Carnal Alchemy – Sado-Magical Techniques for Pleasure, Pain and Self-Transformation

carnal-alchemy-flowers
Carnal Alchemy – Sado-Magical Techniques for Pleasure, Pain and Self – Transformation
Stephen E. Flowers and Crystal Dawn Flowers
Inner Traditions – 2013 (First Published 2011, I think)

I’m interested in sadomasochism and Occultism in roughly the same way. I don’t practice either, but I find them both rather intriguing. On seeing the title of this book, I knew I’d have to read it.

The main idea in here, as far as I can tell, is that S&M can be used for magical purposes. That seems very peculiar until you understand the kinds of magical purposes that the authors are talking about. Don’t expect to able to levitate after a good caning. That’s not the kind of magic we’re dealing with.

old orgyParty time!

The book is titled “Carnal Alchemy”. Alchemy is the science/art/ practice of changing one thing to another, the obvious example being lead into gold. The authors of this book claim that Sadomasochist magicians can transmute themselves/each other from total losers into successful individuals through the practice of sadoshamanism. I’m very sceptical when it comes to promises of magical powers, but I can accept this idea.

For an S&M freak, the pain/torture/humiliation is part of or at least powerfully linked to the sex act. I don’t go for that stuff myself, but who doesn’t feel like a success after a good shag? If somebody who gets off on pain is in a safe, loving, sexually active relationship with a person with complimentary interests, this could certainly have beneficial effects on their self esteem and general success. Is this magic? Sure.

My only issue with this idea is that it’s a bit self aggrandizing. Any sexual fetish is potentially empowering in this way. If a person likes something (safe) and they get it, they will be happier. There’s no need to write a book about it. This whole book has a bit of a “We do S&M. We’re magicians. We’re so cool’ feel to it. The authors do seem to suggest that any sexual act has magical potential, but that the ritualistic nature of S&M makes it particularly effective. I don’t know guys. I think you just wanted to write a book about the things you like.

The rest of the book describes the depraved proclivities of several famous occult practitioners, including Aleister Crowley, Anton LaVey and my ol’ buddy Willie Seabrook. There’s also a short section describing basic S&M techniques and a bit about the order of the Triskellion, Sadomagical group run by the authors.

seabrook maskWillie Seabrook and his babe.

The Order of the Triskellion takes its name from the Story of O, a classic of erotic literature. I remember reading that book at work years ago. I had a shitty office job, and I would download PDF books and read them instead of working. It makes me very happy to think that the dickhead owner of that company unwittingly paid me to read kinky erotica.

Anyways, this book is fine. I read it out of curiosity, and reflecting on it now, I didn’t really learn very much. At the same time, if you do enjoy dressing up as Hermione and having your bum spanked, this is doubtlessly the book for you.

A Quaint and Curious Volume of Forgotten Porn

The most exciting part of Francis King’s Sexuality, Magic and Perversion was doubtlessly a passage towards the end of the book where King is discussing how magic has been portrayed in works of pornography. He points out that most of the occult-themed porn that had appeared at the time that he was writing his book had been written by people who had no real knowledge of occultism. He mentions one exception to the rule, referring to a book titled Inpenetrable (the spelling mistake is neither mine nor King’s), a pornographic novel that features the Order of the Golden Dawn invoking demons, worshipping Satan, and indulging in buggery, rape and psychic murder. According to King, the author of this intriguing text actually seemed to have had a decent amount of occult insight.

francis king on inpenetrable
After reading this passage, I had to find the book it’s describing.

In a footnote, King claims to have traced 3 separate printings of this intriguing book. One printing credits a Joel Harris as the author, one credits an Aristotle Levi, and the last seems to have completely withheld the author’s name. King points out that the text in all three editions was produced by photo-lithography, suggesting that all three derived from a previous edition that he has never seen. He also believes that the texts he had seen were published in 1970 or 1971.

I spent a few days trying track down a copy of Inpenetrable, but I could only find one other reference to it. Ellic Howe briefly alludes to it in the penultimate paragraph of his 1972 book The Magicians of the Golden Dawn. He claims that this peculiar work of pornography had recently been brought to his attention by a friend. Judging by the details Howe gives (or lack thereof) and the year that his book was published (the year after Sexuality, Magic and Perversion), I’d be surprised if Howe’s friend hadn’t been Francis King. Howe provides no extra clues about the origin of this peculiar text.

