Balanone's Temple of Set FAQ

Pentagram of Set

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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/articles/xeper2.html. See the REF document for additional discussion. [March 30, 1998: This essay is now also available at http://www.balanone.info/xeper2.html.]

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.

    Pentagram of SetThat 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 personal 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 (The Prince of Darkness) and High Priest Don Webb (Concerning our Patron).

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 included 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.

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