Cults of the Shadow


Kenneth Grant

Cults of the Shadow explores obscure aspects of occultism that have been frequently, and mistakenly, associated with the negative and sensational phenomena of so-called ‘black magic’.

Much has been written about the doctrines and techniques of the Right Hand Path, but at the time of the initial publication of this book in 1975, this was the first time that a serious study of the equally valid and legitimate techniques of the Left Hand Path had been made generally available. As a Way of Spiritual Attainment, the Left Hand Path has a more ancient history than its better-known counterpart, for it stems from primeval phases of consciousness that manifested in historic times through the Ophidian Traditions of Africa, the Draconian Cults of ancient Egypt, and the Tantric Systems of India and the Far East. The evolution of these Mysteries is here traced through these, its earliest manifestations, right down to the present time.

The Left Hand Path has been shunned and kept out of sight because it involves a use of the sexual energies as a means of awakening the Serpent Power or Fire Snake, the key to cosmic consciousness, and also of controlling and directing the occult forces of the subconscious mind, the reservoir of infinite knowledge. The generally more enlightened approach to these matters in the present, post-Christian age has made possible the publication of these ‘occult secrets’, which for nearly 2,000 years have been anathematized on account of their psycho-sexual nature.

Present-day exponents of these Mysteries have formed their own cults for the revival and promulgation of this Secret Gnosis. Among them are Aleister Crowley, with his Cult of the Beast and the Scarlet Woman; Charles Stansfeld Jones, with his curious qabalistic researches; Austin Osman Spare, the artist who evolved his own system of sexual sorcery based upon ancient secrets of Witchcraft; and Michael Bertiaux, with his Cult of the Black Snake.

Above are three of the plates from the book, each of them montages by Steffi Grant depicting the work of Aleister Crowley, Charles Stansfeld Jones (Frater Achad), and Austin Osman Spare respectively.

The dramatic and colourful image above is the frontispiece to this book, Priestess of the Fire Snake, painted in oils by Steffi Grant in the early 1940s.

Above are the front and back endpapers for the book. The endpapers open and close with diary entries by Kenneth Grant. Also featured are extracts from a notebook in which Kenneth developed his ideas for the book, including an early draft of the chapter titles and a preliminary sketch for one of the line-drawings in the text.

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