Answers from Brother Virgil

In reply to our first question, Bull of Ombos member Brother Virgil had this to say:

Q: What made you decide to join the Temple of Set?

A: After years of struggling to “cinch” my beliefs into the Baptist teachings I’d been raised on in spite of the obvious evidence of verifiable reality, I cancelled my subscription to Christianity in my mid-20s. Reading Gavin Baddeley’s Lucifer Rising: A Book of Sin, Devil Worship, and Rock & Roll confronted me with the question that changed everything: “If I’m calling myself a Christian, why is everything I’m into in a book about Satanism?”

At that point I was ready to read LaVey’s Satanic Bible with a truly open mind. It was a powerfully liberating experience for me, but I hesitated from just trading off one set of dogmas for another. I adapted the ideas from Satanism and Chaos Magick that resonated with me, but never bothered to join any groups, or even to perform any magic rituals. For me, it was all about sorting out what my values really were as opposed to those my host culture had implanted in me. That, and of course letting go of all the silly hangups about my sexual desires the Christian churches had shoveled into my head.

Science worked fine for explaining the rules of how things work in material space-time. Atheism worked fine for explaining how the preachers and churches are full of shit. But alone, they inevitably started tripping up when they started trying to talk about things that weren’t scientific. They still didn’t address the questions of human spirituality: Science tells me what I’m made of, but what am I really? What is my deal going to be with the world around me and the people in it? What can I be? What should I be? But on the flip side, no one school of religion or spirituality seemed to have a lock on what was really going on in the world either. Pre-monotheistic paganism held the romance, magic, and archetypal appeal of human myth and wonder, but was admittedly just as obviously made-up as Biblical stories of talking snakes and pregnant virgins. Abrahamic monotheism, i.e., Judaism, Christianity, and Islam all derived from a common root in unsupported claims that were false and mistaken in principle, even before taking their long history of genocide, holy war, restriction, and empire into account. Hinduism was colorful and interesting, but showed no signs of being ahead of the curve from any other world religion. Buddhism seemed benevolent on the surface, but its denial and negation of human Desire struck me as conceptually impossible in theory and viscerally repugnant in practice.

But somebody, somewhere, had to have some idea of what was really going on. Somebody had to know that Abrahamic monotheism was part of the problem, not the solution. There had to be some kind of real resistance underway. Somebody had to at least be close!

For a time my beliefs drifted in a sort of Twilight Zone between atheism, Satanism, neo-paganism, Asatru, and my understanding of the Left Hand Path as discovered through online research. I was hip-deep in occult theory and speculation. I even joined Dragon Rouge, a Left Hand Path magical order operating from Northern Europe. But nothing I encountered could translate all this theory into a coherent picture of how I could actually use it to start taking control of my life.

All this time I had been aware of the Temple of Set, but had not given it a serious look beyond second and third-hand accounts from others. Going back to the openly-available writings of Michael Aquino, Stephen Flowers, and Don Webb gave me a fresh perspective that really crackled for me. For once, a picture of what a magically vital whole experience might be – here in the real world that actually exists – began to emerge.

And so I allowed my Dragon Rouge membership to expire and sent an inquiry to the Temple of Set’s Executive Director. One of the best things I ever did, hands down.

Brother Virgil’s Tumblr can be found here.