TEMPLE OF SET Post Office Box 7622 Austin, TX 78713 (415) 771-9155 MCI-Mail: 314-3953 Tele
TEMPLE OF SET
Post Office Box 7622
Austin, TX 78713
GENERAL INFORMATION AND ADMISSIONS POLICIES
- Updated 1/XXIII AES -
Thank you for your inquiry. The Temple of Set is an institution unlike any you
have previously encountered. Before you can make an informed decision
concerning possible affiliation, it is necessary for you to consider the
history of the Temple, its basic tenets, its current design and programs, and
the benefits and obligations incurred by each Setian.
HISTORY OF THE TEMPLE
While the Temple of Set as an organization was formally incorporated in 1975
CE, its magical and philosophical roots are prehistoric, originating in
mankind's first apprehension that there is "something different" about the
human race - a sense of self-consciousness that places humanity apart from and
above all other known forms of life.
Ancient religions - of which those of Egypt are generally acknowledged the
eldest - either exalted or feared this self-consciousness. Those which exalted
it took the position that the human psyche is capable of opposition to and
domination of the forces of nature. Those fearing it warned man that such a
presumption of independence would be sinful and dangerous. Therefore, they
said, such "will to power" should be concealed, sublimated - and if necessary
punished and exterminated - that mankind might return to an Eden-like "state of
nature" untroubled by the burdens of having to take responsibility for
decisions, judgments, and actions based upon an essentially personal
determination of "good" and "evil".
The psyche-worshipping religions were more intellectually demanding than their
nature-worshipping counterparts, since it is more difficult to reason a path
through one's span of conscious existence than it is to be swept along by a
current of semi-rational stimulus and response. The reasoning religions - or
schools of initiatory philosophy - attained levels of abstract knowledge that
made them mysterious to the masses. In a few societies, such as Egypt and
Greece, such groups were respected and admired. More often, however, their
exclusive elitism and "supernatural" activities made them objects of resentment
While all philosophical schools embraced the psychecentric consciousness to
some degree, there were a very few that made it avowedly and explicitly the
focus of their attention. The divine personifications ("gods") of such schools
have come down to us as symbols of what worshippers of non-consciousness
consider the supreme "evil": the Prince of Darkness in his many forms. Of these
the most ancient is Set, whose Priesthood can be traced to predynastic times.
Images of Set have been dated to ca. 3200 BCE, with astronomically-based
estimates of inscriptions dating to ca. 5000 BCE.
The original Priesthood of Set in ancient Egypt survived for twenty-five
recorded dynasties (ca. 3200-700 BCE). It was one of the two central
priesthoods in predynastic times, the other being that of HarWer ("Horus the
Elder"). Unification of Egypt under both philosophical systems resulted in the
nation's being known as the "Two Kingdoms" and in its Pharaohs wearing the
famous "Double Crown" of Horus and Set.
Originally a circumpolar/stellar deity portrayed as a cyclical counterpart to
the Solar Horus, Set was later recast as an evil principle by the cults of
Osiris and Isis. During the XIX and XX Dynasties Set returned as the Pharaonic
patron, but by the XXV Dynasty (ca. 700 BCE) a new wave of Osirian persecution
led to the final destruction of the original Priesthood of Set. When the
Hebrews emigrated from Egypt during the XIX Dynasty, however, they took with
them a caricature of Set: "Satan" (from the hieroglyphic Set-hen, one of the
god's formal titles).
After the eclipse and extinction of the original Priesthood of Set during the
Osirian dynasties of Egyptian decadence, few "Satanic" sects have been able to
survive long enough, or to carry on their activities openly enough to rise to
significant heights of sophistication. Most remained at the level of primitive
"devil-worship" or "witchcraft" - ironically the very stereotype assigned to
them by monotheistic religious establishments. Adoption of such "blasphemous
and diabolical" practices by ignorant people who were crying out to unchain
their souls as best they could only made them easier targets for persecution,
which was generally meted out with sadistic enthusiasm. It is historically
estimated that some 13 million accused Satanists were tortured and burned to
death in medieval and Renaissance Europe alone. Many European museums still
display the grisly, almost unbelievably cruel devices used in such torture, and
detailed records of the "trials" and "confessions" of the victims survive in
shameful abundance. Cases of torture, murder, and genocidal extermination of
"infidels" and "heathens" in other areas of the world similarly abound - and
stand collectively in testimony to the appalling legacy of the world's major
monotheistic religions. It must further be remembered that the more "tolerant"
climate of modern times did not come about through the wishes of conventional
churches themselves, but rather through their increasing rejection by a mankind
exhausted by religious warfare and terrified by the wanton viciousness of such
establishments as the "Holy Office" (better known as the Inquisition).
