The Left-Hand and Right-Hand Path
IntroductionTo understand the occultism in general, and specifically Satanism, Bestian Gnosticism, Gnostic Luciferianism, it is necessary to examine the concept of the left-hand and right-hand paths. I have attempted to understand all of the above areas, but may only have a crude grasp of them, despite my best efforts. It should be noted that the different systems of belief and practice within the stereotypical Left-Hand and Right-Hand Paths are often not readily categorised into one or other part of the dichotomy, and indeed, some utilise concepts from both 'left' and 'right' handed paths. Nevertheless, the definitions do hold some value in understanding paganism, Satanism, Luciferianism and occultism in general. The predominant usage of the terminology can be found amongst those who define themselves as being adherents of the 'left-hand path'. Eliphas Levi's Baphomet (seen below) is often used to represent the Left-Hand Path.
'The terms Left-Hand Path and Right-Hand Path refer to a dichotomy between two opposing belief systems, whose meanings have varied over time. Modern definitions of "Right-Hand Path" elevate spirituality, the strict observance of moral codes, and the worship of deities. The intent of "Right-Hand Path" belief systems is to attain proximity to divinity, or integration with divinity. Conversely, "Left-Hand Path" belief systems value the advancement and preservation of the self, glorification of more temporal and terrestrial goals, and personal power rather than spiritual attainments. Rather than valuing proximity to the divine, followers of Left-Hand Path belief systems seek to "become divinities" in their own right. These definitions are typically used by proponents of Left-Hand Path belief systems. Opponents often argue that these definitions improperly divide belief systems (a mislabeled or false dichotomy), or claim that many Left-Hand beliefs are illegitimate.'
Right-Hand PathAccording to Wikipedia:
'Right-Hand Path belief systems generally share the following properties:
- Belief in a higher power, such as a deity.
- Obedience to the will of a higher power.
- The belief that there is an absolute definition of good and evil that applies to everyone.
- Esoteric belief in a supernatural mechanism like Karma, divine retribution, or the Threefold Law, which entails the assessment of moral decisions made in one's lifetime.
- The ultimate goal of merging the individual consciousness into a greater or cosmic whole.'
The Right-Hand Path (RHP) is often defined as being a belief system or religion where a spiritual goal, state of mind (enlightenment), merging with the 'God-source', or the afterlife (as a prize for good spirtual behaviour whilst alive) is the ultimate goal. In general, one can view the Right-Hand Path as a set of guidelines for behaviour and spiritual management to set up optimal conditions for the next life (be it Heaven, reinunification with God or Reincarnation). The Right-Hand Path is often held to be that where a spiritual or supernatural force is necessary to embrace or worship to attain happiness or enlightenment. The mainstream religions are often classified as Right-Hand Paths, for example, Hinduism, Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, although clearly some aspects of Gnosticism are somewhat a Right Handed Path (in terms of the goal of Gnosticism to rejoin with God and escape the physical world and cyclic rebirth). Those that follow a stereotypical Right-Hand Path successfully could be said to be humble, relaxed, almost 'high', and feeling fulfilled on a deep level. Whilst the goal of mainstream religions may be to 'extinguish' the self, and to experience the spiritual realm whilst alive and after death of the physical body, clearly this is not attained by the vast majority of adherents in their lifetimes, but is an ideal of perfection that they wish to try to achieve to enrich their lives. Most adherents clearly still retain some sense of self, be it to interact with the material world and modern society and to survive and provide for themselves and their dependents. And to have fun. And to procreate! Many Christians are interested in bettering themSELVES with new skills or maturity in sport, business or on a personal level. An examination of the history of personal development and its spiritual and religious origins and significance is examined on the Psychology Bibliography page.
