"Order of the Trapezoid - Statement"
Reprinted from: _The Crystal Tablet of Set_
(c) Temple of Set, January 1, 1990 CE
Weirdbase file version by TS permission
Stephen E. Flowers
Magister Templi IV* Temple of Set
Grand Master, Order of the Trapezoid
Electronic mail: MCI-Mail 319-0074
Statement author: M.A. Aquino
Ipsissimus VI* Temple of Set
Grand Master Emeritus, O.Tr.
Electronic mail: MCI-Mail 278-4041
"When once the restraining talisman of the Christian cross is broken in
Germany, then the fury of the ancient warriors, the berserk rage of which
the Nordic poets sang, will surge up again. The old stone gods will rise
from long-forgotten ruins and rub the dust of a thousand years from their
eyes; and Thor with his giant hammer will leap up and smash the Gothic
cathedrals. And when that crash comes, it will be like nothing heard before
- Heinrich Heine, 1834
The "mainstream" of the Western magical tradition may be said to have a
Mediterranean origin: Egypt, Mesopotamia, Greece, and Rome - and the later
syntheses of these ancient cultures through the Medieval, Renaissance, and
In marked contrast to the Mediterranean tradition is the school of thought
which originated in the northern areas of Europe and Scandinavia: the Nordic
or Germanic tradition. Most notable in this tradition, of course, is its
lack of features either derivative of Judaeo/Christianity or prior to and
prototypical of it. The Germanic metaphysics developed in an alien
environment, remained largely isolated from the Mediterranean influence
during the Roman Empire, and were suppressed rather than assimilated during
the Christian centuries which followed.
It was in the late 19th century CE that this ancient Germanic tradition
returned to play more than a mere mythological part in European affairs. It
is perhaps not surprising that it surfaced during the Second Reich of Kaiser
Wilhelm I and Otto von Bismarck. Until their unification by Prussia, the
Germanic states had been weak and unstable in comparison to the larger
nation-states of the continent. Periodically ravaged by foreign armies,
Germany had earned the unenviable title of the "battleground of Europe".
The 19th century heralded the onset of a new movement in European culture:
Romanticism. It was a reaction to and a rejection of the methodical,
practical - but just as often frustrating and stifling - scientific
materialism which had resulted from the industrial revolution. In its
original, more transcultural sense, Romanticism implied uninhibited
individualism. In German, however, it gripped the imagination to a somewhat
deeper degree. Gustau Pauli, in Dehio's _Geschichte der deutschen Kunst_
"Romanticism is Germanic and reached its purest expression in those
territories which are most free from Roman colonization. Everything that is
regarded as an essential aspect of the romantic spirit: irrationalism, the
mystic welding-together of subject and object, the tendency to intermingle
the arts, the longing for the far-away and the strange, the feeling for the
infinite and the continuity of historic development - all these are
characteristic of German Romanticism, and so much so that their union
remains unintelligible to the Latins. What is known as Romanticism in France
has only its name in common with German Romanticism."
Crucial also to German Romanticism were the concepts of _dynamism_ and
_life-worship_. The former term represents an urge towards constant movement
and evolution, whether intellectual, artistic, or social. It differs from
the Setian concept of _Xeper_ in that Romantic dynamism is non-Platonic; it
is supra-rational rather than guided by logic, ethics, and Noetic
German Romantic life-worship was not love and respect for the phenomenon of
life per se, but rather a compulsion to exercise one's _own_ life - to
"really live" rather than to simply exist. Again this is commendable, but as
with dynamism it can be dangerous in excess - when one's "rage to live"
interrupts and consumes the lives of others.
The uncanny attraction of the Third Reich - Nazi Germany - lies in the fact
that it endorsed and practiced both dynamism and life-worship without
restraint and to a world-shaking degree of success. In _The Revolution of
Nihilism_ (1939), Herman Rauschning said:
"This irrational element in National Socialism is the actual source of its
strength. It is the reliance on it that accounts for its 'sleepwalker's
immunity' in the face of one practical problem after another. It explains
why it was possible for National Socialism to attain power almost without
the slightest tangible idea of what it was going to do. The movement was
without even vague general ideas on the subject; all it had was boundless
confidence: things would smooth themselves out one way or another ... Its
strength lay in incessant activity and in embarking on anything so long as
it kept things moving ... National Socialism is action pure and simple,
dynamics _in vacuo_, revolution at a variable tempo, ready to be changed at
Similarly the life-worship of the Third Reich was not what the
"Mediterranean" mind understands by this term. The "life" is the life of the
state, or more precisely the _Volk_ (perhaps best translated as the "soul of
the people"). The individual achieves self-realization as, through his
efforts, he contributes to the strengthening of this "soul".
