Which relationship of evil do you envision? None of the Above?
LHP and RHP, Left Hand Path and Right Hand Path two concepts that have been bantered, chewed, and fought over because they have been conflated and mixed into other concepts.
In different magical traditions LHP and RHP mean different things.
The underlying concepts of Light, Dark, Good, Bad, Evil, Heaven, Hell, Overworld, and Underworld all have mixed and overlapping meanings, that further confuse the meanings of these LHP and RHP. The discussions of all these things have been overdone, to death, in various magical and spiritual forums. The added dimensions of Morales and Ethics is another. Philosophically consequences are heavily steeped to the nature and practice of each tradition.
Good vs. Bad
Good and Bad are valuations. They are relative to each person and how they value their life and all other things. Relatively Good and Bad are as normal and different from one being to another. As Morticia Addams says “Normal is an illusion”. Many folk form Wiccan, other Earth based, or Pagan belief systems, look at Birth, Life and Death, the cycle of life as neither good nor bad. It is. As far as Evil goes, some don’t believe in it.
Heaven and Hell versus Overworld and Underworld, not necessarily the same thing. For most people the distinction is a philosophical one. Heaven, sumerland, the here-after of what ever place is a matter of belief. And for others Hell is a matter of belief based on the Divine supernatural order by the pantheon, gods and cultural expectations. The valuation is based on belief. Shaman, Mystics and others who travel these realms, may attribute one or the other as an overworld or an underworld. The Natural spiritual planes have underworlds and overworlds. They may or may not overlap with the Heavens and Hells of their beliefs. Not all underworlds are based on evil. They are based on spiritual dynamics of spirit. Spirit that are artifacts of time, or where time collapses, this is your underworld. Where things are replicated duplicate and exist through time, is your overworld. The dynamic of worship of a being, an affinity with practices, places and events through time give a sense of immortality. Shamanically, technically it appears brighter. Underworlds appear darker. There are underworlds where the sun is out all the time and still isn’t as bright as an overworld. And there are overworlds based on the moon, and night where they are considerably darker. Light and dark became and is another subjective valuation. Granted primitive man, living amongst predators that hunt at night, is a bad thing, not evil. There are realms where underworld and overworld elements are mixed. The beings that live in such places, fae, gods and everything in between are just as capricious as humans, good bad and indifferent.
It is here that darkness and the mystical perception of it, albeit colored by ancestors concerns come into play. In the overworld and underworld dynamic that comes into play with Heavens and Hells, good and healthy practices, that met with and are judged worthy and good by gods, this implies a life beyond death. An acceptance into a realm of relatively more light, and adjudged good, by the gods and your society makes it a personal good. Here ethics are applied based on the morales and stipulations of the divine. Ethics are a shared based set of good behaviors for a society, and when there is a religion, implies that they should be part of one’s morales. Infernal creatures of the underworld hells, exist only in the sense that they are perpetuated by the constant bad behaviors that exist through time, taboos, and sins (behaviors against the ethical moraes and dictates of the culture and religion that one is bound to) the aspects of spirit that don’t exist through time suffer through a backdrop of change and chaos, where only nature that overlaps it in any detail is the only structure left. Over time and ever deeper levels of hell the maelstrom of unstructured time eats away the last remnants of that which is not part of structured and timeless events, places, beings and things. In the natural planes of overworld and underworld there is no Evil. Just is. The subjective bad valuations are only as consistent with what ceases to exist and our relationships with it.
The supernatural existence of underworlds as hells, go contrary to the religion, beings, places and things. And infernal creatures that exist do so under the auspices of people, places and things, maintain that which contradicts the heavenly order. With people and beings involved this gets sticky and messy. The convolutions in the relative valuations, and the actual value of these religious ordering of the spiritual world, lives and dies, also. Many Abrahamic beliefs conflate their supernatural order as perfect good and everlasting.
The concept of a perfect good and everlasting was introduced by Greek Philosophers and by an aberration of beliefs that the Zoroastrians created. The Greeks believed in Ideals. Idealized perfect good with the natural world was what one who wish to strive to be perfect would strive for. The Zoroastrians took two God concepts of Enlil and Enki from Sumeria and the Akkadians, and turned them into Ahura Mazda and Angra Mainyu or Ahriman. Enki, like Erebus of the Greeks, were deep underworld beings, that were more associated with water, the source of life. Hades was not a primordial but represented the current God’s (Zeus) vision of the afterlife for people. Many of the ancient people didn’t really conceive of an afterlife. Much less being able to be associated with the Gods unless they made you a divine being. The Zoroastrians created a myth about Enlil’s Father Anu who from Earth gave birth to two sons. Ahura Mazda was born first and created everything. Ahriman was born second, and there was not one place in the universe for Ahriman to create anything. This is a far cry from the predecessor beliefs. This was an absolute creation, and jealousy that wants to destroy creation to create its own. Here lies the first dichotomy, where Evil takes its entrance into the psyche of mankind. The idea that there are forces that are willing to destroy what exists. All of it, good, bad and indifferent, along with the hells, heavens and all else. So it may create. Evil the antithesis of life took and shaped how we viewed the world. This concept of truth ‘ashe’ was what kept the world in order. Druj the lie, is what was done to destroy the world and all of life. This absolute concept of Evil took the concept of bad and Idealized it.
These concepts were absorbed into the Abrahamic beliefs. When Persia conquered Babylon, and freed the Jews, their belief constructs were brought with them and infused the Judean practices. The minor being that was called the advocate, a fallen Angel, that was there to test faith and belief of the Hebrew god, was promoted in various mythologies. Shaitin is cognate with Sais and egyption god of fate. Tampering with the destinies and almost a mythic undercurrent of free will to be exorcised in creation, involving mankind, obviously.
