The Left-Hand Path and Right-Hand Path

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Introduction
Left-Hand Path
Right-Hand Path
Altruism
Perception of God
Atheism vs Theism
Vibration, the Physical Body and the Spirit
The 'Astral Plane'
Dr David Hawkins's concept of the Ego and Levels of Consciousness
LHP and the Ego
LHP and Personal Development
LHP and Clarity
LHP and Honesty
Taking Oneself Seriously
Suppression of Weakness
The Influence of Social Darwinism on LaVey Satanism and the LHPa>
Occult Ritual
Vibration, the Physical Body and the Spirit
Dr David Hawkins's concept of the Ego and Levels of Consciousness
The 'Astral Plane'
Use of Inverted Biblical Imagery
Astral Vampirism
Chaos, Destruction, Malice, the Anti-Cosmic current and the 'Natural Order'
Conceptual Issues
Afternote

Last Updated: 20 October 2013

 
Introduction:

To 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.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Left-Hand_Path_and_Right-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.'

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Left-Hand Path:

The 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.'

www.dpjs.co.uk/lefthandpath.html

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. Theosophy is examined in more detail on the Fringe Religions page. 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.

www.dragonrouge.net

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 oneÕs past history for example. An occultist may Ôgo into hidingÕ or a period of introspection as he may be over-sensitive to external stimuli that perhaps others do not perceive. After a Ôcooling 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 Ôgot 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?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Astrology

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.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Occult

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 CoS 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.

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Right-Hand Path:

According 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; that the 'God' of the Right-Hand Path is a judgemental and cruel one. These examples may reflect unsuccessful attempts to follow a Right-Hand Path.

The lyrics to the Circle Jerks song 'Wonderful' are shown below.

http://www.metrolyrics.com/wonderful-lyrics-circle-jerks.html

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Altruism:

Some people argue that morality does not exist. Whatever you do, you do to fulfill your own needs. This is said to include altruism, unconditional love and a genuine desire to help others (as much as possible). Are these activities simply fulfilling the need to contribute beyond oneself? A list of fundamental human needs can be found in the psychology section.

Or perhaps through a sense of guilt or obligation, according to our religious theology and understanding of 'our duties'? If one is simply helping others for the latter reasons, is one really a good person? Or is one fooling oneself? And merely ticking boxes so one can increase one's self esteem and sense of purpose? If it is the latter, then perhaps the motivation to keep performing random acts of kindness may disappear once we have felt good again, and are only performed again perhaps when we start to feel 'bad' about ourselves. As described in the Psychology Section, random acts of kindness actually boost the giver's immune system and result in increased levels of serotonin. If indeed people who help others occasionally are only doing so to make themselves feel good, then surely altruism is in a sense a Left-Hand Path? In those who want to do it and enjoy doing it? And don't need to motivate themselves to do it? Anything that produces serotonin and makes the person feel great and engages their senses in a pleasurable manner is surely hedonism on some level? Are feelings of commonality and unity, such as brotherly or sisterly love strictly Right-Handed? Can one not feel this, but in a Self-frame of reference? If something feels good, then is it not good for the self as well as good for others? It is often said that by loving yourself you can love others or be of help to others, and by not loving yourself or respecting yourself, you cannot respect others as you will be a hollow, damaged shell. In this sense, then, one's primary duty to oneself and the world is to simply be oneself and treat oneself properly and look after oneself properly. After that, then it is up to the individual how much he wishes to love others, to fulfil his own emotional needs. Of course, the motivation for adopting love and respect for the self may be altruistic (i.e. goal-oriented) or it may indeed be self-oriented. And indeed the reason may affect the spirit in which it is undertaken and expressed/experienced to a large extent. It should be noted that very few adherents of the Left-Hand Path are ever actually totally Left-Handed, as they in some capacity help others, love others (unconditionally or almost unconditionally) and contribute to others, for example, their children or spouse. They may not admit this of course as it may be considered 'weak', depending on the internal consistency of the Left-Hand Path, e.g. Satanism is frequently overly 'strong' and 'macho' and does not like to entertain or admit weakness, even though it is often there on some level and maintained. Some forms of witchcraft, e.g. White Magic, may be Left-Handed in method, but Right-Handed (i.e. Altruistic) in intention.

So if you are doing a good deed, do you only do it because it makes you feel good or that you want to control the other person to make them how you want to see them - that might be in their interest or an archetype according to your moral/spiritual beliefs? And that if you are selfless, you only do it as you know someone will return the favour to you in the future or so you can be seen to be doing good demonstratively as it makes you feel important or gives you kudos? Or perhaps receiving thanks is part of the acknowledgement or approval you are seeking to give you a sense of certainty about yourself? Expecting thanks is a conditional act of altruism and hardly altruism at all. It is a form of ego trip.

Selfless and unconditional and anonymous acts of kindness are deemed to be truly 'good' and what the Bible teaches. If one does a good deed and does not expect anything in return, this is the principle of treating your neighbour as yourself. This is the idea of karma, you spread something good around, and it spreads. You do something aggressive or selfish or cruel, and it spreads also like a virus, and influences others around you to 'go kick someone else so they can feel better'. One small action has a thousand repercussions. If one is selfish and takes what one wants all the time, then clearly one is doing it to satisfy certain needs of the ego. So the argument is that whatever you do, you do it for yourself, to satisfy one or more of your core psychological values. So is being a good Christian or a good person just an ego trip? Are Christians only trying to be 'good' as they know they will get a carrot at the end (ticket to heaven)? Would they still do it if they knew they wouldn't get in or if heaven and God didn't exist? The truly good (Christian) person would do it anyway regardless. As soon as the going gets tough for some shallow and self-interested Christians (only in it as they want to go to 'heaven'), they give up.

What is a good deed? It could perhaps be defined as an act that has no direct benefit to the giver but that the receiver is receiving something that makes them feel good or that they really need (that they either acknowledge they really need or that they realise after they've received it). If the recipient does not want it, or the giver has an agenda (e.g. trying to convert homeless people who are being given food) then clearly it is not strictly unconditional altruism, but the altruism is a pretext for an agenda or manipulation (which may be perceived as in the person's best interests!) The fundamental human needs explored in the Psychology section include contributing to others. This could be altruism as above or perhaps assisting someone in their path to self-actualisation. Or a satisfying past time on a higher level. Like a higher, soul enriching form of entertainment, a win win situation - a way to feel your own heart and help others at the same time. Or even educating others for no benefit to yourself (or perhaps you want the world to be easier for 'people like you'). It could be helping a stranger you will never see again, who is prepared to accept your help and listen if he is seeking advice or encouragement.

Is conditional altruism really altruism? How much value does it really have? If you are giving or helping another but only on the understanding or expectation that you will get some acknowledgement or validation of the effort you have made, then is this really a good deed? Examples may include letting a car in/out in traffic, when you expect the thank you wave. Getting the thank you wave back for many is an ego trip, whereby the giver can feel smug about having given. However, if the thank you wave is not given, then the giver may feel immediately hostile towards the other person. It is an annoyance connected with not being appreciated, making one think one wished one hadn't bothered. Of course, appreciation is not always verbal or gesticular, and silence does not always obviate appreciation. Some people are too busy driving to lift a hand from the wheel, or feel they don't have to wave every single time someone waits for them (when it is their priority anyway but when the other driver could have chanced it and gone through ahead of them). There are clearly issues to do with expectation and gratitute on both parts. The Bible teaches us that to only love those who love you back is not a sign of good character, as everyone does that. Well, most people! However, to unconditionally helpful people every single time, not really when they need it, but to spoil them so they are not inconvenienced (e.g. on the road or otherwise), is perhaps taking this out of context and a step too far. We should perhaps question our motivations and reactions when it comes to day to day acts of consideration as there are many ego traps here. Altruism is meant to make the giver feel good, not smug! And altruism is meant to mean something, and not just be reserved for 'good manners' or 'being polite' when one does nothing to really help the needy. Sometimes being overly polite to others on the road (when it is your own priority and the other driver is a considerable way off) is a sign of addictive self-deprecation rather than genuine desire for altruism. Often the two are tied together. Self-deprecation feeds the ego, albeit in the reverse way we are accustomed to. Of course, if we are talking about genuine acts of help or altruism rather than road manners related gestures, then if one tires of helping a certain person as however much we give, they just take and make no effort to help themselves, then it is a different story when it comes to giving up helping that person as it serves no purpose.

Altruism can be examined in the context of certain healing therapies, for example Bio-Energy Healing or Quantum Touch. In these therapies, the idea is to benefit both yourself and the other person, by raising your own level of vibration and feeling energy 'flow' through you from the outside environment into you (and into the other person). This is a win-win situation. If performed incorrectly, however, you can drain your own energy reserves and simply redirect them to the other person, which benefits them but really drains the practitioner. I have made this mistake myself when trying to practice these techniques with no level of instruction and has been left feeling totally drained and mentally exhausted. Perhaps one can make parallels here to other types of altruistic activity. If it is not a win-win situation, then one could question the purpose of the act at all, emergency situations aside.

In most cases altruistic acts that benefit both parties (win-win situation) are more directly and immediately benefitting the recipient than the giver, where the benefit is secondary and only there (to the full extent) if you view the whole interraction in the right light. It is certainly of secondary benefit compared with doing something directly for your own benefit, that you really need to do. An example could be dedicating time to yourself each week for personal development. Some might see this as self-absorbed or selfish, but a secondary effect of this might be benefit to others on other days of the week when you are more focussed as a person. For example, performing visualisation techniques and brainstorming your negative beliefs and replacing them with positive beliefs could be seen as more directly beneficial to you than a sense of satisfaction, sometimes a smug one, of doing someone a minor good turn. The former is meeting more of your emotional needs. Clearly the altruistic act meets slightly different needs, and they all need meeting, but some are more pressing than others. A miserable person is little help to anyone else. Some therefore say that you have to love yourself FIRST in order to love others SECOND. If you reverse the order, it doesn't work very well. If the giver is an emotional mess, then it doesn't make receiver feel particularly good about it, and may make them feel bad, guilty or awkward! What a great gift!

If everytime one gave someone a gift, one was guaranteed two gifts in return, surpassing the value of the original gift, then everyone would be doing it - as there would be immediate financial gain from doing so. Every chancer on ebay would be giving away their goods! However, the reward from giving is less immediate and physical, and so many do not recognise that it exists at all. Seeing joy in others is not a reward for some people. Some people believe that they do not care. Perhaps in such cases where a person regards altruism with disgust, that engaging in altruistic behaviour might be a 'truer' form of altruism. However, such a person who most likely eventually understand the nature of the reward and open their heart to it (and drop the ego). This is why many adults enjoying giving gifts to their children, as you enjoy that their children are so happy with their presents. This is why children are often reluctant to give presents, but are mainly focussed on receiving presents as they cannot see the reward and cannot often look past their own noses. Perhaps those who dislike altruism as it is 'false' are a little like this.

Some recipients of unconditional altruism may use the situation to exert power over the giver to make themselves feel better and less like losers. In other words to either turn the situation more to their advantage to try to rip off the giver or even mug them, or perhaps even to verbally abuse them or threaten them with violence. Or both! Take what they can then verbally abuse or threaten the giver. An act of altruism for some individuals with an elevated sense of pride may be seen as an insult, and they would not want to accept gifts or charity, as they work hard for what they have, and anyone trying to interfere with these values of theirs, of their property, may be threatening their ego-self. A giver can brush off such behaviour as examples of the few bad apples amongst the masses, or may view it as why one should not bother with charity in general!

One could view the desire to self-empower others but not actually offer them charity as another form of altruism. For some altruism has to mean charity, giving hand outs, rather than giving someone something that they can reuse and something that they can use to in turn empower and help others. One can view foreign aid or charity donations in this way. Some prefer to simply throw significant sums of money at a problem, hoping that it will either go away or to a large enough extent that everyone feels good about themselves. Whilst this may provide some relief in the short term, and directly help others, it can create a culture of dependency and remove the will to take responsibility for one's own destiny. Equally it does not to invest in others or a country, in terms of helping it becoem self-reliant for the future. It depends if one is focussed on short term relief or long term gain. Some people object to charity on the basis that it reinforces the very problem it seeks to alleviate, but that is not to say that they do not care, but may prefer to put their efforts into empowering others through coaching or other forms of community support. Those in the healing profession can thus provide healing to people (usually at a cost) or teach people how to heal themselves where the person does not keep coming back for more 'top ups'.

A similar take on the above might be the notion of fighting for the rights of the individual, for human rights, and the freedom of the individual to be themselves and to achieve their potential, whilst essentially leaving it up to the individual as to whether he takes up this new found freedom and makes an effort to be oneself. It is therefore possible to fight for the rights of others but also have very little interest in what others do with their lives, unless they choose to do something particularly noteworthy with it. Is this altruism? It is clearly helping others in some capacity. Some may reduce the scope of this philosophy and only fight for their own rights and ignore the rights of everyone else as that is their own problem and responsibility! The concept of altruism therefore in some way is tied to the concept of responsibility.

One could also take the view that shattering the illusion of a stranger and pointing to/offering knowledge of the objective reality of a situation and offering a person perspective in light of illusory based and annoying behaviour is also an act of altruism. It may not be popular or appreciated at the time - depends on the person. Sometimes people are so unable to see how their own psychological patterns are and their own shadow, that someone needs to actually directly tell them and give concrete examples (rather than just a flippant response), and point out an alternative if it is not obvious. If one's 'friends' are too polite to ever say anything, does that really make them 'friends' at all? If they do not care about one's own personal growth? Or at least only when it is easy to do so and does not involve opening each other's 'vaults' - maintaining a closeness of friendship but also aloofness and sense of isolation of separateness or denial in the friendship. Sometimes one's 'enemies' can be better friends than one's 'friends'! However, the motivations of strangers are not always benevolent but harsh in this respect and often there may be a large degree of egotism and desire to put the other person down, including some shadow truth, pointing out an error, but a large degree of exaggeration designed to try to make the recipient of the abuse feel as lousy about themselves as possible, to amplify the importance of the 'rights' or viewpoint of the giver of the abuse, as if the whole world revolved around them.

One could also view it as self-interest, in that one is only doing it as one does not want to have to put up with the confused/antisocial behaviour any longer! One may also find it annoying when someone uses poor technique, so correction may be an ego choice.

Altruism could also be seen as a PR exercise, done to project the outward image that one has good intentions and is benevolent, painting all one's activities with this rose coloured brush, whereas the reality may not may not reflect this at all, or may even be quite the opposite. Or perhaps to distract attention away from what one is really doing, which normally would be frowned upon. Some view some corporate sponsored charity work in this manner, or even Freemasonry. It is however sound business sense, depending on the nature of the cause and what sector one is in. Some argue that Freemasons do charity work for their own self-actualisation and to reach higher levels of consciousness. Others still argue that it is a genuine desire to help one's brother man. Presumably however, this altruism and care for humanity should be seen in other activities if it is indeed genuine, and in documented cases this is not so - but clearly it depends on which branch/lodge one is talking about.

Emerson believed that it was a beautiful thing that altruism and giving to others provided the giver with a natural reward. This seems to be a natural principle. You cannot separate a gift from its reward any more than one can separate the day from the night and just have one without the other. Why do some people object to the laws of the mind? It is basic psychology. Why not complain about the law of attraction, specifically regarding focus - focussing on what you don't want bringing you into a situation where more of that occurs. It is a law of nature. Please see the Social Darwinism page for more information on the basics of natural selection and kinship altruism, which plays as important a role in Natural Selection as Survival of the Fittest. Many LHP adherents are interested in embodying the laws of nature - perhaps in a selective manner in many cases - only the macho ones!

What is the big deal with a 'win win' situation? Why not object to any form of relationship, as often one would not embark on it if it was not mutual and one was not getting something back in return? Otherwise it would be deemed a humanitarian 'project'. Life is full of 'win win' situations - objecting to all of them would be perhaps ridiculous and too much like hard work, denying fundamental principles of existence, dependency and mutuality present in human beings. Humans are social creatures. No man is an island.

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The Perception of God:

Those brought up with Judeo-Christian traditions and culture may feel that there is ultimately no escape from 'God', and no matter what you do, he still loves you. This highlights the perception that within the stereotypical Right Hand Path, there is no freedom of choice. The beliefs of Christianity in particular, and perhaps Islam to an extent, regard there being an eternal punishment after death, if one rejects the true path. To those that hear the 'word of God', this can be seen as no choice at all. Christianity claims to represent freewill and the choice to accept God or not. After all, God does not want to force anyone to love and worship him. However, the truth is presented that one can either accept and love God, and receive eternal life, or one will be damned for all eternity. On the one hand we have the carrot, for the positive goal, but on the other hand we have the stick, that if we do not go for the carrot, we will be punished for all eternity. For those that believe this message, it is not really a choice at all. Who wants eternal damnation? Everyone has experienced a 'rough time' in one's life, so imagine that intensified a thousand times and experienced continually for all eternity. Anyone fancy that? If the choice was simply the carrot but no stick, then it could be considered a genuine fair choice.

Christians and those from other religions may often believe that if one believes in any other God, or if one believes in God in a different way, then one is worshipping the 'Devil'. When an individual moves away from being a Christian, for example, to Traditional Satanism or Gnostic Luciferianism, it is not usually a conscious choice to 'defect' to the Devil or Satan. It is more of a transformation, of a gradual shift in one's own perception of what God is, and what one's relationship to that God should be. In that individual's mind, it is still the same God, but just that one is seeing things with more clarity. Those who change the other way, who go from occultism to Christianity, may not however see it in this way, and usually adopt the Christian dualistic view.

It should be noted that other monotheistic religions do not believe that hell is for all eternity. Is a lack of faith or the 'wrong' kind of faith or relationship with God really deserving of eternal damnation? Surely it would be 'fairer' to not get the carrot or the prize, rather than get the stick. Some alternative views/takes on the afterlife, and comparisons with other religions can be seen the Mainstream Religion page for more information.

Does God feel genuinely loved and respected if people convert and worship him because they are fearful of the consequences if they don't? If the stick or fear evidence that you love God? Or that you feel pressured into 'loving' God. You can't fool yourself. If you pointed a gun at someone and forced them to be your friend or girlfriend, would you feel loved by them? Most likely not! Unless you were mad or trying to kid yourself. Deep down however you wouldn't. It is the same with God (probably). Similarly, if faith is only there because of a perceived carrot or prize, what kind of faith is that? Is it again just there for your own self-interest? If you are only interested in having a 'great time' whilst alive and after you die, then does God really feel loved? Surely a sign of true love would be one that received no reward. If for example you gave people in your class or study group $20 bills every day to hang around with you and be your friends, or if you promised them $1 million if they hung around with you for the next 5 years (with a contractual guarantee), would you really feel like you had true friends? Or would you feel that they were only there for the money? How do you think God feels? Or what about people how hang around with you because they have no other choice? Does that make you feel flattered? For example, some people adopt faith in God or Jesus as they have put themselves into a corner psychologically, where they would surely go mad if they continued along their chosen path, unable to help themselves as no beliefs they use (positive thinking or therapy) are powerful enough to shift this negative mindset - they adopt faith in God.On the same line, are some people looking for recognition or thanks in some sense by adopting or continuing with their faith? Are they looking for acknowledgement or a pat on the back? Some people are external referenced and seek approval from others, whereas others are internally referenced and do not require the advice or approval from others in order to make decisions or function. Are many with faith simply the former? Perhaps there is a large degree of anthropomorphism going on in this article, as comparing human emotions to Gods is perhaps not applicable. This concept is discussed on the Deities page.

Does God really want people to feel guilty, regretful, worried or fearful when they are 'disconnected from God'? Some say that one should never regret being happy, whatever the source of that happiness. If it is a superficial or fleeting source of happiness or dishonesty to the self, then this happiness will not last and the truth will manifest itself one way or another. Or does God want them to be positively motivated and attach positive meaning to situations, to trust and to have grace? To offer a positive lifestyle and belief choice rather than bribing or threatening people into 'loyalty' which is shallow at best in many cases and self-motivated rather than a sign of genuine love or search for the true essence of God within all of us and indeed everything. One could view God as more a pantheistic or panentheistic essence which one can embrace and feel or not (at one's loss perhaps), rather than the complex view presented by the Old and New Testaments. Or indeed one could view the OT and NT in one's own framework of understanding, of a sentient God, a person, and perceive the 'essence' of what the original teachings once were perhaps. Or indeed one can choose to perceive God in any way one chooses, what feels real and authentic.

It is important to try to analyse not only the content and nature of your faith, but also the motivation behind that faith. That is probably more important than the actual faith itself. If you intention or motivation behind adopting Christianity for example is purely saving your own ass, and by loving others you are helping yourself, then is it really loving? Is this a Left-Hand reason for adopting a Right-Hand Path? Are some Christians in a sense just being selfish and concerned with their future afterlife rather than having a genuine love of their brother man? This is usually clear when one notices that many Christians are too busy being judgemental or not giving people the time of day; and being unapproachable or unsociable. These issues are explored in more detail on the Belief page.

Christianity takes the view that one should serve God, rather than serving oneself. This in many cases views God as a person rather than a panentheistic essence. This view of God is one of master / servant, but equally in the panentheistic sense it could just mean acting on a higher level when one is closer to God and feeling God within one (or simply inspired by God) - the actual concept of whether one is 'serving' or not being irrelevant. Christians may see their duty to serve God as some patriots see as their duty to serve their country. God could be likened to a nation state, that has provided you with freedom and what you need to survive, and that you may elect to put your 'ass on the line' in the service of God or that nation, for the betterment and security of others. Whilst some people regard Christians who engage in volunteer work as busy body do-gooders, many do appreciate their volunteer work, such as helping poor or homeless people, which may well coincide with the goals of many socialists or anarchists, except for the theology of course! Whilst some anarchists feel that their country owes them a living, and should provide optimum conditions of liberty and wealth for one to simply be spoonfed, as it is one's 'birth right', that previous generations of workers have strived to progress society technologically and politically just for one's sole benefit, some also feel that why should they worship or thank God as they expect 'bread, water and clothes' and they may have worked for it themselves. Whilst many anti-establishment types may object to the work of a country's armed forces, they usually strongly support those that put their lives on the line for the benefit of the people of a country, for example firefighters, emergency services (perhaps the police in certain situations where their loved ones are at risk!) Some might regard such deeds of heroism as 'stupid' and 'illogical', as the prime goal is to serve the self.

What do Christians (for example) consider to be worse? Atheism or a different way of viewing God and a different type of relatioinship with God? Probably the latter ironically, even though it is closer to what they actually believe. Perhaps by exploring the nature of God and the Self, and a desire to get to know God better, one can in fact move further away from God (or perhaps just Christianity).

