Satanism, Tantrism and the Left-Hand Path
Modern Satanism is, in the West, essentially precisely what one certain form of Tantrism is in the East, i.e. the primary form of anti-nomian religious and moral dissent from mainstream herd practice. This is characterized in BOTH by
a preference for the physical and material over the purely spiritual; physical pleasures over physical denial, and the fully acceptable use of magic for selfish worldly purposes. This pretty much describes those elements common to the "Left Hand Path" in both Western (LaVeyan and Setian) and Eastern (Tantric) usage of that term today. So clearly the Left-hand Path encompasses both Modern Satanism and one of the forms of Tantrism.
Tantrism can be found in both Hindu and Buddhist varieties. Hindu Tantric practice is generally divided amoung two paths; The Vamamarga (or vamacara or vamachara) or "Left Hand Path" or red tantra and the Dakshinachara or "Right Hand Path" or white tantra. The most obvious but not the only distinction between these two is that LHP Tantra involves actual sexual practice as part of its rituals while RHP tantra uses non-sexual yoga practices instead. It is
interesting to note that in common usage in India today, the term "Tantra" has come to mean "black magic" while in the West that term has come to refer mostly to hippie-like "sacred sex" yoga classes. Experts say both interpretations tend to cloud the full picture of what Tantra is fully about.
There is little question that Tantra (both Buddhist and Hindu) arose in part as an anti-nomian revolt against restrictive mainstream Vedic, Buddhist and even Muslim morality. So those who would say it has nothing to do wth taboo-breaking are quite obviously wrong.
Prior to LaVey, no one that I know of ever applied the term "Left-Hand Path" to themself or to anyone else in a positive way in the West. As far as I can tell, the term first appears as a perjorative in Western literature in Helena Blavatsky's "The Secret Doctrines" of 1888 in which she uses it as a blanket term for bad-guy, selfish, materialistic, evil black magicians.
Blavatsky postulated that from the days of Atlantis there have been evil adepts of the Left-Hand Path who used their Black Magic for self-serving, materialistic and destructive purposes as contrasted with their opponents, the adepts of the Right-Hand Path who only pursue alturistic magic for the betterment of others. She obviously picked up (and partly misunderstood) the term "Left-hand Path" during her long study in India because the term does not
appear in her earlier work, "Isis Unveiled" at all. In subsequent writings, Blavatsky's disciples have specifically made this moralitistic judgemental error in understanding of the basis of Vamacara or Left-hand Path segment of Tantrism. You can see this clearly in two cases:
It is pretty safe to assume that LaVey read Blavatsky and rejected almost all of her philosophy even to the point of recognizing himself and his outlook as the villain of her cosmology. When she shuddered about selfish Black Magician of the Left-hand Path, LaVey probably smiled and recognized himself in that
role. This was apparently the extent of Tantrism's influence on the Satanic Bible and LaVey's other works, since LaVey never mentioned it. But even badly filtered through Blavatsky's misinterpretation, the essential truth of what the Left Hand Path is all about was recognizable to Lavey: indulgence instead of abstinence, pleasure instead of pain, selfishness instead of altruism, flesh instead of spirit.
But, while Vamachara Tantra and Modern Satanism are both Left Hand Path, there is an essential difference between the two that keeps Tantra from being strictly speaking, "Satanic." Modern Satanism expects its adherants to be their own gods without any need for personal instruction or permission from any guru to be a "Satanist." Vamachara Tantra however is not so individualistic and, in fact, strictly requires its initiates to study under the tutelage of a
Tantrik guru. Tantra teaches that performance of the rites of Vamachara without the oversight of a guru will not only be ineffectual but warns that it might even be dangerous. So while both Vamachara Tantra and Modern Satanism are both LHP, Tantra cannot truly be said to be "Satanic" per se in the sense that Satanists use the term.
Clearly there are some people who simply must have a living, breathing guru to give them permission and assistance to follow their path. They might have certain Satanic ideas but their need to grovel beneath a master (or mistress) teacher makes them better suited to study Setianism or Tantra rather than
Right-hand Path - From time immemorial, in all countries of the earth, among all races of men, there have been existent two opposing and antagonistic schools of occult or esoteric training, the one often technically called the Path of Light, and the other the Path of Darkness or of the Shadows. These two paths likewise are much more commonly called the right-hand path and the left-hand path, and although these are technical names in the rather shaky
occultism of the Occident, the very same expressions have prevailed all over the world, and are especially known in the mystical and esoteric literature of Hindustan. The right-hand path is known in Sanskrit writings by the name dakshina-marga, and those who practice the rules of conduct and follow the manner
of life enjoined upon those who follow the right-hand path are technically known as dakshinacharins, and their course of life is known as dakshinachara. Conversely, those who follow the left-hand path, often called Brothers of the Shadow, or by some similar epithet, are called vamacharins, and their school
or course of life is known as vamachara. An alternative expression for vamachara is savyachara. The white magicians or Brothers of Light are therefore dakshinacharins, and the black magicians or Brothers of the Shadow, or workers of spiritual and intellectual and psychical evil, are therefore vamacharins.
To speak in the mystical language of ancient Greece, the dakshinacharins or Brothers of Light pursue the winding ascent to Olympus, whereas the vamacharins or Brothers of the Left-hand follow the easy but fearfully perilous path
leading downwards into ever more confusing, horrifying stages of matter and spiritual obscuration. The latter is the faciles descensus averno (Aeneid, 6.126) of the Latin poet Virgil. Woe be to him who, refusing to raise his soul to the sublime and cleansing rays of the spiritual sun within him, places his feet upon the path which leads downwards. The warnings given to students of
occultism about this matter have always been solemn and urgent, and no esotericist should at any moment consider himself safe or beyond the possibilities of taking the downward way until he has become at one with the divine monitor within his own breast, his own inner god.
