Date: Thu Jan 22, 2004 1:21 pm
Here's a few links for anyone interested in
the lore of left-handedness. I'll do two posts.
I don't vouch for the accuracy of any of this,
and in most cases, there's not much indication where the writer
found the information. It could be largely wrong for all I know.
But there seems little doubt that superstition, fear, and religious
hysteria about left-handedness go back a long way, and Steiner's
"karmic weakness" theory is just another version of
an old prejudice.
The following is from:
Left Handedness and the
association with Devilry
Being Left Handed has, for some reason, become associated with
devilry and bad luck. Superstitions that differentiate between
left and right always consider the left to be bad, unfortunate,
cursed, poisonous and satanic.
The Catholic Church at one
point declared that being Left Handed made you a servant of the
Devil. The word 'left' in many languages is associated with evil,
trouble or the devil. In Latin 'left' comes from 'sinister'.
[Diana notes here that Michaela Glockler cites
this fact explicitly in support of making left-handed children
write with their right hands.]
The same pattern repeats in
many cultures and societies not only those who were oppressed
by the Christian Church. African tribes and ancient pre-Christian
superstition also equate left with bad! There may well be some
deeply social or biological instinctive reason why left handedness
has traditionally disturbed us. Perhaps it is merely a form of
xenophobia, a kind of fear based on subconsciously offputting
physical movement of those that are left handed. Prehistoric
body language that has been lost, but once was important to early
The following is from:
Prejudices against left-handers
abound, for throughout history, lefties have been considered
inferior. Centuries ago, the Catholic Church declared left-handed
people to be servants of the Devil. For generations, left-handers
who attended Catholic schools were forced to become right-handed.
Only a few decades ago in Japan, left-handedness in a wife was
sufficient grounds for divorce. The wedding ring is placed on
the left hand in order to chase away evil spirits that may haunt
the marriage. In Arab nations, the right hand is used to touch
parts of the body above the waist, while the left hand is used
for below the navel. Bedouins segregate the women to the left
side of the tent to keep the right side free for the men. (Making
it fairly obvious to determine which gender is considered more
important.) Natives on the Guinea coast never touch their left
thumbs to their beer mugs, in the belief that it would poison
the beverage. Maori women weave ceremonial cloth with the right
hand, because to use the left hand would profane and curse the
cloth - the penalty for using the left hand is death. African
tribes along the Niger river do not allow their women to prepare
food with the left hand for fear of poisonous sorcery.
Religion has played an important
part in oppressing the image of the left hand. In Matthew 6:3
of the Bible, Jesus instructed his followers that when they do
charitable things, to "not let thy left hand know what thy
right hand doeth." Jesus also expressed the following sentiments
regarding the Judgment Day. "And before Him shall be gathered
all nations; and He shall separate them one from another, as
the shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats; and He shall
set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. Then
shall the King say unto them on His right hand, 'Come, ye blessed
of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation
of the world...' Then shall He say into them on the left hand,
'Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for
the devil and his angels...' In the Old Testament, God told Jonah
the wicked city of Nineveh contained people so sinful they "cannot
discern between their right hand and their left hand," leaving
us to infer that they cannot discern between good or evil. Greeks,
in their worship of Zeus, posted sentries to watch people entering
the holy temples and make sure they entered with their right
foot, because entrance with the left foot was thought to curse
the building. Also, the Greeks took care to never put their left
leg over the right while crossing their legs. In Hindu rituals,
followers are required at times to circle people and/or objects
three times, from left to right to cleanse them. Even languages
from around the world show how civilizations prefer the right
over the left. The word "left" comes from an Old English
word meaning "weak" or "worthless" The Italian
word "mancino" is translated to "deceitful"...as
well as "left". "No ser zurdo" is a Spanish
phrase meaning "to be very clever", which is literally
translated to mean "not to be left-handed". In English,
the word "adroit" is commonly used to mean "proper"
or "correct". In French, the word "adroit"
means "right". The English usage of the word "gauche"
is accepted as meaning "clumsy", or "awkward".
In French, it is translated to mean "left". Our word
"dexterous" comes from the Roman word "dexter",
which in turn means "right". The Roman word for "left"
is "sinister", and the phrase meaning "masturbation"
is translated to "left-handed whore". "Linkisch"
is German for "awkward" and "left".
The following is from:
For thousands of years, the
Devil has been associated with the left hand in various ways
and is normally portrayed as being left-handed in pictures and
other images. In the seventeenth century it was thought that
the Devil baptised his followers with his left-hand and there
are many references in superstitions to the "left-hand side"
being associated with evil. As an example, in France it was held
that witches greet Satan "avec le bras gauche" or with
the left hand. It is also considered that we can only see ghosts
if we look over our left shoulder and that the Devil watches
us over the left shoulder.
Christianity is strongly based
towards the right hand. It is the right had that gives the blessing
and make the sign of the cross.
On one count, the bible contains
over 100 favourable reference to the right-hand and 25 unfavourable
references to the left-hand. E.g.: The right hand of the lord
doeth valiantly, the right hand of the lord is exalted (Psalm
The left hand does worst in
the parable of the sheep and goats. The sheep are set on Christ's
right hand and the goats on the left. Those on the right inherit
the kingdom of god while those on the let depart into everlasting
The situation is much the
same in Judaism and Islam. In Islam, the left hand and everything
associated with it is seen as unclean. This stems from the Middle
Eastern custom of using the left-hand and water instead of toilet
From: Tarjei Straume
Date: Thu Jan 22, 2004 3:53 pm
Subject: Re: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] Left-handedness
At 22:21 22.01.2004, Diana wrote:
Being Left Handed has,
for some reason, become associated with devilry and bad luck.
