The Left Hand Path

Does being a Satanist mean that my spiritual feet are now firmly entrenched on the “left hand path”? What is the Left-Hand Path anyway?

Broadly the left-hand and right-hand paths are labels that refer to styles of  occult practices. Traditions of the LHP tend to reject conventional religious dogmas and/or practices in favor of techniques or positions that are generally considered “taboo.”Left hand path practices are usually associated with Satanism, Setian, Qliphothic magic, black magic and various forms of dark paganism. However the term has come to possess several different meanings depending on who is using the term and  the context in which it is being used.

In a Tantric context (where the term may first have been widely used), “left-hand path” and “right-hand path” refer to differences in ritual practice, not in belief. Tantric “LHPers” believe many of the same things that Tantric “RHPers” believe: that there is an Absolute, that we should try to integrate ourselves with it, and that our selfish passions and fears are major obstacles to enlightenment. But while RHPers attempt to conquer their dark sides by conforming to socially conventional religious practices, LHPers attempt to exhaust their dark sides by immersing themselves in whatever they personally find to be tempting, disgusting, or terrifying. The object is to remain spiritually pure even in the midst of great distraction or corruption.

In a Kabbalic context, the LHP has been identified with magical rituals or operations that deal with the left pillar of the Tree of Life (or the “Pillar of Severity”), which includes the sephiroth called Binah (Understanding), Geburah (Power), and Hod (Majesty). In some cases it is identified with rituals pertaining to the so-called “Tree of Qlippoth,” a reversal of the Tree of Life made from the “broken shells” or “bodily waste” of the cosmic organism.

In various expressions of Satanism the LHP  may be defined as a path focusing on worshiping oneself as one’s own God, or of seeking to become a God either on earth or after death.  It also alludes to such things as sex magic, maleficium, necromancy, the use of culturally taboo symbols, and worship of (and/or identification with) deities that were rejected by other traditions.

Still others may define the LHP as virtually any path of which they personally disapprove. Throughout human history, the side of the left has always been linked with filth, fury, and flesh. . The word Left is possibly derived from the Anglo-Saxon word  “lyfy” which literally means weak. The left hand in some cultures, had always been considered to be the weaker hand, and the right hand was known as stronger one. It has been said that the left hand takes in and receives energy and the right hand exudes energy. (I have personally found this to be the case).

For me the Left Hand Path is a mixture of many of the things mentioned above. I have no desire or intent to restrict my practices and beliefs exclusively to those things which are regarded as LHP in nature. In this sense my views either haven’t really changed since becoming a Satanist; (or perhaps my views were always inclined in that direction anyway because I have never been adverse to using any technique if it worked).

As a Wiccan and then as an eclectic pagan witch, I never really believed in a great divide between methods of magic and ways of life that were exclusively black or exclusively white; all good or all bad, or left verses right handed. In a practical sense I have always been prepared to do whatever needs to be done no matter what side of the fence that method might be perceived as being. Most of my experience, training and practice has probably been right handed and I will continue use those methods if I need to. On the other hand I have never been averse to trying alternative ways of doing things and perhaps in future I will learn and use a lot more techniques associated with the LHP.

In a more general sense as a person and as a theistic Satanist I accept the very fact that I honour Satan places me firmly on the LHP in many people’s opinion. In fact I worship Satan both as an external deity and as an aspect of myself. I am prepared to break most taboos and explore and promote the darker sides of my psyche as valuable and fundamental aspects of who I am. Acknowledging and integrating my shadow side was part of the reason I became a Satanist. But essentially I am striving for balance. If it is possible to be balanced while on a primarily Right Hand Path, it must also be possible to be balanced while mainly operating from a Left Hand Path perspective.

(I’d like to thank Darth Brookes and Venus Satana whose essays on this subject helped with my definition of LHP practices and history).

9 Comments on “The Left Hand Path”

  1. jasperblackk says:

    I consider Satanism a part of the left hand path, but not one that leads to true power. I see Satanism as asinine and another one of the thousands of forms of spiritual entropy.
    Haitian Vodoun, the works of E A Koetting– magick doesn’t get blacker and more evil that that, but it also doesn’t get more powerful.

    • Cassie says:

      If I got my kicks by trying to be blacker and more evil than anyone else I might be impressed, but in fact I am not that asinine.

      • jasperblackk says:

        It’s not about being good or evil, it’s about power and knowledge. Satanism is just an infantile response to Christianity.

      • jasperblackk says:

        It’s not about being good or evil, it’s about power and knowledge. Satanism is just an infantile response to Christianity. And I didn’t call you asinine, I called Satanism asinine.

      • Cassie says:

        Fair enough. For a while I also thought that Satanism was just a misguided and incorrect response to Christianity. I have come to see it in a different way. In any case my Satanism is personal and eclectic and not based exclusively on the CoS and certainly not on idiotic and perverse reverse Christianity.

  2. […] The Left Hand Path ( […]

  3. tfaswift says:

    Hi Cassie, good grief, I just read the above comments – how rude! I find it so silly when people leave negative feedback on other people’s blogs. Do they really think they are going to change their mind about their whole belief system based on some blog feedback?? LOL. “Oh I think you’re right, complete stranger. I no longer believe in any of this, just because you said it’s wrong.” How absurd. If you don’t like it, don’t read it!

    Anyway, sorry about that, but that kind of thing is annoying (to me). You seem way more cool about it. I just wanted to say that I found this post very interesting. LHP and RHP and finding a balance … that’s probably the best approach. I think if you go through life completely RHP then you may end up suppressing things and disconnect from your Shadow, which is always a mistake. Best to acknowledge and respect it because it won’t disappear even if you try to ignore it. We need an edge to survive in this world. I don’t approve of abuse in any form, but I do believe in being strong. Interestingly, my left hand (and arm) are actually stronger than my right, even though I am right-handed! I don’t know about giving and receiving energy, only physical strength.

    Just before I found your blog, I had a dream where I was looking at my left hand and I was wearing black nail polish. Never in my life have I worn black nail polish. I think I painted my nails blue one time as a teenager, but I never tried black. Then after that dream, I found your blog! Kind of scary! LOL. Maybe it was just an omen that I was about to meet you.

  4. Cassie says:

    Well,, if it was an omen I hope the meeting was not a disappointment! I get a reasonable amount of positive feedback on my blog so I don’t mind the occasional less positive one. As you say, I am not going to change my opinion because of one or two childish comments. Constructive criticism is fine though or any other comments that make me think. I do sometimes change my mind on issues if somebody comes up with a convincing argument.

    I don’t approve of any kind of abuse either and I agree that the important thing is balance. Part of my reason for following a Left Hand Path was because I felt it was all too easy to to assume you were getting it all correct within the RHP, and thus become complacent. The LHP is a challenge which forces you to confront issues it would be very easy to ignore.

  5. […] have written specifically about the Left Hand Path here, and I have made reference to it in several other posts; but what does it actually mean to live […]

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