TEMPLE OF SET Michael A. Aquino High Priest of Set September 6, 1991 CE To whom it may con
TEMPLE OF SET
Michael A. Aquino
High Priest of Set
September 6, 1991 CE
To whom it may concern:
Issue #XXIV-93 of the magazine _Green Egg_ included an article by
Mr. Isaac Bonewits highly critical of Satanism. On 7/4/91 I sent a
response [Glinda file "Bonewits"] to Mr. Tim Zell, _Green Egg_
Editor, with a request that it be published in the subsequent issue.
We have just received a copy of issue #94. While Mr. Zell published
portions of my letter, he censored out other portions that are
material to Mr. Bonewits' personal bias against the Satanic
religion. Clearly, once Mr. Bonewits' personal motives as an
expelled and dishonored Satanist are taken into account, his
vendetta against our religion can be appreciated in a somewhat
It seems to me that the editorial bias and prejudice of _Green Egg_
are also demonstrated by Mr. Zell's efforts to conceal the details
of Bonewits' Satanic past from the readership. Zell, it may be
added, has personally contributed to the hate-propaganda against
Satanism via his publication and circulation to law-enforcement of a
highly distorted and defamatory booklet entitled _Witchcraft,
Satanism, and Ritual Crime_. In this booklet "Satanism" and its
magical practices were prejudicially defined in the most
destructive, alarmist, and anti-Christian terminology - with the
evident intent of steering the anti-occultism mania of the late
1980s toward a non-Wiccan, but equally-undeserving scapegoat.
_WS&RC_ will remain a most disgraceful and cowardly act in the
modern history of Wicca and neopaganism.
Following the censored extract of my 7/4/91 letter in _GE_ #94 are
responses from Bonewits and one of Zell's personal associates, a Mr.
Tom Williams. Again I think that the tone and content of these
responses are meaningful only if my letter to GE is presented in its
Enclosed is an uncensored copy of my 7/4/91 letter to Green Egg,
together with my letter of today's date answering the Bonewits &
Williams printed responses to me. Please feel welcome to further
circulate all of these documents to other _GE_ readers who have seen
only the censored version. As before, I invite Mr. Zell to publish -
uncensored this time and with no inserted typographical errors if
you please - the text of this answering letter.
* * *
Letters on Satanism by Isaac Bonewits and Tom Williams
_Green Egg_ #XXIV-94, Mabon 1991
Mr. Bonewits' letter, like his "Enemies" article, abounds with
fireworks. I am sure he is a very impressive Archdruid whenever he
is doing whatever Archdruids are supposed to do. I find him less
impressive when he is trying to explain why Satanism isn't what
Satanists define it as being, and why neopagans should close their
ears to statements about our religion unless they are issued by our
Dr. Jeffrey Russell's books on "Satanism" are not the most
authoritative documents for Isaac to wave in my face. Russell, a
passionate Catholic, grotesquely misrepresented our religion in
general and the Temple of Set in particular in his Mephistopheles,
for which I called him to task before the University of California,
Santa Barbara Chancellor and the History Department. He had not the
grace to respond, nor to correct his non-research. Since then the
Temple of Set has simply provided a corrective statement to all who
have contacted us concerning it - with never a peep from Russell.
Bonewits proposes that the term "Satanism" belongs not just to the
Temple of Set and original Church of Satan, but to medieval
hysterics and modern "Devil-worshipping" cranks as well - in short,
to anyone who wants to use the term for anything.
Very well. According to this standard, "witchcraft" is actually:
"(1) an act or instance of employing sorcery, especially with
malevolent intent; (2) alleged intercourse with the Devil or with a
familiar" (_Webster's Third International Dictionary_). And "pagan"?
"One that has little or no religion and that is marked by a frank
delight in and uninhibited seeking after sensual pleasures and
material goods; the earthly acceptance of life in all its sensual
vulgarity". Isn't this fun? Let's continue: "Witches eat human
flesh, especially the flesh of children and publicly drink their
blood. But if they cannot procure children, they exhume human
corpses from the grave or take off from gibbets the bodies of hanged
men." (Jean Bodin, _De Magorum Daemonomania_, 1580).
