"Pyo (hand sign of the great diamond) The physical imitation of the diamond, symbol of the power of knowledge which transcends the worldly limitations, the (sign) is used to inspire personal power through the channelling of energy to the appropriate area of consciousness for the purpose at hand" Hayes: Ninja: Warrior Ways of Enlightenment. 1981.
Recently, I had the opportunity to question Mariko, a Japanese Setian about the Black Magic of her parent culture. I found the dialogue fascinating.
"This is an area ignored by most because of false assumptions that Asian magical and religious systems are all Right-Hand Path based. This is due to the unfortunate tendency of Western anthropologists and magicians to insist on projecting their own cultural biases in publishing scholarly papers on Japanese traditions."
"A recent readers' column in a Japanese occult magazine contained a letter from a reader who wanted to know how he can obtain a copy of the _Holy Bible_, as he was told by a friend that one can only purchase them from a Christian church and there was not one within a reasonable traveling distance. The editor's response was "you should be able to special order it from your local bookstore." This would be unheard of in Australia or the United States; where there are as many churches as MacDonald's restaurants." Christian missionaries were severly frowned upon in their early contact with Japanese society. Some enterprising public servant thought up a good way to weed out closet Christians by creating sculptures of the cross to stamp on. Some in museums are very worn.
Although Mariko now lives in the United States, she has regular contact with Setians in Japan. "There was also a little known LHP group known as the Blue Wolves, who practice a syncretic LHP system based on British and Germanic traditions, The head of this group published an introductory book on Black Magic in 1989 in Japanese, in which the Temple of Set and Dr. Aquino are briefly mentioned. The copy I have is 12th printing, published in 1992, so the group may not be around anymore. The "Blue Wolves" (or "Seirodan" in Japanese) book on Black Magic was written by Nagare Chiaki. According to his biography, he was born in 1933 --- that makes him 64 years old. He was born in Tokyo, attended Tokyo University, worked as a writer and copy editor, studied astrology at Cambridge University, and has published numerous books. This one seems to be the only one on Black Magic, however. The Publisher is Futami (Tokyo)." (see picture of Kuromajutsu below).
"In the wake of the Aum Shinrikyo subway gas incident, the negative publicity thrown onto "cults" has made it difficult for many groups, I am told." There are right-hand path groups, such as the OTO, Golden Dawn, and IOT initiates in Tokyo, and the Left-Hand Path is gradually becoming better represented.
"The LHP tradition is hidden in Japan. Dr. Stephen E. Flowers has a section in _The Lords of the Left-Hand Path_ pertaining to esoteric LHP Buddhist traditions. I consider esoteric teachings of Old Shinto to be LHP as well. Not much of it has been published, let alone translated into English, but the teachings are alive in some martial arts traditions. For instance, Ueshiba Morihei (in Japanese, last name is first, followed by first name), the renowned Aikido practitioner, based his system on esoteric Shinto teachings. In addition, Ninjutsu, in my opinion, is *the* school for LHP practitioners, incorporating extensive Lesser Black Magic and Greater Black Magic training. The particular school Bujinkan (literal translation: Hall of the Warrior Gods) is currently headed by Dr. Masaaki Hatsumi, 34th Grandmaster of the Togakure-ryu (literal translation: Hidden Door). _Mind of the Ninja_ by Kirtland C. Peterson is a good open source to glean some aspects of this, although his book emphasizes mikkyo (esoteric Buddhism)."
Another Setian Black Magician who is practicing Ninjutsu emphasized to me that although Ninjutsu may have it's Left- Hand Path aspects, most practitioners would probably use such comments as a good excuse to use such a speaker as a "practice-dummy"!
That said, one Ninja theorist, Peterson (1986: 211) writes that "regardless of which way you turn, the Ninja represent the Devil incarnate" - and further, that the Devil "also has many positive attributes" - this puts the Ninja firmly in the antinomian field. There is an intruiging chapter on Ninja magic in Turnbull's "Ninja" (1992). He mentions magical transformations, learning magic from spiders and the connections of ninja with the tengu - mythological crows. Another ninja magical techniques is the nine kuji-in hand postures with their related mantras and concepts.
As for other Asian magical traditions, says Mariko, if you track the development of various martial arts systems (or fine arts such as calligraphy or dance), you will inevitably run into esoteric traditions or secret societies tied into them. This is because most of the martial arts were, at one time or another, suppressed, and even modern practices of certain arts are considered antinomian. The excerpt of the Triad initiation ceremony in Peter Houston's _Tongs, Gangs, and Triads_ is worth mentioning for historical purposes. It recites the 18 military arts developed at the Shao Lin Temple and their correlating weapons. In much of the USA, and Australia mere possession of most of those weapons are illegal, although it is said you can purchase them in Chinatown. Mariko asked me to stress that neither she nor the Temple of Set endorses the aquisition of banned weapons.
Another tradition adaptable to Left-Hand Path ideas is Butoh: probably one of the most antinomian dance expression existing in Japan today. The literal translation of the art form is "Dark World Dance Steps".
Mariko sees similarities in Japanese magical systems with black magical systems such as the Runes. "Where the runic tradition meets Old Shinto is most interesting. There is a English publication called _The Essence of Aikido: Spiritual Teachings of Morihei Ueshiba_ compiled by John Stevens. Ueshiba is of course, the reknowned founder of Aikido, which is basically a martial art form embodying some principles of Shinto. Those who have studied the runes would immediately recognize the galdr and the way the teachings are presented in doka or waka, the Japanese equivalent of rune poems. Aikido has an advantage for the English speaking magical researcher as more information is available regarding Aikido in English.
There is Black Magic in Japan, and seekers such as Mariko are bringing these traditions to life. One of the main benefits of doing so is overthrowing the silly idea that Asian philosophies are not self-conscious, or all emphasise denial or disintegration of the self. This is far from true. The discerning magician may find many tools in Japanese magic to aid in the Quest, whether it be the arts of invisibility, dance, combat, stealth, transformation and antinomianism.
Bibliography & Further Reading.
- Chiaka, Nagare. (1992). Kuromajutsu (Black Magic). Futami, Tokyo.
- Flowers, Stephen E. (1997) "Lords of the Left-Hand Path: A History of Spiritual Dissent". Runa-Raven Press, TX, USA.
- Hatsumi, M. (1981). Ninjutsu History and Tradition. Unique Publications, Hollywood USA.
- Hayes, Stephen. (1981) "Ninja: Vol. 2. Warrior Ways of Enlightenment", Ohara Publications, USA.
- Petersen, Kirtland. (1986), "Mind of the Ninja", Contemporary Books, Chicago, USA.
- Stevens, John. (1999) "The Essence of Aikido: Spiritual Teachings of Morihei Ueshiba", Kodansha International. Japan.
- Turnbull, Stephen. (1992), "Ninja: The True Story of Japan's Secret Warrior Cult", Firebird Books, NY, USA.