More About the Temple of Set
What is the Temple of Set?
The Temple of Set is today's leading religious and philosophical initiatory organization of the left hand path. (At least we think it is.)
The Temple of Set is a philosophical organization. Its activities revolve around the philosophies represented by the ancient Egyptian principle of Xeper (roughly translated as "self-improvement" or "self-creation"), and the ideals represented by our modern understanding of the being named Set, once called a god by the ancient Egyptians.
The Temple of Set is an initiatory organization, dedicated to the growth and development of its members. We recognize several levels or degrees of initiation, and identify our members by their degree. This helps our members recognize and work with their relative peers. It also helps our less experienced members identify the more senior initiates when they have difficult questions with which they need help.
The Temple of Set is a religion, incorporated in and recognized as a religion by the state of California and the federal government of the U.S.A. Its priesthood represents not only the Temple and its organization, but they also represent the being we call Set. We are an unusual religion in several ways:
The term "left hand path" suggests a philosophical orientation which feels that the individual is extremely important. The individual initiate pursuing Xeper is more important than our society in general, any peer group, and any organization (including even the Temple of Set itself). Responsible individualism and freedom are goals to which the organization lends its energies.
What are Setians doing here?
("Setians" is the generic term which applies to all members of the Temple of Set.)
The Temple of Set and all individual Setians focus our attention on various methods of self-improvement, on the creation of a better self. The primary goal of all Setian gatherings is to give us an opportunity to share our knowledge with each other.
One of the many activities of self-improvement available to us today is the use of computer and network technology for improved communication between like-minded people. A goodly number of Setians take advantage of this technology, and participate in private (internal to the Temple of Set) and public newsgroups and mailing lists.
Much of our information shared is in the form of working documents, drafts, and other items which aren't "ready" to be shared with the world at large yet. Other of the information is heavily dependent upon language and symbolism which we've developed within the Temple of Set, and documents using such language and symbolism would be largely unintelligible outside the Temple. These documents are shared strictly within the Temple of Set.
However, we also have some documentation which is suitable to be shared more broadly, and those of us interested in doing so are collecting or preparing such documents for display on the WWW.
We tend to be a fairly proud group of people, and enjoy displaying what we think we know. One benefit to this is that others of intelligence can show us additional items of knowledge to advance our understandings, or can show us mistakes that we've made. We therefore welcome feedback on any documents which are included on this web site.
What do Setians do?
The central philosophy of Setianism is Xeper. Much of our attention is therefore directed at finding and exploring ways of increasing our Xeper, of achieving various forms and amounts of Xeper.
Several important methods of doing this involve communication, communication between Setians, and communications with others. This web site is an example of communication with others, as is the Xepera-l mailing list we host.
Activities at such meetings include seminars, lectures, discussions, etc. Many such meetings are designed for or aimed at all members, and some of them will include only a handful of members, depending upon their interests.
Like any organization, we also have organizational meetings, where we discuss the administrative workings and the future of the organization itself. We also enjoy chatting with each other informally, and spend a lot of unscheduled time doing just that at our organized gatherings.
We've found that in addition to our meetings, one tool which is very helpful to our Xeper is that of ritual and psychodrama, the acting out of something symbolic of our progress and our goals. We therefore schedule several dramatic activities, again with varying sizes of participants. Many of these can be thought of as traditional rituals as found in many magical traditions, while others bear little resemblance to traditional magical rituals.
We "dress up" in costume for these dramatic activities, and during those times we can look very strange indeed. If you happen to be at the site of one of our gatherings, and should happen to see a few dozen or so people in black robes, or a couple costumed as if they were ancient Egyptians, Vikings, Indians, or whatever, don't worry -- we're either going to or coming from one of those activities.
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, at formal gatherings we wear this symbol on different colored medallions, normally worn on necklaces of some kind.
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 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. 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." 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 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 third degree.
What about ...
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.
"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.
"Are you Satanists?" Probably not. Some of our people were members of the Church of Satan in the early 1970's, but we feel our practices and philosophies have evolved so much past that point that we have little in common with modern Satanism. Many modern Satanists say we are not Satanists. If by "satanism" you mean the worship of a Satan, or anti-Christian belief, then most definitely we are not, since we do not believe in the Christian god, Jesus, nor devil, and we have little reason to be "anti-Christian." If by Satanism you mean an antinomian freedom from the unreasoning limitations of various elements of society, then by that definition we would qualify.
"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.
More information about the Temple of Set can be obtained by clicking here, or a hard-copy can be obtained by sending a self-addressed stamped envelope to the Executive Director, Temple of Set, P.O.B. 470307, San Francisco, CA 94147, USA.
Serious students of the occult who wish to join our online discussions may subscribe to the Xepera-l mailing list.
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