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Temple of Set Satanism FAQ

To: alt.satanism
From: (Xeper)
Subject: Re: Temple of Set Satanism FAQ
Date: 04 Jan 1999 05:42:01 GMT

In article ,
Tanith@Tyrr wrote:

>The Hellfire Club was probably 
>the most classic example of the "fashionably decadent Satanism" trend, 
>but they may have been copying earlier innovations from among the Paris 
>aristocracy.  Certainly there was more than one "Hellfire club", one of 
>which continued into the Elizabethan period and caused a great deal of 
>tittering and consternation in the upper ranks of society.
>Among the most telling proofs of the social climate at the time are
>documents from the Church bemoaning this supposedly harmless and
>fashionable flirting with the Devil and occultism.  The theme of this
>"fashionable Satanism" appeared to largely be rebellious in nature, as the
>Church and the state were the same during this period.  Political as well 
>as spiritual motifs were used in ceremonies.

While the Dashwood Abbey/"Hellfire Club" was popularly assumed to
employ Satanic themes, this turns out not to have been the case. From
the Temple of Set reading list:


6T. _The Hell-Fire Club_ by Donald McCormick. London: Jarrolds
Publishers Ltd, 1958. (TOS-3) MA: "McCormick (also author of #6S)
argues that the long-standing image of the Hellfire Club as an elite Satanic
[in the strict, theological sense] society is erroneous. His research leads
him to the position that the club was neither diabolist nor decadent, but
simply an example of 'rakemanship' common among British clubs of the
day. His evidence and argument are [regrettably] convincing. This thesis
is explored in greater depth in #6AC."

6AC. _Dashwood: The Man and the Myth_ by Eric Towers. London:
Crucible (Aquarian Press/Thorsons Publishing Group, 1986. (TOS-4)
MA: "This is the definitive account of Sir Francis Dashwood and his
Medmenham Abbey, complete with extensive photo sections. This
continues and reinforces the thesis of #6T, offering evidence that
Dashwood's 'occult' activities consisted largely of revels in honor of
Apollo and Bacchus in West Wycombe Park, with the only possible
Satanic element being hearsay rumors about a 'closed room/chapel' in
Dashwood’s Abbey. This room was reputed to be accessible only to the
'monks' of Dashwood's group, and to be decorated with obscene/
blasphemous pictures. If so, the decor was removed later, for the Abbey
today shows no trace of it in any room. An interesting side-note is that
the Dashwood group never called itself the 'Hellfire Club'. That name
actually belonged to a club of libertines formed in London many years
earlier (1719) by the Duke of Wharton, which became so scandalous
that the crown shut it down with a proclamation denouncing 'certain
scandalous clubs or societies of young persons who meet together, and
in the most impious and blasphemous manner insult the most sacred
principles of our Holy Religion, affront Almighty God himself, and
corrupt the minds and morals of one another'. By contrast the frolics
at West Wycombe seem to have been rather less extreme. Towers'
book includes an interesting discussion of how rumors about
Dashwood's doings multiplied over the centuries until it was taken for
granted that he presided over every kind of depravity at Medmenham,
to include Dennis Wheatley-style Black Masses. Over the main entrance
to Medmenham can still be seen the inscription FAY CE QUE VOUDRAS
from Dr. Francois Rabelais' 'Abbey of Theleme' in his novel _Gargantua_,
which Aleister Crowley would later borrow for his 'Do What Thou Wilt'
Law and for his own Abbey in Sicily."


Again my point would be that activities such as Dashwood's did not
involve serious or sincere worship of Satan in the religious sense.
[The character of Satan has assuredly been used in all sorts of satirical,
artistic, and socially-provocative ways throughout the history of J/C

>Whether it is part of your personal belief system or not, researchers who
>wish to study the modern manifestations of Satanism must acknowledge that
>there are a number of people who do consider themselves atheistic
>Satanists, and they have specific beliefs and practices that differ from
>theistic Satanists.  Is there a clearly defined, objective label you would
>find to be more accurate in describing LaVeyans?

How about "LaVeyans"?

[Although even this is misleading, in that Anton was quite forthcoming
in his personal, sincere belief in Satan prior to 1975. Nevertheless it
draws the essential contemporary distinction, which is that his latter-day
devotees focus on him rather than on Satan.]

>Really, the ToS and the CoS are awfully complementary groups.
>The CoS can in one sense be seen as a training tool and playpen for
>the ToS, and the ToS can be seen as a dumping ground for ex-CoS'rs
>who are much too drawn to the theistic to continue as good upright

The original Church of Satan evolved fairly smoothly into the new
Temple of Set, but the Barton-era people are a markedly different sort:
cynical, sarcastic, ill-mannered, and contemptuous of the truth. These
are not at all the sort of people suited for the Temple of Set, even if
they become disillusioned with the "Church" racket.

The only ex-"Church" applicants the Temple tends to accept are those
who joined the "Church" under the mistaken assumption that it is
today as it was during the 66-75 era. Such are fairly quickly disillusioned,
and, ironically, usually seek out the Temple as an alternative because of
the constant hate-propaganda against it from the Barton people.

>: My premise, which
>: is also axiomatic, is that for the term "Satanism" to have true meaning,
>: it presupposes belief in the existence of Satan as a sentient metaphysical
>: being.
>You appear to use the word "true" in relation to your religious beliefs. 
>I use the word "true" in relation to objectively accepted academic fact.  
>I find that the former use of the word "true" is completely useless and 
>noncommunicative in the outside world, regardless of how fervent my own 
>personal belief is that I am theistically correct.