ellic howe inpenetrable
The title of the book, Inpenetrable, didn’t yield any other results, so I decided to search up the name/s of the author. “Joel Harris” led to a dead end, but there are a few, scant mentions of Aristotle Levi online. It seemed as if this guy wrote two other books, Spawn of the Devil and In the Devil’s Power, but there was no other mention of Inpenetrable anywhere. It turns out though, that Spawn of the Devil was translated into Danish and published as I Djævlens Magt, which translates as “In the Devil’s Power” – the two titles were a result of my browser’s automatic translator. There was only one book. Spawn of the Devil (and its translation) came out as part of the Svea Book series, a pornographic series that was published in Denmark in the late 60s and early 70s by a porn company called Nordisk Bladcentral. Some sources credit the work of this Aristotle Levi to a woman named Erica Schoeb, but Erica holds the copyright for all of the books in the Svea series, so it seems likely that she was the series editor or publisher rather than the actual author of any of its texts.

After several hours of searching with these clues, I found an index of science-fiction pornography that gives the following summary of Spawn of the Devil; “Maureen Graille, a seventeenth century witch, is reincarnated in the present.” Bingo! King had mentioned “Maureen Graille, the heroine of the book” in his brief discussion of Inpenetrable. I realised that Spawn of the Devil and Inpenetrable could potentially be two entries in the same series, but judging by the genre I was dealing with, I assumed it more likely that they were just different titles for the same work.

Ok, so I hadn’t been able to find a copy of Inpenetrable, would Spawn of the Devil prove any easier to track down? Like I said, there were very few (maybe 5) mentions of Aristotle Levi or his work online. I don’t want to give away my book-finding techniques to my competitors, but I’ll say that after quite a bit of searching, wrangling, infiltrating strange facebook groups and google-translating, I managed to obtain a single copy of Spawn of the Devil from a dusty, second-hand bookshop somewhere in the Middle-East.

spawn of the devil - aristotle levi
Spawn of the Devil – Aristotle Levi

Svea Book – 1969

Let’s start off with the physical book itself. There’s a few scratches on the cover, but nothing you wouldn’t expect on a book published in 1969. There’s no cover image or blurb on the back. There’s nothing inside other than the story itself – no details on the author or advertisements for other books.

The text is peppered with typos, but the standard of the writing is pretty good. I imagine that the writer probably wrote other, less smutty, books under a different name. In fact, some of the sex scenes in this book seem so sudden and unnecessary that I would be surprised if the author hadn’t originally had loftier aims for this work. This might well have been intended as an occult thriller that was a little too sexy for respectable publishing houses. Maybe after a few refusals, the author took his manuscript to a smut house and was told that instead of being too sexy, the text wasn’t sexy enough. Perhaps he cried into his typewriter as he reedited his manuscript and filled it with “hot cock-sticks”, “quivering quims” and “tight little shitholes” as a last resort to get it published. I’ve read other occult based porn in which the standard procedure was one sex scene per chapter, but this isn’t quite the same. Spawn of the Devil frontloads the smut – once the story gets going, the sex takes a backseat. There’s a few chapters towards the end with barely any riding at all.

And some of the sex scenes are absolutely ludicrous. I’m by no means an expert on literary pornography, and I know that different people get off on different things, but many of the sex acts described in here come across as vulgar and hilarious rather than titillating and sexy. I can’t deny the fact that I greatly enjoy vulgarity though, and I will admit that the following two page description of a disgusting incestuous liaison made me laugh so hard that I cried.

spawn of devil erotica
Please read both pages (higher res image here). It gets better and better. LOL.

Looking back, one of the main reasons I wanted to read this book was Francis King’s assessment of the author as a knowledgeable student of the occult. The occultism herein is largely of the Dennis Wheatley variety, but, like Mr. Wheatley, Mr. Levi clearly has a basic understanding of what he’s greatly exaggerating.

spawn devil inside coverI presume the pseudonym is a mix of the Greek fella and Eliphas Levi.

This book is super rare. If you plan on hunting down a copy, good luck to you. If you’re not pushed, here’s a summary of the story:

The story starts off with Maureen, a witch, observing an orgy in the forest. She isn’t partaking, just watching. When she leaves, she is apprehended by an angry mob of villagers who presume she had just finished up early and was heading home. The mob go on to capture all of the revelers.

All of the revelers are burned at the stake along with Maureen and her husband, Tom. Just before they are set alight, Maureen promises Tom that they will live again.

300 years later, a pair of twins that regularly have been having sex with each other since they were children both feel a sudden urge to go and dig a hole in a certain part of their village. They discover a strange ring. The sister, who is named Maureen, puts it on.

