Tag Archives: occult

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= 

Creepy Occult Time

Writing about the occult is one of those issues that brings my writer self and my Druid self into conflict. From a Druid perspective, I don’t believe that there is anything outside of nature, although my notion of ‘nature’ includes the scope for much that could be deemed ‘supernatural’. (Ghosts, spirits etc). As a Druid, I don’t find any of these things inherently creepy or disturbing. As with all aspects of life, some bits are better than others. I’ve been creeped out by things I couldn’t explain, but I’ve also been happily surprised and inspired.

From a writing perspective, stories about happy benevolent contact with things magical get dull really fast. The best occult tales are horror and spine chillers. Think Phil Rickman, the hugely popular Dennis Wheatley (who I haven’t read) Clive Barker and no doubt many more. The occult is inherently uncanny, beyond our knowledge and control, dangerous and hard to tackle. As a plot device it drives stories wonderfully well.

The pagan in me wants to write a positive, magical realism, with a pagan take on the world in which magic is not evil. The writer in me… won this time round.

Dead Sexy’ is dark, and the occult, where it manifests, is not friendly at all, or safe, or benevolent. It’s a story I’d been working up to for a while. There was a jewellery box, with the name ‘Octavia’ on it. She was part of my family, and went mad. That’s all I know about her. The first time I heard about her, it stuck in my head, and I’ve made up stories before, trying to imagine what might have happened to her. All speculation. The Octavia in this story is someone I created, borrowing the name and drawing on the inspiration. Otherwise, this is complete fabrication.

It’s not the first time I’ve written scary evil occult stuff, either. The writer in me apologises to the druid in me on a regular basis. At some point, there will be reconciliation and I’ll write a creepy occult story with a druid hero or heroine, and that will balance out entirely.

Phil Rickman

I’ve mentioned Phil Rickman in a couple of blogs now, because he’s an author I enjoy and admire. However, he’s not yet anything like as famous as he should be, so it occurred to me that I should devote a blog to saying a bit more about who he is, what he does, and why he has a significant pagan following.

 I first encountered Phil Rickman some years ago when he was interviewed by Pagan Dawn magazine. In that piece he talked about his interest in the occult, and his not being a pagan. Even though I’d never heard of him before, it was a sufficiently interesting article that I still remember it, many years later.

I used to review fiction for White Dragon – a pagan magazine based in the UK. Rowan, the editor, offered me a Phil Rickman novel, so I said yes. It was ‘The Fabric of Sin’ and brought me in a fair distance into his Merrily Watkins series. It stood alone perfectly well. I sometimes had the sense that there currents in the background and developments that might seem more important were I following the entire series, but the story itself made sense. I was impressed. A while later I picked up two stories from earlier in the series – “Midwinter of the Soul” and “A Crown of Lights” these too stood alone, and I filled in more character detail. I eventually got round to the first one – “The Wine of Angels” and now some of the larger story arcs make more sense.

The Merrily Watkins series follow the adventures of said character. She’s a widow, and single parent to a teenage girl, Jane. Merrily is a vicar, starting out when female vicars in the UK were unfamiliar and radical. Then she gets into exorcism – Deliverance Ministry, which puts her in an odd place in relation to the Anglican church. Her daughter dabbles in paganism. The stories are mysteries, although murder is not always the focal point – one centred around a suicide. The first one is heavy on the body count, but I suspect the author of not imagining he’d get to do a whole series. Rickman has an engaging writing style, good plots, interesting twists and a large cast of very strong and compelling characters, many of whom appear in more than one story.

His appeal to pagan readers stems partly from the character of Jane – he’s very much captured the teenage girl drawn to witchcraft, with all the challenges, pitfalls, mistakes and wonders that journey can involve. As a female vicar working with the supernatural, Merrily is easy to empathise with. I can’t help but feel she’d make a very good druid, in other circumstances. Frequently the occult elements of the story provide the tension and the bodies. Satanists feature as bad guys, but so do church figures, media folk, farmers, landed gentry… Rickman will keep you guessing. Witchy types are just as likely to be the good guys as the villains. So he’s very even handed in portraying occultism, and this is very appealing.

Rickman has done his homework. He knows his history, folklore, superstition, and plenty about occult practice, and natural magic. He might not be claiming to be pagan himself, but he has a great deal of insight into what might have been, and into what contemporary paganism is like. He reflects modern paganism (warts and all) in a way that is entirely recognisable, without relying on stereotypes, clichés, or too much melodrama. Reading his work as a pagan, I tend to feel that I am reading about people I recognise, lifestyles I know, and that’s rather pleasing.

The other great source of appeal to pagans is the degree to which his stories are rooted in landscape. Places, and their history, buildings and their connection to human activity, the wonder and danger of the wild, the magic in the apple tree… these things Rickman understands. Set along the Herefordshire border with Wales – an area rich in history, the Merrily Watkins stories have roots, and bring the landscape vividly to life. The sense of place, of season, of land and living close to it permeates his writing, and this will speak to any pagan soul.

His homepage is here – http://www.philrickman.co.uk/pages/Home.html and I heartily recommend checking him out.

Druid Life – Sex and the Occult

Following on with the exploring of sex magic in life and in fiction…

“Aiffe was chanting, the cold words whining out of her in the same rhythm with which Nicholas Bonner entered.” (Peter S Beagle, The Folk of the Air).

