The Left Hand PathPosted: July 3, 2012
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).