How To Make Gold

by Don Webb

Serious and objective students of the Temple of Set often have difficulty in classifying us as a “new religion” or an “occult society”. The former is generally a marginalized group that seeks social power and respectability by increasing its numbers, the later is a powerless elite, which gives its members an intellectual compensation for a lack they have in society. Although the Temple of Set has some features of each of these social phenomena, its emphasis on self- rather than collective- development places it in a unique category, which places the Temple as the leading School of the Left Hand Path in the West. I would like to discuss some of our uses of social phenomena as part of our initiatory practice.

It is a very fashionable and “occult” to say that one’s interest is Alchemy. By using that word you touch a certain type of person at a certain stage in his or her development. It is a vague term, bringing to mind curious woodcuts and exotic phrases like the Green Dragon and King’s Bath. It is useful in short to turn down certain critical thinking apparatuses and open the mind to a dreamy world, wherein self-change takes place. I will therefore describe the processes in this article as Alchemy, although from another perspective it would be called applied sociology and psychology. In this brief article I will reveal all the evil machinations of the Temple of Set, which have been the focus of the fears of so many conspiracy theorists.

The Temple of Set is dedicated to providing an environment that enables self-development to levels of being that would normally not be in the individual’s potential realm of achievement. This sort of change requires two ingredients. Firstly we need individuals who are seeking self-change, and are not too immersed in the social matrix to be stuck in their roles. Secondly we need an environment that provides challenges to those individuals while presenting a coherent model of change. Let’s look at each of these ingredients and then at the reasons that the two things must be modified as the process continues.

Individuals in need of self-change, who are not immersed in the social matrix, means that we do not seek the rich, people at the end of their educational careers, or people that are totally happy in their job paths. These folk will receive too many signals from their environment telling them not to change. Satisfaction is not a motivator. We likewise do not seek the disheartened or the nihilist. Although such individuals may feel that they have thrown off the shackles of society, they are in reality within a tunnel of their own making from which they can not escape. Such people join all sorts of social movements - only to “rebel” from them months later. Lastly we do not seek those people under absolute social control—such as drug users, or persons otherwise trapped in the domination of another. This is not to say that we feel no sympathy for these people; many Setians are interested in social concerns as their neighbors. This merely means we do not try to make gold where gold can not be made. The best Setian candidate is someone either in late college or early career, for reasons that will be explained below.

An environment that challenges individuals, while providing a coherent model of change, is the Temple’s contribution to the formula. If we provided a model that suggested that change was not necessary - for example, if we taught that “You are God!” this would be a stasis-producing signal. If we failed to provide a model for change, and merely emphasized success, we would be a booster club. In fact, we make people’s lives harder, by giving them intellectual challenges and testing their magical powers as they deal with their own determined life path. We are a school of light knocks, which added to the harder knocks that everyone seeking to better him- or herself in the world, will produce better end-results than merely working one’s way through the chaos of the world.

The individual who then succeeds in the Temple, will have likewise needed to have an increase of wealth and status during the process. This is not because we charge higher fees at varying levels of Initiation - the fees are the same throughout. This is not because we throw out people for lack of success. It is because our philosophy works better with people who have decided to give up failure and despair, but refuse to give up individuality. Only people going through this type of change of process can get the lessons, only they are helped out by our magical techniques.

This change in the body of Initiates produces a recognizable pattern wherever the Temple spreads. At first our idea/image arrives only as a curiosity on a slow news day in some marginalized ’zine about the occult. We will attract people who have tried everything and got no success. Most of them will not succeed another, but there will be one or two people who will be awakened by our message. Their presence leads to their first challenge of attracting others that can discuss the theory and practice of our philosophy. As marginalized individuals just beginning their path to power, their outlets are negative. Their articles don’t show up in the proceedings of philosophical journals. The world learns of them (usually at a fairly great cost to the individual) through reporters wanting to have a colorful supplement in their rag. The challenge to deal with this negative publicity (which will teach tons of things about how the world works, and make your defensive magic good), while at the same time making your way the world (and having enough time to read everything from Plato to Bateson) will make winners out of the first group.

The next step occurs when more serious journalists look you over, and think its time to tell the world that you are not baby-eating killers. Although this remains a largely negative signal, it does attract a greater crowd, who can look at success of the first group and think they are making a less risky bet. So the next generation is a bit more cautious, usually with more to lose, and better educated. Meanwhile the first group is retiring from the trenches, enjoying their status and being able to develop and cultivate themselves. The second generation has been given some breathing room by the first, and they can take advantage of local meetings, traditions, and experiments. They begin creating a culture within, which means that it is easier for the third generation to come in and drink deeply awhile before having to produce.

The third generation will take up the task of communicating positively with the world. They will give talks at local occult shops, produce little magazines, and create web pages and so forth. At this point, the challenges of the Temple teaches them things about publication, public speaking, video production and so forth—while still presenting a coherent model of change.

The fourth generation comes in with the idea that they will make these outer world forms better. The journals look less amateurish, and the art tends to be produced by the fourth generation rather than public domain cut-and-paste art. These people begin producing material culture. Thus from the lead rejected by the dominant culture, gold is made.

Now the outer version of this is a standard path for any new religion, except for two major differences. Firstly in addition to the growing status/respectability of the religion, there is a corresponding growth in the wealth and status of members. Secondly the process takes years and not decades. This later dynamism is one of the earmarks of authenticity—of our relationship to the Prince of Darkness.

This differs from most “occult groups,” which emphasize either tradition (i.e. “You must do what your elders did”) or the acquisition of a model of the universe which requires no action (i.e. “You will better - somehow- if you can just learn the Tree of Life.”) We do resemble occult groups in that we do have esoteric teachings, and that unlike new religions we do not have a political agenda. We eschew group power, because we don’t think that giving power to a person because they are a member of a group helps a person in his or her self-development. We prefer the smart few, rather than the dumb many.

At its current level of development the Temple seeks candidates who have four characteristics. One, they should have the ability to create a new culture—this means they have either educational or creative skills. Two, it means that they have a taste for real world challenges as well as esoteric ones. Three, it means that they have to respect the methods used before they arrived and a burning desire to create their own new methods. Four, it means first and foremost, they have a desire to gain self-knowledge and Act on it.

From such as these we will make Gold—and the Gold we make will make Gold in the lives of many people, our Initiates, their friends, family and the world.

Top of page  |  Back to Resources