The Left Hand Path: An Analysis
-Order of Nine Angles-
The Left Handed Path and Satanism are related insofar as Satanism is a particular LHP. The LHP is the name given to describe a system of esoteric knowledge and practical techniques – and this system is also known as ‘The Black Arts’.
The Difference Between the Left and Right Hand Paths:
The aim of all genuine Occult paths or systems, whether designated Right Hand or Left Hand, is to achieve or find a certain goal as well as to impart esoteric knowledge and abilities. The goal is variously described (e.g.‘Gnosis’, the Philosopher’s Stone, Enlightenment).
However, it has been a common misconception that the RH Paths were altruistic and the LH Paths egocentric – i.e. the difference between them was seen in individual moral terms. Another misconception is in seeing the difference in absolute moral terms – i.e. the RH Paths as representing “good” and the LH Paths as “evil”. Recently, attempts have been made to formulate ‘grey’ paths which combine elements of both, and such ‘grey’ paths are often said (by their exponents) to be the “true” Occult way or path.
The reality is quite different. The LH Paths and the RH Paths [hereafter, the singular ‘Path’ will be used, although the plural is to be understood] are quite distinct and differ in both their methods and their aims. The most fundamental difference is that the RHP is restrictive – certain things are forbidden or frowned upon – and collective. That is, the RHP takes some responsibility away from the individual by having a formal dogma, a code of ethics and behaviour and by having the individual participate in an organized grouping, however loose that grouping may be. In brief, the identity of the individual is to some extent taken away – by the beliefs systems which that individual has to accept, and by them accepting some higher ‘authority’, be such authority an individual, a group or an ‘ideology’ (or even, sometimes, a supra-personal Being – a ‘god’ or ‘gods’).
In contradistinction, the LHP in its methods is non-structured. In the genuine LHP there is nothing that is not permitted – nothing that is forbidden or restricted. That is, the LHP means the individual takes sole responsibility for their actions and their quest. This makes the LHP both difficult and dangerous – its methods can be used as an excuse for anti-social behaviour as they can be used to aid the fetishes and weaknesses of some individuals as well as lead some into forbidden and illegal acts. However, the genuine Initiate of the LHP is undertaking a quest, and as such is seeking something: that is, there is a dynamic, an imperative about their actions as well as the conscious understanding and appreciation that all such actions are only a part of that quest; they are not the quest itself. This arises because the LHP Initiate is seeking mastery and self-knowledge these being implicit in such an Initiation. Accordingly, the LHP Initiate sees methods as merely methods; experience as merely experience. Both are used, learned from and then discarded.
Because of this, the LHP is by its nature ruthless – the strong of character win through, the weak go under. There are no `safety nets’ of any kind on the LHP – there is no dogma or ideology to rely on, no one to provide comfort and soften the blows, no organization, individual or `Being’ to run to when things get difficult and which will provide support and sympathy and understanding. Or which, just as importantly, takes away the responsibility of the Initiate for their deeds.
The LHP breeds self-achievement and self-excellence – or its destroys, either literally, or via delusion and madness.
Further, the goal or aim of the LHP is individual specific – it is the raising of that individual to ‘god-head’; the fulfillment of individual potential and thus a discovery and fulfillment of their unique Destiny. That is, it breeds a unique character, a unique individual. The RHP, on the contrary, is concerned with ‘idealistic’ and thus supra-personal aims aiding ‘society’, ‘humanity’ and so on: the individual is `re-made’ by abstract and impersonal farms.
The LHP by its nature means that its Initiates work mostly on their own. Followers of the LHP are masters of their as yet unmanifest Destiny. And while they may accept guidance and advice, they eschew any form of subservience: they learn for themselves, by their own experience and from their own self-effort. This is crucial to an understanding of the true nature of the LHP. The LHP means this self-reliance, this self-experience, this self-effort, this personal struggle for achievement. The RHP means someone else – some individual, or some authority or some hierarchy – awards or confers upon the RHP Initiate a sign or symbol of their “progress”. That is, the RHP Initiate assumes the role of student, or ‘chela’ – and often that of sycophant. They rely on someone else or something beyond themselves, whereas the LHP Initiate relies only on themselves: their cunning, skill, character, desire, intelligence and so on. The successful LHP Initiate is the individual who learns from their own experiences and mistakes. The RHP Initiate tries to learn from theory – from what others have done.
Essentially, the LHP Initiate is a free spirit, already possessed of a certain willful character, while the RHP Initiate is in thrall to other people’s ideas and ways of doing things.
