At a certain point in my exploration of and attempted living of a Left-Hand Path esoteric life, my morality was suspended, but this was not a liberated state where I moved unencumbered by external strictures. It was a place without life meaning or significance.
I was caught in the grip of adversarial paralysis.
Some LHP-ers live hedonistic, countercultural lifestyles, turning their upbringing, the norms of the culture they live in and the dominant religion on their heads. They take the above as a guide and do the opposite or a diametrical offshoot of it … but then consider themselves “free” in that adversarial state, without realising that they may have struck off the path and written their own map but their True North is still the things they often despise so vehemently, namely mainstream culture and established religion. If you define yourself in opposition to A Thing you are not free as you still require The Thing to determine your opposition.
If the majority stand BY a wall but you decide to lean AGAINST the wall, you are still in a position relative to the wall. In my mind, the point was to negate the wall entirely and see how freely I could move without any self-imposed limitation (bearing in mind that I live within a world of limits, perceptively anyhow).
If you live in a culture where drinking is “the norm” then choosing to drink absinthe (a common LHP-er’s tipple) is neither original nor daring, it is merely imbibing another alcoholic liquid, albeit one with a romantic backstory. In addition to a pleasant high, the best you might get out of it is to live the lives vicariously of all the poets and social fringe dwellers known to imbibe in the stuff.
In a society where everything is sexualised, down to the social experience and expression of children/childhood to the selling of commodities, then merely having sex a lot, even with multiple partners, even with multiple genders, is not that daring or enlightening per se.
In a society where drugs are the norm from the socially acceptable stimulants and depressants like sugar, coffee and alcohol to the medically widely prescribed opiates and amphetamines, then going to “the man on the corner” for your drug supply makes you neither a maverick nor particularly savvy – play the system better and get your drugs on repeat for free (at least if you live in the UK)!
So in contemplating the above I experimented subsequently with the nominal counter-counter norms of abstinence and celibacy – if you want to live an adversarial position to mainstream culture you might want to announce that you are a celibate, teetotal vegan! … then learn what it is to live in opposition to the norm.
But yet again, this state of opposition merely helped me to shake up my assumptions, I was not liberated from being defined by the things I rejected. I fell into a pit of meaninglessness, a place where neither The Thing nor The Opposite of the Thing had significance or meaning to me. And without meaning I spiraled into depression as I was caught in the grip of adversarial paralysis.
The only way out of this was to admit that what I was doing wasn’t working for me. I began to observe others who appeared happier, more focused and more creative (in their artistic, professional, spiritual and/or emotional lives) than me. And this included the “hippie-dippy-shitty-airy-fairy brigade” – a group of people I was used to criticising and (yet again) defining myself in opposition to. My ego protested, but I remonstrated with it that, up till now, its decisions had been isolating, deflating and unhealthy – in fact un-inspiring (inspire: to fill with an animating, quickening, or exalting influence).
I did a lot of “fake it till you make it” which ironically is a state of aligning yourself against someone else’s norm, hardly an adversarial stance; the difference being that I had to still my shrieking ego. Over time I found my own meaning and significance. The key? To lay aside ego. My meaning? That is not relevant to you as it is my path and my journey, my baggage, history and personal make-up. Your meaning will be uniquely your own.
In freeing myself from defining myself “as X” and “as NOT X” I have managed to step over the fundamentals of right/wrong, which as a social anthropologist I know to be severely culturally determined – no absolutes! (Cf. postmodern relativism) Instead of acting one way or the other in re-action to a moral duality, I now choose to act in accordance with my personal meaning; a meaning that is continuously fed by an indefinable thing that can only be know experientially through practice, study, integration and in-corporation (in corpore – in the body) of both and through putting aside egoic desires to be the same as/better than/different to XXX.
I guess you might define it as a life study in Becoming; I hesitate to say of “Being” – that potentially stagnant and anti-cosmic state of “I am that I am”. Instead I become Atum, self-engenderer from the primal chaos, bridge between what is “not” and what “comes forth” in a process of continuous unfolding.