Critics of the Right-Hand Path argue it is too dogmatic, restrictive, removing one's personal sense of responsibility for oneself and one's actions; brainwashes people; making people feel obliged to be a certain way through guilt; obligation and fear; and destroys freedom, individuality and individual decision making; dumbs down people's ability to think and act rationally, and tends to confuse the mind; reduces people's analytical skills and ability to be objective; that one tends to interpret current events, interpersonal issues and many other things in religious terms, and perhaps fail to effectively understand the psychological processes or cause and effect involved in absolute terms; encourages or allows narcissism where one believes one is personally protected and provided for by God as one is virtuous etc. - delusions of grandeur; tendency towards traditional notions of socio-sexual roles and homophobia or however justified views of homosexuality not being something to merely accept ; clinging onto traditional institutions such as opposite sex marriage to the exclusion of non-traditional forms; oversimplifying the world around them; stunting intellectual growth in certain areas (although not all) - because of the need to incorporate religion and a set of unproven mythical beliefs, however modified (progressively) to best fit; giving up on life - lacking the confience to attempt to deal with one's life's challenges or issues oneself and adopting a withdrawal/fallback position and 'reboot' to a more childlike and innocent emotional state; easily offended and with unrealistic expectations of the outside world; conditional love rather than unconditional love (in the case of Christianity although this equally applies to the LHP); tendency towards widely differing treatment of others depending on foreknowledge or assumption of same religious disposition or not; lack of self knowledge/underdeveloped personality; lack of real world unity and fraternity amongst fellow Christians, which many only ever find disappointing; encourages adherents to need to convert others to propagate their religion like a virus (esp. Christianity or Islam) to eliminate diversity and potential 'threatening thinking or alternatives' which might challenge them by their mere presence; intolerance of other religions and philosophies; that the 'God' of the Right-Hand Path is a judgemental, cruel, overly demanding, childish and murderous one; utopian thinking; excessive reliance of the conforming of others to one's values to feel good inside; that one tends to fulfil some desperately needed emotional needs but either ignoring others or creating new imbalances and issues, through repression of part of the psyche (a sacrifice) which one can somehow try to keep a lid on indefinitely. These examples may reflect unsuccessful attempts to follow a Right-Hand Path although perhaps not and clearly it depends on the individual experience and implementation of related philosophy and beliefs.
The notion of cleanliness being close to Godliness is an amusing one for many. Many of the cruelist and most evil people on the planet have been very clean and well scrubbed up! And Jesus himself probably walked around in dirty clothes. Obsessive cleanliness is a product of 'civilisation' and particularly, modern hyper-consumerism. To suppress or deny part of one's mind and to try to be 'clean' could be argued to be as far from 'godliness' as it is possible to be! The definition of the 'good side' or 'love side' contains its own failing or flaw, in a Jungian sense. It is like trying to have separate a plant from the soil, or a finger from the hand. Of course, one cannot blame religions of 'light' for the abuses of monarchies, armies and churches in their persecution and suppression of 'primordial tradition' or 'natural religions' as they saw an ugliness or 'darkness' there that they wished to stamp out with decidedly 'ungodly' means. However, unfortunately, the two are often lumped together, and people blame the teachings of Jesus for example for the Crusades which had nothing whatsoever to do with Christ or Christianity, which were the opposite of the actual teachings they claimed to be fighting for or representing. Perhaps this is the irony of these religions. Or perhaps not.
Is the love of the 'religions of light' a true love or a false love, like an enforced love? Or are those that resist it merely in denial and prefer their own self-loathing or self-oriented ways? Perhaps a little of both. However, those that try to enforce a religion onto others or stamp on that which they do not agree with are not embodying love and if they claim to be doing so in the name of 'love', then they need to look in the mirror. This is probably what is meant by 'false love'. Love of course has its place, even in those that follow the LHP or the individualistic, anti-religious path.
Is 'light' really an idolic image of real love, rather than actual love and light? It is important to try to recognise the difference. Is the idolic image of love just a way of ensnaring minds into fitting into a 'matrix' or slotting into a machine, to keep people in line? Is it merely a bright light to blind you from being able to see? Would a divine entity really about such things in the physical world, or would such an outcome only be of interest/benefit to actual physical beings, i.e. humans, to create? Or is a being of light really just a collective manifestation of the 'light' side of the human psyche, or rather the 'false light', which is created and exists because the 'polar opposite' has also been created or refined, and suppressed deep into the psyche, demonised and to become the 'enemy' of the light - or anything else that threatens one's sense of 'light' and 'wellbeing'? Like creating male and female from what was once just unity of matter? One could perhaps view this in a 'Icke' type sense as being anodes and cathodes of a big cosmic battery! Whilst an amusing concept, this is most likely not true! It is more like a source of conflict and war, the conscious mind and the shadow fighting each other endlessly. Perhaps on some level a sanitised consumerist environment will always have an element of division as it's basis is delusion and creating 'needs' and 'dreams' based on the ego - otherwise consumerism would not continue to exist.
If we are to view the ordered or indeed chaotic cosmos that our physical bodies have 'condensed into' or manifested within is the 'Demiurgic Essence' (or representation of the Gnostic anti-God Demiurge, the enslaver of the souls of humanity inside of a physical prison of reincarnation and physical existence). But indeed, as that 'Demiurgic' essence is a confining vessel, it is also very beautiful and mind blowing - and can be whatever you want it to be - so why not! This is the opposite viewpoint of the Gnostic cosmology, or the flip side of the coin, that there are two sides to every story, and one side of each story is always that of wonder and beauty.
