The Left Hand Path

Discussions about the Left Hand Path surface on newsgroups and the Xepera-l mailing list from time to time. This page contains

  • A short thread concerning the LHP from the Xepera-l mailing list entitled Thus Far, from the beginning of October, 1998.
  • Kerry Delf brought a post entitled Definition - of Left Hand Path from alt.religion.wicca to our attention in mid-October, 1998. and launched a longer set of threads.


    Text Navigation

  • While scanning my Xepera-l archive to include the above messages, I found a post entitled A question concerning the Temple's View of LHP???? submitted by Setnakt on August 13, 1998.
  • I shared a draft of this page with Setnakt before publishing it on the web, not knowing that he had just finished a book on the subject. He has graciously donated part of the first chapter of his book to complete this web page.

I've done some very minimal editing on these posts, but have not changed or removed anything of significance. I added a comment or two to the posts below ... any such addition will be in smaller text and colored blue to help you identify these additions of mine.


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Subject:Thus far
Date:Fri, 02 Oct 1998 03:46:10 +0100
From:Aina & Bones
Organization:Golden Garden: w1.573.telia.com/~u57302535

I am submitting a description of how I have come to understand the concepts of LHP and RHP for comment. Originally I set out to investigate the LHP in an Egyptian context i.e. all things pertaining to Set. I may be wrong but constant encounters with the Set/Horus dichotomy brought me to the belief that one can't go any distance into the one theme without considering the other.

The earliest known perception of Set was as one half of the masculine manifestation of a primal duality. He was seen as the night sky. The other half was Horus and he was seen as the day sky. This divine duo represent solar (Horus) and lunar (Set) approaches to the evolution of Homo Sapiens.

The RHP Considers spirit or the divine to be something external and seeks to attain union with spirit or the divine (whatever the practitioner concerned conceives that to be) through constructing or molding hirself to as close an approximation of the relevant power(s) and principle(s) as is possible much like assuming a god form only a bigger version. When the practitioner has come close enough in inner resemblance the energies concerned will be drawn to and posses that person by or through the law of attraction of similar leading to an advanced state of consciousness. This resulting state can be termed exaltation through union.

The development of such a solar personality brings one to transition from a lower state of consciousness albeit highly developed to a higher or exalted state of consciousness but when transition occurs that personality is not required or relevant any longer and must be dropped. Such a major and sudden withdrawal of all that one identifies with must be a terrible and dreadful experience. I now believe that it is this transitional state which has been mistakenly conceived to be the abyss. Thanks to those who tipped me off as to it's "non existence"!!

The LHP sees spirit or the divine (I think mind is also a useable term in this context) as being an integral part of matter. As such it is not something to be attained but rather to be liberated. To this end the practitioner tries and tests hir's inner content deconstructing or eliminating the gross: refining the "ore" so to speak in the fire of hir's will until naught but pure "silver" is left. When enough of the gross has been removed the divine having been liberated will well up leading to an advanced state of consciousness. This state of higher consciousness can be termed exaltation through separation.

The development of such a lunar personality entails the friction of self deconstruction and the concomitant discomfort over an extended period of time. When the transition occurs there is little or nothing to be dropped that job having been done along the way and as a result the transition is experienced as pleasant: the war of attrition being over.

Am I on or off course?

Comments and corrections will be much appreciated.

Thank you!

Bones

*********************************
By a route obscure and lonely,
Haunted by ill angels only,
Where an Eidolon, named Night,
On a black throne reigns upright,
I have wandered home but newly
>>From this ultimate dim Thule.

Edgar Allan Poe
*********************************


Subject:Thus far
Date:Thu, 01 Oct 1998 22:35:13 -0500
From:dharmabum
Organization:DarkLight

Aina & Bones wrote:

> I am submitting a description of how I have come to understand the concepts of LHP and RHP for comment. Originally I set out to investigate the LHP in an Egyptian context i.e. all things pertaining to Set. I may be wrong but constant encounters with the Set/Horus dichotomy brought me to the belief that one can't go any distance into the one theme without considering the other.

This is of course true of any dichotomy. Think of the symbol referred to commonly as "Yin-Yang". There is no way to see one but as the absence of the other.

> The earliest known perception of Set was as one half of the masculine manifestation of a primal duality. He was seen as the night sky. The other half was Horus and he was seen as the day sky. This divine duo represent solar (Horus) and lunar (Set) approaches to the evolution of Homo Sapiens.

Must be reading a different history of Egyptian religions then I am. According to no less than the Encyclopedia Britannica (EB) the sun and the moon were in fact the eyes of Horus. In a fight between Set and Horus, Horus' left eye was put out. This came to be an explanation for the moon's phases as it was Horus left eye which was the moon. It was Thoth who restored the damaged eye. Set's original place in the Pantheon was indeed as a sky god but also (and primarily) lord of the desert and warfare. To quote from the EB, "Seth embodied the necessary and creative element of violence and disorder within the ordered world." The Set/Horus dichotomy began sometime during the 1st Dynasty.

> The RHP Considers (much snipping here...)

> The LHP sees spirit or the divine (and again, snip-snip)

What it boils down to is this: in RHP technology the Self is to learn the ways of the natural or objective universe and align with that objective universe. "Submission to the Will of God" is a common term for this technology. LHP technology, on the other hand ..., seeks isolation for the Self and seeks also to bring the objective universe into alignment with the Will of the Self. I will end by HIGHLY recommending to anyone who is interested in this contact:

Runa-Raven Press
P.O.Box 557
Smithville, TX 78957

and purchase a copy of Dr. Stephen Eldred Flowers' book Lords of the Left-Hand Path: A History of Spiritual Dissent


Subject:Thus far
Date:Thu, 01 Oct 1998 21:40:39 -0700
From:Balanone <balfaq@xeper.org>
Organization:Temple of Set

Aina & Bones wrote:

> I am submitting a description of how I have come to understand the concepts of LHP and RHP for comment. Originally I set out to investigate the LHP in an Egyptian context i.e. all things pertaining to Set. I may be wrong but constant encounters with the Set/Horus dichotomy brought me to the belief that one can't go any distance into the one theme without considering the other.

It's always good to admit the possibility of being wrong. Yes, with practice and dedication one can go a goodly distance into one theme without considering the other. That then leaves the question whether one should.

As a member of the Order of Shuti I encounter this problem regularly ... it's ever so much easier to pursue, study, and/or work with Shu than Tefnut, partly because so much more is written about him, partly because my attributes are more aligned with Shu, partly because of the nature of the Neteru themselves. However, I need to work with Tefnut on occasion, to prevent an excess of imbalance.

Likewise, it's possible to work years with just Set or Horus, without giving much consideration to the other. I've done it. There is a danger in such activity, though, that the other side of reality / personality might become demonized, and such imbalanced activity might result in a self-perpetuating imbalance within.

Personally, I recommend that those called to the LHP work extensively with Set, and minimally with Horus, for extended periods of time, but "minimally" does not mean "not at all." There is a balance point; it's just IMO more to the left than most people realize.

> The earliest known perception of Set was as one half of the masculine manifestation of a primal duality. He was seen as the night sky. The other half was Horus and he was seen as the day sky. This divine duo represent solar (Horus) and lunar (Set) approaches to the evolution of Homo Sapiens.

