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LHP vs RHP are they both "bad" or "faulty" paths?
09-02-2017, 10:28 AM
Post: #81
Your hypothesis about the potential imbalance following either path individually is very intriguing. I've come across a similar issue in my practice, though for slightly different reasons.

The following argument is, in brief, an explanation for why I see both paths as bearing deep intrinsic flaws. I am not trying to persuade anyone to abandon their path; however, even the most dedicated among us must find the courage to acknowledge the faults in the system they follow, lest our growth be inhibited by the mistakes of our forbearers.

The problem arises, in my experience anyway, with the conflation of philosophical and methodological systems inherent in the "Paths" model. According to my understanding of the system, you're asked to determine the skill set you will develop based on your answer to moral questions, specifically to choices between betterment of the self (sometimes referred to as Black Magic) and the ascension to a sort of unity with the Universe (sometimes referred to as White Magic). But a path by definition leads somewhere, and for most the goals of either perfect enlightenment or perfect self-deifocation exemplify these paths. And while not all LHP/RHP magicians see these as their ultimate goals, and therefore use one or both systems for their own means, the limitations of the established correlations pervade both the practices of the paths' followers and the discussions thereupon.

A gross oversimplification follows:
Right = Altruism, etc; Yang Light; communing with the Whole and the Divine
Left = Hedonism, etc; Yin Darkness; communing with the Self and the Will

Such philosophies are often exemplified by such phrases as "An it harm none, do what he will" on the Right and "Do what ye will, that shall be the whole if the law" on the Left. (Although there is certainly an arguement to be made that Crowley would balk at being classified as either, that phrase has been used in Left Path dialogues for years.)
Both summarily describe the Will of the Magician as a key component of magical working. And yet, those following a Right hand path face the conundrum of being expected to do the Will of the Whole through the mechanism of their own Will.

For those who have said that Magic is an expression of Will enacting change and therefore /no/ magic can be truly Right hand, I'm inclined to agree. However, this does not resolve philosophical differences; rather it simply exemplifies the problems inherent with the system. There also seems to be a raging debate between those who say "There is no middle path" and those who say there most definitely is. While I agree with the latter in the sense that I am a fan of moderation and rejecting established dogma, and indeed have familiarized myself with approaches from all categories over the years, I strain to find merit in following any of said paths due to the deep systemic problems that lurk beneath the surface.

In the system I practice, there is a necessary distinction between the characteristics of the magics used, the method behind a working, and the rational behind the implementation of said magics and methods. These include yet are not limited to: Yin (magnetic) and Yang (energetic), darkness (as a property of energy) and light (likewise) [though this is a fault partially of semantics, as modern esotericism lacks the proper terminology, and as such this part of the system is currently undergoing revision], the mechanics of your spell working, and the characterstics of you Will behind it.

The discussion, therefore, becomes a twofold dialectic: First, the methodological: what are the best and most effective ways to enact magical Workings of /all/ types? And second, the philosophical: how does one determine one's Will?
The first asks, "What tools are at my disposal? What are my capabilities?"
The second asks, "How /should/ my magic be used?"

Looking at the first question, in a strict adherence to Left or Right, there inevotable arise situations in which the magician's understanding is found wanting. An RHP magician might get themself into a situation where they would need to work with darker, more volatile energies, and as a result wither be unwilling on moral grounds or unable due to inexperience to accomplish their goal. The exact same phenomena is seen on the other side, with LHP magicians who can't stomach light energies in any form and fail at their goal or abandon the working altogether.
And this is just the tip of the technical iceberg. I could go on for days about the simmering resentment between the two sides, the blind devotion to one path or the other at the expense of true knowledge, the unwillingness to understand the perspectives of others based in finding their magic distasteful or immoral. But this is enough, I think, to give an idea of possible conflicts which can be extrapolated through the employment of hypotheticals. So I'll move on.

Let's examine these secondary concerns, though it is hardly secondary and is often discussed as the very first step in any Working. To facilitate this, we must implement a different dichotomy; that between my system's Illuminated and Abyssal type magicians.

These, as side note, are NOT paths. They are in fact categories of philosophies regarding the appropriate implementation of one's Will, and as such there are many people who wouldn't identify as belonging to either category. But these types are very useful in critically discussing the differences in process across disparate systems, and as such are designed to apply broadly as a sort of classification if nothing else.
You also are not restricted to one type; you can practice both, either, or neither, or perhaps some amalgamation of the two not yet typifies. (A concept we're currently fiddling with is how to classify magicians whose will is substituted with the Will of a worshiped diety. It seems to require a different title, something that reflects the nuance of such an interaction.)

Some quick summaries, which I will probably explain in-depth in another thread:
The Abyssal magician spends a great deal of time determining the exact mechanics and characteristics of their own True Will, independent of influence and societal expectations. LHP magicians, including theistic Satanists and demonolaters, often fall under this category; an example of Light Abyssal magic might be Luciferianism. Contrary to many LHP systems, however, altruism and magic for the sake of others is not antithetical to this approact, and taboo breaking for its own sake is no more Abyssal than paying your taxes every year because you don't want to get audited.
The Illuminated magician spends a similar amount of time attuning their will to the will of the "whole," sometimes referred to as Universal Will or correlated with an omnipotent, omnipresent deity. As such, it relies on the intrinsic properties of energies and natural laws to do their workings, as well as a deep meditative understanding of the concept of Universe or systematic Whole. Many a Trad Craft witch and Druid falls under this category. Modern Wicca also /might/ fall under this category, though most resources seem keen on handicapping their oen followers for some unknown reason. Unlike RHP systems, a focus on healing and a vow to do no harm is not neccesarily the mark of an Illuminated magician. Nature is a brutal, entropy-filled place, and the Will of the Universe encompasses creation and destruction, loss and gain, harm and redress, etc. Working against the mechanisms of society is not any more innapropriate than following them, especially when the magician sees it as fighting some unnatural perversion of the cosmos.

While my energy type falls squarely in the Dark Yin category, and no one would mistake me for anything other than an Abyssal magician, the study of energies and the minutia of other magical systems is a core element of my practice. To be a well rounded magician, one must understand the mechanics of all types of magic workings and choose your methods not out of ignorance of the other ways but out of an informed understanding of all involved factors.

Magic is magic is magic. Proficiency is what allows us to pick and choose our methods and work effectively in the modern age, not knowledge of one specific rigid set of rules. It is my conclusion that the concept if Left and Right hand paths is in its current form is outmoded and limiting, and the idea of a Middle Way is an admirable attempt to redress said limitations. However, it is my conviction that such systems must be stripped bare and remade before they can be effective, and if this proves impossible or impractical at best, a new system must take its place. While my system is flexible, analytical, and confoundingly technical enough to suit my needs, it's certainly not for everyone. And whether or not you choose a preexisting path or system, design your own, or throw out the concept altogether, keeping an open mind is a must. A voracious appetite for knowledge doesn't hurt either.

Forgive the lack of formatting and the typographical errors that this post is doubtlessly littered withal, I'm on mobile.

A soul is a work of art.
In Death we trust.
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