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Balanone's Temple of Set FAQ


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Archive-name: religions/temple-of-set
Title: Balanone's Temple of Set FAQ
Posting-Frequency: monthly, quarterly to soc.religion.paganism
Last-modified: 2001/12/29
Version: 1.2.6
URL: http://www.bigfoot.com/~balanone/baltsfaq.html
Copyright: (c) 1997-2001 Temple of Set
Maintainer: Balanone <balfaq@xeper.org>

See reader questions & answers on this topic! - Help others by sharing your knowledge
This is one man's FAQ document concerning the Temple of Set. Its
information is drawn from a number of resources, including electronic
discussions, hard copy correspondence, internal Temple of Set documents,
etc.

This FAQ is posted monthly to news.answers and alt.answers, and also to
alt.satanism, alt.pagan, alt.magick, and alt.magick.order. It's posted less
frequently to soc.religion.paganism, the Xepera-l mailing list, and other 
appropriate forums. It can also be obtained from 
ftp://ftp.xeper.org/pub/faqs/baltsfaq.txt. IMO the HTML version of this FAQ 
is  much more readable; it can be found at 
http://www.bigfoot.com/~balanone/baltsfaq.html 

This FAQ's answers are intentionally brief and concise, sometimes excessively 
so, to keep this document's size down. More detailed information is available 
in the companion document, "Balanone's Temple of Set REF." That REF can be 
obtained from ftp://ftp.xeper.org/pub/faqs/baltsref.txt. It also has a (more
readable) HTML version, found at 
http://www.bigfoot.com/~balanone/baltsref.html

Qualifications: Balanone has been an active member of the Temple of Set
since early 1976, and so is intimately familiar with Setian philosophy and
practice. While this document is just one person's statement, and not an
official statement from/by the organization, this person has the depth of
experience to be reasonably confident in his accuracy. Corrections,
additions, and differences of opinion from other members of the Temple of
Set are more than welcome, and within reason all such will be included in
this document.

Revision history: See "Balanone's Temple of Set FAQ/REF Changes", at
http://www.bigfoot.com/~balanone/baltsdif.html



Contents:

1.0     Introduction

2.0     Philosophy
2.1     Xeper
2.2     Initiation
2.3     Satanism
2.4     Left Hand Path
2.5     Metaphysics
2.6     Dogma vs Doctrine

3.0     Religion
3.1     The Temple of Set as a Religion
3.2     Set
3.3     The Gift of Set

4.0     Magic
4.1     Black Magic
4.2     Ritual Practices
4.3     Occult Studies

5.0     The Organization
5.1     Membership in the Temple
5.2     Relations with Other Organizations
5.3     Why the Temple of Set?
5.4     Our Reputation(s)
5.5     Pylons and Orders
5.6     The High Priest

6.0     Setians and Setianism
6.1     Activities
6.2     Setians
6.3     Why are we here?
6.4     Miscellaneous

7.0     Contact and Information
7.1     Formal and Official Contact
7.2     Informal Contact
7.3     Friendly and Neutral Others
7.4     Unfriendly Others
7.5     Getting More Information
7.6     Those Stories About Us

8.0     Miscellaneous
8.1     Miscellaneous Links
8.2     FAQ/REF Sources



>> 1.0  Introduction

The Temple of Set is probably best described as an initiatory magical order
of the Left Hand Path, a description which probably doesn't mean much to
those without occult backgrounds.

"Initiatory" means the ToS advocates self-advancement through a series of
levels of self-knowledge and similar attributes.

"Magical" means that the ToS openly works with magic (non-scientific cause
and effect), not stage magic.

"Left Hand Path" indicates that the path followed by Setians is one of
concentration and refinement of the self, leading toward more and more
individuality and more and more individualism, as opposed to the Right Hand
Path goals of growing toward some outwardly determined standard.

A slightly more detailed introduction can be found in the REF.



>> 2.0  Philosophy

2.1     Xeper

-       Perhaps the best discussion of Xeper available online is Magus Don
        Webb's, found at: http://www.xeper.org/pub/tos/xeper2.html

-       Balanone: Setian Philosophy centers around the Egyptian concept of Xeper
        (often spelled Khepher), personified by the Egyptian Neter (god?) Xepera
        (Khephra), a concept that can be translated to "self improvement," or
        perhaps "Be all you can be."

        Though that statement above seems simple enough, the study and pursuit
        of Xeper has proven complex and long, intriguing and challenging enough
        to keep Setians occupied for a life time.

-       Apr 28, 1996, Priest Roger Whitaker, Xepera-l: 

        Xeper describes a methodology for manifestation. You cannot separate
        yourself from the force which motivates one to Xeper. It is ingrained
        within the many and varied paths which lead to it. Xeper such as it is
        results in a deeper recognition of Self consciousness, i.e., the
        uniquely human ability to sense its separateness within the body even
        while it resides within it. This heightened sense of Self Being, itself
        the result of polaric constituents - its me, in this other thing called
        a body - becomes a building block of a personal methodology based upon
        knowledge, intuition, learning and change as a result of the preceding.

        The results of Xeper are manifestations into the world of ideas, art,
        science and culture. For the individual the results of Xeper become a
        metaphysical departure point for developing a bond with the Prince of
        Darkness by creating a matrix of linked ideas whose path leads towards
        the Genesis of Self Being.

You'll find another comment or two concerning Xeper in the REF document.



2.2     Initiation

-       What do those necklaces and medallions mean?

        The Temple of Set is an initiatory organization, dedicated to the
        initiation and growth of its members.

        That dedication to initiation, to the philosophy of Xeper, and to Set,
        is represented by our primary symbol, the Pentagram of Set (a point-down
        pentagram within a circle). To help our members identify each other so
        we can work together, and to help them identify which level of
        initiation has been achieved by each other, we wear this symbol on
        different colored medallions, normally worn on necklaces of some kind,
        at formal gatherings.

        There are six levels of initiation recognized within the Temple of Set,
        each with its specific color medallion.