Most people perceive 'evil' as the result of one will(power) intersecting another will(power). Will exists in different degrees and in different ways, and the denser, low will may force the higher, lighter, less restricted willpower of the Christs or Buddhas downward, killing the dreamlike ideals or the lighter will power may pull the lower, denser will power up to the higher level of vibration, so that it resonates with the higher. It depends which is the most 'grounded'. If the higher vibration is grounded however, it will always pull up the lower. It depends what you want to call 'higher' as sometimes it may be a complex mixture of higher and lower, positive and negative will.
Some minds may be so idealistic that they are not operating on the basis of freewill, but are living according to the will of others, and their beliefs and values, 'absorbing' the will of others. This leads to conformity, depression, resentment and in extreme circumstances of 'collective psychosis' war and genocide. Those who utilise this 'should' or idealist mindset are often those greedy for power, and to manipulate others for their own gain, either political figures, fat cats of business, military leaders or even malicious occultists. Ironically, at the top of the hierarchy is the mind which wishes to self-actualise in an free manner, at everyone else's expense, much like to perverted form of the LHP. Perhaps the manipulations are a projection of the shadow inside the psyche, a desire for a perverted form of order, based on pride, greed or self-denial.
It is easier for the mind to dehumanise its enemies that to accept that they are humans and with feelings and reasons for what they are doing. People who have made a set of choices, and chosen a certain path to get to where they are today. During times of war, leaders tend to demonise the enemy, telling stories of extreme barbarity, to motivate people to want to fight them. If they told their recruits that actually they rather liked their enemy and that they weren't that bad really, and that he actually socialised with the enemy's leader of parts of his extended family, it would not motivate soldiers to do their job! Such tactics were used during the Crusades, and they were used during WWII to motivate the Americans to fight the Japanese. This is often why atrocities occur during wartime. Soldiers are fed propaganda and the enemy is demonised to a huge extent, the soldiers are all hyped up and pumped up with adrenaline and when they encounter the 'enemy' on certain occasions they just want to kill everything that moves. The military use special terminology to describe lives, death and killing with words like 'collateral damage', 'personnel', 'target', 'eliminate' or 'neutralise' to describe quite horrific acts of violence, but dehumanising them makes them more reassuring and palatable. It makes it easier for soldiers to go on killing without worrying too much about what they are actually doing, although more and more people suffer from PTSD. When a serial killer is caught, he is always demonised by the media so the public want to see him die, and they are more concerned with killing him than they are with the actual victims' families. This is why I am personally interested in seeing TV programmes about combat, life inside prisons, profiling murderers and serial killers, and stories of survival and life or death situations, as it gives one a chance to explore the minds of those involved and analyse their motivations, pain and thoughts in an intelligent manner. It is easy to shut out the 'dark' as it is too horrifying and simply class it as what you are not, and lock it away in your 'shadow' - but which will inevitably come back and haunt you.
Left-Hand PathThe term Left-Hand Path (LHP) originates from Hindu Tantra:
'Tantra is a set of esoteric Indian traditions with roots in Hinduism and later Buddhism (which is a separate Dharma formed from Hinduism). Tantra is often divided by its practitioners into two different paths: dakshinachara and vamachara, translated as Right-Hand Path and Left-Hand Path respectively. Dakshinachara consists of traditional Hindu practices such as asceticism and meditation, while Vamachara also includes ritual practices that conflict with mainstream Hinduism, such as sexual rituals, consumption of alcohol and other intoxicants, animal sacrifice, and flesh-eating. The two paths are viewed by Tantrists as equally valid approaches to enlightenment. Vamachara, however, is considered to be the faster and more dangerous of the two paths, and is not suitable for all practitioners. This usage of the terms Left-Hand Path and Right-Hand Path is still current in modern Tantra.'
Vamachara is not an undisciplined, 'orgy' type approach, but in a general sense contains more rules than Dakshinachara. In order to indulge in these earthly pleasures in such a manner so that they lose their power and hold over karma, one must approach it with the utmost discipline. An undisciplined approach would result in increased psychological addiction and ill health, which is not the desired outcome or goal.
The term Left-Hand Path was first used in Western occultism by Helena Blavatsky (the founder of Theosophy - pictured above) to describe sex magic. Aleister Crowley further popularized the term 'Left-Hand Path', referring to a "Brother of the Left-Hand Path," or a "Black Brother," meaning one who failed to attain the grade of Magister Templi with the AA (through fear and/or not letting go of the ego). Throughout modern history, many cultures have regarded the left-handed path as evil. This tendency can be seen in the etymology of words such as 'sinister', which means both "left" and "unlucky" in Latin. The left hand has often been used to symbolise the rejection of traditional religion.
