“‘Left-Hand Path’ in the East‘
Tantrism can be found in both Hindu and Buddhist varieties. Hindu Tantric practice is generally divided amoung two paths; The Vamamarga (or vamacara or vamachara) or ‘Left Hand Path’ or red tantra and the Dakshinachara or ‘Right Hand Path’ or white tantra. The most obvious but not the only distinction between these two is that LHP Tantra involves actual sexual practice as part of its rituals while RHP tantra uses non-sexual yoga practices instead. It is interesting to note that in common usage in India today, the term ‘Tantra’ has come to mean ‘black magic’ while in the West that term has come to refer mostly to hippie-like ‘sacred sex’ yoga classes. Experts say both interpretations tend to cloud the full picture of what Tantra is fully about.
… There is little question that Tantra (both Buddhist and Hindu) arose in part as an anti-nomian revolt against restrictive mainstream Vedic, Buddhist and even Muslim morality. So those who would say it has nothing to do with taboo-breaking are quite obviously wrong. …
‘Left-Hand Path in the West‘
Prior to LaVey, no one that I know of ever applied the term ‘Left-Hand Path’ to themself or to anyone else in a positive way in the West. As far as I can tell, the term first appears as a perjorative in Western literature in Helena Blavatsky’s ‘The Secret Doctrines’ of 1888 in which she uses it as a blanket term for bad-guy, selfish, materialistic, evil black magicians.
Blavatsky postulated that from the days of Atlantis there have been evil adepts of the Left-Hand Path who used their Black Magic for self-serving, materialistic and destructive purposes as contrasted with their opponents, the adepts of the Right-Hand Path who only pursue altruistic magic for the betterment of others. She obviously picked up (and partly misunderstood) the term ‘Left-Hand Path’ during her long study in India because the term does not appear in her earlier work, ‘Isis Unveiled’ at all. In subsequent writings, Blavatsky’s disciples have specifically made this moralistic judgmental error in understanding the basics of Vamacara or Left-Hand Path segment of Tantrism. …
It is pretty safe to assume that LaVey read Blavatsky and rejected almost all of her philosophy even to the point of recognizing himself and his outlook as the villain of her cosmology. When she shuddered about selfish Black Magician of the Left-Hand Path, LaVey probably smiled and recognized himself in that role. This was apparently the extent of Tantrism’s influence on the Satanic Bible and LaVey’s other works, since LaVey never mentioned it. But even badly filtered through Blavatsky’s misinterpretation, the essential truth of what the Left Hand Path is all about was recognizable to LaVey: indulgence instead of abstinence, pleasure instead of pain, selfishness instead of altruism, flesh instead of spirit.
But, while Vamachara Tantra and Modern Satanism are both Left Hand Path, there is an essential difference between the two that keeps Tantra from being strictly speaking, ‘Satanic.’ Modern Satanism expects its adherents to be their own gods without any need for personal instruction or permission from any guru to be a ‘Satanists.’ Vamachara Tantra however is not so individualistic and, in fact, strictly requires its initiates to study under the tutelage of a Tantrik guru. Tantra teaches that performance of the rites of Vamachara without the oversight of a guru will not only be ineffectual but warns that it might even be dangerous. So while both Vamachara Tantra and Modern Satanism are both LHP, Tantra cannot truly be said to be ‘Satanic’ per se in the sense that Satanists use the term.”
– RtM, Satanism, Tantrism and the Left-Hand Path