I was speaking not in the religious sense, but in the semantic sense. If
"Satanism" does not mean "Satanism as a religion", but instead is
broadened to include any antisocial or dramatic expression of atheism,
then it loses its original meaning. This has happened to other terms -
most currently "liberalism", which went from defining a very specific
political philosophy to a generic/propaganda anti-label.

>atheistic Satanism ... in the greater academic community, there is such a
>thing, and it serves very little purpose to deny it.

The "academic community" is a very diversified organism, and I don't
think you can plausibly argue that it endorses "Satanism as atheism".
Nor, frankly, am I concerned that some scholars may take this
position. Many of them also maintain that Christianity has evolved
into a "secular convenience", much as Rousseau prescribed in his
recommendation that it exist as a social control device. This does
not, to the serious student, detract from Christianity's essential
identity as a metaphysical belief system. Or Satanism's.

>Absolutely agreed with you there.  My point was that there are reasons 
>other than public glamour for undertaking intellectual, atheistic 
>Satanism as a form of conscious protest.  There are LaVeyans who are not 
>carnies or showpeople, but quiet and private and concerned mostly with 
>their Self-development.

This well could be, but I am left wondering how such persons could
stand associating themselves with the boorish, truth-contemptuous
individuals currently constituting the "priesthood" of the "Church".

>: It is all detailed from the original source documents of the time, in my
>: _Church of Satan_ history, extracts of which have been posted on
>: this newsgroup. I suppose you could search for these via Deja News
>: if you wish.
>I have read the accounts from both sides, and there is still missing 
>information and gaping logic holes in both sides.

You would need to read the entire _COS_ to see the whole picture,
and that book is [inconveniently to you] available only within the
Temple of Set. [Even therein it is now once more on hold, as I am
presently working on the final revised edition.]

From its first 1983 edition, I have not released this book to the public
because of its intense detail, which I frankly do not trust the Great
Unwashed to handle responsibly. This information, I feel, is properly
pertinent to serious Initiates who respect the original significance and
dignity of the 1966-75 Church - and that, to me, means Setians.

>: Briefly, Anton's wife Diane and I oversaw the membership records
>: of the Church jointly, as I ran the master mailing list (for the _Cloven
>: Hoof_) and membership/subscription renewal list. This included the
>: special list of complimentary memberships and LaVey family friends.
>: When the Church disintegrated in June 1975, Anton immediately
>: began to claim vast numbers of "underground" members, which
>: was, in a word, absurd. The Church pre-75 was a completely open
>: organization, in which it was very easy for everyone to meet everyone
>: else via the InterCommunication Roster, Agents, Pylons, Conclaves,
>: and so on. Even the officially "underground" Priests, such as Hoff
>: and Meilen, were known within the Church - just not to the public.
>That does sound very convincing, except for one thing.  The Church did 
>not disintegrate, it underwent a major split.  Last I looked, CoS was 
>still going strong.

In 1975 the Church had a mailing list of about 350, of which about half
were LaVey friends or non-member _Cloven Hoof_ subscribers. [The
former were identified on their labels with "*", the latter with "S".]

Over its first year the Temple of Set was joined by about 100 ex-Church
members. [We accepted no non-member subscribers, and did not even
inform any of the LaVey family-friends of the 1975 crisis.] What is
important is that the original Temple membership included virtually all
the functioning organizational people of the Church - the Priesthood,
Regional Agents, Grotto Leaders. In short, the Church's functional
infrastructure came completely over to the Temple. Not a single Grotto
remained, though many duly re-emerged as Pylons of the Temple.

This was no secret at all in 1975. You can look back at the pre- and
post-June-75 _Hoofs_ and see it for yourself: Thereafter they became
monologues written solely by Anton and Diane, trying to keep up the
image. Later on Diane dropped the pretense and Anton wrote them
all himself, until Barton began taking over from him.

Membership numbers after 75? I do not know, as my involvement
with that ceased in June 75. Until the late 80s, however, there was
no public presence of the "Church" anywhere. Since there were
Setians [and other occultists] all over the world, one presumes we
would have bumped into at least a few "Church" members from time
to time. So I assume it was pretty much dormant with the exception
of a few family intimates.

The "Satanism!" sensationalism of the late 80s, together with "Satanic"
themes in the rock-music world, resurrected Anton into a Crowley-like
cult figure, which in turn attracted the kind of people you see buying
"Church" membership cards today. You can put any number you wish
on that; to me it is a matter of indifference.

>I'll stick to my best guess, which is somewhere in the middle of your
>claim that the Church disintegrated and the good Dr. Lao's claim that it
>was business as usual.  I suspect there was an amazingly chaotic mess
>around the schism for quite some time.  ;)

From the time of his recent appearance on alt.satanism, "Dr. Lao" has
established a record of falsehoods; see my early dialogues with him.
I accordingly do not credit anything he says; if you wish to, that is
your affair. When and if he chooses to reveal his name, I can check
him against the pre-75 records and see what his actual status was.

>In any given society and for any given god, there will be at 
>least six prophets, each claiming to be the One and Only Voice.  They all 
>speak rather loudly.  My own experience is that truth is rarely found in a 
>shout, however.

"I saw a shape with human form and face,
If such should in apotheosis stand:
Deep in the shadows of a desolate land
His burning feet obtained colossal base,
And spheral on the lonely arc of space,
His head, a menace unto heavens unspanned,
Arose with towered eyes that might command
The sunless, blank horizons of that place.

"And straight I knew him for that mystic one
That is the brother, born of human dream,
Of man rebellious at an unknown rod;
The mind's ideal, and the spirit's sun;
A column of clear flame, in lands extreme
Set opposite the darkness that is God."

- Clark Ashton Smith

Michael A. Aquino, Ph.D.

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