If the "Enlightenment" of the 17th and 18th centuries succeeded in reducing
Christianity - the dominant monotheism of Europe - to a secular moral metaphor,
it was not until the late 19th century that the so-called "Black Arts" began to
be tolerated, and then only in their most sanitized and pious form. From
Freemasonry came a ceremonial magical offshoot - Rosicrucianism - which became
increasingly more sophisticated in the Rosicrucian Society of England
(S.R.I.A.) and then in the famous Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn
In 1904 an Adept of the G.'.D.'. named Aleister Crowley broke away from that
disintegrating body to form his own Order of the Astrum Argenteum (A.'.A.'.).
To the Rosicrucian/ceremonial magical philosophy of the G.'.D.'., Crowley added
first a strong emphasis on attainment of the highest level of
self-consciousness ("Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel")
and later the Masonic/sexual magic practices of Germany's Order of Oriental
Templars (O.T.O.). The latter practices, together with Crowley's cavalier
lifestyle, brought him public notoriety. His organizations survived his 1947
death only in highly-fragmented and doctrinarily degenerate factions.
In 1966 a San Francisco sorcerer named Anton Szandor LaVey founded the Church
of Satan as a medium for the study of the Black Arts and as an ethical
statement repudiating the religious hypocrisy of conventional society. The
Church remained principally a San Francisco phenomenon for its first four
years, then during 1970-1974 branched out across the United States and Canada
with local "Grottos" headed by those ordained to the Satanic Priesthood (the
Priesthood of Mendes).
The Church of Satan's attitude towards magic was more pragmatic and utilitarian
than that of such mystically-based organizations as the G.'.D.'. and A.'.A.'.
It saw no need for exhaustive studies into the often incoherent and
inconsistent concepts of the Cabala, nor did it see anything extraordinarily
significant in sex-magic. Rather it chose to approach the occult arts and
sciences more rationally and even scientifically, employing "Occam's razor" to
design and conduct Workings of ritual magic that were simple and direct, yet
effective. In this the Church was generally successful, but it continued to
experience increasing difficulty with the basic nihilism and negative
connotations of its religious imagery. It could not escape the self-assumed
limitation of being "anti-Christian", and of course the parameters of
philosophy and metaphysics have been extended far beyond the primitive and
superstitious conceptual and symbolic limits of the Judaic/Christian
It also proved to be a misfortune of modern Satanism that, en route to
divinity, the psyche is prone to superficial egotism. The Church suffered
periodically from petty crises and scandals among the general membership, and
finally Anton LaVey lost confidence in its organizational viability. In 1975 he
made a decision to redesign it as a non-functional vehicle for his personal
expression and financial income. This decision was emphatically rejected by the
majority of the Priesthood, who immediately resigned from the Church in protest
and denied its legitimacy as a true Church of Satan henceforth. The senior
Initiate, Michael A. Aquino, invoked the Prince of Darkness in quest of a new
Mandate to preserve and enhance the more noble concepts which the Church of
Satan had conceived and outlined. That Mandate was given in the form of The
Book of Coming Forth by Night - a statement by that entity, in his most ancient
semblance as Set, ordaining the Temple of Set to succeed the Church.
The Temple was incorporated in California as a non-profit church in 1975,
receiving both state and federal recognition and tax-exemption later that same
year. It has since remained the sole Satanic religious institution possessing
these legal credentials.
