The Temple of Set is an international organization existing on every continent except Antarctica, and it is the only Satanic religion fully recognized by the United Sates government. Its membership is limited to adults (18+) and is open to all races, genders, and gender preferences. Its only requirement of its members is their desire to use the Temple of Set as a tool for their self development.
The Temple of Set is a Left Hand Path Initiatory organization. The tradition of spiritual dissent in the West has been called Satanism, but more universally the Left Hand Path is a rationally intuited spiritual technology for the purpose of self deification. We choose as our role model the ancient Egyptian god Set, the archetype of Isolate Intelligence, rather than the somewhat limiting Hebrew Satan, archetype of Rebel against cosmic injustice. As part of our practice we each seek the deconstruction of the socially constructed mind, so we begin in rebellion -- thus we accept the label "Satanist," but since we seek to supplant the socially constructed mind with a mind of our own individually chosen construction, we prefer the term Setian. We have no "religious" interest in the figure of Satan, and indeed we do not worship Set -- worshipping instead only our own potential.
As an Initiatory organization we do not provide any services for the profane world. We don't allow the curious to attend our rites, we don't seek affiliation with other religious groups, we don't agree that there is a universal truth behind all religions. Because of our elitist attitude and because of our antinomian attitudes, we have been tarred with a variety of false labels by the more simplistic members of society. We have been accused of crimes, accused of racism, sexism, and whatever other "isms" contemporary society views as evil. The fact that a moment's effort on the part of a serious journalist dispels these myths has little effect on popular opinion. Such resistance from the forces of stupidity is Initiatorally beneficial, as it provides the need for a certain inner strength. I would like to examine the nature of the Left Hand Path, which will provide some understanding on why it is feared and loathed, an introduction to Set, an explanation of the operations of the Temple of Set, some remarks on urban legends, and provide contact information for persons seriously seeking information about the Temple.
The Left Hand Path as Seen by the Temple of Set
The Temple of Set views mankind as being set apart from other animals. Our existence transcends the mere stimulus-response approach to the pleasures and pains of existence. This quality of Being (as Heidegger has remarked) has always led to the two essential questions of Western philosophy -- the grounding question of "Why is there Being rather than Nothingness?" and the guiding question of philosophy "What is the nature of Being?" All schools of inquiry -- as opposed to those of faith -- have struggled with these questions. For schools not taking a nihilistic path, a third question has evolved, "Given the nature of Being, what actions should be taken?" The last is the question of guiding one's life in accordance with what may be rationally deduced. The Temple's synthesis, while not historically unique, is different from that of most current philosophies.
The Buddha, who is perhaps the purest Right Hand Path philosopher, answered the question of the nature of Being as "Being is suffering." He saw (and rightly so) that the Being was furthered by Desire, and that led to a permanence of the Self and greater suffering for the Self. His solution was to eliminate Desire and harmonize the elements of the psyche with those of the objective universe. The Left Hand Path rejects the ethical imperative of this notion. We see "Being is Knowing" and the ethical imperative is to further the permanence of the Self by embracing the pleasures and pains of existence. We exalt and revel in the disharmony our Desire brings, we accept the pains that come from trying to make our dreams come true, we realize the absolute responsibility for our actions is our own.
The conclusion of "Being is Knowing" is reflected by the examination of our lives. If there were no purpose to intelligent existence, the appropriate response would be a hedonistic nihilism -- a path favored by many "Satanic" organizations currently. We choose to affirm purpose to existence in part because we are magicians and magic is an ascriptive process, and in part because it is a source of Joy and Strength -- always goals for the Left Hand Path. The Temple of Set views life as the process of the psyche coming to know its own existence and then to expand that existence in as many realms as are open to it. We therefore value both power in this world, and the Self-given promise of power in a post-mortem state. Seeking to increase one's power and pleasure is therefore a sacred duty. The Temple of Set rejects nihilism -- observing (as did Maurice Blanchot) that you can not *use* negation if you dwell within it.