Agreed. Dharmabum's research in the Encyclopaedia Brittanica needs to be broadened, and this will be found.

> The RHP ... [snipped]

> The LHP sees spirit or the divine (I think mind is also a useable term in this context) as being an integral part of matter. As such it is not something to be attained but rather to be liberated.

Not quite. There are branches of the LHP that hold a purely materialist view, but other branches (including many/most(?) Setians see strong nonmaterial influences/contributions to the spirit/self. Even if you look at it as an emergent property of matter (stemming from a very complex mind structure), we see the results of this emergence as being more than "just" material (I find myself in that group).

Intelligence arises from unthinking biochemicals. Consciousness arises from nonconscious cells. I have no difficulty seeing Spirit arising from matter, without being limited by that matter.

> To this end the practitioner tries and tests hir's inner content deconstructing or eliminating the gross: refining the "ore" so to speak in the fire of hir's will until naught but pure "silver" is left. When enough of the gross has been removed the divine having been liberated will well up leading to an advanced state of consciousness. This state of higher consciousness can be termed exaltation through separation.

This alchemical purification is certainly one task and/or method of initiation. However, many of us also see a need for the accumulation or acquisition of additional knowledge, skills, wisdom, and power. Yes, one could concentrate purely on eliminating the dross and purifying whatever exists alone, but IMO that would result in a very pure and very limited being. It's more difficult to purify while adding more things into the mix at the same time (or at least in sequence), but it's more satisfying, and more empowering.

Balanone
PP


Subject:Thus far
Date:Thu, 1 Oct 1998 23:46:32 EDT
From:JFitzsi421
Organization:

In a message dated 10/1/98, 10:10:03 PM, xepera-l@inet.xeper.org writes:

<<Originally I set out to investigate the LHP in an Egyptian context i.e. all things pertaining to Set.>>

If you are trying to go this route, and it can be a bit difficult considering the general lack of scholarship on Ol'Bunny Ears (a term of affection, really). TeVelde's Seth:God of Confussion is probably your best bet. Don Webb's Seven Faces of Darkness will also serve a good material to plug into your mental matrix.

Adiditonally, the relationship between Horus and Set is far, far more complex than a simple dicotomy. It seems more of a strange dance.

RtR,
Fitz


The above thread was fairly short, but coincidentally the topic was revisited several days later...

Subject:Definition - of Left Hand Path (fwd from a.r.w)
Date:Mon, 12 Oct 1998 01:14:14 -0700 (PDT)
From:Kerry Delf
Organization:Kerry Delf

Hi, folks.

This one is a new one on me; I'm wondering if anyone here has ever heard this particular definition of the LHP before, and also whether there's any way it meshes with your own conceptions of the LHP. It sounds essentially foreign to me, but there may be SOME similarities, depending on how you look at it.

- K.Delf

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Sun, 11 Oct 1998 13:17:36 +0100
From: Members of the Comhairli Cairde
Newsgroups: alt.religion.wicca
Subject: Definition - of Left Hand Path

Definition of Left Hand Path or LHP

Well, Madam Blavatsky has a lot to answer for here. She got some information on the Varma Marg thought it disgusting and equate the left hand path with evil (silly sausage).

LHP is Lunar, Usually Goddess oriented (though there are some Lunar gods - as there are Solar Goddesses). It has nothinng to do with 'evil', destructive', 'black' etc., etc., Merely inward looking, introspective workings or defensive.

If you compare this definition with the one I wrote about RHP. Miltaristic and hoistorical. Most people carry their shield on their left arm. Therefore they are defending themselves - or blocking your attack. Alternatively, they could be trying to storm into your space - in which case they would attack with a wall of shields from behind which the spear or sword would thrust.

Some Old Crafters call LHP Craft and RHP Druidry because of the emphasis on the energies. Craft is Lunar based - full moons, New moons etc., etc., whilst Druidry looks more towards the solar cycle.

"A wold can but act as a wolf"

--

Members of the Comhairli Cairde


Subject:Re: Definition - of Left Hand Path (fwd from a.r.w)
Date:Mon, 12 Oct 1998 08:23:48 -0500
From:dharmabum
Organization:Golden Garden: w1.573.telia.com/~u57302535DarkLight

> It sounds essentially foreign to me, but there may be SOME similarities, depending on how you look at it.

Depending on how one looks at it indeed! There is really only one difference between LHP and RHP technology. RHP seeks to join with the Divine or Cosmos or Is by seeking to understand the nature of it and then aligning one's will to the natural will of that thing (God, whatever). LHP seeks amplification of the Self through increased isolation from the natural or objective universe. Now, if the Self is amplified through "lunar" activities then that will be the Working for that Self. This does not prevent another Self from Xeper through "solar" activities. In fact, I know a few Goth-Metal-Industrial-Vampyre kids who could benefit from a good dose of Burt Bacharach. Just because the fashion one is ate up with (read: obsessed with, on auto-pilot) is anti-Xtian and the P.T.A. is trying to ban your favourite T-shirt from school functions doesn't mean necessarily one is LHP. Many find comfort in "darkness" because it is what all the people they want to be accepted by are pretending to be involved with. "I wanna be different just like all the other different people" to quote the genius of King Missile.

As to the shield carrying joke, er, quote...only about 15% of the population is southpaw and that is why shields are carried left-handed. Sheesh, talk about over analyzing the damn world to make it fit into a pre-conceived world view!

And who are "Old Crafters"? Craft may take lunar cycles into consideration but it also takes the sun into consideration. Ever heard of the Solstices? Equinoxes? And the Druids..well they have become so fucking romanticized it makes me howl. No one knows very much at all about the Druids despite what all the Llewellyn books would have you believe. Reminds me of the romanticizing of the American indigenous. Like they were all earth loving hippies who cared only about the 7th generation...please! Most people can't even understand the cultural differences occurring within the very city they live in let alone being separated by a continent and a couple of millennium.

I know this is a bit scattered and ranting but the espresso maker is just now starting to gurgle..........


Subject:Re: Definition - of Left Hand Path
Date:Mon, 12 Oct 1998 08:28:36 -0500
From:Gerald Kendall
Organization:

On 3:30AM 10/12/98 Monday
Kerry Delf wrote:

>This one is a new one on me; I'm wondering if anyone here has ever heard this particular definition of the LHP before, and also whether there's any way it meshes with your own conceptions of the LHP. It sounds essentially foreign to me, but there may be SOME similarities, depending on how you look at it.

REFERENCE: Forwarded message from members of the Comhairli Cairde which is included in Kerry Delf's message. So I won't repeat it all again.

That group is in the United Kingdom according to their URL. Maybe they are part of the reason for the move to America by our ancestors?

Their quoted writing about the definition of the LHP made for some interesting reading this morning. And it brings up the question as to how does one define the LHP in ones own thinking and ones own particular viewpoint. My own particular thoughts about that are based on the philosophy of the Temple of Set. Because that is how I first came to learn about it. I had already read Anton LeVays The Satanic Bible and some of his other books. But then I heard about the Temple of Set as being "The Church of Satan grown up" and as "having a deeper understanding of the Universe" Also some people tend to forget that the success of the Church of Satan was because of the hard work and genius of many of the people who now represent the god Set and The Temple of Set. In my opinion only and I can not speak for the Temple of Set other than by my opinions and views only. For the facts you will have to contact the Temple of Set.