Soon thereafter, Maureen is having lunch in a fancy restaurant. By chance, she meets a lady called Celia Aston. It turns out that Celia is one of the leading members of a magical secret society called the Golden Dawn. She invites Maureen and her brother Tom to her house where she shows them her magical book collection and introduces them to her husband.

Maureen gets it into her head that she wants to be in Celia’s position. To put a curse on Celia, Maureen and Tom perform a gruesome black-magic sex ritual:

sex ritual curse
Yuck, but also Hahahaha.

The ritual is successful and Celia dies soon thereafter. Using mind control, Maureen convinces Celia’s grieving husband to marry her within a matter of months.

Later on, during a Golden Dawn orgy, Maureen manages to summon a spirit. It’s either Pan or Satan, or maybe both. Only Maureen and a crucified prostitute that Maureen had hired for the occasion actually see the spirit. The prostitute goes insane afterwards. While this is all happening, one of the other members of the Golden Dawn, a lady named Nona, simultaneously gets raped and senses that Maureen is a bad apple.

After this night of black magic and debauchery, Nona and her boyfriend visit a very powerful old witch named Kyleen to see if anything can be done about Maureen. They don’t know it, but Maureen was actually watching them do this by means of black magic.

Maureen summons the spirit of Pan to kill all three of them. She is successful in doing so, but unfortunately for her, Kyleen had been able to do some summoning of her own. Shortly afterwards, Maureen and Tom are killed when their ship sinks during a cruise. Just before they die, Maureen reassures Tom that they will meet again.

The book ends in the future. In the year 2236, a set of twins are born, a boy and a girl.

Spawn of the Devil isn’t the greatest occult-thriller in my collection, but it’s nowhere near the worst. Its combination of black magic and silly synonyms for genitalia pleased me immensely, and I can’t imagine a book more appropriate for this blog. Moreover, the process of reading about it in King’s book, researching it, tracking it down, waiting to see if it would ever actually arrive, and then reading and reviewing it a few months later has been rather exciting. When I started this blog and began reading books by people like Montague Summers, Timothy D’Arch Smith and even Francis King himself, I was jealous of the depths of their research and of the discoveries they had made in the realms of occult literature. It may not seem like a big deal to most people, but I found it immensely satisfying to solve part of a mystery posed by one of these individuals 47 years ago.

francis king inpenetrable footnote

Inpenetrable was first published by Nordisk Bladcentral as as Spawn of the Devil, a novel by Aristotle Levi. Unfortunately, I can’t claim to know who Aristotle Levi (or Joel Harris) was. My reading suggests that he probably wrote other books (under a different name) in the late 60s/early 70s. He clearly had an interest in the occult. His repeated use of the word bollocks means that he was almost definitely British. This book was published in Copenhagen and translated into Danish, so it is possible that he had some other link to Denmark. Does this description sound familiar to anyone? I wonder if there’s anybody alive today who knows his true identity. If anyone has any further information on Aristotle Levi, Joel Harris, Inpenetrable or Spawn of the Devil, please, please, please, leave a comment or email me to let me know.

 

Sexuality, Magic and Perversion – Francis King

This post was originally intended for Saint Valentine’s day, but I made some startling discoveries whilst writing it and had to postpone its publication until things were sorted out.

sex magic and perversion francis kingSexuality, Magic and Perversion – Francis King
Citadel Press – 1974 (Originally published 1971)

I hadn’t read anything by King when I bought this book based on its title alone (I’ve since reviewed his Secret Rituals of the O.T.O.), and I was expecting something rather trashy when I made the purchase. This book, however, isn’t very trashy at all. It’s a relatively sensible overview of how sex has been used in magical practice throughout history. It’s pretty good.

I didn’t follow some of the stuff on tantricism at the beginning, but the chapters on the more modern occultists were very interesting. I’ve seen Charles Leadbeater’s name come up in loads of books that discuss Theosophy, but I didn’t know he was a dirty, boy-touching bastard until I read this one. The stuff on Crowley was entertaining too. Apparently ol’ Aleister liked getting bummed as crowds of his friends watched.
aleister crowley bugger

Sexuality, Magic and Perversion was insightful, well researched and it made me want to read more books. The writing was neither overly academic nor flagrant nonsense. I’m looking forward to reading more of Francis King’s work in the future.

Yes, this post is considerably shorter than my regular output, but don’t be dismayed. I’ve held back on the really interesting discovery that I made whilst reading this book. Said discovery is so exciting that I’m giving it its own separate post. (I’ll post it tomorrow!) If you’re at all interested in Sexuality, Magic and Perversion (the book) and/or sexuality, magic, perversion and the activities these concepts entail, I guarantee, you’ll want to read what’s coming up next.