Our Word is an ancient Egyptian verb, "Xeper," pronounced "Kheffer." Written with the hieroglyph of the scarab beetle, it means, "I Have Come Into Being." This is a twofold assertion. Firstly it is one of Joy and Self-love, and is a guide to those who can say it with Pride as to what subsequent actions they should take. It is a mandate for self improvement -- particularly of transforming life into a series of pleasurable challenges rather then mindless hedonism. The Setian seeks to transform mundane life into a species of Play, by hard work, ambition, and Black Magic (see below). Secondly the word of Xeper is a statement of the only cosmic fact we can possess -- a Divine form of Descartes, "Cogito" if you will.
"Xeper" is the Setian's answer to the latter two questions above, but we have to look to the grounding question of philosophy as well, "Why Being rather than Nothingness?" This leads to the perception of the Prince of Darkness. Now such "cosmogonic questions" are useful as attitude adjusters -- as providing a sense of wonder, which is necessary for magical action. The Right Hand Path chooses personifications of natural forces as role models to be harmonized with -- in the RHP's more extreme forms the universe as a whole is personified as God or the Will of God. The Setian chooses as role model a "god against the gods." We choose an archetype that corresponds the disharmonizing part of our own psyches. We look for a role model that seeks its own extension and self-knowledge through action. This role model is the "Lord of this World," who is rejected by the Right Hand Path as the Prince of Darkness. The Urge to expand Being is exemplified by Set, whose enemies are Death/Stasis (Osiris) and Delusion of Unity with the Cosmos (Apep). Set was and is the patron of the magician who seeks to increase his existence though expansion. Set's motives are the answer to the grounding question of philosophy "Why Being rather than Nothingness?" We see Set's magical action in us in the same light we see our magical action on the world. We refer to this as the Gift of Set, an Egyptian phrase for the wine produced in the Oasis of Kharga -- where boiling sulfur springs feed the vines that made the sweetest wine in ancient Egypt. Thus we make of our Desire our immortal selves.
One of our senior Initiates penned a good description of Set and his Gift:
I. Set is the Principle of Isolate Intelligence.
II. It is dynamic (evolving).
III. Its purpose is self-maintenance, expansion, and perpetuation. This is its only good -- otherwise it is beyond good and evil.
IV. It is not omnipotent -- it must work for the changes it causes.
V. It is not omniscient -- it must work to see objectively.
VI. Its Gift of Self is _perfect_ (complete).
VII. It can _inform_ or "teach" those possessed of its quality.
VIII. To give more (if possible) would be to _take_.
IX. The presence of the Gift in us (flesh) is _necessary_ to the evolution of the Principle of Isolate Intelligence.
We see Satanism not so much as getting humanity to accept a guy with a pair of horns but to accept their own (Forgotten) better natures; and the method that lets people find this Remembering is through antinomianism -- not merely rejecting the spiritual traditions of society, but critically rejecting most of society's programming methods from advertising to superstition. The mission of the Temple of Set is to recreate a Tradition of self-deification that was once respected by the wise, as can be seen in Plato's _Symposium_.
I would like to look at the historical ways that Set has been perceived, but I must emphasize that the Temple is not a "neo-Egyptian religion." Although we give Egypt a special place in our studies, we search out all aspects of the archetype of the Prince of Darkness -- both traditional and those of our own making.
The oldest known form of the Prince of Darkness, the archetype of Isolate Intelligence, is the Egyptian god 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 5000 BCE. Set's name originally meant "cutter" or "isolator" -- he is a personification of the process of Initiation -- of Becoming more and more your own self. Setians do not pray to Set, nor does he care about their day-to-day lives. Setians emulate Set, and further the process of individuation and Initiation on this world. Set is a complex figure, a much better role model than the limited figure of the Judeo-Christian Satan. Satan, the archetype of the rebel against cosmic injustice, may be where many people begin the lifelong process of Initiation, but he is too small a symbol for the richness of the Left Hand Path.