Superstitions that differentiate between left and right always
consider the left to be bad, unfortunate, cursed, poisonous and
"A wise man's heart is
at his right hand; but a fool's heart at his left."
- Ecclesiastes 10:2
Personally, I believe the Bible is filled
with wisdom and that superstition is only something that
has been added later when the sacred Hebrew texts were no longer
understood. The quote above obviously has a common origin with
the previously mentioned techincal expressions used by Rudolf
Steiner when describing occult practices.
I also understand why those who stand on the
ground of atheism, agnosticism, and skepticism, see no difference
between ancient wisdom and old superstitions. But when this is
matched with an agenda to speculatively and vindictively seek
out arguments against Anthroposophy and against Rudolf Steiner
by alleging that anything "strange" taught or practiced
in Waldorf schools must have a superstitious origin whenever
it is theoretically possible to trace it to the confusion described
above, such argumentation lacks credibility in the eyes of those
who have had some success with their effort to understand anthroposophically
oriented occultism and its history. And this is why it is ludicrous
to suggest that hand-switching practiced in Waldorf schools should
be traced back to Moses in the Book of Ecclesiastes, or to a
similar origin of a later date - especially when it is all written
off as superstition.
Date: Thu Jan 22, 2004 1:35 pm
Subject: More on left-handedness
The following is from:
DEVIL AND THE LEFT
Devils are often associated
with the left. One common superstition, still quite commonly
exists today, is that it is unlucky to spill salt. However, one
is supposed to take a bit of the spilled salt with one's right
hand and throw it over his/her left shoulder to "offset"
the bad luck. The reason, as many of you should know, is to try
to throw the salt in the devil's face who is lurking over the
left side of the body.
Why is left related to devils
and the evil? Although the common name for devil, Satan, has
no relation with "left" in Hebrew, the Talmud (a collection
of oral laws of the Jews with explanations) says that there was
a chief adversary (or "Chief of Satans") who ultimately
became the Prince of Demons. Samael, the name of the adversary,
is clearly related to se'mol, the Hebrew word for "the left
side". This is believed to be the origin of referring "left"
as evil. Interestingly, since people believe that the left side
is evil, they would logically conclude that all evil acts are
done with the left hand as well -- hence the Devil and the Chief
of Satans must be left-handed. One should have noticed that all
of Christian rituals are done with the right hand.
Some examples and outcomes
of this "Devil must be a lefty" belief:
Eskimos believe that all left-handed
people are potential sorcerer.
In Morocco left-handers are
considered as a devil or a cursed person.
In Europe and colonial America
the witch hunters trialed accused witches with a public examination
of their naked body. The purpose of this was to find "proofs"
of witchcraft -- blemish or mole on the left side of their body.
This "evidence" was sufficient enough to put a woman
to execution. It is believed that Joan d'Arc, the patriotic heroine
of France, was executed based on this kind of trial. In sketches
kept in the Franch National Archives in Paris, Joan is shown
to be holding her sword in her left hand.
[Diana notes: I read elsewhere that Joan of
Arc was probably not left-handed, but just depicted as such to
make her seem evil.]
In the past (maybe it's still
the case today), all Jewish priests had to be free of any of
the "hundred bodily defects" listed by Maimonides.
Included on the list are a blind man, a lame, anything too long,
broken-handed, a dwarf, and left-handed.
In the United States and most
other countries, the right hand is raised while making an oath
in courts and other occasions. No exceptions!
Many artists represent devils
by showing them to be lefthanders.
In classic tarot cards, Justice
is depicted as right-handed and the Devil as left-handed. (Burdel
tarot classic cards, 1751)
Here the Devil, with his left
hand, baptises his followers. (Guazzo, Compendium Maleficarum,
LEFT IN OTHER RELIGIONS
In ancient Egyptian religion,
the god Set is very similar to "Satan" in Christianity.
Set is labeled with "evil" and "destructive",
and he is named "The Left Eye of the Sun." Horus, the
god of life, is named "The Right Eye of the Sun."
In Buddhism, the Buddha describes
that the path to Nirvana (the state of enlightenment and salvation)
divides into two paths. The one on the left-hand-side is the
wrong way of life, and people should avoid it and follow the
path on the right-hand-side because it is the "eightfold
path" to enlightenment.
Ancient Mayan and Aztec (Central/South
America) rituals use the middle finger of the right hand to first
tip into the soil then to the lips in order to bring protection
In Islamic countries and India,
people are forbidden to eat with their left hand becuse it is
unclean -- literally. People in these countries once used their
left hand to clean the body after defecation. This restriction
is an easy way to distinguish the unclean hand from the eating
hand (they eat bare-handed) for hygienic purpose.
From: dottie zold
Date: Fri Jan 23, 2004 2:23 pm
Subject: Re: Left-handedness
Left hand denotes the power of the Queen.
Date: Fri Jan 23, 2004 4:35 pm
Subject: Re: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] Re: Left-handedness
Critics, and Controversy
OOOO Cool! where from, this??
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