If The Left-Hand Path is Easy, You’re Doing Something Wrong
by Jake Block
“If it was easy, everyone would be doing it.”
— Bob Parsons
The Left-Hand Path is no easy trail through the grasslands with fields of green and cool running streams. It can be the toughest trail along the craggiest peaks, where one false step can send you plummeting to the canyon floor hundreds of feet below. It’s hazardous to your safety, to your security, and to your health, both mental and physical. It’s no wonder that so few start the journey in the first place, and those who stay on it for life are a rare breed indeed. One generally doesn’t travel this path simply because they want to, but because not to try seems to be unthinkable.
Think, if you will, about some of the human tragedy that can come from turning one’s back on the ethic and ethos of their culture and society to become an outcast wanderer along this path. They can become shunned by friends and families, ostracized for their choice to stand against the dictates of philosophic and religious dogma. We all know of people who’ve been expelled from their families and branded as heretics and apostate for the abandonment of faith. Losing the warmth of family and home can be devastating.
Think of those who have been physically or legally accosted. Those who were openly Satanists (or suspected of such) during the “Satanic Panic” of the 1980s faced not only the shunning of family, but community scorn as well. Michael Aquino, founder of the Temple of Set, found himself smeared in the press and forced to defend himself against accusations of child molestation, placing his military career at risk and exposing him to the ordeals of serious jail time. I was personally accosted by three men with 2x4s when leaving the Black House in San Francisco at 3AM. Only being armed, and willing to kill, defused the situation and saved me from a horrific beating that they had planned, to force me to “love Jesus.”
Think also of those who have been discriminated against by employers, by those who denied them places to live, and those who denied services and commerce. In business, we think that we have immunity from discrimination on the basis of religious choice, much as we do on the basis of race, color, sex (including pregnancy, sexual orientation or gender identity), national origin, age (40 and older), disability and genetic information. Any good office manager, however, can fire you for his or her own reasons, never once mentioning what they are in reality, cloaking the reason in “failure to comply,” or a host of other innocuous reasons.
Likewise, housing discrimination, while illegal, still happens. “The law is on your side,” but trust me, it’s not easy or often worth the effort to force compliance! Most renters don’t have the resources or time to fight housing discrimination in court and then, if you think about it, would you really want to win, just to be allowed to live in a place where someone will always be looking and waiting for you to slip?
I had a friend who for some reason, told his landlord that he was not a Christian, and that he was a Satanist. Not a wise move, as his landlord, who lived downstairs was a fundamentalist Christian, who began having prayer services (loudly) six nights a week, and my friend was late with the rent by five days, so, his landlord immediately began slapping on late charges and finally an eviction notice. He couldn’t evict my friend for being a Satanist, but legal ways to get rid of someone are there, if you really want or need to.
These are just a few of the pitfalls that one must contend with if they wish to walk the Left-Hand Path. But beyond that are the personal quests for enlightenment that can shatter your illusions of self control and make you question the truths that you once took for granted. There is no way to avoid inner turmoil if one is to engage in radical personal revelation and growth. The Left Hand Path is not a path of stasis or passivity.
One must fight for every step, for each tiny lumen of enlightenment along the way, and defend it tenaciously, not as a martyr, but as a lion defending his freedom of individuality in a world that champions collectivism. Those who reject the status quo perform a revolutionary act, and the culture will impose its Will to force your assimilation and compliance, if you allow it. Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara wrote, “I will fight with all the weapons within my reach rather than let myself be nailed to a cross or whatever.” This is a statement of defiance in the face of custom and canon. When the armies of Xerxes demanded that the Spartans at Thermopylae surrender their weapons, King Leonidas responded, “Μολών Λαβέ (Molon Labe — come and take them).” Surrender nothing that is yours without a fight, and that includes freedom of thought. That said, changing one’s mind in the face of sound contradictory facts is a sign of wisdom and flexiblity.
When I think back on the 21 year old who discovered the concept of Satanism in a magazine left in a waiting area in Vietnam, and compare the person that I am today, I can see few similarities. Some of the changes in my life that have rearranged my ways of thinking about the world and my place it in came organically, and simply as an adjunct to the process of living. Survival choices that we as people make simply to stay afloat financially, choices we make to adapt to social situations and that uneasy detent between or personal goals and our societal obligation, and choices we make to create options to allow us a greater chance to thrive are those that we all make to a greater or lesser degree.
Then there are times when, as a result of some of those choices we make, or the threats to our physical or mental survival, we are called to account at the “edge of the abyss,” where we find ourselves accountable to ourselves and those affected by our choices. It is at this time when the most profound changes, or the most exquisitely impactful (often harrowingly so) acceptances of our lives and the paths we have taken to this point in our lives are made. And as my fellow life-long travelers on this path can relate as well, we all face the truths one only faces when one stares into the abyss, and the abyss stares back.
I know that one day, in the not that distant future, I will be called to one last session at the edge of the abyss. Will I, in that dying moment, like Crowley, think, “I am perplexed?” Maybe I will echo the words of the dying actress Joan Crawford, who raged, “Damn it! Don’t you dare ask God to help me!” I’m reminded that the diabolically minded Voltaire replied to a priest at his bedside, who asked him to renounce Satan said, “Now, now my good man, this is no time to start making enemies.” Or perhaps, I will, quite simply echo the last words of Nostradamus, “Tomorrow, I shall no longer be here,” and step off the edge of the abyss on my final leg of the path I have ever traveled, steeply uphill and to the left.
The Left-Hand path is a long and arduous trail that will test and tax you, and it will reward you as well. It was never meant to be easy and it was never meant to be a stroll through the sylvan glades. It’s a path of struggle and enlightenment, of personal introspection and the unfoldment of the Undefiled Wisdom, spoken of by LaVey. It is hard, it is long and it is the best or worst journey one will make in their lives, should one choose to take it.
“Everything is costly. and the development of the personality is one of the most costly of all things. It will cost you your innocence, your illusions, your certainty.”
— Carl G. Jung