Also as far as Wicca goes they generally take the path of the "light" and so are more included in the RHP. Again this is my opinion only. But that is what Kerry Delf's question was; "What are your own conceptions of the LHP?"

So that is my answer to his very interesting question and the article that he included in his message this morning.

For some real good ideas on "Pagans in America Today" "Witches, Druids, Goddess-Worshippers" there is a good book written by Margot Adler called Drawing Down The Moon She, in my opinion, has the best view of these subjects. But also Maria Kay Simms book Circle of the Cosmic Muse, a Wiccan Book of Shadows is IMHO an interesting book. I read a lot of this before I became interested in The Satanic Bible by Anton LeVay and then as I wrote above, The Temple of Set.

Xeper,
Gerald Kendall


Subject:Re: Definition - of Left Hand Path
Date:Tue, 13 Oct 1998 01:22:47 -0700 (PDT)
From:Kerry Delf
Organization:

On Mon, 12 Oct 1998, Gerald Kendall wrote:

> Their quoted writing about the definition of the LHP made for some interesting reading this morning. And it brings up the question as to how does one define the LHP in ones own thinking and ones own particular viewpoint.

Absolutely. The problem is that, as with so many other terms, "LHP" has many different meanings for different people. It's just that this one sounded REALLY alien to me.

> My own particular thoughts about that are based on the philosophy of the Temple of Set.

As are mine, but I recognize that the way the ToS defines "LHP" (and other terms) is by no means interchangeable with the way other groups and individuals define the same term(s). This makes intergroup discussion very difficult at times... <sigh>

> Because that is how I first came to learn about it. I had already read Anton LeVays The Satanic Bible and some of his other books. But then I heard about the Temple of Set as being "The Church of Satan grown up" and as "having a deeper understanding of the Universe" Also some people tend to forget that the success of the Church of Satan was because of the hard work and genius of many of the people who now represent the god Set and The Temple of Set. In my opinion only and I can not speak for the Temple of Set other than by my opinions and views only. For the facts you will have to contact the Temple of Set.

Standard disclaimer.

> Also as far as Wicca goes they generally take the path of the "light" and so are more included in the RHP. Again this is my opinion only.

I would generally agree with this statement, but there are those who would claim that Wicca is LHP because it's non-mainstream (though even that is a relative term).

> But that is what Kerry Delf's question was; "What are your own conceptions of the LHP?"

> So that is my answer to his very interesting question and the article that he included in his message this morning.

It's "her" and "she," just FYI. So, to clarify, you would say that your interpretation of the term "Left Hand Path" is essentially in line with the ToS definition, and that you see little or no relationship between that and the Comhairli Circle's definition?

I'm wondering where in hell their interpretation came from.

> For some real good ideas on "Pagans in America Today" "Witches, Druids, Goddess-Worshippers" there is a good book written by Margot Adler called Drawing Down The Moon She, in my opinion, has the best view of these subjects. But also Maria Kay Simms book Circle of the Cosmic Muse, a Wiccan Book of Shadows is IMHO an interesting book. I read a lot of this before I became interested in The Satanic Bible by Anton LeVay and then as I wrote above, The Temple of Set.

I've got Drawing Down the Moon on the shelf in my library; I might check out the Simms book when I have the time. Thanks for the recommendation. %%%%%

> Gerald Kendall

Xeper,
K.Delf

--
"If you love wealth more than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, depart from us in peace. We ask not your counsel nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you. May your chains rest lightly upon you and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen." --Samuel Adams


Subject:Re: Definition - of Left Hand Path (fwd from a.r.w
Date:Tue, 13 Oct 1998 01:42:21 -0700 (PDT)
From:Kerry Delf
Organization:

On Mon, 12 Oct 1998, dharmabum wrote:

> > It sounds essentially foreign to me, but there may be SOME similarities, depending on how you look at it.

> Depending on how one looks at it indeed! There is really only one difference between LHP and RHP technology. RHP seeks to join with the Divine or Cosmos or Is by seeking to understand the nature of it and then aligning one's will to the natural will of that thing (God, whatever). LHP seeks amplification of the Self through increased isolation from the natural or objective universe.

I generally agree with this definition of the LHP and RHP, but I also recognize that this is the Setian definition of these terms; I am equally aware that others define LHP and RHP differently.

> Now, if the Self is amplified through "lunar" activities then that will be the Working for that Self. This does not prevent another Self from Xeper through "solar" activities.

Agreed, but again, a strictly Setian-oriented use.

> In fact, I know a few Goth-Metal-Industrial-Vampyre kids who could benefit from a good dose of Burt Bacharach. Just because the fashion one is ate up with (read: obsessed with, on auto-pilot) is anti-Xtian and the P.T.A. is trying to ban your favourite T-shirt from school functions doesn't mean necessarily one is LHP. Many find comfort in "darkness" because it is what all the people they want to be accepted by are pretending to be involved with. "I wanna be different just like all the other different people" to quote the genius of King Missile.

True.

> As to the shield carrying joke, er, quote...only about 15% of the population is southpaw and that is why shields are carried left-handed. Sheesh, talk about over analyzing the damn world to make it fit into a pre-conceived world view!

<laugh> That one occurred to me, too -- it seems that the authors of that definition never considered that the shield is in the left hand because the right hand is holding the sword... BECAUSE it is the dominant hand. Hell, working from that, could we say that "RHP = dominant, and LHP = submissive or inferior"?

> And who are "Old Crafters"?

Usually a badly researched fantasy, but go on...

> Craft may take lunar cycles into consideration but it also takes the sun into consideration. Ever heard of the Solstices? Equinoxes? And the Druids..well they have become so fucking romanticized it makes me howl. No one knows very much at all about the Druids despite what all the Llewellyn books would have you believe.

Of course. But the moon is generally associated with the feminine (an exception is Norse mythology, if I recall correctly), and thus with goddesses, and there is a certain group of people who seem to believe that paganism, alternative spirituality, and the positive vision of non-mainstream beliefs all center around goddess-worship. Could be part of the origin of this definition.

> Reminds me of the romanticizing of the American indigenous. Like they were all earth loving hippies who cared only about the 7th generation...please! Most people can't even understand the cultural differences occurring within the very city they live in let alone being separated by a continent and a couple of millennium.

Please... I just had a smiling but heated discussion about this last night...

> I know this is a bit scattered and ranting but the espresso maker is just now starting to gurgle..........

<chuckle> I'm on the other end of my day, about to head for bed. I'm probably at about the same level of coherence as you are... :)

Anyway, I was wondering if anyone sees an association between the "lunar-oriented" claims of this def. and the acceptance of "night" and "darkness" often associated with other visions of the LHP. Anybody?