        -  The first degree member wears a white medallion. This is a period of
           trial membership, in which the member begins to explore our
           philosophies, our practices, and our society. The member can decide
           whether our organization is one which will help the member's
           personal growth, and if not he is welcome to leave at any time, with
           our good wishes. Likewise, during this period we determine whether
           the member will function well within our society, will benefit from
           our activity, and will eventually be able to help others in the
           organization with their personal growth. If not, then their
           membership is terminated, hopefully with no hard feelings. We title
           this degree "Setian," which is also the generic name for all of our
           members. The term stands for all who pursue their self deification
           while in contact with the philosophical and magical stream of the
           Temple.

        -  The second degree wears a red medallion. This is a member who has
           completed the trial membership and has been found to be compatible
           with and a valued contributor to the Temple of Set, just as we have
           been found to be useful to the member's own growth. More, through
           hard work the individual has opened him- or herself to the forces of
           Becoming within the body-soul complex. This is a place of great
           excitement and achievement. We Recognize our Adepts by the quality
           of their adventures and projects. This is where we differ form most
           occult schools that would award degrees based on knowledge and
           memory feats. These members are free to work with our philosophies
           and to participate in our activities to the fullest. More members
           are in the second degree than any other level of initiation. We
           title this degree "Adept," declaring them able to pursue any and all
           goals applicable to their personal growth.

        -  The third degree wears a black medallion. This is a member who not
           only has shown all of the qualities of an advanced second degree
           member, but who has also been chosen by Set to serve in his
           priesthood. This member has demonstrated abilities in working with
           and representing Set and the Temple of Set. We title this degree
           "Priest." Another way of putting this: the Third Degree Setian has
           become Resonate with the Work of Set. He or she is directly
           empowered by Set and charged him to expand the Setian experience --
           this includes everything form running the Temple, which belongs to
           its Priesthood, to a variety of scholarly, artistic, or (obviously)
           magical endeavors to increase the Setian mindscape. Third Degrees
           can represent the Temple in most matters. If you have any questions
           concerning the Temple of Set (the organization, our activities,
           beliefs, or members), these members are the best qualified to answer
           your questions.

        -  The fourth degree wears a blue medallion. The Fourth Degree Setian
           is the founder of a school of thought in the Temple, which may
           effect the general philosophical and magical actions of mankind as
           well. These schools of thought are called Orders. Some such as the
           Order of the Vampyre or the Order of the Trapezoid are well known
           beyond the boundaries of the Temple walls, while others have lower
           profiles. The job of the Fourth Degree is the discovery and
           articulation of communicable methods of Initiation. The Orders bear
           the same relationship to the Temple as departments do to a
           University. They are places for the Adept to specialize in pursuit
           of the specialized tools for their personal achievement.

        -  The fifth wears a purple medallion. The sixth wears a gold
           medallion. The distinctions between these grades of initiation are
           very meaningful within the Temple of Set, but for most purposes you
           can consider them as variations upon the fourth degree.

        Why do you turn the pentagram upside down? 

        or as flagg@tiac.net stated on alt.pagan on Jan 10, 1996, and I
        responded: 

           ft> I know some satanists would like to THINK they are pagan, but if
           this is the case, why the need to desacrate the Pentagram as they
           did the Cross? I know the pentagram is not central to all pagan
           beliefs, but there is still no need for this. All pagan faiths that
           I know of respect the symbols of other religions. 

        Agreed. So why do you turn the holy and glorious Pentagram wrong side
        up? It's a symbol of dynamic balance, resting actively on one point. Why
        do you have to turn it over with its all-important balance point
        pointing meaninglessly up into the air? 

There is additional discussion of initiation and the Temple's degree system
in the REF document.



2.3     Satanism

Is the Temple of Set a Satanic organization?

The Temple of Set as an organization was founded in 1975 by Dr. Michael
Aquino, in San Francisco. Its initial membership came from the Church of
Satan (that infamous "Satanic" organization of the carny Anton LaVey),
composed of CoS members who felt there was something real and important
about the magic they were exploring, and felt that Anton LaVey's antics of
that year were in contradiction to their own experiences. The Temple of Set
has grown a lot in scope and maturity in those twenty years.

Because of this history, and because of the many antinomian pursuits
followed by Setians, many people will call the Temple of Set "Satanic."
Many Setians do, too, but not all.

"Satan" is a name given to the Prince of Darkness, just like "Set" is a
name given to the Prince of Darkness. However, "Set" is a name given by a
religion which found Setian principles attractive and noble, and which
honored the Prince of Darkness. "Satan" is a name given to the Prince of
Darkness by Christianity out of fear and revulsion. The Christian Satan is
a twisted bastardization of the true Prince of Darkness.

"Satanism" is a term used by many to describe the Left Hand Path in the
West. We are a proud part of the tradition of spiritual dissent, differing
philosophically from the Church of Satan. Their take on the Left Hand Path
is the Immanent Path wherein godhood is achieved by the worship of the
carnal ego with no possibility of personal immortality save in some vague
connection to the organic stream. We are followers of the Transcendental
path, wherein person immortality is achievable by a strengthening of the
idealized Self. In an increasingly post-Christian world, the term
"Satanism" will become irrelevant.

More discussion concerning the Temple of Set and Satanism can be found in
the REF document. You may also be interested in essays concerning the
Prince of Darkness provided by Balanone
(http://www.bigfoot.com/~balanone/pod.html) and "Concerning our Patron" by High
Priest Don Webb (http://www.bigfoot.com/~balanone/patron.html).

2.4     Left Hand Path

The Left Hand Path is the tradition of spiritual dissent. It is a process
of using the ideas and actions of the Seeker to create or realize an
immortal, individual, potent, and powerful essence that will survive death.
The Left Hand Path is the quest for personal immortality, won by hard
effort without grace of gods, even of our role model, Set.

2.5     Metaphysics

This section is found only in the REF document.

2.6     Dogma vs Doctrine

The Temple of Set has no dogma, but it does have teachings. We're sometimes
accused of having dogma because of these teachings.

The REF document includes some discussion detailing the distinction I see
between doctrine and dogma. 

There is some disagreement on this issue, primarily I believe because
people use different definitions for dogma.  For example, in reviewing a
draft of this FAQ, Magus Don Webb, the High Priest, suggested I erred in my
statement above:

        DW> Actually the Temple of Set does have dogma:
        DW> 1. Being and Becoming are Good.
        DW> 2. Being and Becoming can be enhanced by consciously chosen
        activities including Magic.
        DW> 3. The Temple of Set, if properly maintained and used as a tool can
        be used to obtain Being and Becoming.
        DW> That's about it.



