What is the Left-Hand Path of Magic?

An excerpt from “Lords and Ladies of the Left Hand Path: Forbidden Practices and Spiritual Heresies (2012) by Stephen E. Flowers, Ph.D

800 words, 3.5 minute read

There are two major criteria for being considered a true lord (or lady) of the left-hand path: deification of the self and antinomianism.


The first of these is complex: the system of thought proposed by the magician or philosopher must be one that promotes individual self-deification, preferably based on an initiatorily magical scheme. This first criterion will be seen to have four distinct elements:

  1. Self-deification: the attainment of an enlightened (or awakened), independently existing intellect and its relative immortality.
  2. Individualism: the enlightened intellect is that of a given individual, not a collective body.
  3. Initiation: the enlightenment and strength of essence necessary for the desired state of evolution of self are attained by means of stages created by the will of the magician, not because he or she was “divine” to begin with.
  4. Magic: the practitioners of the left-hand path see themselves as using their own wills in a rationally intuited system or spiritual technology designed to cause the universe around them to conform to their self-willed patterns.


The second criterion, antinomianism, states that practitioners think of themselves as “going against the grain” of their culturally conditioned and conventional norms of “good” and “evil.” True lords and ladies of the left-hand path will have the spiritual courage to identify themselves with the cultural norms of “evil.” There will be an embracing of the symbols of conventional “evil,” or “impurity,” or “rationality,” or whatever quality the conventional culture fears and loathes. The lords and ladies of the left-hand path will set themselves apart from their fellow man; they will actually or figuratively become outsiders, in order to gain the kind of inner independence necessary for the other initiatory work present in the first criterion. The practice of this second criterion often manifests itself in “antinomianism,” that is, the purposeful reversal of conventional normative categories: “evil” becomes “good,” “impure” becomes “pure,” “darkness” becomes “light.”

Literally speaking, antinomianism implies something “against the law.” But the practitioner of the left-hand path is not a criminal in the usual sense. He or she is bound to break the cosmic laws of nature and to break the conventional social laws imposed by ignorance and intolerance. But in so doing, the left-hand path practitioner seeks a “higher law” of reality founded on knowledge and power. Although beyond good and evil, this path requires the most rigorous of ethical standards. These standards are based on understanding and not on blind obedience to external authorities.

This latter characteristic of the true left-hand path is the chief cause of its misunderstanding, not only for those on the outside, but for some who would follow this path as well. It takes an enormous amount of spiritual courage to persevere in the face of rejection by not only the world around them but by elements within their own subjective universes as well. Many break under the strain and fall away from the aim and sink back into the morass of cultural norms.

To be considered a true lord or lady of the left-hand path, then, someone must have rejected the forms of conventional “good” and embraced those of conventional “evil,” and have practiced antinomianism, as part of the effort to gain a permanent, independent, enlightened, and empowered level of being. This self-deification does not seem sufficient without the “Satanic” component, which acts as a guide through the quagmire of popular sentiment and conventional beliefs.


In completing research for this book, I discovered that there are, in fact, two distinct branches of the left-hand path. Both of these branches fulfill the criteria outlined above, but approach the process from distinct points of view. One of these, which I will call the “immanent branch of the left-hand path,” proceeds from an “objectivistic” and even materialistic outlook. Its magical methods are often steeped in imagery, and its orientation is almost exclusively toward the objective or mundane universe. In this branch, the antinomian aspect is especially pronounced. Among modern schools it is exemplified by LaVeyan Satanism.

The second branch, which I will name the “transcendental branch of the left-hand path,” is based upon a psychecentric (soul- or intellect-centered) model. It is highly idealistic and its magical methods are usually founded on eternal forms or archetypes. The ultimate separation of the human mind from the cosmic order around it is recognized and celebrated. In its highest forms, the transcendental branch is focused on the subjective universe—on the separation of the self from the cosmic order and the evolution of that self into a permanent and empowered form. In this branch, the self-divinizing aspect is especially pronounced. Among modern schools it is exemplified by the Setian magical philosophy of Michael Aquino.

From Lords and Ladies of the Left Hand Path: Forbidden Practices and Spiritual Heresies (2012) by Stephen E. Flowers Ph.D, pp. 33-35, headings and emphases mine

Twilight in the Underworld

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