorrow and seen it with new eyes?

R: A world where everyone treated every living thing as they would themselves be treated.

If someone would like to commission your talent, where can they find you? What are you open for—Book covers, Graphic Novels… what?

R: I would love to do book covers, tarot cards, graphic novels, a line of furniture, woman oriented home / sanctuary accessories, a women’s clothing line, children’s books…..

Any new projects in the future or plans?

R: I am currently working on several fantasy portraits, a “Hel”, a “Lilith”, and “The Snow Queen”.  I am also currently working on a series of paintings dealing with Mary and “The Sacred Heart”.  I collect old lithographs of Mary with the Sacred Heart, mostly European, and am fascinated they the image of the heart with the flames and the sword passing through.  Purity and Sacrilege all in one image.  I am always fascinated by dichotomy – and how we manage to live with it.


You can find Russelle Westbrook’s work on her website http://www.theforgottengoddess.com. All her prints are available to order, and Ms. Westbrook also works on commission in addition to helping children find their artistic talents.


See more articles by Brandi Auset

February: Pagan Artist of the Month: Neil Geddes Ward

Interview by Bryn Colvin


Neil Geddes Ward is an artist whose work has inspired many a Pagan along the way. Talking to him raises some interesting questions about how we use ‘Pagan’ as an artistic definition. There’s a great deal of spirit in his creations. Is it the artist, the audience or both who decide what any given image means?


Bryn : Tell us about the Pagan that lives inside of Neil and do those beliefs inspire your fabulous art?

Neil: There is no pagan in me, haha! I tend to think that I read a lot, and think a lot, and then have an opinion. That does not make me Pagan, I think, but more a person who is interested in paranormal things and where that might take us, and I think if you say you are a Pagan it can limit your experience, and I would rather say, I have a common interest in things that folks who call themselves Pagan might have. I do not worship any Goddess or God, but tend to think more of the overall picture. If that makes me Pagan for some people, then that is fine with me, but I am not totally saying I am!! Now that, that has confused you!!! But I do get ideas of what I want to do in my art through Pagan channels and also other areas too, and also I am inspired by the Pre-Raphaelites too!

Bryn: You describe yourself as visionary – it’s even in your email address. Can you expand on what that actually means for you?

Neil: Now what do I mean by visionary?? Well hard to explain but I would say, going beyond what we see to expand our minds a little more, open to more possibilities etc, to see things in new ways and to try to think outside the box a little more! Better to think like that than just accept the world the way it is!

Bryn: So is it more about giving people opportunity to find their own meaning and resonance in your work?

Neil: My work tends to be cryptic, some of it is very clear to me, and others are more like dreams that fade with mornings first light! So a lot of people find their own meaning in my work to an extent, I certainly don’t send out explanations with every print I sell!  Some people just like the look of something, some people choose a certain image because it reminds them of a spouse or something, and some like it because of the moon or the owl or some other element that my paintings contain. We all free drawn to something special that resonates and I guess many of my paintings resonate with some people to some extent or another.

Bryn: When did you first discover your talent?

Neil: It was not a case of me discovering my ‘talent’ but more of discovering other people in my class at school could not do what I did! So I guess I took it for granted that everyone could draw or paint! But not so, and I guess others with other talents would say the same thing. I did know something different from others, in the fact that when I was at school, when I was very young, I would always paint the sky all the way to the horizon whereas other kids my age just painted a blue band at the top of the paper. I guess I was actually looking out of the window! In fact I tended to look out of the window a lot at school! I was told I was too much of a day dreamer! haha!

Bryn: What is the process behind most of your art? What mediums do you use? Gallows wake for the web

Neil: I paint in Oils and also draw in pencil. I find Oils are very flexible and a lot easier to use than water colour or other paints. Oils have a slow dry time which helps me greatly in blending colours and tones! I also take many reference photos of models to help get the look just right!

Bryn: What artists and or musicians–and songs– if any, inspire you and why?

Neil: Brian Froud, for his vision of faeries, the Pre-Raphaelites for their genius and ability! I admire Rush, the Canadian rock group for their excellent songs and musician ship. I play bass guitar too, so I know what standard they are!!!

Bryn: If the world was created in the image of your imagination, what would it be like when we woke up tomorrow and seen it with new eyes?

Neil: Oh blimey!! Well there would be no money to argue over and no wars and no murder, pollution, or wrong doing. Hmm, is this called Heaven?? I think we all blame everybody else sometimes and sometimes, you have to take responsibility for your little corner of reality, whatever reality is, if there
is a real world out there at all!! More acid Vicar??

Bryn:  If someone would like to commission your talent, where can they find you? What are you open for—Book covers, Graphic Novels… what?

Neil: People can view my art on www.neilgeddesward.com and email me at neil@geddesward.co.uk and also find me on Facebook, Neil Pagan Artist . I do take commissions, so long as are serious ones, in the sense that people will really want them!! I will be happy to consider most projects, books, portraits, etc so give me a call!

Bryn: Any new projects in the future or plans?

Neil: Currently working on a children’s novel proposal for publication, me doing the illustrations and also basic plot lines. Will be featuring Elves and Orkney! Aim to get that to an agent in the New Year! fingers crossed!! Plan to do more pagan conferences, so if anyone needs a speaker, please email me, and I would be happy to discuss. neil@geddesward.co.uk


A huge thank you to Bryn Colvin and Neil Geddes Ward for putting together a fabulous interview. And don’t forget….we will be featuring some of Neil’s art with our Pagan Holidays throughout the month. So be sure to check his web site out and consider him for any ‘art needs’ you have in the future!