'Black Magick' and 'The Left-hand Path'A shroud of mystery, suspicion, and heresy hangs ov

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'Black Magick' and 'The Left-hand Path'A shroud of mystery, suspicion, and heresy hangs over the subjects of Black Magick and The Left-Hand Path. Those engaged in such ways are often greeted with a mixture of fear and trepidation, especially where they profess such engagement.It is the purpose of this essay to generally relieve some of the unnecessary fear associated with these ways, not to dispell the mystery upon which their foundations rest (which alone would be quite an impossible task!). In many cases the reaction people have toward aspirants of these ways becomes a discipline for those that tread them. Thus, in some small measure I do a disservice to these paths in investigating them. Yet aversion and antagonism can be had from many people and there are alternatives to these methods of austerity. Let those who would retain their anti-social shroud seek alternate methods for inflaming the insecurities of others in order to counter my assertions if some imbalance has been created here.There is no doubt that certain individuals within society exhibit sociopathic behaviors and that some claim their actions are in accord with an anti-spiritual path (e.g. 'Satanism'). This is said especially about 'black magick' (with or without the 'k' which serves to separate it from stage-magic). There is supposed by many to be a smattering at least, a network at most, of black magickians who work at great cost to society at large and to individual safety/health for those whom their path crosses. Their way consists of egocentric accumulation of power (say many) at the expense of others and for the sake of power itself, or in order to feed the ego of the collecting mage.It is the purpose of this essay particularly to 1) argue against the accuracy and efficacy of this notion and 2) propose alternative meanings for the terms 'black magick' and 'left-hand path' such that better than an insecure, warrior mentality may be an option for serious magickians in their studies.A Lack of Evidence:With serious investigation there has been no extensive organization discovered wherein it could be established that the group intent was malevolence. Yes, small groups of unfortunate people have rarely banded together with an intent to harm. Yet this has been done under many proffered labels, including those of major movements dedicated to health and balance (witness Christianity as taught by Christ and the Inquisition). What can be established at most is that some individuals/small groups do experience popular antisocial images (e.g. 'Satan') as personally meaningful in their psychosis when they manifest their destructive desires. This does not mean that all others who appreciate or use these images for their own purposes are involved with the same sociopathic activities. The sequence of cause and effect has not been established here. It is not known, for example, that devotion to Satan leads to dementia or violence. We hear about the anti-social acts, but know little (beyond the openly organized groups) about any socially uplifting results of this activity.Such is also the case with those involved in 'black magick'. Where Satanism arises in Judeo-Christian cultures which partake of this great mythological symbol (largely Christian or Muslim), 'black magick' spans the many cultures which accept the premise of magick generally. These are largely technologically undeveloped cultures whose ideas about spiritualism and psychic power have become infused throughout the society, rather than held solely by an esoteric elite (Voudoun or Yaqui are good examples here, especially as portrayed by popular texts).Typically, magick is said to be a focus of psychic power, perhaps through formulae, in order to have an effect on one's environment. At times this may involve an intereaction with noncorporeal or other-worldly entities (the spirits of the dead, of Nature, powerful 'deities' or pseudo-deities). The relationships vary from humble appeal to concerted enslavement where the Sorceress(er) holds some power over the spirit or deity such that their will and energies may be bent and controlled.Regardless of power source (though there may be common correlates), typically magick is divided into two or three categories - black, white, and sometimes, gray, neutral, clear, or some other color. (Recent occult practitioners have further divided it, classifying it by color in accordance with its style and source energy. We shall return to this idea).Labels and Categorization:Whatever the label, the classification scheme follows a system of moral values for the culture of its origin. Therefore, in speaking of magick, one would call a magickal act 'malevolent' (often 'black') when it intends an unethical result. When the intent is of a 'beneficial' nature, then it is called 'white magick'. It is of no consequence, for the purposes of this essay, whether or not the form of the magickal enactment is qualitatively similar (and in some cultures this is the case - i.e. the magickal processes are the same for white and black yet the two have different objectives).Many of these ideas about magick are commonly accepted within the occult community. That magick can be a science of cause and