THE SETIAN PHILOSOPHY
Since movements dedicated to the Prince of Darkness have been so ill-tolerated
by the masses of humanity wherever and whenever they have appeared, why have
they survived at all? Why do they continue to exercise such uncanny attraction,
and why now should you consider approaching this particular one?
The appeal of occultism is much the same as that of conventional religion:
Logical positivism and scientific materialism, though they have made great
strides towards explaining the "how" of existence, have failed entirely to
explain the "why". Hence the curious seek answers in metaphysical philosophy or
religion. Metaphysical philosophy requires a logical base from which various
suprarational principles are induced. Conventional religion is the
simplification of such a philosophy into a crude ideology, which adherents need
not understand, but only accept as an act of blind faith.
Conventional religions, with their colorful mythologies analyzed in terms of
the underlying philosophical principles, represent simply the primitive longing
of mankind to feel "at one" with the Universal harmony he perceives about him.
"White" magic, as practiced by primitive pagan and modern institutional
religions, offers devotees the illusion of "re-inclusion" in the Universal
scheme of things through various ritualistic devotions and superstitions.
The Black Magician, on the other hand, rejects both the desirability of union
with the Universe and any self-deceptive antics designed to create such an
illusion. He has considered the existence of the individual psyche - the "real
you" of your conscious intelligence - and has taken satisfaction from its
existence as something unlike anything else in the Universe. The Black Magician
desires this psyche to live, to experience, and to continue. He does not wish
to die - or to lose his consciousness and identity in a larger, Universal
consciousness [assuming that such a Universal consciousness exists]. He wants
to be. This decision in favor of individual existence is the first premise of
the Temple of Set.
The second premise of the Temple is that the psychecentric consciousness can
evolve towards its own divinity through deliberate exercise of the intelligence
and Will, a process of becoming or coming into being whose roots may be found
in the dialectic method expounded by Plato and the conscious exaltation of the
Will proposed by Nietzsche.
Ironically it is the very ease with which any individual can apprehend and
appreciate his or her personal psyche that has frightened the many religions of
the world which deny and oppose the power of that psyche. Clothed though they
may be in riches, ritual, and respectability, they always have been and remain
obsessed with the suppressed knowledge of their own essential insubstantiality.
They endeavor to distract attention from this by sponsoring shows of
mind-numbing drugs, mantras, masses, privations, entertainments, and penances
to coax or cow their flocks of adherents into a confused, apprehensive, but
trusting state of faith and automatic obedience. They shudder with horror at
the psyche; they paint it red and add horns, cloven hooves, and a forked tail
to dramatize how "dangerous" it is. Yet they can never escape it or defeat it,
because they have never really succeeded in opposing themselves to it - merely
in distorting and perverting it. How could they destroy something which, in the
final analysis, is the conscious self of every human being?
The "worship" of Set is thus the "worship" of individualism. In the Church of
Satan this was taken to mean indulgence in all [legal] desires of the body and
ego. Since many such desires are impulsive and destructive, the Church found
itself in the awkward position of de facto endorsing many practices which were
degrading rather than exalting, and which simply accelerated the tensions
resulting in the eventual crisis of 1975. The Temple of Set determined to
preserve the principle of individualism, but to add to it the "higher self"
aspirations of Aleister Crowley's pre-O.T.O. philosophy of Thelema.
Glorification of the ego is not enough; it is the complete psyche - the entire
self or soul - which must be recognized, appreciated, and actualized. The
process by which this exaltation of the psyche is sought is called by the name
Xeper [pronounced "Kheffer"; it is the Egyptian hieroglyphic term for "to
become" or "to come into being"].
The means by which Setians seek to Xeper are many. As a matter of principle the
Temple declines to standardize its approach to Initiates. Each may pursue
topics of greatest personal interest with whatever emphasis and at whatever
rate desired. The Temple seeks merely to be a forum for Setians to communicate
and cooperate with one another constructively and courteously. Many ideas and
philosophies are discussed within it, but such discussion does not constitute
the dictation of dogma. Indeed dogma - to include fixed ideology in any form -
is repugnant to the Temple. We strive rather towards an atmosphere of "best
possible premises", which are always subject to constructive, intelligent
examination and criticism. That same atmosphere is Socratic, however, in that
foolish, pretentious, or destructive egotism under the guise of exploration is
neither respected nor endured.
