Comments on "The Setian Plague": a Misleading Document
by Adept J.A. Davison (1997)
I am an affiliate of the Temple of Set, and have been so for four years. Under normal circumstances, I do not concern myself with the rants of ex-Setians. Mr. Mowry's document, The Setian Plague, deserves special attention because it directs the uninformed reader to conclusions regarding the Temple of Set that are derived from an individual with an incomplete experience of this organization. Mr. Mowry's comments are assumptions masquerading as definitive conclusions, and he has employed 'guilt by association' tactics in order to justify his condemnation of Setianism. In short, Mr. Mowry is not an expert on Setians, Setian philosophy, nor the Temple of Set; nor did he stay around long enough to understand the dynamics of our organization.
Mr. Mowry begins his attack by employing colourful langauge to state that the Temple of Set fosters "self-deceit" and "hypocrisy". He further describes such as a "disease" and a "plague" which is cloaked in "Satanic terminology". Firstly, self-deceit and hypocrisy are psychological conditions of the human animal, they are not diseases nor are they plagues; and furthermore, without permanent consciousness and a unified Will, all human animals succumb to this condition. Neither the Temple of Set or the Church of Satan and their and their respective members can be completely free of such base human qualities. Secondly, these conditions can not be "cloaked" in so-called Satanic terminology, unless of course one takes Anton LaVey's statements that "up is down, pleasure is pain, darkness is light, slavery is freedom, and madness is sanity" quite literally. To do so would be to state that "self-deceit is self honesty, and hypocrisy is the expression of qualities one assuredly possesses." When applied to the quest for Self-understanding and objective examination, the reversal of opposites is useless and Setians would not consciously employ such measures.
The Temple of Set's degree system is not "pretentious" as Mr. Mowry would have his readers believe. This system as it was conceived is a measurement of one's initiatory achievements, and its design reflects levels of being that are attainable by those who are willing to expend the effort required for Self-development. In theory, this degree system cannot be pretentious. In practice however, it can be abused by both the institution that recognizes such achievements and by the individual. The Temple of Set does what it can to eliminate such abuses, but occurrences of this sort happen because, after all, the Temple is a human organization.
The burden of proof rests heavily upon any individual claiming attainment of an evolved state of being. As pretence implies claims not supported by fact, the Temple of Set will with time notice individuals who cannot handle the rigors that their state of being demands. The aforementioned burden of proof is much more demanding when the individual requests justification of his/her state of being for him/herself. This internal evaluation is the most crucial aspect in the recognition process, hence one is not initiated by something external, but rather one initiates oneself. If a junior initiate demands justification of a senior initiate's state of being, he/she can be certain that such demands will be met with evasiveness or simply ignored. To "question all things" is healthy, but when taken to an extreme whereby it becomes an immature display of a punk-rock type challenge of authority, such questioning becomes tiresome for those on the receiving end. Some seek membership in the Temple of Set only to find that this organization does not live up to their "Satanic" expectations. Many depart from the Temple because it is "not Satanic enough". Mr. Mowry, throughout the course of his two-year affiliation with the Temple, concluded that "Setian philosophy and practices are inconsistent with those found in The Satanic Bible." A cursory examination of Setian philosophy and Satanism would have revealed this inconsistency to an individual with even the slightest qualities of comparative observation in a much shorter period. Setian philosophy is not Satanism. It is an extension of Satanism, but is not identical with it. Setian philosophy propounds truths that Satanism did not discover and corrects the fallacies of Satanic statements such as "Man is just another animal". While Anton LaVey has made many worthy insights into the human condition that are logically valid, the "wisdom of the Satanic Bible is not ageless and timeless", for much of its so-called wisdom has in the course of time been found to be generalizations, or overstatements of truths.
The Temple of Set has the courage to state what it has found to be true, but this courage also extends to honest statements that in some areas its philosophy is incomplete and contains probabilities which may after thorough examination be found to be truth or falsehood.
