I was asked the other day by a friend if I follow the left or right hand path? If you unfamiliar with these terms, they we’re theoretical constructs created by the Russian 19th century occultist and researcher Madame Helena Blavatsky. She traveled all across Asia and spent a lot of time in India and Tibet where she got to know occultists personality and witness their magical practices.
The Left Hand Path
The Left hand path is the traditional belief that the individual Self can be akin to God through spiritual insight. They reject the idea of needing to accept or obey a higher power. If they believe in a higher power, left handers view their relationship with it as a partnership, or an alliance which does not require subservience.
Blavatsky associated the left hand path with evil and darkness. Being left-handed has traditionally been associated with the negative. People who happened to be left handed were discriminated against and forced to write with their right hand. Homosexuals were referred to as “left-handed” while in Protestant nations, Roman Catholics were called “left-footers”. In cartoons the devil sits on your left shoulder while the angel sits on your right.
Also there is a relevant bible verse that talks about this dichotomy:
And he shall separate them one from another,as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats.And he shall set the sheep on his right,but the goats on his left. – Matthew 25: 32-33
In India Blavatsky witnessed the Tantric practices. Tantra is a set of esoteric Indian traditions with roots in Hinduism and later Buddhism (which is a separate Dharma formed from Hinduism). Tantra is often divided by its practitioners into two different paths: dakshinachara and vamachara, translated as Right-Hand Path and Left-Hand Path respectively. Vamachara is process of breaking societal taboos. Those who practiced Vamachara engaged in ritual sex, consumed meat, drank alcohol and hung out in graveyards. All of these activities contradicted the moral beliefs of Hindu society, but those who practice Vamachara don’t care. They want to break societies rules. They want to step out of the restraints of morality. This is why the left hand path get’s a lot of flack for being degenerate and crazy. Most followers of the left hand path especially in the west do not engage in dangerous or degenerate acts.
People in the west usually associate the left hand path with Satanism in it’s many forms. Such as Levayan Satanism and self-deification. The belief that you are your own God. In western witchcraft those who are “left hand” practice black magick which utilizes curses and hexes. They may worship Demons or dark deities and attempt to summon and use Demons or other darker spirits. In their practice they are not afraid to use animal bones or blood to aid with spells.
Followers of the left hand path typically believe that there no such thing as a selfless act. Fulfilling one’s desire is acknowledged to be selfish, at the least reaping an individual sense of satisfaction. Altruism is considered self-deception, created and fostered by conventional religions. The left hand is very individualistic. It is the ultimate pursuit of the self.
The Right Hand Path
The Right Hand Path is associated with light, good, morality, and enlightenment. The right hand traditionally believes in the ultimate goal of uniting with the creator by believing in and obeying the will and laws of the creator. They believe in determining good from evil via a universal moral code. Also, they believe in the concepts of karma or divine judgement based on moral decisions made during one’s lifetime, and the acceptance of social norms. Most mainstream religions such as the Abrahamic religions, traditional Hinduism, Buddhism and new age creations such as Wicca would fall in the right hand path category. The right hand is all about control and order. Following and serving.
My response to my friend was a mixture of both. I follow neither completely and consider myself to be on the grey path, I like to balance the forces of light and darkness inside of me. I use both light and dark energies because as a human I have a mixture of both positive and negative emotions I can not ignore. For those who can not hex, can not heal. Darkness and Light are two sides of the same coin. You can’t deny one, for it always follows the other. Yin and Yang. You can’t have control without chaos.
In truth, characteristics of both the left and right hand exist within all spiritual traditions, just like how there is a little “yin” in the light side of the circle and a little “yang” in the dark side of the circle.