The Left Hand Path

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The Left Hand Path is solitary, individualistic, personal, based on self development, self analysis, self empowerment. Altruism is materialistically equated as long term selfishness. I think all forms of Satanism are considered Left Hand Path, even Devil Worship and inverse Christian-Satanists are Left Hand Path, although they are frequently considered deluded. Frequently called “evil” and “dark” by non Satanic religions, the followers of the left hand path often have had to remain in the darkness or face severe persecution from the religions that ironically call themselves “good”. This is testimony enough that the image of the purely “good” icons is a veneer; a non-truth.

Features of LHP philosophies frequently include:

Emphasis on freethought, not dogma or strict systems.
Highly individualistic.
A distinct rejection of absolutes and moralism.
Personal, not universal.
Freethought, Individualism and moral relativism
Left Hand Path philosophies all have an emphasis on freethought; not dogma or strict systems. The “rules” in LHP religions are frequently merely “guidelines”. The same attitude is applied to all knowledge, including that of the knowledge of reality and morals. Subjectivism and relativism are almost universally assumed amongst followers of the left hand path.

Personal Belief, not Universal
Left Hand Path philosophies do not claim that they are the best religion for all people and frequently claim they are only a valid religion for some people. “Satanists are born, not made” LaVey. Satanism and the LHP is striking for the lack of missionizing. This is probably the result of the admission that no religion, philosophy or belief system is suitable for all people.

Book Cover“The term ‘Left-Hand Path’ has become an umbrella term of self-designation used by certain contemporary ritual magicians and is usually taken to incorporate practitioners of Thelemic magick (beginning with Aleister Crowley), Tantrik magick, and Chaos Magick (inspired by both Crowley and the magickal techniques devised by the occult artist Austin O. Spare, 1886- 1956). The notion of the Left-Hand Path is derived from the Tantric term vama-marga (‘left-path’), i.e., the Left-Hand Path in Tantrism. […] Its usage represents a deliberate attempt by Left-Hand Path magicians to transcend the outmoded and value-laden dichotomy of ‘black’ versus ‘white’ magic […] because it is held to reflect the ‘moronic oversimplicity of the Judeo-Xtian distinction between good and evil’.”
“Left-Hand Path Ritual Magick” by Richard Sutcliffe
In “Pagan Pathways” by Graham Harvey & Charlotte Hardman (1995) [Book Review]1
Kennet Granholm writes on the features of left-hand-path religions in his chapter in “Contemporary Religious Satanism” by Jesper Aagaard Petersen (2009)2:

The Ideology of Individualism: ‘The individual and his/her spiritual development is the primary concern in Left-Hand Path spiritualities, even with individuals operating in groups. […] It could be argued that most or all esoteric traditions throughout history have been individualistic in character. However, the distinction with Left-Hand Path spiritualities is that this individualism is raised to the level of explicit ideology’2.

The View of Man as a Psycho-physical Totality: In other words, there is no dualism. ‘The essence of man is considered to be both physical and psychic, and any absolute separation of these spheres is considered unsound, reductionist, or even impossible’2. See “The Satanic Mind is Balanced” by Vexen Crabtree (2002).

The Appraisal of Life in the Here-and-now: ‘The focus of Left-Hand Path spiritualities is on corporeal existence in the present, not on an afterlife. All aspects of life are valued, even its destructive aspects. […] Moderate to extreme hedonism is advocated’2. See “The Religion of the Flesh” by Vexen Crabtree (2002).

An Antinomian Stance: ‘Collective religious and cultural norms are questioned in the pursuit of individualized ethics and spiritual evolution. The magician seeks to abandon his/her culturally given set of ethics, and adopt personal and individualized ones’2. See “Satanism and Elitism: The Alien Elite: 2.1. Culture: Rise Above Culture” by Vexen Crabtree (2002).