Mr. Mowry states that "Setianism merges mythology into reality". The mythology he refers to is "egyptian" and the merging that he alludes to is accomplished when humans "try to emulate the gods". He further describes such "gods" as being "personifications of attitude." Mythology commonly attempts to delineate the experience of life that a particular people have. Mythology then is an attempt to communicate an experience of "reality". Myths from various cultures, and the god-forms that are often contained in such dramatized re-telling of life experiences, often represent profound wisdom, and they should not in whole, or in part, be considered as untrue. Mythology is often considered to be untrue simply because many myths are written in folk-tale fashion - a style of writing that modern humanity is not accustomed to as being the vehicle for information regarding "reality". If an individual can effectively un-shroud wisdom from the myths of ancient cultures and apply this in their daily existence, this merging should not be viewed as an invasion of the unreal into the real.
The Neters (or gods) of ancient Egypt represented principles existent in reality. To emulate such a Neter would be to manifest and make the principle represented functional. To emulate the goddess Ma'at would entail manifesting Justice. To emulate the god Set would entail manifesting Isolate intelligence. To emulate Satan would entail manifesting Adversity and Pride. Emulation does not translate into worship. Christians worship their God and have much difficulty emulating the principles represented by their God, such as abstinence, suffering, non-discriminate love and so on. Such Christian principles doe not lead to effective living, and therefore Setianism is not a "Christian Alternative." Mr. Mowry would have everyone believe that Setianism is on equal ground with Christianity - the radical distinction between the two is evident.
Suggesting that the Neters are "personifications of attitude" is absurd. Attitude, if understood correctly, is a position one adopts relative to something. It could be stated that Justice is an attitude relative to that which is Unjust. Isolate Intelligence is an attitude relative to that which is Unified and Mechanical, and so on. The Neters, by virtue of their exclusive and particular existence cannot personify these attitudes. Personification is the process of an attitude becoming embodied. The Neters represent the pure Forms (not structures, as structure implies material bodies) of such attitudes. Human agents, however, through their own act of will, can personify these forms, and this process is emulation (as referred to above) taken to a degree of completion.
Setians do not "encourage each other to succumb to the fantasies of their leaders" and Mr. Mowry offers no supporting evidence of how such encouragement is accomplished. As Setian philosophy encourages the individual to exist efficiently, fantasy (which implies the creation of unrealistic mental scenarios in response to psychological necessity) is a buffer that keeps one from such an attainment. When utilized positively, fantasy--here implying the expression of the creative imagination--is a useful magical tool that enables one to begin work towards effective existence. Mr. Mowry should know that The Satanic Bible supports the use of fantasy through its exploration of psycho-drama. "Succumb" is an inappropriate word to use in the above statement, as it is quite possible that two or more individuals will inhabit subjective universes of similar design, therefore, they would be sharing fantasies and not succumbing to the fantasies of one or the other. The subjective impressions of an individual (even if such a person is a senior initiate) cannot be taken as objective reality by an onlooker. Such an acceptance and endorsement is a violation of the Principle of Isolate Intelligence.
Existence is a phenomenon where several subjective universes share an objective universe. The latter enables communication between these subjective universes and this method is how we experience each other. In an environment like the Temple of Set where strength through Self-Awareness is exalted, it appears ridiculous to state that a strong and Self-Aware individual would yield their singular experience of Self to that of a perceived 'stronger' sense of Self in another. This again is not a phenomenon that occurs in the presence of Left-Hand Path Initiates, but among mystics who desire to merge with the so-called Universal Consciousness. Taken in another context, one could assume that Mr. Mowry was discussing his experience as a Tibetan Monk in a Monastery, and not as an Initiate of the Temple of Set.
Mr. Mowry further states that Setians "convince themselves that their delusions and hallucinations are actual through what they describe as a 'non-natural perspective'". The extent of his explanation for this perspective is his statement that "Setians believe" that it is a "Gift granted to them by their god Set." While obviously attempting to not make a case for Setians, Mr. Mowry falls short of substantiating his own argument. Firstly, an understanding of un-natural perspective entails that one comprehends a natural perspective. The objective universe as a whole is un-conscious and mechanical. To say that it behaves this way would be to attribute a human quality to it, for behaviour implies some choice in action. The objective universe is not intelligent, not aware of itself, and is not in possession of Will. Man, while being biologically compatible with the objective universe, is contrasted against it because he possesses the ability to be intelligent, Self-Aware, and Wilful. As man develops these abilities, it enables him to have a non-natural perspective; he can distinguish between himself and all that he is surrounded by. This perspective leads to the development of individuality. If it were not for this perspective, Setians and Satanists alike could not make statements about their individuality, as such would be a logical impossibility if our perspective was purely natural.
An individual's experience of delusion whether directed at the subject or the object, continues to exist despite evidence that what constitutes the delusion is false. It would be impossible to "convince" oneself that a delusion is "actual" through "non-natural perspective", for this very perspective allows one to view the self and its environment from an external vantage point, necessarily making one aware of a "delusion". Hallucination is the result of a dysfunctional nervous system, or experimental drug use. Both delusion and hallucination are frequent elements characterizing psychotic states. The Temple of Set does not endorse drug use, nor will it allow a psychotic individual to continue to be exposed to its materials and services, but will remove such a person from affiliation and suggest that they pursue treatment. Mr. Mowry's statement is not consistent with Temple of Set's standards.
Secondly, Setians do not simply "believe" that the aforementioned "non-natural perspective" is "granted to them by their god Set". Satanism emphasizes "disbelief in any external deity figures" as Peter Gilmore illustrated in his Pretenders to the Throne article. While the same can also apply to Setianism with regard to its emphasis upon the sublimity of the individual Self in contrast to all else, Setian philosophy does not encourage belief, but rather the sympathetic understanding (through appreciation of one's own separateness) that it is necessary for an entity to exist which is in direct contrast to the forces of stagnation in the Universe. This entity is a regulating Principle, or Form, of which Human beings are particularized instances. Setians do not "believe" that "those unable to comprehend this non-natural perspective" are unable to as a "result of not having the Gift", but rather understand that they have not been able to actuate this perspective and therefore cannot detect it within themselves, and if they do, they fear it and subsequently deny its existence, or like Right-Hand Path practitioners attempt to annihilate it. Additionally, Mr. Mowry's statement that "only those belonging to the Setian priesthood are believed to be Gifted" is false. It is quite evident that many people exercise a non-natural perspective, whether or not they are members of the Temple of Set or its "priesthood".
Mr. Mowry further attempts to define similarities between Setianism and Christianity are unconvincing. If one tried hard enough, similarities could be found to exist between any two things.
Mr. Mowry's evidence that the Church of Satan is "alive and well", used to support his claim that it is "absurd" that the Temple of Set was "ordained to supersede the Church of Satan" is also unconvincing. Setian philosophy, for some of the reasons I have described above, is superior to that of Satanism; it is Satanism taken to its logical conclusion without the logical fallacies. The Temple of Set has set itself above exoteric Satanism, preserved esoteric Satanism, and has taken the place of the Church of Satan as an institution for the exploration of the dark side. Supersede means to "replace" and does not imply the ultimate destruction of that which is replaced. I do not know if the Church of Satan is alive and well, my experience with Church of Satan members (of which a member of the Priesthood is included), informs me that this may not be so.
The Book of Coming Forth By Night does not contain "pretentious spiritual guru play acting" and again Mr. Mowry does not offer any indications that his statement is true. One can assume that it is merely disgruntled opinion. As a document communicated by the Principle of Isolate Intelligence, I would disagree that its contents make unjustified and excessive claims - in short, pretentious statements. As for "spiritual guru play acting", yes, Set is a non-corporeal entity and may be called "spiritual", or "acasual" but the Prince of Darkness is hardly a Hindu guide, as "guru" implies and "play acting" is an element is psychodrama, whereas the BCFBN is much more meaningful and magical.
Note: To reduce clutter on these pages, most links, political statements, and miscellaneous graphics have been moved to Balanone's Site map.
Copyright: All items on Balanone's site are copyright unless otherwise noted. The copyright owner is clearly identified in the HTML header of each item. Except where noted, reproduction of these materials in any way, shape, or form without the copyright owner's permission is not allowed. This material is not to be posted on any hosting service which attempts to grant to themselves the right to use posted materials, or to reproduce them for any purpose other than backups and the facilitation of the display of the intended web pages.
Webmaster email to Balanone: email@example.com