Following on from the above point that some people feel trapped and obliged to obey or accept God, as he is there loving you whether you like it or not, followers of the Left-Hand Path see that there is something else within oneself that sees other potentials. If is the part that wishes to self-actualise and to become 'self-deified'. Those 'borderline' Left-Hand Paths that do believe in God, a Gnostic God, or Great Architect, may regard their relationship with God in a different way, God being an ally rather than as a ruler. God being an essence, an inextricable part of life and being alive. Seeking to be one with God and to seek the realm of God could thus be seen to be a positive choice, as pursuing the ego is seen as a lower form of consciousness and shallow satisfaction, which may be fun for a while, but ultimately unsatisfying.

Christianity in a sense could be viewed as a form of failsafe. It is the last resort option if you really can't deal with your life anymore - if all else had failed - in the sense that you may have half-heartedly tried a few strategies but can't get over your own emotional hurdles to any degree - you are emotionally desperate to restore balance but would gladly accept an emotional return to base that gets you out of the present emotional vice, that is child-like in some respects in terms of the trust and love components, letting God take care of everything like a caring parent; you want to open the floodgates of feeling loved and feeling love for a God - which may replace a vacuum in that area of deep familial or romantic love.

Is not knowing a form of knowing or wisdom? Is a-gnosis (agnostic) a form of gnosis (gnostic)? By studying widely according to the philosophy of Illuminism, one may well read many different interpretations, philosophies and belief systems attached to the same area. Which is right? Can one ever really know which is right? Which sound right to you? In certain specific instances, when scriptural evidence is weak or the word of Jesus is weak, one could choose to elect to 'have no opinion' or take an agnostic view of that particular area. For example, when it comes to the afterlife or death, one could view that Jesus wasn't 100% clear on the fact that if one didn't believe in him, one would be damned for all eternity. It was more the other way around, if you believed in him you would taste life. Or were the Biblical texts 'sexed up' on such subjects and incorporated Zoroastrian ideas, and didn't quite reflect what Jesus actually said. Was Jesus teachings on this subject more in line with the OT and Judaism? He did after all pray at Jewish Temples and follow the Jewish religion in other respects. One could view the New Testament and Christian tradition of Heaven and Hell therefore with a pinch of salt, entertain a number of other possibilities, perhaps rule a few out (e.g. reincarnation - as it may not sound 'right' to you) and have a somewhat agnostic view about exactly what happens when you die and if you are actually judged or not. See the discussion on Heaven and Hell on the Mainstream Religion page. What I am trying to communicate here is that a relativistic or agnostic stance on certain Christian concepts or mysteries may be more 'enlightened' or 'wise' than a literal view. This is clearly up to the individual to decide for himself.

It is a shame that Christian denominations tend to focus on their differences and what they do not like about each other, or live in insular worlds where other denominations do not exist - as if their version of theology and the teachings of Jesus as the only true path; rather than focus on Jesus' teachings and his positive message. Many atheists who regard Jesus as just a wise teacher who was 'hijacked' by religious zealots might become much more interested in the teachings if the focus was here rather than on the 'formula of Jesus' - the idea that the Bible clearly states he said he was the son of God and there is no possibility that he was just a wise teacher. During Religious Education classes at school, I and a number of other students were genuinely interested in Jesus, but the teacher insisted this could not be so, presumably to try to bring in people to the faith with his written 'proof', but all it did was to turn everyone offand lose interest entirely. Is this a wise way to preach the message of Jesus?

Is a literal belief in the Christian 'Formula' and the entirety of the Christian narrative really necessary to have a relationship with God? That of God giving his only Son to be sacrificed so that the sins of man could be forgiven; and that in order to achieve this he had to die on the cross and be resurrected? And to taste eternal life, one must believe in this formula and accept Jesus as one's saviour, and one has a guaranteed seat in Heaven when one dies; rather than really try to understand the very deep sayings of Jesus and try to apply them to the complex situations and ethnical dilemmas of modern living? Is the exact nature of the formula so important to 'faith' or to feeling God? I (at the time of writing) acknowledge Jesus as a wise teacher, a source of illumination and being from God, but does not worship Jesus directly - but more prays to God and 'vibes' with Jesus. I believe the Trinity is probably a gratuitous narrative 'hangover' from various Jewish and Christian texts and traditions rather than of Biblical origin. The nature of God is clearly too complex to very comprehend, and to distill the essence of faith and God into a simple 'believe this and you will be saved' formula with an associated theatrical plot somewhat ridiculous. Perhaps this is a part Christian, part Gnostic interpretation.

As discussed on the Gnosticism page, there are differing views of sin. For example, the revivalist Thomasine Church believes in a philosophy of Illuminism and Hesychasm, based largely on the Bible and the Gnostic Gospels. The Thomasine Church does not believe in the concept of 'sin' but more of a concept of 'ignorance' of not knowing the truth or acting on it. It shows a lack of spiritual wisdom. It is not considered temptation by the 'devil'. I hold a similar view. I do not believe that a 'devil' and 'hell' really exist in the modern Christian interpretation of them (another set of concepts discussed on that page). I believe in a non-binary, non-dualistic view of God, in that there is either God or no God (i.e. the ego). Some balance has to be arrived at, with the emphasis of embracing God. This is a more Hermetic interpretation of God. I have a more nihilistic view of Christianity, in that it is more of a carrot-based philosophy than a stick-based one. Of course, excess ego punishes the self directly and indirectly through life, and that is the stick, but there is no 'fear of God' or 'fear of damnation' for me. 'Sin' and the 'devil' and 'Satan' are a sticky subject, but I do not take the modern Christian interpretation so seriously. I have a more Jungian view of the psyche and any form of denial and suppression is not really so wise in his opinion. However, that is no reason to embrace the ego and basic impulses and focus on those soley or very much at all. The more one tries to block something out and deny it, the more one is in a sense focussing on it and making it stronger. I believe in replacing something negative with something positive and powerful which takes all the 'juice' out of the negative, rather than fighting the negative without replacing it with anything that one really believes in, but which the conscious mind is trying to convince the unconscious is true.

Many people are brought up as Christians, but lose faith in God, as they see God of the Old Testament as judgemental and vengeful; and point to God not intervening to protect the Jews or to help the world's poor and starving; and to the promises of peace on earth not being fulfilled by history; and the fact that if you want to achieve anything in life or to spread peace you have to do it yourself and cannot rely on 'God'. The tendency is to move towards atheism or sometimes the occult or the LHP. However, let us analyse this for a moment. What we have is a monotheistic ideal of God, that people get disappointed in after much reflection and thought about what they want to do and be in life in general. To avoid and move away from the perceived errors in the idea of God, they move away from God completely and more towards the self or towards occult pantheism. However, this may be missing the point entirely. To view God as only a person is just one view of God. One can also view God as both a person and an essence, i.e. a panentheistic view of God. God is still a creator and a consciousness, but is also an essence that is in everything all around us, and that we must embrace or connect with (and to have a relationship with) in order to feel God. In this sense, the will of God is performed by those that act in the spirit of embracing this 'essence' and is not necessarily a supernatural event that people sit around expecting to save them when their lives are in danger. Of course, meditation and focus on God, and prayer can indeed result in miraculous outcomes, and one can view this as literally God or the power of the mind, when focussed on and using the framework/perception of God, or some part of the higher self. The ego may expect God to solve all the world's problems and to correct any area where the outside world conflicts with our arbitrary and culture-specific values, but surely the whole point of freewill is for man to choose and act, rather than expect someone to do all the work for him? Perhaps this latter way is a very selfish and self-absorbed way of looking at God - another way of expecting the world to 'owe you a living', like many self-absorbed angsty teenagers see it.

There are clearly many ways to see God, and ways to not see him at all. The bottom line is whether one should be 'punished' for any of these approaches, or whether by following a different path one is in a sense having more respect for God and oneself and others (or less depending on one's perspective). Is your faith a noose around your neck and restricting your very soul or is it enhancing your life in every way imaginable? Are you embracing some aspects of consciousness at the expense of others? Is this aspect so awesome that it is worth it? What is the nature of faith and belief? What is your relationship to it? Is an existentialist and open framework of belief closer to 'God' or further away from 'God'? Is Gnosis closer to God or further away from God? One may also argue what all the fuss is all about with regards to God. Is the purpose of being alive to not appreciate the gift of life? If one is to truly appreciate life and every moment, there are different ways of showing your appreciation clearly! Some philosophers regard the ideal existence as that which if repeated indefinitely would not be a curse and would still be something that one would want/find fulfilling.

Not all adherents of the Left-Hand Path or indeed more heterogenous or personalised versions of the Left-Hand Path adopt its archetypal standpoint of using/aligning oneself with a deity, but can adopt the 'carrot' approach, of adoration of a deity, but without the 'stick' or compulsion/fear of that deity. This could be viewed in the masonic sense of the Great Architect of the Universe (the universal deity) or an individual pagan deity that one happens to be worshipping. Veneration and adoration of a deity is indeed something that is practiced by some Neo-Pagans, for example, some Wiccans.

The definition of God or Monad within Gnostic Luciferianism is not the same as in the normal Judao-Christian sense or Right-Handed sense, perhaps being seen as a benevolent force or ally that helps one to experience Gnosis, knowledge, and self-conscious spiritual awakening from the experience/viewpoint of the Self. This is in some sense a cross between the Right-Hand goal of uniting with God, or learning from and emulating the essence and spirit of God, but from a Self stance, and the Left-Hand Path of self-deification and ultimate evolution of the Self.

Whilst some neo-pagan religions, such as certain types of Wicca, may employ the use of witchcraft, which is typically seen as being 'Left-Hand Path', they may also literally worship a deity or deities, not unlike a Christian worships Jesus. In such instances, these aspects of these neo-pagan religions may be regarded as being somewhat 'Right-Hand Path' in nature, not following the dark pagan and Satanist/Luciferian model. Indeed, some Wiccans may sound exactly like Christians, when they talk about worshipping of God (in that context meaning the Goddess).

In my experience, it is easy for inexperienced Christians and those Christians who are blind to themselves and their former selves, that one can confuse love of Jesus and that feeling one has with the Holy Spirit with romantic love and sexual love. If they both feel slightly similar. One can trigger the other in one's mind or one may associate one with the other in certain circumstances through association. For example, if one is feeling elated spiritually, if one is not careful and aware, one can see a soul that one finds beautiful, and have all these romantic feelings, that are totally inappropriate in the Christian context. The spiritual love ignites the sexual love or the person finds them so similar that they can swap from one to the other quite easily. This can lead to sexual obsessions and adultery etc. and ruin one's spiritual feelings, replacing them with lustful feelings. When I first became a Christian, or rather, nearly became one (on an Alpha Course), I was in a physical sexual relationship with a woman, and I started to associate my spiritual feelings with the intimate romantic moments. I thought both were compatible and gradually the sexual replaced the spiritual, without me really noticing until later reflection, when I was back in the spiritual (religious) zone a year later and able to recognise this. Some however regard love as love, whether spiritual or sexual, and such people often have multiple partners or are addicted to flirting and are less RHP and more LHP in this respect. Is this 'free love' confused? Or more integrated? Those into free love are usually more into self-gratification and the ego, and have perhaps less of a sense of brotherly love and duty, or rather it comes after the self more. One can combine sexual and romantic love with spiritual love for God and one's fellow man, within marriage, which is 'sex under God and sanctioned by God' in this context. Can this feeling not be transferred to others? And what would happen or what would this mean?

Many systems of faith take on the values and history of their culture. Many borrow from other religions. And many embellish spiritual truths with a little creative story telling, by accident (stories handed down from generation to generation will change) to change the nature of the faith, for political purposes, or to give emphasis to certain aspects of the original faith or philosophy at the expense of others. Many nation states may carry out horrific acts in the name of their claimed religion, even if in reality their actions totally contradict the messages of that faith. This however does not necessarily mean that one should ignore all systems of faith and belief, and all their teachings, that they are flawed or contradictory, and therefore false and rubbish; but that one needs to try to understand their history, learn from each system, keep an open mind, and try to understand what the original message of the faith or philosophy really was. And how to reach one's own spiritual enlightenment, if one is so interested in doing so. But neither does it mean we have to accept a large part of their teachings either necessarily if we aren't convinced by it.

One should not judge a faith by the actions of the majority (the hypocrites), but by the spirituality and actions of the minority, and the spirit of the faith in which they embody; the austerity and simplicity of certain culture's spiritual leaders or holy men (clearly in some cultures they are not austere whatsoever!) There are of course exceptions and boundaries that one may not wish to cross or delve into too much, for example, areas one considers to be dark or negative or ego-oriented, but this is a personal decision. This web site does not draw on one source only for matters of health and psychology, but chooses to go to a huge variety of sources to try to get to the bottom of things, to find the absolute truth! I like to adopt a similar approach in other areas too.

Often people expect to find the perfect 'spiritual model' or philosophy for you out there, pre-packaged and ready to apply. However like in other areas of life, this is never the case! To arrive at your ultimate spiritual self, you may need to embrace many many different ideas and philosophies and schools of thought, at varying times of your life, perhaps not all of which are widely accepted in society, and to have the common sense and groundedness to not get all spaced out and wierd and belief a load of rubbish. So statistically it may happen very often. But society as a whole seems to be evolving and slowly increasing in its spiritual awareness, and you may be pleasantly surprised to find that there are a large number of people who think the way you do if you actually found them!

When one considers a religious belief or a faith, one should consider whether one is attending religious ceremonies and services in order to 'condition' the religious belief and to reinforce it, and whether one believes what one does because one is continually trying to condition oneself to believe it, rather than actually genuinely deep down really believing it. Do many followers of different faiths simply adopt a set of beliefs because it is part of an overall package? And that they acknowledge that adopting the entire package is good for their spiritual and psychological wellbeing? Is the decision to reinforce faith a rational decision then, one deriving from a fear of losing this feeling or relationship? Rather than reflective of the actual relationship one has with God/a deity? Or a sign of real, solid foundations of belief? After all, if one holds a religious belief or set of beliefs, it is by definition not a 'rational' belief but an 'act of faith'. Therefore, should one really need to be continually convincing oneself of it? Those that are constantly convincing themselves of their faith are often those who are insecure in their faith and scared of influences that might detract from this cultivated state of religious and/or spiritual euphoria. They often have little idea of their day to day experience and philosophy in general and how it relates to their faith - they are often compartmentalised as less secure and more fragile as a result. Those that genuinely belief and do not need to convince themselves of it are usually much more secure in their faith and open minded in terms of discussion and new ideas, and less likely to stick to the most crude arguments and reasons for faith.

Are those who are religious walking around scared that a situation or person may conflict with their spiritual beliefs that they feel they should uphold or who might make them feel awkward? Can one go around cocooning oneself in some kind of bubble and separate oneself from any potential spiritual conflict or 'evil influence'? There is clearly a fine balance between avoiding that which is clearly trouble and feeling secure enough in one's core beliefs to remain untouched by any negative or 'poisonous' external interference or influence - in an effortless manner.

Perhaps the compartmentalisation that comes from attending Church on Sundays, as a member of the congregation or as a Priest, results in one feeling that one has fulfilled one's spiritual needs or duties within that arena, so that once outside of this world, one can continue as 'normal' and fulfill all one's other needs, and basically do what you like, within certain limits. Is a 'surrender to God' on one day a week or two days a week a licence to massage your ego on all other days of the week? Clearly it should not be, but for many it is.

I doubt that the nature of the universe is any less complicated that the nature of the spiritual domain. Something can be simple and yet complicated at the same time, depending on the level of detail you want to go into and how you want to apply it to all different manner of scenarios. And indeed the further one tries to extend a certain philosophy or belief system, the more it seems to contradict itself. It may never be possible to break down particle physics to the smallest 'building blocks'. The field of quantum physics and indeed astrophysics is indeed full of theories that cannot be tested empirically or proven. And indeed fanciful theories are constructed to avoid the contradictions in the 'universal' laws that we use in our world today, depending on the scale one is looking at, e.g. dark matter, dark energy and M-theory. Is light a particle or a wave? It is neither but it is both. Does this make sense? Presumably the spiritual realm is bound to be just as difficult/impossible to fully comprehend and seemingly contradictory, depending how crudely one is trying to understand it. Perhaps this is a reason to examine it; or perhaps this is a reason not to rationalise it; or perhaps this is a reason to try to distill it down to its very essence, the core feelings that define that faith (and perhaps for that person).

In a sense, all people who hold a firm religious or moral belief are by definition hypocrites. A faith seeks spiritual perfection, but this is impossible, so why does the person believe it if they can't attain it or aren't behaving consistent with their claimed beliefs all the time? So why pick on Christians? Christians are a fashionable target for ridicule or for criticism, often on account of the few visible proponents or political figures who claim to be Christian whilst not really representing Biblical values at all. Everyone is a hypocrite in some capacity. No one is perfect. Should we not strive to improve ourselves? But we should be humble about it and not claim anything necessarily for ourselves or seek to bolster our 'righteous position' or ego.

In a sense, religious or spiritual beliefs are just an extension of our other beliefs. When a person believes in a certain religious concept or spiritual belief, he often does so because it sounds appealing or it is the way he feels things 'should be'. Spiritual beliefs are often created or taken on in order to justify a person's actions or behaviour or an ideal of behaviour, or to support inaction, or even to provide a kind of 'opium' for the mind - a kind of leverage to feeling good that might not be possible otherwise with 'secular beliefs' that do not go as deep into the psyche and seem like 'good ideas' rather than 'musts', with less emotional leverage attached to them. I have noticed that a person's religious or spiritual beliefs often reflect their general attitudes or beliefs in other areas, and the more outlandish one's beliefs are, the more likely it is that one's spiritual beliefs will be as outlandish, if not more so. I have personally found that Conspiracy Theorists or 'Truthers' to have the most far out religious or spiritual beliefs, and these often reflect their frequently far out secular beliefs or ideas on current affairs. Religious or spiritual principles or motivations are also often attached to these conspiracy theories, 'sexing' them up even more, creating even more 'unreality'.

Some people promote Christianity as universally good, and that if you embrace Jesus into your life it is only a good thing. I used to say that in general the answer is yes, but I don't think that you should accept Jesus just because you think you ought to and change your values just because you feel you ought to. Some Christians think that a belief in Jesus is a binary matter, but there are a multitude of ways of viewing Jesus, as a prophet, inspiration, or as some kind of divine vehicle. In the latter sense there are numerous ways of viewing Jesus and God besides the Trinity.

Adopting a faith can potentially be extremely psychologically damaging in terms of one's self worth and concept of self. Many Christians take faith as a replacement for their brain or rational thought. When they have faith, they don't have to think! God will sort it all out. Unfortunately, it doesn't quite work like this, and you have to make decisions on the spur of the moment intelligently and with your faith in your heart. And be put into tricky morally and spiritually ambiguous or unclear situations and see what you do with it. And pray for help and for others. But the reason you are on this planet is that you have to personally make decisions and take accountability. Otherwise God wouldn't have bothered creating humanity as a bunch of monkeys or robots would have been equally as efficient. But your faith doesn't always 'give you instructions'.

This isn't what faith is about. It's not a simple rule book to dictate your behaviour. Applying rules and principles isn't easy. Life is complex. Many situations aren't comfortable and don't have a perfect outcome whichever way you choose to deal with it. Sometimes each option is a bad or uncomfortable option. Our society is highly disassociated, abstract, alienating, anally retentive and unhealthy. Everyone is different, but I think in some individuals, their faith has not been altogether good in all areas of their personality. I think that you need to ask yourself on a daily basis why you believe this or that and that you are happy with your relationship with God (or who/whatever you worship), and you are doing this because you want to. You have chosen to do so. And because it feels good in its entirety and there are no unpleasant or repressive aspects that you are trying to brush under the carpet and kid yourself about; and you try to use your brain. I don't think religion should be an excuse to ignore and give up on learning about many aspects of life. And I don't think belief in Jesus should be an excuse to shut one's mind off to science, philosophy, psychology and alternative/complimentary health etc.

Many Christians just believe and think what they are told in church and make no effort to understand where the boundaries of their faith lies and how it relates to other religious ideas, and therefore what it is compatible or incompatible with. And in addition, what is looking to destroy their faith. And so they can engage in intelligent conversation with other people about Religion and not make gross generalisations about what they perceive to be 'evil' and also what fringe beliefs they need to be wary of. Of course, each individual interprets and applies their faith differently and needs to draw their own boundaries where they feel comfortable. And not necessarily just accept the premise that all oriental medicine is satanic etc. Which is old fashioned. We are living in an age where our faith has to evolve with science and knowledge. It doesn't have to be an either or situation. And similarly I don't think that one should fully embrace Satanism to replace lack of self-knowledge or natural confidence, or lack of life experience. You need to know when to shut up and take it, when to reveal nothing and not react, and when to act and exactly what to do when you do act. This comes with self-knowledge, understanding cause and effect, how people's minds work, how life and business work. And knowing how to relate the complex world back to the spirit of your core values. A simplistic rule book that suppresses part of your options isn't going to help you. Many of the issues that Satanism is trying to fix or avoid just go away when you have more life experience and learn to use your head and adapt to different situations and not be a sucker. You simply act on instinct and through a process of continuous learning and self-knowledge.

In many churches I have been to, especially evangelical ones, many Christians use the same 400 words to describe their relationship with God in a rather mindless manner, including phrases such as 'I tried to do it myself, but it didn't work, and then I just did what God wanted.' These types of phrases are applied often to many different situations and attempts to achieve something. What exactly does this all mean? Do the people know exactly what they mean? It hardly encourages free thinking, understanding one's faith and how it is applied to every day situations. Why not use the whole of the English language and be more specific? And for all this rhetoric, I have not felt like I de had true brothers and sisters in many of the churches he's been to. There are some great churches out there, but not as many as he'd like. I tend to try to follow my own path, find real brothers and sisters and homeboys, through shared experience and values and intuitive understanding.

Many Christians subscribe to the idea of 'God's Will' and associate any occurrence in their lives as being 'God's Will'. Whilst this may indeed be the case, it often creates a passive attitude towards one's environment. God gave each of us a mind, body and soul, and he intended us to use them! Gold helps those who help themselves - through a combination of taking the initiative and self-conscious self-improvement but also through faith, and cultivating a health body and mind for God to be able to perform his will through. God intended us to use our brains and use our initiative, and to never give up or never say die. He gave us a body to look after it and achieve incredible things with; and to contribute beyond ourselves. He did not give us a body so we could be apathetic, eat garbage, abuse it, get wasted and sit around on our backsides watching television and not exercising. He did not give us a body so we could sit in front of computer all evening, every night. He gave us a body to express ourselves in the highest sense. Act like you appreciate these miraculous gifts! Be grateful for them and use them in the way that nature and God intended.