>>  3.0 Religion

3.1     The Temple of Set as a Religion

Is the Temple of Set a religion?

Yes, although belief in the religion is not required of I* or II* members.
See the REF document for some discussion why I consider the Temple of Set
to be a religion.

* Fr. Ignatius asked on the Xepera-L mailing list, May 22, 1999: 

  > If ToS is a "legally recognized" entity, is it then tax-exempt? And are
  > ToS Priests able to perform legally binding marriage ceremonies? I was
  > wondering because I know that gov't recognition of one's path as a *real*
  > religion has been an issue in the neo-pagan community for quite a while.

  Yes, from its initial incorporation, the Temple of Set is a legal religious
  corporation within the State of California, and it is fully tax exempt. (I
  believe most of us would gladly do away with the tax exemption of all
  religious organizations, losing our own if it meant that all Christian,
  Jewish, Hindu, Scientologist, and other religions also paid their fair
  taxes. But as long as they are tax exempt, we'll save our money this way
  also.)

  Yes, Setian Priests are able to perform legally binding marriage ceremonies. 

3.2     Set

Set is the most ancient name for the Prince of Darkness, given to the
Prince of Darkness in ancient (pre-dynastic) Egypt. Whether Set exists as
an independent metaphysical being, or whether he's a symbol for man's most
individualistic attributes, is a topic always under discussion somewhere in
the Temple of Set.

You may also be interested in essays concerning the Prince of Darkness
provided by Balanone (http://www.bigfoot.com/~balanone/pod.html) and 
"Concerning our Patron" by High Priest Don Webb
(http://www.bigfoot.com/~balanone/patron.html).

3.3     The Gift of Set

The Gift of Set means so many different things depending upon whom you
speak to. To some it's the gift of Intelligence, to some it's
Consciousness, to some it's the ability to step back from the current
moment/place to see/think about what's happening. To some it's the ability
to work (or at least conceive of) magic. etc. The Gift of Set is whatever
happens to separate us (those with potential) from animals (those without
quite as much potential), which is one of the grey areas that haven't been
clarified very well (some of us not seeing very much difference between
humans and "higher" animals).

There is more discussion of the Gift of Set in the REF document.


>> 4.0  Magic

4.1     Black Magic

What is Black Magic? How does the Temple of Set teach it?

Black Magic is consciously-directed alteration of one's environment through
obscure natural (Lesser Black Magic) or non-natural (Medial Black Magic)
means, or apprehension of the Forms/Principles of the natural/non-natural
universe (Greater Black Magic). Black Magic inverts the formula of religion
from "Thy will be done!" to "My will be done!"

The Temple of Set teaches both theory and practice of LBM/MBM/GBM, along
with individual and social ethical considerations to which the Initiate
must be sensitive in order to use such magical knowledge creatively,
constructively, and responsibly. [Descriptions of "Black Magic" as
involving human or animal sacrifice, rape, or other illegal or
reprehensible practices are merely Judaeo/Christian propaganda, and have no
basis in truth whatever.]

4.2     Ritual Practices

Setian ritual practice is generally not discussed in public forums.
However, some specific questions seem to require answers.


-       Do you sacrifice animals (or children)?

        No. See the REF document for a more detailed discussion of this, and for
        other questions/answers concerning our ritual practices.

4.3     Occult Studies

Discussion of other occult studies (such as Astrology, Thelema and
Crowley), are found in the REF document.



>> 5.0  The Organization

5.1     Membership in the Temple

Note: Most of these sections are explored in more depth in the REF
document.

-       Exploration

        Joining the Temple of Set is a serious decision. Anyone who is 
                  attracted to the Temple of Set through the things you see and hear 
                  should investigate thoroughly before applying for membership.

-       Affiliation

        Application to the Temple of Set may be made to the Executive Director
        or to any Priest of Set. Information about this procedure is provided 
                  in the introductory letter.

        -  Assuming you're approved for membership (the Executive Director has
           indicated that the majority of applicants are denied), you as a I*
           Setian you will receive 1) the current edition of the _Crystal
           Tablet of Set_, which includes all of the basic philosophical,
           magical, and initiatory material any Setian would need to begin and
           accomplish his initiation to the II*, 2) a I* Pentagram of Set
           medallion, and 3) a year's subscription to the _Scroll of Set_
           newsletter.

        -  You will have two years in which to achieve the II*, using the
           information and inspiration provided by the _Crystal Tablet_, by
           correspondence and other contact with Setians, and through your own
           work towards Initiation.

        -  Following from our choice to avoid all practices that would create a
           barrier between us and our self-created divinity, the Setian can not
           in good faith hold membership in any other religious organization
           after he has become an Adept. Membership in organizations that
           advocate illegal action are likewise incompatible with Setian
           affiliation. One cannot be for one's own Xeper, and be working to
           restrict the Xeper of another.

        -  The application and its approval.

           Though some applications are approved and acted upon quickly, other
           applications for membership in the Temple of Set seem to take a very
           long time. Our "staff" are all volunteers, and their administrative
           activities within the Temple of Set are given appropriate
           priorities, *behind* personal initiation, family, and career.
           Therefore, be prepared for some delay in the processing of your
           application. If the delay seems overly long, it's always helpful to
           send a friendly query to the Executive Director asking about its
           status.

           One applicant asked on Xepera-l: "I sent off my letter of 
                          application about three weeks ago now- and I still haven't heard a 
                          word.  Any idea how long it takes to get a response?" 

           - Adept Foster answered: 

             Once you've submitted your letter of application, it can take 
                                 anywhere from one to three months before you hear anything.  I 
                                 know it sucks to have to wait that long without knowing, but 
                                 these things take time- especially when you consider exactly HOW 
                                 BUSY the Temple's Executive Director is (and that being the E.D. 
                                 is a full time job, ON TOP of a normal, *paying* full time job- 
                                 and then add in some time for family, other official Temple 
                                 matters and their own personal Initiatory work!)  All told, I'm 
                                 surprised it happens as quickly as it does.