Modern usage of the term Left-Hand Path often refers to those belief systems and religions that see themselves as diametrically opposed to mainstream religions, the 'darker' religions, choosing often to use inverted symbols, such as inverted cross and inverted pentagrams (e.g. Satanism). Examples of those religions and groups that label themselves as following the 'Left-Hand Path' including Theistic Satanism, Polytheistic Satanism, LaVey Satanism, Setianism (The Temple of Set and its sub-groups), Luciferianism, Gnostic Luciferianism, Dragon Rouge, Ordo Templi Orientis (Typhonian), Dark Paganism, Demonolatry, and Left-Hand Path Hinduism (i.e. Aghoris and Vamachara).
The Dragon Rouge logo is shown below. Notice the inversion of the triangle inside the circle. Dragon Rouge also uses a symbol similar to the Unicursal Hexagram of Thelema combined with a Chaos Magic symbol. The Typhonian O.T.O. is said to have influenced both Setianism and Dragon Rouge.
Dragon Rouge's web site is listed below. They are one of numerous LHP groups active today.
Some simply define the Left-Hand Path as being 'immersion' and the Right-Hand Path as being 'abstinence'.
It could be generally stated that the Left-Hand Path in Western Occultism is generally used to describe Satanism in its various forms: Luciferianism (containing elements of Satanism), LaVey Satanism, Theistic Satanism, Polytheistic Satanism and Dark Paganism (arguably almost identical to Polytheistic Satanism in many cases). It could be argued that Luciferianism and Gnostic Luciferianism could not exist without drawing on the archetype of Satan to some extent.
Baphomet is not infrequently used to represent the Left-Hand Path. It could be argued that Thelema and Chaos Magic in general also represent the Left-Hand Path. There are many different pagan religions and magical practices and Traditions that embody many aspects of the Left-Hand Path, for example, Freemasonry, The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, Rosicrucianism, Wicca etc. Some of these orders and religions (theoretically) display some arguably Right-Hand Path characteristics, for example, the universal brotherhood or Thelema and Freemasonry, white magic within certain branches of Wicca, etc. Thelema is however hugely more Left-Handed than Right-Handed. Freemasonry, depending on the branch and exact esoteric practices engaged in, is usually slightly more Right-Handed than Thelemic orders, given its charity work etc. This clearly depends on the Lodge, and some Lodges are definitely not Right-Handed in any way.
Quoting from Wikipedia:
'Left-Hand Path belief systems generally share the following properties:
- The conviction that individuals can become akin to gods, usually through spiritual insight.
- The conviction that there is no such thing as a selfless act. Fulfilling one's desire is acknowledged to be selfish, at the least reaping an individual sense of satisfaction. Altruism is considered self-deception, created and fostered by conventional religions.
- An exoteric interpretation of concepts like karma, divine retribution, or the Threefold Law, resulting in flexible rather than rigid codes of morality.
- The conviction that the individual is preeminent, and that all decisions should be made with the goal of cultivating the self (though not necessarily the ego).
- The conviction that each individual is responsible for his or her own happiness, and that no external force will provide salvation or reward actions which do not advance one's own happiness in this life.
- The conviction that the forces of the universe can be harnessed to one's personal will by magical means, and that power gained and wielded in such a manner is an aid to enlightenment, to self-satisfaction, and to self-deification.
- A Platonic view of deities as "first-forms." If deity is perceived as having consciousness, then all relationships with the deity are in the form of a partnership, or an alliance which does not require subservience. Some practitioners of Left-Hand Path belief systems summarize this concept with the statement that "prideful deities like prideful partners."'
The Left-Hand Path is often defined as self-actualisation, self-deification and the preservation of individuality. It is the pursuit of the self. Self-deification has many connotations, and can mean different things to different people, e.g. an ego trip; gaining psychological, magical and spiritual power through occult ritual (witchcraft), conditioning and symbolism; taking on more qualities and spiritual power of the Panentheistic deity ( e.g. God or Satan); learning to use the gifts from God, i.e. healing power, channelling and building Qi etc.; gaining insight into God and Gnosis in order to later join with God but reaping the benefits of wisdom in the interim, etc. Self-deification has a different connotation within Gnosticism and fringe Gnosticism (joining the Pleroma) for example than it has within Satanism (becoming as powerful as (a) God through allying oneself with Satan). The Left-Hand Path holds the premise that one is reliant upon oneself for one's happiness and fulfillment. It represents the interests, rights and freedoms of the individual over the collective (and not usually directly at the expense of the collective or of other individuals).
The Left-Hand Path could be considered to be about philosophy, wisdom and illumination (illuminism). It is often associated with hedonism, sex, gratification of the senses, dark magic, excesses in many areas of life, materialism, apathy, pride, contrarianism, a desire for self-power, and drug use; sometimes power over others. It often embodies the concept of Nietzsche's Power to Will. Self-actualisation is not exclusively reserved for occultists, but is a philosophy adopted by capitalists, artists, those interested in personal development, etc. The left-hand path is sometimes described as including the merging elements, or the unifying elements, where the activation of the Self is seen to be more powerful than the sum of its constituent parts. Occult ritual in the Left-Hand Path is seen as the most powerful tool of self-actualisation, above psychological tools such as Neuro-Linguistic Programming and other explorations and tools for streamlining, growing and enhancing one's experience of the Self.