Xeper,

K.Delf


Subject:RE: Definition - of Left Hand Path (fwd from a.r.w)
Date:Tue, 13 Oct 1998 13:33:16 -0500
From:Julian
Organization:

-----Original Message-----
From: Kerry Delf
Sent: Tuesday, October 13, 1998 3:42 AM
Subject: Re: Definition - of Left Hand Path (fwd from a.r.w)

Kerry wrote:

Anyway, I was wondering if anyone sees an association between the "lunar-oriented" claims of this def. and the acceptance of "night" and "darkness" often associated with other visions of the LHP. Anybody?

***************

j: It kind of sounded to me like a Wiccan sat down and said "Wiccans can be dark and evil too!" (notice that many of them hold this "I'm dangerous and powerful" ideal) and wrote up a quick, nature-based explanation behind the meaning of "Left Hand Path." Much as I hate to admit it, the Left Hand Path is designated with "Left Hand" because of traditionally accepted metaphorical meanings of the right and left hand. Still, it's not as definitely firmly entrenched in Hebrew mythology as, say, Satanism. True to Quintillian's vision, there are certain long-standing ideas behind objective things and ideas that simply cannot be easily let go. It seems funny to me that despite all the positive influences of Setianism I still think of Set as a "dark" god-form. Dark in the sense that when compared to the beliefs of society, Set is dark, but on his own, and without the judgement of society? The most applicable form of darkness I see immediately there is the night sky association, or the very pagan "drying up of the Nile river" association. Without the biased judgment of the Right Hand Path, just how "Dark" would the Prince of Darkness be?

Xeper,

Julian


Subject:Re: Definition - of Left Hand Path
Date:Tue, 13 Oct 1998 13:42:41 PDT
From:Uber Goo
Organization:

8008

>Absolutely. The problem is that, as with so many other terms, "LHP" has many different meanings for different people.

My own definition (when I bother to use one) is based on the Jehovah and Lucifer paths from The Process and the 80 and 08 components of Scientology's 8008 formula. So, from that point of view, some things that ToS considers LHP (such as isolation from "objective" universe) would be considered RHP (Jehovah or 80).

Of course, THE PROCESS is to bring these into unity to acheive integration of the God Vehicle and the Animal Vehicle (higher and lower aspects of Satan or Hoor-par-kraat and Ra-hoor-khuit). This integration provides the most optimal outflow of will (from the Source-Self, which is a STAR).

I think that the original reference was to left-hand tantra, which is a different thing.

Zero

Telesis Foundation for Applied Memetics

http://telesis.veindance.com


Subject:Re: Definition - of Left Hand Path
Date:Tue, 13 Oct 1998 19:19:33 -0400
From:Don
Organization:

This topic seems to come up on the list from time to time. It is obviously of interest, but often very confusing and usually not completely resolved to most of those interested. For what it's worth, here are a few posts of mine on the subject which I posted some time ago.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

Subj: LHP vs RHP
Date: 07/11/97
To: Xepera-l@netcom.com

As I see it, RHP believes in a spiritual High Authority or "Prime Directive",if you will, from which emanates rules or guidelines on how to live ones life in order to gain favor from that Authority, or to reach a higher spiritual state. That higher state usually entails some loss of individuality and a union with a spiritual collective. There is also usually a belief that the individual is flawed in some way by his/her very existence and needs to follow these rules for "salvation" of some sort. LHP rebels against or even disavows the existence of this Directive. It exalts the individual above the collective and believes one is the master of one's own destiny and the creator of one's own rules. There is also some semantic confusion about the definition of the "ego", the "True Self", and the "Higher Self".

I will define the ego as being the individual conscious self. In this context one can have the concept of the "small" ego and the "greater" ego. The small ego is a person's sense of identity by their very existence. It is usually very constrained and limited by social convention and conditioning. The average person has a "small" ego. When one enters into spiritual initiation one begins to glimpse the true potential of one's being and his/her "small" ego begins to grow and expand into the "greater" ego. In LHP there is no dissolution of identity or the ego, only an expansion of the ego. Of course if one holds on too strongly and too long to the relative comfort of existence within the "small" ego one can have the sense that one's ego itself were dissolving. However, in RHP the dissolution of the ego and herefore of desire, ambition, and identity itself is something sought after. The average middle-AmericanChristian does not strive for this extreme of course, but he/she does not realize that this is ultimately what their belief is based on.

The notion of the "True" self or "Higher" self is nothing like the "greater" ego as presented. The Higher self is that aspect of the self that existed or exits before the "corruption" of desire, ambition, and individual identity.(The garden of Eden before the "Fall" in the Genesis myth) This Higher self is one with the universe, one with the collective, and closer to the Creator. RHP practice seeks to strip away the ego(personal identity) in order to merge with the "Higher" self. LHP sees only the constraints and limitations of the small ego as something to be discarded, whereas RHP sees the ego itself as unwanted. RHP seeks spiritual comfort above all else; LHP seeks spiritual power and adventure. This is not to say that the RHP is the "easy way out", as some have said on this list. Some RHP practices are very difficult and grueling indeed! Only that the ultimate goal of RHP is escape from the turmoil, the trial and tribulations of individual existence.

The concept of "mu-shin" or Zen no-mind as mentioned on this list, is just a starting point toward spiritual enlightenment. It is a first step out of the small ego. However, it can be a starting point toward LHP or RHP development. In RHP one would tend to stay in that "zone" with no desire or ambition. In LHP one would try to control when and how to go in and out of this state. How to "surf" the balance point.

I believe that we come into self consciusness out of the "Higher" or "natural" self but do not need to relinquish our individuality and rejoin this "untarnished" state. But we do depend on the Higher or natural self for our existence. We do not "birth" ourselves, nor do we beat our own hearts or manufacture our feelings or thoughts, etc. These things "just happen". The individual identity is a secondary development that is based on the "Higher" self and in fact enriches its existence. Taken together this is our "True" self. The individual identity, by growing out of the small ego into the greater ego can become a conscious creator, accepting and acknowledging the Higher self but not surrendering its basic identity to it. The creative force or principle resides in the "Higher" or "natural" self but now takes direction from the individual identity.

I am interested in LHP and am on this list because LHP has been greatly neglected in most spiritual practices, especially in the West. Most Eastern practices and beliefs are Middle Path (Buddhism is called the middle path) but our dualistic Western thought and RHP conditioning has turned most of them into very RHP concepts. Even the "New Age" movement, as much as they pay lip service to following a "holistic" approach, is still frightend of the "dark side". I believe in "dwelling in the light" but one must know the dark in order to truely appreciate the light. I also believe in bringing light into the darkness, and turning darkness into light.--- One should never be afraid of the dark.

----DRxDON


Subj: LHP vs RHP:Addendum
Date: 07/14/97
To: Xepera-l@netcom.com

After rereading my post "LHP vs RHP" I saw some things which I think need a bit more clarification. I was trying to delineate between the actual essence of the paths and not necessarily the practices themselves. The essences represent the extreme or "pure" aspect but, in reality, one rarely encounters such pure representations. I would imagine that the TOS represents as "pure" of a LHP practice as one could have, however I'm sure that there are probably some "cults" or secret societies that are probably more extreme. LHP in its "purist" form is characterised by total concern with one's own individuality, desires, and ambition without any regard for others except insofar as how they can benefit oneself and how they can be thus manipulated. However, from the communication on this list, I detect many traditionally considered RHP traits such as love and compassion, at least for one's immediate associates, "live and let live" attitudes, etc. Some of these might even be considered, dare I say, almost <gulp!> Christian! If one were to be completely LHP one would be totally isolate from the rest of the world and society. I'm sure such people exist. As the magician becomes more adept at his/her craft there is a strong tendency to be pulled in such a direction, but as I understand it, the TOS does not promote this kind of mentality as a matter of policy.