The Egyptian god Set went through periods of immense popularity alternating with total denunciation. Set in the predynastic and archaic periods was an essentially positive deity introduced from the east as a god of the _extension of existence_. He is therefore god of _expanding_ borders and radical changes of being, particularly birth, circumcision/initiation, death in battle, and rebirth through the Opening of the Mouth ceremony. Popular among easterners, his first cult site being Pelusium in the eastern Delta, Set's worship quickly spread to _border_ areas, where he was identified with local gods of initiation. Two examples of such cult sites are Kharga in the south, which has always been primarily a Nilotic culture area, and the Libyan settlement of Ombos, wherein Set was identified with the local god Ash in the IInd dynasty. Set's original worship as a nighttime/polar deity suffered a decline with the rise of solar worship in the IVth dynasty. The Great Pyramid of Khufu is one of the last early monuments connected with the idea of a Setian afterlife as well as a solar one. The Great Pyramid had a special air shaft for the king's _akh_ to fly to the star Alpha Draconis, which is the star of Set in the Constellation of the Thigh, the constellation we call the Big Dipper.
During the Middle Kingdom, Set was reduced to a symbol of Upper Egypt and apparently seen only during the Setian festival of _heb-sed_, or tying together. It was during this time that Set was first blamed for the murder of Osiris, a Semitic corn god who had arrived in the IIIrd dynasty. Previously, Osiris had died of drowning. No matter how "evil" Set was, the essential function of Set, of going out and expanding the borders of existence and then returning that Chaotic energy to the center, always continued. It is the darkness that binds together the Egyptian light. The murder of Osiris is the destruction of the fetters of society, of accepting self-change and cultivation over the forces that lead to self stagnation.
The foreigners who ruled Egypt who were known as the Hyksos actively identified themselves with Set and established their capital at an ancient Setian site, Avaris. Very little is known about their religious or magical practices, although excavations going on at the time of this writing should reveal great wealth. But they were great horsemen, and the horse had became identified with Set. It required Hyksos rule before, after almost 200 years of its use in Egypt, that evil Setian animal the horse could be portrayed in Egyptian art.
The second native blooming of Setian thinking may have begun in the XVIIIth dynasty, but certainly it reached its peak in the XIXth and XXth dynasties when a family of Setian priests from Tanis became the pharaonic line. During this time of expanding borders, Set was extraordinarily popular, as can be seen from pharaohs' names such as Seti (= Set's man) and Setnakt (= Set is Mighty). Two important Setian texts were produced: First, the Tale of Two Brothers tells how Set (identified with the god Bata, whose name means "Lord of this World") undergoes a series of metamorphoses (Xeperu) that change him from a farm hand to a star in the Constellation of the Thigh. Thus Set is our role model as a man who through his own hard work, magical skill, and the _*use* _of the resistance of the world Became divine. The second text is the _Book of Knowing the Spiral Force of Re and the Felling of Apep._ This protective formula, which Ramses III, son of Setnakt, inscribed on certain border monuments, shows two Setian particularities. Firstly, it narrates (from a first person perspective) how an unnamed god comes into being in the psychic (subjective) realm as the god Xephra. Secondly, the spell gives the magician one of the powers of Set, which is to slay Apep, the dragon of delusion. Set likewise serves as a role model, in that each Setian seeks to end delusions in his of her life.
With the coming of the XXIInd dynasty, Egypt entered its long decline. Set became a tremendously unpopular deity. His worship ceased everywhere except the oases and the city of Thebes, where his cult was absorbed into the cult of Montu, the warlord of Thebes. The negative and destructive aspects of isolation and destruction were emphasized and as Egypt turned more to an idealized past, Set-Heh, the god of the void called the future, came to resemble the Christian Satan. The third blooming came with the coming of the Greeks to Egypt. It is from this period that the Hellenic notions of independence and self-worth began to revive both the operant and initiatory aspects of the New Kingdom Set cult. The success of Graeco-Egyptian magic, despite Roman persecution, saw an expansion of both the philosophical and magical aspects of this tradition as far north as Britain. The Third Century of the Common Era was the height of Setian Hermeticism. With the coming of Christianity as a state religion, individualism was again despised. The Coptic fathers identified Set with Satan, and he almost disappears as a figure in Egyptian magic.