Whilst Satanism is often considered the embodiment of the LHP, there are other expressions of the LHP which are considered as 'higher forms of wisdom', e.g. Gnostic Luciferianism. Here, the self is still the purpose behind the philosophy, but it does not dwell on the concepts of Survival of the Fitness and Strength, but focuses on 'higher' goals of self-fulfillment, intellectual illuminism, gnosis, and light and dark principles.
It is of course in many LHP private and secret groups, often those of an 'extreme' nature, the goal to further the self as much as possible, in monetary, power and influence terms, above all else. Such goals are best served by covert membership and 'old boys networks'. Membership is often only granted to those who are considered to have attained a certain level of wealth and power. This being considered a true measure of their worth in occult terms, in other words being able to manifest in material terms their Will in their own life; how educated they are in the occult and how many books they have read are not considered to be as important or relevant if they cannot apply it and change the world around them according to their Will. Such goals are rarely best served by 'false altruistic notions' of improving society through openness and education, but merely doing what they can to further their own ends above all else. This is more an attribute of Satanism, the most materialistic form of the Left-Hand Path. Gnostic or Luciferian groups may share some of these elements, but on the whole their main pursuit is intellectual furtherment and wisdom, of course which should be applied to one's own life, but materialistic goals are balanced with others, be they intellectual, spiritual or artistic, and indeed may not feature at all.
Critics of the Left-Hand Path argue it is/adherents can be (to varying degrees): excessively narcissistic, glutinous, selfish, materialistic, worthless, empty, emotionally stunted, soulless, heartless, childish (teenage knee-jerk philosophy), thinking one knows it all, taking oneself far too seriously, controlling, lacking a sense of humour, devoid of natural joy, emotionally distant/repressed, antisocial/unsociable/lacking in social skills/unfriendly, tactless, rude, foul mouthed, devoid of 'conventional' etiquette, impolite, lonely, isolated, morally bankrupt, emotionally naive, tendency to use people (sucking up what they need form them like a sponge) and give little back in return (unless one enjoys intellectualising and talking about a certain subject), often depressed or dealing with crippling personal/psychological issues, cramped with excessive negative core self-beliefs hidden away with a layer of 'strong, self-oriented' beliefs, hollow, culturally backwards, clueless, social misfits, lacking in empathy and consideration for others, left brain biased (excessively reliant on rationalisation and ego-control), excessively and addictively dark, morbid, negative, cynical, excessively reliant on black magic, gratuitous goth/death/demon imagery fixated, chaos magic and malicious magic compared with other forms of magic, self-actualising on a very low (knee jerk) level, never satisfied, requiring something to be in opposition to (i.e. rebellious, adversarial - a perverse rejection of norms for the sake of it to superficially increase self-esteem) rather than representing the true self as it wants to be, extremely sharp in some areas but veering towards 'insanity' in others, tendency towards extreme right wing political persuasions (in some individuals), representing a shallow form of self-esteem with no real solid foundation, promoting an unhealthy reliance of alcohol, drugs and the 'buzz/entertain me' mentality (lack of gratitude), and often resulting in massive, overinflated egos. These examples may reflect an unsuccessful attempt to follow the 'true' Left-Hand Path. Some critics of the Left-Hand Path regard it as the path of darkness, seeing certain specific Right-Hand Paths as the path of light. Indeed some adherents of specific mainstream religions may see other mainstream religions as being paths of darkness and containing some Left-Hand Path elements to varying degrees.
Some people argue that the Left-Hand Path attracts people with character flaws, bullies, those who treat others badly, those with addictions, those with disrespectful and negative childish attitudes by default, and that the path does little to actually encourage more positive traits or really work on the core negative traits. Their character flaws and toxic personalities are represented in some LHP systems as being illumination and are further reinforced, depending on the extent of self-deception. This is ironic as the LHP is supposed to be the opposite of self-deception. The LHP appears to pander to those who aspire to greatness, and such individuals often tend to have overinflated senses of their own importance or intellectual capabilities or their knowledge, logic or wisdom - when in absolute terms they are often nothing special and 'dress up' their thoughts to make them sound deeper than they really are. Many people are attracted to the LHP as it has a 'dark' and 'adversarial' image, which is perhaps in part on account of the gratuitous 'gothic'ness and obsession with 'dark' imagery. Those who fancy themselves as misunderstood or 'dark' may well find it attractive - for a while.
