Michael Aquino and the Temple of Set
Text from William H. Kennedy, Satanic Crime, pag 21-23, 2006
The largest Satanic church to spin-off from the Church of Satan is undoubtedly the
Temple of Set, formed by The Black Pope’s number-one disciple, Dr. Michael
Aquino. Aquino joined up in 1969 while he was a U.S. army officer and
psychological operations expert at the Presidio Army base in San Francisco.
A highly educated and sophisticated man with a Ph.D. from UC Santa Barbara,
Aquino was the polar opposite of the high school drop-out and street hustler
LaVey. The class difference was bound to cause tension between the two men.
This came to a head in 1975 when, as mentioned earlier, LaVey tried to pull a con
job on his devotees and drain them of whatever wealth they had in order to
receive the higher initiation rites of The Black Pope’s organization. The final
rupture came when LaVey accepted money for the rites and proffered little or no
instruction on the tenets of Satanism to the attention seeking dilettantes who
handed cash to The Black Pope. (38)
Aquino took his diabolical beliefs seriously. He undertook a long and detailed
study of occultism and the rites of the Church of Satan. This academic Devil
worshiper just could not stomach the fact that LaVey gave away the very advanced
degrees he worked hard to attain. He stated the church was attracting too many
“fad followers, egomaniacs and assorted oddballs whose interest in becoming
Satanists was to flash their membership cards for cocktail party notoriety.” (39)
Nor did Aquino appreciate LaVey’s notion of atheism and self-assertion. For
Aquino, Satan was a real metaphysical being whose devotees were meant to
worship and serve as their diabolical deity. This constitutes the first break between
atheistic Satanists and theistic Satanists — a rift which has little meaning when
considering that either way is consistent with Crowley’s notion of inversion. It
does not matter if a Satanist replaces God with himself or the Devil — the ultimate
end result serves the same agenda of overturning Christianity and replacing it with
Devil worship. Whether the individual Satanist prefers atheistic or theistic Satanism is
irrelevant. Some spin-off groups of theistic Satanists believe this rift will be
settled with the emergence of the Anti-Christ in global affairs. (40)
Aquino not only claims to have Faith in the Fallen Angel but believes the Prince of
Darkness spoke to him and gave him a further revelation from Hell. This
communication from the Devil was eventually written down in Aquino’s treatise
The Book of Coming Forth by Night (1985). In this text, the archfiend identified
himself as Set — the ancient Egyptian name for Satan — and instructed Aquino to
form a new organization called the Temple of Set (with members referred to as
Setians) which was to act as a vehicle for the emergence of a new and bold
Satanic Age. (41)
The trend of self-promotion and eclipsing the Christian God still survived the
break from the Church of Satan as evinced in the statement of leading Setian Don
Webb, “The mission of the Temple of Set is to recreate a tradition of self-deification.” (42)
For all of Aqunio’s squabbling over the years, he retained the key element of both
LaVey and Crowley’s ultimate concern — to replace the Christian God with
something else. In Aqunio’s theology, it is valid to replace the Christian God with
oneself and/or Satan (Set). From a Christian perspective, adopting either of these
nefarious concepts eclipses God.
Aquino’s Temple of Set became fairly popular and even converted Zeena LaVey
and her husband, Nicholas Schreck, for a time. Although they espouse Setian
views, the Schrecks have also adopted Crowleyanity, having experimented with
and written about various forms of sex magick. The Schrecks founded their own
order called The Storm, which seeks to include ancient Indo-European sex themes
into their greater purview. Like many Satanists, they have incorporated neo-Nazi
occultism and racism as part and parcel of their diabolical practices.
The Schrecks recorded a CD under the group name of Radio Werewolf – a name borrowed from Himmler’s underground broadcasting network which sent out pro-Nazi messages after the Third Reich surrendered. The Schrecks moved to Germany and are
directly associated with neo-Fascist Skin Head groups. They also produced a
movie entitled Charles Manson Superstar (1989), a documentary which afforded
Manson a chance to rant away concerning his murderous intentions from inside
the maximum-security prison from which he shall never emerge. The Schrecks
also produced a series of quite interesting books, one of which is on the history of
Satanism in the cinema.
Many Temple of Set members are Jewish yet Aquino still hails Himmler as a great
Satanic initiate. He even performed a series of rituals at the old SS headquarters at
Wewelsburg Castle in Germany, where Himmler’s occult priests once tried to
resurrect several severed heads and make them speak. Aquino believed
Wewelsburg Castle was a major earthly nexus of nefarious powers and sought to
tap into this diabolical goldmine. It was at this High Temple of Nazism that Aquino
claimed to achieve an even higher initiation and further merged with his
malevolent god Set. He set down his experiences with Nazi mysticism in The
Wewelsburg Working (1982). (How any Jew could join the Temple of Set
is beyond reason.)
Although Aquino is a master at media manipulation and various forms of mind
control from his years as a U.S. Army PSI-OP officer, he still could not avoid a
series of law suites which seriously damaged his reputation. The New Religious
Movements page, an academic site which chronicles novel spiritual practices, best
sums up the troubles Aquino faced. It should be noted that he was never charged
with any crime:
A scandal that broke out in 1986 did much to hurt the credibility of Michael
Aquino and the Temple of Set. Charges of child molestation surfaced at the day-care
center at Presidio Army Base, where Lt. Col. Aquino was assigned. Gary Hambright, a
day-care worker, was charged with 12 counts of sodomy, oral copulation, and
lewd conduct. Aquino, along with his wife Lilith, were identified by some of the
children as possibly being another man who had participated in the molestations.
However, no formal charges were ever brought against Aquino, and the case
against Hambright was later dismissed.
In 1994, Aquino sued Linda Blood, a former member of the Temple of Set, for libel in
her book The New Satanist. The book, Aquino’s lawyers said, depicted him and his
fellow Setians as “pedophiles, child abusers, murderers and the masterminds
behind a nationwide satanic conspiracy”. This was settled out of court, with details of
the settlement kept confidential.
The latest lawsuit, in 1997, was brought against an internet provider for failing to
block defamatory posts from an anonymous user. A person using the name “Curio”
had posted over 500 messages that accused Aquino of “having participated in
heinous crimes, sexual perversions and acts of moral turpitude,” according to
Aquino’s lawyers. That case against the internet company ElectriCiti was thrown
out of court. (43)
From 1980 to 1986 worked as an adjunct professor of political science at Golden
Gate University. The various scandals took their toll and Aquino retired from
public life and turned over the operations of the Temple of Set to Don Webb and he
lives in semi-retirement.
37) Boyd Rice Web Page: http://www.boydrice.com
38-39) Drury: p. 195.
40) Corbin Michael, A Closer Look, airdate 9/17/04.
41) Goodrick-Clarke: pp. 214-215.
42) Drury: p. 209.
43) New Religious Movements, Temple of Set::