The fourth blooming of Setian thought began in the nineteenth century with certain archaeological discoveries, but it reached a visible stage in 1975 C.E. when the Michael Aquino invoked the Prince of Darkness to seek his advice on the philosophical dissolution of the Church of Satan. We regard the Church of Satan as a great experiment for the first nine years of its development, and see ourselves as a refined, cutting edge of that same experiment. On North Solstice 1975 Prince of Darkness revealed himself to Michael Aquino as Set, and gave us the Word of our Aeon *Xeper*. Michael Aquino and most of the Priesthood of the Church of Satan founded the Temple of Set, and he served as the first of its three High Priests.
The Setian Method
The fight against delusion against the false beliefs in the world is a primary Setian occupation. Our three principal methods are Socratic reductionism, the formulation of correct understandings by logic, and noetic intuition. I will examine each of these techniques.
*Socratic reductionism.* The act of questioning and testing beliefs to eliminate falsehoods is an important tool for arriving at the truth. As we mature all of us ask ourselves, "What beliefs are mine and which have society programmed into me?" Setians, in particular, seek to distance themselves from the vast roar of cultural propaganda. Whereas some groups break from society by merely picking a different prepackaged belief system, the Setian is left with the tough day-to-day struggle of self knowledge and moral relativism. Eventually we each have to become philosophers rather than consumers.
*Formulations of correct understandings by logic.* Having discarded the untrue and the nonessential, we are left with the building blocks for creating a model of the universe. These notions may have been gained from science, personal experience, from other philosophical/psychological belief systems, or from findings of other Initiates with whom we've chosen to Work. Creative synthesis of ideas -- a self-managed dialectic, if you will -- has been a major source of human knowledge. Setians begin a creation of a model of the universe in order to understand it (and when necessary, exert control of it through magic and other means). One of the aims of Xeper is to understand the relationship of yourself to the universe. Again this is a tough road. We are placed in the position of Socrates, the wisest man of Greece, who said, "I know nothing." We look upon the universe as an exciting place to study -- rather than as a dull and finished product.
*Noetic inspiration.* The third technique, noetic inspiration, takes you to the discovery of your own divinity and the edge of Black Magic. We take the term _noesis_ from Plato. Plato defined three types of knowing. The lowest is _pistis_ (faith). This means believing something because someone in authority tells you so. The Pope tells you that birth control is wrong, so you know it's wrong. Society is controlled by this level. The next higher way of knowing is _dianoia_ (reasoning). This is the test of reason and logic referred to above. The elites work in this level. The highest knowing is _noesis_ -- direct knowledge. This is the knowing that comes from the divine Self. Examples of it may be found in your personal life -- when you've come up with a solution to a problem that was wholly new or novel to you. Or you may have written poetry or music. This flash of inspiration is your psyche becoming aware of its own existence. You may have recognized this sacred quality in something you've seen -- the buildings of Gaudi -- or reading _Ulysses_ -- or any of a thousand thousand things. When you encountered this thing and knew, "This is something special. This isn't the product of a meat machine!" then you have experienced this sense. The Temple of Set attempts to create an environment where these experiences may be consciously sought and entered into again and again. Also, I should note, the Temple is only interested in genuine experiences (brought about by Will) -- drug users are not welcome and solipsists may take a hike!
Black Magic and Antinomianism
Initiation begins with the denial and rejection of the herd. The cultural and social values of the masses, whether propounded by conventional religions or by mass media, are seen as obstacles to the spiritual development of the individual. Human society values *stasis* above all things. The Initiate seeks positive self change above all things. This means a break with society's values in order to discover one's own is the first step. This is spiritual dissent. In a Judeo-Christian society this is called Satanism. But the Initiate is rebelling against more than the idea of an external "god"; the break is made from external controlling forces of advertising, custom, and superstition as well. To work magic that changes the self, the magician's will must as strong in his or her subjective universe as the massed wills of others appear to be. Once this strength of will is obtained, magical control of life follows. As long as an individual is more strongly motivated by shame or fear or the desire for acceptance, he or she cannot practice magic of an initiatory nature.