Just as the Third Reich's dynamism got out of hand, leading it to embark on
irrational and destructive foreign invasions, so its life-worship - which
could have been a truly evolutionary synthesis of the most sublime concepts
of Hegel and Nietzsche - became perverted into crude xenophobia, hatreds
built upon superficial notions of "race", and ultimately a maddened stampede
towards a Wagnerian _Goetterdaemmerung_ in defiance of a return to
rationalism. Said Heinrich Himmler on April 21, 1945:
"We have made serious mistakes. If I could have a fresh start, I would do
many things differently now. But it is too late. We wanted greatness and
security for Germany, and we are leaving behind us a pile of ruins, a fallen
The Order of the Trapezoid (O.Tr.) extracts the positive, the constructive,
the exalted, and the Romantic from the Germanic magical tradition - and just
as carefully avoids and rejects those excesses, distortions, and cruelties
which have made this tradition an object of the most extraordinary fear,
condemnation, and suppression in the postwar period. The Germanic tradition
is also part of the legacy of the Prince of Darkness, hence is appropriate
to an Order within the Temple of Set, which embraces all manifestations of
the Powers of Darkness in the world.
Nevertheless the care required in any investigation into this tradition
cannot be overemphasized. Magical and research ability are not enough;
ethical sensitivity and social discretion are just as important. The
prospects for new and wondrous perspectives on the Black Art are
exhilarating, but success will come only if the Order conducts its affairs
with the same dedication and nobility that have made the Temple of Set a
legend in its time.
LINEAGE OF THE ORDER
The O.Tr. was founded as an informal Order within the Church of Satan by the
authority of Anton Szandor LaVey as High Priest. Its existence was first
announced in the December V/1970 _Cloven Hoof_:
The O.Tr. is the "board of directors" and security staff of the Church. Its
functions are many, and its members are chosen by appointment, according to
the special abilities and attributes of each. All Priests and Priestesses
are automatically admitted into the Order, although the identities of most
members of the Order are unknown even to each other. Members of the
Governing or Grand Council of the Trapezoid are known only to the High
Priest, who solicits their aid when required.
There was a strong Germanic element in the rituals of the early Church of
Satan, deriving from the musical imagery of Richard Wagner and from the
visual imagery of Weimar-era Expressionism (Max Reinhardt, Hans Poelzig).
The significance of the trapezoid itself came from its suggestion of
perspective and the distortion of that perspective in such UFA films as _The
Cabinet of Dr. Caligari_ and _The Golem_. From ritual use of similar angles
and planes in such ceremonies as "Die Elektrischen Vorspiele" [in _The
Satanic Rituals_], Anton LaVey made observations culminating in his "Law of
"All obtuse angles are magically harmful to those unaware of this property.
The same angles are beneficial, stimulating, and energizing to those who are
magically sensitive to them."
In the December V/1970 _Cloven Hoof_ article, five literary sources for this
principle were identified: William Mortensen's _The Command to Look_, Louis
McCarty's _The Great Pyramid Jeezeh_, Sheila Ostrander & Lynn Schroeder's
_Psychic Discoveries Behind the Iron Curtain_ (Chapter 27), Frank Belknap
Long's _The Hounds of Tindalos_, and H.P. Lovecraft's _The Haunter of the
Dark_. The Council of the Trapezoid, alternatively identified as the Council
of Nine, was in fact an informal, unofficial cabinet without fixed
membership, terms, or functions - and with no binding decision-making power.
In X/1975 it attained formal status as the corporate board of directors and
supreme executive body of the Temple of Set.
Apart from early Council meetings, which ceased ca. late V, no Order
meetings or functions distinct from those of the Priesthood were held in the
Church of Satan. In VI the Order was officially defined as comprising the
III*-V* initiates within the Church, i.e. the collective Satanic Priesthood.
In VIII Anton LaVey again re-constituted the Order, this time to identify
significant contributors to and representatives of the Satanic tradition,
within or without the formal Church and Priesthood. Again there were no
meetings, functions, or publications of this Order.
From X to XIV the Order was again used as an alternate designation for all
degrees within the Priesthood of Set, and at the Set-I Conclave in XIV the
Council of Nine replaced the Satanic trident in its emblem with the _Tcham_
sceptre of Set. At the Set-III Conclave in XVI the Order was once again
reconstituted, this time as an honorary designation for all present and past
members of the Council of Nine, and its emblem was condensed to a pentagram
within a trapezoid.
In the _Walhalla_ or "Hall of the Dead" at Castle Wewelsburg, Westphalia -
the subterranean sanctum sanctorum of the German castle which Heinrich
Himmler had reconstructed for his own Workings in the Black Art - Michael A.
