Dark Moon Rising – Raven Kaldera et. al.

Dark Moon Rising: Pagan BDSM and the Ordeal Path
Raven Kaldera, with several guest essays
Asphodel Press, 2006
426 pages

This is one of those books that’s been on the shelves for a while, paged through piecemeal (it’s a good book for randomly opening up to read whatever interesting thing comes up since it’s largely made of a series of essays) and even used as source material for Kink Magic. But I hadn’t really been in the mood to pick it up and actually read it cover to cover til this week. (Yes, it made the commute, ah, interesting. For some reason, I ended up without anyone sitting next to me each time even though I had the cover nice and safely hidden.)

So, on to the book. I like this book. A lot. It’s not the usual chapter-by-chapter explanation of things; rather, Kaldera has collected a number of his essays, as well as a significant number of guest essays from such folks as Mistress Damiana and Morning Glory Zell. The topics are far-ranging, including everything from BDSM spirituality in service to the gods, to practical considerations both mundane and magical. Some ideas are presented in a very straightforward manner; others are personal accounts used to illustrate the concepts therein. There are even some rituals presented, including rites of passage, and some lovely poetry that could easily be worked into a ritual context such as an invocation or evocation. In short, it’s full of variety.

It’s pretty obvious that Raven and fellow essayists have quite a bit of experience. The various BDSM and fetish techniques utilized cover a pretty decent range of possibilities, and many of them are not for the (relatively) faint of heart. You may find yourself squicked; I am in no way, shape or form a fan of *anything* that pierces the skin (even hypodermic needles) and I found myself literally covering pictures of hook suspensions. Still, this is what works for others, and despite the not-my-kink factor, I found even the personally squick-worthy parts to be valuable additions. Regardless of what your particular tastes are, there are some great ideas that can be adapted to just about any consensual kink in a ritual context.

Much of the material seems to be oriented towards spirituality and service to the Divine, though there are some practical magical techniques as well. The concept of god-slavery is covered in decent detail here, and both it and the concept of service in general are presented not as unhealthy obsessions, but as spiritual dedication. I was particularly fond of the essay by Raven’s boy, Josh, about serving the shaman, and Raven’s own explanation of the archetypes and roles that may be found in a D/s relationship. Good food for thought whether you’re in a 24/7 lifestyle or not.

Overall, this is definitely a worthy endeavor, and a good addition to the bookshelf of anyone who has any interest in BDSM and fetishes in a spiritual and/or magical background. As with any book on either BDSM or spirituality, it’s not the do-all and end-all of the topics at hand (but what book is?) but it presents one very superb and well-developed approach to the combination thereof. Highly recommended.

Five pawprints out of five.

Want to buy this book?



  1. nick said,

    April 22, 2008 at 9:04 am

    i agree i think this is a welcome addition to anyones bookshelf.

  2. That one chick said,

    May 13, 2008 at 7:03 pm

    Sounds cool. ❤

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