             Just consider this a lesson in patience, and enjoy the 
                                 anticipation. :)

           - My answer was:

             It's highly variable, depending on how busy our volunteer 
                                 Executive Director is, and how busy her staff is, and how much 
                                 difficulty she has finding an available Priest for the interview 
                                 process. Then the question becomes how busy that Priest is, 
                                 whether he has email capabilities, etc.

             You can send a quick email to her at balfaq.ed@xeper.org and 
                                 verify that she at least received your letter of application.

        -  Lewis Cawthorne asked on Xepera-l, Date: Fri, 18 Dec 1998, 
           Subject: TOS & Recognition 
           
             Not to put the cart before the horse, but I do have one minor 
             concern, how would an Initiate in a small town in North Carolina 
             with some resources at his disposal for traveling to other places 
             for contact with other Setians but probably without adequate 
             resources to be able to make it to a normal pylon meeting should 
             one be within a reasonable distance of his location (which there 
             probably isn't) ever manage to have enough contact with a Priest 
             of the temple to be reconized as an Adept? 

           From: "Koyote", Date: Fri, 18 Dec 1998 

             (All of this is from the p.o.v. of a first degree Setian with 
             little face to face contact due to where I am and my job hours- I 
             work most on weekends.) 
             
             Recognition, you should remember, is just that- Recognition. The 
             work must be done by you. Communicating that can take many forms 
             other than direct F2F. Publishing articles in the various 
             newsletters, communicating with other Initiates via direct email, 
             phone conversations, and attending larger gatherings (which occur 
             in the continental US many times each year) are all adequate. 

           From: "fun fear", Date: Sat, 19 Dec 1998, 

             As an isolated Setian, I had similiar concerns, but I must agree 
             with Koyote. The Internet is a wonderful tool for contacting 
             Priests and Priestesses, and as Koyote suggested, writing articles 
             for _The Scroll of Set_ is equally rewarding. Also, there are 
             several correspondence Pylons available. 
             
             Beyond this, I have realized that one should _embrace_ one's 
             isolation. Just look to Set as an example: the apotheosis of the 
             different and isolate! You have _two years_ to get Recognized --
             plenty of time to explore, make contacts with the Priesthood, and, 
             if worthy, become Recognized. You don't need a group to hold your 
             hand to do it, I hope! Embrace the isolation, ebrace the Darkness! 

           From: Balanone <Balanone@geocities.com>, Date: Sun, 20 Dec 1998 

             It's a challenge. That hypothetical Initiate would have to Work 
             at it -- corresponding with as many Setians as possible at the I* 
             and II* levels (for breadth of perspective) and with several 
             members of the Priesthood. He would have to take responsibility 
             for maintaining correspondences, for establishing new ones to 
             replace old ones that move on, and for demonstrating to the 
             Priesthood his level of knowledge, his activity and study, and 
             his advancement, along Setian lines. 
             
             It's a job. It's not easy. Magister L. was the only Setian in 
             Finland, and he had to work to overcome the difficulties inherent 
             in demonstrating his Xeper into the II*. Magister W. faced the 
             same challenges in Germany some years earlier. Magister K and 
             Magister A in the British Isles had it almost as bad, but at least 
             English was their native language (though they had to deal with 
             many curve balls tossed by our writing most Setian materials in 
             American English rather than British English). 

             It's not easy, as Priestess N, Adept B, Priest C, Adept D, 
             Magistra H, Priest R, Priest W, and several others can report 
             (several were the only Setians in their state, and a couple were 
             the only Setians in their country). 

             It's not easy, but it can be done, as these have shown. Only you 
             can tell whether you're up to the task. 

           From: Christopher Merwin, Date: Sat, 19 Dec 1998 

             As a Temple Initiate from a small town in North Carolina I think 
             perhaps I can help you with some of your queries. Due to the 
             widespread distribution of Temple members many Pylons are 
             organized based around correspondence, with email and Pylon 
             newsletters as the primary form of communication. In fact, due to 
             the highly private and individualistic nature of most Setians this 
             is our prefered means of communication. ... The ability for you to 
             meet face to face with other Initiates is left completely up to 
             you and the other Initiates involved. The largest obstacle to 
             being a Setian in the Carolinas is the local attitudes toward 
             other non-christian religions, which any intelligent and sensitive 
             individual should be more than capable of handeling. 
        
-       Departure

        You may choose to resign from the Temple of Set at any time for any
        reason. The great majority of people who leave the Temple of Set do so
        simply by not paying their annual dues, and letting their memberships
        expire. Many others send a simple and courteous resignation letter to
        the Executive Director or any Priest.

        A few members are automatically expelled upon the completion of two
        years of membership during which they did not achieve the II*. There are
        surprisingly few of these to my mind, probably because the Executive
        Director and Priesthood do such a good job of screening applicants.

        Fewer members resign because they encounter something within the Temple
        of Set which they don't like, and fewer still are expelled because they
        prove to be incompatible with Setian philosophy or life.

-       Rejoining

        Despite the claims of a few who state otherwise, the Temple of Set does
        not pursue those who leave the Temple of Set. Whether that separation
        was friendly, unfriendly, or automatic and impersonal, we feel anyone
        and everyone should be allowed to go their own way, as long as they
        don't interfere with our Xeper or the organization.

        A few people who leave the Temple of Set do apply to rejoin the Temple.
        Setians who have left the Temple of their own accord may be allowed to
        rejoin on a case-by-case basis. The Temple is not designed as a
        revolving door, but we do realize that may not have entered the Temple
        at a time conducive to their development. Those that left impersonally
        or on an amicable basis are usually welcomed back without hesitation.
        Those who caused problems during their earlier membership or after their
        departure are carefully examined before they are welcomed back into the
        Temple of Set.

-       How long does the application process to the ToS usually take? 

