Why My Left Hand Path Should Look Nothing Like Yours
Over the course of my very fledgling Left Hand Path adventure, my endless explorations of myths and mysteries, I have found that certain cyclical peaks and valleys seem to be foundational and sometimes accidentally universal amongst self-identified LHP seekers. I personally found my way onto the Left Hand Path via a long commitment to Alchemy, which I have been studying and applying to my life in various ways for almost 10 years. I experimented with spagyrics and various forms of herbalism touted by Paracelsus and Rudolph Steiner. I applied myself to meditations made popular by the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, Theosophy and the Rosencrutians. I sought connection with the Unity, I demonstrated passion and perseverance, I kept faith in the idea that my Nigrado or “Blackening by fire” stage would bear out the answers I needed.
I received mystical dreams and visions which confirmed that I was succeeding. Things were becoming uncomfortable in a spiritual sense, but in a way that indicated I was meant to go further. Interrogating myself constantly was beginning to yield the weaknesses that are oft promised in Alchemical literature. And I believe that comfort in discomfort, that peace in coming face to face with defect which is the nature of the Work, set the stage for the initial shock that drew me to the Left.
That is the essence of the Left. The cultivation of pure consciousness. Whether one identifies themselves as Vamachara, or in one of the many strains of Nordic traditions, as anti-cosmic or simply isolate, we lone wolves seek the same goal. For me this goal was a very new and taboo idea all on its own. I had been deeply indoctrinated into the idea of blending my soul with the high power of my upbringing, and though it was considered sacraligeous in my Roman Catholic faith, I believed in reincarnation. Thus, my soul’s evolution was in service to that same higher power. Committing myself to daily meditation and contemplation on claiming the right to evolve my consciousness separately from Jehovah became my first initiation. And it was a shock; much like when lightning strikes, I felt a transformative crack splinter my old awareness, allowing me to rise from it and walk away better for it.
From there, I went on applying the same investigative skills I’ve always used in service of the Work to understanding all the various interpretations of this new path, and how that either helped or hindered my journey.
In order to advance along this path rather than overcome the obstacles of sin, I would need to break taboos. But what taboos? What does a taboo actually consist of? Does that mean going against what is most commonly practiced in your surrounding community? In the modern world, is that community defined as who you live amongst? Or who you spend time with? Who you chat with online? Or your family? In historical Vamachara, the traditional taboos such as eating meat, drinking alcohol and engaging in profane sexual practices (otherwise known as the 5 Ms) were integral. But in today’s world, what does that look like? And as some one who already at this point in my journey identified as a non-binary gender-fluid person, I had to ask myself: how would I go about defining taboos without just making them reactionary polar opposites to whatever I was identifying as the standard? I was already familiar with the nature of the desire to apply binary thought to most things. And I can attest to the fact that swinging between polar opposites is not frequently the quickest path to illumination.
The first debate of many was: should I or should I not attempt to join a sinister group? Would being amongst others attempting to do the same thing be helpful? The only way to know would be to research all active groups and see if I needed to apply…
So I did just that. I had no problem joining a group somewhere far away, like Finland or Brazil, so long as I could participate online and carry out solitary rituals. My willingness was unconditional, and that became a very important red flag. In the process of trying to achieve “correct access” to the nature of the antinomian goal, I was in effect practicing the same sort of abandon that had for so long chained me to Jehovah. I consulted with various magician acquaintances I’d made, I applied to some groups and I received instructions from some on how to go about preparing myself to enter. But at all times I practiced a great deal of discretion. That was new to me, and possibly a long overdue bit of wisdom. But the pull of community is strong and groupthink is often blinding. Though I was enticed by these invitations, I turned them down. Ultimately I realized it was more important for me to travel alone, at least for this part of my practice. So strong in me was the desire to please others that I decided it would be more taboo to seek my own language and spiritual wisdom as I grew my Left Hand understanding.
I did, however, choose to make an effort to get to know other sinister-identified individuals online. Which was interesting. As I stated in my opening paragraph, I have found certain aspects of the Left Hand awakening to be universal. Many people leave oppressive Christian backgrounds to seek their own truth, although I have found this often sounds similar no matter what Doctrinaire practice a person leaves. Much in the ways of LaVey/Aquino, I find people experimenting with both atheistic and theistic approaches to obliterating their taboos. I also see many, many, many vicious arguments about which path is correct, which key occult figure was or was not an acceptable form of fraud, and oftentimes accusations of illegitimacy. If there’s one thing about the Left Hand Path that I appreciate most, it is that I have given myself permission to ignore most of this. I won’t call these squabbles nonsense and I won’t call them hypocritical, because in all honesty I don’t care. Still, when I try to explain the politics of the scene to a non occultist they often laugh and use those very terms.
Calls for any kind of uniformity leave me bored and usually looking for the door. In that way I identify strongly with Austin Osman Spare. I have found that in many ways I do not measure up to most Sinister people’s ideas about what is Left Hand. Whereas most Left Hand practitioners seek solitude by moving away from populous areas, I live in New York City. Many practicioners seem to have a uniform of black attire (also the local uniform here in nyc), which I love, but I chose to attire myself what I consider to be terrifyingly colorful and often absurd clothing. I do this because it is taboo for me, and the surrealist factor speaks to a strong streak of discordianism in my Work. I’ve noticed, too, a powerful thread of what I would loosely classify as libertarianism leaning heavily into nationalism. Whether that is because of the important and influential occult works by people like Otto Rahn, Nikolas Shreck or groups like the Vril Society or the Order of the Nine Angels, I’m not sure. And though I do value the contributions made to the occult sphere by these people and groups I’ve listed, I frequently cannot identify with them beyond the mystical because to me they are all rooted in a patriarchal paradigm. And for me, that is far too closely related to the dogmatic practices of organized religion. Some have accused me of being a social justice warrior, maybe because I’m queer and have opinions about things that directly affect me. To me, there is nothing taboo in nostalgia or in longing for things to be “as they once were”. I look to be informed by history, but that is as far as it goes. I don’t wish to relive it. That goes for cultural nostalgia as well. I attempt to understand my personal cultural history, and yet I am constantly vigilant for significantly precious feelings. Feelings like blinding pride or other hubristic attachments.
I am not attempting to squash the growth of others; we all do what we must to be free. I recognize that for some (and myself) that involves playing out sick/horrific psychodramas. Some require even more actualized forms of taboo behavior to shock themselves awake. But what I am interested in is personal identity and how, in the antinomian pursuit, it is divine. When you dive deep to inventory what is truly you, and what is just programming… Is what is on anyone else’s plate of any consequence to you? Is it even interesting? How willing are you to just focus on your own ouroboros? Can you exist without being reactionary in order to address the root of those reactionary desires? Can you actually separate yourself?
These are things I often ask myself. I am still in my alchemical journey, calcifying as I go. In the meantime, I’m going to keep my eyes (mostly) on my own plate, and do my own damn Work.