And that’s another point: the path unfolds as I Become. Defining myself against the moral landscape around me at any particular moment belies the truth of existence. It places a premature and deceptive full-stop against a life that should at any point em-body the pregnant sentiment of dot-dot-dot … to be continued …
One night, when I was out for a walk, I saw a tree; but I saw more than the tree. For a moment, I saw beyond and through the physical form of the tree into a spiritual realm where a spirit was, whose form manifested on this earthly plane as the tree. This insight showed me clearly that there is a spiritual existence separate from and yet connected to this earthly existence, and that all manner of things on this material plane are but symbolic manifestations of spiritual beings living on a higher plane. The question then arises, which life are we living? The one on this earthly plane or the one on the spiritual plane? Perhaps it is obvious to say, both. But I would also venture to say that the true existence is the one on the spiritual realm and that this earthly existence is merely a reflection of spiritual essence. The values that we assign certain things on this earthly plane are arbitrary and do not necessarily convey the value of the spiritual existence it reflects. For example, some people blame illness and disability on psychic and spiritual sickness. I believe this to be naive and unhelpful. Certainly I can look to my own past and see reason and cause for psychic injury and spiritual ill-health, and these things may indeed contribute to my present day lack of physical and mental resilience; but I think it is overly simplistic to assign these things a cause and effect paradigm. Those things which are difficult, ugly, painful and distressing on this realm of existence may in fact be an expression of an entirely different experience in the spiritual realm. I think it is impossible for us to interpret the spiritual realm entirely accurately while we look through the eyes, both metaphorical and literal, of this material world. Material values change depending on the epoch and the culture, whereas I believe that spiritual values are eternal. Therefore, interpreting the eternal through the lens of something temporal can only lead to distortion and misunderstanding.
So when it comes to my own spiritual journey, I must not get too distracted by the material existence around me. My spiritual self must stand strong and resilient irrespective of my changing material fortunes: whether I am homeless or a millionaire, my spirit can remain unaffected because neither state affects my true nature, which is that of spirit.
It is all too easy to become affected, and in fact crippled, by the vicissitudes and material trappings of a so-called, seeming spiritual life on this earthly plane. I can be swayed by individuals and groups, not least because my genetic heritage is that of a social primate which seeks the safety of a group. And yet in general, I will judge the group by material standards such as are they nice, are they cool, do they attract a lot of attention, how are they perceived by other people, do they seem to be elitist and therefore desirable to be a part of? Even the outsider seeks to belong by classifying himself as an outsider… like all the other outsiders with whom he identifies. Certainly one must walk the spiritual path ultimately alone: in the dark night of the soul one stands alone and naked before the immensity of existence and the infinity of spirit (whether one defines this as god, gods, or whatever). I often find myself caught up in the trappings of spiritual materialism, only to find that when that dark night falls, I stand weak and brittly rigid ready to snap under the weight of darkness. And this is why I have to keep turning my eyes back to the spiritually eternal, as imperfectly as I perceive it, in order to reconnect with my true origin and the being of which I am a reflection on this earthly plane.
Consequently my spiritual study comprises the examination of symbolic pathways that guide me back and forth, to and from, the spiritual source to the material emanation, from Kether to Malkuth. During the sleep of this earthly existence, it would be easy to lose oneself in dreams and forget to wake up. Part of my spiritual life is a process of remembering where I came from and where I shall return to, tracing the paths of the micro-map of the soul and the macro-map of all of existence which will return me ultimately to the prima materia.