Some LHPs do have some more worthwhile attributes and draw on Eastern philosophies where being a bully, excesses or nurturing the ugly side of one's ego are not generally seen as very wise. It of course depends on the individual and what the person chooses to focus on and what sources they draw from. What their movitation to taking up the LHP is and what their intentions are. Some LHP groups breed conformity in mentality (e.g. the Church of Satan) whereas others much less so or the opposite. Some consider that following the LHP helps to grow their character, and it is about the Will and the self, and whilst some adherents do appear to be more direct, no nonsense and rational in their thinking, they are often distinctly lacking in personality, character and wit, something that presumably a system for developing the self should have at the top of the list.
Part of the reason why those who follow the Left-Hand Path may seem self-absorbed is because often they are following that self-oriented side of their character, and much of the occult work is by definition self-oriented and intensely introspective and as such may in some instances come across as selfishness or being short or even an 'asshole'. Indeed, in some circles, being a bit of an asshole is actively encouraged!
It is not unknown for followers of the Left-Hand Path, and indeed occultists in general, to suddenly and without warning cut people out of their lives, or to withdraw from social contacts and friendships indefinitely or for periods of time. If such an individual sees something as non-productive or counter-productive to the self or the selfÕs goals and desires and needs, then the predisposition is to cut it out with little regard for pleasantries or social etiquette, or one's past history for example. An occultist may 'go into hiding' or a period of introspection as he may be over-sensitive to external stimuli that perhaps others do not perceive. After a 'cooling offÕ or readjustment period, the person may return to his old self. Or indeed, may simply keep being himself, but cut people out in this manner as he goes along, perhaps taking on new acquaintances or activities that seem to meet his needs or perceived needs at the time - which may well be cut out after a time of no longer serving a purpose for him or when he has 'got his moneyÕs worthÕ, feels no need for them any longer or tires of them (perhaps gets to know them properly and his initial vision or projection of who he thought they were is shattered by reality). This may be perceived by others as antisocial, rude and selfish behaviour of course!
Followers of the LHP often cite the concept of the Jungian Shadow as a justification or reason for their lifestyle. Whether this is a primary or secondary reason may vary from individual to individual and may not always be known to the person also. For a discussion of the LHP and the Jungian Shadow, please see the Jungian Shadow and the Occult page.
It would be incorrect to assume that all occult practice is of the Left-Hand Path. The sub-category of the occult that is normally associated with the Left-Hand Path and Adversarialism in general tends to be daemonology (invocations involving demons, aka Goetia), rituals involving the Luciferian and Satanic and other related archetypes or deities, Enochian magic and destructive/malicious/predatory magic. It is in general about personal power and embodying archetypes, literal or symbolic of power and 'darkness'; and anything occult practice that increases the sensation of the 'self' and independence from all others. Of course LHP practitioners often wish to embody archetypes of stillness and calm, but this is not really in the realm of the occult but in elements taken from Taoism and Buddhism.
Other forms of magic are not exclusive to the LHP, involving Tarot (and their relatives Oracle Cards), divination, automatic writing, palm reading, astrology, chaos magic, invocations involving other, less 'dark' deities (those not about just power but other archetypes and emotions), and sex magic are practised by Neo-Pagans and others. Some of these practices are a form of Theurgy, from the Hermetic magical tradition. The preference for these different practices differs according to different LHP practitioners, but sex magic is usually quite universally practiced, probably because it is most immediately enjoyable! Some LHP practitioners however consider some of these other practices perhaps a little too 'new age' or lacking in 'power of the self' or the ability to enhance the one's sense of power directly.
It should be noted that from around 3000 BC up until perhaps the 19th Century, there was no separation of astronomy and astrology as we know them today, but they were one and the same. All famous historical astronomers were astrologers and sometimes even priests. They combined the scientific study of the stars and the visible universe with 'non-scientific' predictions based on the movement of the planets within (i.e. in front of) different constellations (corresponding to astrological symbols and representations of animals). Now that the two disciplines have become separate, we should perhaps consider the two. Many Left Hand Paths promote science, knowledge and wisdom as the ultimate goal. Is the pursuit of astrology still valid? As for many it is considered historically outdated and no longer a science as it once was? Well this comes down to whether one believes it is literally true or not. But presumably those who study astrology should pay equal attention to astronomy, rather than focus more on astrology and have little grasp of the cutting edge of astronomy or even the basics. No astrologers of old would have been so ignorant! They did not have the luxury of all the tools available today. Should modern astrologers be so unscientific?