And another Theosophist in the same vein goes on:
Left-hand Path or path of shadows, those taking it called in theosophy brothers of the shadow. One of the two fundamental paths or courses in nature, the left-hand path or path of matter in contrast to the right-hand path or path of spirit. Shadow signifies matter, for spirit may be considered to be pure
energy, and matter, although essentially crystallized spirit, may be looked upon as the shadow world or vehicular world in which the energy, spirit, or pure light works. Matter is but a generalizing term, comprised of an almost infinite number of degrees of increasing ethereality from the grossest physical substance, or absolute matter, up to the most ethereal or spiritualized substance, providing the logic of calling this the path of shadows. Those on this path are often called black magicians in contrast to white magicians or sons of light who follow the path of self-renunciation, self-conquest, and an expansion of the heart, mind, and consciousness in love and service for all that lives.
A Sanskrit equivalent for the left-hand path is pratyeka-yana [from pratyeka every one for himself +yana path]. Those who follow this path are also called vamacharins, and their school or course of life is known as vamachara or savyachara. They follow the easy but perilous path leading downwards into ever more confusing, horrifying stages of matter and final spiritual obscuration and personal annihilation.
After death the lower classes of those on the left-hand path become the terrestrial or earthly elementaries. Cunning, low, vindictive, and seeking to retaliate their sufferings upon imbodied humanity, they become, until final annihilation, astral vampires, and therefore a constant psychic and even physical menace to those who open the doors of communication with them.
The higher classes of the brothers of the shadow, those who may be called spiritual sorcerers, mentioned in the New Testament as entities of spiritual wickedness, have a longer life period than have the lower classes. These spiritual sorcerers, depending upon the degree of unfolding of spiritual energy
which they have attained and prostituted to evil uses, may even endure till the end of the globe manvantara, reincarnating themselves at repeated, rapid intervals; but their pathway is downwards into still deeper ranges of matter, and involves a progressively greater loss of inner spiritual light reaching them from their spiritual monad.
"Multitudes of human beings are unconsciously treading the Path of the Shadows, and in comparison with these multitudes it is relatively only a few who self-consciously lead and guide with subtle and wicked intelligence this army of unsuspecting victims of Maya. The Brothers of the Shadow are often highly
intellectual men and women, frequently individuals with apparent great personal charm, and to the ordinary observer, judging from their conversation and daily works, are fully as well able to 'quote scripture' as are the Angels of Light!" (Occult Glossary, by G. de Purucker ,p22).
The warnings given to students of occultism about this matter have always been very solemn and urgent, and no one should at any moment consider himself safe or beyond the possibilities of taking the downward way until he has become at one with the divine monitor within, his own inner god. At every step, with every morn, at every choice, we face the right- or the left-hand path and are forced to choose. [ from http://www.theosociety.org/pasadena/etgloss/la-li.htm ]
Tantric Yoga attains enlightenment through the union and balance of male and female energy, either in sexual intercourse (Red Tantra - the left hand path), or in non-sexual union (White Tantra - the right hand path). http://www.kundaliniyoga.org/kyintro.html
Many modern commentators define tantrik practice -- Hindu tantrik practice that is -- in terms of the so-called Right Hand (dakshinachara) and Left Hand(vamachara) rites they perform. Under this attempt at classification, the latter belong to schools in which rites such as the panchatattva have a place; sexuality being a core part of these rituals. So-called Right Handed Schools are said to use either ritual substitutes or to eschew these practices completely.
Vimalananda was an adept at the left-hand path of Tantra known as Vama Marga; such people are rare. Most Tantrics choose the safer, more conservative right hand path called Dakshina Marga. Dakshina is meant for those who seek steady spiritual progress at low risk; Vama is described as "fast, intense,
Hindu "right hand" and "left hand" path tantra yoga Best known to Westerners are the several strands of tantra yoga in which worship services take the form of a sexual ritual featuring slow, non-orgasmic intercourse as a prelude to an experience of the divine. This broad category of tantric sex ritualism, which derives from the pre-Hindu religions of Shaktiism
and Shaivism, has in turn produced two schools of practice: The "right hand path" is one in which the ritual is more or less seen as meditational, or a monogamous rite, or may be allied to the yoni puja of Shaktiism; while the "left hand path" is one in which dozens -- or hundreds -- of couples may engage in the ritual sex act at the same time, sometimes following the lead of a pair of teachers. This latter path is the one that has earned tantra yoga the reputation of being orgiastic and even "satanic" among thse who are ignorant of its history or prejudiced against sexuality.
Right and left, according to Stekel, are to be understood in dreams in an ethical sense. "The right-hand path always signifies the way to righteousness, the left-hand path the path to crime. Thus the left may signify homosexuality, incest, and perversion, while the right signifies marriage, relations with a
In North India, Vajrayana Buddhism is also sort of considered evil "witch" magic. The "Hevajra" text for example contains spells to defeat enemies and compel love. "Ganacakra" rituals were performed in dangerous or weird places like cremation-ground at night. They borrowed the "kapalika" priests affinity for human skull cups etc.
The Kaulas (Shaktas or worshippers of the Goddess) and the Aghori (Fierce) and Bhairava-Kapalika (Sull-Bearing) are some of the cults of the Hindu Tantric tradition. These cults reputedly go about Naked, perform Sexual-Rituals, Eat Meat and Drink Wine and also meditate on dead corpses, eat human flesh and