that the intent of such cause determines the 'color', if you will, of said magick are two of the major themes. Different ideas about magick do in fact exist, yet these two seem extremely popular.It is argued here (as in many modern tomes which discuss the ethics of magick) that morality varies from culture to culture and that ethics vary from person to person based on subjective standards and desires. Note that this does not rule out a broad correspondence between ethics, making democratic laws possible. What are being challenged, however, are any 'black' and 'white' categorizations of motive and action beyond this correspondence. The extent of meaning for the term 'harm' varies tremendously and many understand the need for temporary harm which makes way for further healing (e.g. surgery or immunization).What most modern, literate mages classify as 'black magick' are those forms which are coercive. Those which do more than bind manipulative or destructive energies are considered destructive in themselves and are often rejected.The problem with all of this is that when speaking of these subjects one cannot make accurate generalizations about actions and their classification. It is impossible to condense from these abstracted ideas any concrete knowledge concerning specific people engaged in specific activities, especially when using subjectively interpreted evaluations of 'good', 'evil', 'black' or 'white'. This is precisely the mistake made in all travesties of society in the name of 'purgation' or 'spiritual justice' (The Inquisition, Holocaust, Red Scare and Japanese internment pose a few good local examples).While we may classify certain actions within our culture which have been agreed to be 'illegal', extensions or presumptions about the absolute value of any action requires a degree of knowledge which cannot be obtained. We may see immediate harm (i.e. the surgeon's incision) yet be unaware of the overall healing effect (the removal of diseased tissue). Thus, absolute labels without delineation concerning the nature of our judgement (i.e. 'black magick' rather than 'destructive magick') are misleading and inefficient.Note also that these terms are most often used in their negative sense. A black magician does not often announce or display this label/quality. If they did so it might forewarn prospective victims...Effectivity as a Criterion:There is a need for effective labels (when we must apply any) and there is a shortage of positive aspects of those labels we do use. In describing magick, the term 'black' is inadequate as it relates to a use wherein we wish to identify a specific quality about the magick that is abhorent, rather than simply gaining an understanding of the attitude of whoever may be using that term.The first point to be made here is that simple labels inspire abuse through their inadequacy. Eliminating them or expanding them toward precision can only help to increase communication and understanding generally. The same is true of the label - 'left-hand path'. It is inadequate to describe the activities of those involved with groups that are classified in this way.The second point is that some self-described members of these groups (black magicians and followers of the left-hand path, along with some of those who call themselves Satanists) behave in ways and express ideas which do not suggest the stereotypic behaviors attributed to them (i.e. violence and abuse). Thus, the label fails again to distinguish those that use it who are violent from those who are not. Most likely those who are/were violent receive a majority of the attention and people generalize in prejudice thereafter. The decision about whether or not labels themselves are desireable is left for the contemplation of the reader.To summarize, the two main arguments are that the terms 'black magick' and 'left-hand path' are inadequate to describe the activities or character of those paths, and, of those who claim to follow those paths, some or many do not fit the stereotype which is commonly associated with them.Reclaiming the Terms:Part of the problem with these terms is that there is no popular, positive meaning for them. This can be remedied through thoughtful, careful exposure. Given research of many and varied occult tomes and a suitable synthesis, one can derive a useful meaning. The current, popular interpretation follows a narrow, fundamentalist character that accepts moral absolutes and authoritarian biases. Stripped of any symbolic value they ever had, they have been applied in judgemental categorization.Rather than retain moralistic meanings for the labels 'black' or 'left-hand', a mythological substitute is more appropriate and meaningful. The left hand has quite a history, ranging from the specific position in Tantric ceremonies involving ritual sex magick to its association with the word 'sinister'. Our Western society discriminates against left-handed people in its mass production and mass education systems.The right hemisphere of the brain is connected to the left side of the body. Thus, the left hand is also associated with the emotional, fantastic, intuitive, nonlinear, simultaneous, diffused, integrative, timeless, imaginative, inductive, tacit, receptive, synthesizing, analogous, experience-centered consciousness.Activities associated with this consciousness include