The Setian Philosophy
Since movements dedicated to the Prince of Darkness have been so ill-tolerated by the masses of humanity wherever and whenever they have appeared, why have they survived at all? Why do they continue to exercise such uncanny attraction, and why now should you consider approaching this particular one?
The appeal of occultism is much the same as that of conventional religion: Logical positivism and scientific materialism, though they have made great strides towards explaining the “how” of existence, have failed entirely to explain the “why”. Hence the curious seek answers in metaphysical philosophy or religion. Metaphysical philosophy requires a logical base from which various suprarational principles are induced. Conventional religion is the simplification of such a philosophy into a crude ideology, which adherents need not understand, but only accept as an act of blind faith.
Conventional religions, with their colorful mythologies analyzed in terms of the underlying philosophical principles, represent simply the primitive longing of man to feel “at one” with the Universal harmony he perceives about him. “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.
Ironically it is the very ease with which any individual can apprehend and appreciate his or her personal psyche that has frightened the many religions of the world which deny and oppose the power of that psyche. Clothed though they may be in riches, ritual, and respectability, they always have been and remain obsessed with the suppressed knowledge of their own essential falsehood. They endeavor to distract attention from this by sponsoring shows of mind-numbing drugs, mantras, masses, privations, entertainments, and penances to coax or cow their flocks of adherents into a confused, apprehensive, but trusting state of faith and automatic obedience. They shudder with horror at the psyche; they paint it red and add horns, cloven hooves, and a forked tail to dramatize how “dangerous” it is. Yet they can never escape it or defeat it, because they have never really succeeded in opposing themselves to it - merely in distorting and perverting it. How could they destroy something which, in the final analysis, is the conscious self of every human being?
The “worship” of Set is thus the “worship” of individualism. In the Church of Satan this was taken to mean indulgence in all [legal] desires of the body and ego. Since many such desires are impulsive and destructive, the Church found itself in the unexpected and 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”].
The means by which Setians seek to Xeper are many. As a matter of principle the Temple declines to standardize its approach to Initiates. Each may pursue topics of greatest personal interest with whatever emphasis and at whatever rate desired. The Temple seeks merely to be a forum for Setians to communicate and cooperate with one another constructively and courteously. Many ideas and philosophies are discussed within it, but such discussion does not constitute the dictation of dogma.
Indeed dogma - to include fixed ideology in any form - is repugnant to the Temple. We strive rather towards an atmosphere of “best possible premises”, which are always subject to constructive, intelligent examination and criticism. That same atmosphere is Socratic, however, in that foolish, pretentious, or destructive egotism under the guise of exploration is neither respected nor endured.
While it is obvious that Setians have more than enough interests to occupy an organization with many times our membership and resources on a full-time basis, the Temple of Set is not intended to consume the energies or lifestyles of its Initiates. Since a truly Adept magician must interact constructively and comfortably with conventional society, encouragement of monastic isolation within Temple circles would be counterproductive to personal development and even constrictive of the flexibility necessary to the entire Temple. Setians are accordingly advised to pursue as wide a variety of secular interests as possible, and to let Setian philosophy apply to them only as appropriate.
Setian initiation includes the study and practice of Setian magic, traditionally termed “Black Magic” - not because it is “evil” but because it is consciously controlled by the magician rather than unconsciously controlling him.
The Temple of Set will help you to understand just what magic is - and indeed there are several types of magic to be learned and distinguished. But as magic enables you to influence or change events in ways not understood nor anticipated by society, before you put it to use you must first develop a sound and sophisticated appreciation for the ethics governing your own motives, decisions, and actions. Merely using magic for impulsive, trivial, or egoistic desires is not Setian. It must become second-nature to you to carefully preevaluate the consequences of what you wish to do - then choose the course of wisdom, justice, and creative improvement. Structure and Operation
The deliberately individualistic atmosphere of the Temple of Set is not easily conducive to group activities on a routine or programmed basis. There are no congregations of docile “followers” - only cooperative philosophers and 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°, & Ipsissimus/Ipsissima VI°.
Recognition as an Adept II° constitutes certification by the Temple that one has in fact mastered and successfully applied the essential principles of Black Magic. The bulk of Temple systems are geared to attainment of and subsequent support for the II°, and that is the level of affiliation which most Setians will maintain. It is understood that this is an organizational principle, as each Adept’s magical and philosophical evolution will continue as he or she continues to energize and actualize it.
The III°-VI° are properly seen not as further benchmarks of individual attainment, but as specialized religious offices conferred by Set alone, and Recognized within the Temple according to his Will.
The design, care, and operation of the Temple are entrusted by Set to the Priesthood. All Initiates of the Priesthood are originally highly-qualified Adepts in the Black Arts. Most of your contact with them will be in this context. Because they are responsible for the integrity of the Temple as a whole, however, they have the authority both to evaluate and Recognize Initiates’ competence and, if necessary, to suspend or expel individuals who have proven themselves incapable of maintaining Setian standards of dignity and excellence. The Priesthood takes all of these responsibilities extremely seriously, since it regards its name literally and its trust as sacred. In this respect it stands significantly apart from conventional religious clergy, who de facto consider their “priesthoods” as social professions and their deities as mere symbols and metaphors for their institutional or personal exploitation.
The knowledge of the Temple of Set is made available through four principal avenues: an extensive 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 encyclopædias 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 made available for private membership download from the Internet, with printed copies for Setians without Internet access.
Because of the non-group-oriented design of the Temple, 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.
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 reflective of his or her personal interests and aptitudes. The collective knowledge of all of the Orders is available to the Temple membership generally.
Setians may also 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.
On its public website the Temple maintains basic information about itself suitable for the general public. Within the Temple is a more extensive “Intranet” - essentially a Setian-only website for worldwide membership access. The Temple also operates a number of Internet-based mailing lists for ease of announcements, communication, and discussion.
Personal affiliation with the Temple is kept confidential; your admission is known only to the Priesthood. If you desire to meet other Setians, you may do so under a magical name if desired. In summary, you may apply the services and systems of the Temple as you wish, and as you deem most complementary to your Xeper; otherwise they will not intrude upon you.
An Important Clarification
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.
These warnings are not intended to be oppressive or intimidating, but they should be taken seriously. The Temple is a forum for the investigation of many subjects which conventional society finds odd, mysterious, and even extremely frightening. The Temple will be tolerated only to the extent that it is known to be pursuing its interests carefully, expertly, and responsibly. It occupies a delicate position in a world which is largely unhappy with itself, and which is ceaselessly searching for scapegoats. Hence the Temple must take care to maintain its social balance with prudence and dignity.
Original Article: http://www.xeper.org/pub/gil/xp_FS_gil.htm
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© 1986-2006 CE Temple of Set
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