While it is obvious that Setians have more than enough interests to occupy an
organization with many times our membership and resources on a full-time basis,
the Temple of Set is not intended to consume the energies or lifestyles of its
Initiates. Since a truly Adept magician must interact constructively and
comfortably with conventional society, encouragement of monastic isolation
within Temple circles would be counterproductive to personal development and
even constrictive of the flexibility necessary to the entire Temple. Setians
are accordingly advised to pursue as wide a variety of secular interests as
possible, and to let Setian philosophy apply to them only as appropriate.
STRUCTURE AND OPERATION
The deliberately individualistic atmosphere of the Temple of Set is not easily
conducive to group activities on a routine or programmed basis. There are no
congregations of docile "followers" - only cooperative philosophers and
Supreme authority in the Temple is held by the Council of Nine, which appoints
both the High Priest of Set and the Executive Director. Initiates are
Recognized according to six degrees, based upon Western magical tradition and
incorporating features from many Black Magical societies: Setian I', Adept II',
Priest or Priestess of Set III', Magister/Magistra Templi IV', Magus/Maga V', &
Ipsissimus/Ipsissima VI'. Recognition as an Adept constitutes certification by
the Temple that one has in fact mastered and successfully applied the essential
principles of Black Magic. The Priesthood and higher degrees are conferred by
Set alone, and Recognized by the Temple according to his Will.
The design, care, and operation of the Temple are entrusted by Set to the
Priesthood. All Initiates of the Priesthood are originally highly qualified
Adepts in the Black Arts. Most of your contact with them will be in this
context. Because they are responsible for the integrity of the Temple as a
whole, however, they have the authority both to evaluate and Recognize
Initiates' competence and, if necessary, to suspend or expel individuals who
have proven themselves incapable of maintaining Setian standards of dignity and
excellence. The Priesthood takes all of these responsibilities extremely
seriously, since it regards its name literally and its trust as sacred. In this
respect it stands significantly apart from conventional religious clergy, who
de facto consider their "priesthoods" as social professions and their deities
as mere symbols and metaphors for their institutional or personal moral
The knowledge of the Temple of Set is made available through four principal
avenues: an extensive, annually-updated reading list of published works in over
twenty specialized fields; the newsletter SCROLL OF SET, the newsletters of the
Temple's various specialized Orders; and the series of loose-leaf
encyclopaedias entitled the JEWELED TABLETS OF SET. The contents of the SCROLL
and the Order newsletters are time-dated, of course, but the contents of the
TABLETS change periodically as ideas are advanced, improved, or disproved; or
as they become more or less relevant to the Temple's areas of concern. The
SCROLL, Order newsletters, and TABLETS are reproduced simply and inexpensively
by high-quality photocopy to preclude excessive membership expenditure for
frequently-revised printed publications.
In the old Church of Satan and in the present-day Temple of Set, most Initiates
have been geographically distant from one another. This has necessitated
organizational services geared more towards the individual than to local groups
[though the Temple has provision for "Pylons" just as the old Church did for
"Grottos"]. It has also meant that Setians supervise the Temple and interact
with one another largely by correspondence. If you affiliate with the Temple,
you should anticipate this aspect of its design. [Official Temple mailings to
overseas Setians are all sent via Air Mail.]
Setians tend to form friendships and to meet with one another on an individual
or group basis [the larger gatherings are called "Conclaves"], but there is no
requirement for either group activity or regularly-scheduled "devotions" of any
sort. Affiliation is kept confidential; your admission is known only to the
Priesthood unless you desire to meet other Setians. In summary, you may apply
the services and systems of the Temple as you wish, and as you deem most
complementary to your Xeper; otherwise they will not intrude upon you.