White magic and spiritual healing magic is not generally in the domain of the LHP and is practised usually by Wiccans or other 'white' magicians, witches or pagans, often involving the Horned God (Pan) or other less malevolent deities. Clearly the practice of magic is intended to change the individual, and some believe change one's surroundings or others. The intent behind the magic is often what differentiates it from 'white' or 'black/dark'. Those who practice 'white' magic or the more common forms of Wicca also claim to be evolving their psyches and developing the Self, which followers of the LHP also claim, but the 'white' practitioners tend to avoid malicious or 'dark' ritual as they believe it is spiritually damaging, whereas 'dark' magic practitioners simply believe it is an expression of the Self or a way of exploring/developing the Self. Intent and goal is clearly important. LHP practitioners perhaps regard White Magic often as comical as it is more about others than just the Self, which is the goal of the LHP.
It should be noted that the term 'occult' derives from the Latin 'occultas' for clandestine, hidden or secret, and is used to mean 'knowledge of the hidden'. It is sometimes used interchangeably with 'magic' or 'esoteric' although the former use is perhaps not strictly correct. The occult can therefore be used to refer to the types of 'magic' or 'astral' described above, but also to prayer, visualisation (the law of attraction), NLP, altered states of consciousness, dreams, exploring the Jungian Shadow and psychoanalysis, existentialist art, books or cinema, philosophy, and perhaps even fantasy/role playing. In short, it can simply refer to exploring the (subconscious) mind through various forms and methods, aside from actual rituals or rites, astral 'travel' etc. Some say that the 'occult' would not exist without the subconscious mind, although clearly, life would not be possible without it! Of course, there are many ways to explore the subsconscious mind and the hidden. Clearly, God is 'hidden' and could be termed as 'occult'. Certain aspects of prayer indeed use principles of visualisation and practices that some Wiccans would call magic. Indeed, some Wiccans might class visualisation and attraction type exercises as 'empty prayers' i.e. they are not 'aimed' at God. Indeed, occultists, the term generally used for those that explore the whole of the occult, as they perceive it, with particular emphasis on ritual as a tool for (self?) exploration, like to think that psychology and philosophy is part of their domain by default, and that anyone who has an interest in these areas is therefore an 'occultist' - but this definition therefore associates them with the astral. This is perhaps grossly unfair to hijack the term in this manner, or rather to automatically associate it with areas that do not necessary have meaning to a given individual or are deemed completely different. There are a number of disciplines that have been 'hidden' over the centuries, including the law of attraction and hermetic philosophy, and they are early forms of psychoanalysis and personal development. They could be classed as 'the occult' but whether they are superior forms of psychology exploration to the more modern forms, or just variations on a theme (mixed in with a little 'symbolism', 'ancient narrative and myth', 'superstition', 'mumbo-jumbo' and/or 'dealing with evil spirits or the Devil'), is up to the individual to determine.
The shared influences between the (political) far right and various Left-Hand Paths are discussed on the Satanism and the Far Right page. This is not to say that adherents of the LHP are automatically Neo-Nazis, as there are clearly conceptual differences (rights of the individual vs interests of the collective), but that they both draw from many shared philosophies.
Issues of DefinitionIs there really such a thing as a purely, 100% Left-Hand Path and a pure Right-Hand Path? This is probably impossible to keep up all the time. Are some people emotionally stunted because they are slaves to a prescribed exclusively Left-Hand or Right-Hand Path? Or is this a sign of enlightenment? Most people lie in the middle somewhere, some closer to one extreme than the other. Is a harmony between the two actual balance? Or merely a confused state? Surely one should follow one's own Path, one's own Will, whatever this is - first one has to figure out what it is of course through self-knowledge.
Some may argue that the modern usage of the term Left-Hand Path has little in common with Vamachara in the Tantric tradition, just as the modern view of the Right-Hand Path (e.g. Christianity) has little in common with Dakshinachara. Whilst the concept of the two paths (LH and RH) was clearly inspired Indian Tantra, whether it was ever literally meant to describe them is another matter. It is clear that the concept of Left-Hand Path has evolved somewhat since then, taking a big leap from Blavatsky to Crowley, and against from Crowley to modern Satanism and related traditions/groups. The concept of the two paths were originally representing related but different traditions within the same 'religion', whereas the modern usage is dualistic, dichotomistic and setting the paths in opposition to / against each other. The Tantric Vamachara was never 'in opposition' to anything. Indeed, the spirit and discipline of Vamachara is distinctly at odds with the modern, self-deification and self-serving nature of the LHP. Regardless, we are here mainly concerned with the modern application and usage of these terms. Some may see a 'wiser' route in the occult to represent elements of both of the Tantric definitions, rather than a binary choice between modern definitions and a more 'conformist' approach. How useful are the modern applications of the terms and do they do more to lock people into fixed, dualistic and arbitrary modes of thinking that provide genuine wisdom and a realistic description of religion?
