Lore of the Lefty

June 12, 2014 at 2:21 am 1 comment

Sometime ago I changed the title of my blog from “Politics & Polytheism” to “the Lefthander’s Path”, a play on words since I’m left-handed. But I’ve never written about it- there is some interesting esoteric and historic lore associated with left-handedness.  Well to begin with, I can’t assume that everyone reading this actually knows the origins of the terms Right Hand and Left Hand Path. We may think of ceremonial magic(k) but it actually goes back to Tantra, a highly misunderstood branch of Hindu philosophy. Traditionally Hindus use their right hand for ritually clean activities, and their left hand for unclean activities (like wiping your butt) There’s a similar situation in some Muslim cultures. Tantra was about shocking the initiate through the use of taboos, such as eating meat, sexual rites, alcohol, and rites in graveyards. Confronting taboos was a way of psychologically spurring spiritual progress. It was Westerners like good ol’ Madame Blavatsky and Aleister Crowley, that latched onto the sexual aspect of it (originally practiced in a minority of sects) and said “Hey let’s use this exotic ancient Wisdom of the East to rebel against Victorian sexual repression!” So yeah, bringing up Tantra is a great way to annoy Hindus… 

Anyhow the Left Hand Path came to be short hand for “evil” or “black” magic and Satanism, but from what I’ve read of it, I think of it more as the “Chaotic” alignment in Dungeons and Dragons- rather amoral ethos of use magically/spiritually what works, if it feels good do it, use of magic in vengeance, honoring or working with Trickster gods or archetypes (Satan, Set, Prometheus, Loki etc) I picked the name for my blog mostly in fun though, because this whole dichotomy is irrelevant to my own spiritual practice. This is why I don’t especially care to police the use of the term “Pagan” against Satanists and LHP magicians (or Heathen against Loki-worshippers- but then again I’m not Heathen) I’m a lot more irritated by Neo-Nazis and followers of Ayn Rand (La Veyan Satanism is basically Ayn Rand’s ideology with lots of Gothic makeup!)

Anyway left-handedness in general- even up to a few decades ago, doctors, clergy, parents and teachers would be concerned when a child began to show preference for use of the left hand. Lefties were believed to be more awkward (because the world is designed for righties?) , prone to becoming slower learners, criminals, mentally ill, sinners, homosexuals and witches. Children were actively discouraged from using their left hand, a practice which later came to be understood as harmful to the child’s development. Left-handed people are more wired to use their right side of the brain, which is more associated with creative thinking, whereas as righties are wired to use the more conventional, logical left side. I’ve seen a suggestion for writers and artists who are feeling a creative block, to try using their non-dominant hand. Us lefties are going to be more ambidextrous than right-handers, because even while most equipment is pretty neutral towards handedness, there is still a right-leaning bias. Gee, sounds kinda like the media… 

Speaking of that, the terms “left and right wing” go back to the French revolution– in which the supporters of the king sat on his right side, and the revolutionaries sat on the left. Once again, as with “Left Hand Path” in Tantra, the term has come to mean very different things! 

There’s all kinds of interesting modern research on left-handedness and its correlation with various traits- intelligence, creativity, aggressiveness etc. Have fun reading but just remember folks- correlation DOES NOT equal causation! As a social scientist who enjoys finding connections between things that is my very un-spiritual but important mantra! 

Anyway, I am changing the blog’s title back to Politics and Polytheism since it is a better description, especially since I am getting more non-Pagan followers who will likely not get the reference.

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