White magic is the process of calling on personifications of the objective universe to adjust your relation to it in a harmonious way. Most White Magic is a form of prayer. Black Magic is based on self-intuited goals -- its formula is "my will be done" as opposed to the White Magic of the Right Hand Path whose formula is "Thy will be done." Black Magic is shunned and feared because to do Black Magic is to take full responsibility for one's actions, evolution and effectiveness. Now since magic enables the Setian to influence or change events in ways not understood nor anticipated by society, before the Setian puts it to use he or she must first develop a sound and sophisticated appreciation for the ethics governing his or her own motives, decisions, and actions. Merely using magic for impulsive, trivial, or egoistic desires is not Setian. It must become second-nature to the Setian to carefully pre-evaluate the consequences of what he or she wishes to do -- then choose the course of wisdom, justice, and creative improvement. It is important to realize that the Temple of Set utilizes a _wide_ spectrum of magical tools, far beyond just the "Egyptian," and is always seeking new methods.
Magic may either be operant -- spells to cure your mother's illness, get a better job, strengthen your memory -- or illustrative/initiatory. The former is the Art of getting what you Need, perhaps the most important Tool in the Setian toolbox. The latter magical formulae deal with enacting the lifetime process of Initiation. They are like the rites of passage performed by religionists, but they are separated from these by an important factor -- they represent an individual rather than a social change. Initiatory rites of passage represent the actualization of self-deification. Social rites of passage inform and integrate an individual into society. For example, a rite communicating passage into adulthood informs the society that the individual involved is now possessed of certain responsibilities and powers. An initiatory rite informs the _psyche_ of the individual that he or she is now possessed of certain powers and responsibilities. Initiatory magic -- when practiced by the individual -- separates him- or herself from the social matrix.
Initiation does not occur _within_ the magical chamber, but it is illustrated there. One does not enter into adulthood by (say) receiving one's high school diploma, but that action illustrates a variety of other processes which may have occurred. It's easy for the high school graduate to know that _something_ has happened, the ritual being boosted by not only his cap and gown, but those of his peers, the music, the crowds, etc. The magician has ultimately only his or her will to provide the knowledge of the change. Magic is the way that the follower of the Left Hand Path can have the *lived experience* of being a god, rather than praying to an image of a god created by his or her imagination.
The best candidate for the Temple of Set will have already have some success with his or her sorcery. Magical ability is a gift; it can not be conferred by any institution. Most of the occultnik world profits from people without magical ability to whom they sell an endless array of books and tools. This regrettable practice weakens the image of the magician and contributes to dying off of empiricism in our society. Magic, despite what you may have heard, is very hard work. I will discuss the path of an Initiate through the Temple of Set, and then its current structure.
Path of an Initiate
Veronica encounters the name of the Temple, and she decides to find out about it. The notion of Xeper, of Willed conscious evolution, appeals to her. Maybe she read about the Order of the Vampyre in Noreen Dresser's _American Vampires_ or the article on Satanism in the _Encyclopedia of American Religions_. She writes the San Francisco P.O. Box and gets a long informational letter (or visits our webpage). This initial action is one of Magical Curiosity, which is itself soul-transforming. The urge to make the Unknown Known is a preliminary to Xeper. After weeks of weighing the pros and cons -- "They seem nice and intelligent, but what's really going on?" -- she decides to apply, sending a letter expressing her desire to honestly quest and $65 for materials.