AN IMPORTANT CLARIFICATION
As noted above, much of the vicious propaganda concerning medieval Satanism
became self-fulfilling prophecy as ignorant would-be witches and sorcerers
superstitiously experimented with cannibalism, drugs, grave-robbing, church
desecration, and sexual violence. Regretfully there still exist some
individuals whose idea of "Satanism" is largely a simple-minded synthesis of
Christian propaganda and Hollywood horror movies. The Temple of Set enjoys the
colorful legacy of the Black Arts, and we use many forms of historical Satanic
imagery for our stimulation and pleasure. But we have not found that any
interest or activity which an enlightened, mature intellect would regard as
undignified, sadistic, criminal, or depraved is desirable, much less essential
to our work.
The Temple of Set is an evolutionary product of human experience. Such
experience includes the magical and philosophical work of many occult
organizations and orders which have preceded us. Some of these groups were
socially acceptable by contemporary or modern standards; others were not. Some
individuals or groups made brilliant discoveries in one field of interest while
blighting their reputations with shocking excesses in others. In examining the
secret and suppressed corners of history for valuable and useful material, the
Temple must be at pains to insist upon its ethical presentation and use of such
discoveries as it makes. Setians who are in any doubt as to the ethics involved
in any of the fields which we explore should seek counsel from the Priesthood.
All Setians are further expected to display a high measure of common sense in
The Black Arts are dangerous in the same way that working with volatile
chemicals is dangerous. This is most emphatically NOT a field for unstable,
immature, or otherwise emotionally or intellectually weak-minded people. Such
are a hazard to themselves and to others with whom they come into contact. The
Temple endeavors to not admit them to begin with. If such an individual should
gain admittance and later be exposed, he will be summarily expelled. In cases
of doubt the Temple may be expected to place the burden of proof on the
individual, for the sake of all Setians and the Temple's integrity.
The Temple of Set evaluates conventional religions as erroneous in principle
and therefore unworthy of peer status. We feel no need to concern ourselves
with their activities, or for that matter to maintain any sort of "diplomatic
relations" with them [as in councils of churches]. Our position is that they
may serve a useful social function as purveyors of soothing myths and fantasies
to humans unable to attain Setian levels of self-consciousness. Hence we ignore
conventional religious organizations unless they intrude upon our affairs.
These warnings are not intended to be oppressive or intimidating, but they
should be taken seriously. The Temple is a forum for the investigation of many
subjects which conventional society finds odd, mysterious, and even extremely
frightening. The Temple will be tolerated only to the extent that it is known
to be pursuing its interests carefully, expertly, and responsibly. It occupies
a delicate position in a world which is largely unhappy with itself, and which
is ceaselessly searching for scapegoats. Hence the Temple must take care to
maintain its social balance with prudence and dignity.
In the Church of Satan we learned that there were many people who wished to
"visit", to "study", and to "observe" without the least intention of a personal
commitment. For many years the Church endeavored to accommodate such
dilettantes on the assumption that, upon exposure to the philosophy, they would
appreciate its essential requirement for such a commitment. We were wrong. Once
being in the position to enjoy the "accessories" of the philosophy without
having to confront its core principle, they continued to vampirize the Church
indefinitely. They contributed as little as they could, took as much as they
could, and ultimately constituted the single most destructive influence leading
to the Church's corruption in 1975.
The Temple of Set has determined that it will not make the same mistake. Its
activities, publications, knowledge, and services are reserved for those who
affiliate with it, or on an individual-case basis, for non-Setians who request
assistance from the Temple that we deem to be in our interests or in the
interests of the community as a whole. The First Degree (I') of Temple
affiliation is regarded as a "status of mutual evaluation" wherein the Initiate
and the Temple can assess one another's merit from the standpoint of minimum
investment and involvement. If a I' Initiate should decide that the Temple is
not, after all, appropriate to his wants or needs, he is welcome to depart with
our good wishes for his satisfaction elsewhere.
