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Carnal Alchemy: Sado-Magical Techniques for Pleasure, Pain, and Self-Transformation Paperback – September 21, 2013

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Carnal Alchemy: Sado-Magical Techniques for Pleasure, Pain, and Self-Transformation + Lords of the Left-Hand Path: Forbidden Practices and Spiritual Heresies + Overthrowing the Old Gods: Aleister Crowley and the Book of the Law
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Inner Traditions; 1 edition (September 21, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1620551098
  • ISBN-13: 978-1620551097
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,112,285 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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About the Author

Stephen E. Flowers, Ph.D., and Crystal Dawn Flowers, husband and wife of more than 30 years, are the former heads of the Order of the Triskelion, a magical order dedicated to the practice of Carnal Alchemy. Stephen is the author of several books, including Lords of the Left-Hand Path, and translator of Secret Practices of the Sufi Freemasons. He is the director of the Woodharrow Institute for Germanic and Runic Studies. The authors live near Austin, Texas.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.



Activity as sacred as Carnal Alchemy or Sado-Magic is often thought to deserve a special place in the home or apartment set aside for it alone. Having a chamber, or “dungeon,” just for this part of one’s life has a special purpose as well. It is usually the case that partners do not live out the dominant/submissive lifestyle twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week--and in such cases it is valuable to have a space set aside that symbolizes that part of their lives together. It is also true that entering such a space can trigger certain responses in the souls of the participants, which allow them greater psychological freedom--both from within themselves and with regard to their partners--to live out their innermost fantasies to the fullest.

Such a chamber can also be a place where the artistry and imagination of the participants can be expressed--not only in the activity there, but also in the actual design and equipping of the room. And since it is unlikely that you will be offered a videotape deal on cable TV telling you how to outfit your home-dungeon, we will just have to provide some basic help in this chapter.

A word of warning though: all the fancy equipment in the world won’t make your magical and erotic adventures something they wouldn’t otherwise be. The equipment can only enhance what is already there. If the spirit and empathy are not right, no amount of furniture or “infernal contraptions” will help. But because these arts are so involved with a fairly complex set of aesthetic rules and ceremonies, and because there is often the need to be able to move smoothly through a wide variety of physical sensations, the equipping of at least a minimally furnished chamber is highly recommended.


The initial purpose of the chamber or dungeon is to set your activities apart from the rest of your life. This is not a means to “protect” your everyday life from the results of your Sadean practices--the effects of such scenarios are almost universally beneficial--but rather the intention is to intensify the feelings and energies generated by such activity. The chamber functions in a way similar to that of the laboratory for scientists, the studio for artists, or the temple for magicians. It contains and focuses the activities that they may be more pure, more intense, and more powerful.

It you go back to our discussion of how transformations are made you will see that there must be an act of separation, of isolation of the subjects from outside influences—this must take place before the transformational play is enacted. It is after this that the subjects are re-integrated, re-included, into the mundane world. The chamber is meant to enhance this process and this experience.

The “chamber effect” can be obtained in several ways. You can, of course, have a special room set aside to serve exclusively as a “playroom,” or you can make some modifications to a room being used for some other purpose that can be converted quickly and easily into such a room. A cellar, garage, or attic space is ideally suited for the “multiple purpose room.” Many will find it necessary to make their own master bedroom into the chamber. In such an event the importance of certain symbolic or ceremonial actions and/or objects becomes relatively more important.

When a room normally used for more “mundane” purposes is to be temporarily transformed into a Sadean chamber, don’t forget to take some time to figure out how to change the entire atmosphere of the room into something special. Fabrics can be used to drape over furniture. Pictures or other decorations not conducive to the atmosphere should be removed or draped. Candles or perhaps red and/or blue light bulbs can be used for illumination. (Such dim lighting may be hazardous for inexperienced dominants who must often gauge the severity of some of their activities by alterations in the skin tone of their submissives, since especially red light makes red marks on the skin virtually invisible!)


Any well-equipped chamber should have the means for positioning (and restraining, if necessary) the submissive in at least three basic postures: standing, lying, and bending. It will also, by whatever means, have, or be capable of taking on, a very special atmosphere. This atmosphere is gained through a combination of interior design principles (furniture, wall-hangings, wall color), and other sensory tools such as mirrors, music, lighting, even incense and special drinks. All the senses are to be considered--to enhance them, subject them to pain or pleasure, or to deprive them.

Certain pieces of equipment are best built into the structure of the chamber or room. There should be a way to fix the submissive in a horizontal or lying position (a bed or bed-like rack is ideal for this), and a way to fix them in a standing position.

