By Jared W.
Esoteric History is a true passion of mine. While many find Pre-Modern Esoteric History to be their area of prime interest, I have a true love for the modern era. From an early age, I have been absolutely fascinated with occult societies and spiritual paths beginning with Aleister Crowley to the present. It would be no small thing to say that this passion fueled my collegiate studies in Anthropology and Middle Eastern Language. It has been my driving force for years.
I adore the Left Hand Path and all of its many branches. In particular the history of the Church of Satan has absolutely fascinated me. More precisely, those individuals who chose to leave the church and found their own organizations are intriguing. I have chosen to write about Dr. Michael Aquino.
I understand that there may be individuals within the Sect of the Horned God who were present at the time of this schism and have strong feelings about Dr. Aquino. This assignment asks me to expand on how the subject has been influential to me – I intend to do precisely that. I respectfully ask that the reader maintain an open mind when reading the following pages. The ideas set forth represent my own thoughts and feelings and are not meant to be controversial. Please note that I do not consider myself a Setian although the teachings set forth by the Temple of Set resonate strongly with my own Anthropological background and passion for Human Evolution.
Michael Aquino served in the United States Army as a Military Intelligence Officer through the Viet Nam War until his retirement from the Active Guard Reserve Program in to the late 1980s. While participating in the Viet Nam War, he joined the Church of Satan and soon rose to prominence within the Council of Nine. It was during this period that he wrote The Diabolicon. In it he posited that Lucifer as the agent by which insight was given to humanity.
In the mid-1970s, Dr. Aquino began to feel disaffected by the Church of Satan. He believed that degrees within the Church were awarded based upon the individual’s social role and that they should conversely be based upon the individual’s spiritual drive instead. The Grotto System was abolished in 1975 leading ultimately to his resignation on June 10th of that same year.
On the following Summer Solstice, he claimed that Satan appeared to him and revealed that his true name was Set. Aquino subsequently produced The Book of Coming Forth By Night – a book that was purportedly revealed in the same manner as Aleister Crowley’s The Book of the Law. Aquino’s work proclaimed him as the Magus of the new Aeon of Set thereby seizing Anton LaVey’s “Infernal Mandate” from the Church of Satan. The Temple of Set was consequently established.
His behavior during this period is not without controversy. In appearance, it seems that he was obsessed with damaging Anton LaVey’s character. He publicly released court documents and personal experiences that truly slandered the former’s reputation. Such behavior is not in keeping with the dignified example that members of the Left Hand Path should strive for. Nevertheless, the traveler must always search out valued wisdom regardless of the source.
Since it’s founding, Dr. Aquino has authored numerous works that have defined the Temple’s philosophy. This author finds the concepts of Xeper, Objective / Subjective realities, Greater / Lesser Black Magic, and the Black Flame as relatable.
Like most forms of the Left Hand Path, the individual sits at the center of his philosophy. Self-Deification is the supreme goal. One achieves Xeper when the magician “comes into being.” This act solidifies the ego and aligns the consciousness with universal essence thereby allowing one’s own immortality after death.
The universe is also divided into both objective and subjective realities. Objective reality is defined by the natural world and humanity’s collective meaning systems. Subjective reality is experienced by the individual only and his / her own meaning systems. Lesser Black Magic modifies objective reality through psychodrama, politics and propaganda. Charisma and human interaction define these types of workings. Greater Black Magic is more ceremonial in nature and is designed to change subjective reality. This is the vehicle by which the magician achieves Xeper. Workings are primarily done at the individual level.
The Black Flame is the “Gift of Set.” It is the spark that refers to humanity’s questioning intellect and sets us apart from other species. It gives us an “isolate self-consciousness” and the possibility to merge into the universe upon death.
But how does this relate to me?
My first love was always Anthropology. I remember sitting in Dr. Andrew Kramer’s Human Evolution Class at the University of Tennessee in love with our earliest of ancestors. I imagined the early Australopithecines traveling across the African Savannah. They had our eyes and hands, but not our brain capacity. How did they think? Did they believe in a higher power? Certainly the archeological record does not show any cave art or ritualized burial.
But something miraculous happened roughly 2.1 Million Years ago. We evolved into Homo Habilis. At that point, our brain size increased and remarkable things began to occur. Over a relatively short period in deep time, we started making art, fashioning tools, and burying our dead. We had changed! We were different! Fierce debates rage within Anthropological Science about this moment of change. We can’t quite put our finger on what caused it. It just happened. To me, this IS the Black Flame. It inspires me with passion for our earliest ancestors. It is the divine sub-conscious – the personal demon that drives us to success or insanity. We have carried the black flame deep within our mitochondrial DNA for millions of years. As Black Magicians, we have the opportunity to lock eyes and commune with Homo Habilis. Absolutely incredible!!!
Similar to the concept of Xeper, I truly believe that the esoteric traveler MUST delve within to reach the ultimate without. Through meeting and communing with one’s personal demon, the gateway is open for the EGO to transcend. Upon transcendence, our sprit is free to travel the universe upon death. The magician will be able to dance in eons old quasars, stir the cauldrons of malevolent black holes, and witness the birth of new universes as they burst forth from brand new white holes. One achieves divinity and is capable of sailing on solar winds as they travel across the vastness of the multiverse.
Lesser Black Magic is practical wisdom.
Greater Black Magic is Starry Wisdom.
In the words of Clive Barker, “There is a fine line between divinity and trickery.” This author has always remained skeptical of any “revealed” philosophy. It is entirely possible that Dr. Aquino simply made all of this up in an effort to delegitimize the Church of Satan. Is it not possible that Plato “made up” his philosophy as well?
As stated earlier in this paper, I strive to pull wisdom out from that which is controversial. Regardless of Dr. Aquino’s motivations, his brand of black magic has Anthropology at its very heart. The young man inside of me is thankful.
Hail the ancestors!!!
Hail the Black Flame!!!