Carnal Alchemy: A Sado-Magical Exploration of Pleasure, Pain and Self-Transformation
Crystal Dawn and Stephen Flowers
Runa-Raven Press, 2001 (originally 1995)
I finally got around to reading this book cover to cover after reading it piecemeal for a couple of years. It’s arguably the first book to focus solely on BDSM sex magic (which the authors alternately term Carnal Alchemy, Sado-magic, and Sado-shamanism, p. ix). While it’s not a huge book, it does cover the basics.
Dawn and Flowers do an excellent job of tracing the history of sex magic in general, including BDSM magic. Not only do they cover the usual suspects like De Sade and Von Sacher-Masoch, but they also get into Robert North and the New Flesh Palladium, and Aleister Crowley’s own Sado-magical journeys. There’s also basic information on BDSM and the various toys involved, and common sense safety.
Unfortunately, the book is pretty sparse as far as content goes. There’s very little description of any rituals (the authors’ magical group, the order of the Triskelion, keeps its rituals secret). There are only a couple very brief fictional examples; the reader is left largely up to hir own devices. And the actual material dealing with practical BDSM magic is pretty brief, compared to the background material given. I think they could have given some more information without compromising privacy, though they also confess trepidation with misinterpretation of the material by individuals who stop thinking after the word SEX!
However, for being a pioneering book, it’s to be given good marks. While there’s not a ton of information, what is there is excellent, and it set the stage for a number of books by other authors that followed it.
Four pawprints out of five.