Lords of the Left-Hand Path
Forbidden Practices and Spiritual Heresies From the Cult of Set to the Church of Satan
by Stephen E. Flowers Ph.D.
|Publisher:||Inner Traditions (2012)|
Reviewed by Frater U.I.F.
Though it may sound overly dramatic, Lords of the Left Hand Path by Stephen E. Flowers and its interpretations must be considered very carefully. It is not the rebellious or even Satanic nature of the philosophy of the book, but the underlying political and racial beliefs with which I have taken issue.
It would be unfair to call this a racist book, but it is a volume which studies and discusses ideas of Germanic culture including inherent individual Supremecy and Hitler as mythologized evil, and is written by an author who has admittedly tenuous ties to people and groups with questionable racial beliefs. For example Dr. Flowers was an original member of the Asatru Free Assembly which later transformed into the Asatru Folk Assembly, one of whose declarations of purpose are: "The preservation of the Peoples of the North (typified by the Scandinavian/Germanic and Celtic peoples), and the furtherance of their continued evolution". Additionally the author is clearly influenced by Julius Evola whose philosophies on race and his clear anti-Semitism are extremely troubling. The heady mix of taboo subjects alongside the questionable racial philosophies of the author’s background does not make for a light and comfortable read. Such difficulty could be inferred by anyone from the title and we can step aside from speculation about the author and any judgment of his background, his influences, and any groups or people he may be associated with, in order to focus upon the book itself.
The main thread of this large volume is the study of the philosophical split between The Right-Hand and Left-Hand paths of Magick and/or religion. In an extremely detailed and clear manner the author takes us through this binary designation of various groups and religious practices beginning with eastern Hinduism and Tantraism and working through the Western and Germanic traditions. The concise and overall message presented by the author to describe the differences between the Left-Hand path and the Right-Hand path is made clear throughout the book. In essence the final goal of the Right-Hand path is union with the Divine, to be absorbed into the infinite bliss and to lose oneself entirely in a radiant completeness. Alternatively, the goal of the Left-Hand path is described to be the raising up of the individual to the point where he or she becomes that infinite source inherently and therefore reaches equality with, rather than absorption in what most call God.
This litmus test of Right-Hand / Left-Hand is progressively applied by the author to religions from Buddhism, to various Hermetic and occult revival groups including but not limited to the Golden Dawn, the Theosophical Society, the O.T.O., Anton Levay’s Church of Satan, and the Temple of Set. The outcome of the study seems to purport that the Temple of Set is the purest representations of the Left-Hand and antinomian philosophy in history. Most of the other groups, religions and philosophies studied in this work are accepting as having Left-Hand path elements or off-shoots but also contain conflicting ideologies.
This book is well written, interesting and contains a great deal of intelligent study and discussion. The author presents a work of academic study which is a credit to his education and knowledge of these subjects. It is with just a bit of caution and trepidation that I recommend this book highly to those who wish to challenge and explore their choice of paths toward, or reaching divinity.