Some people report that they have found their exposure to Christianity and Christian upbringing oppressive, repressive and negative. There may well have been a heavy focus on what you should do, and on feeling guilty for committing 'sins' and doing wrong. This could be interpreted as missing the whole point of the spirit of Jesus' teachings, and is often backed up by the use of the Old Testament. It is perhaps why some Gnostic Christians regard the God of the OT as 'evil'. This concept is examined in more detail on the Mainstream Religions page. Clearly no religion is free from hypocrisy, persecution, corruption and no religion or belief system ultimately has 100% consistent followers, those who embody the spirit of the faith or belief system and do not stray off and break the concepts and tenets of that faith. These are clearly not reasons to denigrate that particular faith as it is not necessarily the fault of the belief system and teaching but of the laziness and moral imperfections of the followers. We should not judge a religion by those that claim to profess it, and who are most in the public eye, for example politicians, who are going to be flawed and corrupt in varying degrees whatever religion they follow (on the whole)! One should not judge the essence of a faith by a religion's past historical crimes against humanity, as many religions are hijacked and corrupted, and used for purposes of control, power and money.

Teenagers, especially those in the USA, should try to get more perspective, and there are alternatives to evangelical Christianity as it is presented to them in the media and through church sermons. It is not an all or nothing equation. One does not simply have to choose between an American interpretation of evangelical Christianity and LaVey Satanism. There are many different types of Christianity, many of which are very different than that found in the USA. There are a large number of religious and philosophical belief systems out there, if one chooses to read and learn about them, one may find many ideas and concepts of value. Not all religions and belief systems are by default 'repressive' or 'dominating'. It is easy just to look at the most heavily promoted and 'commercial' religions, representations of those religions (which may or may not actually be true representations of what they are about) or philosophies in our modern societies. There are many philosophies and ideas that do not require affiliation or strict adherence to a set of values or 'laws'. One does not have to take on the 'whole' of a philosophy, in an all or nothing approach.

Some people adopt a religion through fear. I personally don't think this is a good idea, regardless what the 'official' line is. Clearly, fear is used in all walks of life to control people's behaviour. Fear of crime. Fear of rejection in relationships (you negatively control and restrict your own behaviour after a break up through fear of the break up or fear of the pain of a break up and stop yourself getting close to people thereafter) etc. Fear is a good survival instinct to keep you alive and stop you getting into unnecessary dangerous situations. But in our abstract world, there are really very few real dangers if we use our common sense. Unless we chose to poison ourselves with poor diet and drugs. Most of our fears are psychologically based. So becoming a Christian because you fear going to hell is a negative reason to become a Christian and is unlikely to result in a good quality of relationship with God. The Bible says to fear God.

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Atheism vs Theism:

There are clearly zealots, arrogant and intolerant people who have faith and who are atheists. To impose one's will on one's fellow man with a view to creating one's own personal vision of a utopian society using force and regulation, whether secular or religious, and not respecting people's right to choose, inevitably results in 'hell' on earth.

The pursuit of the understanding of the universe and the frontiers of science can be enjoyed and furthered by atheists, agnostics, those who are not sure and those with faith. Until we find definite proof of a creator or proof to the contrary, let us remove this pointless bipolar debate from the table and focus on the job at hand! Faith can simply be slotted into scientific theories by the individual to further enhance them, or not, depending on personal preference.

One could argue that in the absense of any direct scientific evidence to suggest that God does or does not exist, then holding a firm position that God exists is just as unscientific and illogical as holding the premise that God definitely does not exist. In strict scientific terms, to be completely rational about the matter would mean that one would have no opinion on the subject whatsoever, and not rule anything out, i.e. Agnosticism. Atheism is in a sense just as irrational as faith. Faith is just that, faith. It does not rely on physical evidence, but on personal experience and the benefits of that faith to affirm to the person that it is something that the person chooses to believe in. Equally atheism is a personal choice, a belief, relying on faith in that idea, and it is equally a faith. A faith of 'no faith'.

It is important to differentiate between 'weak atheism' and 'strong atheism':

Weak atheism is more akin to agnosticism, in that there is no direct evidence for the existence of gods or the 'supernatural' and so whether such things could or could not exist is not relevant or interesting, until some hint of their existence presented itself. It is the belief that there is 'most likely' no god or gods, but that if evidence presented itself, then one might consider the hypothesis. Much like one does not believe that pixies help to boil the kettle when one switches it on. One cannot prove they don't, but until one sees some suggestion that that might be the case, one does not seriously entertain the idea, but instead believes in the measurable. This is a more rationalist perspective.

Strong atheism is the firm belief that there cannot be god or gods, and a refusal to ever believe that there are or could be, regardless of what can be potentially scientifically proven in the future. This belief takes a 'leap of faith' in non-belief in god or gods, and as such is a departure from rationalism, in the same way that spiritual belief or religion is seen as such, also being a 'leap of faith' or relying on 'intuition' in the absence of hard physical facts that can be measured by current scientific means.

Those strong atheists or anyone else for that matter who believes a scientific theory that is yet to be conclusively proven, but which feels right and sensible to the individual (for example, Super-String Theory or Darwin's Theory of Evolution), is hard and indisputable fact, is also taking a leap of faith. In this context, such individuals, scientists as well as strong atheists, could be said to be a 'religion', i.e taking a leap of faith. What we call science fact should be based on measurable results where exceptions can be predicted and explained without error; or how certain one can be about being uncertain (the Uncertainty Principle), where an electron can be in all places at once, but at the same time nowhere, and where the result is affected by the observer.

Agnosticism of course does not deny that gods exist, but neither does it postulate that they do not exist either, because one can never know, and therefore there is little point in having that discussion, but rather to rely on what one can directly see, feel, touch and experience in the physical world.

In actuality, some of the unanswered puzzles in physics do point to some kind of divine or other non tangible intervention being a plausible explanation for the big bang occurring. So one could argue that there is indirect evidence to suggest that there might be a God.

Indeed it could be argued that some Theistic Satanists actually do believe in a creationist theory, either instead of evolution or in addition to evolution. It is just that some believe that the 'creator' was evil as they did not ask to be put into a world of 'suffering'.

The link below quite neatly sums up the main arguments of those who support atheism vs religion and vice versa.

www.channel4.com/culture/microsites/C/can_you_believe_it/debates/talking_point_eugenics-and-social-darwinism.html

Please also read the section 'Genesis: Creationism and Evolution' for further discussion of the relationship between religion and science.

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Vibration, the Physical Body and the Spirit:

Most followers of the LHP are not that bothered about their physical bodies, as they are simply regarded as a means to an end, and that may involve over dietary imbalance and indulgence and drink/drug abuse, which is counterproductive in the long term (and arguably the short term as well!) to serve the excesses of the mind and the ego. This could perhaps be said of many adherents of the RHP to varying degrees, who are often credulous and believe everything advertising and modern consumerism influences them to do and eat/drink. However, some consider that the mind and body are really the same thing, the soul/spirit being essentially the body whilst it is housed in the body during one's life. As discussed in the Course in Miracles on the Psychology Bibliography page, an unfettered and focussed mind results in a healthier body that is impervious to external sources of damage or harm. This is belief resulting in the actual effect rather than the cause always resulting in the effect. The is also related to The Law of Attraction. If the mind is in tune with the body and one looks after the body, then the mind/body is deemed to be capable of so much more, and is not subject to the limitations and stale psychology and yo-yo-ing that accompanies regular drug use and greedy diet management. Consumption of processed and modern foods of a 'low vibration' may well result in a body and mind of a low vibration, with less nutritional input and indeed less energy. However, these factors are only deemed to affect the body when the mind is of a 'low vibration' to start with. The low vibrational state is thus deemed to be a vicious circle, and breaking out to higher vibration is considered much more difficult. Energetic blockages are seen to cause disease. It is thus believed that if the mind is strong enough (in whatever sense one wishes to interpret that), then it is able to unblock energetic blockages and essentially the body is able to cope with any garbage that is thrown at it, and be much more resistant to highly poisonous substances. This higher mind and strong will is able to raise the energetic vibration of the body. This higher mind state can also be equated to those who can fire walk or perform similar feats (buried alive etc.) The body is thus considered as a perception.

I subscribe to these ideas to a large extent (perhaps literally or as a metaphor for positive thought and goal setting), but equally subscribes to the opposite idea that one should give one's body a 'helping hand' and assist the body in detoxification and ensure a healthy diet, and positive EMF stimulation, so that the body, whilst it may well be capable of resisting/being resilient to these inputs, does not have to, and one can spend one's internal energy more productively elsewhere. In addition, it should be considered that the emotions that one frequently runs in the computer of the mind affect our level of energetic vibration. Hate, anger, fear, jealousy, worry, ego are considered lower energy states or lower vibration, whereas peace, tranquility, no mind (thoughts), love, any positive or happy thoughts, excitement, illumination could be considered higher vibration states. RHP belief systems, or indeed Eastern Religions, whilst 'dogmatic' in some people's perception or application, however are so designed to raise the level of energetic vibration through empowering emotions. This is assuming a positive application of the ideas and philsophies of these religions, and of course any interpretation that involves fear, guilt or self-deception is unlikely to be conducive to a high level of vibration on a regular basis.

As discussed in the Psychology section, if one associates with negative people, the nature tendency is for the negative people to pull the other person down to their level, so they feel less threatened or more comfortable seeing like in others. The same principle may apply with energy states or levels of vibration also. A low level of vibration in one person may bring down the higher level of vibration in another if they are in close proximity or interract for any significant length of time. This may manifest as a more deflated, 'bummed' or depressed mood, or perhaps physical symptoms such as a headache or fatigue etc. If the person with the higher level of vibration is highly grounded in their level of vibration, then it is also possible that the person at the lower level of vibration may be lifted up closer to the other person's level. This is achieved partly by resonance, the way women's periods in a house house may harmonise and occur simultaneously. They are also some of the principles of Hermeticism, and underlying philosophy to most systems of magic.

As can be read in the Health Section on the Energetic Therapies page regarding Quantum Touch, it is possible (if you believe this kind of thing) to 'impregnate objects with a higher level of vibation, such that, when they are in close proximity to the body, or better still in contact with an afflicted area, they can actually help the body increase circulation and energy flow in that area, raising the body's level of vibration. This feels 'warm' and good. Maybe some people call this the 'Holy Spirit', and in lively churches, one can feel the whole building is 'charged'. The intention of healing and love is put into such objects by the healer who 'charges' or 'impregnates' them. Some may put this down to the placebo effect. However, occultists use the same principles to charge objects - and I have personal experience of feeling his energy of 'warmth' drain away when touching such objects or being in close proximity to them. Examples are discussed on the Gnostic Luciferianism page and the Atheism and Eugenics page. There are probably some instances when healers of certain new age persuasions are not simply raising their level of vibration in one direction, or the desired direction, so that whilst a healing may take place, the patient is left feeling a little 'wierd' and 'spiritually uncomfortable' afterwards, never to return for another session! Vibration is clearly not just a case of a one dimensional scale, but seems to have multiple qualities/components/aspects/dimensions to it.

Of course, maintaining a happy mood constantly is hard work and is actually energetically draining (from a TCM perspective). Oriental medicine believes that extremes of an emotion, even a particular positive emotion, causes energetic imbalance. Therefore, when we talk of a higher level of vibration, it may take the form of a calm mind or 'no mind' (the 'zen' state). So a high level of vibration can be in the form of no emotion at all (a Tao/Zen state of mind) or in the form of positive and empowering emotional states; and also in the form of a strong Will or a deep connection and understanding of the self (who one really is). However, how do these interrelate? Are they in contradiction? Western philosophy gives much weight to emotion whereas Eastern philosophy tends more towards negating the addictions and yo-yoing of the emotions to reach higher and calmer mental states.

Clearly the concept of 'higher vibration' and 'lower vibration' is not just a simple scale or one dimensional concept. There are clearly other aspects to it and it must interrelate with the body's own energetic (qi) systems as well as the spirit. To some degree, the level of one's vibration goes up and down according to one's moods, emotional states and level of calmness/no mind (i.e. being tuned in) and the strength of one's Will or harmony with oneself/embodiment of one's true self to a lesser extent. If the Chinese are right, then positive emotion alone (i.e. excitement, love, confidence, happiness) cannot be the sole source of high vibration - or that high vibration cannot be maintained all the time, and that the qi system in some capacity is more important or rather a more important aspect of it. Or perhaps the exact opposite, that mind states are just one part of the overall qi system.

Some people rate the zen mind state (Nirvana or close to it) as being a very high level or rate of vibration, higher than the positive emotional states. However the concept of high and low levels of vibration is clearly relative. One could view them on a scale of infinity, where all points can be seen to be 'in the middle'. In reality and in nature, there is no such thing as 'no vibration', whether one is dead of alive. Even at absolute zero, when atoms are deemed to be at rest, matter and antimatter come in and out of existence.

On the scale of vibration, some see that at certain point, some high levels of vibration appear to be 'still' and 'silent', but as one increases the level of vibration and rate of movement, they appear to move again until the next node of high frequency is reached and stillness is observed again. Some relate this to the musical scale, where like notes appear at various points on the scale, but are essentially the same, even though one may be 'high' and one may be 'low'.

How does this all fit in with the LHP concept of embracing dark and light sides of the self? Well, excessive 'dark' or lower emotions is clearly a recipe for a lower state of energetic vibration, but what of embodying the concept of the Self and one's Will which may occasionally mean embracing or bathing in one's more basic genetic urges and instincts (often to engage the ego)?

Some believe that on some level, different points of the scale of vibration can co-exist, being of different nature, but in 'harmony' to create something more than the sum of their parts, something denser. This could be likened to a 'chord', a group of notes played simultaneously to create a multi-facetted product. Some liken this to 'lighter and darker' emotions and/zen mind states, such that a person can embody different ends of the spectrum, but in harmony they create something of higher vibration than simply the highest point on the scale (be it 'love' or 'zen') etc. This no doubt interrelates to the qi system of the body in some form. From this perspective, is there indeed such a thing as higher or lower vibration? Is the nature of vibration much more complex than this, as hinted above? If 'lower' and 'higher' can combine to be something greater than the 'higher'?However, what combination or balance of 'light' and 'dark' elements is optimal for a high level of vibration? Those that are biased towards more 'dark' or lower levels of vibration, in their self-actualisation and occult practice, are they in combination really creating a high level of vibration?

Of course, not everyone agrees with this standpoint, and those of the New Thought movement in general would argue that unconditional love and zen were the ultimate levels of vibration that could be reached, embodied by figures such as Jesus or Buddha; and not 'lower points' on the vibration scale merely negate or bring down the level of vibration of the higher points on the scale. Perhaps the musical metaphor is only so useful and can only go so far. This is a matter of personal interpretation.

This is all very well. But what actually is 'vibration' in the sense that it is used above? Is it a pseudo-scientific umbrella term used to describe vastly different concepts and to bring them together in a sloppy and somewhat inaccurate and confusing manner (possibly of Theosophy origins)? Probably. I believe 'vibration' in this context to mean a number of things, including emotional state, one's level of qi and qi flow (in the TCM sense), one's electromagnetic field, one's intensity and strength of character (based upon life experience and also congruent beliefs giving a strength and dynamism to one's character), cardiovascular fitness, physical/nervous system congruence/coordination (e.g. martial arts training and mastery of the body), and ability to control matter with the mind (in terms of one's own resilience with focus, concentration and belief).

Some argue that the concept of vibration is a metaphor for an esoteric concept that translates well to certain aspects of atomic/molecular/material vibration in physics; specifically, the concept of resonance. The principle of resonance has applications in healing therapies such as Quantum Touch, and also in Sympathetic magic; and explains to some degree how related, yet scientifically/physically unconnected objects can influence each other (but which may be connected electromagnetically, on a quantum or 'psychic level, not defined or measurable by scientific means); and how a certain unique state or quality ('vibration') can cause proximal/connected objects toto behave in a similar manner under certain specific conditions. Some scientific theories now begin to explain this with quantum mechanics and string theory, but it is still far from certain scientifically.

To what extent can self-conscious wisdom and self-determination be considered 'evil'? Clearly many Christians regard self-conscious spiritual awareness and spiritual/magical acts initiated by the self and for the benefit of the self or one's own agenda (rather than God's) to be 'evil'. However, when we consider 'evil', if indeed such a concept exists - perhaps being interpreted as the excesses of the animalistic ego and one's baser instincts in the expression of violent and cruel intent - then what type of 'evil' is worse? The lowest level evil, which is full of hate, and seeks to kill and destroy a perceived enemy for reasons of negative association and self-denial, e.g. Nazi extermination of the Jews or the USSR's ethnic cleanising under Stalin? An unintelligent exercise of brute and cruel force over others? Or could 'evil' be considered more to represent those that are actually wise and illuminated, but choose to cross just that little too far over the 'boundary' (wherever that is) from 'reasonable' self-interest to the manipulation of others, in a 'ruthless manner', to further one's power in the world at the expense and in some cases unnecessary deaths of others? In the latter case, where exactly does one 'draw the line'. In the former scenario we have obvious 'evil' and in the latter scenario we have subtle, insidious and disguised 'evil'. Are those that are enlightened that put their wisdom to 'good' use for the benefit of others truly wise and enlightened? Or are they miguided, sanctimonious and wasting their own time? There are no doubt many who regard themselves are philanthropic who are in actuality misanthropic in their actions, because of the clouded definition of what is 'good' for humanity. Clearly it is a matter of philosophy!

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The 'Astral Plane':

Some argue that the practice of the occult, with reference to one's interaction with the Astral Plane, is an area of pure distraction and engagement of the ego, and as such serves no purpose other than to provide a little 'excitement' and 'adventure' but ultimately to lock one's consciousness into lower ego levels and prevent one's ascension to high levels of vibration and self-actualisation. This is not in a sense a 'fear' of the Astral Plane (as some of a more sensitive religious disposition might react - fear and horror! etc.), but a recognition that it is a distraction and not worth pursuing - much like someone offering you a 'spliff' might for some be tempting but is ultimately just a pitfall or a trap to 'lock in stoners for 10 or 20 years of stale existence before they manage to break out of this pattern'. The Astral plane, as well as being fascinating or a distraction, if engaged in safely, can also be very dangerous and damaging, if one does not effectively protect oneself in magical terms. Naive magic(k)al practices can result in physical, psychological and spiritual harm.

With regards to examining one's past lives (if you believe in this kind of thing), all masters will tell you that, to examine a past life is a total waste of time. What you were in the past is entirely irrelevant, it is who you are that counts, and the here and now. The ability to focus the mind and project one's consciousness into the here and now is what constitutes spiritual wisdom and enlightenment, and looking forwards or backwards is an addiction and prevents one seeing reality and truth. So the addiction to the past is a stumbling block to being in the present. If we were meant to live in the past, we would not be alive and in the here and now, right now! The only thing worth acknowledging in the arena of past lives or indeed eternal life or the soul pre-birth and post-death is to acknowledge that the soul is eternal and unlimited, your consciousness is an eternal being and part of the 'one' in the Hermetic, Gnostic or Esoteric Christian (panentheistic) sense. The exact details of which before or after death are really not important right now and perhaps can never be known until you actually die; everything else being an 'illusion'. So why waste time thinking about death now? Many religions of course base their entire philosophy around death and preparing for death, e.g. Christianity, Gnosticism etc.

One of the worst offenders of clutching onto the past for dear life is Spiritualism. This is generally not an area of interest for serious occultists, but is more a new age preoccupation. Those who attend spiritualist churches do so because they cannot let go of the past. They attend as they feel it might be 'their turn' to talk to a loved one through the 'minister'. However, attendees are usually regulars and are addicted to the spectacle, feeding like vultures off the tears and emotions of others. They are all addicted to the past and the dead, and are unable to move on. The spiritualist churches prey on such people and encourage this morbid and unhealthy fascination. In scientific tests, frauds have lead a service and have been deemed to be authentic by the congregation and also by 'psychics'. Often they take cues from the audience and make open statements that could apply to anyone, or if they make mistakes, the audience corrects them and guides them and then seems amazed at how they got the answers they were looking for.

The 'unlimited' aspect of the soul refers to both the fact that it is capable of great things, but that also its abilities are virtually unlimited and that higher levels of vibration and consciousness, and a sense of freedom and creativity/spark, are based on the perception of infinite possibilities in the here and now - in each moment. These 'infinite possibilities' can be purely positive, or positive and negative, for the true self or for the ego. It is possible to see a part of this window of 'infinite possibilities' but that one is only looking at one part of the infinite (which is of itself infinite by definition) and believing it is the whole or all that is worth perceiving.

Scientific studies of electrons that 'synchronise' faster than the speed of light regardless of distance, and related theories and possible conclusions, that the measurable universe does not actually exist per se, but is a representation of something bigger and immeasurable - are discussed below in the article 'The Holographic Universe', based on the findings in the book of the same name by Michael Talbot (1953 - 1992).

www.crystalinks.com/holographic.html

The Astral realm is not necessarily to be confused with one's gifts, of increased perception (which do not require rituals of 'theurgy' or 'goetia', or communication with dead spirits, but are just there), which can be 'used' or 'abused'. The ego should not be engaged in their use or awareness of them. If one can see certain fringes of the Astral realm, some argue that the strange sights one sees there should simply be ignored, or noted and forgotten, and not given any undue emotional significance or importance, a bit like driving along a road and noticing an empty Crisp packet on the side of the road. There would be little point freaking out about it, or fantasising about it and how important you are to be able to have seen a Crisp packet. Wouldn't that be stupid? Engaging the ego in one's gifts is regarded as a recipe for lowering one's level of vibration. To be aware and conscious of more than the mind perceives right now will no doubt develop as one's level of vibration develops. However, going on an ego trip will not be conducive to further growth. One may indeed acquire more skill in the Astral Plane the more one meddles with it (in a controlled manner of course, right?!), and one may feel one is stronger, more aware of reality, and wiser, but this is not to say that one is growing spiritually or indeed actually wiser, but that the ego is more in control and believes 'he' is wiser, and more in control. The ego is preventing one from fully realising one's oneness with totality. The ego loves to waste our times, whilst our consciousness is taken for the ride.

The biggest con is perhaps that the ego convinces one's consciousness, that awareness that sits behind or above the ego and mental thought processes and is along for the ride, that it is the consciousness, as it is wiser and seems more like the consciousness. But it is not! It is deceiving you! Or that is how the theory goes! Excessive rationalisation is a construct used to keep the ego and conscious mind busy, to prevent 'feeling'. If the two are integrated, is this growth or stagnation? If the ego is not suppressed but not inflated and allowed to take full control, is this not healthier than being a left-brain control freak who thinks he's really clever and wise by rationalising with others and in a 'smart' position by wanting to learn more from this experience, emulating a higher consciousness? As wise as you think you are, unless you actually live your philosophy, then it is all really just a load of rubbish. Philosophers may come to this conclusion occasionally, after pontificating over something and analysing it, to later think that the conclusion was in fact an extreme, half-untrue, and actually a load of [insert optional expletive here]. It is the conscious minds clumsy attempts to pigeonhole reality, which is not actually possible. One can feel this to some extent, but one certainly cannot 'think it'. To think is sometimes not to be clever. I feel like this sometimes after discussing philosophy. It is on some level just one big illusion. If one is going to engage one's left brain, then it makes sense to be as rational as possible. However, rationalism and wisdom are not the be all and end all, and one's ability to leave left-brain control and processing behind (i.e. the ego) is as if not much more important in raising one's level of vibration. One who knows nothing can still know 'everything' or perceive everything.