Assuming that she makes a good case for her interest (and that she expresses no criminal nor unethical intent), she is admitted. She receives a document called _The Crystal Tablet of Set_ and a white medallion, indicating that she is a Setian I*. For her this symbolizes the boldness of the quest for self divinity. For those who will be fortunate enough to Work with her, it symbolizes the excitement and energy of an as yet unarticulated Desire -- one of the driving forces arising from the black flame of self-awareness. She's also told that she has two years to bring forth certain qualities in herself, and that she'll need to find a member of the Priesthood to Recognize those qualities within her. Not bestow something on her, not give her an exam to pass, but Recognize. She's scared, intrigued, and challenged. This isn't like any other religion she's been associated with. She's also told that such a Recognition will not take place during her first year of membership. Also, there's this book with chapters named "Black Magic"." And a huge reading list, none of it required, on topics that may be of interest to her as she applies the techniques. Some of the topics of interest were what she expected in a Black Magical group, such as Lycanthropy or H. P. Lovecraft. But she wonders how a book on photography, _The Command to Look_, or one on optimal psychology, _Flow_, or on politics, _Political Ideas and Ideologies_, fit into these concepts of magic and religion. She is fortunate that she lives in a town with a Pylon, some towns don't have one yet. The interaction of Initiates of different levels of experience is a source of both challenge and support, so she seeks membership. She meets with the Priest running the Pylon, buys a black robe and goes to the first meeting, which is a free-form discussion of the application of Setian philosophy to mundane life. The Pylon members like her, she likes them, and she joins.
She comes to monthly rituals. At first it's pretty overwhelming. Each member writes Work to satisfy their own personal and emotional needs. Sometimes the Work derives completely from their own formulas -- sometimes they adapt historic models. Soon she is trying Work on her own -- rituals for destruction, compassion, lust, understanding. Eventually she tries her hand at group Work. She reads the bimonthly newsletter, _The Scroll of Set_ and she starts to correspond with other Setians.
After sixteen months the Priest comes to see in her an understanding of Left-Hand Path philosophy, genuine magical ability (her objective magic Works -- she gets the boyfriends and raises she wants), and a commitment to the organization. The Priest Recognizes her as Adept and presents her with a red medallion -- confirming (rather than conferring) her state of Being has passed from Death to Life. At this point she has shown to others and to herself that she can Awaken, See, and Act -- which Setians view as the highest human achievement. She will likely stay an Adept for the rest of her life -- since that is the level with the least formal obligation to the Temple. Adepts are graduates of the system, rather than teachers, and it is in the mode of Adept that all of us interact with the world.
The year of her Recognition, she decides to go to the annual International Conclave. She gets to meet Setians from Australia, Germany, the United Kingdom, Finland, etc. The magical and social interaction of Conclave accelerated her progress immensely. She's planning to go next year -- saving up her money since it will be in Europe.
As an Adept, she has mastered the basic concepts of the Temple. She is free now to specialize -- rather like the completion of her basic college courses. She may choose to affiliate with an Order of the Temple -- a group led by a Fourth Degree, a Magister Templi. The Work of Orders is mainly confidential, but if you're interested you may wish to read about the _Order of the Vampyre_ in Noreen Dresser's American Vampires, or purchase Stephen Edred Flower's _Black Runa_, which concerns the Order of the Trapezoid.
Veronica may consciously seek the next level of Initiation. The Third Degree -- that of Priest or Priestess of Set -- is characterized by responsibility and divinity. Here the Initiate seeks the touch of Set himself. This is not a unification with Set, but an alignment with the force that gave mankind awareness. For those that achieve this goal, there is a considerable strengthening of the Will. It is a position not without strain -- for those necessary controls to a strong Will, patience and wisdom, must be cultivated by the individual. The three Initiatory Degrees beyond Priest -- Magister, Magus, and Ipsissimus -- may be thought of as further refinements of this initial alignment. There is a great deal more to these, but that is discovered better through personal interaction than through words.
The key to understanding the degree system is the word Recognition. There are no special honors that come with various colored medallions. No bowing and scraping. An Initiate can correspond with/interact with anyone that finds that interaction beneficial. Since our religion is tuned toward personal growth, it becomes important to stress different stages of growth. This gives the individual outward examples to test their growth against, and keeps them from sinking into a mire of subjectivity. In some organizations titles are sold (or given away through simple seniority). If you start out as Grand Exalted Pooh-Bah -- there is no place to go. The Temple provides a wonderful toolkit. You can see real growth both inside and outside of yourself. The Temple is training ground for Work in the wide world. It is a tool not an alternative universe.
The Temple's Structure
_The following two sections are drawn largely from the Temple's General Information Letter._
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 magicians.