There’s a branch of sex magic that isn’t about the sex at all. The erotic content is a focus for a spell, or the means of raising energy for some other action. I own a book titled ‘The Art of Sexual Magic’ which offers techniques for just such things. I read it, I’ve never tried any of them. It’s all about using the energy of sex as a focus to send your intentions out into the world. Techniques mingle sex and visualisation. It didn’t inspire me in the slightest.

“It is in these moments of expanded consciousness that you can project a vision of your goal, your creation, into the harmonious fabric of the universe that surrounds you. In ecstasy, you come very close to the universal source. The creative womb out of which all things arise. What better moment to make magic?” (Margot Anand)

I recognise the connection and magic, but for me, the idea of using sex for something else is uncomfortable. The evidence would suggest I am not alone in this. The quote from Beagle above shows a couple undertaking sex magic, more excited by power than eroticism. Satanist villains in Phil Rickman’s fiction use sex for magic too. I can’t think of a single fictional example of people using sex magic in this way, when those people didn’t turn out to be the bad guys.

Sex is incredibly powerful and inherently magical. Taking that magic and subverting it for another purpose seems a betrayal of the essence of lovemaking. Most of the Druids I’ve encountered have expressed disinterest in this kind of magic. For Druids, magic is more usually transformation through experience and connection. Concepts of ‘harness’ or ‘use’ simply don’t fit in with how most of us choose to be. I don’t offer this as any particular judgement on people who do practise this way – each to their own – more as an explanation for why I wouldn’t. Other people may understand the subject in entirely different ways.

However, with all of the above in mind, the use of sex magic for other purposes is a very easy way of portraying characters as morally suspect. It’s something I first explored years ago when co-writing with Emy Naso. Since then I also used it in ‘Beauty in Tears’ – it’s the point in the story that defines certain characters as definitely unpleasant, and begins the redemption of another. Here’s the aftermath of some rather twisted sex magic…

“She located a lantern, and stood in the hallway for an hour, struggling to keep focused as exhaustion worked on her nerves. At last, one of the men came and unlocked the door for her. With faltering steps, Jemima descended into the darkness beneath the house. It smelled damp and unwholesome. After thirty or so stairs, she turned a corner into a large, underground space. The flickering light from her lantern barely reached the walls and thick shadows threatened to hide all kinds of evils. Stepping forward, she saw there were strange symbols painted onto the floor. Finding them ominous, she muttered a brief prayer. Religion had never played much part in her life, but the familiar words of childhood devotions offered some comfort. As she stepped over the sinister markings, her skin prickled and the hairs rose on the backs of her arms.

This is very wrong. Every instinct told her to turn and run, to seek cleaner air and sunlight. It seemed they had left Imogen down here all night, alone in absolute darkness, with only the cold and painted floor to lie on. Whatever the three men were about, she somehow doubted it had anything to do with money or inheritance. The scene struck her as being like something from a darker fairy tale – the bloodier kind that kept small children awake at night.

Taking small steps, she swung the lantern in slow arcs, illuminating as much of the room as she could. After a while, she found Imogen’s prone and naked form. Jemima dropped to her knees beside the girl, touching her shoulder. The skin was dreadfully cold, but the girl stirred. Releasing a breath she had not consciously held, Jemima brought the lantern nearer. It showed her dried blood in abundance.

I didn’t write the actual magic sequence in the end. It seemed better to imply. Sometimes things are more sinister for not being pinned down too closely.

Beauty in Tears available here.

Channelling

I would have been about fourteen the first time it happened – an experience not of my seeking where a troubled spirit decided she needed to speak through me. My mother gave me a pen and some blank paper and suggested automatic writing as a way of dealing with it. I had a crazy weekend, as Hariet (one r) vented her pain, and then she went away, leaving me feeling rather odd and washed out.

I didn’t actively seek anything like that kind of experience for a long time. There were other incidents when, under stress, things that were not me would slip in – benevolent presences, thankfully.

Then in a planned ritual some years ago, my working group – most of them less experienced than I, sought to channel something through me. I don’t remember much of it. Apparently the first thing I said was ‘I come from between fire and ice’ so perhaps it was a Jotun. It was big, heavy, slow, and it took me days to get over it. A strange experience for me.

It’ something I appear to be quite good at. I’ve not explored it much because I need a working partner where there’s enough trust, mutual understanding and shared inclination to make it really work. But I have channelled on a few occasions… opened myself to deities, male and female, to a fox spirit, land spirits. It works best when there is genuine need.

It doesn’t have to be an all or nothing experience. Channelling is about relationship and communication, opening up to specific energies. I don’t recommend playing at it, or opening and seeing what you get. I suppose it’s a bit like sex – works better where there is trust and familiarity. It is a soul-naked kind of intimacy, and to be taken by force, without your consent is not unlike rape. Have someone to watch your back, who is strong enough to call you home no matter what happens. Go a little way at first, explore, reach out, don’t give entirely of yourself unless the trust is there, and the confidence. It is not a game to play or a thing to do lightly. If it happens to you, that’s one thing, and it becomes necessary to deal with it. Seeking it for the buzz of encountering something occult is dangerous, and the odds of getting a friendly encounter are slim. Be sure of your motives, and do not force yourself upon the world of spirit, not unless you want it to treat you in kind.