The notion of self-responsibility is as mentioned above, crucial to the LHP and accordingly any organization which claims to be of the LHP and which does not uphold this in both theory and practice is a fraudulent organization. In practice this means that an organization does not restrict the experiences of its members – it does not, for instance, impose upon them any binding authority which the members have to accept or face ‘expulsion’ just as it does not lay down for them any codes of behaviour or ethics. That is, it does not promulgate a dogma which the members have to accept as it does not require those members to be obedient to what the hierarchy says. There is no “proscription” of certain views, or individuals or other organizations as there is no attempt to make members conform in terms of behaviour, attitudes, views, opinions, expressions or anything else. If there are any of these things, the organization so doing these things is most certainly not an organization of the Left Hand Path even though it may use some of the motifs, symbols and methods of the LHP. Such an organization is instead allied to the RHP in nature – in the effect it has upon it’s members.
In summary, the RHP is soft. The LHP is hard. The RHP is like a comfortable game – and one which can be played, left for a while, then taken up again. The LHP is a struggle which takes years. The RHP prescribes behaviour and limits personal responsibility. The LHP means self-responsibility and self-effort. The RHP requires the individual to conform in certain way. The LHP is non-restrictive. RHP organizations and ‘teachers’ require the Initiate to conform and accept the authority of that organization/‘teacher’. LHP organizations and Masters/Mistresses only offer advice and guidance, based on their own experience.
As mentioned above, Satanism is a particular LHP. Conventionally, and incorrectly, Satanism is described as ‘worship of Satan/the Devil’.
The word ‘Satan’ originally derived from the Greek word for ‘an accusation’. That is, Satan is an archetype of disruption – the Adversary who challenges the accepted, who defies – who desires to know. In essence, Satan is a symbol of dynamic motion: the generative or moving force behind evolution, change.
In reality, Satan is both symbolic or archetypal, and real. That is, He exists within the psyche of individuals, and beyond individuals.
Satanism is, in part, the acceptance of the necessity of change – of the reality of things like struggle, combat, war, creativity, individual genius, defiance. Of the evolutionary and puritive nature of these things. But Satanism is much more than the acceptance of the reality of these things of their necessity. It is also the individual seeking to be like Satan to be Satanic. A true Satanist does not worship some Being called Satan. Rather, a Satanist accepts the reality of Satan [on all levels] and quests to become, in their own life and beyond, a type of Being of the same kind as Satan – that is, to change their own evolution and that of others: to evolve to a new type of existence. The existence can be described by what is known as ‘Satan’. This quest is a dynamic and real one, and it means that those who aspire to follow the way of Satanism go further than others who merely follow the LHP. That is, Satanism leads to new areas of being: it goes beyond ‘the Black Arts’ while having its foundation or ground in those Arts. Part of this is a greater esoteric knowledge(e.g. Aeonic Magick) and part in techniques or methods or create a new individual. The Satanist effectively learns to play at being god.
Since Satanism, as described above, involves the individual questing to become like Satan, it is relevant to consider who and what Satan is.
Satan is the Prince of Darkness – Master of all that is hidden or secret, both within ourselves and external to ourselves. He is the ruler of this world – the force behind its evolutionary change; the ‘fire’ of life. He is Lord of Life – of all the sensual delights and pleasures.
He is also ‘evil’ or ‘dark’ or ‘sinister’ – merciless, ruthless, Master of Death. He can and does promote suffering, misery, death. But all these things are impersonal – they are natural consequences of life, of change and evolution.
Satan, by His nature, cannot be ‘bribed’ or ‘propitiated’ – and neither can His services be bought, by a “pact” or anything else. He is not interested in such futile things. Thus, there can be no such thing as a ‘religious’ Satanism – the offering of prayers or offerings or promises or whatever in return for Satanic favours. Such things imply fear, subservience and those other traits of character Satan despises. Rather, the satanic approach is to glory in Satanic deeds and chants and such like because they are Satanic – because by so doing them there is an exultation, an affirmation and a being like Satan: not because something is ‘expected’ or done out of fear of the consequences. It is by living life, by deeds, that a Satanist becomes like Satan and so evolves to partake of a new and higher existence. Such deeds are those to bring insight, self-discovery, to achieve, esoteric knowledge, experience of the `forbidden’, of the pleasures of living – and they are also those which change others and the world and which thus can and do bring suffering, misery, death: which are, in short, evil.
Furthermore, Satan is a real Being – He is not simply a symbol, archetypal or otherwise, of certain natural forces or energies. He has life, exists – causes things to occur – external to our own, individual psyche. That is, our individual wills, or even our individual magick, cannot control Him [as the softee imitation Satanists like to believe]. However, this ‘life’ is not ‘human’ – it is not bound by a body or even by our causal time and space. Expressed esoterically, it is acausal.