Ironically, many Left-Handed groups draw on many concepts from Buddhism, Taoism, Tantra and Hinduism as part of their practices, in particular meditation. Whilst these religions and philosophies are often labelled as Right-Handed, they are highly heterogenous in conceptual terms and contain elements that can be used by both Left-Handed and Right-Handed philosophies and magical traditions. Some branches of these philosophies are considered Right-Hand Paths, e.g. Philosophical Taoism, Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism etc., whereas other branches of the same religions are considered Left-Hand Paths, e.g. Alchemical Taoism, Vamachara etc. Does this mean that one can generalise about these religions and philosophies and state they are all Right-Hand Paths? Clearly not. Classification is not without its problems, and the convenient concept of (Monotheism/Satanism) dichotomy is highly flawed.
LHP/RHP is perhaps a metaphor for chaos vs control; self-control vs outside control; hedonism and self-gratification vs acetism and restraint; being a slave to ones desires vs rising above one's desires; self-self-interest vs sacrifice and serving others; abundance vs sacrifice; abundance through self-actualisation vs abundance through faith and non-attachment. The definition of LHP and RHP leads to an inevitable perception of a philosophical war and duality of philosophy, an appreciation of what lies in the middle. Even those 'higher' LHP philosophies that believe they embrace some elements of abstinence or Eastern Religions, still house themselves very firmly in the LHP camp, rather than rising above the definitions of either LHP or RHP.
Does the 'dark' versus 'light' or 'light' versus 'dark' paradigm perpetuate the 'dark' forces in our society and consciousness? Or is it a result of lower forms of self-actualisation of those lacking in self-belief, confidence, self-honesty or self-knowledge? A representation of the crudest expressions of lower consciousness in those that are unable to self-actualise and get in touch with their higher levels of consciousness? If the followers of the RHP were more prepared to acknowledge their fears and lower levels of consciousness, would they know more inner peace rather than internal conflict of different levels of consciousness?
Most LHP practitioners do not also acknowledge that the 'RHP' is an equally valid method or discipline, like their Tantric brothers once did. In the vast majority of cases, they regard it as an inferior or backwards method of psychological evolution. Clearly what we call the RHP today, including Western religious dogma, has very little in common with the Tantric version. LHP practitioners have clearly introduced additional philosophical concepts, from Nietzsche, Darwin, (late) Crowley and LaVey; but as stated above, many of the early Tantric concepts have become very diluted or taken out of context and much of the mental discipline has disappeared, or the method has disappeared, replaced by a 'made up' discipline or method, depending on the mood of the practitioner - rarely a systematic and tried and tested approach. It also makes the practitioner susceptible to delusions and paranoia, whether spiritual/astral paranoia and delusions, or conspiracy theory type delusions, on account of a lack of mental discipline and perspective.
Comments by OthersAn author friend of mine once commented that the occult in general used to attract some of the greatest and most brilliant minds, filled with originality and creativity. Now, he says, it is filled with sh*t, wannabes and Wiccans. My friend admits to being a snob, but reiterates that there is so much drivel in the occult world today. He liked Anton LaVey and his ideas because they were an interesting take on Satanism (if such a thing existed prior), in modern packaging - of course not everyone agrees that Anton LaVey was anything special. However, as with most great thinkers, especially those that create institutions, orders, temples or churches, people tend to flock to those and reproduce what has gone before, hero worshipping LaVey and not really developing his ideas in any meaningful form. The same happened to Aleister Crowley. Whilst Crowley was indeed a publicity whore in some respects, he did at least contribute to the occult world (albeit regurgitating much Golden Dawn thinking initially) in a meaningful way, and his influence is still felt today. Very few occultists are creating anything new today. Many LHP groups are simply copying The Temple of Set's ideas from the 1970s. My friend also states that he likes the fact that it takes decades of study and practice to reach any kind of level of skill worth self-warrant. Only after decades of study would one consider oneself to be a Magister Templi in hermetic terms, and not a 'one year wonder' that appear in the hierarchies of some temples, whose adherents sing their praises and talk them up to be something far beyond what they really are in terms of skill and knowledge. Many temples he said take on too many students or initiates, and it is quantity over quality. Any occultist worth their salt (even beyond initiate level) does not believe in the rigid definitions of the LHP and RHP, according to my friend. If a strict LHP approach is a fundamental tenet of one's belief system, then one is perhaps in trouble.
Another acquaintance of mine stated that there are too many people in occult circles that have appropriated ideas from others, who have in turn appropriated them from elsewhere, with no real understanding of what the core concepts are and where they have come from. This is especially so in the New Age movement, where teachers frequently do not state where they got their (watered down) ideas from, perhaps for monetary reasons, and their followers simply regurgitate their borrowed ideas assuming their teacher was unique, coming back for more seminars and products. Historical knowledge is increasingly weak with concepts being watered down and blurred until they are bordering on meaningless. Few make the effort to read widely enough and are not really qualified to have a meaningful and intelligent conversation with.
© 2006-2014 Fabian Dee