So this might of been a while coming. From time to time, both in real life and online, people ask me to teach them about Tantra or my practices. This can either be because they recognize my intimate familiarity or because I am being vocal about something.
I’ve always responded either dismissively or suddenly become quiet. A large part of this post, is to explain why. Part of this is an apology (which I will get to later), but the part is to give some an explanation to when I was asked about my practices, in so much as I can.
However, first I would like to share others’ words, before my own.
Initiation and Teaching of the Esoteric
Circa March-May of 2012
Tantric: “I want you to know something by the way, initiation wise.”
Tantric: “I have initiated you in the sense of admission to streams of clarity from the places I have drunk from.”
“Insofar as you are ready to receive them and I am ready to give them, and that speaks for the capabilities and resolution of both of us. This is nonetheless considered arcane and not to be admitted to those who are unworthy. I am telling you for 2 reasons. One: You’ve already opened yourself to otherworldly entities and energies.”
Me: “I understand; pearls before those who would mock or not understand?”
Tantric: “Or who would harm themselves or others with the teachings and misinterpretation thereof. The most attractive misinterpretations are the most self-serving. [sic] The most dangerous are the most destructive to others. Sometimes those categories overlap to a degree and we have to retain clarity. So there is a system of secrecy.”
“The knowledge of the greater part of these practices is safeguarded by teachers who share it only with qualified initiates.” …
.. “The majority of the texts within the kaula school belong to vama marga—left-handed tantra. The texts pertaining to left-handed tantra are couched in symbolic language, which makes them more prone to misunderstanding than the texts of right-handed tantra.”
… “The only practitioners who have the authority to accept others as students are those who are purnabhishikta, literally “the one who has taken a complete bath.” This refers to a high level of tantric initiation.” …
… “After you have completed this initial practice, you must learn the systematic method of meditating on a yantra (a geometrical figure) and must memorize the numerous mantras which are an integral part of yantra meditation.”
The West and Appropriation
I am not against people adopting aspects from other cultures, so long as an authentic understanding and respect is shown. There have been many people both online and offline I have been very critical of. In particular near where I live there is a spiritual group where I’ve had friction from time to time when it comes close to anything too Tantric related. I remember my first encounter with the group someone asked if i could teach my Tantra and Yoga to people. I laughed dismissively. Another prominent time there was a presentation on Chakras. I was perhaps too quick to ask the presenter his source and corrected him a couple of times, a little disruptively as I feared Kundalini meditation might be covered, which is dangerous even in orthodox teachings without proper guidance.
I have also to many people online, been dismissive. I’ve been very critical of certain interpretations particularly of Shiva or Kali, and Tantra. I’ve seen people make all kinds of claims or ideas about Tantra and instead of responding with compassion my first instinct was to respond with judgement. They probably didn’t know their misunderstandings, or the potential damage they could be causing, and so it probably wasn’t a fully warranted reaction.
So to those people, I apologize. While not all Tantra falls under what was stated above about secrecy, particularly orthodox Tantra which is pretty open and safer, enough of what Westerners hear of it will fall under the esoteric to warrant trepidation. Some of my attitude particularly in real life has been an attempt to “scare off” people, as I believe that it is dangerous for the uninitiated. If someone wishes to really pursue authentic Tantra, my words will not dissuade them, but rather have them search with more skepticism. My resistance was in intention to weed out those unprepared.
Despite that, my attitude was misplaced and arrogant, even judgmental. I’ve gotten better about it over time. I’ve realized that it’s better to be perfectly clear that what I practice is very dark and not safe for most people’s mental or spiritual health. The reason for this, comes back to a term that Yoga Internatonal source gave: Vāmamārga.
Vamachara, The Left Hand Path
If you notice above, Yoga International refers to Kaula as belonging to vāma mārga. Most literally it means “Left Path”. Contrasting to this, is dakṣiṇācāra or “Righ Hand Path”. Essentially, the Left is heterodoxy, and the Right is Orthodoxy, usually in reference to Vedic values and rules (although the terms also can apply to Buddhist practices). Tantra can be Left or Right, but often little distinction is made by Western people adopting the ideas (as they don’t know the difference).
The alternate term I prefer is Vāmā chāra, often translated “Left Hand Path”, although the Vāmā in it has the double meaning of “woman”. This fits well with the view within Kashmir Shaivism as the feminine being representative of Shakti. As I’ve said countless times before, Shakti or Kali is the way to Shiva in my religion.
Kashmir Shaivism isn’t necessarily or even normally “Left Hand Path”, but some of it’s sects and it’s root are. The precursors to what is commonly called Kashmir Shaivism (Trika, ect) were the Kāpālikas who were about as Left Hand Path as it ever got. Kaula was born out of them as a “tamed down” version, in the Shaiva traditions. Shakta likewise has Kaula sects and it’s likely that the Yoga International article was speaking mostly of Shakta religions rather than Shaiva ones.
I can speak freely on my religion as it is in manifestations where it’s not explictly Left Hand Path, except where that discussion does not betray my obligations to keeping the darker side of the practice shrouded.
I cannot, by tradition, and by ethical considerations, teach people beyond a point. I must access each person and their intentions. My practices are not something you just go and pick up. They can be, and often are dangerous to someone not guided properly or otherwise under prepared.
My Initiation Into Darkness
My initiation into Tantra wasn’t as traditional or clear cut as it could of been. This isn’t surprising considering that I came to Tantra out of Satanism, a religion which itself claims to be “Left Hand Path”, and likewise is, as my Tantric teacher warned me about, often with attractive self-serving aspects.