Aspirants to the Temple should understand that it is not a club or fraternal
society whose principles may be collected along with those of other social
affiliations, occult or otherwise. Membership in the Temple of Set precludes
membership in any other religious organization. Members or former members of
non-religious occult organizations should understand that within the Temple of
Set they will be expected to respect and observe the Temple's protocol, and
that literature and other information from the Temple is not to be passed to
non-Temple individuals or organizations without pior approval of the
Priesthood. If the Temple of Set can assist other deserving organizations or
individuals on occasion, it will be pleased to do so. But it must exercise
reasonable care over the Temple materials that are made available - both so
that our own Initiates may enjoy the fruits of their honest labor [and that of
their predecessors] and so that the Temple of Set may continue to enjoy its
exclusive reputation for excellence in the disciplines it has pioneered.
Should you have questions which are reasonably pertinent to your serious
consideration whether or not to apply for admission to the Temple, you are
welcome to address them to the Executive Director of the Temple. If you wish to
apply for admission as a Setian I', there are two avenues of approach available
(1) If you are already in contact with a Priest or Priestess of Set, you may
request him or her to sponsor your application. In that case you may send a
letter to the Executive Director mentioning this sponsorship. With your letter
enclose a check or money order for U.S.$50 (U.S.$60 for overseas applicants),
payable to Temple of Set. [Please note that this amount must be in U.S.
dollars, either drawn on a U.S. bank or as an international money order only.]
If Priesthood sponsorship is verified, approval of your application will be
(2) If you are not known to a member of the Priesthood, write a letter to the
Executive Director introducing yourself, summarizing whatever aspects of your
background you feel to be relevant, and stating your reasons for deciding to
seek entrance into the Temple. Enclose the admission fee. The Temple will make
a decision and respond to you accordingly. If necessary you will be asked for
additional information. Should your application not be approved for any reason,
the fee will be refunded. Persons applying for admission via this procedure
should be as objective and candid as possible in their self-assessment. There
is no point in misleading the Temple concerning one's suitability for
admission, which will only result sooner or later in the truth coming to light
- with the consequent waste of both the individual's and the Temple's time. If
there are crucial areas of possible incompatibility, it is incumbent on the
applicant to identify them before affiliation so that they may be addressed
and, if possible, resolved.
Whichever method you apply through, please be certain to include:
(1) Your full legal name [no pseudonyms] and sex.
(2) Your complete mailing address.
(3) Daytime and evening telephone numbers.
(4) Date of birth.
(5) Present organizational affiliations.
Annual renewal fee for all Initiates is U.S.$45 (U.S.$50 overseas). [The first
year is pro-rated from the month of your entry.] These fees are designed, as is
the admissions fee, to cover the cost of mailings to you and the administration
of the Temple. As a matter of policy the Temple is not designed to make a
profit on its operations, and its assets are used exclusively for benefits to
its Initiates as a whole. There are no other regular or recurring fees, save
that Orders and Pylons may set reasonable charges for their newsletters or
other time/effort services. Special publications of the Temple and events
scheduled by the Temple are customarily made available on a non-profit basis to
Initiates who are interested.
The only physical requirement for admission is that the aspirant be at least 18
years of age. Those below the age of 18 may not visit Temple functions,
ceremonial or otherwise, whether or not they are relatives of Initiates. The
Temple has no programs for children. It is our position that children and
adolescents should not be indoctrinated into the assumptions and prescriptions
of any suprarational system, whether it be our own philosophy or the faiths and
superstitions of conventional religions. Rather their youthful years should be
a time of exclusively rational training and education, giving them a sound and
meaningful basis by which, as adults, they may consider and choose whatever
philosophy or faith seems most meaningful to them.
If your application is approved, you will receive notification from the
Executive Director's office, together with membership identification,
certificate, copy of the CRYSTAL TABLET OF SET [including the current reading
list & intercommunication roster, The Book of Coming Forth by Night: Analysis &
Commentary, and other key magical documents pertinent to the AEon and Temple of
Set], most recent issues of the SCROLL OF SET and Order publications [as
determined by the Order Grand Masters], and Setian I' pendant medallion.
Then the initiative is yours. The Temple of Set is designed to assist you in
the ways we have found to be the most practical, productive, and factually
accurate. But, as helpful as the Temple may be, and as proud of it as we are,
it is neverthless properly understood as a tool. You are the one who must put
that tool to use in a way that will enable you to Xeper.
Such is the Word of the AEon of Set.
E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank