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The Black Beyond Black: The Temple of Set

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Subject: The Black Beyond Black: The Temple of Set
                             Don Webb, V*
                              High Priest
   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
   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
   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
   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
   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
   *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
   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
   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
   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
   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
   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
   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.
   Urban Folklore
   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."


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Southern Spirits: 19th and 20th century accounts of hoodoo, including slave narratives & interviews
Hoodoo in Theory and Practice by cat yronwode: an introduction to African-American rootwork
Lucky W Amulet Archive by cat yronwode: an online museum of worldwide talismans and charms
Sacred Sex: essays and articles on tantra yoga, neo-tantra, karezza, sex magic, and sex worship
Sacred Landscape: essays and articles on archaeoastronomy, sacred architecture, and sacred geometry
Lucky Mojo Forum: practitioners answer queries on conjure; sponsored by the Lucky Mojo Curio Co.
Herb Magic: illustrated descriptions of magic herbs with free spells, recipes, and an ordering option
Association of Independent Readers and Rootworkers: ethical diviners and hoodoo spell-casters
Freemasonry for Women by cat yronwode: a history of mixed-gender Freemasonic lodges
Missionary Independent Spiritual Church: spirit-led, inter-faith, the Smallest Church in the World
Satan Service Org: an archive presenting the theory, practice, and history of Satanism and Satanists
Gospel of Satan: the story of Jesus and the angels, from the perspective of the God of this World
Lucky Mojo Usenet FAQ Archive: FAQs and REFs for occult and magical usenet newsgroups
Candles and Curios: essays and articles on traditional African American conjure and folk magic
Aleister Crowley Text Archive: a multitude of texts by an early 20th century ceremonial occultist
Spiritual Spells: lessons in folk magic and spell casting from an eclectic Wiccan perspective
The Mystic Tea Room: divination by reading tea-leaves, with a museum of antique fortune telling cups
Yronwode Institution for the Preservation and Popularization of Indigenous Ethnomagicology
Yronwode Home: personal pages of catherine yronwode and nagasiva yronwode, magical archivists
Lucky Mojo Magic Spells Archives: love spells, money spells, luck spells, protection spells, etc.
      Free Love Spell Archive: love spells, attraction spells, sex magick, romance spells, and lust spells
      Free Money Spell Archive: money spells, prosperity spells, and wealth spells for job and business
      Free Protection Spell Archive: protection spells against witchcraft, jinxes, hexes, and the evil eye
      Free Gambling Luck Spell Archive: lucky gambling spells for the lottery, casinos, and races