In Don Webb’s book, “Uncle Setnakts Essential Guide to the Left Hand Path,” in chapter 1, he covers a topic called “The Nature of the Self and the Cosmos.” This is pivotal section, as it may be a make-it or break-it point for the reader in deciding if the Left Hand Path of the Temple of Set, is compatible with the reader.
Why is it pivotal? To me, the nature of self is one of the most important topics to consider in a spiritual path. My own personal experience tells me that the “self” is not the body, nor is it the brain.
For me, this is where I went into an idea that the layers of self are more expanded than the body concept of self. This is my take, my view, based on my personal experiences of non-physical recollection.
This section must be fully consumed to understand where the Temple of Set stands on the premise of self. This is a cornerstone by which all other forms of cosmology will play out. I’m going to pull in some other sources from the Temple of Set, in order to flush out and define some terminology used here.
Four Characteristics of the Self
In Chapter 1 of his book, “Uncle Seknakts Essential Guide to the Left Hand Path,” Mr. Webb points out four characteristics of the magical self:
- Surface Level
- Medial Level
- Core Level
- Daemonic Level
This post is only going to focus on one of those levels (surface level), doing a very deep dive.
This is the present appearance of reality. Not to say it’s truly real, but it appears real for us. This is our day to day mundane lives. Mr. Webb says that the way to affect activity in the surface level is through a formula called:
Awaken, See, Act
In other words, we can change our appearance of reality through awakening, seeing and action. So let’s dig into each of these from a LHP perspective.
To awaken has the following aspects:
FIRST it is noted that there is a precondition, that is to say, the aspirant has fallen asleep spiritually – and through the refocusing of the mind, body and soul they can “wake up.” What they refocus on is not detailed in this section, but most likely it’s part of the spiritual process that they teach.
SECOND, the “subjective universe,” is absent of a hard location, as such any present moment and place can be a starting point from which to interact with it.
To fully grasp the second point, we must define subjective universe from the Temple of Set perspective. This is actually a challenging definition to find. However, I did come across some quotes from Dr. Stephen Flowers in “Lords of the Left Hand Path,” which directly explain these concepts.
The universe is the totality of existence both known and unknown. This is a complex model, divided into at least two components: the objective universe and the subjective universe. The objective universe is the natural cosmos or world order. This is essentially mechanical or organic, for example, it is ruled by certain predictable laws manifested in a time/space continuum. The objective universe, including the laws governing it, can be equated with “nature” as well as with “God” in the Judeo-Christian tradition.“Lords of the Left Hand Path,” by Dr. Stephen Flowers
The subjective universe is the “world” of any sentient entity within the universe. There are as many subjective universes as there are sentient beings. The subjective universe is the particularized manifestation of consciousness within the universe. Usually, experience of the objective universe is only indirect, as information concerning it must come through the subjective universe. Curiously enough, the subjective universe does not seem governed by the same natural/mechanical/ organic laws as the objective universe. In fact, this is the main distinction between them. The subjective universe has the option of acting in a nonnatural way—free from the limitations of the world of five senses and three dimensions. At this point it might be worth pointing out that the terms objective/subjective have nothing in common with the distinction between accurate/inaccurate, or exact/inexact, which popular usage might have projected onto the terms. The subjective universe is capable of far more accurate and exact manifold operations than the objective universe. A good example would be your reading and understanding of these words, which is based on the exercise of a faculty within your subjective universe. In simple grammatical terms, the subject is the reader (i.e., that which reads) and the object is that which is read. The subjective universe is capable of a full spectrum of possibilities, which range from virtually absolute precision to al- most total delusion, because it is not bound by natural laws. The focus or epicenter of this nonnatural subjective universe is equated with human conscious- ness, or soul, or self. The nonnatural aspect of this soul is clearly and basically indicated by humanity’s drive to impose structures artificially created in that subjective universe upon the objective universe. All artificially created structures (i.e., those made by“Lords of the Left Hand Path,” by Dr. Stephen Flowers
art/craft) are by definition something separate and apart from the natural cosmos—be those structures pyramids, poems, or political institutions. Animals, many of which may have complex social organizations, are bound by nature and by their organic programming. The wolf pack, no matter if in one part of the world or another, now or a million years ago, has the same social order. But you will look in vain to find any two human social institutions that are absolutely identical. Any- thing that is the product of the subjective universe—individual or collective—will bear the mark of variation. Each particular instance of this soul—this phenomenon of the subjective uni- verse—implies the existence of a first form or general principle from which all the particular manifestations are derived. In the most philosophically refined of the schools of the left-hand path, this first principle of isolate intelligence is identified as the “Prince of Darkness,” or the ultimate deity of the left-hand path. (Note that words prince and principle both derive from Lat. princeps, “emperor, leader,” with the literal sense “he who takes first place.”) This is the archetype of the self from which all particular selves are derived.
