The nineties witnessed an outbreak of “Satanic Panic,” with psychologists dredging up false memories of “Satanic ritual abuse” which landed innocent parents in jail and banked the fires of hysteria. It seemed the Salem Witch Trials had returned! But what is Satanism? Are there actually murderous, nihilistic cults sacrificing human lives? Were there?
Actual Satanism seems to be much more innocent, despite a name which invites negative publicity. In this respect Satanism is not unlike atheism. A “dirty word,” it seeks to be a positive force. But how can that be if Satanists worship the devil? The Church of Satan, founded in 1966 by Anton LaVey, was a hedonistic and theatrical form of religious humanism, a cult of campy schtick. But from it emerged, in 1975, the Temple of Set, founded by Michael Aquino. This new sect describes itself as Neo-Platonic and reveres Set, an ancient deity understood as a force of will, challenge, and self-development. This religion defies most stereotypes, and thus ought to be of special interest to rationalists, skeptics, and humanists who are weary of debating standard-brand Christian theism.
Don Webb, weird fiction author and High Priest of the Temple of Set, is our guest this week. Join host Robert Price as he interrogates this remarkable figure. How do you play Devil’s Advocate with a guy who has been an active practitioner of the Left Handed Path of magic for three decades? Some of Don’s fiction is available in the collection When They Came. Nonfiction books include Seven Faces of Darkness and Uncle Setnakt’s Essential Guide to the Left Hand Path. Don’t miss an unparalleled opportunity to learn the inside story of real Satanism, as opposed to tabloid hysteria.
It has been some time since I flipped through The Satanic Bible, but my impression of LaVey’s Satanism, at least (I don’t know about the Church of Set) was that it glorifies vengeance and rejects any sort of external (ethical) restraint on the individual. Am I missing something? Doesn’t COS Satanism, at least, aspire to be a sort of club for sociopaths? It would have been nice if Dr. Price had focused a bit more on the ethics of the COS and the TOS.
Anyway, thanks so much to POI for bringing on Dr. Price!
This should be good. I can’t wait to have a few minutes of down time and listen. OK, such time has passed. I found the discussion moderately interesting with some of the down to earth details of just how theatrical and indeed, embracing of many fraudulent practices the so called Satanists are reported to have been. “Intellectually lazy” is an apt term for the “stuff” described which is ironically laudable in this case. Such provides an element of comedy or at least some pathos.
As to the Temple of Set which evolved from the Satanist movement, I suggest that in any given meeting most of the people as described have ulterior motives in being there which might range from an exercise in analyzing each of the others in the group for the writing of a professional paper on the subject to an attempt to at least get laid as part of this deal. Notwithstanding, you can bet that there is at least one FBI informant lurking around awaiting a chance at being an agent provocateur if things get too boring. This much has a parallel in the KKK meetings where they are at least honest about who and what it is they hate which at least has that as a defined purpose. Plus the Klan is more scary with their white pointy (witch or dunce?) hats.
Does this group spell it “magic” or “magik”? Regardless, it’s all very stale stuff with Set the Egyptian “bad guy” god being deemed somehow more sophisticated than Satan, the Christian personification of evil? Egypt is having enough trouble without trying to pull Set into this nonsense.
Not really an appropriate interview for POI. Contributes nothing to CFI’s mission, IMO.
I respectfully disagree. The old adage of keeping your friends close and your enemies closer applies here. How can you be prepared to combat that which you know nothing of? That said, the interview did however have a whiff of a proselytizing nature which I found particularly odd for this setting (Setting?). Intellectuals against God unite?
Whether this group represents any real threat (other than a waste of minds) or is simply a group of country club wannabe Darth Vaders clinging to the dark side of the force remains an open question. There has to be an FBI report available somewhere…
How can you be prepared to combat that which you know nothing of?
There are only 300 members. This isn’t a force to be reckoned with in American society and never will be. If there were some relevance to secular society that Price wanted to highlight, he should have pointed out the significance. He didn’t. I don’t think that POI should be a religion show; it should bring on religious people when their views have an impact on the rest of us, which isn’t the case for this eccentric group of people.