Aquino, High Priest of Set, conducted a Working on October 19, XVII. One of
the results of this Working was the reconstitution of the O.Tr. as a truly
functioning Order under the authority of the Temple of Set.
The O.Tr. is an Order of knighthood characterized by strict personal honor
and faithfulness to the quest for the Grail. The Order is a knighthood in
that its members are pledged to the traditional chivalric virtues as
appropriate to each situation encountered. By honor is meant a sense of
justice, ethics, and responsibility prior to personal comfort, convenience,
or advantage. This honor is known by one's faithfulness to the Quest for the
Grail, which is the self, soul, or psyche made perfect through conscious
refinement and exercise of the Will. Attainment of the Grail results in
transformation of the individual into a state of dynamic existence energized
by the psyche, not by the physical body derived from the objective universe.
Hence the O.Tr. is the gate to psychecentric immortality beyond physical
The insignia of the O.Tr. is an inverse pentagram whose four upper points
define the limits and angles of a _phi_-trapezoid. From the nethermost point
of the pentagram radiates the Black Flame of Set, whose nine tongues signify
the Council of Nine and complete the angular relationships of the pentagram
and trapezoid. Rising from the Black Flame is a _Tcham_ sceptre, symbol of
Pharaonic authority in ancient Egypt, bearing the head and forked tail of
Set. The sceptre faces to the left, symbolic of the Left-Hand Path of Black
Magic. The space between the Black Flame and the _Tcham_ sceptre forms the
letter "W", signifying _Walhalla_. This is both the name of the chamber in
the Wewelsburg, Westphalia wherein the Order was consecrated; and the famous
hall of eternal life to which ancient Teutonic heroes were brought by the
Walkyries and admitted by Wotan. Thus the letter "W" has a fivefold meaning
(including the Motto of the Order) in addition to its primary reference. In
the topmost three gaps between the pentagram and the trapezoid are the
numbers 666, symbolic of the Prince of Darkness and of the First and Second
Beasts revealed of him. The three sixes add to XVIII, the first Working Year
following the creation of the Church of Satan, and the year in which the
O.Tr. was returned to life. In the entire emblem there are no curved lines,
signifying the Black Magical power of angular relationships and the Law of
the Trapezoid. The emblem is further mathematically keyed to the _phi_-
Admission to the O.Tr. is by invitation only. To be considered, one must
first achieve the degree of Adept II* in the Temple of Set, and evidence a
sufficiently comprehensive involvement in the Temple as a whole to preclude
over-concentration in the magical philosophy of the Order.
_Runes_ is the newsletter of the O.Tr. It is named in honor of the _Runen_
newsletter of the _Germanen Orden_, an esoteric society in pre- and post-
World War I Germany. The Fenris Wolf on its masthead comes from ancient
north European mythology. Fenris was one of the daemonic offspring of Loki,
and the brother of Hel and of the Midgard Serpent. Growing up in Asgard
among the gods, he eventually became so huge and fierce that the gods
decided to bind him. The only cord which could hold Fenris was made of the
elements of the Earth by the dwarves. It was said that at _Ragnaroek_, the
end of times, Fenris would break free. According to the _Voeluspa_ (ca. 9th
century CE), a text from Norway and Iceland:
"The chains that hold the Fenris Wolf are rent asunder, and the Wolf courses
about. Brothers shall fight and slay one another; sisters' sons shall break
the bonds of kinship. It shall fare hard with the world: great whoredom, an
axe-age, a sword-age, shields shall be cloven, a wind-age, a wolf-age, ere
the world sinks in ruin. No man shall spare the other."
Fenris as _Runes_' masthead thus symbolizes the Powers of Darkness
temporarily constrained by the objective universe. It is also a reminder
that the price of loosing the Wolf - to energize evolutionary consciousness
in humanity - is to risk chaos in the natural order by lesser humanity's
misuse of its power over nature. This is the AEon of Set, when the human
psyche can soar free of its animalistic fetters; but it is also a wolf-age
in which much of the planet suffers through human carelessness and
callousness - the result of corruption of the powers of high intelligence.
The O.Tr. seeks to allow Fenris to run free in his magnificence - as the
Prince of Darkness created him - but further to show that his freedom
through initiation of the Will will exalt, not debase mankind.
The artistic rendition of Fenris is reproduced from the cover of the August
1941 issue of _Germanien_, official journal of the _Ahnenerbe_, the elite
section of the SS concerned with the theory and practice of the Black Arts.
"Let none who fears
The spear of Wotan
Adventure across this fire!"
- Richard Wagner, _Die Walkuere