Satan, however, is not alone – that is, He is not the only Dark, sinister Being who affects our world and thus existence. He has a female counter-part – a Mistress, Lover, Bride. Esoterically, Her name is Baphomet. She is the Dark Goddess.
Thus, a Satanic Initiate is often described as the lover of one or both of these sinister entities – and a genuine Satanic Initiation may be likened to a ritual copulation with either Satan or Baphomet [where the Priest/Priestess assumes the form of the entity]. In genuine Satanism there is no ‘worship’ of Satan (or Baphomet) – but rather an acceptance of Them as friends, lovers (or, in the early stages, sometimes a ‘father’ and ‘mother’ or a brother and sister).
A Satanist thus evolves toward a higher form -and expresses conscious evolution in action. Hence, Satanism is the quintessence of the Left Hand Path.
It is a mistake, recently promulgated by some, to see the LHP in general and Satanism in particular as merely a body of esoteric knowledge and/or a collection, of rituals or magickal workings, either of which, or both, may be ‘dipped into’ for personal edification and to provide oneself with an ‘image’.
All LH Paths are ordeals – they involve self-effort over a period of years. They are also dark, and involve the individuals who follow them going to and beyond the limits all societies impose. That is, they are sinister or ‘evil’, They involve real sinister acts in the real world – not a playing at sorcerers or sorceresses.
Certain individuals and certain organizations who claim to belong to the LHP have tried to dispel the ‘evil’ that surrounds the LHP and Satanism – by denying the very real evil nature of these paths. However, what do these imitation Satanists, these posturing pseuds, think Satanism is if not ‘evil’? If Satanism is not evil, what is? [Or, more precisely, if Satan is not evil, who is?]
The true nature of evil – and thus Satanism and the LHP – has been misunderstood. Evil is natural and necessary – it tests, culls, provokes reaction and thus aids evolution. And to repeat – Satanism is replete with evil: it is evil. Satanists are sinister, evil. They cannot but be otherwise.
Evil, correctly defined, is part of the cosmic dialectic – it is force, which is a-moral: i.e. it is beyond the bounds of ‘morals’. Morals derive from a limited (human – or, rather, pseudo-human) perspective, and a morality is a projection by individual consciousness onto reality. Nothing that is ‘moral’ or immoral exists. All morals are therefore artifice – they are abstractions. Actions, by individuals, which are normally considered as ‘evil’ are things that are done by individuals against others – that is, evil acts are considered as belonging to us, as a species. It is not considered ‘evil’ for a tiger to kill and eat a person: that is natural, in the nature of the tiger. What has been and generally is considered to be evil, in humans, is in general nothing more than instinct – or rather, a feeling, a pre-conscious desire or desires.
Such instinct is natural – the actions which result from it can be either beneficial or not. That is, the actions are not `evil’ in themselves. They should not be judged by some artificial abstractions, but rather by their consequences – by their effects, which are either positive or negative. However, they can be positive or negative depending on circumstances: that is, the evaluation of them can vary depending on the perspective chosen. This perspective is usually that of ‘time’. The only correct judgement about a particular act or action is one which takes into account the effects of that action not only in the present but also in the future, and this latter on a vast time-scale. Thus, the judgement concerning such acts is essentially a-personal – it bears little or no resemblance to the emotional affects of that act in the moments of that act or in the immediate moments following that act. [In the symbolic sense – and imprecisely – such judgement could be said to be that of ‘the gods’.]
Real acts of evil are those which are done consciously – and these can be of two kinds. The first are ignorant acts: done from a lack of self-knowledge and usually with no appreciation of their effects beyond the moment. The second are impersonal acts done with a knowledge of the effects beyond that of the moment. The former involve no evaluation beyond the personal feelings; the latter involve an evaluation beyond the personal (although they may still be personal acts – i.e. of benefit to the individual). A Satanic act of evil is of this second kind – they are affective and effective: a participation in the cosmic dialectic. At first, they may not be fully understood -i.e. arise from instinct in the main. But the Satanic intent behind them makes the individual more conscious, more aware of their effects, both personal and supra-personal, thus enabling judgement to be cultivated.
Instinctive acts are not ‘evil’ – they usually derive from immaturity. Evil acts derive from maturity – but immaturity is required to reach this stage. That is, there is a growth. ‘Morality’ tries to stifle instinct and thus restricts growth. Satanic acts of evil in effect redress the balance – and allow real maturity to develop.
– Order of Nine Angles –