The vertical position can also easily be achieved with a minimum of alteration to the room by anchoring a large eyebolt into a brace above the ceiling. This should be secured and tested to be sure that it could bear the entire weight of the person who is to be secured to it. This should not, however, be used for actual suspension of the person’s full weight. Suspension has special requirements and should not be tried by beginners. Also you should consider using “panic” snap hooks, which make it easy for submissives to release themselves, and allow dominants to release sub-missives very quickly in case of an emergency.

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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Taylor Ellwood VINE VOICE on December 7, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is an intriguing read, particularly if you're into sex magic and BDSM. It's well written, informative (in a general way), and offers some ideas of how to incorporate BDSM into sex magic. The authors also offer a lot of theory in this book, explaining what carnal alchemy is and even offer a bit of practical advice in terms of how to play safe in BDSM and how to work sex magic through the dominant-submissive paradigm. I particularly like the list of recommended readings, which give readers some more reading they can do.

Also the explanations of the tools and various techniques will prove useful and illuminating, for anyone into BDSM. I also like that the authors stress the importance of having some experience with BDSM and being both a submissive and dominant.

However, while I did like this book a lot, I would've liked to have seen more focus on the physiological/psychological aspects of BDSM and how those aspects could be applied to carnal alchemy. Given that alchmy is a transformation, I would like to know how the authors factored in physiological changes and how those changes could be purposely used by either the dominant or submissive. The same applies to the psychological aspects.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Cypress on July 27, 2004
Format: Paperback
Carnal Alchemy by Dawn/ Flowers

Carnal Alchemy re-introduces a powerful philosophy and magical technology to the contemporary world of western sexual magic. Sadomasochistic sexuality is among the least understood aspects of sexual expression. It is often tinged with overtones of the forbidden and mystery - all these things, as well as certain physiological aspects of it - make this a powerful for of sexuality to be combined with spiritual and magical aims. The text traces the historical roots of this tradition in ancient pagan rites of passage and of the agricultural cycle. But most of the text is devoted to the actual theory and practice of techniques of Sado-Shamanism or Sado-Magic in contemporary life.Paperback 86 pgs.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Reyner on April 29, 2009
Format: Paperback
The academic sounding stuff has been well-covered by the other reviewers, so I can happily focus on my personal feelings about Carnal Alchemy.

Being someone who experiences the world in degrees of sensual richness, my most intense, most rich sensual experiences are also those which I have an in-depth understanding of. To both the beginner and the experienced BSDM enthusiast, the content of this book when understood opens the door to a baptism in Carnal Alchemy, an array and depth of sensory experience that well transcends the confines of paper and print. Not to mention new levels of intimacy with ones self and ones partner(s).
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By S. Cranow on February 13, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
One of the newest trends in the magical world is the practice of sado-magic or BDSM practices in magical operations. In theory it works rather well, for magic to be successful you must visualize you goal, raise the energy and direct it then let your spell go. Sexual and BDSM practices are just one way.

Of course BDSM is nothing really new. Ancient cultures had flogging rites both to purify the soul and raise energy levels . The Greek in their rites to Dionysus and Artwmis are two prime examples. The native Americans practiced piercing and suspension in order to achieve trances . Various Christian orders also practiced flagellation . Most recently it was brought into updated practice by Gerald Gardner and Alesister Crowley .

The author himself belonged to the Order of Triskellion. The order's main purpose was to bring BDSM practices into magical and mainstream acceptability. They have since folded and Robert North has opened up the New Flesh Palladium.

BDSM has extensive history in both Japan and Europe. Flogging or caning is sometimes called the English Vice. In Europe some famous people involved at various periods of time would include Marquise De Sade, Leon Sacher Masocher, Robert North and William Seabrook.

Marquise De Sade was a libertine who believed in developing his imagination. He was also into non consensual torture. Masocher who had a bad experience with an aunt discovered his love for pain. He was also into contracts and agreement. Seabrook practiced bondage and suspension techniques aimed at achieving the trance state. He wrote books about the Middle East and witchcraft.

The book next covers the two types of universes. The subjective is like our dream world and the objective is the physical universe.
Read more ›
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ezekiel Weaver on November 5, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Another thoughtful and useful book from Flowers/Thorsson. My only quibble is that the book focuses exclusively on heterosexual coupling and does not address same sex sex magick. Perhaps Flowers thought this was outside of his experience, but it would be interesting to have a commentator as thoughtful and learned as Flowers broaden the analysis in this way.
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