The Goal of Self-Deification: Granholm starts off sensibly with these words: ”On the one side of the continuum we find psychological interpretations in which self-deification signifies assuming total control over one’s own personal existential universe’. See “Masters Of Existence: Subjectivism and Self Worship in Satanism” by Vexen Crabtree (2010) for a full explanation of this type of thing in Satanism. Granholm then takes us off firmly into la-la-land with the second half of his text on apotheosis: ‘On the other side we find purely metaphysical interpretations in which the practitioner is thought to become an actual god’. I would hope very much that Granholm has not found a single practitioner who actually holds to the belief that their path results in such an outcome!
2. How the Terminology Entered the West

The beginnings of the usage of the term in the West is unclear, but some theories are that it entered Western thought via either Helena Blavatsky and the Theosophists or via the Tatar Invasions.

2.1. Helena Blavatsky and the Theosophists

Madame Blavatsky and the Theosophists brought many Hindu, Buddhist and Indian mores to the West, massively influencing Western occultism, magical thought, New Age religion and exposing the West to many ‘new’ religious ideas.

“The origin of the term Left-Hand Path can be traced back to the form of Indian religion called Tantra, where a distinction between various traditions is expressed in the terms Vamamarga [the left wat] and Dakshinamarga [right]. […] The popularisation of the terms can probably be attributed to Helena Petrovna Blavatsky of the Theosophical Society, who used them in her work The Secret Doctrine [1888].”
Kennet Granholm
In “Contemporary Religious Satanism” by Jesper Aagaard Petersen (2009)2
John Smulo adds:

“The use of this term in Tantra certainly predates its use in Satanism. However, the term LHP is used in a different sense in this context. Tantra practitioner Dinu Roman writes, “Tantra is also called Vama Marga, i.e. The Left Hand Path, due to the fact that women, who are of lunar influence, negative polarity or the left, play an essential role in this Science.”
Wild believes that Helena Blavatsky, co-founder of the Theosophical Society, was influential in the promotion of the term. He writes, “These self-denying paths are labelled the Right Hand Paths – a term that has its origins in the work of Blavatsky, who labelled magical practices that she liked as Right-Hand Path, and those she disliked as “immoral” as Left-Hand Path. Occultists after her picked up this habit, especially Crowley, who helped the word come into general ‘occult subculture’ use. The term is probably derived from Indo-European Tantric practices, which have filtered into the modern Western folklore survivals, an example is left as ‘sinister’ in heraldry (and handwriting).””
John Smulo
2.2. Tatar Invasions

There is an alternative belief that has some following in the various Satanic communities. That “it entered into the west – where black/white magic started to be used – due to the Shamanist Tatar invasions”Anon.

3. Left Handed People have been Shunned across the World

3.1. The Righteous Right, and the Satanic Left

Book CoverThe left has become nearly universally shunned. The right has been associated with all things good and pure whilst the left has been shunned as unholy, evil and relegated to inferiority [Gregory 1987, Gooch 1984]. Although Gooch says that “the left is universally unlucky in the classical world”, in “The Oxford Companion to the Mind” by Richard L. Gregory (1987) the author says that “this symbolism has pervaded nearly all cultures (except the Chinese)”.

“Ancient Greeks and Romans regarded the left side as inferior and profane, and in medieval times use of the left hand was associated with witchcraft” [Gregory 1987]. In New Zealand the Maoris considered the right side to be godly, representing life; the left side is dedicated to demons and the devil, representing death. Muslims believe good spirits speak into peoples’ right ears, but evil spirits speak into the left. In medieval Europe the Devil is drawn with its left hand outstretched. Amongst North American Indians the right represents bravery and virility but the left signifies death and burial. In China you must eat with the right hand. The Nuer people of Africa, the Dutch Indies local native populations and many other old cultures bind the left arm to put it out of use ‘for long periods’, especially in the young and with left-handed people. Throughout the African continent the right is good and the left is evil. In some places wives should never touch their husbands’ face with their left hand. The same patterns persist in South America: The right is good, is life, is divine but the left is female, bad, evil and morbid. Pythagoras set out in his Table of Opposites that the right hand side, male; lightness, was the opposite of the left hand side that was female, and darkness. Schools until recent decades used to “correct” (meaning: ‘with the right’) left-handed pupils.

Catholic Schools until surprisingly recently used to punish those who dared write left-handed because they were presupposed to be working for the devil – such children were “corrected” – a word which itself means “with the right”.

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The Left Hand Path