Phil Hine reviews Carnal Alchemy: A Sado-Magical Exploration of Pleasure, Pain and Self-Transformation by Crystal Dawn and Stephen E Flowers in the Bkwyrm archive.
Like many other occultists, my first introduction to group magical work was through my local Wiccan group. A curious blend of “traditions”, they nevertheless gave much prominence to scourging, “knots and cords”, blindfolded initiations and other elements which of course, had nothing whatsoever to do with s-e-x. If only the High Priestess had access to a book like Carnal Alchemy – who knows, I might just have retained my enthusiasm for Wicca!
Given the current vogue for S&M, body play and “modern primitivism”, this is a very timely release. Good books dealing with sexual magic generally are rare enough, which makes this one all the more interesting. Printed under the imprimatur of “The Order of the Triskelion,” Carnal Alchemy explores the magical implications of sadomasochistic sexuality with both boldness and directness. Eschewing the symbolism which some magical authors use to gloss over sex-magic “secrets”, Dawn & Flowers have produced a very practical guide to S-M techniques and relationships. Included in Carnal Alchemy is a historical overview of notable examples of the pleasure-pain gnosis; sado-magic themes in the works of famous magi (Crowley, LaVey, Gardner); useful tips on creating the ambience of one’s chamber/dungeon, and an extensive bibliography of Sadean works. I would highly recommend this book to anyone with a serious interest in sexual magic or personal transformation. Or, if you want to be kind – buy a copy for your local neighbourhood neo-Wiccans!