It is often said that no one can 'heal' you, but merely that you are empowered to heal yourself, or in Quantum Touch terms, a higher level of vibration is offered to you, and your own body raises its own level of vibration to meet it - no one is forcing your body to do anything, it simply wants to do this. The same thing could be argued regarding acupuncture. The acupuncturist is not actually doing anything, the body does the work. Quantum Touch and other healing arts work on the basis of higher levels of vibration, which are in actuality 'unconditional love' expressed in an energetic form and in terms of intention. Whilst this may sound a little 'soft' to some, one cannot heal whilst focussing on other emotions or lower states. A high level of vibration is necessary in order to help someone else raise their own level of vibration to yours (at least temporarily) in order to allow (increased levels of) healing to take place in their own body. Those who have a very high level of vibration may intuitively be able to perceive a person's medical history, current condition, psychological make up, personality type and emotional and energetic state merely by glancing at someone. This enhanced level of intuition and perception is reputed to be possible with enhanced vibration levels and perception/gifts. Those 'healers' that are in love with themselves a little too much, who nurture their ego, and who believe they heal YOU, rather than just being catalysts, are in general, not very good healers, a bad influence, and are to be avoided. They may instill ideas of limitation in their patients and the idea that they are not as 'high' as the healer, and do not have the same abilities as the healer - what rubbish!

When it comes to the subject of angels, opinions are divided. Christians and Hindus believe that angels are messengers of God. 'New Agers' believe in a Guardian Angel, a concept from Helena Blavatsky's Theosophy and Aleister Crowley's Thelema religions. Theosophy was very much the precursor to the modern New Age movement. Of course, there are many different flavours of New Age. Some types of New Agers are very much into dousing, tarot, seances, crystal healing, spiritualism (spiritualist churches where they can speak to their dead relatives - allegedly), etc. Even the 'best' mediums at seances are known to occasionally 'fake it' when under pressure and use hot/cold reading or a variety of props with the assistance of others pretending to be 'ectoplasm'. Whilst most New Agers believe that these are results of tapping into the Akashic record (or mind of God) or being guided by the spirit world, most occultists regard such activities more as tapping into one's own subconscious and manifesting one's Will or intent through accessing those parts of one's subconscious mind that are not normally communicated with. Parapsychologists may perhaps view such activities in a similar manner or as fraulent nonsense, depending on the exact case in question.

Some 'New Agers' view the astral realm as being populated by Angels and Demons. Angels are just deemed to be beings of light and are not God or gods and are not meant to be actually worshipped or prayed to, but are only 'helpers' and for communication. Some say that angels will only help those that directly ask them, otherwise they will not interact with one. Many who believe in using angels for healing (oriental medicine style (meridians), quantum energy style (e.g. quantum touch or Reiki style), or otherwise), or for personal development or for 'advice' do not see a conflict with monotheism or 'God', although their relationship with Jesus for example may be slightly different than one who relies on praying to God for advice. To what extent one is communicating with 'Biblical angels', which would be regarded by most Christians as 'acceptable' or whether they are other spirits, benevolent ones, being communicated with, in which case it would be regarded as 'white magic', 'New Age' or 'witchcraft', focussing more of spirits or 'divine beings of light' than on God himself for healing and personal growth.

www.angeltherapy.com/faq.php

Doreen Virtue says of differentiating between 'angels/beings of light' and 'demons' or 'malevolent spirits':

'There are beings that are referred to as Ôfallen angels.Õ In reality, they arenÕt angels at all. Angels are glowing beings, filled with the inner radiance of GodÕs love. Angels have soft, feathery wings. Angels always talk about, and act from, Love. The "fallen angels," in contrast, have no light in them. They have short, bat-like bony wings and clawed talons. TheyÕre commonly called "gargoyles." These beings arenÕt creations of GodÕs love; theyÕre creations of manÕs fear.

The average person with loving intentions doesnÕt need to worry about these dark beings. They think that loving, nice people are boring! Dark beings are attracted to those who abuse substances, and those who are dishonest, cruel, manipulative and obsessively afraid of evil.

"Earthbound spirits" are another form of so-called "fallen angels." These are deceased humans who, for a variety of reasons (fear of hell, materiality and so on.), stay rooted to earth. They are sometimes called ghosts.

The best way to clear away the presence of earthbound spirits and dark beings is to hold a constant mindset of Love. Think about God as often as you can. And call upon the Archangel Michael, who escorts away fear and darkness, to act as your "bouncer," ensuring that only invited guests are by your side and in your home.'

One could view the above statements in the metaphoric sense, that 'angels' are merely aspects of one's 'higher' self or more loving nature that one loses touch with in day to day life; with 'demons' or 'fallen angels' being aspects of one's Destructive Shadow, i.e. one's fears or parts of one's psyche that one has suppressed. The imagery in question conforms to stereotypes of what we see as good and evil.

One could view it in a Biblical sense that the angels are indeed angels, and the demons are actually earth-bound malevolent spirits or demons or representation of 'The Devil'; or that they are all demons in various guises, and it is a form of magic tacked onto Biblical concepts. However some might argue that excessive conceptual use of angels in the Bible is a little 'polytheistic' and detracts from the view of an indivisible single God, unless of course it was a Jungian metaphor.

Or one could view it in the occult sense, that demons and angels are in fact the same thing, beings that are a pure essence of Will, and depending on the spirit in question, that Will may vary, but if one knows how to interact with them and to protect oneself properly (in the case of the latter 'angels' or wraiths/demons), then one can actually experience personal growth of another kind.

Some occultists, as discussed in the section below, may actually regard 'angels' or 'beings of light' as those beings that seek to enslave us and keep our consciousness divided, to use our loving side to enslave us and for their own worship or reverence (like an ego trip for them or a form of 'feeding on our consciousness') or for other reasons (that can be utilised by society to control us) - like a 'fake' kind of love. Not all those who believe in communicating with Angels refrain from putting them on a pedestal and praying to them. All angels or 'fallen' angels being deemed to have a strong Will and a desire to impose that Will on the practitioner, whatever that may be.

Presumably there is a difference between benevolent earth-bound spirits and angels? Can they tell the difference? Some regard humans as angels temporarily in physical bodies. This however might imply that all spirits of the departed are 'angels', which is presumably not the case - but maybe they had/have the potential to be 'angels' or higher spirits.

Doreen Virtue is also a believer in communicating with the dead being a healing process. This is presumably meant in the literal sense of communicating with the spirit world of dead souls of our relatives - and not any other dead souls! Not everyone that communicates with 'angels' for healing purposes is of course interested in spiritualism or communicating with the dead and the past, as discussed above, as one's mind should be on the future, even if one may try to convince oneself that talking to the dead is not dwelling on the past in astral terms, even if it is allegedly for brief periods. Just look at Spiritualist churches, that are full of people who can't let go of the past and addicted to their own and other's communication with 'the dead'. I have experience of this with some of my extended family, one of whom became obsessed with communicating with a dead sister - this was clearly not healing or positive in any way! In fact it totally freaked her out as she felt she opened a 'can of worms'.

Doreen Virtue presumably did not intend 'communicating with the dead' to mean in the psychological sense of accessing parts of one's neglected psyche, restoring perspective, and thinking of the fond memories or actual personality or Will of the relative(s) that we have lost, in order to rebalance our negative associations with their passing or depressed or sad feeling connected with them - turning the glass empty into a glass full as it were. A form of indirect reprogramming or NLP.

Of course, occultists argue the exact opposite! That the Astral Realm (e.g. Akashic record, deities, sub-deities, entities or perhaps even spirits) is an area for exploration, and that it is essential for personal growth and development (of the ego?), i.e. individuation, and may even represent elements of our shadow or subconscious in some sense, literally or metaphorically. That exploring the 'dark' is essential to rekindling the 'light' and to know the self. Occultists often argue that there is no difference between 'using' and 'abusing' one's gifts, as it is all using in some form, and that this is a dualistic way of looking at one's innate abilities. This is perhaps an excuse to instill the ego into all one's endeavours and conscious experience, to give it free reign and full control over one's consciousness (to be held 'captive'?) Regardless of whether this is true or not, everyone can agree that personal liberation is the main goal and that holding yourself captive in any sense is not a good thing. The exact 'fine print' however is where the major sticking point is. The truth never changes, but the perception can. What you believe today will shape who you are tomorrow. You are the master of your own destiny, and you may choose to raise your level of vibration continuously or get 'trapped' somewhere, and it is for the individual to figure out and find out! At his benefit or cost. Most people have to learn by direct experience and from their own mistakes and so be it! Occultists may associate the Astral Plane as being 'dark' as in the unknown, and to thrust oneself into the unknown of one's psyche, stepping outside one's psychological comfort zone, or those areas that are 'morally uncomfortable' and exploring their meaning for you; as well exploring the Astral Realm and communicating with deities, sub-deities and demons or spirits; and embodying/evoking their archetypes; is to grow as a person and to gain self-knowledge and the ability to focus the mind. Occultists therefore do not regard any aspect of astral exploration to be a bad thing, as long as it is performed with strong intention (to match the strong Will and intention of the spirit they are invoking) and with self-protection, and with a given purpose or archetype in mind. Psychological exploration is regarded as of equal value to astral 'exploration' and some may regard them as the same thing, in all extremes. Some of these definitions of 'dark' are clearly not confined to the occult but are used by those interested in personal development in general (the former defintions of course!) These issues are also explored on the Gnostic Luciferianism page.

Author Edward O'Toole in an article on his former web site argues that Shadow People are phenomena that may be perceived during periods of deja vu. He cites possible explanations, including alien, dimensional seepage, inter-dimensional beings, time travellers or echos of the self etc. He cites specific reasons why they are not likely to simply be 'ghosts' or spirits, that tend to be place specific and be on a replay of the past, and who like to be acknowledged. Shadow People, according to O'Toole, are the opposite, as they are not tied to a location, and seem to disappear when they are sensed or perceived by the observer, during deja vu. They do not want to be acknowledged it seems. Perhaps they are a parapsychological phenomenon, a hallucination. O'Toole discusses the Lovecraft horror notion of the Necromonicon, and the concept of opening a door to the astral or to other dimensions which cannot be closed. He likens this to certain practices of Chaos Magic, which he believes may similarly not close the door properly. This leads us on to another area, namely that of balance in perception and leaving inter-dimensional or astral doors 'open' (if you believe in such phenomena). Some view that increased sensitivity to psychic phenomena is a good thing, but that too much can be a bad thing. It is generally not something you can switch on and off whenever you are in the mood, but can alter one's life in significant ways, some say. How does one know when one has the right balance? How does one know when one has gone too far and gotten too close to the 'flame'? If one's reference points for normality have long since disappeared? At what point is one's life enhanced and at what point has it turned into a low budget horror movie, that goes on for 30 years? Whilst I keep on open mind on most topics, I regards many occultists as being excessively paranoid and superstitious, in the spiritual sense, gratuitously so. Is this really helpful and enhancing one's life? The balance is in his opinion not there to be seen. Have such individuals become too 'experience greedy' and had their perceptions and undisciplined minds 'warped', their sense of logic and science led them to attach unwarranted meanings to situations? Or seeking out unpleasant situations for the sake of it, in some 'macho' quest for individuation and to punish the self in the astral sense in the name of 'exploration', often having the complete opposite effect, or weakening the self and blurring one's focus than sharpening it. By distracting one away from the physical realm with esoteric and phantasmic obsessions, and missing all the 'light' and joy that is all around them?

Interaction with phenomena one has no control over, i.e. not part of a rite, but more 'ghost hunting' or other type of hunting, one is in unknown and dangerous territory, where no precedent exists, and the usual luxuries or protections may not work. In what sense is this still individuation? If by becoming more psychically sensitive one is more aware of such deja vu episodes, is this really something that is enriching to one's life? Is it anything other than one big distraction?

Reptilians are a well known phenomenon on the internet amongst conspiracy theorists. They are generally spoken of in the same context as the 'Illuminati'. Those who believe in 'reptilians' generally fall into two camps. Those who literally believe that physical reptile-looking humanoids are alien visitors from another solar system, who evolved from 4 legged reptiles on other worlds, who are in secret behind the various major institutions of the world today. This is hard to take seriously. The other camp believes that reptilians are actually inter-dimensional entities or spirits (perhaps even from a multiverse type scenario) that are able to cross over to this dimension and influence it, mainly in the form of possession. Some people have reported seeing close relatives features physically change up to hours before some aberrant malicious behaviour (or 'feeding' on the fear of others), such as domestic or child abuse. The interpretation here is that such entities are possessing or latching onto people, influencing them to do evil deeds. In one instance, the person in question, who was deemed to be possessed by her daughter, was seen by a Christian lady to have a 'evil spirit' depart from the body at death. Whether this was the actual spirit of the person or an 'evil spirit' who is to say, if it can be interpreted literally. Those who have 'seen' reptilians also often report having seen many other entities or spirits, not all benevolent ones. These are generally not feared by occultists as they are much less powerful than a human being, gaining their power from fear alone, and can be commanded to leave if one is not oneself fearful. However, some occultists who focus solely on 'white magic' or 'healing' may be scared of such phenomena, perhaps as it relates uncomfortably with the Jungian Shadow. Many such cases are experienced before the person has read conspiracy theories on reptilians. One alternative perspective of such 'reptilian transformation' is that it is a visual psychological metaphor or representation of negative beliefs, self-hatred, or the expression of hatred or malevolence in general. For example, some people are able to 'see' a person's negative mindset or beliefs just by looking at them. Part of this is body language, but it can also be sensed or seen in the eyes. Thus the 'transformation' may be a metaphoric one. Religious conversion and spirits in general may be such a representation, with the banishing of long term addictive negative beliefs being felt as a demon being exercised. To what extent the reptilian is a representation of the negative image of the snake that has penetrated the consciousness of modern man through many centuries of Christian-inspired anti-pagan propaganda.

In my opinion, these stories of blood lines are grossly exaggerated if not totally fabricated, and are used to ascribe occult significance or to capture the imagination of 'conspirazoids'. If there is some truth in these stories, it is often blow out of all proportion and that link ascribed to 'all members' than than just 'a small handful of members'. The Snakoid/Reptilian story for example could be interpreted as an attempt to discredit any research on Freemasonry, Satanism or modern secret societies/clubs (as discussed elsewhere on this page) so that they will not be taken seriously. Some argue that Reptilians are not aliens but descendents of the dinosaurs, evolved into human-like, bipedal form, an evolution of a species, that is seen to manifest itself physically as a 'reptilian'. I find this highly implausible (and 'wacko' in his opinion) and believes that there is no hard evidence to suggest that this might be the case.

Aleister Crowley himself started off his occult career mainly involved in Hermeticism, in the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. This is viewed by some as 'white magic' or Theurgy. After leaving and publishing books on the secrets of the Golden Dawn, claiming them to be his own work, much to their non-amusement, he went on to become involved in Goetia, or demonology. If one follows the life of Crowley, one can see a distinct shift in his personality, when he started to become more involved with Goetia, and he became much more self-obsessed, obnoxious and nasty as a person. He always was slightly self-obsessed, but it got much worse. His obsession with Goetia did him few favours, and some regard him as having 'flown too close to the flame'.

For obvious reasons, those who are suffering from psychosis, schizophrenia or hallucinations, occult practice is generally not recommended. If one is already hearing voices, mostly garbage, then one cannot be objective in one's occult practice and differentiate. Unfortunately, it is often such individuals with few psychological boundaries who actually get involved in the occult and recreational drug abuse, and in some respects become slightly more insane than they already were. Clearly RHP religions do not give such warnings and one may argue are less 'hazardous'.

Please see the Ego and Levels of Consciousness section on the Beliefs page in the Psychology section for related discussion on the Astral plane and relative levels of consciousness and how the ego relates to these.

Chapter 43 of Autobiography of a Yogi, which is pertinent to this discussion, can be downloaded and read at the link below.

http://www.healingspiral.com/Yogananda-Autobiography.pdf

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Dr David Hawkins' concept of Ego and Levels of Consciousness:

Please see the Personal Evolution page in the Psychology section.

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LHP and The Ego:

LaVey Satanism brings an interesting concept of one's relationship with one's ego to the fore. It is interesting to read some of tenets of Satanism and how they apply to daily life. The concept the relationship between one's ego and one's consciousness is a complex one. It is something that religions and philosophers have been struggling with for thousands of years. To totally embrace the ego in its entirety without exercising any control over it would be unwise - this would result in the consciousness becoming a passenger to the ego, with the ego seeking to control the whole of conscious experience, taking the credit for it and seeking to reinforce its position. Nor woud it be so wise to try to regard the ego as 'evil' and to try to completely suppress it in all activities and areas of life. The ego is our body's evolutionary natural defence mechanism, allowing us to interact with the world and function. However, it often allowed to exist in a manner at the detriment of our innate consciousness and ability to 'feel'. The ego is in many ways a left brain entity and is to a large extent a conditioned psychological response.

To what extent should one embrace the ego, and to what extent should one try to suppress it or shut it up? These are tough questions. By following our desires in all things we may find it difficult to develop any sense of self-discipline, and it may be impossible to cultivate any stillness of mind. By entertaining our ego at all times, we may not be able to silence the constant stream of 'desires (for pleasure and/or power), fears, stress, guilt, judgements, analysis, self-loathing, self-criticism, rationalising, attempts to control, attempts to take credit' nor to trust our instincts and truly feel, in the consciousness sense, without the intervention and controlling actions of the ego. This is not even mentioning a possible susceptibility to mood swings and inability to control one's anger or emotions. By calming the ego, it is possible to achieve greater stillness and a sense of inner peace. This is something that many Eastern religions and philosophies have attempted to address, including Hinduism, Buddhism and Taoism (see the Mainstream Religions page for more information), e.g. stillness through 'no mind'. Some religions may conceptually give some advice on the ego, but may not really assist in actual practical methods of calming the ego and the mind, but rather just rely on 'faith' to achieve this, e.g. Christianity. Whilst this may work with some people, with others, it may not, and the ego may continue with many of its ridiculous activities and in addition get involved in judgements, guilt and rationalising of one's spiritual experience and that of others, rather than allowing the mind to be clear and calm. In the latter case it may end up with trying to excessively rely on rational concepts of the 'rules' and what you should be doing and what others 'should' be doing, and disappointing and upsetting your ego when you don't get things the way your ego was expecting. This is not generally a very fulfilling way to live one's life. The ego may have merely shifted its pattern of control from one area to another (before and after conversion), and still be an obstacle in your spiritual life.

There are clearly many ways of exploring the senses to the full and to be fully in tune with one's body and experiences. There are different ways of engaging the ego in these activities. One may enter into activities with 'no mind', i.e. with the ego not engaged, but relying on one's instincts and trusting one's subsconscious and neurological system to just get on with it (rather than trying to control it through the ego and through 'rationalisation'). Many sports people find this the way to achieve the best results and if they 'try' too hard (i.e. excessive ego control) they often perform much worse. In this state of mind one may often lose one's perception of time. One may alternatively choose to enter into an experience of sensation from the perspective of titillating the ego (or rather titillating a set of beliefs and values, perhaps of a perverse or reactionary nature), where the ego may be in control of the experience (this approach is perhaps slightly anally retentive); Or one may choose to enter into an experience in a more balanced manner, engaging the ego to an extent, and engaging and referring to various positive beliefs and pieces of technical information but not try to gain any sense of power, but also trusting one's consciousness and instincts (not reverting to too much personal criticism regarding mistakes and performance), feeling calm minded and free, at the same time - the exact nature of the balance of this mode of experience may indeed vary and change, like a yo-yo, during an experience - one may achieve a good balance for a while, and then totally lose it later on - it clearly varies moment to moment and individual to individual. Lastly one may try to enter into an experience trying to control everything and not trusting one's instincts or innate ability to do something, whereby one will probably not feel anything or be aware of what happened at all as one was too busy rationalising it and trying to get as much from it as possible (ironically getting the least from the experience!)

One may argue whether excessive titillating of the ego (and certain negative beliefs and world/global views) in the way we sense and experience things is psychologically healthy and to what extent it results in reinforcing the ego's dominant position and certain negative beliefs. This is up to the individual to figure out, but if one is not prepared to experience sensation in other ways (at all or enough), then one may well be fooling oneself about the nature of experience and ultimately about one's innate consciousness.

There is clearly a time and a place for different approaches, for example, different points in learning a new technique, or day to day routine experience which does not require any rationalisation and which one may benefit from trying to connect more with one's surroundings and not going around on 'auto-pilot' and missing everything. There is a time and place to indulge oneself in an activity, enjoy the playfulness, chaos and sense of euphoria, be carefree and irresponsible; and times to be creative; times to work hard; and there are times to be responsible; and also times to help and assist others. Of course many people as they get older get into a routine and are really incapable of letting go and being crazy and spontaneous unless they are totally drunk or on drugs. This is clearly not a positive way to live one's life. One should savour the moment as much as possible, whatever one is doing, as each moment doesn't come back and is lost forever. Just how one goes about achieving this balance is up to the individual. I feel that LaVey Satanism in some respects puts too much focus on titillating the ego and ego domination, at the expense of mental calmness and trusting one's consciousness and instincts.

The concept of do whatever you like as long as you don't mess with/harm anyone else is the main theme of Satanism, which also appeals to punks, drug users and teenagers. This is perhaps why many insecure teenagers are attracted to the COS. And Marilyn Manson (who I agree with on many matters it should be stated) is really doing his best to bring them in too. However, if you really do what you like, you behaviour will inevitably have an effect on other people. Of course it depends on the exact behaviour you are talking about. Each person is different and has a different idea of what tickles them. Selfish behaviour is usually anti-social in nature however. Serving the ego solely can be a lonely job, and may alienate you from friendships or connections with people you might otherwise enjoy. Our actions echo in eternity. However, if you believe your actions are justified or righteous for you and your cause, then you may view the result as good, but others may not! It's like if you are into drugs, and abuse yourself in any way you like to feel good, you will likely encourage others to get into it as well. And to get into the lifestyle or beliefs you are into. If you know any drug users, do they ever have an impact on their family and friends? Hell yes! I can peel off a list of people's lives I have influenced in a very negative manner, and I held the tenet of doing your own thing and personal freedom, and not impinging on others as a virtual religious belief. Obsession with power and the temptation of power without humility rots the soul. This is why many politicians are corrupt. Mental illness spreads like a disease. Emotional suppression spreads like a disease from one person to another. Society is interconnected and people are closely spiritually connected. Nothing is without consequence.