I too found this to be odd subject matter for a POI broadcast. Although the COS and TOS may share some of the beliefs and values of secular humanists, the fact remains that they practice and believe mystical silliness. That being said, the interview was still mildly entertaining and somewhat informative. If nothing else, it debunked misconceptions about this small semi-religious organization, and demonstrated how the evangelical Satanism panic of the eighties was a completely fabricated problem generated by the paranoia of the Christian church.
... Although the COS and TOS may share some of the beliefs and values of secular humanists…
Nothing like having some kindred spirits around.
But yes, if one examines the materials within the websites of TOS and Mr. Webb, the “mystical silliness” is waste deep, complete with “talking with Set”, whom I’m astonished to find even cares to converse with his priests.
Can we ignore the whole mess and hope it goes away or are there some broader considerations to be made regarding what it is in Heaven or Hell which motivates seemingly intelligent people to traverse such venues? As a successful author Mr. Webb has a very practical reason for doing what he does while his readers might simply be seeking some excitement in, or perhaps even some meaning to their otherwise mundane existence. Yes, it is a very old story.
I really enjoyed this episode, especially the beginning with Webb recounting the history of The Church of Satan and The Temple of Set. I’m also surprised that Price wasn’t aware that LaVey was on friendly terms with weird fiction author Clark Ashton Smith.
I understand what groups like The Temple of Set are getting at - being all “antinomian” as Webb put it - by choosing a mythological figure like Set as their patron deity but nevertheless find it odd. Set was the bad guy of Egyptian mythology who committed fratricide and murdered his own brother Osiris and was later slain by his nephew Horus. Even if they re-interrupt him as a god of change and revolution you are still stuck with a god whose roots are founded upon murder and anarchy. It reminds me of Jewish feminists who embrace the character of Lilith - Adam’s first wife - as their patron. They see Lilith as a symbol of strong independent women, but at the end of the day they are still championing a demoness whose MO was murdering infants and seducing men so she could drink their blood.
Taylor - 08 February 2011 06:35 PM
Not really an appropriate interview for POI. Contributes nothing to CFI’s mission, IMO.
I don’t see how this interview was inappropriate for POI or went against CFI’s mission statement. This isn’t the first time that POI has had a “satanisnt” on to be interviewed as D.J. Grothe had Peter H. Gilmore on the show back in 07.
If you don’t like episodes like this because they don’t interest you then don’t listen to them. I certainly don’t listen to all the POI episodes dealing with scientific topics - like the last episode on Bioethics - because many of them don’t interest me.
I was extremely disappointed. The description/summary of the episode said:
Join host Robert Price as he interrogates this remarkable figure. How do you play Devil’s Advocate with a guy who has been an active practitioner of the Left Handed Path of magic for three decades?
Robert Price did the exact opposite, and even went so far as to feed into the guy’s arguments while he trashed the Laveyan side for being atheistic and non-mystical. Having read up on these guys some time ago, it seems that the Temple of Set folks identify themselves by bashing the Church of Satan. This show strikes me as Mr Price just giving the guy a podium from which to preach while he enjoyed the sermon. I glazed over his name when reading the description before listening, but I knew it was coming as soon as I heard his voice; he did similar in the Thomas J.J. Altizer interview.
I really hate these buddy-buddy interviews that seem like they are done solely for Mr Price’s own benefit. Every time I hear them I become less enthused about catching the next week’s show.
I’m sorry to say, I have stopped listening to POI. I’m not enthused by the new hosts or most of their subject matter. I used to look forward to them…now I rarely listen, and only if there is a subject/person I really want to listen to. DJ introduced me to a lot of people and ideas. I’m just not getting that from the new group.
I’m sorry to say, I have stopped listening to POI.
So have I. Oh well, all good things must come to an end.
I’m about to that point, myself. I give each episode a shot, but tend to turn them off (or be put off by them, if I stick it out). Karen’s are typically good, but frankly not great. Even when I’m interested in the guest or the topic discussed, I don’t feel like the hosts bring a lot to the table. For instance, the only insight Bob offered during the portion I listened to was that satanism seems “juvenile.” My thoughts exactly, Bob, so why should I care about this interview?
Definitely didn’t know what I had ‘til it was gone w.r.t. DJ. If only For Good Reason posted episodes more frequently ...