In Western esotericism the Left-Hand Path and Right-Hand Path are the dichotomy between two opposing approaches to magic. This terminology is used in various groups involved in the occult and ceremonial magic. In some definitions, the Left-Hand Path is equated with malicious black magic or black shamanism, while the Right-Hand Path with benevolent white magic.: 152  Other occultists have criticised this definition, believing that the Left–Right dichotomy refers merely to different kinds of working and does not necessarily connote good or bad magical actions.: 176 In more recent definitions, which base themselves on the terms' origins in Indian Tantra, the Right-Hand Path (RHP, or Dakshinachara), is seen as a definition for those magical groups that follow specific ethical codes and adopt social convention, while the Left-Hand Path (LHP, or Vamamarga) adopts the opposite attitude, espousing the breaking of taboo and the abandoning of set morality. Some contemporary occultists, such as Peter J. Carroll, have stressed that both paths can be followed by a magical practitioner, as essentially they have the same goals.Another distinguishing characteristic separating the two is based upon the aim of the practitioner. Right-handed path practitioners tend to work towards ascending their soul towards ultimate union (or reunion) with the divine source, returning to heaven, allegorically alluded to as restoration or climbing back up the ladder after the "great fall". In Solomon's lesser key, they embrace the light and try to annihilate anything they regard as "dark" or "evil". On the other hand, left-handed path practitioners do not see this as the ultimate aim but a step towards their goal. Left-handed path practitioners embrace the dark as well as the light in order to invoke the alchemical formula solve et coagula ("dissolve and precipitate"), confronting the negative in order to transmute it into desirable qualities. Left-handed path practitioners descend towards union with the divine to obtain Godhood status, with God-like powers of their own, having reunited with the ultimate divine source-energy; then once there, taking one more step separating from that divinity, out of this creation into a new creation of their own making, with themselves as the sole divinity of the new universe, apart from the previous creation. The godhood self sought by Left Hand Path followers is represented by the Qlipha Thaumiel in the Tree of Knowledge.

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