Lets mix this up a bit. The Akkadian and Sumerian beliefs got mixed in with the Assyrians. These gods, including Ahura Mazda, and the Hebrew Yahweh were called Ashuras. Ahriman and all the primitive beings under his thrall were called Devi’s. This is where the term devil comes from. Ashura is cognate with Asura or those beings that are not Sun Gods in pre-Brahmanic faiths of India. The story has two sibling clans Devis and Ashuras. The Devis are the class of Gods that are worshipped today in India along with Suryas, Yakshas (some of them, there are demon classes there also) and the Asuras (The Jealous Gods) were on the outs. God in the Old Testament says of Himself that He is a Jealous God.
Technically Ahriman isn’t a Devi. However this is the name construct given to him and the spirits he controls. (If he couldn’t create them he had to seduce them).
The Zoroastrians made very vivid pictures of Heaven and Hell. Heaven based on the planets, and Hells based on their sins against the Morals and Ethics of the culture. How much of this is made up to scare people into being controlled, and what hells were manifested because of belief, probably both. This too influenced the Greeks, the Jews and the rest the world’s religions coming from the middle east.
Demon comes from the Greek word Daemon, a spirit, usually connected with a place, or a set of behaviors and practices. This is not a soul of a being, but a functioning spirit. The discussion between soul and spirit is a separate discussion. My previous article speaks to that.
Now where the “Devil” by any other name, and other beliefs, practices and religions, where the Devil was an advocate for humans. Encouraging them to become god like and not just abject slave to service the Gods, this was not what the gods wanted. Whether it was the Devil or Prometheus, or any supernatural being that descended to encourage people is where the devil becomes an anti-hero. The creators of humans are either good or bad, indifferent, but people were expected to toe the line. The advocate for humans depending on the religion was either a good or bad guy.
Right hand of God, the Right Hand Path, that was one way of looking at defining RHP. Hands in general were sacred. There were two places I know of that speak of LHP vs RHP in history. Vedic Yoga practices speak of liberation or Moksha and separation from all attachment and becoming one with God was considered RHP. The LHP practice was called Tantric. This was not about committing all sorts of evil atrocities. The idea was that people who had to deal with life and could not be monastic and deal with a total detachment from the world, had to learn detachment by doing the everyday things. Some have taken it to mean doing all of the taboos. In the end, good, bad and indifferent were just part of life. If one learned to become indifferent to it all, emotionally and spiritually detached, the illusion of life could fall away, the same as it was for those living in monasteries who became detached directly. Because some schools practiced taboos, and in the light of western observers, these practices were offensive, the label of evil was attached. The other concept of LHP was that of being an illegitimate child. Children that were heirs were from the Right Hand. Children of the left hand were illegitimate. They were bar sinister (sinister for left). Bastards by any other name had it rough and had to work harder than their half brothers and sisters who claimed inheritance. This social drama and the term sinister made left handedness and the concept of the Left Hand unpalatable.
Here we are in post Renaissance Europe with all of these concepts, already muddied by two millennia re-interpretations and misinterpretations.
Metaphysical practices and magic where people worked with the children of God (Angels) to become children of God being legitimate heirs to heaven, the Right Hand Path is defined. Left Hand Path, magicians who by their prowess ascending in their adepthood as being counterparts to their Angelic peers, could control demons. Demons dealt with, in theory, the day in and day out functions of life, along with evil aspects of man. LHP of working with demons and taboo energy, essentially they have to be in control of it and be above it at the same time. This is a western Tantric magical practice. Now there are those who identified and or worshipped the anti-hero gods, from myth, from philosophy, and or rebellion to the hypocritical order of the “so-called” good. Here the LHP as a belief, and also, for those in the RHP, the controlling of demons, for magical and or spiritual purposes, is a utilitarian practice. The LHP in the face of a conservative culture that marginalizes people, in spite of the taboos and laws of the elite of any culture, flourishes.
LHP, underworlds, darkness, relative badness are not necessarily evil. There shaman and energy workers of various cultures that work with either side or both. The nature and tendencies for LHP practitioners and the source of their beliefs and experiences may draw them toward antisocial behaviors against adopted morales and ethics of their prevalent culture. Some revel in the idea of evil, although they are not dedicated to the destruction of the universe for some being that wants a piece of the action. They just want life and all that it has to offer for themselves. Does this even make them bad? Depending on the social circumstance, not necessarily.
Black Magic is the use of magic against people’s or sentient beings will. RHP and LHP both can be Black Magic.
I have met satanists that are fun loving people. I have met Orthodox Theistic Satanists, and yes they are evil. I lived with Bullies and Sociopaths, who are Evil. They destroy lives, circumstances and anything decent, with no intent of anything beyond their own amusement. This is Evil. Fascists are evil.
I have met many people who are RHP or very moralistic, who are overweening, arrogant, sadistic evil individuals. They end up supporting ossified social constructs that are destructive to life and the growth of people and society.
Most who banter LHP and RHP, Light vs. Dark, Good and Evil, have no clue to the origins or the depths of the meaning of each. Conversation is necessary to tease out what people mean and where they are at. And more so, people have to check their assumptions about everything so they can hear what others are saying. And instead of making assertions, ask questions where people are at and what they mean and why. Failing that, it destroys life, relationship, understanding, it participates in the lies of all our given assumptions support. That too is an evil.
Some of us have been in the battle with Evil, physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. When they fight for Life, Love and Truth, understanding goes a long way, to create a better world. Destroying the Destroyers becomes a sacred task.