Many people are attracted to LaVey Satanism and other Left-Hand Paths as it is seen as a way to justify or to further nuture excessive ego and anti-social behaviour. The attraction with being 'dark' is also a strong lure. Instead of a path of illumination, it is often a path of accentuating one's personal flaws. It seems that the whole philosophy of strength and might is right often predisposes adherents to the idea that they are the 'strongest', 'most powerful', 'cleverer than everyone else' and the 'sharpest'. This often leads to playground bickering, course and vulgar behaviour, less than intelligent behaviour, bragging about power/sexual exploits/one's body, excessive ego trips, childish and insecure demonstrations of power, showing off and excessive elitism, with no real sense of purpose. Clearly one can indulge in these pursuits without having an 'intelligent philosophy' behind it!

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LHP and Personal Development:

It is clear that many Satanists view certain aspects of personal development, for example the law of attraction, wealth building (e.g. Charles H. Haanel's The Master Key System) and NLP (influencing others through body language and pre-framing etc.) as useful resources. For example, it may vary according to the individual on what they focus on in terms of visualisation, how they wish to influence others around them etc. When it comes to gratitude, they may elect not to bother feeling grateful for anything as it is a sign of weakness, or they may elect to be grateful to 'Satan' or whatever rather than to God as a Christian would be, thereby reinforcing their values and belief system. In general though, Satanists may be more focussed on the material gain, material abundance and wealth building philosophies and control in attaining the goal of 'Satan' and suppressing their weaker emotions, that other areas of personal development.

The ego doesn't like to have to work to appreciate something or to be grateful however, and some LaVey Satanists may choose to reject the very idea of gratitude and appreciation of what they have and are experiencing, instead viewing it as their right to have it. It is noted that many people of all different belief systems and backgrounds become increasingly numb or bored of the things they have or experience on a daily basis, as they do not work on being grateful and appreciating them. It is often only when one has to go without something that one gains a frame of reference and has something greater inferior to compare the experience to that the brain suddenly allows one to enjoy it briefly again. This is why many people get bored of cars and change it for a brand new one every 3 years. This is why marriages can become stale and monotonous, and in many cases people either start cheating on their spouses or get into the swingers scene or tantric sex or BDSM or something else! It is also why drug users tend to get bored and not get that first high feeling any more and choose to take larger and larger amounts or switch drug. It is also why people change their 'look' frequently to something new and fresh every so often. Sensual experiences that are repeated in the same fashion often become monotonous as they first time they are performed they are new, but after a while we know what to expect and the brain switches off, even if they are subtly different each time.

Where one does not appreciate what one is doing, boredom, numbness set in and the activity or item loses its meaning, whereby it becomes worthless to that person. All the fun evaporates. Boredom is the disease of the borgeois, and taking someone away from their pampered lifestyle for a while and into poverty or harsh conditions temporarily helps to restore perspective. Perspective is everything. It is one of the 'softer' and more 'wimpish' things that many people don't like to do, including many Satanists. If one looks at the tenets of LaVey Satanism, nowhere is gratitude or appreciation mentioned. Presumably if they really appreciated what they had and experienced, they would enjoy it more without having to indulge quite so much! Happiness is not mentioned either. Is this another 'weak' and 'pathetic' emotion? Are Satanists supposed to enjoy their lives to the full but not really feel the emotions of happiness and love as they erode at their ego-derived sense of self-power? The certain tenets of Taoism should presumably be in the LaVey Satanic tenets, for example not having expectations of the future, not being tied to your past and comparing the present with the past, as they detract from one's ability to be in the here and now. Too much of an ego trip and physical and psychological addictions take one away from the here and now. Presumably Satanists are 'allowed' to pick and mix a little from other philosophies and learn a little from other philosophies, without taking on the whole of that philosophy, to the extent that they don't break their own rules or concepts about the self. In the same way, a non-Satanist can look at some of the tenets of the CoS and see some benefit in applying one or two occasionally to his own life, but pretty much ignore the rest of the philosophy.

It is clear that many Satanists view the law of attraction, wealth building and NLP as useful resources. For example, it may vary according to the individual on what they focus on in terms of visualisation, how they wish to influence others around them etc. NLP techniques for example may be a way to control one's focus in order to more greatly intensify one's sensual experiences and to satisfy one's sensory and sensual desires. When it comes to gratitude, they may elect not to bother feeling grateful for anything as it is a sign of weakness, or they may elect to be grateful to 'Satan' or whatever rather than to God as a Christian would be, thereby reinforcing their values and belief system. In general though, Satanists may be more focussed on the material gain, material abundance and wealth building philosophies and control in attaining the goal of 'Satan' and suppressing their weaker emotions, that other areas of personal development.

There are clearly many ways of controlling one's focus using NLP style techniques, and increasing one's awareness of one's surroundings and one's body, and many different spirits in which one can do this. This applies to meditation also. One can choose to enter into this to appreciate all the good and beautiful things around one. Or one can choose to enter into this in a Buddhist or Taoism sense of no mind, no thought, no ego, but just passively observing energy around one, with no judgement, and being aware of the tiny and minute. One may also choose to enter this in order to maximise one's sensual experience, and to observe all this detail from a point of view of satisfying the ego and helping to reinforce one's position of power. There are clearly many circumstances in which one may interrup one's habitual patterns of focus. One may choose to interrupt positive, soft, loving feelings and replace them and shift the focus to something more powerful, disassociated, cynical, hateful, perverse and/or ego-serving. One may conversely choose to interrupt negative addictive patterns of behaviour, such as anger, fear, jealousy or sadness associated with a certain stimulus or input, so that a positive focus and frame of reference can be maintained in future and not be lost at the expense of that negative state in the future.

When it comes to NLP style techniques and conditioning techniques for shaping one's core beliefs, one may use them to reinforce one's Christian or Muslim beliefs for example, about God being good, our gratitude to God and trust in God; or to reinforce one's balanced and positive self-image and self-confidence, and positive and empowering beliefs about relationships and one's environment; or one can use these techniques to boost one's own opinion of oneself to epic heights, to boost one's concepts of one's own power, rebelliousness and refusal to obey anyone, one's dark and one sided global beliefs about relationships with others and society as a whole and one's purpose in life, reinforce one's beliefs about pleasure seeking and sensual gratitification, suppress one's softer, emotional and loving side, and reinforce one's ego's dark opposition to positive, loving and loving concepts. Clearly these techniques can be applied in a number of ways!

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Clarity:

One some level, LaVey Satanists regard Satanism as a state of mind of clarity, stripping away all mental confusion and unnecessary feelings and adherences, with all other religions being confusion and clouding people's minds. To some extent, one can relate to this philosophy and understand where it is coming from. The state of clarity is however also the state of mind that is claimed to be experienced by adherents of many other belief systems and faiths, and is certainly a state of mind that I have felt to the fullest extent when he first became a Christian. Clarity it could be argued is a psychological state where one's beliefs are aligned and in accord, rather than conflicting and 'putting on the brakes'. It generally happens that LHP adherents can attain more clarity and freedom from many social conventions that your average Christian, but that they perhaps both have levels of clarity in different areas - and it ultimately depends on which you believe has the more value. Satanists often have a black hole in their own self aware of their own mindstate (lack of perspective), but then Christians are often extremely brainwashed by their own faith; and ironically it is Satanists who are often more educated about the history of the Christian religion than the Christians themselves who cannot separate the word of the Bible from modern Western Christian literature and traditions, which are all assumed to be 'holy'.

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Honesty:

It should be noted that there is no mention of 'honesty' mentioned in the laws of LaVey Satanism. Does this imply that it is acceptable to lie publicly but also to one's friends and colleagues? To what extent are people who frequently lie (with ease, to varying degrees) honest with themselves? This presumably breaks the rule of 'self deceipt'. Is it acceptable then to lie about anything you like as long as you don't believe your own lies or deceive yourself? This surely isn't very helpful and is unlikely to gain you respect from your peers or friends. The CoS itself seems no stranger to lying either, as it is happy to mislead the public and LaVey Satanists about Theistic Satanism and what it is really about. Indeed many Theistic Satanists accuse the CoS of being liars.

I have conversed with a number of Satanists and adherents of various variants of the Left Hand Path. He has in generally found them to be open and no nonsense in their approach, and usually quite honest. Of course, with many such people one often gets the impression that they are only forthcoming about that which they want to be forthcoming about, or are prepared to be open about. As long as one sticks within that remit and does not probe too deeply about the emotions (emotional content often being absent in such direct, no nonsense interactions) then one can enjoy a refreshing air of honesty free of the usual social inhibitions and conventions.

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Taking Oneself Seriously:

The CoS has a nominal joke on the home page, and a joke about what Apple don't want you to know (that the CoS site was created on a Mac!) These aren't exactly side splitting, but a little cheesy. But beyond this, the 'irony' is all rather pathetic, and the reality is that most 'proper' Satanists, whilst they make like to think they joke around, take themselves far too seriously and seem to be devoid of a sense of humour if the jokes are pointed at them or don't match their exact sense of humour. This goes for many on the LHP in general from my experience.

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Suppression of Weakness:

The laws and principles of the CoS show a tendency to suppress any 'weakness' or the softer side of the emotions (e.g. love, whether brotherly, parental or romantic, affection) and as such display a lack of understanding of the fundamental human needs as described elsewhere on this site. Clearly some degree of affection is tolerated between parents and children, but how much affection is one 'allowed' or 'supposed' to give to others. Only to the deserving? With children, when they are badly behaved, it is often then that one should be supportive rather than scolding or reprimanding. One can understand why frustrated teenagers can relate to these laws and tenets. Indeed, following these rules may give participants a false sense of confidence, self-power and independence; to gain a sense of empowerment; but comes from a place of insecurity about the self and a lack of self-knowledge, by suppressing certain emotions. There is a time and place for everything, and at certain times teenagers may come to terms with traumatic experiences or unhealthy family or other situations by adopting such a mindset. However, this is hardly a long term, balanced strategy. Ignoring certain Fundamental Human Needs (c/f Glassner/Maslow) will not lead to fulfilment, less so as one gets older and these needs go unmet for increasing periods of time. Every situation is different, and freedom is the right to decide to do what feels best at any given moment, rather than simply following a set of rules.

As mentioned elsewhere, any qualities that are seen as weakness may be regarded with disdain by many Satanist peers. Strength is encouraged, as long as it embodies strength and fostering the Will in a direction that is acceptable within the rules and framework of Satanism and indeed the finnickity aesthetics and personal biases of Satanists within a given peer group. For example, in some Satanic circles, if one has the strength to not conform like the others (the 'herd') and reject pressure to adopt gothic/teutonic style clothing, to listen to Black Metal or Industrial etc., to adopt a highly unfashionable aesthetic sense or to express open homosexuality, then one is not generally respected for them and may be held back in occult orders or in the Satanic social scene as a result. However, undesirable but 'tough' characteristics, such as a predisposition to Neo-Nazism, racism or terrorist claims, may gain one kudos as one is viewed as a hard man, even if the views are not particularly acceptable to the peer group. It is respected or condoned. This is examined in the section further down on Satanism and the Far Right.

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The Influence of Social Darwinism on LaVey Satanism and the LHP:

Before commencing this section, if you are not already familiar with Social Darwinism, it may be helpful to read the section on Social Darwinism at the top end of this page.

In more modern times, Nietzsche has been a major influence on Neo-Nazi gangs (e.g. Aryan Brotherhood), Satanism, Gnostic Luciferianism and the Left-Hand Path, some of whom have taken Nietzsche's ideas in their entirety and others who have selectively taken from his philosophy and chosen to ignore some of his other ideas. It could be argued that whilst many who follow Nietzsche's philosophy object to the uptake by the Nazis and Neo-Nazis as a perversion of Nietzsche's ideas or as a selective uptake of Nietzsche's ideas with contradictory ideas of other philosophers, they are in many cases doing exactly the same thing. The Nazis adopted some of Nietzsche's philosophies, including the Power to Will, perhaps taking it out of context as a justification for global war and domination, but ignored Nietzsche's vehement anti-racism and anti-eugenics stance. LaVey Satanists who claim to draw on Nietzsche's philosophy of the Power to Will, are also ignoring the fact that Nietzsche was an actual atheist, and did not practice the occult, unlike LaVey Satanists who believe that 'black magic' is consistent with atheistic practice. In addition, Gnostic Luciferians or Bestian Gnostics who are highly influenced by Nietzsche have also neglected the fact that Nietzsche was an atheist and believed that 'God was dead', presumably meaning all Gods in effect, including the Judeo-Christian God. Gnostic Luciferians and Bestian Gnostics in many cases believe in multiple Gods and deities, which hardly consistent with Nietzsche's overall philosophy, even if they believe in the Power to Will. What would Nietzsche think if he could see how his ideas had been interpreted today? I imagine that he would be less than impressed that his ideas had been used to promote genocide, race hatred, the occult and polytheism! Nietzsche would have no doubt regarded Satanists and Gnostic Luciferians as just as superstitious as Christians, but at least not embodying the slave-morality. However, there is no reason why one cannot 'pick and mix' from a variety of different philosophies, taking on those ideas that one finds appealing and ignoring others that one does not, within a number of different philosophies, in a somewhat personalised, subjective and syncretic manner. Each to their own!

It appears from first glance that although Anton LaVey delighted in Ragnar Redbeard's writings on the hypocrisy of religion and the moral values of society, he does not completely embrace Ragnar Redbeard's particular version of Social Darwinism. Redbeard's work displays a complete rejection of concepts of morality, and embodies a predominantly animalistic view of humanity, i.e. survival of the fittest - and that's it! LaVey, whilst fancying this approach, does however incorporate some of western society's values and obsessions into his own (less extreme) version of Social Darwinism.

Charles Darwin himself was opposed to slavery, and did not believe in the concept of inferior races, but merely was observing the mechanism in nature that connects all life together and how species evolve. He did not believe in applying his theory to manual intervention in human societies, like eugenics, and believed that man's goood nature and altruism towards the weak is what made him greater than animals. Darwin also believed in God. It is therefore ironic that LaVey was inspired by Darwin to justify attitudes towards the 'weak' that Darwin himself did not hold.

Darwin was himself one of the first ecologists, and post-Darwinism gave birth to the discipline of ecology. Ironically, most Satanists and also 'fundamentalist' Christians see it as their birth right to dominate the earth, for differing reasons, rather than to live in harmony with it, as the ideas of Darwin actually dictate. Short sighted agricultural practices and environmental destruction result in artificial selection or large scale extinction, instigated by human activity, even the 'strongest' species in normal, 'natural' situations. It is no surprise that both Satanism and fundamentalist Christianity originate in the West, specifically in America, the nation most frequently associated with domination, in all senses of the word, and living out of balance with the psyche, the environment and the rest of the world.

LaVey does set certain rules, such as not harming small children, not killing animals unless strictly necessary (for food or self-defence) and of not messing with others (or at least starting trouble) when in 'open ground'. He also does not believe in stealing unless to relieve someone else of excessive wealth or goods that they find a burden; and in respecting someone else's home. Only invest emotionally in those who are 'deserving'. These are 'Christian' moral values (except the last one!), or indeed the moral values of many other more modern monotheistic and indeed secular/capitalist societies. Redbeard's writings do not include such concepts of morality, and it really is a case of survival of the fittest, with no emotional attachment or child-like emotion whatsoever. The logical extension of Redbeard is really total anarchy, do whatever you want or feel like at the time, and the strongest will prevail. Don't bother protecting the weak, the deserving or underdeserving. LaVey has set out more rules than this. Redbeard has no rules at all - he is a pure nihilist. So whilst LaVey fancied himself in Redbeard's work, it is really too extreme for him! So why he wrote an introduction to a reprint of Might is Right is a little puzzling.

One could argue that Social Darwinism and the ideas of Ragnar Redbeard's book Might is Right are always promoted by those who fancy themselves as being 'strong'. In particular the young, who feel they are indestructible and feel they know everything already. However, it is not so funny when the next generation take over and when you become old and frail. Then you are a 'has been'; Or if you develop a long term or 'incurable' illness seemingly through no fault of your own, e.g. a fit, strong and intelligent young male develops Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, or a weight lifter in their 40s develops cancer. Or perhaps you are erroneously injected with hepatitis-infected blood on account of an error at the hospital or given a diseased organ from a hospital on account of someone running an illegal body parts business. Is this your fault? If this is you, and you believe in the law of the jungle, and you believe society is weak, then go off and die then! And don't complain about it!

Most people view Neo-Darwinism or Social Darwinism merely as focussing on the rights of the strong to be strong and paying very little interest or attention to 'the weak' and certainly not supporting or helping them unless there is a very good reason to do so. This is somewhat different from an active interest in eliminating the weak and speeding up 'natural selection', i.e. unnatural selection. This former take on Darwinism mainly focusses on individualism, self-reliance, standing up to bullies and oppressors, doing your own thing, taking chances, losing fear derived from self-conditioning and negative suggestion from society as well as social restrictions and regulations. Exactly how one views the weak and decides how one interacts with society with this kind of ethos is open to personal interpretation, and in the extreme, a wide variety of unwanted anti-social or sociopathic behaviour can result.

One may consider the true nature of being the fittest or the strongest. Does this mean repressing your softer or feminine side or principles and fronting and faking it and being all brash and macho? In extreme situations, those who are more rounded and emotionally balanced and in touch with their softer side, but still matter of factly and able to control their emotions more effectively usually fare better than those who pretend to be 'strong' and 'tough' but who actually crack up after a while as their emotions run riot and eventually cannot be suppressed any longer. The toughest people on the planet are ironically actually quite pleasant characters and quite relaxed and family men, not afraid to show love. To deny or not be able to handle part of who you are is surely a sign of weakness. Emotional suppression is surely a type of false confidence, only skin deep. Looks the part, but skim the surface and there is nothing there.

If you have an accident or are attacked by a gang and half left for dead, you would no doubt appreciate some help from a passer by. If a passer by just ignored you as you lay there bleeding, would you think 'sensible guy, he's nobody's fool, I'd do the same', or would you think something along the lines of 'you son of a b*tch!'? Or indeed if someone walked past and stole your wallet and perhaps kicked you again when you were down, would you think the same? Or would you want someone to help you get to hospital? Or in the natural order, you should bleed to death, die of exposure, or be picked off by 'predators'? Clearly the Biblical concept of helping one's neighbour, although boring sounding and 'weak', does have its merits. It is boring unless you are in need of that help. Of course, being dependent and expecting help when you could achieve it yourself with enough personal drive and determination is a bad character trait and is not always worthy of help. If you help others too much, they will never bother to learn to do something themselves. But we are talking about extreme situations when you would really want help to survive.

It is easy to believe in Social Darwinism or the law of the jungle, when it does not affect you or your family or your partner. But when it does, you may well radically alter your attitude. Alternatively, you may rationalise it and compartmentalise it (inconsistent), in that their lives are truly worth you efforts and help, whereas strangers and associates are not. Whatever philosophy one chooses, it should be consistent. To what extent should we not help the weak, sick, elderly, disabled, hungry, victims of war and famine, short sighted etc?

Maybe you consider such a free and self-indulgent society to be utopian until someone rapes your daughter or steals your BMW!

Do the principles of Social Darwinism have to be taken to the extreme, or can we just apply the principles in particular scenarios when we see fit? Is a set of rules on how to conduct oneself truly in the spirit of self-determinism and freedom of choice? In a sense, the adhere to an extreme form of applied Darwinism above society's 'normal' or perceived 'good' human values (ignoring the hypocrisy for a minute) could be considered to be a form of false religion itself and detrimental to mental clarity. The limiting of one's options reduces clarity and choice. Would the science, technology, art, culture, democracy and social cohesion (in relative terms!) we enjoy today be possible without altruistic values and simply with the law of the jungle? Those harsh, lawless societies lose much of their art, culture and entertainments. People are too scared to go out in case they are shot or lynched - so there 'fun' to be had, as one is too busy surviving. Our modern consumer society is very sanitised and 'safe' and people become very complacent and borgeois about it and take it for granted. But it is a fragile balance, in some countries more than others. If one is interested in a lawful but harsh society, this presumably may not favour hedonists who don't want to have to work too hard but want to induldge themselves. Clearly to enjoy hedonism without being interfered with, there has to be give and take, and someone has to be 'giving' or making the effort.

LaVey Satanists may consider the excesses of modern capitalism and hyperconsumption to be rather repugnant, and the sanitisation and conformity that it brings, but in a sense it embodies the spirit of Social Darwinism, competition and the law of the jungle. Competition often leads to less choice, poor quality goods, conformity, jobs going abroad to developing countries where wages can be lower (much lower!) - in some cases exploitatively low, paying producers of raw materials a very low price, globalisation and homogenisation of nations to a global consumer culture.

Does the power of the market and competition always look after the average citizen's best interests? We imagine that it does, when regulated by law, but the motivation is to make as much money as possible from the consumer, regardless of the interests of health and psychological wellbeing. Capitalism has gone beyond the 'old school' ethical concept of capitalism in certain industries from the time of the Protestant Reformation. This is why the 'free market' is increasing regulated and 'nanny-ed'.

Whilst LaVey was clearly influenced by Ayan Rand's theories on capitalism and the role of the government, and also by Darwin's theory of Natural Selection, or at least the more macho sounding parts of it, it should be noted that these principles do not always promote independence and strength. Capitalism, and its inevitable consequence Consumerism, whilst promoting 'survival of the fittest' in the market in terms of competition and self-correction, the actual effect on consumers is often ironically the total opposite. Capitalism and its brainwashing arm, the advertising business, can create a culture of weakness, dependency and one devoid of free thought. Consumers, used to convenience goods and reliable utilities, become weak and lazy, being spoilt by increasing standards of living. Having electricity at your finger tips, luxury goods, supermarkets, a car and internet access means that people are used to being pampered and having everything when they want it. This does little for self-discipline, appreciation of what one has in absolute terms (relative to poor countries or countries at war) or one's strength of character. People who have electric refrigerators are not used to having to store food, not used to going out hunting for their own food (the sight of blood and killing furry animals is too much for most people). Having electric lighting and relying on it encourages an disconnected attitude from one's natural environment, when natural light is and isn't available. Heating also.

These things cut us off from our natural environments. Most people do not have to exercise or be physically tough to survive in modern western economies. They are not used to the cold as they are shut away in warm rooms all day and sit on their 'behinds' going from place to place. They have no appreciation of the mind boggling distances their food products and indeed their bodies travel in the course of a day. If you put the average person in an isolated wood in the middle of winter, they would not last very long. Consumer society cocoons people from any hardship and as a result the mind does not know how good it has it as everything is so physically easy and convenient.

