For some magick-workers, the so-called “Left-Hand Path” is considered a path to avoid. When I first started studying the occult and witchcraft, I came upon several very negative opinions of the Left-Hand path, and was told to steer clear, and to focus instead on magick used for good. I brushed it all off in the beginning thinking that I would, of course, follow the path of good, but I gradually started to become more curious and ask questions. I decided I wanted to learn more about what the Left-Hand path truly means in regards to magickal practice, and why it is allegedly “bad”. I started by looking up comparisons between the two paths:
Left-Hand vs. Right-Hand
For those unfamiliar with the concept, the Left-Hand path and Right-Hand path refer to a dichotomy between two opposing philosophies. It is tradition for the Left-Hand path to be considered malicious - associated with “black magick”, and the Right-hand path to be its benevolent counterpart - “white magick”. However, it’s a little bit more than that, and here are the core concepts you should understand:
1. Right-Hand Path
It is commonly thought that the Right-Hand path (RHP) represents a more collectivist mindset, and is adherent to certain characteristics. There is a sort of moral code, and belief in forms of judgement such as the famous Three-fold Law and/or karma.
2. Left-Hand Path
In contrast, the Left-Hand path (LHP) is known for rejection of collectivist mindsets - preferring to question authority and reject the status quo. Followers of this path are said to embrace more “deviant” practices, such as sex magick. Satanism is very commonly associated with the LHP.
The Roots of the Terminology
We find the LHP was first noticed by Western occultists in their observation of Tantric practices. "Vamacara" is the word that describes it, and this citation outlines what that means:
“VÄmÄcÄra is a Sanskrit term meaning "left-handed attainment" and is synonymous with "Left-Hand Path" or "Left-path" (Sanskrit: VÄmamÄrga). It is used to describe a particular mode of worship or 'spiritual practice' (Sanskrit: sadhana) that are not only 'heterodox' (Sanskrit: NÄstika) to standard Vedic injunction, but extreme in comparison to the status quo. These practices are often generally considered to be Tantric in orientation. The converse term to Vamacara is Dakshinachara (Sanskrit) (glossed 'Right-Hand Path') which is used to refer not only to 'orthodox' (Sanskrit: Ästika) sects but to modes of spirituality that engage in spiritual practices that not only accord with Vedic injunction but are generally agreeable to the status quo. That said, left-handed and right-handed modes of practice may be evident in both orthodox and heterodox schools of Dharmic Traditions such as Hinduism, Jainism, Sikhism and Buddhism and is a matter of taste, culture, proclivity, initiation, sadhana and Dharmic 'lineage'
The reason for the Satanist association with LHP comes from Anton LaVey during his establishment of the LaVeyan Satanism in the 1960s. Because it rejected traditional Christian morality, it was labelled as a form of the Left-Hand Path. In his 'The Satanic Bible', he wrote that "Satanism is not a white light religion; it is a religion of the flesh, the mundane, the carnal - all of which are ruled by Satan, the personification of the Left Hand Path."
The Left Hand of Tantra offers a more in-depth look at this concept.
But is LHP “evil”?
It depends on who you are talking to, but very objectively, LHP does not seem evil on its own, especially when you really consider its Tantric roots. It is all a matter of how we perceive it. There are several persuasions in existence that state that the end goals of both paths are ultimately the same - to achieve balance, and that the unity/usage of both sides (or hands, in this case), would be necessary to obtain said balance - similar to principles of Yin/Yang: both exist within each other, and they cannot exist without each other. LHP is one half of the whole coin.
That really is the short-form. There are still challenges and debates about what these concepts truly mean, and they are different for each individual. It is entirely up to you to take initiative and do your own research. Presumably, you’re on your spiritual path for a reason, and only you can decide what’s best for you. In the end, I do not believe LHP is evil, just that it is a part of our whole existence, and while it may seem dark or deviant to some, it still may be essential to understand in our search for existential equilibrium.