The Temple of Set was founded in 1975 by Michael Aquino and a few other members of the Church of Satan, who left that organization because of disagreements with its administration and philosophy. The Temple has grown in many directions since the schism, and is now very different from the organization it left (something of which the members of the Church of Satan will happily remind you).
The Temple of Set is a philosophical organization. Its activities revolve around the philosophies represented by the ancient Egyptian principle of Xeper (roughly translated as "self-improvement" or "self-creation", with alternate spellings of Khepher. Kefer, and other variations), and the ideals represented by their modern understanding of Set, once called a god by the ancient Egyptians.
The Temple of Set is an initiatory organization, dedicated to the growth and development of its members. Setians recognize several levels or degrees of initiation, and identify their members by their degree. This helps the members recognize and work with their relative peers. It also helps the less experienced members identify the more senior initiates when they have difficult questions with which they need help.
The Temple of Set is a religion, incorporated in and recognized as a religion by the state of California and the federal government of the U.S.A. Its priesthood represents not only the Temple and its organization, but they also represent the being they call Set. The Temple of Set is an unusual religion in several ways:
Some critics of the Temple of Set have accused Michael Aquino of being a Nazi sympathizer, citing a recurrent use of Nazi imagery and symbolism, and frequent references to Nazi theorists and ideology, which they claim are found throughout the Temple of Set's literature. On at least one occasion, Michael Aquino provided the address for the Institute for Historical Review -- a leading proponent of Holocaust revisionism -- to the entire Temple of Set membership, saying that he had found "much food for thought" in their journal.
Michael Aquino has filed libel lawsuits against critics. This civil recourse is a fundamental right within the U.S.A., but some of his critics say he has abused this right, calling the 1997 suit he filed against ElectriCiti.com a SLAPP.
Some critics claim to have been subjected to campaigns of harassment by Temple of Set members after expressing their views in public usenet forums such as alt.satanism. Other critics and commentators claim not to have had this experience.
Some people, including former members, consider the Temple of Set a cult, while others, including past members of the organization, do not.
Lords of the Left Hand Path © 1997 by Stephen E. Flowers, Ph.D., Runa Raven Press, ISBN 1-885972-08-3
The Seven Faces of Darkness © 1996 by Don Webb, Runa Raven Press, ISBN 1-885972-07-5
Uncle Setnakt's Essential Guide to the Left Hand Path © 1999 by Don Webb, Runa Raven Press, ISBN 1-885972-10-5