We expect gains without consequences. The hyperconsumerist philosophy is all about convenience and laziness. We want all the benefits without any of the unpleasant side effects. People are unable to face the consequences of their actions and the 'messy' truth. They dislike taking responsibility for their actions. If we experience a problem, the general trend is towards sueing the provider of the goods or services, rather that taking responsibility for our abuse of the product or the factor of chance or chaos. We expect everything to be perfect and fit into neat boxes. We expect luxury and convenience foods and drugs but without any health effects, which we pretend won't happen until the day a major disease 'comes out of nowhere'. This is why the pharmaceutical industry tries to develop less adverse drugs to 'solve' medical problems (or rather brush the symptoms or root causes under the carpet). We want artificial sweetners so we can have sweet goods without putting on weight (despite the other associated health risks associated with artificial sweeteners). Perhaps if we ignore the side effects or health risks, they won't happen?

When our nations go to war, we now have such high expectations of the art of war that we expect no casualties, and if a few hundred soldiers die, then public support evaporates. Compare this to World War I, in the battle of the Somme, when 20,000 soldiers died EVERY DAY! On the first day of the battle, Britain lost nearly 60,000 soldiers. This was clearly a very messy and pointless conflict, and the numbers of casualties were a result of the technological deadlock of the conditions and weapons, but also the sheer stupidity and inflexibility of the generals concerned. It helps to gain historical perspective however. Now, western nations like to heavily bomb their opponents, inflicting huge civilian casualities, before sending in their ground troops, when they expect minimal casualties. The side with the bigger budget for firepower is the 'fitter'. However, as we have seen, questionable invasions have resulted in protracted guerilla warfare and a huge money pit, requiring ever increasing numbers of soldiers to maintain order after the invasions. So perhaps the age of the free lunch (First Gulf War style) is over. Western nations are now starting to realise the environmental impact of some of the commodities we are consuming today, and slowly, in a politically correct and occasionally undemocratic manner, are being forced to slowly realise this.

People's minds become lazy and weak, and ignorant, as people spent more and more time in front of the TV or the computer and less time debating, discussing philosophy with friends or out having fun or playing sports. Or walking in the outdoors. If people do go out hiking, their car is not far away and they are wearing high tech moutaineering gear to make it as comfortable and easy as possible. The emotionally weak are catered for by overly emotional and simplistic TV shows. Modern man has lost his soul, his need to strive to survive and better himself; he has lost his backbone; his guts; society makes survival too easy and instead people are focussing on increasing their material wealth and status...where is the honour in this? Where is the soul? Where is the backbone? Have people forgotten they have physical bodies that are capable of withstanding adversity and harsh environments? Are people unaware how much their minds can put up with and cope with in terms of withstanding physical environments and challenges? Very few every experience this, perhaps only those in jobs which touch on this, for example, soliders in certain combat situations etc. Is this capitalist ethos really promoting the fittest and being fit? I am sure you get the general point. Nietzsche would probably have a few things to say about modern hyper-consumerism if he were alive today!

It is clearly up to the individual to reintroduce hardship and frontiers to challenge in their own lives. This is not necessarily something that society is going to do for us, at least in peaceful hyper-capitalist western economies (unless one wants to become an aggressive entrepreneur, firefight or soldier etc.). Some seek out adventurous style jobs for this reason or take up adventurous recreational activities. Perhaps this is why pro-capitalists (Ayan Rand style) believe that a Nietzsche style Satanist philosophy is a tool for achieving this when not indulging in the dangerous. This is however not realy survival of the fittest in its bare essence. It is a borgeois, middle classed version of it. Take the challenges as and when it suits you, when you are not pampering yourself and making yourself weak. Survival of the fittest, as long as your rights as a citizen and consumer are respected. The nature of freedom is that it often result in complacency. You can't have your cake and eat it. A society that really challenged its inhabitants would either be one pre-industrial, where life was hard, or one where there is a totalitarian regime or a society at war or in economic/civil turmoil. I am not suggesting that dictatorships are a good idea! But merely that every social and political model has its failings or shortcomings, and to make out that any one model is an ideal is highly flawed and naive. Even is prosperous economies, some people who are prone to worrying on account of low self-esteem and also conditioning/brainwashing by values/media/themselves, will always find something to worry about - mortgages, the neighbours, crime, their image, achieving all the hobbies they want etc. rather than their day to day safety in harsher societies. This is reflected in the fact that most people fear public speaking more than death in modern western economies! Surely death is worse?! And public speaking is of no consequence?

Do fancier electronic gadgets, computers, flat screen TVs and better handling cars make us happier? Would we be just as happy with few if any of these luxuries? Some people argue that unles we really appreciate what we have, and are thankful for it, everything loses its meaning and becomes less and less fun. Demanding consumers keep the market competitive, but themselves become more and more demanding and 'grumpy'. Some people advocate periods of ascetism, abstinence, getting out into the outdoors/mountains/on the ocean, or even sensory deprivation to help restore one's perspective on a semi-regular basis. Does wealth have the reverse effect on one's personal happiness than we expect or perceive - the more we have, the more we are ruled by it (in a Feng Shui type of way). Indeed, does more personal power really make you happy? It can intoxicate the ego for a while, but ultimately for many it is unsatisfying and cannot fulfill all of one's emotional needs.

Does legislating altruism, as we do in many of our modern, industrialised societies, make us a caring people? Or does it simply make people more selfish and take less personal responsibility, as the state does all that for them. Does welfare make the average professional citizen less caring and more selfish as they don't have to think about or help anyone and can simply focus on their own personal business? Is taxing people and determining how their money is spent on helping the local communities in a politically correct manner fair? For example, pouring large sums of money into providing land for New Age travellers, when working class families have to work all their lives to pay for land? If a government choses to donate large sums of money to Africa, for example, shouldn't the voting public have a say in how much is given and how it is spent? Government contractors are well known for their exhorbitant charges and poor performance. There is very little accountability. If people got involved themselves to help their own communities, rather than relying on their local council to mop up the 'trash', wouldn't that bring people closer together and make communities better places to live in? Where you pass the buck, it does you no favours and it rots the soul.

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Occult Ritual:

Magic rites and rituals or rather the absence of their practice is one key factor separating the classical LHP from the RHP. Christians and Moslems for example simply pray to or directly experience God, and do not need to protect themselves from their God from inside a Golden Dawn style pentagram, nor invoke, nor do they need to 'banish' their God afterwards. The idea is to have God inside one all the time. Perhaps this can be seen as an archetype that one is embracing all the time. Perhaps LHP practitioners prefer to use more than one archetype, or rather the 'less feeble' and 'darker' archetypes.

The occult is viewed by some as an attempt to reconnect to the abstracted part of one's self, the disassociated parts of the subconscious mind. According to followers of the LHP, many people fear this as it is seen as a door to the realm of nightmares, and thus demonise the occult. One could argue that daemonology and communicating with daemons is already demonised! The LHP holds that one must embrace the occult in order to embrace all parts of one's nature, to become whole and at one with creation on all levels, which is perceived to be extremely difficult if one is 'afraid of the shadows'. The desire to avoid the sensation of fear or the propensity to hold oneself within one's comfort zone and not step outside it are seen to be manfestations of a 'closed circuit' in the brain and a sign of fragmentation of the self. One could however view the practices of many adherents of the LHP as being focussed on certain areas and demonology, which is perhaps only one part of the one's true nature, or indeed, not one's Will at all. Experiencing bliss, from whatever standpoint is also in our nature, as well as acknowledging one's self; but the bias is usually towards that which may titillate our ego's desire for something 'naughty' or 'dark'.

Do those who oppose or demonise the LHP simply hide their skeletons in the closet? Clearly there are many ways to integrate oneself with truth and reality, and ceremonial magic and daemonology are seen as the main methods available. Of course, there are other methods, such as connecting with the 'Akashic Record' through dreams or trance; hesychasm and structured daily contemplation exercises; martial arts; healing; meditation; lucid dreaming; astral projection; or the innate ability to connect to the Self and the Will; and to The One (i.e. God) - the sensation of unification with God at will, etc. These other methods may vary somewhat in their 'Left-Handedness' and some may be reflective of traditions that are neither LHP nor RHP. Clearly the scope of one's nature and indeed the preferred methods will vary from individual to individual, and to generalise about the occult being necessary for all may be a gross generalisation. Acting out of fear is one thing, but acting out of personal preference, self-knowledge and one's Will is quite another.

When considering the 'occult' or the realm of the subconscious, it should be noted that by simply doing what others have defined as the 'best' way to achieve more knowledge and experience of the Self, in a copy cat or imitating manner, may not be right for you. Ideally one should choose what is right for the individual, and do what you want. Reading from an instruction manual, whilst useful for many, is rather conformist. Clearly study and discipline is required, and dedication, but at the end of the day, if one sticks to the formulas of others without evolving or creating one's own methods or feeling free to choose from any philosophy or religious practice, then one is in a sense boxed in and not a genuine expression of one's Will. One is going through the motions of someone else's Will.

The occult often portrays itself to be many things. However, it does tend to reside in certain areas more than others. For example, it is more about the exploration of the human psyche and the 'astral plane' than an actual increase in our animal-like perception that we have lost in modern human society. For example, occult practice in general does not really develop or seek to develop our navigation abilities, similar to birds that are able to navigate contents and find an exact spot on the other side of the world. It is believed that sharks in the open ocean when they migrate follow an 'electromagnetic map'. Animals are able to sense the weather before it happens and to intuitively understand where food and water are likely to be. Oriental martial arts, for example T'ai Chi Chu'an, seek to develop more fluid and natural motion, improve one's awareness and co-ordination, and develop the power of 'qi' for health, spiritual and self-defence purposes. Most occult practices, if any, delve into such areas, and focus on the mind and ignore the body or at least in this capacity. They are more about increasing certain aspects of our senses in our bodies, rather than being more in tune with them. Animals may not require disciplined training to tap into their innate power and strength, but are able to do so by living in the 'now' continually all their lives. Humans require 'deprogramming' or disciplined training and meditation to achieve some of this. In some areas they are able to excess an animal's ability (e.g. striking through blocks, having concrete blocks smashed over one's head), but in others they have no chance of advancing that far. So it is only fair to put it into relative perspective. The other non-occult development practices discussed do not require interraction with the astral realm and so may be compatible with a variety of spiritual beliefs and faiths.

All magical rituals were created by someone. All deities were recognised or thought up by someone. Many followers of the LHP read occult books by famous authors and pick and mix rituals and rites from a variety of sources. However, these rites were personalised visions of their respective authors and their view of how to best focus the mind and to project their consciousness or embody a particular archetype their favour. If one person can devise a magical system that suits him best, why cannot everyone that wishes to practice the occult? It seems that some are natural creators or leaders and others are too happy to follow and not think for themselves. Choas magic tries to cut out all the ceremonial and personalised metaphor, which some see as good for transforming the mind and bringing people together - assuming it is focussed and not unambiguous in interpretation - but Chaos magic, in its stripped down form, does tend to follow formulas or prescribed rites in many cases. Those who follow are everywhere.

I have often argued that there is no need for the practice of occult ritual in any of its forms as one can gain similar psychological benefit in terms of alignment with one's Will and intention and general wellbeing and an increased level of 'vibration' by using psychology techniques such as NLP, NAC and Cognitive Therapy, as well as visualisation exercises (c/f the law of attraction) and meditation. I some respects they are however all the same thing and this is an irrational fear.

There is no strict requirement to perform occult ritual, and there are philosophical Luciferians (perhaps I am one loosely speaking) and philosophical Satanists - but some argue they are simply 'armchair' occultists. Whilst any psychological principles or triggers that cause a change in one's state of mind, determined by one's will, could be considered a form of 'magic', they have a limited or no 'spiritual' component. This cannot be said about occult ritual that uses archetypes associated with deities or 'demons' (i.e. entities of various persuasions and with infinitely stronger wills than the practitioner). Perhaps the occult has also more potential to involve the ego by default than the former, which depends on the spirit in which it is undertaken by the practitioner. It could also be argued that whilst both are useful, they work in slightly different areas and the most rounded and wise occultist should recognise both, and not just the occult as it is more 'dark' or 'exotic'. These concepts are also discussed on the Gnostic Luciferianism page and the Deities page.

Whilst visualisation and state changing (using various means described above) is useful in raising one's level of vibration and enabling one to rise about certain types of physical hardship, it cannot come close to the disciplines of internal martial arts (such as those listed in the/Fitness section on the Links page in the Health section) or even some fringe Hindu/Yogic practices in developing the control of qi for healing and the ability to perform 'superhuman' feats. Dedicating one's time to these types of disciplines is arguably more rewards in terms of 'power' with less room for the excesses of the ego. It ultimately depends what you want to develop, what your sense of self is and your identity, what you feel you are losing or limiting yourself in one area by gaining in another, and where you want to go / end up.

The inclusion of the practice of magic(k), which is a quality of Gnostic Luciferianism that separates it from Classic Gnosticism, depending on what your beliefs are about Classic Gnosticism. Now I have tried to research Gnostic Luciferianism as much as possible given time constraints and so on, and has gained a better understanding of the use of Magic(k) in GL and has lost some of his phobias surrounding it. However, he still regards this as one of the biggest stumbling blocks for him regarding Gnostic Luciferianism and the Left-Hand Path as a whole (and indeed other fringe forms of Gnosticism such as Rosicrucianism). Personal views change over time of course, and whilst I have some reluctance in this area, I am not closed minded and is naturally inquisitive. I understand the reasons for its inclusion and its purpose, but believe that Gnostic Luciferianism could still keep its balanced approach without explicit inclusion of ritual, focussing on other aspects of psychology, philosophy, mental exploration and so on. However, who would embody those 'darker' or hedonistic qualities? Perhaps just philosophers. It does not have to be 'pagan' deities! Or esoteric or tantric practices. One is just talking about having no mind or thought, letting loose and getting wild. It's not a big deal really.

Magic ritual is often used for personal development and growth. There are however other tools to unlock the subconscious and to achieve mastery and self-actualisation. These are the tools of NLP and Neuro-Associative Conditioning. These are examined in the psychology section of this web site. These do not involve invocation of entities or spirits or indeed magical rites. They can be practiced by practising magicians and also those with no interest in the occult whatsoever. They are considered by most to be truly 'faith neutral' i.e. can be Left-Handed or somewhere in the middle - but not strictly Right-Handed from my perspective).

One could argue that using nihilistic and social-darwinism psychology theories and concepts, and philosophical arguments, particularly of those from the 19th Century, and first part of the 20th Century, to justify the use of magic and the occult for tools for personal development as opposed to using cutting edge psychology and philosophy theories is like burying your head in the sand; perhaps providing 'evidence' and 'logical reasoning' to justify something that your ego wanted to do anyway; Or the 'darker' side of you or your Negative Self Image wanted to embrace for personal power and further reinforcement; And that some psychology theories and techniques are neglected as they are seen as too 'soft'. Proponents of the occult and magic ritual would argue the reverse, that these are much more effective tools to use, despite not having given other tools much time of day and not really tasted them enough to know otherwise. Indeed, often we act to reinforce where our ego wanted to be, and to avoid facing an underlying issue, rather than tackle it head on. Clearly there are many ways of looking at this and the view that regarding 'occult only' psychological/therapeutic techniques as 'bad' might be seen as being highly judgemental and prejudiced, especially if one has not tried them oneself.

Clearly, the extent that one wishes to adopt Magic(k)al practices is up to the individual to a large extent, so this should not necessarily be a stumbling block for neophites. However, it is clearly part of the ceremonies, rites and practices of certain levels of GL orders and one cannot really avoid it assuming one wanted to. However, if one had an issue with it, one would really have to ask oneself why one would want to worship/associate with people who did and were doing it, as presumably it would be the last thing one would want to do. If one is interested in say Gnostic Christianity, Buddhism and Hindu, and even atheism, then one does not necessarily have to do so within the Gnostic framework; and one does certainly does not have to do supplement it with occult rituals, which some might argue were even more syncretic and in opposition to these other belief systems. Unless one believes one is getting additional psychological and spiritual benefit from doing so. But then I would have to question the spirit in which say Buddhism and Gnostic Christianity were indeed embraced and whether one was supplementing it because one wasn't really scratching the surface and spreading oneself too thin (and possibly even missing the point). However, it is clearly the individual's choice.

Whilst I could be viewed as anti-occult (or specifically anti-hermeticism and spiritualism - at the time of writing - not now) in some respects, he is clearly far from being considered mainstream and orthodox in his spiritual beliefs. I view faith and philosophy from a largely self-perspective, but not necessarily one that embraces the 'ego' and rejects humility. Indeed, many of the therapies and techniques described on this web site, for example, on the energetic therapies page in the health section, and indeed much of the psychology section (e.g. NLP, neuro-associative conditioning etc.) and also (indeed!) most of the monotheism page would be considered occult or satanic by some puritans. It is all relative, but you have to deal with what you are comfortable with at the end of the day and draw a line under what you aren't (at that point in time and regularly and honestly review where you stand in these matters).

Magic(k)al practices can be viewed in some sense as 'bending the external to your Will' or 'aligning yourself to your Will'. This can also be achieved by means that won't 'freak out' the average person, e.g. NLP, positive visualisation and neuro-associative conditioning, and also certain types of energetic therapies.

Indeed, there are certain things that I have not written about, related to energetic therapies, but specifically Quantum Touch, that has been 'supernatural.' I have not mentioned these as he felt it might detract from the credibility of the web site, in terms of health and medical content, but that these are things that one may find out for oneself if one goes to see an experienced Quantum Touch practitioner. However, it was never anything that I felt was uncomfortable in terms of 'spiritual energy'. That is the real distinction. Anything that makes one feel wierd, uncomfortable, gives you a headache or makes you feel an icy chill is a definite no no! Or perhaps it requires further exploration as a manifestation of one's Destructive Shadow, something to come to terms with.

Nietzsche is quoted as saying 'When you look into the abyss, the abyss looks back'. In other words, if you look upon something 'dark', some element of that 'darkness' changes you, depending on the strength of the core tenets of your personality/belief system and what 'attracts' or 'excites' you and why; changing you perhaps forever.

I am of the philosophy of drawing elements of truth from all different parts of the spectrum, and of keeping an open mind, whilst remaining critical and slow to accept until sufficient direct evidence or applicable experience is gained. I do not rule most things out by default, but seeks to learn as much as he can over time. Some call this illuminism. When it comes to the area of the occult, which is a very broad category and wherein definition is sometimes troublesome, I am open to revise his view. However, until he meets and observes an occult practitioner whom he believes to be truly emotionally balanced and psychologically healthy in his opinion, then he will retain his current slightly sceptical position. I am yet to meet anyone he finds to be emotional balanced in general however who has an interest in the kinds of areas he is interested in, so perhaps it is not just occultists. I intend to study occult practices and Left-Hand Paths as well as the the beliefs, texts and practices of all other religions and philosophies, time permitting (!), and to study the psychological aspects of these, as well as other spiritual paths and psychological techniques. Self-mastery is my ultimate goal. My thoughts and beliefs are evolutionary by definition and if I arrive at a slightly different position or understanding of any of the topics discussed on this web site, then I will update them accordingly (given time as there is so much waffle!)

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Use of Inverted Biblical Imagery:

The (modern Western occult) Left-Hand Path is characterised to some extent by its use of reverse Biblical imagery or ironic use of Biblical imagery, concepts and sacraments for psychodrama and for the purpose of deprogramming. LaVey Satanism, for example, uses the Black Mass, inverted pentagrams and references to dark 'Gods' (despite claiming to be atheistic). Gerald Gardner, the 'father of modern witchcraft' and fore-father of modern Wicca, created rituals including the reciting of the Lord's Prayer backwards.

www.geraldgardner.com

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerald_Gardner

The use of an inverted cross in LaVey Satanism and by many other Satanist and Luciferian groups and individuals to represent an opposition to Christianity or indeed to define their philosophy on some level is ironic on many counts. Firstly, LaVey Satanism is presumably supposed to be a valid philosophy in its own right and should not need to define itself in opposition to any particular religion. If Satanism regards Jesus as irrelevant, this it seems odd to define one's beliefs using symbolism relating to Jesus. Choosing and picking on Christianity is indeed rather culturally biased. In addition, the inverted cross was actually first used by Saint Peter. Peter did not consider himself to be worthy enough to be crucified in the same manner as Jesus, and so requested that he be crucified in the upside down position. The Cross of Saint Peter (the inverted crucifix) is a Catholic symobol of the martyrdom of Saint Peter and the alleged association it has with Satanism is anachronistic. Therefore, unless Satanists who wear an inverted cross or crucifix specially have a sign saying 'INRI' on the inverted Crucifix, then they are in fact wearing a Catholic Christian symbol. Some people might find this extremely amusing. However, if you wore an inverted cross pendant to church, I am sure few would understand the St Peter symbolism and would instead interpret its usage from popular culture. It would be quite amusing also however to test the theory.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cross_of_St._Peter

The graphic below is from the Images of St. Peter from the Vatican and the Sistine Chapel, St. Peter's Episcopal Church, Charlotte, NC.



The inverted cross was used in the middle ages by heretical monks to show their opposition to the Catholic Church (as opposed to Christianity in general) and the Inquisition's persecution of (somewhat Gnostic) Catharism in the 13th and 14th Centuries in France. Apparently Latin parodies of the Roman Catholic Mass started to appear around about this time, although the modern concept of the Black Mass did probably not appear until the 16th or 17th Centuries.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_mass

www.cathar.net

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cathars

The Church of Satan's Black Mass is supposedly a joke, a form of psychodrama, an knee jerk reaction against historical Catholic persecution of paganism, but perhaps it could be argued that the joke became old many years ago, and that it is totally unnecessary and confusing for the uninitiated and even the initiated. The term Black Mass is historically associated with witchcraft, a mockery of the Christian Mass, often a magical ritual, usually culminating in a sexual orgy. LaVey Satanism uses the term but in a non-magical sense for the large part.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Mass

Zeena Schreck (formerly LaVey and CoS member) remarked that the Black Mass was a tiresome and irrelevant left-over from inverted Catholic distortions of the LHP.

www.black-rose.com/cuiru/archive/4-2/zeena.html

The use of inverted Christian imagery and ceremonies are said by many occultists to be useful to 'flush out' any psychological resistance to using the 'dark' antithesis of the Judeo-Christian paradigm and to 'deprogram' one's mind from Judeo-Christian conditioning. Christians could equally view them as literal embodiments of the worship of the deity Satan, which is where such activities gain much of their negative publicity from - and it is hardly surprising. One could perhaps argue the gratuitous use of Biblical terminology and so on is inconsistent also within the LHP, as sometimes it is used as deprogramming, to negate these concepts, and at other times, literal Biblical references are used, for humour or for artistic purposes, for example, referring to the goal of what one wants as 'Hell' or referring to the concept of Lucifer (not seen as a deity by most modern and gnostic Luciferians) as the Fallen Angel etc. Is this a case of wanting to have one's cake and eat it? It could be that some occult groups secretly enjoy the negative attention they receive, and enjoy offending those of a sensitive religious disposition with their use of terminology and 'psychodrama'; but that they also define themselves in anti-Christian terms, which ties them to a particular ethnographic segment of the world's population, and whilst they believe they are changing the definitions of the terms for their own use, they may also be influenced by the Biblical connotations of the terms themselves (if they are not fully 'deprogrammed').

