The Temple of Set, Is it Satanic?
By: Lilith Aquino
I can't answer this in 25 words or less, so bear with me! If you
consider Satanism to be anti-Christian Devil worship, the answer is no.
The Temple of Set practices a completely non-Christianized, positive
"high Satanism". To understand what we mean by this, a bit of history of
the Temple is needed:
While the TOS as an organization was formally incorporated and recog-
nized by both state and federal governments 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 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.
The psyche-worshipping, reasoning religions - or schools of initiatory
philosophy - attained levels of abstract knowledge that made them
mysterious to the masses. In a few socities, 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 and persecution.
While all philosophical schools embraced the psychecentric consciousness
to some degree, there were a very few which 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 most
Western religions, 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
Originally a circumpolar/stellar deity portrayed as a cyclical counter-
part to the Solar Horus, Set was later recast as an evil principle by
the cults of Osiris and Isis. When the Hebrews emigrated from Egypt
during the XIX Dynasty, they took with them a caricature of Set: "Satan"
(from the hieroglyphic _Set-Hen_, one of the god's formal titles).
Originally a sort of "prosecuting angel for YHVH", the Hebrew Satan was
changed by Christianity into a personification of everything God was not
- and since God was "good", Satan was necessarily "bad". Alluring or
mysterious deities from religions competing with early Christianity -
such as the hellenic/Roman Mysteries and Persian Mithraic faith - were
also "bad". Non-Christian gods generally were redefined as Christian
"demons" and given a place in the Christian Hell (another name stolen
and perverted from Norse mythology). Christian propaganda nonwithstan-
ding, the present day "Satan" is wholly their invention.
Which brings us to the present time: The Satanic religion proposes to
raise the individual to personal godhood, free from enslavement to any
other "God" (or gods). However this is a question not just of power, but
also of ethics, morality, and psychological maturity. The parameters of
philosophy and metaphysics extend far beyond the conceptual and symbolic
limits of the Judaic/Chrisitian tradition. The Temple of Set explores
the "human equation" and the metaphysical and psychological roots of the
great Satanic/psyche-centered philosophies of history. 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.
Conventional religions, with their colorful mythologies analyzed in
the underlying philosophical principles, represent simply the primitive
longing of man to feel "at one" with the Universal harmony he perceives
about him. The Black Magician rejects both the desirability of union
with the Universe and any self-deceptive actions designed to create such
an illusion. He/she has considered the existence of the individual
psyche - the "core you" of your conscious intelligence - and has taken
satisfaction from its existence as something unlike anything else. The
Black Magician desires this psyche to live, to experience, to continue.
He/she does not wish to die - or to lose consciousness and identity in
a larger, Universal consciousness (assuming that such exists). He/she
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
(XEPER), whose roots may be found in the dialectic method expounded by
Plato and the conscious exaltation of the Will proposed by Nietzsche.
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 destruc-
tive, the COS found itself in an awkward position, which accelerated its
eventual crisis and demise in 1975. The Temple of Set determined to
preserve the principle of individualism, but to add to it the evolution-
ary "higher self" aspirations of Aleister Crowley's pre-OTO 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. Dogma, - to include fixed ideology in any form - is
repugnant to Setians. We strive rather towards an atmosphere of "best
possible premises", which are always subject to constructive, intel-
ligent examination and criticism. Foolish, pretentious, or destructive
egotism under the guise of exploration is neither respected nor endured.
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 artistic 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 evolutinary product of
human experience. Such experience includes the magical and philosophical
work of many occult individuals which have preceded us. In examining the
secret and suppressed corners of history for valuable and useful
material, the Temple insists upon ehtical presentation and use of such
discoveries. All Setians are expected to display a high measure of
maturity and common sense in this area. We reject absolutely wanton
cruelty and harm to others, and are particularly adamant about this with
regard to animals.
The Temple of Set evaluates conventional religions as erroneous in
principle, and feels no need to concern itself with their activities
unless they intrude upon our affairs.
Any further questions or comments are welcome.
Next: Descent Into Confusion (Robert Hughes, WOW)