        The application process time is highly variable, depending strongly on 
        -  whether there are any delays in the mail (especially for overseas
           applicants) 
        -  the time availability of our volunteer staff (expect longer delays
           during conclaves and gatherings) 
        -  whether your application is sponsored by a member of the Priesthood
           (which generally speeds up the process greatly)
        -  whether there is a local Priest readily available to contact you for
           an interview 
        -  whether there are copies of the Crystal Tablet available to be
           mailed out immediately or whether they need to be printed first 
        -  whether you are accepted or rejected (rejections tend to process
           faster than acceptances) 

        Though some membership applications are processed in as little as two
        weeks, it's not uncommon for incidental delays to extend the process to
        two months. If you are concerned about the delay, you may send a polite
        email or postal mail query to the Executive Director, who should be able
        to tell you how far the application process has gone. 

        As James F Foster wrote on Xepera-l: 

           General rule of thumb- before complaining about something, ask
           yourself: "What am I doing to fix it?" If you aren't doing much on
           your behalf, why would anyone else? 

        Second general rule of thumb: Before complaining about someone else's
        (lack of) performance, ask if there's a problem with the paperwork and
        if there's anything you can do to help.

5.2     Relations with Other Organizations

By its bylaws, the Temple of Set as an organization can have no formal
relationships or ties with any other organization. Individual Setians,
however, can work with or have dealings with other organizations and its
members. There are two limitations: 1) an Adept II* of the Temple of Set
cannot also be a member of another religious organization, and 2) no Setian
may be a member of an organization which condones or takes part in the
violation of society's laws to the detriment of society.

That first limitation has often been a subject for discussion by people who
don't understand it or who want clarification. One clarification I posted
to alt.pagan in 1996 was,

"The Temple of Set wouldn't care if a Setian chooses to participate in a
Buddhist retreat, an Indian sweat lodge, a Thelemic Gnostic Mass, a
Passover Seder, a Pagan circle, or whatever. Part of being an Adept
Magician is being able to see and mesh with whatever magic is taking place,
understanding the causes of the ceremony and participating in those causes
as appropriate to our own Will.

"However, if someone claimed to seriously believe in the wheel of karma,
and that Xeper is valueless because until we can learn to avoid all
participation in this world we're doomed to ride that wheel cycle after
cycle, then yes, that religious belief would be opposed to the Setian
principles of Xeper, and that person would not be able to remain a member
of the Temple of Set. The two philosophies are simply incompatible."

The REF document includes sections which examine our history regarding
specific other organizations.

5.3     Why the Temple of Set?

The REF document examines the question "What does the Temple of Set have to
offer?"

5.4     Our Reputation(s)

Lupo the Butcher, in his "alt.satanism FAQ file", states/stated: "The most
vocal of groups which border upon Satanism, is the Temple of Set of Michael
Aquino and friends, which splintered away from the Church of Satan in a
disagreement over monetary policy. They have a number of nasty habits,
including the public publishing of names, addresses and workplaces of
former members as a harassment tactic, disinformation regarding Satanic and
occult groups, including their own, and a good deal of "we are the one true
way" posturing."

See the section on Satanism for a summary of the schism with the Church of
Satan.

We do not normally publish the name, addresses, or any other information
concerning former members. We do not harass former members. Thousands of
exmembers have left the Temple of Set for many different reasons, without
any activity such as Lupo complains about.

See the REF document for more information.

5.5     Pylons and Orders

5.5.1   Pylons of the Temple of Set

Setians who live in the same area sometimes organize a local pylon in which
they can meet together regularly for discussions, study, ritual work, and
other activities. See http://www.xeper.org/pub/tos/pylons/pylons.html for a 
good discussion of local pylons within the Temple of Set.

In addition to local pylons, there are correspondence pylons which support
the Xeper of Setians who wish to participate in group discussions and
activities by correspondence.

5.5.2   Orders of the Temple of Set

IV* Setians, Masters of the Temple, may found Orders within the Temple of
Set. If you were to think of the Temple of Set as a college of higher
learning, the Orders could be seen as departments within the school, each
concentrating on specific flavors of exploration. They are places for the
Adept to specialize in pursuit of the specialized tools for their personal
achievement. Some Orders, like the Order of the Vampyre or the Order of the
Trapezoid, are well known beyond the boundaries of the Temple walls, while
others have lower profiles. 

The REF document includes more information, specifically concerning the
Order of the Trapezoid.

5.6     The High Priest

-       The High Priest of the Temple of Set at this time is Magus Don Webb.

-       The High Priest is chosen by the Chairman of the Council of Nine, and
        serves indefinitely until he vacates the position or is removed from
        office by the Chairman.

-       The High Priest serves as the President of the corporation.

See the REF document for more information concerning the High Priest of
Set.



>> 6.0  Setians and Setianism

"Setian" is the generic term which applies to each member of the Temple of
Set. "Setians" is the term which applies to two or more members, and to the
entire membership together.

"Setianism" is a term which can be applied to the Setian philosophy, the
Setian religion, and/or the Setian way of life. Some (many?) Setians prefer
the terms "Setian philosophy," "Setian religion," and "Setian way of life"
over the term "Setianism." I find "Setianism" a convenient term to use when
I am referring specifically to the Setian way of life, or to any
combination of these ideas.

6.1     Activities

What do Setians do?  This topic is covered in the REF document.

6.2     Setians

6.2.1   Specific Setians

-       Executive Director -- can be contacted through the Temple's postal
        address, or through email balfaq.ed@xeper.org).

-       High Priest -- Magus Don Webb can be contacted through the Temple's
        postal address, or through email (balfaq.hp@xeper.org).

-       Dr. Michael Aquino -- the founder of the Temple of Set can be contacted
        through the Temple's postal address or through email
        (balfaq.maquino@xeper.org).

-       Balanone -- this long-time member (and author of this document) can be
        contacted through the Temple's postal address or through email
        (balfaq@xeper.org). 

        One frequently asked question is why Balanone signs his email and posts
        with "PP" below his name. As stated in April, 1993 on the Base of Set
        echo and many other times, "That's as close as I can get with this
        keyboard to the Egyptian hieroglyph for Shuti (the double Maat feather),
        symbolizing my personal dedication to Balance."

-       A few others are mentioned in the REF document.

6.2.2   Questions about Setians

Are Setians Pagans?  That's a question which depends heavily upon your
definition of "pagan." See the REF document for this discussion.

6.2.3   Imposters

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then how should you look at 
people who claim to be members of the Temple of Set and aren't? If you 
encounter someone online (or offline) who claims to be Setian, how do you know 
if they really are? 

Our High Priest, Magus Don Webb, offers an excellent answer in his essay "How 
to Spot a Setian" (http://www.bigfoot.com/~balanone/spot.html). My personal 
answer is less meaningful, but they're techniques you might find useful.

* All members of the Temple of Set can be identified physically by their 
  colored cloisonne point-down medallion, and by their membership card (with 
  expiration date). If you have physical contact with someone who claims to be 
  Setian but who can't show you the membership card or medallion, that person 
  is not a member.
  
  June 2001: Recently we've seen a couple of medallions being auctioned on 
  Ebay. If someone has our medallion, that is not proof they are currently a 
  member, and maybe not proof they ever were. But if they do not have a 
  medallion, then they aren't a current member. 

* All online members of the Priesthood have a xeper.org email address. 
  (Example: Priest Thomas White's email address within our domain is 
  twhite@xeper.org) Anyone claiming online to be a member of the Priesthood 
  should be able to supply their name@xeper.org or alias@xeper.org email 
  address, and should be able to respond to any email sent to that address. 
  Anyone online who cannot give you an email address @xeper.org, or who cannot 
  answer mail sent to that address, is not a member of the Priesthood.

* The Executive Director's staff will confirm the membership of any Setian who 
  asks to have that membership confirmed. The member should send the email 
  from their email address of record to confirm@xeper.org -- this email will 
  be validated, and the confirmation will be sent to any email address 
  desired. Any person claiming to be a member online but not willing or able 
  to provide this confirmation is not a member.

While the Temple of Set and its members normally will not reveal, confirm, or 
deny anyone's present or past membership in the Temple of Set, there are 
exceptions: 

* If members indicate it's OK, such as through the request method above, we'll 
  confirm their membership.
* Some members are very open and public about their membership. We'll confirm 
  those members' status.
* People who publicly claim to be members and aren't (in our view) are claiming 
  to be part of that second group. We will therefore provide the information 
  that such people are not members.

There have been a few people who fall into that last group, as identified by 
members of our Priesthood. These include:

* Ravenwrld@aol.com -- I am told he has claimed to be the High Priest of the
  Temple, and that he offers to sell the _Crystal Tablet_. The High Priest of
  the Temple of Set is Don Webb. No member of the Temple may sell their Tablet.
  (Past members may sell the copy they received from us -- it's their property.
  However, they can sell only that one copy -- they are not permitted to make
  additional copies for sale.) 
* Reverend77x@aol.com -- I am told he has claimed to be a IV* member of the
  Temple of Set. He is not a member.
* Lilithdarkmoon@aol.com and/or lilithvmp@aol.com -- I am told she claims to be
  a former member. She is not. 
* magussatanicus@aol.com -- I am told he claims to be a member of the
  Priesthood in "German Chamber" and claims as well that
  lilithdarkmoon@aol.com/lilithvmp@aol.com is actually Lilith Aquino. He is not
  a member. There is no "German Chamber." Lilith Aquino does not use either of
  those two aliases on AOL. 
* Xeper879631179@aol.com -- While this person has not yet claimed to be a
  member of the Temple of Set, he apparently has proclaimed himself the Magus
  of Xem. Xem is an Aeonic Word within the Aeon of Set, and the Magus of Xem
  was Magus Ronald K. Barrett. This is not Magus Barrett, and this person has
  no membership nor recognition within the Temple of Set. 

Finally, on reading Magus Webb's "How to Spot a Setian", one Adept mentioned, 

  Along those lines, I have encountered those who claim that they have been 
  approached by a Setian, which tried to "recruit" them. I find this very 
  funny. This right here shows that they have no idea what they are talking 
  about. I guess it makes them feel good to tell others that such a wonderful 
  organization as ours was wanting them to be a member. Anyone who really 
  knows anything about the Temple would know that does not go on. 

  I've asked a few, "and why would they want you?" Maybe not the polite thing 
  to say, but I can only laugh at these people.

The Temple of Set does not recruit. Individual members who feel that their 
friends might benefit from membership might mention this to their friends, but 
we do not ever try to recruit anyone, and don't even approach those people who 
have no ties of friendship to us. 

6.2.4   Who is a Setian?

Various people continue to call themselves Setian even though they are not 
members of the Temple of Set. The question as asked on the Xepera-L mailing 
list in May, 1999 was: 

  > If one can be a *Satanist* without being a member of CoS, can one be a
  > *Setian* without being a member of ToS?</blockquote>

My answer: 
* If you mean "Can someone believe in the Prince of Darkness as Set without 
  being a member of the Temple?" Then yes, they can. 
* If you mean "Can someone actively seek and accomplish Xeper without being a 
  member of the Temple of Set?" Then yes, they can.
* If you mean "Can someone practice Setian forms of magic without being a 
  member of the Temple of Set?" Then yes, they can.
* If you mean "Can someone be recognized as and called a Setian by theTemple 
  of Set's administration, Priesthood, or general membership without being a 
  member of the Temple of Set?" Then no, they cannot.

This evoked the question "Why not?" I responded with the following two 
definitions: 

  Setian (n) 
        A member of the Temple of Set.
        
  setian (adj) 
        1. action, statement, or belief inspired by the philosophy of Xeper and/or 
           the being or idea of Set. 
        2. action, statement, or belief compatible with inspiration by the 
           philosophy of Xeper and/or the being or idea of Set

6.3     Why are we here?

Here" may be any digital forum -- you may be reading this on a web site, a
newsgroup, or FTP archive. I've tried to generalize the answer to apply to
most situations. For that matter, "here" may also apply to Pagan
gatherings, meetings in hotels, new age fairs, etc. These questions are
examined in the REF document.

6.4     Miscellaneous

There isn't much in this section, and it all resides in the REF document at
this time.



>> 7.0  Contact and Information

7.1     Formal and Official Contact

-       Postal Address: Temple of Set, P. O. Box 470307, San Francisco, CA 94147

-       Electronic Mail: At this time, you may send email to the Executive
        Director c/o balfaq.ed@xeper.org

-       The Priesthood of Set: To contact a member of the Priesthood, send your
        request by postal mail to the Executive Director, who will forward it to
        an appropriate member of the Priesthood. (That member of the Priesthood
        may not indulge in electronic mail capabilities, so postal mail is
        usually a requirement here.)

-       Copyrighted material

        Almost all of the Temple of Set's internal documents are copyrighted and
        intended for internal distribution only. We do release some material for
        public consumption from time to time, but other material is not
        released. We have problems from time to time with people copying or
        publishing our copyrighted material. We'd appreciate anyone and everyone
        who helps us maintain our intellectual property rights.

        See the REF document for comments concerning the _Book of Coming Forth 
        by Night_, _Crystal Tablet of Set_, and other publications.

7.2     Informal Contact

-       "My name is ... and i wish find a Setian Priest in my area to inquire 
        as to joining the Temple."

        Information on how to join the Temple of Set is readily available at 
                the Temple's web site, by following the General Information and 
                Admissions Policies links.

        To ask the Executive Director if she can help you contact a Priest of 
                Set in your area, a) find her email address above, b) send her your 
                request, including your postal address and/or phone, so our local 
                Priesthood can contact you (they may not have email). 


-       Electronic Mail mailing list(s)

        Xepera-l <http://www.xeper.org/pub/tos/archives/xepera.html> is the 
        only public mailing list hosted by Setians. Moderation is minimal, 
        topics can be anything of interest to Setians, and participation is 
        open to all who are not openly hostile to the Temple or to Setians. 
        Visit its informational web page for subscription information.

-       Internet newsgroups

        -  alt.satanism

           alt.satanism is a newsgroup for discussions of satanic philosophy,
           religion, organizations, activities, etc. Most Setians avoid the
           newsgroup because of the high level of juvenile behavior that we run
           into there. However, there are a few Setians who can be contacted
           through that newsgroup.

        -  alt.pagan

           alt.pagan attracts several Setians who belong to that community. We
           prefer to avoid discussing simply Setian philosophy and religion or
           Satanism in alt.pagan, since those are more appropriate to
           alt.satanism, but the relationships between Setian philosophy and
           religion and other Pagan philosophies and religions are on-topic and
           suitable for that newsgroup.

        -  soc.religion.paganism

           soc.religion.paganism is a well-moderated newsgroup in which the
           same topics can readily be discussed. There are probably fewer
           Setians on this newsgroup than on the other two, but there should be
           enough visiting soc.religion.paganism to hold a meaningful
           discussion when necessary.

-       FIDO/PODS echoes

        The Setian Discussions echo (tagname: SET, and previously named "Base 
        of Set" was the only FTN (Fido Technology Network) echo hosted by 
        Setians concerning Setian philosophy or the Temple of Set. Moderation 
        was minimal, and topics could be anything of interest to Setians. 
        Participation was open to all who were not openly hostile to the Temple 
        or to Setians. This echo was carried on the FIDO North America 
        backbone, and by most major hubs within PODS. It was carried in 
        Australia by both FIDO and PODS, and in Germany (and perhaps other 
        areas of Europe) by PODS. Unfortunately that echo closed down in 1999, 
        and is no longer operational.

-       World Wide Web sites and pages

        -  The Temple of Set's "official" World Wide Web site is
           http://www.xeper.org/pub/tos/index.html; most sites dealing with the
           Temple of Set can be found through links from this site.

        -  The Order of the Trapezoid maintains its own web site at
           http://www.trapezoid.org/

-       FIDO/PODS bulletin board systems: There used to be quite a few bulletin 
        board systems owned and run by Setians, but it seems that all have them 
        have disbanded or gone to mail-only operations. We also used to host a 
        Setian Discussions echo, as part of the FIDO and PODS networks. (PODS 
        is dedicated to Pagan activities and discussions.) That echo is no 
        longer operational.

7.3     Friendly and Neutral Others

Though I've often quoted from others' responses to frequently asked
questions, still this document is just one person's compilation concerning
the Temple of Set. Anyone who needs a more comprehensive view should
contact one or more of the other Setians (above, or better through
Xepera-l), and perhaps one or more people who aren't Setian. A few people
who are active online, whose independent views concerning the Temple of Set
at this time appear to be informed and reasonable, are listed in the REF
document. Please note that neither I nor the Temple of Set have much
influence over nor agree with everything these people say.

7.4     Unfriendly Others

        The REF document identifies a few people whose messages, documents, or
        web pages you're likely to run into on the Internet, and who are biased
        against the Temple of Set for a variety of reasons.

7.5     Getting More Information

-       General Information Letter

        The current General Information letter (including membership information
        and policies) is available upon request. Write to: Executive Director,
        Temple of Set, Post Office Box 470307, San Francisco, CA 94147, USA. Or
        provide a *postal* - not E-mail - mailing address to: balfaq.ed@xeper.org

        There are copies of that letter floating around cyberspace, available on
        various FTP sites and on BBSs. Unfortunately, most of them are out of
        date, since the introductory letter is updated semi-regularly, and the
        files on these unrelated sites aren't. The primary site known and
        guaranteed to maintain a current copy is the WWW site maintained by
        a Priest of Set, http://www.xeper.org.

-       Computerized archives

        Over the years, a number of other files pertaining to the Temple of Set
        were made available. These were generally intended for limited
        distribution, but over time were archived on various Internet and FTN
        sites along with material /about/ the Temple of Set which did not
        originate /from/ the Temple of Set. Many of these files contain dated
        information; the accuracy and authenticity of these is doubtful. In
        future revisions of this document, comments about these files may be
        added (if you bring the need for same to our attention).

        -  However, be warned that a lot of files of questionable value are
           floating around the 'net. Check the source for each document, and if
           you have questions about its value, ask about it on the Xepera-l
           mailing list. The REF document discusses at least one such example
           of this.

        -  Archives hosted by Setians

           -    ftp://ftp.xeper.org
                Reference: mailto://webmaster@xeper.org
                Note: This is the only FTP site both managed by a Priest of
                the Temple of Set and dedicated to the Temple of Set at this
                time to our knowledge. The reliability of other FTP sites
                will be lower -- they will not be as accurate nor current.
                As other Setian sites are identified they will be listed at
                http://www.xeper.org

       -    Other FTP sites
            -   FTP://ftp.lysator.liu.se/pub/religion/satanism/ToS
                10/1997: the most recent files found were dated 1994. 
                9/1999: The site URL has changed (capitalization only), 
                and the most recent files at this time are dated 1996. 
                It does have a 1994 copy of the Temple's reading list.
            -   FTP://nic.funet.fi/pub/doc/religion/occult/magick/thelema/ToS
                (this is the original slopoke tree moved to funet)

       -   Obsolete FTP links (no longer useful) 
           -    FTP://etext.archive.umich.edu/pub/Quartz/occult/set
                Reference: mailto://ftp@etext.archive.umich.edu (Paul Southworth)
                October, 1997: I could not find the Quartz/occult directory
                November, 1997: It appears that all files dealing with the ToS have
                been removed from this site because of their age.

7.6     Those Stories About Us

Despite our general policy of keeping a low profile, sometimes rumors about
us do get spread, generally by people who dislike or fear us for some
reason (perhaps because so little is known about us, or simply because of
our non-Christian belief system, or for other reasons). If anyone (perhaps
someone else at a location of one of our formal meetings, or someone you
meet on the 'net, or some other acquaintance) should ask you any of the
following questions, it's good to be able to give them the correct answers.

7.6.1   A Cult?

"Is this a cult?" No. Some people may define "cult" to mean any
non-Christian religion, and then yes, we don't believe in the Christian
religion. But most people reserve the word "cult" to you mean something
dangerous to society or its members, and no, we're not a cult since we are
beneficial to our members, and we're not anti-social by any means.

The REF document contains more discussion on this topic.

7.6.2   Satanists?

"Are you Satanists?" A lot of people say yes, and a lot of people say no. A
lot of Setians say yes, and a lot of Setians say no. See the REF document
for this discussion.

7.6.3   Naziism and Fascism

Are you fascists? Nazis? No. See http://www.bigfoot.com/~balanone/nazitrap.html
or http://www.necronomi.com/magic/satanism/fascist.set.txt for one member's
discussion of this question [as of July 6, 1998, the necronomi.com copy was
not found online].

7.6.4   Presidio

What about the Presidio stories?

On August 14, 1987 CE the San Francisco home of Lilith and Dr. Aquino was
raided by San Francisco Police officer Glen Pamfiloff on a search warrant
obtained as a consequence of the accusations of Army chaplain Lawrence
Adams-Thompson that the Aquinos had kidnapped and sexually abused his
stepdaughter as part of the Presidio of San Francisco day-care witch-hunt. 

These claims were investigated in depth by the SFPD, the FBI, and the US
Army CID. No charges were ever made in any jurisdiction, and the evidence
has shown Dr. Aquino and Lilith Aquino to be innocent of any such activity.
Full details can be read in the alt.pagan post, dated Sun Jun 02, 22:14,
From : scratch@gladstone.uoregon.edu, Subj : Re: Curio courts the CAW.

7.6.5   Other Occultists

-       Why should Wiccans, Druids, and other types of Pagans defend those who
        call themselves "Satanists" against the Christian majority?

        I've never understood why Wiccans, Druids, and others might think we
        want their defending. There are ethical and social reasons to do it, and
        that's why Setians generally defend other Pagans against discrimination
        and other forms of attack, but Satanists don't need others to defend
        them -- Satanists would be happy if other Pagans would simply stop
        buying Christianity's lies and attacking the Satanists as if allied with
        Christianity's blind bigots.

        There's a little more discussion of this in the REF document.

-       "Are you witches?" That depends upon your definition of a "witch." We do
        explore activities which many people would call "magic," such as
        telepathy, divination, and methods of strengthening our souls and
        spirits through mental and spiritual discipline. However, modern witches
        usually believe that their magical powers come from one or more gods or
        goddesses, and many Christians believe these powers come from the devil.
        We don't believe in any such gods or goddesses or devils. Most modern
        witches claim we are not witches.

-       Perhaps the most important point to know and remember about us is that
        we believe a primary requirement of self-improvement and individual
        Xeper is to be honorable and ethical. We do not tolerate any illegal
        activity. We do not tolerate any illegal drugs, and we frown upon
        excessive use of legal substances like tobacco and alcohol. We believe
        in individual freedoms, and respect everyone else's desire to live life
        the way they want to, asking in exchange only the freedom to be able to
        live life the way we want to.

        We do enjoy companionship and camaraderie. At our various conclaves,
        many of us will gather in private rooms, local restaurants, and the
        hotel lobby, and we'll just talk for hours, about almost anything. Some
        of our people will even sometimes forget to go to sleep, being so
        wrapped up in talking to people they see only once or twice a year.

        We enjoy life, we enjoy growth, and we enjoy each other. If you spend
        time with Setians, you'll find that most of us smile a lot, honest
        smiles, reflecting the enjoyment we find in life.

-       What about Magda Graham?  This is discussed in the REF document.

7.6.6   The Setian Illuminati

These topics are explored in the REF document.



>> 8.0  Miscellaneous

8.1     Miscellaneous Links

-       FBI Special Agent Kenneth Lanning's /Investigator's Guide to Allegations
        of "Ritual" Child Abuse/:
        http://www.necronomi.com/magic/satanism/FBI-ritual-abuse-report.txt and
        http://www.bigfoot.com/~balanone/lanning.9201.html [as of July 6, 1998, the
        necronomi.com copy was not found online]

-       The Temple of Set's Reading List from the Crystal Tablet of Set (an old
        version, but better than nothing):
        ftp://ftp.lysator.liu.se/pub/religion/satanism/ToS/Reading_list/

8.2     FAQ/REF Sources
-       Setian Discussions echo FAQ. author: Balanone, version: Dec 30, 1996
-       "More About the Temple of Set" web page. author: Balanone, version: Nov
        25, 1996
-       The alt.satanism FAQ file. author/editor: Lupo the Butcher, Version 2.3,
        January 7, 1996
-       Temple of Set alt.satanism FAQ. author: Dr. Michael Aquino, version: Oct
        10, 1995
-       Misc email from Xepera-l mailing list
-       Misc email from newsgroups and echos

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