This can be evidenced in the process of Christianisation that took place in early Christendom. The then Catholic Church sought to integrate pagan festivals and practices in order to quickly convert mass populations to Christianity, changing the meanings of the festivals and practices from pagan to Christian. However, this has only served to dilute and confuse Christianity in general, and has rendered Christianity into a 'circus' with little credibility in this day and age amongst many populations - particularly with the capitalist/consumer influence on these 'Christian' festivals. Their pagan meanings and origins are still very clear and affect people's perception of the religion. Thus it may well also be with the use of 'Christian' terminology in modern occult traditions. In either case, at one time or other, religious terms have all been made up, and vary from culture to culture in any case, so to stick with one culture's and religion's terms is hardly very imaginative - indeed, if the terms/concepts are made up/created by man at some point in the past, why not create and use new terms now? Why refer to demons as demons if they are strictly speaking just 'elements' or 'entities'. Why not create a new term. If a term no longer has any meaning, or has the wrong meaning, or is irrelevant to one's occult system, why use it? Why pick on Christianity? There are many other sources of negative conditioning in the our modern lives, and many concepts that are not important or relevant here, so why not use those instead?

Those that follow the Left-Hand Path, in particular LaVey Satanism, regard Blasphemy and Psychodrama as tools for deprogramming the mind of 'years of brainwashing by Judeo-Christian concepts'. However, it may be that a given individual is not so brainwashed or brainwashed by these concepts, depending on their upbringing and personal development, and so may not require the 'zig-zag' path of inversion and knee jerk reaction for spiritual development. One may simply follow a more direct path, if this is indeed one's goal.

The Left-Hand Path is characterised to some extent by its use of reverse Biblical imagery or ironic use of Biblical imagery, concepts and sacraments for psychodrama and for the purpose of deprogramming. LaVey Satanism, for example, uses the Black Mass, inverted pentagrams and references to dark 'Gods' (despite claiming to be atheistic). Gerald Gardner, the 'father of modern witchcraft' and fore-father of modern Wicca, created rituals including the reciting of the Lord's Prayer backwards. These activities are said to be useful to 'flush out' any psychological resistance to using the 'dark' antithesis of the Judeo-Christian paradigm and to 'deprogram' one's mind from Judeo-Christian conditioning. Christians could equally view them as literal embodiments of the worship of the deity Satan, which is where such activities gain much of their negative publicity from - and it is hardly surprising. One could perhaps argue the gratuitous use of Biblical terminology and so on is inconsistent also within the LHP, as sometimes it is used as deprogramming, to negate these concepts, and at other times, literal Biblical references are used, for humour or for artistic purposes, for example, referring to the goal of what one wants as 'Hell' or referring to the concept of Lucifer (not seen as a deity by most modern and gnostic Luciferians) as the Fallen Angel etc. Is this a case of wanting to have one's cake and eat it? Some argue that the above approach to 'deprogramming' is LHP, as a form of 'immersion', whereas simply avoiding Judeo-Christian concepts, is a form of 'abstinence' which may be simply avoiding the residual conditioning in an individual. It could be however argued that in our modern 21st Century society, traditional Judeo-Christian concepts hold less of a hold over the majority of the population in western industrialised nations than they used to, and so the use of such psychodrama and 'deprogramming' is perhaps less important than it used to be. However, this isn't to say that people aren't more brainwashed nowadays by hyper-consumerism.

Some argue that the above approach to 'deprogramming' is LHP, as a form of 'immersion', whereas simply avoiding Judeo-Christian concepts, is a form of 'abstinence' which may be simply avoiding the residual conditioning in an individual. It could be however argued that in our modern 21st Century society, traditional Judeo-Christian concepts hold less of a hold over the majority of the population in western industrialised nations than they used to (particularly for the current generations vs the baby boomer generation who were more conditioned with traditional Christian values), and so the use of such reverse Biblical psychodrama and 'deprogramming' is perhaps less important than it used to be - it may well disappear from the LHP in the future. It would be interesting to see if LHP orders spread to non-Christian countries or if they are appropriated in a different manner, reflecting adversarial and inverted behaviour towards the incumbent religions rather than the Western-centric anti-Christian forms we see today. Are those LHP orders that use inverted Biblical imagery defining themselves perpetually in terms of what they don't want and are tied to the very things that they reject?

However, this isn't to say that people aren't more brainwashed nowadays by hyper-consumerism and that they don't negatively condition their own minds on account of failures or negative suggestions by others during their childhood, and in dire need of going through their negative beliefs and associations and purging their mind of them and replacing them with empowering beliefs. However it could be argued that anti-Biblical metaphors and concepts are not so useful here, but perhaps other metaphors or techniques are required. This is what the Psychology section of this web site is all about.

Separate from the issue of deliberate psychodrama and deprogramming is the way in which certain concepts use terminology common to Christianity and indeed other religions and traditions. For example, the term demon conjures up a negative connotation in most people's minds, probably largely in part on account of the horror film industry, ancient story telling and historical and present literature. These images of monsters and demons are ingrained in our consciousness. Occultists may also use the term demon or daemon, but it is used in a different sense, or rather, the meaning is changed, different - or perhaps the individual has merely changed and does not evoke in himself these Christian type connotations when thinking of the term 'demon'. To an demonologist, a demon is not an evil force attempting to steal one's soul or cause pain and suffering, but a powerful archetype or spirit that one can use or communicate with from within the protection of a Golden Dawn pentagram or other Goetia protection means. Demon in the occultic sense then could refer to chaotic, 'dark' or malevolent deities, sub-deities or other entities or spirits. Equally it could refer to sub-deities like Crowley's Guardian Angels. Are we however being tied to ingrained monster imagery that cannot really be shifted from our sub-conscious? Or are these useful and visually entertaining / gratuituously morbid metaphors for the 'darker' parts of our subconscious?

Anton LaVey states in the Satanic Bible that he did not choose the term Satanism, but rather Christians has previously chosen it to represent the path adversarial to Christianity, the traditional 'Right-Hand Path'. The antithesis to this Christian view, represented in Christian cosmology by Satan, is that of free will and not obeying God. As discussed above, this use of a Christian concept or reverse Christian paradigm to define free will is very much an inverted or adversarial position by definition. Although LaVey Satanism claims not to believe in a God, it is defining itself in opposition to a Christian concept. So whilst Satanism is not an embodiment of the Biblical Satan, and a literal belief in the Biblical Satan (that which wishes to destroy mankind), it is a belief in the Biblical antithesis. This is perhaps where much unnecessary confusion results, and perhaps explains the ethno-bias towards Christianity as opposed to other religions, and the gratuitous use of knee jerk opposition and 'Psychodrama', of defining itself in terms of opposition to something else, rather than just free will and something new in its own right and non-dependent on Christianity. This is also perhaps where Luciferianism goes wrong, as it is defining itself often in reverse Biblical terms or adversarial terms, and indeed Gnostic Luciferianism, which depending on interpretation uses the dualistic Gnostic cosmology of Jehoviah bad - Monad good. The association and definition of the path in terms of Left-Hand Path sets itself up to be in opposition to the Right-Hand Path by its definition, rather than just existing as an expression of the self in its own right.

Many LHP practitioners believe that one should not just 'shut away' one's Judeo-Christian conditioning and ignore, but to deal with it and to let it go. This is the same argument used by those with the 'opposite' viewpoint, it is just that the method of 'dealing with it' is different. For LHP practitioners, this is the use of inverted Christian imagery and psychodrama. For others it may simply be identifiying the core negative or disempowering beliefs, and reducing their power through questioning their referencing 'props' or references, and placing empowering beliefs in their place. The latter approach would not advocate repeating the memory or idea of the negative belief, as whatever you focus on, you ingrain into your subconscious and it becomes a habit or reinforced. That is not to say that psychological approaches do not change the meaning of past painful memories, as they indeed do so in order to take their power away - the power/significance is removed, rendering the past memory meaningless, or having little interest or significance ('so what?'), and can be forgotten about rather than obsessed about and regularly focussed on. It is possible using NLP to attempt to undo one's fear of rejection but attempting to change the literal meaning of rejection to something positive, like pleasure, by regularly repeating the term rejection in conjunction with pleasure (ad infinitum), so it comes to mean pleasure. However, no one would do this as the original meaning of the word would be hard if not impossible to shake, few outsiders would understand the new term, and just by changing the meaning of the term or attempting to do so, does not necessarily mean that one has lost one's fear of rejection as a concept and experience. Inverted symoblism is however not just of one type in Satanism for example, but there are numerous applications. There is name 'Satan'. If you read enough about Satanism, then the term Satan in a Biblical or general conversational context does not perhaps hold such an emotional charge or neuro-associative connection. However, this is no reason to name one's philoosphy after 'Satan'. To merely study Judaism and the Old Testament and to realise that Satan here is not the 'devil' is sufficient and more educational. Naming a philosophy after Satan merely changes the association, so rather than think of a New Testament figure that holds little power over us, we associate it with a gratuitously 'dark' and knee jerk philosophy that attracts many 'goths' and which has some redeeming features. Is this useful? Is holding a Black Mass really necessary? It was originally a joke of debatable humour but is it still funny or a necessary psychological tool after the 'n'th time?

NLP uses some similar principles to the occult, and is a form of magic in a sense, but no NLP or NAC practitioner uses a painful/disempowering connotation with a word or concept, and uses the same concept but with a different meaning, repeated ad infinitum throughout one's life, as a method of deprogramming - and there is probably a very good reason why not - as highlighted above.

It should be noted that Aleister Crowley's Thelema philosophy/religion is a precursor to modern LHP groups and practices, yet it did not recognise Satan as a deity or archetype (and neither did Albert Pike) nor tend towards inverted Biblical practices to 'deprogram' members, but members of his occult organisations simply practised the ceremonial aspects of the Thelemic occult philosophy, and through magical practice, and communication with one's Guardian Angel, one could grow spiritually and psychologically. No requirement for Black Mass or use of the terms '666' was deemed necessary (although he perhaps did ascribe '666' as referring to himself), and if anything, Christian indoctrination was much more severe at the time. So is the use of inverted pentagrams and '666' really necessary in modern LHP groups? It is highly debatable.

The South Park Season 11 'Cartman sucks' episode springs to mind. Cartman was playing a series of practical jokes on Butters, an innocent and gullible boy (much like the young me!) On one occasion, when Butters was sleeping over at Cartman's house, Cartman photographed himself putting Butter's 'wiener' into his mouth when Butters was asleep. Cartman showed the photo to all his friends (horror). When they told him that it wasn't so much Cartman making Butters look gay, but Cartman being 'gay', Cartman was flustered and wondered how he could reverse it! Kyle told him that he could 'undo the gayness' and 'reverse it' by putting his 'wiener' into Butters mouth. Cartman believed him and attempted to do this whilst Butters was blind folded. Anyway, one could perhaps compare the use of antithetical Bibical imagery and terminology to 'deprogram' one's mind to putting one's 'wiener' into a man's mouth to 'undo' one's 'gay' conditioning! And even repeatedly putting one's 'wiener' into a mans' mouth to ensure one remains fully purged of one's 'homosexuality'.

By seeking to oppose something, one often just makes it stronger or gives it more significance, not less. Simply ignoring or valuing something else would diminish its power. If you believe in the 'Law of Attraction', then opposing Christianity only fixates and focusses your mind on Christianity. e.g. 'I hate rainy days' vs 'I love sunny days'. Try saying each statement. What do you think of each time? Which makes you feel bad and which makes you feel good? Adopting a reactionary stance in all things and conforming to certain aesthetics and modalities means that one is in effect just as fetishistic as those in the RHP, perhaps more so. This is the ultimate irony and what we are left with now is not often freedom of thought at all but another, slightly niche way of being predictable and enslaved. Many LHP practitioners become bad stereotypes. It is often said by those experienced on spiritual paths that repulsion towards anything (be it Christianity etc.) or creation or manifestation (as in the Gnostic interpretation) is a preoccupation with material existence and the ego, and experiencing repulsion about certain things or concepts is a major impediment to true self-actualisation and spiritual evolution or self-mastery (or enlightenment whatever your goal is). To feel repulsion is an archonic addiction. To calmly analyse something in a detached manner is a sign of higher mental progression than a knee jerk reaction or ego trip (wanting subconsciously to be offended so one can enjoy a shadow projection temporarily).

If LHP philosophies did not use any reference to an 'adversarial' nature or to be the 'opposite' of anything, then it might encourage 'freer' thinking, less focus and fetishisation of the 'dark', and be less restrictive. As soon as you start to define yourself as opposed to something, you define yourself by others terms and focus on what you don't want. As with many things in life, contradiction and paradox, and the unification of conceptions is quite commonplace and reflects the reality of physics in many areas, so adopting one side of a dualistic pendulum is perhaps unwise or not reflective of objective reality, and is not a path towards non-dualistic totality and a tolerant and open society.

Please see the Occult Symbolism section on the Church of Satan page for related discussion.

Perhaps the ultimate irony is that by being fixated on 'deprogramming' Judao-Christian conditioning by arguably childish inverted practices, and adopting hedonism, often at the expense of one's health, it overlooks the ultimate act of Satanic defiance, which is the empowerment on the lowest, most basic level - that of creating a physical body that is as powerful and energetic as possible, able to best live out a life to the full; and the act of cleansing the body of toxins accumulated by that dogmatic society and its food, agriculture and pharmaceutical industries - detoxifying the body - is the ultimate act of defiance against such a society and its physical dogma against the Self. As described in the health section of this web site. Yet few Satanists embrace this philosophy to the full. Religious indoctrination is only one way you may be getting 'played' so to focus on this at the expense of most other areas of modern society's conditioning may be quite foolish. Irony indeed.

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Astral Vampirism:

Astral Vampirism is different from the term 'Psychic Vampirism' which is a term used by LaVey to describe emotionally draining people. Some do however use the term 'Psychic Vampirism' to actually describe Astral Vampirism. Astral Vampirism is sucking 'energy' from other people, like the opposite of Medical Qi Gong which is the act of putting one's own Qi or life force directly into a person without simply using needles as acupuncturists do to save their own energy. Astral Vampirism is a practice employed by numerous LHP practitioners, mainly those who are chiefly interested in Black Magic, including many of the more militaristic or predatory LHP orders, whether Satanist or Luciferian. It is presumably the Qi one is therefore stealing from others and hopefully not their Jing. Rather than build up one's own Qi using Qi Gong exercises, Chinese Herbs etc., practitioners prefer to steal from others (if you believe this is possible), much like a mugger steals a handbag from an old lady or a stranger might steal candy from a baby, some might suggest.

Astral Vampirism, practised by 'Vampires' or 'Vampyres' is different from the gothic subculture in the fetish scene where adherents, calling themselves Vampires, sharpen their canine teeth and bite each other a little during sex and lick up the blood.

It could be that some LHP practitioners who practise Astral Vampirism, are also trained in internal martial arts, and may also practice Yoga, meditation and/or similar, and may practice all of these. One would expect the energy thirst should be quenched with Qi building and healing techinques alone, but the desire for Vampirism for its own sake may be part of exploring one's own sinister nature and expressing oneself. I am unsure exactly. One might argue that becoming accomplished at such activities might come in useful one day (in an extreme situation, e.g. hostage situation where one could put one's captors to sleep from a distance etc.) and too much knowledge is never a bad thing.

Contrary to the Darwinian bravado of many Satanists, some practitioners of psychic vampirism admit to being weak and needing to 'feed' regularly in order to feel well, which is rather 'non-Satanic', even if the actual act is (depending on if the intended victim 'deserves it' or not). This might suggest that practitioners own bodies perhaps become lazy in producing their own Qi if they are reliant on external sources, creating a type of addiction pattern.

Ford states in his book, The Vampyire Gate - The Vampyre Magickian, that one should not harm the other person but merely steal a little energy, so as not to make them too ill (maybe this is evidence of LaVey style morality or is perhaps a disclaimer and P.R. exercise). When picking a victim, it is clearly relevant the exact state of the person's energetic health as to what effect stealing a little Qi from them might have, as it may prevent long term physical health or recovery that cannot be easily perceived by the Astral Vampire. Clearly some people can afford to 'spunk off' a little Qi here and there and others cannot. Those with very low Qi may well be having their Jing depleted. I am unsure of the extent to which practitioners assess their 'victim' and the effect it might have. I doubt there is a comprehensive screening process however!

A friend of mine who has practised Astral Vampirism reports that it can become a paranoia-inducing experience, as fellow order members may worry about others preying on them. There is a code amongst some, that they will not prey on each other as it is more aggravation that it is worth. Vampirism is reported to be highly addictive by my friend and his friends, which is arguably also a negative. Some vampires wear sunglasses so that they are not detected whilst staring at their victims during the several minutes of the operation. This should not be confused with goths or emos who like to wear shades because they are posers or have low self esteem. Theistic Satanism does not always have the same limitations as LaVey Satanism, which has more moral restrictions, despite claiming to be amoral. Psychic Vampirism is an activity described by Ford in various books of his own magic and compilations of magick from groups such as Order of Nine Angles and the Werewolf Order, as discussed on the Chuch of Satan page.

It should be noted that not all Luciferians who are interested in Black Magic practice Astral Vampirism and some just stick with Goetia (summoning of demons), which is not deemed to be malevolent or predatory in the same sense as astral vampirism.

Please see the Gnostic Luciferianism page and the Satanism and the Far Right for more information on groups that practice predatory magic.

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Chaos, Destruction, Malice, the 'Anti-Cosmic' current and the 'Natural Order':

I have noticed that there is a heavy bias towards 'destruction' amongst many Satanists, Gnostic Luciferians, dark occultists and followers of the Left-Hand Path. This is no doubt a metaphor that is popular amongst those that favour Chaos and/or Chaos Magic, and also those of a somewhat nihilistic philosophical disposition. Destruction can be taken as a metaphor for deprogramming, but the metaphor seems to be stretched somewhat and taken completely out of context in other occasions.

Destruction (of oneself, of others, of one's environment, of the 'universe' even) could be considered a lower form of self-actualisation, more in keeping with the more anti-social aspects of Satanism, or indeed a perversion of modern Satanism. Perhaps it is a combination of Gnostic views of material existence being 'bad' combined with a gothic/nihilistic outlook, and a love affair with the idea of being 'evil', 'the ultimate in adversarialism' or 'bad ass'. Satanism is supposed to be about rationalism after all, and an addiction to destruction is clearly against rationalism and the idea within Satanism not to impose on others. Perhaps it is a reflection of (teenage-style) knee-jerk rebellion without the self-confidence or self-knowledge to do something creative or positive; perhaps it is an interpretation of the negative view of Gnosticism that physical existence is bad/wrong/evil. Talk of destruction, whether for its own sake, or under the pretext of allowing creation to take place afterwards, is a 'cool' thing to be associated with in certain circles, and there is an unhealthy obsession with this within some parts of the certain LHP groups in general. It seems to me a low-level way of appeasing the ego.

Perhaps what is said (posturing or over-rationalisation/idealisation) is not necessarily the same as what is actually believed. Sometimes we dwell on one aspect of our character without discussing or acknowledging the other aspects to such a degree. For some, it is because the 'darker' and more 'destructive' is more attractive and adversarial. To others however, it may be a philosophical standpoint, reflecting one side of the natural order (the destructive side) and simply an acceleration of the process of extinction which most species will face at one point or other, often brought about by changing environments, disease or competition from other species. This type of 'helping nature along' is the same logic used by Eugenicists and those who have conducted ethnic cleansing programmes.

The ultimate belief in destruction and misanthropism to bring about the early end to existence and the end of the human race / existence, and perhaps even the universe (the latter being a clearly unattainable fantasy or metaphor) is not representative of the LHP, even though some adherents of the LHP may adopt some of these views to varying degrees. Some particularly dark Gnostic Luciferians, who are realy Gnostic Satanists of some description, perhaps ascribe more to this type of view that many others, although it is more coming from an anti-Demiurgic and hatred at/sulking about creation perspective, where 'LHP black magic' is seen as a form of rebellion and 'fight' against Demiurge (perhaps ironiconally embodying the qualities of Demiurge!) Is this fighting fire with fire? Or merely misguided machoism?

Destruction then is perhaps viewed as form of 'anti-humanism' or a representation of 'evil'. It is perhaps thought to be a reflection of the natural order, a stance of malice towards others and embodying chaos and the natural processes of destruction in the universe and animal kingdom; but then Satanism (and its claimed representation of a 'superstitious' humanism) also claims to represent the 'natural order'.

One has to define what really is the natural order, whether one is talking about the chaotic but to some extent predictable processes of the universe, where there is some semblence of order on a high level, in pockets, and chaos on a low level. Then one should consider the earth, where all members of occult groups spend their physical time! Here we have 'chaotic' physical processes, but are fine tuned at this part of the planet's evolution to provide 'self-levelling' and 'self-cleaning' processes which life can thrive in, interspersed with the odd destructive weather pattern and seismic event etc.

Then one has the 'natural order' of the animal kingdom, where destruction of others or fighting is part of the need to feed (amongst carnivores), to maintain position within a group, and to defend oneself from predators or rivals. Destruction is not a 'philosophy' but usually a minimalist activity. There are exceptions, e.g. cats killing for fun, dolphins in gangs attacking other gangs, etc. There are moments/times of altruism towards others, e.g. kinship altruism in animals and humans e.g. raising a litter, dolphins protecting humans from shark attacks. Altruism is examined below.

There is perhaps too much gratuitous revulsion or opposition in the anti-cosmic gnostic or Satanist communities, and in a sense the whole focus is a case of 'cutting off one's nose to spite the face'. Perhaps it is akin to a childish denial or temper tantrum, of not getting everything one's own way, some commentators might argue. Consciousness is tangential to nature, and we are perhaps only an imitation of it in this place of existence.

Sometimes we have to lose something to appreciate it. We may lose our sense of perspective if we have abundance regularly, unless we really draw our focus to what we appreciate in our lives. It is easy to become borgeois and ungrateful, and not enjoy your lot, if your mind becomes too familiar. Joy comes from viewing everything through new eyes each day. In some sense, if we damage or destroy something we love, we may only then come to really appreciate what it was. This may apply to a car wreck or through having a partner leave you, rather than literally destroying someone!

