As a minority path in the big tent of paganism, Dark Paganism remains mysterious. It takes inspiration from writers such as John J. Coughlin, Raven Digitalis, and Konstantinos. The dark refers to a philosophy that eschews the love and light crowd and focuses on a self-centric, individualized spiritual path that Frater Tenebris puts squarely in the Left Hand Path. The book describes the 9 Principles of Dark Paganism, provides a crash course in philosophy, and offers further thought on the social currents and creative arts that intersect with this spiritual path.

The Philosophy of Dark Paganism defines itself by 9 tenets: self-knowledge, self-acceptance, autonomy, magick, corpospirituality, environmental mastery, purpose in life, positive relations, and magnum opus. These tenets form the basis of 9 core chapters.  Throughout the book, there are long discussions of philosophical constructs from the ancients to more modern thinkers. At the end of each chapter are questions the reader can ask themselves and a summary of the chapter.
Despite being an individualistic spiritual path, Frater Tenebris promotes a moral path, warns against signs of cults, and clearly defines behaviors that are amoral and that he would consider outside the domain of Dark Paganism. It wouldn’t surprise me if the author were either a professor or a person who has written a thesis. I read the review copy and there wasn’t an author page so I am only guessing based on his style of writing. It takes some intellectual heft to pull together the disparate circles of knowledge required for this work in a sensible, meaningful way. I found the work became more engaging as it progressed.

This dark pagan path requires serious study, self-reflection, shadow work and application of logic and knowledge of philosophy. Some of the charts like Konstantino’s Cartesian grid were both informative and too geeky. The early chapters are foundational and make comparisons with other pagan paths in a way that is sometime a little too heavy for my taste. The Philosophy of Dark Paganism could be an academic research book or an initiatory guide to a spiritual path depending on your point of view. There may be some fluffy dark pagans out there that are more guazy goths than intellectual paragons but this dark pagan philosophy as defined by Frater Tenebris demands an informed, smart consideration of the forces of the universe and one’s place in it.

Recommended for readers who lean towards the LHP or who wish to understand it better

~review by Larissa Carlson

Author: Frater Tenebris
Llewellyn Publications, 2022
pp. 280, $21.99