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ToS Faq

To: alt.satanism
From: (John Youril)]
Subject: Re: ToS Faq
Date: 6 Oct 1994 01:59:42 GMT

|                           THE TEMPLE OF SET FAQ
|Last revision: August 21, 1994
|Next expected revision: September 21, 1994

[much omitted] 

|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 supposed to be "good", Satan was 
|necessarily "bad". Alluring or mysterious deities from religions 
|competing with early Christianity - such as the Hellenic/Roman 
|Mysteries and the Persian Mithraic faith - were also "bad", hence 
|the Christian Satan was decorated with many of their 
|characteristics, such as Pan's horns & cloven hoofs. Non-Christian 
|gods generally were redefined as Christian "demons" and given a 
|place in the Christian "Hell" (another name stolen and perverted 
|from ancient Norse mythology).

|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 
|simplistic 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. This event marks the creation of Satanism as a 
|religion in its own right. Publicly its "Satan" was not the evil 
|scarecrow of Christian myth, but rather a champion of anti-hypocrisy 
|- a crusader against the corruption and moral bankruptcy of society, 
|which LaVey blamed largely upon Christianity. In another, more 
|private context, the Satan of the Church of Satan was understood to 
|be an authentic metaphysical presence: a being not evil, but rather 
|independent, assertive, and creative - a true Prince of Darkness 
|after the imagery of Milton, Blake, Baudelaire, and Twain.
|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 - named 
|after a city in Ptolemaic Egypt whose hedonistic festivals 
|particularly horrified the early Christian church).
|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" in a society 
|in which Christianity - and its "evil scarecrow" concept of Satan - 
|were overwhelmingly predominant. Simultaneously the Church began to 
|feel constrained by even its own redefinition of Satanism, as the 
|parameters of philosophy and metaphysics extend far beyond the 
|conceptual and symbolic limits of the Judaic/Christian tradition.

|The Satanic religion proposes to raise the individual to personal 
|godhood, free from enslavement to any other "God" [or gods]. 
|Unfortunately this is a question not just of power, but also of 
|ethics, morality, and psychological maturity. The Church of Satan's 
|initial prescriptions - as outlined in LaVey's 1969 book _The 
|Satanic Bible_ - were used by some as a basis for metaphysical 
|growth, but by others as merely an excuse for egoistic 
|irresponsibility. 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, exploitation, 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 "religious impulse" proved to be important to both Satanists and 
|non-Satanists. In the case of Satanists it brought about an 
|increasing interest in exploring the "human equation" and the 
|metaphysical and psychological roots of the great Satanic/psyche-
|centered philosophies of history. Even had Anton LaVey not provoked 
|the crisis of 1975, it is clear that the evolution of Church of 
|Satan into something like the Temple of Set - a completely non-
|Christianized, positive "high Satanism" - would have proceeded 


|"White" magic, as advocated 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 "core 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 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.

|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 evolutionary "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"].


|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*, & 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 

|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 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 should 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.
|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.


|The Church of Satan 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 its philosophy, they would appreciate its essential requirement 
|for such a commitment. Once being in the position to enjoy the 
|"accessories" of the philosophy without having to confront its core 
|principle, however, such persons 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 disintegration in 
|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. 

|Membership in the 
|Temple of Set beyond the I* precludes membership in any other 
|religious organization.

|...application check ...amount of US$100 ...

|Annual renewal fee for all Initiates is US$50 (US$55 overseas). 

|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. 

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