On the other hand, extreme or "pure" RHP advocates total anihilation of the ego, however the "average" RHP practice, such as most nature or pagan based beliefs as well as Christianity, at least as most profess, promote at least a "humbling" of the ego before a larger Power, whatever that may be. But there is still personal identity, desire ,and ambition which are basically LHP. It is my contention that all practices and beliefs are Middle Path with leanings toward one side or the other. The "essence" of the RHP is necessary for community, unity, compassion and love of any kind, as well as any sense of spiritual comfort and peace. The "essence" of the LHP is necessary for individuality, personal challenge, as well as desire and ambition of any sort. I dare say almost everyone wants some combination of all of the above as a part of their lives.

Christians have a belief in a "heaven" where they are close to God, and taken care of by Him like children by a loving parent, but still retaining human individuality and desire. Such a condition is completely unreal and just wishfull thinking since individuality separates us from "God". It is our "deal with the Devil" ("original sin" in Eden) which gave us individuality in the first place!(LHP)! Christians may pay lip service to this, saying that it's OK since Christ "saved" them, but they have no idea of the reality of the situation. If one believes in God or heaven, instead of a childish state of "regained innocence" without worries or cares, a more realistic state would be to take our place as co-creators along side God with no guilt or cringing. I believe that it is the denial of our basic LHP spiritual heritage and the consequential hypocrisy that gives rise to "evil" rather than the LHP itself, since denial and repression always intensifies that which is repressed and results in a subsequent unconscious and rather uncontrolled release. Of course an extreme LHP practice, as mentioned above, would result in some conscious and purposeful "evil" I'm sure. One should have the "courage to sin"!

As far as Eastern religions go, I was somewhat mistaken when I said that Western society made them more RHP. They have been made more RHP in the sense that our dualistic thought patterns assigned to them the concept of a "right" way and a "wrong"(left?) way of behaving; in other words a moralistic judgement which they originally never had, such as "going with the flow" as opposed to going against it--which really has a more subtle meaning meaning. However, Western society assigned a more "unconscious" LHP aspect to them in the manner I described above, allowing the Western practicioner of Buddhism, for example, to retain much more everyday desire and ambition without going into the depths of self-detatchment as originally practiced.

Zen is a unique animal.(to John Youril--my first foray into "non-traditional" spirituality was "The Way Of Zen" also--Alan Watts was my first ""guru") After dutifully spending much effort and time in quieting the mind and desires, Zen literally assaults the ego with extreme back handed (rater than left handed) techniques and self doubt to totally obliterate it and crack it open in a moment of enlightenment or "satori" where a person loses all sense of identity and falls into the dark Abyss or "Void" out of which all being arises. But rather than dwell in this state of nothingness, a new ego arises spontaneously without any of the social constraints of the original ego. The Zen master then tries to maintain a state "of least resistance" whereby his desire and ambition are never any greater than that which he can immediately attain.

This is not so different than the ultimate goal of the LHP adept except that the magician is willing to sustain a higher ambition level and consequent higher level of effort. But along with this higher level of effort comes a higher general level of unease, discomfort, and potential disappointment on his/her way to mastery. Zen, from this perspective, is more RHP because comfort is more important than ambition and "power", however I think our image of the Zen master would be different if he hadn't spent his entire desire and ambition-filled years in a monastery; if he could achieve this state earlier in life when he had the full drive of youth. By the time most Zen masters achieve high states of enlightenment they are old enough to be quite content to live a more sedate life.

Taoism is much like Buddhism and it is said that Zen Buddhism is a result of a convergance of Mahayana Buddhism with Taoism. Hinduism, for the most part, at least to the unschooled "Hindu on the street", is very RHP with the worship and appeasement of all sorts of deities with the ultimate goal of the Hindu yogi or ascetic being union with the "Godhead". But there are less extreme yogic practices, such as those that have become popular in the West, and more adventurous Tantic exercises, and of course all spiritual practice have magicians and sorcerers in their ranks, which would usually be considered LHP.

In conclusion, I peronally do not like to try to define LHP vs RHP since sometimes the difference can become quite blurry and arbitrary, and therefore, ultimately meaningless. Like most things in life, there is very rarely a clear distinction. I know MY PATH and that is all that matters.

--
What If --------------------------?
DRxDON


Subject:Definition - of Left Hand Path
Date:Tue, 13 Oct 1998 20:00:48 EDT
From:Jerabus
Organization:

In a message dated 10/13/98 6:42:57 PM Central Daylight Time, drxdon writes:

<< I believe that we come into self consciusness out of the "Higher" or "natural" self but do not need to relinquish our individuality and rejoin this "untarnished" state. But we do depend on the Higher or natural self for our existence. We do not >>

Dear Magus Webb,
Apparently Setian Chen here mistook "Don" (drxdon) for Magus Don Webb (Setnakt). No harm done.

It is very interesting that this topic has come up on the list. Recently I have been faced with the challenge of writing my own working and it centers around the theme of being able to identify moments of "illumination" or consciousness in one's life so that they may be able to recognize more of these moments as they occur in the future, and hopefully achieve a prolonged and consistent state of it. Because of the abstract nature of this working, a particular Priest told me that he didn't understand what I was trying to say at all and didn't see the relevance. At first, this made me feel very small and foolish because I almost took it negatively and personally. This was not his intention however, and after lengthy discussion, we came away with a newfound understanding. The point of all this is that in making things hard for me , he actually caused me to rethink my ideas and I persisted in trying different ways of communicating my point to him. I feel like he caused me to experience a moment of "illumination" about myself ---because instead of getting really discouraged and saying "fuck off", I wrote out another explanation and he was finally clear. Maybe this was a test for me --I'm not sure, but I want to know, is it possible for someone to recognize the glimpse of their higher selves for what it is, at the time when it occurs, or is this only recognized after you've experienced it and are reflecting upon it>?

Xeper,

Setian Chen


Subject:Definition-of Left Hand Path
Date:Wed, 14 Oct 1998 18:29:50 -0500
From:Gerald Kendall
Organization:

Kerry Delf,

You started this discussion on the definition of the Left Hand Path. Did you know what you were going to start? The next time someone asks that question I will feel like a very well informed LHP practicisioner. After all of the explanations that have been given in answer to your question on this list.

Before I forget it and to change the subject just for a moment, I would like to comment on your signature quotation by Samuel Adams. I have read that now many times and I really think that is relative in particular to the LHP in a very close way. I won't repeat it since everyone has read it but thanks for writing that on your email messages.

Back to the LHP subject. I really got a laugh out of your comment as to why our ancestors may have chosen to move to America.

I agree with the fact that Wicca and other Pagan religions are very non-mainstream. It is interesting to note as someone else did that the Wiccans do on the one hand wish to be thought of as very dangerous and on the other wish to stay as far away from Satanism as possible. Are they not by this saying "we are dangerous" but "not quite that dangerous". There is a contradiction there in the way they present themselves, IMHO.

You asked if my interpretation of the term "Left Hand Path" shows little or no relationship with the Comhairlir Circle's definition? And I think not and no one else has written any different in their answers to your question. So I don't know where they came up with it except for the fact that there are so many different ideas about that subject. As I have really learned by all of the other comments you have gotten.

You also asked about the "lunar-oriented" claims and "night" and well as "darkness" often associated with other visions of the LHP.

I read something that I think is of interest on this subject in the Columbia Encyclopedia about the god Set in Egyptian religion. "Set was a sun-god of predynastic Egypt, but after his worshipers were defeated in battle, he gradually degenerated from being a beneficent deity into being a god of evil and darkness." But since I first learned about the Temple of Set I have looked the god Set up in so many reference books and I have found so many explanations. I have researched Egyptian religion in general and anything I could find on any of the gods associated with Set. What a mass of confusion. But then back that far in history there is very little written material to go with because no one had used writing and language as we know it today. The Egyptians are given credit with the first writing known in modern history. But that was a few thousand years after the god Set had first come on the scene in Egyptian Religion. This is all based on what I have read and as I said there are so many versions of all this.

Anyway, I think we know a lot more than ever, speaking for myself , about the LHP and other things that have been written about it.

Xeper,
Gerald Kendall I°


Subject:Definition-of Left Hand Path
Date:Wed, 14 Oct 1998 19:52:21 -0500
From:dharmabum
Organization:DarkLight

I can't remember if I mentioned this in a previous post or not but just in case.....I highly recommend the book Lords of the Left-Hand Path: A History of Spiritual Dissent by Stephen E. Flowers, Ph.D. I'm currently reading it and can't say enough about it. It has not only answered many questions but aroused in me many more (the very concept behind "Remanifest") The book is very well researched, great bibliographic references, unbiased, thorough, blahblahblah. It can be ordered from Runa-Raven Press, P.O.Box 557, Smithville, TX, 78957. Get their catalog, they've got some really interesting things published. Their specialty seems to be books dealing with Germanic traditions but they certainly aren't limited to that.

Xeper
Sean I°


Subject:LHP; yet Another Definition
Date:Thu, 15 Oct 1998 23:39:26 -0700
From:heathen Candelaria
Organization:

I've learned quite a bit about this whole LHP vs. RHP issue by reading the very well thought out posts on this list, and in a few books. I think I could recognize one or the other in a multiple choice question, and maybe even have an opinion on the matter BUT when I stop and think about how I would make the distinction in a very concise and simple way (as opposed to a historical or 'occult' way), I come up with this;

If I pick up a tool in my right hand, it is comfortable. This is how I was taught to use this tool since I was a child and this is how everyone else uses it. Easy, automatic and no thought or additional learning involved.

If I pick up the same tool with my left hand, it is suddenly uncomfortable, awkward and alien. This is not what I have been taught and it is (at first) inefficient. Hard to do I must focus my attention and be very intentional in what I do.

---------------
Now as a disclaimer, I know that there are leftys out there and in fact I've been told by more than a few people that once upon a time those left-handers were discouraged from using their dominent hand, in an effort to 'train' them into being right-handed, so that they were just like everyone else in a unified society. How is that for a spooky analogy?

ciao,
--h


Subject:LHP; yet Another Definition
Date:Fri, 16 Oct 1998 04:34:33 EDT
From:Jerabus
Organization:

In a message dated 10/16/98 1:33:42 AM Central Daylight Time, fishgirl writes:

<< If I pick up the same tool with my left hand, it is suddenly uncomfortable, awkward and alien. This is not what I have been taught and it is (at first) inefficient. Hard to do I must focus my attention and be very intentional in what I do. >>

Anything that is "awkard" or "alien" when speaking in a context that relates to what you've become accustomed to (from conditioning) is reason to stop and say to yourself, "Why am I feeling apprehensive about this, etc."? By recognizing that you are dealing with something that your subjective is not comfortable or familiar with, is to ultimately be able to recognize exactly what subjective perceptions might direct you in your life, and as a result, enable you to work on opening more doors to new discoveries.

Xeper,
Setian Chen


Finally, let me end this extract from Xepera-l with a post from Setnakt, Magus Don Webb, posted a couple of months earlier...

Subject:A question concerning the Temple's View of LHP????
Date:Thu, 13 Aug 1998 15:01:27 EDT
From:Setnakt
Organization:

Dear Jonathan,

>Moreover in his discussion of the degrees he states that the III° is the >"merging of the consciousness, indeed the personality, with that of the >Prince of Darkness himself." (Crystal Tablet p. 7).

The Left Hand Path is indeed the path of Individuation rather than union. The follower of the Via sinister seeks to exalt his or her independence and power.

What are we then to make of the paradoxical state of Being that the Priests of Set claim for themselves?

Let us consider what we can say about the God of Isolate Intelligence.

Firstly he is not the same thing as "intelligence" He struggles with the same fight that his Children do. Indeed Gifting others with consciousness was the method by which He remains separate.

If the universe were full of mechanical beings and only one magician of great power, the universe would simply become the body of that magician in enough time.

The presence of the Gift in Flesh is Necessary, it isn't something Set does on a whim.

Now let us consider the nature of man.

In those rare moments of Xeper, every human being has a profound sense of his or possibilities. He or she sees how each step they have taken has lead to where they are, and the vast unfilled Future spreads out before them. Here by thought and action he or she can move further from the life laid out for them by society and Nature, and toward a unique state of existence.

Alright that's simple enough. Set needs Free people to introduce and further the possibilities of Individuation, and we effected by that Working seek such moments.

Her we have two sorts of personality, both seeking the same goal of Cosmic freedom. We have Set, a general in the dark army, and we have those daring enough to fight on his side, the privates. (If it helps picture Set as George C. Scott, "Alright you worthless S.O.Bs I want you to hit the beach tomorrow and Xeper!"

Now let us consider the Priest or Priestess.

He or she has the same "marching orders" as anyone else on the Left Hand Path -- but the scope of his or her actions is different. Not only must they use the world of matter to make an honest buck, they come to have the Need to use the world of spirit to make more Setians. They encourage others to find what Works for them. They give the same orders, on an individual basis that Set gives on a Cosmic basis. Their consciousness, personality, and concerns are not those of a private now, they have begun to resemble the general. Their development has made them Set-like.

But this is not a merely a case of linear development. Because as they restructure their personalities to become Set-like they have the ability to sense and feel the great Working Set is performing on the Cosmos. They become participants in something larger than themselves, but without submitting to, or being subsumed in it. Their own genius and quest for freedom causes them to demonstrate the Cosmic Working by actions of their own choice.

This interaction with the principle of Isolate Intelligence does not make you part of that principle, but increases that principle within you as you increase it in the world.

Thus Set's goal of exporting Xeper to the Objective Universe is obtained.

Do What Thou Wilt Shall Be The Whole Of The Law. Great Is The Might Of Set, Greater Still He Through Us.

Xeper,

Don Webb V°
High Priest


Dear Balanone,

Explaining the Left Hand Path is in many ways tough. It avoids simplistic extremes, but revels in creative synthesis.

The Left Hand Path is an exercise in dynamic balance, wherein the outer language objects (like for example Discipline and Anarchy) are balanced in a unique synthesis for each person seeking her increasing Sovereignty. The steps seem easy enough -- breaking the links to language control systems by antinomianism, seeking to Create/Discover a true self, seeking to further that Self's influence in the world -- even beyond death -- but the practice must be individually determined.

I wrote a small book on the topic, Uncle Setnakt's Essential Guide to the Left Hand Path, which Runa-Raven Press is bringing out this year. (In fact the galleys are in my living room right now, since I wanted to edit them on New Year's Day of XXXIV). Here is a small part of the first chapter. I hope it doesn't look too clunky as I have pulled out of my ancient WP program . . .

Xeper,
Don Webb V°


An excerpt from Chapter One: The Nature and Goals of the Left Hand Path

Sovereignty and the Stages of Initiation

The Left Hand Path is a quest for Sovereignty. It seeks four types of rulership:

  • Rulership of the Inner World
  • Rulership of the Outer World
  • Royal Power in the Outer World
  • Royal Power in the Inner World

There are two types of rulership beyond this, which are Docetic Rulership and Formatory Rulership, both of which are beyond the scope of this book.

These types of rulership may be engaged in simultaneously, but in general they are gained in the order listed above. They require hard work, mental reflection, and magical prowess to obtain, and are sought both in this life and the after life. Let us examine each of these types of rulership, and then compare the concept of Sovereignty to the Right Hand Path concept of Submission.

Commanding Rulership of the Inner World

The basis of the Left Hand Path is that humans are but machines, but may in potential become gods. The first aspect that a human has to change is their inner world. They have been taught -- or rather acquired -- a series of randomly assorted thoughts, notions, and behaviors, most of which either actively hinder them, or at best lull them into a sleeplike state. These stultifying forces mainly group themselves into forces that oppose the body, the mind, the emotions, and the will. Each of these must be overcome.

The forces that oppose the body are those things which shorten life, remove energy, or dull the senses. Most recreational drugs, legal or illegal, fall in this category as does most fast food. Certain cultural attitudes, such as the forces that make many young women anorexic, are likewise of such a nature. The environmental factors that may surround people (from toxic wastes, to certain types of fluorescent lighting) also can weaken. The Initiate discovers these factors by life analysis and removes them from his of her life. In their place he or she will adopt a training program to make the body do what he or she wishes. The best sort of training is one that either increases self defense, such as the martial arts; or grace, such as dance.

The forces that oppose the mind are those habits of non-thinking that we have adopted, believing them to be thought. We read the newspapers, watch TV, and surf the Net, learning what to run through our minds in imitation of thought. The Initiate begins by limiting his media input, and by looking for media which challenge his existing thinking. Thus the liberal buys a conservative newspaper, the paranormal buff looks for the Skeptical Inquirer, and so forth. This deliberate challenging is a first step. The second step is thought training, learning to concentrate, learning to have certain thoughts at certain times of day, and above all increasing memory.

The forces that oppose the emotions are those habits of feeling generally created by external sources for economic reasons. We love to cry, laugh, or be scared at movies for which we will pay good money. Learning not to cry, laugh, or be scared at any media presentation is a beginning. The LHP Initiate has to overcome those phobias (e.g., fear of flying, fear of dogs, fear of flying dogs) that hinder him of her. She or he learns to invoke certain emotional states by careful self knowledge and control of symbol systems. The average human being follows his or her emotions, for the LHP initiate, emotions follow him or her.

The forces that oppose the will are those habits of blind obedience to external symbols and signals. The LHP initiate begins his or her quest not only by rejecting sentimental attachments to cultural norms, which most non-thinking people call "good," but by actively making fun of such attachments in Symbolic ways such as a Black Mass, a Black Seder, eating beef (if raised Hindu), and so forth. This antinomian stance is no different than the stances above, but it draws the most fire from the public, because it is a reminder to the sleepers that they could awaken, and such reminders are always painful. For those of us along the LHP, we often forget how painful the light was to our eyes when we first left the cave. After the Initiate has broken with the symbol systems that teach obedience, he or she must create his or her own cosmology. It is at this point when a unified, coherent picture of the universe begins to emerge from the four areas of body, mind, emotions, and will that the Initiate has the first taste of Rulership of the Inner World.

Rulership of the Inner World means a sense of reality and purpose in what one does. We have all had those moments of power, of knowing that we are alive, and that the world is meaningful. They are rare moments and usually we attribute them to an external trigger, perhaps even a mysterious or divine source. When we discover that we can have those moments at will, then we have begun the lifelong task of Rulership of the Inner World. The magical name of this task is the Quest for Meaning.

Rulership of the Outer World

When we have the first task well in hand, we are ready to remanifest its results in our lives. To rule the outer world, we have to know what we like, and what we have decided is good for us. We have to decide what we are willing to give up in terms of freedom and what we must sacrifice now for gain later.

Knowing what we like is a tougher question than most people realize. Our likes have been prepackaged and sold to us for many years. We are taught to feel anxiety if our likes are different from those of our neighbors. Discovering what one likes, standing up for one's right to like it, and pursuing that desire is among the most sacred of tasks in this second phase of Initiation.

Deciding what is good for us is likewise a tough question. Simple hedonist models had a certain heyday in the 1960s America, with consequent burn-out and health failures in the 1990s. The discovery of what pleasurable practices are likewise stimulating in ways to promote health, joy, and the acquisition of good memories is a personal art, that must be relearned throughout life. This field of endeavor called optimal psychology, led by such thinkers as Maslow and Csikszentmihalyi, is one that all Initiates should familiarize themselves with.

Deciding what to give up in terms of freedom is a question for all humans, Initiates or not. We like the security that a job brings, that insurance provides, that having a spouse can produce. Knowing how to achieve our dreams and still be safe is more than a balancing act for the Initiate. He or she must come up with a creative solution. For example if what the Initiate really likes is County and Western Music, they got a job at a recording studio, eventually they found their own band. This transformation of Play into something that both provides material comfort and changes the outer world is the Secret that most occult books would never reveal. Through creative synthesis of the economic realities and opportunities and a clear understanding of one's desires can this type of power be obtained.

Knowing what we must sacrifice now for what we wish to gain later comes from an understanding of what we want, and the application of reason. If we want money and a nice house, we get a good education that may take every dime we can scrape up. If we want some understanding of the culture and art of the world, we make sure that education has a liberal dose of the liberal arts. If we want to learn to be self sufficient, we may take a year and work our way around the world, living on hard work and wits. Choosing to do the difficult thing is made harder in that the world does not support such decisions, and our "friends" will counsel against difficult choices. Occultists in particular are bad to know, because if they have any magical skill they use it to get themselves out of bad situations -- and despite their gifts, accomplish nothing. The secret of sacrifice of self to self is a magical one. Beyond the obvious rational truth that preparation and hard work pay off, there is a subtle magical truth: consciously putting yourself in difficult situations to obtain a magical Force of Being. If you really want the Force, you must do very difficult things. The simple act of doing what is hard merely to gain power over yourself, creates a true Power. As it continues in your life, you will have less need of ritual, and will see more and more that things come about simply because you speak of them.

This cultivation of rational foresight plus healthy self love gives the LHP initiate an idea of what goals to aim for. As she goes after these goals she obtains strength of purpose, which in turn will be applied to greater goals. This never-ending pursuit that pleases and informs the self by making the self ever more powerful in the world is called the Acquisition of Strength.

Royal Command of the Outer World

Human beings have two desires that lead them to their third task, the making of other human beings better. The first is a weak and vain desire that RHP creeds strike out against, which is the desire to show off. The second is a desire that generally makes us good herd animals, the desire to help out other people. This second desire is generally derided by the more immature forms of the Left Hand Path. By understanding and accepting these desires, we can not only engage in the pleasures that come from them, but also transform ourselves into yet more Sovereign beings.

The desire to show off is genially used by forces outside of ourselves for their gain. They sell us a snazzy car, a bigger computer, or nicer clothes than our neighbors'. Good primates that we are, we fall for this trick everytime (yet more proof that man is machine). But we can use this desire to our advantage by learning to show off displays of wisdom and virtue, that will attract a certain type of individual. This is a good first step in that it takes rulership of the desire away from an external force, and places it with an internal one. But it leads to the guru game -- lots of followers that admire us, while we bask in a wisdom that is small. So if we decide that we will make ourselves wiser and more powerful so that we will have more to Teach, we can indulge in the follower game all our lives. However this leads to a second dilemma. As we get better, we also have to help others get better so that we have people to talk to, and they in turn begin to desire followers (having the same weakness and vanity that we do). Slowly we change our desire to show off into a desire for peers, and thus we create schools that perpetuate our thoughts.

The desire to help out people comes from the refinement of the emotions. Most people begin the Left Hand Path in a state of disillusionment and rebellion. They want to be boss rather then be bossed. (In fact everyone is on the LHP for two weeks when they are 17.) The emotional states here are anger and greed and jealousy. This dark side of human nature is where the Good will come from, the Shadow is the Initiator, but as self power is gained, so comes the capacity for a non-sentimental love of others. The LHP Initiate, recognizing as viruses personal strength and self knowledge, does what he or she can to help others create the states. If this emotion is not carefully watched, it can devolve into a dangerous sentimentality that causes us to make things too easy on those who come after us, but if it is carefully refined in the light of one's own past experiences, it can become an igniting force, -- a spark that awakens the Gifted but sleeping members of mankind.

If these two desires are carefully blended, balanced, and brought to bear with the hard-won wisdom of the first two tasks, the Initiate has a great magnetic power. He or she can take the circumstances of others around them and turn them into an endless process of refinement. He can help his students get over the death of a friend, she can help her employees cope with changing working conditions, and so forth. Everything that happens around them becomes an opportunity for those who would be better to get better. While this great benefit is being visited upon others, the Initiate in merely considering what to do or say to his friends, followers, or fellow travelers is refining his or her own thoughts and moods. By initiating others, self initiation is furthered -- both by articulation and seeing whether or not one's theories work in the world. The magical name for this state is the Practice of Alchemy.

Royal Power in the Inner World

Consider what sort of things have been obtained by this point. By now the Initiate has gained control of his or her environment. They can place themselves in such situations as lead to a productive ordering of their inner world (they have learned how to Learn). They can choose those activities in the world that cause their inborn talents and strengths to flourish (they have learned how to Grow). They have learned how to Teach others the first two steps by word and example (they have learned how to Initiate). Now they can take on the inner darkness and make it glow with its own self-created light.

Human beings are besieged with four self-fears. After they have met their outward-directed fears (fear of want, fear of violence, fear of abandonment, and so forth), the inward-directed fears remain. The inward-directed fears are

  1. Fear of the unknown impulse (or the Imp of the Perverse),
  2. Fear of the future,
  3. Fear of wasted time, and
  4. Fear of the unverifiable.
Each of these fears stops action, sours life, and limits one's sovereignty. Let us identify each in turn, and explain how the fourth phase of Initiation gives opportunity to overcome these fears.

Fear of the unknown impulse

How many times has your life taken a certain turn, based on no clear reason? You decided to go into a store on an impulse, and met your spouse. You decided to pick up a slip of paper off the floor, and found your college major. You disagreed with a family member over the Thanksgiving day menu, and wound up with a fight that scarred you both for life.

The Left Hand Path magician comes to realize that such "slips" and seeming "accidents" are the key to power. But this does not mean that he or she believes that every event is fated. It means that learning to control one's life rationally becomes a talisman to effect control of the Hidden aspects of life as well. Thus magicians will enter a phase where none of their actions are random or accidental, and learn to watch themselves as a great source of Mystery, from which even more being can be gained.

Fear of the future

We are compelled to act, but not know the consequences of our actions. As humans we deal with this with a form of auto-hypnosis called cognitive dissonance. We learn to justify our choices. So each movement towards freedom actually becomes a movement toward binding one's life on the outer-directed notion of one's history. Given the abilities that have been obtained by this stage of being, the Initiate can now actually abandon cognitive dissonance and take full responsibility for the future by admitting that it is unknown -- it is the Great Darkness out of which all things are manifested. The Initiate armed with their inner strengths can learn to act in such a manner that will make them feel good about their choices. This simple sounding state is one of the most difficult to accomplish, but when it comes a certain power -- a certain confidence -- flows from the Initiate that causes all around them to follow him or her.

Fear of wasted time

By the time in our lives that we have reached the fourth phase of Initiation, we are already experiencing the dimming of youth. We have begun to hear Death's snigger rather plainly, and we are apt to be caught into the fear of wasted time. Do I spend my time learning the Runes, starting a new business, solving my family dilemmas? The experiences of the three types of Sovereignty gained so far must be used now to Learn the life lesson, that if you continue to act with an Initiatory attitude all life experiences can be used in the Quest for Sovereignty. The choice is not finding the right thing to do, but finding the right attitude that informs your actions.

Fear of the unverifiable

All humans on any religious or philosophical path fear that in the end there is no "proof" of what is believed. The Quest for Immortality might be a unicorn-hunt, the Quest for Sovereignty might be just good psychology for motivating ourselves for years. But this fourth stage of the Quest for Sovereignty gives us the test of our ideas. As we begin to unlock the darkness within, our "accidents" and "slips" begin to take us to places where the Truths of our lives can be uncovered. As we exude confidence we attract the type of Seeker that wants to put forth what we have, so we have a living laboratory to see if our ideas work. As we discover the nature of attitude, we begin to Understand what has gone on in our lives, and who we are -- we forgive ourselves for wasted time, and learn how to make the remaining decades of our lives powerful and joyous. Unlike a Right Hand Path prophet who must imagine that he hears a voice in a burning bush, we hear our own voice explaining our lives to us.

Throughout mankind's history, certain men and women have obtained this level of Initiation, and have been, are, and will be the true Black Order, who by their Strivings bring new impulses to the Earth while living and beyond, and thus effect the Work of the Prince of Darkness in creating the historical conditions needed for certain qualities to come to exist in mankind such as bravery, curiosity, love, and contemplation. This Order has many outward names, but only one Essence.

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