seeing metaphors, unifying concepts, combining ideas or objects in unusual ways, exploring feelings, wondering, creating, dreaming, drawing and singing. ** (Mindways, pg.7)This is the mode of consciousness of the dreamer, the artist and the visionary. It has often been associated with the feminine. This is certainly validated by the common stereotypes of the "emotional woman" and the "intellectual man". In many mystical systems the feminine is associated with the receptive, the intuitive, and generally with right-brain qualities. Reclaiming the left hand is an important step in realizing the value, not only of the entire body (and the feminine within it), but also of the many modes of consciousness which we may experience.It is this association which constitutes the legitimate meaning of 'left-hand' outside of morality. It describes a way that is based on intuition rather than on logic, on imagination rather than on verbal knowledge, and on dreams and feelings rather than on plans and goals. It is the way of the Mystic; less structured, more attuned to natural rather than artificial organization; less born of patriarchal regimen and more attuned to inspirational receptivity; less involved with bureaucratic business progress and more akin to cyclic, artistic growth process. Those magicians on the 'left-hand' path practice for pure enjoyment, the inner experience, or for no reason whatsoever. The activity expands to become the goal. Even the illusory 'enlightenment' or 'transformation' is abandoned in a spirit of pure hedonism. The 'left-hand' path can be grouped with all other true Artforms, arising on its own rather than as a result of a preplanned, intellectual construct.Symbolic Dualism in DarknessBlack and the Dark have been maligned and shunned prior to and since the dualism encouraged by Zoroastrianism and were redressed little by the Judeo-Christian mythic and popular teachings. Equating Light with being, wisdom, intuition or knowledge (in its widest sense), the popular Western Mystery Tradition did little to help the situation. Intellectually and symbolically, Darkness has been associated with ignorance, malevolence and deception.Occasionally mystics divulge the esoteric significance of Darkness, yet even these often identified it with a lacking (i.e. of image, certainty, or predisposition). Only in few Western writings (such as Hermetic, Gnostic or Naturalism) and in some Eastern traditions (notably Taoism and Neo-Confucianism) do we encounter the vast wealth of the symbolism of Blackness or Darkness.Thus, to redefine the significance of black magic is to defy much traditional symbolism based on cultural bias. Yet not to do so jeopardizes our potential understanding of Death and Mystery. Black is associated with negative things. Negation is quite valuable in our world. It is part and parcel of Nature. The destruction of waste and form allows the recreation of All. While many see negation as a force to be combatted, avoided or destroyed, the value of embracing negation and negativity as valid and integral elements of universal flux can never be overstated.Darkness is often associated with unconsciousness. Light, as the symbol of conscious illumination, is often contrasted to this divine partner. Rather than the traditionally popular black=negative=bad perspective of fearful dualism, Blackness and Darkness can be associated with the formless, intuitive, spontaneous magick of unconscious origination.Thus, 'black magick' becomes a description of occult practice with respect to the source of its form. To intellectually predesign, plan, control and consciously arrange ritual is 'white magick', while to spontaneously allow, accept and relax with subconsciously guided ritual is 'black magick'.Source and Expression:Combining the expansive meanings of both 'black magick' and 'left-hand' path, we can create a grid upon which to contrast various mystico-magickal practices. Setting the type of path versus source of formal origination, we again meet a dualism, but this one includes a greater descriptive and less biased foundation. Morality does not enter into the evaluation. Instead, we arrive at descriptors based on the source of form and the means of expression that this form takes. It says nothing about the values of either graphic pole and does nothing to bias our view in favor of either. When describing magick as 'black' we only say that its form is not of conscious design regardless of its apparent structure. When we describe a path as 'left-handed' we mean that it tends to be less structured in form, whether arising from conscious or unconscious sources.For example, 'black magick' of the 'right-hand' path would describe a very structured practice which had its origins in the unconscious mind (and so might probably prove very unorthodox, though no less structured). A left-handed, white magick would include an unstructured, but well thought-out, preplanned practice.This diagramming method serves the purposes of scholars of magick and occult networkers. The scholar can better view the relationships in structure and method among the many occult and religious practices so as to better understand the subject. The networker can decipher similarities among them so as to appropriately guide a client to a tradition which

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