However, as Nietzsche wrote, man is the cruelist animal. To nurture destruction and malice as a state of natural being at the expense of other states is in my opinion fundamentally 'human' in its bias and has little basis in fact in the animal kingdom. The animal kingdom reflects survival of the fittest, but there is altruism in small pockets, and most the time animals spend in a state of 'no mind' in the Taoist sense, acting instinctually. No animals wish for the destruction of others, excessive revenge, nor do they wish for their own destruction, nor the destruction of their species, because of a disregard of wider society and humanity as a whole. Perhaps 'evil' or 'cruelty' is a human construct, as being the 'opposite' of 'good' and 'decency', but this construct does not exist in nature (non-human animal environments). In nature, there are acts of killing, torture as well as acts of altruism, and indeed much time spend in between in a state of nothing. Judgements are made by humans, who try to split good and bad into categories and stigmatise them. However, in modern societies, 'natural' laws or patterns may have rather serious consequences, and this is something Darwin was very keen to avoid, as he knew he would be opening a can of worms. If you try to civilise society, how does one deal with chaos, lawlessness, rebellion, war, killing and murder? If society is to have any structure and interdependency, then there must be some common understanding and code of morality on some level. Lascivious destruction is very much a borgeois human construct, one that one can afford to have when one is safe, comfortable and bored, unappreciative of one's lot!

One may argue of course that anything an animal does or a group of animals is observed to do on a large scale is 'natural', without human interference, as are phases of 'equilibrium'. However, equilibrium is just a conflict of opposites or conflicting positions, or competition, where no observable short term swing is observed. An equilibrium in chemical terms may indeed occur, when two solutions mix and react, depending on temperature and pressure etc. But in the natural world, an equilibrium is a transient concept, and change inevitably results. Species evolve or die out. It could be argued that anything humans do is also 'natural' as it is merely a reflection of what humans are able to do. The classification of what is natural and what isn't is difficult, as virtually everything on the planet is human-managed to some degree, even the 'natural environment', e.g. grasslands, artificial lakes and channels, coastlines etc. On a physical level, one might argue that certain types of diet are not natural, as the body is not designed for them, taking in account large population numbers and health statistics, but this is perhaps still for some a matter of debate.

It could be argued that pure evil or a strong predisposition towards evil or is as unnatural in the animal kingdom as pure good is. Such polarised concepts are not really applicable to the animal kingdom and are not ÔnaturalÕ.

Those who claim to embody this form of 'destructionism' may be over-philosophising or 'wishful thinking' as they do not appear to embody the whole of this philsophy in their day to day experience. Or those that do, in a controlled manner, are perhaps reflecting the kind of Satanism that most people detest, and which gives other Satanists a bad name, i.e. those Satanists that are cruel to others just for fun. This is perhaps the stereotypical Christian view of Satanism. At what point does 'destruction', 'malice' and 'evil' become a rule? And thus not a reflection of freewill anymore?

Perhaps this whole way of thinking reflects a fundamental distaste for life or deep rooted nihilism. Nihilism usually results in hedonism or suicide, but excessive cruelty towards others perhaps goes beyond this and provides a purpose, where nihilism has no purpose, and does not usually result in such behaviour. Self-destruction may be viewed as a 'phase' for growth, but willful self-destruction, e.g. drug abuse, abusive diets, thinking or lifestyles, may simply be a reflection of ignorance or low-self esteem. The chaos of life throws up many opportunities for growth, pain and challenges to overcome.

To purposefully seek one's own destruction may be seen as foolish or borgeois, and typical of a 'human', as opposed to an animal that does all it can to survive. It is important to understand the difference between distaste for society, distaste for one's own life, and distaste for the universe. If one has never been off planet Earth, how can one take such a pessimistic view of the Universe? One could argue that one's expression of distaste should result in action directed at the cause rather than in all directions, e.g. don't kick your dog just because you can't stand up to your colleague at work.

One wonders what influence the Biblical themes of Armageddon and the Final Judgement have in influencing this vision of destruction? And perhaps in formulating the antithetical terms (e.g. malice, evil) used to describe the concept (if not the philosophy behind it), of Good and Evil, the stereotypes of Jesus and the Devil? The themes of destructive or dark magic are not uncommon in the Left-Hand Path, and in particular Satanism and Gnostic Luciferianism.

Some state that very few if any occult groups or political organisations have really embodied 'destructionism' or misanthropy towards (and the desire to destroy) the whole of the human race, including themselves. 'Darkness' usually only takes the form of tendencies to be a little antisocial, selfish or morbid/gothic in those that claim to embody it.

However, if one examines the propensity to destroy the self, then there are countless examples of occult groups, political organisations/movements/governments and also lifestyle choices that seek to destroy the self, sometimes a little at a time, and in other instances in the space of months or a few years - through horrifically self-abusive lifestyles, poisoning the body or disfiguring it - all for the titillation of the ego as it finds simply being alive in the natural state 'boring'. Such practices can include heavy drinking and drug use. It smells of desperation and low self-esteem, intoxication and self-mutilation being an attempt to feel significant or close to oneself and others. On the other hand, one has cult groups that commit ritual suicide, for example, certain cultish 'Christian' groups whose leaders predicted armageddon, and when their prophecies failed to materialise, felt they had nowhere to go, and in order to feel congruent and because of psychological deficiencies, they pressured all their followers, often living in isolated communities, to all commit suicide together.

When it comes to the desire to destroy others, then one need only look to certain violent criminals, violent gang members, serial killers, certain soldiers with bloodlust towards a specific ethnic group or population, suicide bombers or indeed famous dictators and despots. The remit of their wanton desire for destruction may not include the whole of the human race, but specific sub-groups of a population or other populations. Hitler it could be argued, was one of the few leaders in modern times to come close to this model of wanton destruction. With the pretence of wanting to 'unite the Germanic people', he enslaved the Jews into forced labour camps and concentration camps for extermination, sought to invade as much of the world as possible, and destroying all opposing forces. The 'patriot' Hitler, towards the end of WWII, when the allies were invading Germany, he bombed his own people and country's infrastructure, and sacrificed loyal, elite SS divisions on pointless suicide missions, as he felt 'he' had nothing to lose (and he felt he may as well use up all the lives of his soldiers), with no regard of what was best for his country after he was gone (or whilst he was alive arguably). There are numerous examples of atrocities in Southern Europe and Central Africa in the last 20 years, and various imperialist wars that have inflicted large numbers of casualties. Is destructionism really just a rare myth? Or a political and social reality? How far must one go in order to embody the philosophy in its 'purity'?

Satanism, in the LHP sense, is not really about destruction at all, but more hedonism, as the ultimate meaning of life - which many occultists find a little crude and distasteful, even though they recognise the importance of hedonism. This is really just a regurgitation of Thelema philosophy. Satanism and other LHPs like to flirt with 'demonic' imagery but they are really just an occultic form of humanism. Arguably, Christianity, the alleged polar opposite is also about humanism on one level. So both LHPs and RHPs are really both concerned with life, using different approaches, rather than the LHP actually being about anti-humanism per se. None of these philosophies, in their theoretical sense are really 'evil' in the misanthropic sense. Of course, there are Christian offshoots and cults as well as LHP offshoots that are misanthropic in various ways. As discussed in the 'Rock'n'Roll Satanism section and the Satanism and the Far Right, some Satanists or those who call themselves Satanists do embody certain misanthropic and Biblical style 'demonic' characteristics (especially those that fantasise about Hitler), perhaps as an insecure, macho statement and expression of underlying grief or self-hatred.

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Conceptual Issues:

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?

One could argue that focussing and dwelling on oneself all the time is psychologically unhealthy and is inevitably going to pander to the ego to some degree. Focussing on onself alone may also result in an excessive tendency to rely on one's left brain thinking, rationalising and controlling, rather than trusting and going with one's instincts. This of couse does not necessarily have to be the case. Many Left-Handed Paths draw heavily on Taoism and Buddhism. It is perhaps important to understand the relationship and also difference between the Self and the Ego. One can consider the True Self or Will to be one's core personality type, spirit or perception and consciousness of these things. It is often said that by losing oneself and one's ego, one can find oneself. Perhaps the Left-Handed Paths rely more on quieting the ego and losing the sense of self than they would like to admit. Perhaps quietening the ego is seen as a path towards the Self, in the same way that Buddhists view quietening the ego is a way to losing the self. Clearly some of the practices of Taoism and Buddhism can be used for different purposes and with a slightly different intention behind them. We are of course talking about principles and techniques rather than necessarily belief systems in their entireties.

In the same way, the state of 'bliss' or that feeling of being 'high' that some Right-Hand Path adherents experience could be considered to a sensory experience that is far superior and pleasurable to just gratifying the senses, which may become staid and boring after a time. In this sense, experiencing a spiritual state of bliss or enlightenment may be 'Left-Handed'. It depends on whether you believe it comes to you from a divine source, an understanding of divinity or Nirvana, and/or a relationship with God, or whether it comes to you from self-discipline and you making the effort to feel good and to connect to this spiritual source, energy and/or to maintain and be responsible for this relationship yourself. Depending on how you look at it, it could be considered Left-Handed or Right-Handed. If the actual reason why you are feeling good and enlightened or illuminated is just a concept, but the net result is very similar, then are we splitting hairs over whether it is Left-Handed or Right-Handed. Clearly the ways of getting there may be radically different. But there are no doubt many areas of overlap that people would not like to admit. Are enlightenment and illumination completely different and diametrically opposed concepts in all cases? In many cases and religious systems they are very similar if not identical.

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?

Would a shift away from instilling values of 'good' in the national consciousness, and an acknowledgement of both sides of our nature and how they relate to society as a whole result in less desire to self-actualise on a low level in response to this, and ultimately, less 'evil'? Or does 'evil' result from a lack of 'good', i.e. too little love, support and so on, resulting in personal issues and a lack of proper and balanced personal growth? Do RHP values fuel a desire to 'sin' or indulge the flesh and create conflict (or building up of pressure in a blocked pipe that later on explodes spraying boiling water everywhere)? Does 'fighting evil' always result in ironically 'evil' actions? Not necessarily but it often can.

Would followers of the LHP feel a sense of fulfillment on a deep level if they did not deny part of their higher consciousness and nature? Perhaps if people acknowledged the factors resulting in the beliefs and actions of others and saw their position from the other party's view, perhaps there would be less conflict and dualism, and less perception of a 'crusade on evil' on both sides. An insistence on 'evil' is often associated with a concept of one's own position being 'good' and perhaps a lack of willingness to objectively look at the facts and case history and admit mistakes.

Some people believe that the Left-Hand Path offers the only true path to the true self and against the conditioning of mainstream religion and society. However, it should be noted that many occultists are simply representing their own conditioning or inverted response to this and expressing this in their occult biases. For example, white magicians may simply be expressing their Christian conditioning. Or 'black' magicians may simply be expressing their child state from school where they were picked on and their retrospective desire to 'lash out against bullies'. One's occult world is often thus just a reflection of one's physical world and one's conditioning therein, and often occultism does not really present anything different. It depends on how 'dark' one sees the dark elements, whether they are simply neutral or actually 'dark' or 'malevolent' towards others. Dark can be seen as simply the absence of light, and that the absence of good does not necessarily mean conscious decisions towards malevolent action. Occult groups seem to reflect the same hierarchies and character flaws present in wider society also. There are some leaders, who creat their own magic, whilst most follow. Hierarchies are used by some to massage the ego and to feel self-important. Many enjoy the elitism. Much as people do in other clubs, societies and on the greasy pole of the corporate ladder. If magical practice is so 'deprogramming and liberating', then why is this? Of course everyone should tread their own path, and hierarchies may be functional rather than for massaging the ego, but all self-development thought teaches us that we are all leaders or rather, we follow our own path and own purpose. If this is so, then magical groups and their philosophies don't seem to be cutting it in many instances, not liberating people from the sheep mentality of wider society.

Some occultists and philosophers believe that the LHP is the panacea, the answer to all their problems. Their current psychological problems they feel can be overcome but trying to adhere more rigidly to the LHP and to follow it's practices to achieve one's Will. However, as noted, the LHP may be somewhat narrow in its remit, and some practitioners appear to be seeking to fulfil some of their unmet Human Needs including love and connection. Softer emotions are often discouraged or ridiculed by peers who follow the LHP, and I have observed some followers of the LHP who seem to be reaching out and really want to share a close connection with others, and no doubt to be loved or feel loved. They try to reach out but no one seems to be really listening or if they do communicate with others on this path, there may be philosophical discussion and banter, but on an emotional level there is often very little there - and certainly very little if any love. Such individuals may be destined to remain depressed and unsatisfied if they insist on their social circles and this rigid philosophy. One could perhaps say in general that followers of the LHP dislike 'brotherly' or 'sisterly' associations with their peers, as they find that such feels inspire weakness and assure one's own demise on account of the flaws of others. This is not universally true, and depends on which LHP group one is referring to, but it seems to be present to some extent in all groups. Some embody this philosophy more than others of course. Those that follow the LHP should be aware of the teachings of Tantra upon which it is based, the whole of the Tantra, and not just the parts that are 'LHP'. Tantra holds that LHP and RHP type approaches are equally valid, but that the LHP is inherently more dangerous, requiring a great deal of discipline. Not many people seem to acknowledge this and regard the pursuit of the self as a form of undisciplined occult hedonism, or rather discpline when one is in the mood, and undisciplined the rest of the time - not exactly the embodiment of Vamachara.

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.

It is possible that certain personality types are drawn towards the LHP more than others, or at least those who are seeking to develop a certain personality trait as it has been underutilised or underdeveloped (i.e. imbalanced personality type). The personality type that is desired to be promoted could be deemed to be the Red personality type. Please see the Personality Types page in the psychology section for more information.

LaVey Satanism is heavily influenced by Ayan Rand, a 19th/20th Century philosopher and advocate of free market capitalism and in a sense, LaVey Satanism is just an expression of modern capitalism and hyper-consumerism. It is philosophically based in capitalism and is therefore not really a break from capitalist/consumer culture conditioning as is not really that different from mainstream society. It is not in this sense 'rebellious' or 'anti-society' but pro-capitalist status quo, but objecting to the fine print of social conditioning. It is not 'spiritual punk rock'! This concept is examined in more detail on the CoS page.

One could argue that philosophical discussion within adherents and hangers on of the LHP can be beneficial in evolving one's sense of what God is, in terms of breaking past ties with traditional monotheistic precepts and feelings of obligation/guilt; and breaking certain parts of one's low self-esteem (whilst no substitute as such for full psychological reflection and NLP etc.); and seeing certain aspects of reality; but beyond this one could argue that continuing immersion in the LHP philosophy merely results in merely excessive titillation of the ego, and reinforcing and strengthening the ego's hold over the consciousness, which is counterproductive and an obstacle to spiritual growth and a higher level of vibration.

Some regard Satanism as a necessary step in one's personal develop, in order to 'deprogram' the mind, and in a Jungian sense, embracing 'darkness' of the self. Satanism is regarded then as a stepping stone, rather than a final destination. Luciferianism or Gnostic Luciferianism is regarded often as the next stepping stone or even final destination for some. However, this in itself is often just another stepping stone. The final destination depends on the individual, but one could argue that a genuinely great philosophy does not require stepping stones, but is a continuous journey - the process is the destination - and that one does not need to jump ship and pursue another path, as it would contain more elements of truth and part truths than any other philosophy or set of philosophies. Why zig zag and go through 'half false' processes when you can go straight to the source? This is examined more on the Gnostic Luciferianism page.

A discussion of Wisdom and the evolution of the self is examined in the Psychology section on the Belief page. This is particularly applicable to the concept of the LHP (and indeed other paths).

An experienced occultist friend of mine has 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, 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 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 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.

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Afternote:

Is 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! I myself considers there to be value in both stereotypical Left-Hand and Right-Hand paths, and clearly embodies philosophies from both areas on this web site. Whilst I try to be open minded and to grow emotionally, spiritually and philsophically, to gain wisdom and illumination and also spiritual enlightenment, he feels that besides all this, his religious base and core beliefs are still rooted in the 'Right-Hand Path'; despite very strong inclinations towards 'Left-Hand Path' beliefs and philosophies about life and getting out there and doing it yourself. This is something he is aware of, and is considering whether this is empowering and a bonus, or something that is holding him back in some capacity. This perhaps slight bias should be obvious from the pages in the Religion section. I have however tried to be as objective as possible but clearly complete objectivity is impossible for any mortal! I do not like to categorise myself, if pressed could call myself an Individualist, a Christian Existentialist, a Nihilist, a Jungian, a Relativist, a part time Agnostic, a Process New Thought-ist, a Philosopher, someone who likes some aspects of philosophical Hermeticism and Gnosticism (not theological or religious/occult practices of these movements), a Conservative Anarchist, an Intellectual Illuminist, a 'punk' and an amateur Anthropologist and Psychologist. I appreciate some non-occultic and philosophical concepts of the Left-Hand Path and to some degree its view/relationship to God (as an ally rather than from a God-fearing perspective). God is in my view a universal fact, not completely anthropomorphised, but the force of all life, healing and good in the universe, something to align oneself to, respect and love, but not fear. In this sense, he shares certain attitudes with Freemasons, but does not share many of the other attitudes and practices of Freemasonry, let alone the organisation and structure. I see belief in God as a choice, and not something that should be taken on board through fear of God or fear of 'going to Hell', through guilt. This is not freewill in his view.

For every LHP person who seems emotionally vulnerable, repressed and hopeless, I come across one who has a high level of self-knowledge and a cool head with deep philosophical understanding, almost to the point of being surgical/clinical. I like the rationalism of LHP adherents and lack of pretentiousness, which he finds extremely refreshing. However, in some cases he does not regard it as a pure form of rationalism, as it is often tainted with a 'knee jerk' feeling towards RHP faiths and indeed some Eastern faiths. Anything regarded as 'dogmatic'...except of course that many LHP beliefs or views may be their own type of dogma or narrow in their remit in some cases. I have noticed some levels of rationalism in neo-paganism in general, although to a lesser extent than the LHP. As with the LHP, there seems to be a similar 'knee jerk' response to certain ends of the religious spectrum and in other areas (like Capitalism), and a 'dark-bias' although to a lesser extent than the LHP. I take what I like from the LHP but do not take what I regards as lacking in rationalism, to nurture his own form of rationalism, or a purer form of philosophical thought (in my opinion).

Of those adherents of the Left-Hand Path that I have interacted with over the internet, I very much enjoy philosophising with them at length, and discussing religion etc., probably as much as if not more than those RHP or other philosophers he knows. But on a personal level finds many (or at least many of those he has encountered) 'leave a great deal to be desired' or seem to have something missing - they are like 'hollow shells' often - or perhaps excessively negative -perhaps this is a perception of a lack of 'brotherly bonding', emotional closeness and even 'God'! However, no one is 'perfect' and I try to respect other's beliefs and focus on areas in common and to explore 'unexplored philosophical territory'. I am happy to discuss pretty much any type of philosophical, psychological, personal, spiritual, religious or esoteric matter with anyone, as he believes there is something one can learn from anything. However, whilst 'mingling' with LHP adherents on the internet, mainly of Gnostic Lucifierian groups and forums, I am always likely to remain an outsider or 'visitor' as he is fundamentally not an occultist, but rather a philosopher.

Those of a fiercely individualistic persuasion may bemoan organised religions or religious institutions. Some refer to those who follow Monotheistic, RHP religions or certain new age 'religions' as the 'great white brotherhood'. Some say that white light has its place, but that the 'great white brotherhoods' that see division in both moral terms on a personal level and between groups of people (in a hierarchical basis) are 'neurotic products of their own divided and often times unjustly righteous minds.'

As discussed on the Jungian Shadow page, mass psychosis is often a result of pride and a sense of righteousness, creating a thick shadow and if groomed enough, a mass projection of that shadow onto others, who are the scapegoats or the 'dirty' or 'wrong doers', who can easily become victims at the hand of the righteous. One example in Nazi Germany.

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.

The problem that many LHP or followers of no path have is the addiction to having to follow the path of 'false love' but mainly the self-denial or emotional suppression and conditioning that is necessary to keep their own shadow at bay, whilst trying to create 'division' in others. If one were to give love to others but without trying to make them squeaky clean, then this would be unconditional love and would not conform to this Jungian Shadow creating ethos. A more integrated approach.

Some argue that 'religions of light' are responsible for harvesting negative energy of stagnant chi - what does this really mean? Many who espouse freedom, actually express their freedom in a self-deprecating manner, through self-loathing and low level self-actualisation. Is this positive energy? Freedom? Or just an low level outlet for trying to express themselves that they are allowing themselves to use as it is considered 'freedom' whilst denying any high level or higher forms of self-actualisation that actually require a love of the self and positive energy and action?

It could be argued that intentions are hard to measure in the astral realm, where illusion can be more engaging than in the physical realm; meaning that astral awareness can create illusory realities around itself, such that what one perceives to be definite truth is a slightly distorted version of one side of the truth; and perhaps one coloured by the God or entity's awareness. Are we actually seeing the reality or the God/entity's deluded view or image of reality and himself and his own importance in the universe? What is their purpose in wanting to create followers? Is it really for their own benefit or is it a big divine ego trip?

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.

Chaos and entropy is the force that disperses the cosmos - it manifests as death and destruction - it is a catalyst, speeding up annihilation of form. It is the principle upon which life exists however. It could also be viewed as the force which disrupts and shocks consciousness back into it's 'normal' state, whatever that is deem to be. Most people could not look into their own psyche and shadow and see it in its entirety. This is what H.P. Lovecraft wrote when he said that if man could see the entirety of the truth, he would go catatonic, and it is an act of mercy that he cannot. This is not entirely true, and some can handle more 'home truths' than others, depending on how in touch with their own shadow they are.

People often assume that darkness means 'gothic', 'evil' or 'malice', when it has been historically used to describe 'the unknown'. It is hard to sometimes differentiate what someone is referring to when they talk of 'dark'. Sometimes people like it to mean both, when they pretend it just means the unknown, as it titillates their ego. This maybe is a politically correct view of 'darness'. A large body of black magic is the study not only of getting what you want and self-actualising, but also malevolent and vampiric actions towards others. This is definitely 'politically incorrect' and rather uncool by many people's standards. However it depends on whether one sees such malevolent action as an intrinsic part of your character, preying on the weak for your own ego's amusement, with no real purpose - rather than in reaction to hostilities from others. To what extent does this constitute emotional suppression and hiding from your true self, clouding the mind? And to what extent is it truly exploring one's Shadow? Using 'dark' to mean genuine exploration of one's own suppressed emotions one minute; then using 'dark' to signify the horror genre and glamorise brutal killers and (arguably ineffectual) dictators such as Vlad the Impaler the next minute; and then complain about restrictions of one's civil liberties in the next breath. Clearly there is some use of archetypes going on, and one has to interpret it in a symbolic or poetic manner, but few LHP practitioners would use modern western figures of oppression as archetypes, as they are not as antiquarian, gothic or 'cool'. Horror and gothic imagery is often used gratuitously as a kind of front to hide from one's weaker emotions and brag; as much as it is used as a genuine aesthetic. One could argue that the use of the term 'dark' is often associated with 'evil', 'death' and 'malevolence', depending on how one wants to portray it - in a kind of 'cake and eat it fashion'.

The true energy of chaos could be said to be the state of permanent free will with no interference. Some may find this horrifying or terrifying as it is truly infinite, in both directions, to the primordial and to the cerebral. Perception of time space in all its entirety would be enough to make anyone's brain explode.

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.

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