Executive 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: Setian I*, Adept II*, Priest or Priestess of Set III*, Magister /Magistra Templi IV*, Magus/Maga V*, and Ipsissimus/Ipsissima VI*.
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 exploitation.
The knowledge of the Temple of Set is made available through four principal avenues: an extensive (and ever-expanding) reading list of published works in twenty-four specialized fields; the newsletter _Scroll of Set_; the publications of the Temple's various specialized Orders; and the series of encyclopedias entitled the _Jeweled Tablets of Set_. The contents of the _Scroll_ and the Order periodicals are time-dated, of course, but those 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 to preclude excessive membership expenditure for frequently-revised publications.
Many Initiates are geographically distant from one another. This necessitates an organizational design geared more towards services to the individual than to localized "congregations". Recognizing the value -- and fellowship -- of a seminar environment, however, the Temple provides for "Pylons" (named after the unique gates of ancient Egyptian temples). Pylons are often geographically localized, but some are "correspondence" Pylons with global membership and interaction. While each Pylon is under the trust and responsibility of a II*+ Sentinel, they are emphatically not "leader/follower congregations", but rather cooperative and interactive forums for individual Initiates. Each new Setian is expected to affiliate with at least one Pylon within a year of admission to the Temple and Recognition to the II* will normally be recommended and/or formalized by that Pylon. Recognitions to the II* generally occur after the first year of membership.
Individuals admitted to the Temple are provided with a personal copy of the _Crystal Tablet of Set_, which contains a wide range of organizational, philosophical, and magical information pertinent to qualification as an Adept. There is a two-year time-limit for each new Setian to qualify for Adept Recognition. If such Recognition is not received by that time, affiliation is canceled.
The Orders of the Temple are entirely different in concept and operation from its Pylons. Each Order specializes in one or more particular fields of the magical arts and sciences. Such a specialization may be transcultural or oriented to a specific geographic area, time-period, or conceptual tradition. Within one year after II* Recognition, each Adept is expected to affiliate with an Order resonate with his or her personal interests and aptitudes. The collective knowledge of all of the Orders is available to the Temple membership generally.
Setians are encouraged to communicate with one another by means of a regularly-updated InterCommunication Roster, contained in the _Crystal Tablet_, and periodic Conclaves are scheduled on a regional, national, and international basis.
Personal affiliation with the Temple is kept confidential; a Setian's admission is known only to the Priesthood.
Since the Temple considers other religions as inherently false, membership in other religious bodies is not permitted beyond the II*. Setians may pursue membership in other Initiatory Orders. The Temple does not seek however to undermine or attack other religions, we view them as purveyors of socially useful myths that provide ethical standards for persons unable to think on their own. We do however recognize the need for free speech and practice and Setians are encouraged to be active on these fronts -- even defending the rights of those hostile to us.
It is regrettable that a simplistic view of Satanism drawn from movies, Christian propaganda and superstition has led to an urban myth of Satanists as "baby-eating blood-drinking fiends." This type of folklore, which is as realistic as stories of microwaved poodles or the Alaskan "mute-rat," have long since been discredited by serious studies by the FBI and British law enforcement officials. Unfortunately these stories are still passed around as an urban legend of Satanism -- sometimes broadened to include all occultists -- sometimes sadly passed by occultists wanting to provide a scapegoat to an uneasy crowd (It's THEM not US). The fact of the matter is that we have not found that any interest or activity which an enlightened, mature intellect would regard as undignified, 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 individuals and organizations which have preceded us. Some of these were socially acceptable by contemporary or modern standards; others were not. Some made brilliant discoveries in one field of interest while blighting their reputations with shocking excesses or tragic failures in others. In examining the secret and suppressed corners of history for valuable and useful material, the Temple insists upon 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 are expected to seek counsel from the Priesthood. All Setians are further expected to display a high measure of maturity and common sense in this area.
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.
Xepera Xeper Xeperu
"I Have Come Into Being, and by the Process of my Coming Into Being, the Process of Coming Into Being is Established."