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Carnal Alchemy

Sado-Magical Techniques for Pleasure, Pain, and Self-Transformation

Published by Inner Traditions
Distributed by Simon & Schuster



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About The Book

BDSM sexuality as a powerful tool for self-transformation and the realization of magical and spiritual aims

• Details how to combine the 6 major types of S&M stimulation with sexual stimulation for magical and transformative purposes

• Explores sado-magical workings from both submissive and dominant perspectives

• Traces the roots of the BDSM tradition from ancient pagan and shamanic rituals to historical figures such as the Marquis de Sade, Aleister Crowley, and Anton LaVey

Sex magic allows us to tap in to the most abundant power source available: sexual energy. Magicians, shamans, and fakirs throughout history have used physical stimulation and ritual to harness sexual energy, unlock inner states of consciousness, and activate the ability to influence their surroundings. While pleasure is often the focus of this stimulation, pain is just as effective, if not more so.

Combining both pleasure and pain, the sadomasochistic practice of Carnal Alchemy offers a powerful tool for self-transformation and the realization of magical and spiritual aims. Authors Stephen and Crystal Dawn Flowers explain the sado-magical workings of Carnal Alchemy from both the perspective of the submissive partner as well as the dominant. They detail the 6 major techniques of sadomasochistic stimulation--bondage, flagellation, piercing, penetration, clamping, and heat/cold--and how they can be combined with sexual stimulation for magical purposes. They trace the roots of the BDSM tradition in ancient pagan rites of passage, in indigenous shamanic rituals, and through historical figures who used this form of sexuality in their magic and philosophy, from the Marquis de Sade to more modern exemplars such as Aleister Crowley, Ernst Schertel, and Anton LaVey.

This guide also covers specialized furniture and tools and the decor of “the Chamber” to trigger states of consciousness in which the Sado-Magician can effectively express his or her will.




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.

About The Authors

Stephen Flowers studied Germanic and Celtic philology and religious history at the University of Texas at Austin and in Goettingen, West Germany. He received his Ph.D. in 1984 in Germanic Languages and Medieval Studies with a dissertation entitled Runes and Magic.

Crystal Dawn Flowers is a former head of the Order of the Triskelion, a magical order dedicated to the practice of Carnal Alchemy. She lives with her husband, Stephen E. Flowers, near Austin, Texas.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Inner Traditions (September 21, 2013)
  • Length: 160 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781620551097

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