Lords of the Left-Hand Path: Forbidden Practices and Spiritual Heresies by Stephen E. Flowers
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Contrary to what you may have heard the left hand path is not about evil. In fact it is the ultimate in individuality. The purpose of the left hand path is to deify oneself and or recognize yourself as your own god. The goal is to survive as an individual entity sometimes even outside of nature. This can be done using a variety of means. Usually the means are antimonian which rebels against the standards of the community in which the magician lives. This could be performed by eating forbidden food and breaking all sorts of taboos. Antimonian actions can be classed as two ways. Dionysian and Apolloian. Dionysian means going over board and excess especially in terms of drinking, eating and sexual behavior. Apolloian is denial of pleasure which is more in line with the right hand path but could be used in the left hand path. The right hand path which is what Christianity, Wicca, Islam and Judaism would fall under tends to aim for annihilating the self identity and merging it with a larger identity.
Edred Thorson does a bang em up job of covering the left hand path which starts during the prehistoric times under the far eastern philosophies and kingdom. The Vedic priests invented their own gods and worshiped them. Interesting to note is that Far Eastern society had a left and right hand path but the right hand path accepted the left hand path right a long side them. Their practices included many meditations and chakra techniques along side many sexual magic techniques.
Going through Western European History we get most of our idea from the Indo_Europeans especially with regard to Iranian mithraism. There idea of a good god and an evil god filtered through the Norse culture and Greek and Roman culture after they learned it from the Iranians. Thing is the Iranians did not really have a left hand.
The author next discusses Gnostic philosophy. According to the Gnostic Christians the God who created this world was an evil god and that above him was a good god who wanted to liberate mankind from the material prison. Satan was sent down to liberate mankind. After all it was the serpent who had Adam and Eve eat from the tree of knowledge. The Gnostic philosophy affected Sufi Islam , Yezidi fire worship and Manicheism. The Cathars who came off the Bogamils were a prime example of gnostic Christianity.
The idea of the devil has under gone many transformations. First he was evil and then he evolved into an idea of rebellion and freedom. The rebel would become a symbol of enlightenment. The left hand path would also go through many transformations. The author discusses many ideologies and personalities. Ranging from the founders of communism all the way to Anton Lavey. That is a whole lot of stuff.
Some of the modern day philosophers and magicians that are discussed is Aleister Crowley, Helena Bratslavsky and the Theosophists,Gudjieff, Ouspenski and Marquise De Sade. The author dedicates the largest chapter to Anton La Vey and his Church of Satan and Michael Aquino who founded the "Temple of Set" Michael Aquino and Anton LaVey are the most poignant example of being Master of the Left Hand Path.
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