What Dr. Flowers is stating in his book, “Lords of the Left Hand Path,” is that the terms subjective and objective universe are not to be confused with how we normally think of subjective (relative or not real) and objective (hard and real.)
Dr. Flowers is saying that there is this objective universe governed by laws of science. There is also a subjective universe that is unique to each sentient life form. The subjective universe does not adhere to any known laws, and can behave in a nonnatural way.
Within the subjective universe, I suppose the magic act itself is produced. I copied a section of Dr. Flowers’ quote above, as I think it’s very important to note as part of this cosmology of the Temple of Set:
Each particular instance of this soul—this phenomenon of the subjective uni- verse—implies the existence of a first form or general principle from which all the particular manifestations are derived. In the most philosophically refined of the schools of the left-hand path, this first principle of isolate intelligence is identified as the “Prince of Darkness,” or the ultimate deity of the left-hand path.“Lords of the Left Hand Path,” by Dr. Stephen Flowers
I’m happy to read that the nature of the self and cosmology fits within my own personal experiences and ideas. If the reader get past the loaded verbiage of “Prince of Darkness,” we can see he’s talking of a first cause, a source from which all individual creation/consciousness derives, and I’m totally in agreement with that.
Connecting the Dots on Awakening
Back to what Mr. Webb is saying in this book… the nature of the self is comprised of four layers or levels. The first of which is called the “surface level.” This level is affected through the formula of Awaken, See and Action.
This surface level can modify reality (in part) through awakening. This waking up, is in the context of refocusing the body, mind and soul… Spiritual practice, I suppose we could say, wakes the aspirant up to a greater depth to what is “real.” Awakening can happen at any moment as it works through the subjective universe (that which is not bound by natural law.)
The See in this part is like the subjective universe (previously described.) We don’t really know how things really are, we simply relate to things as they appear.
As a personal analysis, this sounds a lot like the Buddhist concept of emptiness – the lack of self existence. The idea of emptiness being, that we really don’t know (from a limited perspective) what things really are. We see the pencil and call it a pencil, but it could be interpreted by something as a stick, or a weapon.
While we have two universal aspects at play (objective and subjective), and while we know that what we think we see is an appearance (not necessarily a shared appearance), we must act regardless.
As an example, the boss figure at work may appear wonderful, or a villain, but in either case we act according to our appearance. But this gets complicated:
Let’s dig into this a bit more. What is an Enneagram?
The enneagram describes the harmonization of three dissimilar processes: linear progression, dynamic cycle, and static coalescence. All three are necessary and none is reducible to one of the others. Figure 8.5 shows all three properties. This is how the Law of Three and the Law of the Octave are harmonized and it is by under- standing how this works that progress in development and mastery over events in one’s life are gained.“Lords of the Left Hand Path,” by Dr. Stephen Flowers
Dr. Flowers’ definition of the enneagram is more confusing as it brings yet more concepts not yet defined (linear progression, dynamic cycle, static coalescence, law of three and the law of the octave.) Sadly these are not defined in his work. I’m left here to wonder what exactly Don Webb meant by the surface level of being is described in the enneagram.
I came across an online forum called “Order of the Serpent,” who raised this exact question, “what exactly does the Enneagram represent?” The best response I saw was a reference to this work by Gurdjieff (which also mentions the Rule of 3, and the Octave.) I’m not saying it makes it all clear… but it goes a bit further in definitions.
Perhaps it’s best to not get caught up in Webb’s reference of the Enneagram and simply accept Act / Action as acting in the appearance of reality (whether it’s really real or not.)