The main reason I was introduced to Tantra was because not only had I, unlike many Satanists, opened myself to “otherworldly entities and energies”, but I had unknowingly reinvented the wheel, so to speak, with my geometrc work. I had created a “Satanic Yantra” of sorts. This was something that came to me spontaneously.
My Tantric friend had become very interested and eventually revealed to me after some weeks why. Essentially I had on my own discovered the inner workings of Kashmir Shaivism. This also fitted well with what some “otherworldly” spirits had told me, which was that they had “initiated” me. It all came together in some giant, Satanic-Tantric stew of spiritual development. It was as if I was to find my way to the real, original Left Hand Path by the way of my sincere practice within Satanism. And so I became not just a Satanist, but a Tantric, a Shaivite, and a Hindu.
My friend was likewise initiated, but by another Tantric as part of a traditional lineage on the Indian subcontinent. Despite this, his practice was in his own words, “augmented with Luciferianism”. Not too far of a stone throw’s away from Satanism, in many ways.
The Left Hand Way, then and Now
It’s actually more surprising that there are less Satanists incorporating or converting to Hinduism or Buddhism, given it’s deceleration of being “Left Hand Path”.
We can probably trace this though to the West’s slow adoption of the term to Blavatsky, an occultist from the 1800’s whom founded the Theosophical Society. She essentially misconstrued the term to mean “black magic” and to be the signifier of an evil practitioner. Aleister Crowley would likewise use it in a similar manner, which set the stage for Anton LaVey to adopt the term in the 1960’s. In what was a single line, with very little context, set the precedent for Satanists and other branches to adopt the term as a self-identifier.
Anton LaVey’s The Satanic Bible, 1969:
Satanism is not a white light religion; it is a religion of the flesh, the mundane, the carnal – all of which are ruled by Satan, the personification of the Left Hand Path.
That quote was the seed, and unfortunately it’s foundation was set in the context of a misunderstanding started a century prior. Most likely though, Anton LaVey mistook the “Five M’s” of Vamachara (wine, meat, fish, mudra/grain, and sex) in a rather literal way. It makes sense, in that he wanted to make a ‘carnal religion of man’ but it doesn’t quite measure up in the Hindu or Buddhist understanding of the word.
LaVey had like many others done what my Tantric friend and many others warned out. The five M’s are just a part of vamachara, but they are also a good example to see where someone stands in their understanding. There are variations within vamachara on what is and isn’t allowed. And there are some strict rules even in many sects.
Essentially though, the heart of it will come down to if these pleasurable things are the end in of themselves, or the end towards a greater spiritual goal.
And so, It comes Full Circle
In 1975 CE the Temple of Set split off from Anton LaVey’s Church of Satan and it started a development of ideas that would take the Left Hand Path closer to it’s roots. Eventually Setian, Luciferian and other Satanist groups and persons would develop the idea that the Left Hand Path was about some form of self-deification. This isn’t wholly inaccurate in that much of the Left Hand Path in Hinduism is about realizing one’s nonduality and identity with God, Shiva, ect. But it still often contains those self-serving, selfish aspects, likely a remnant of a LaVeyan type of thinking.
Some groups today take views ranging from Tantric-rooted positions (such a the e Typhonian Order) to the aforementioned self-deification root, such as many Setians and Luciferians. Even many “acosmic Satanists” take the ‘becomng a god’ view, although in a more extreme type of manner. Funny enough even Anton LaVey’s daughter and her husband eventually came to incorporate Tantric Buddhism after decades. I think this is part of a slow trend towards Satanists finding the real roots of the Left Hand Path. To that end I consider many Satanists to practice a real form of the Left Hand Path, although not all. In the end, it always comes down to what they are trying to accomplish with their heterodox practices.
I am one of those who take a very rooted eastern, specifically Hindu perspective on the term. I may not be initiated into a traditional lineage, but I am initiated by beings greater than myself, and likewise was initiated into streams of consciousness of revelation. On my own discovered the timeless, eternal truths and was given a more clear access to that with help of an initiated Tantric, among many others.
And since I believe that my understanding is both correct as a combined Satanist and Hindu. It is actually quite difficult for someone born and living in America to practice vamachara as often described, but since it is determined by lineage, culture, taste and as being against a spiritual status-quo, Satanism is the natural conclusion in many Western societies.
Be that as it may, it still will not permit me to reveal the more dangerous aspects. Actually, the irony is that in me embracing a more Hindu understanding means I embrace a much more dangerous, taboo and potentially destructive way of practice than Satanists. Satanists tend to have very strong taboos due to America’s history with the “Satanic Ritual Abuse” (SRA) moral panic. Although the mass hysteria was entirely unjustified (most notably by the FBI , see also here) its left it’s mark on how Satanists conduct themselves. With a few exceptions most Satanists shy away from anything too “evil”.
I hope then it comes clear, with all that said, that I cannot and will not teach most people. My practice is not Right Hand Path, or orthodox. It is rooted in centuries’ old heterodoxy and is even more extreme than Satanism. It is not only unethical for me to do so but I could cause serous harm to you and others around you including myself. If I were to suddenly just start teaching people the original Left Hand Path without reservation or many aspects, I would feel as if it was a betrayal to my own values and to the degree of trust put into me by those who’ve taught me n the past.
So I will not teach you, most likely. I can though, apologize to how quick I’ve been to those getting dangerously close to aspects of Tantra which are not meant to just be picked up and try, and tomy unwillingness to share a large part of my knowledge with them as an alternative. If I’ve done that, it as because I felt I would be putting you in danger, and I only had your safety in mind.