Book Review: Demons of the Flesh:The Complete Guide to Left Hand Path Sex Magic by: Nikolas and Zeena Shreck
Sex Magick is a tricky subject to research. All the occult books more to the Cthulhu side than to the New age side proclaim it as the ultimate fulcrum upon which all magick rests. Magick in this sense is spelled with a “k” to comply with Aleister Crowley’s definition:
“”the Science and Art of causing Change to occur in conformity with Will.”
But if you go far enough into the New Age, you will find it there too in the cradle of ultra-feminist self help as Tantra.
It makes sense to me.
I don’t put too much stock in supernatural theories of magick. I believe that magick is ultimately manipulating yourself psychologically and neurologically so that you can be more adaptive and adapted to the routines and unconscious processing you will need to get your desired outcomes. If you re-read the above Crowley definition, you will see they harmonize quite nicely.
Sex magick triggers your deepest evolutionary programming. After all mammals are fuck machines, this is why we now dominate the planet. Awakening the sexual impulse as a form of reshaping yourself is tapping into the most dangerous and wonderful aspects of yourself. You have to go deep, all the way to your rawest elements.
But to not be vague, many definitions have been used for sex magick, from masturbating while you wish your lottery ticket will be a winner all the way to the tantric sex trances of multiple orgasm attributed to to Tibetan Bodhisattvas. I will try to join the continuum by saying that sex magick is using sex and your own sex psychology to unlock hidden awareness and power.
This book is the best book I have found on the topic so far. It provides an over arching philosophy (or theory, if you prefer) of sex magick and a far reaching history of sex magick, including many often tantalizing occasionally disgusting techniques. If you are going to ever get a real interest in this stuff, or if you are into it now, you will be intrigued by this book.
Though not everything I have to say about this book is positive. For one, readers should be advised, that according to this book all real sex magick is part of the left hand path. The left hand path is hard to define. It would be easier to give you examples of occult traditions which fall under this description, the most famous is Satanism. Others include the Temple of Set and Luciferians. In essence, people who follow the darker paths, more demonic approaches. Occultists who get a warm fuzzy feeling when terms like antichrist, demons, devils, hells, qlippoth, etc.
I almost hate that I even have to go into that. But I know this kind of thing turns a lot of people off, its really a shame because this is such an awesome book. Part of its left hand path argument, though, is that most people can’t handle real Tantric wisdom. They are simply too small minded.
Most sex magicians, including countless new age western tantrics, would strongly reject any accusation that what they are doing falls under the left hand path. So read at your own risk, with this author saying that to see any risk is weak.
This book seems to be heavily biased towards the left hand approach of the Temple of Set. This is not overly stated, but I think it merits mentioning. The Temple of Set believes the purpose of magick is initiation. Not initiation in the traditional sense one would imagine from a native rite of passage or a Masonic initiatory ritual (though both could be applied to the Setian definition). Initiation is defined as making your true self, your raw individuality manifest more and more through your work. This is the end game for all initiates in the Temple of Set, and is given as the purpose of sex magick in the book.
In short, sex magick makes your true individuality come out more and more. And that this experience is hard core enough that one Left Hand Path religion has claimed this as it’s whole path of enlightenment.
It reminds me of the concept of the True Will in Thelema. Which Crowley explicitly stated was part of the right hand path. Sigh. I really hate all this “right hand path/left hand path” bullshit!
According to Demons of the Flesh sex magick comes from yogic sexual traditions from India, and similar tantric traditions from Tibet. The basic gist of the theory is that the Hindu goddess form of Shakti (also incarnate as Kali, a goddess of death who basically kills all she sees) is particularly manifest and dominant in sex magick, that this feminine principle is demonstrated when Shakti and Shiva (the masculine god, commonly known as Shiva the destroyer) copulate. Shakti is active and dominant, and Shiva who is terrifying and omnipotent is submissive.
The feminine principle is about maternity. About being penetrated. About having the subtle power attributed to women.
In my own Thelemic practice I reverently worship Babalon. Who is taken by Crowley from the Whore of Babylon in Revelations. Babalon is mother and harlot, she fucks all and annihilates them. She is death and life. Sex and love. And the transcendence of all fear. For some reason I can’t seem to get this out of a male deity in my current stage of initiation. I embrace this. I love pussy.
While trying to understand this “feminine principle,” yogis would engage in meditative sex rituals, including those which were specifically purposed to break taboos. This included breaking taboos of the Indian caste system, but also breaking taboos against homosexuality, eating meat, and many other social and sexual taboos of ancient India.
A brhamin high cast fucking a partner from the lowest caste , fucking in the presence of corpses, fucking to break one’s own weakness of mind. The yogis on this path make me think one part Mic Jagger, one part GG Allen.
From India we go to the western tradition, which the Schrecks accurately start out in Egypt and Babylon. The practice of sacred prostitution is thoroughly discussed. This was particularly beautiful to me. I love the idea of going to a church, and having a priestess fuck you so she can teach you about mystical truths and improve your technique. In many ways the ancients seem to have been ahead of us moderns.
This also makes it easier to illustrate the “feminine principle” that this book describes as the root of sex magick, it is about seeing sex as an iniatory act, as something that has the potential to reveal deep truth to you, especially about yourself. Women have to deal with themselves more than men.
The “masculine principle” in contrast does not have this level of awareness inherent within it, the masculine principle is about conquest and domination.
From these ancient traditions of sacred prostitutes we get secret societies starting with Christian and Muslim gnostics, there is great stuff in the book about sex magic secret societies in early Christianity, and medieval heretic sects. Historical claims made by occult books should be taken with a grain of salt. The book claims that the medieval sect known as the Bogomils used anal sex as an initiatory act, but the wikipedia did not seem to think this was particularly true.
I am not saying that the Schrecks were being dishonest or deceitful, they may even be right. Its just that occultism can be built on a lot of word of mouth, and speculation, and bad information to begin with. Crowley, for example, is a notoriously crappy Egyptologist.
This brings me to Crowley. The Schrecks spend a significant portion of the book discrediting Crowley. The bottom line seems to be that Crowley was too sexist to properly understand the “feminine principle” of sex magick.
I will not disagree that Crowley had all the problems that the Shrecks cataloged in their book.
But the authors cite Crowley throughout the whole book. Right to the very end. In some ways the book felt like a letter from someone from the Temple of Set to a Thelemite, saying so much of what Crowley canonized while constantly complaining about the man. I think people who have had the privilege of deep occult research take things for granted. The things that cause all occultist’s to agree with Crowley are not common knowledge. Many people have yet to learn them.
Besides Crowley is to be taken in the context of his time. It would be hard to have a rebel and provocateur like Crowley, who lived in the early 20th century, stand up to the ethical standards of our modern era. In his day the idea that sex might not be terribly sinful was the common theory.
This Crowley bashing is really my only complaint.
The book finishes with techniques. Including helpful guidelines for how to have your own magickal orgy collective. Lol.
My favorite was the account of a group which climbed a mountain to prepare for their orgy. Interesting thought.
Techniques for the use of S&M in sex magick also abound, and have provided me with much personal insight.
All in all if you like fucking you would like this book. If you like occultism and fucking, you would love this book.