An interesting thread on Lashtal covering LHP, HGA, Evil Genius, Black Brotherhood, etc. Worth a read:
Worth listening to:
Pagans and non-pagans are familiar with the symbol of the pentacle: the five-pointed star surrounded by a circle. Each point represents one of the elements – fire, water, earth, air and spirit or ether. I have always understood the pentacle to be both a symbol of balance and protection. The circle delineates the worlds and in ritual creates a sacred and safe place ‘between the worlds’ in which to work. One of my rituals of the elements involves creating the presence of each element through a candle flame (fire), incense (air), a bowl of water (water) and a rock or stone (earth). After calling the presence of each element, I myself take on the shape of the five-pointed star, arms out straight and legs spread; I then embody ether and unite all elements within me creating both internal balance and external balance.
So, bearing that in mind, wouldn’t inverting the pentacle be a direct attempt to subvert balance, to consciously call on chaos? Perhaps. If the upright pentacle represents the light of balance and harmony, the inverted pentacle could be said to represent the dark, chaotic aspects of creation (how would there be evolutionary ‘progress’ without the chaotic aberration that took the monkeys from the trees and pushed them to stand, farm, build cities, create high culture and organise mass destruction of its own species through war et al?). The fearful striving of white-light pagans to create a world of harmony, creativity and perfect love to me smacks of chasing the sun ever westwards trying to outpace the sunset. This is unnatural. The sun both rises and sets. In the beginning there was void and darkness and light issued through the darkness. Cut out the dark, and you may as well perform a full clitoridectomy of the soul. Instead of running ever westwards trying to outpace the shadows, try and find a place to sit and let the light and the dark wash over you in the natural rhythms of the universe. There is a natural cycle of both and attuning ourselves to these rhythms – knowing both the light and the dark – is the fully integrated path to knowledge. Wearing an inverted pentacle to me is a reminder of the dark in a world that denies the darker aspects and darker power of the soul.
An upright pentacle is representative of the mastery of spirit over matter: the single upward point being spirit. An inverted pentacle is then said to be representative of the mastery or primacy of matter over spirit. We live in a world heavily influenced by Plato’s notions of dualism and the prejudice that matter is less than spirit, and man’s path on earth is to strive ever closer to spirit and further away from matter; we poo-poo materialists and consumerists of whatever type of physical pleasure as being less than we of the higher, spiritual mind – we see beyond that, we are civilised and free from such needs, whereas they are caught in the mire of deadly sins that will hold them back from union with god. But can we really say we have conquered the dark, when we hide in the light and always avert our eyes from the moving shadows? You can turn away, but the shadow is still behind you – unknown, unexperienced and exercising its power over you (through fear) even from the other side of your protective circle…
This gnostic perspective of the emanation of spirit from god, and that the further away from god and spirit we are, the more entrenched we are in materialism, has been fully assumed by many major religions and to a great extent by paganism itself. Paganism certainly advocates a conceptual body-spirit unity and in fact paganism is known (amongst non-pagans in particular) for a profligacy and orgiastic freedom of physical enjoyment denied to Christians, for example. In fact, how many of us have tried to convince non-pagan friends that our ‘religion’ [sic] is not (just) about dancing naked and shagging an incarnation of Pan out in the local woods, only to lend them a pagan book full of naked initiation rites and Beltane celebrations skyclad? Doh! And yet, I still sense a tremendous split and that the primacy of spirit over matter is very much a ruling principle. Is it so inconceivable to think that spirit can be obtained through the material and the material through spirit? Should we always strive upwards and never down? Shouldn’t we aim to be masters of both realms?
An inverted pentacle reminds me in this world of light that the dark is still there both inside and outside of myself. I do not deny either the light or the dark, and I remember that the beginning of time was one of darkness before light. There was nothing, an absence of light, an absence even of that thing called dark … but Dark is the closest concept we have for connecting with the ineffable, infinite Nothingness from which Everything came. In the dark we are vulnerable, helpless, fearful and blind: and so we stand bare and raw before the Ultimate Source. In the light we feel secure, known and safe … as long as we keep our eyes on the light and don’t look behind at the dark; so in essence, a sole focus on the light is a cry of fear against the dark. It has greater power over you, than if you turned to face it, know it and be known. Only then can you truly attain unity with All and let both sunrise and sunset pass over you … fearlessly.