So if Isaac thinks that we should all go by historic definitions of
words, methinks that what's good for our gander ought to be just as
good to goose him with.
On the other hand, if today's witches and pagans feel that they
should be able to design and explain their religion by something
other than such historic/original/contemporary-social definitions -
and reject bigots' attempts to smear their religion by invoking such
obsolete hate-propaganda - I submit that a similar courtesy should
be extended to Satanists.
Isaac observes that Anton LaVey condemns several "Big Nosed Pagans",
including Bonewits himself. This is news to me. I never knew Anton
to have a thing about noses; indeed he's got a fair-sized honker
himself. From photos of Bonewits his nose doesn't appear to be
unduly large, but then again that's not the part of his anatomy that
Anton LaVey endowed with a growth spell either.
It is also news to me that I am supposed to "hate Anton LaVey more
than anyone else in the world". During the years that I associated
with him personally (1969-1975), I admired and respected him
profoundly. Since then I can only regret the changes in him, but
that certainly does not translate into "hatred". Suffice it to say
that I prefer to think of Anton LaVey as the great man and magician
I once knew, and to think as little as possible about his post-1975
Bonewits goes on to say that Buddhists, Unitarians, and most pagan
faiths don't consider all others "unethical, immoral, and evil".
Actually, despite its Western image as a rather blissful, meditative
religion, Buddhism has enjoyed a pretty ferocious history in its
native orient. Unitarianism indeed believes in religious tolerance -
but officially only within Christianity, as it is a Christian
denomination. ["Unitarianism" is also a term applied to non-
Christian monotheism, such as Islam or Judaism, also not exactly
famous for their tolerance.]
As for paganism, I am somewhat at a loss to understand how Isaac
Bonewits champions its tolerance of other religions when in the same
breath he insists it burn Satanists at the stake.
With a snort of indignation, Bonewits conjures up my visit to the
Wewelsburg Castle as though it proves something here. Since Bonewits
obviously has no idea what occurred at the Wewelsburg [else he
wouldn't misapply that Working to this discussion], I am
unimpressed. Does he mean to suggest that any contemporary
investigation into the areas of occultism significant to Nazi
Germany, or exploration of magical techniques it developed, brands
the modern magician as a goose-stepping stormtrooper? Well then, don
your jackboots, neopagans, because whenever you cast the Runes,
invoke "sacred geometry", attempt homoeopathic healing, or even
indulge in a bit of radiesthesia (dowsing), you are utilizing
techniques developed, analyzed, and correlated by the Ahnenerbe-SS,
whose span of occult research embraced virtually every European and
Asian pre-Christian religious and magical system - with a bit of
pre-Columbian America on the side.
And what, pray tell, is "fascistic" about the Temple of Set?
Fascism, says Dr. Aquino the Political Science professor, involves
glorification of the secular political state and indifference to the
individual. The Temple of Set, on the other hand, glorifies the
individual and is indifferent to the state. [That's what happens
when you major in "Magic" instead of Political Science, Isaac.]
In a final blaze of glory, Bonewits insists that "neopagans are
perfectly capable of critiquing themselves without any assistance
from a fundamentalist Christian like Aquino". He really lost me
there somewhere. I thought I was a Buddhist.
CAWing loudly from Isaac's shoulder is Tom Williams, a priest in
Zell's entourage. He too is obsessed with the Wewelsburg. Well, go
there and have a look around for yourself. Don't forget your boots.
And watch out for the Thing in the Hexenkeller ...
"Please go off and practice your religion in peace," I am
admonished. "Now go away and peace be between us," he adds, thinking
that perhaps I wasn't paying attention the first time around.
Sounds fine to me. But who was it who ambushed whom here? I don't
recall the Temple of Set paying any attention whatever to Bonewits,
or to _Green Egg_ for that matter, until Archdruid Isaac suddenly
sank his athame into our back in _GE_ #93. And then the essence of
his criticism was indignation that Setians should actually be
cooperating with persons of other religions in AMER's campaign
against religious discrimination and persecution.
Good thinking, Mr. Williams. Tell it to Isaac of the Big, um, Nose.
E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank