Interviews with Setians 2.2

Austin Bat Bridge

Tonight we have responses from Brother Virgil to our second round of interview questions.

1. How did you know your magic was working?

There were times when it didn’t, or at least seemed not to. Maybe my Balance Factor was off, or Lust of Result sabotaged my unseen hands behind the scenes. But I persevered, keeping in mind that magic is not an Easy Button. Magic is a skill, and like any true skill, you have to suck at it before you can become OK at it. When a basketball player misses a free throw, he doesn’t say “Welp, I shot a brick, so shooting a basketball doesn’t work.” He practices, corrects, and practices some more.

While in the routines of daily life I tend toward a secular and skeptical way of looking at things, but I find that when my magic really crackles, the results hit me like a Hurricane Kick across the face and remind me why I keep doing this. It often takes the form of unexpected plot twists, uncanny timing, and/or being in the right place at the right time in such a way that it’s almost like someone scripted the moment with my Desire in mind.

Interpreting the efficacy of one’s magic is largely a matter of recognizing patterns and connections over time. It is necessarily a subjective art – not a science – that takes one’s internal landscape, passions, and Desires into account. This makes it a hard sell in our superficially “secularized” and “rational” age (I can hear my fellow Americans laughing…). Subjective interpretation is not admissible to empirical study, for good reason. But magic is not empirical, nor reliably reproducible by different people doing or saying exactly the same things the same way. Every would-be magician must look within and find one’s own combination, one’s own style or method that works. To put it another way: if magic were science, then it would just be science.

2. What difficulties or sticking points did you experience during your First Degree period?

There were times I had to catch myself when I was going through the motions of what I “thought” a Black Magician should say, think, do, or believe. Having prided myself on outgrowing the conformity-centered culture of sameness and obedience to authority that I’d come from, it irked me to realize I was still susceptible to the all too human urge to mirror the crowd, even in small, subtle ways. It’s one thing to get the basic idea of the Left-Hand Path. It’s something else to gain the working Understanding that, no, it’s really not about black clothing, subcultural posturing, or compliance with any particular political checklist of pet issues. It’s about cutting away the parts of you that aren’t really you, until only the essential Self is left.

3. What was the strangest thing that happened to you as a First Degree? The most unexpected thing?

For whatever reason, I found that I had this bizarre talent for recognizing Setians in person as Setians, sight unseen, without even knowing who they really were. On my journey to my first International Conclave, there were at least three or four examples I can think of who I spotted in passing – at airports, in the streets, in the hotel lobby, even in nearby restaurants – and “noticed,” thinking maybe they might be going to the same place I was. All turned out to be Setian Initiates of varying degrees.

New Interviews with Setians


The following is the first installment to our second set of interview questions, answered by the Sentinel of the Bull of Ombos.

I would like to extend my gratitude to Priest Keane of Black Rivers Pylon for his collaboration in crafting these questions.

1. How did you know your magic was working?

There were two aspects to this realization. First was the obvious – I got the things I wanted. I performed magic based on desire for tangible objective things, and these things materialized.

The second was more subtle but arguably more important. I saw and felt a transformation take place within myself. I became more confident and courageous. I was evolving into the person I’d always wanted to be. I started to attract the right people, find the right places, and found that I could trust myself and my own intuition.
2. What difficulties or sticking points did you experience during your First Degree period?

The most difficult aspect of joining the Temple for me was learning to relate to myself, and certain parts of my world, in a new way. Experiences that may have once been petty annoyances could be transformed into an important step on my initiatory journey, but this required that I learn to work with them.

Also, I was in a thriving Pylon with people I had known socially for years, which meant we all had to reframe our relationships. This was another ongoing act of discipline and transformation.

3. What was the strangest thing that happened to you as a First Degree? The most unexpected thing?

The strangest thing that happened to me as a First Degree occurred within a month of joining the Temple (if memory serves, I had not yet received my welcome packet in the mail). I knew I was taking a big step…toward what, I wasn’t sure. I just knew that big changes were coming. I remember a distinct sense of possibility and potential, tinged with fear and uncertainty. There was just SO MUCH out there. I came home early from work one day, and was getting dressed to go on a date with my future husband, when I smelled something weird. I went into the hallway of my house and it was filled with smoke – an electrical fire! I saved my pets and called the fire department, but ended up living in a furnished apartment for several months while the house was cleaned and repaired.

That internal, subjective sense of uncertainty and liminality had manifested itself in my outer world. Just making sure I got the message, I guess!

The most unexpected thing that happened during my First Degree period was the confidence I began to feel. I was able to make changes to myself, to create myself. As a result of this, I became more attractive to more (and better) people, I was more equipped to practice discernment regarding who and what would further my Xeper, and I was able to ruthlessly remove negative influences from my life, without guilt. I started to find the strength to live as an antinomian.


Pylon Interviews: The Gritty Reboot


The Black Rivers Pylon is one of the Temple of Set’s newest Pylons, based in Ottawa, ON. As the Temple’s oldest Pylon, The Bull of Ombos was happy to send its blessings on the night of the official opening of the Pylon’s gates. In the spirit of community and collaboration, Black Rivers has opted to pose our interview questions to its members.

The first of these posts can be found here.

The Sentinels of our two Pylons have worked together to craft a second set of interview questions, which will be coming soon.

Thoughts from Brother Virgil


Photo by Jorge Lascar

Brother Virgil is an esteemed member of the Bull of Ombos Pylon and a resident of Central Texas. His personal magical blog can be found At the Void’s Edge.  He recently got back to me with his answer to one of my questions for our members.

Q: What do you recall of your earliest impressions of the Temple of Set?

A: At first all I had to go by was my initial correspondence with Setians, which more or less fit with what I had expected of them: intelligent, dignified, respectful, coherent, and generally approachable or friendly. I took it as a good sign, but also knew there could be no substitute for getting real, in-person interaction with these people to get a real sense of the caliber of individuals I was dealing with.

For many new Setians, this first contact comes from a one-on-one meeting during the initial interview process or soon after formal entry into the Temple. For others, it’s at a local (or at least nearby) Pylon meeting. But I never had any of that. It wasn’t until I’d hopped on a plane and flown to an International Conclave I encountered my first fellow Setians in person.

What struck me immediately was the ecclectic mix of “types” represented within the Temple. It wasn’t all goth rockabillies, all hipsters, all heavy metal dudes, all clean-cut professionals, or all bookish scholars, although all these types and more were present. But that to me just underlined what I had come to understand about Setian philosophy: It wasn’t a cultural or sub-cultural posture based on one particular aesthetic, style of dress, or other superficial means of constructed identity. Rather, the various characters I encountered represented an array of examples of what the Left-Hand Path can look like in practice, a multitude of expressions of common core principles.

I was also highly vigilant about any potential warning signs of “culty” behavior, cringey grandiosity, delusion, or general toxicity in the Temple membership. I’d read enough and judged my correspondence enough to pretty much be optimistic, but knew that people will still surprise you. Happily, I found that the Temple’s screening and interview process does a pretty good job of weeding out unsuitable persons early on. Those who get in and stay in are there for the same reason I am: a knowledge base, a toolset, and a network of like-minded individuals cooperating for mutual benefit on an as-needed basis.

To this day my fellow Initiates continue to inspire me.


Praise Junk

Nestled in a residential neighborhood in South Austin, the Cathedral of Junk is an incredible folk-art creation with a distinctly Austin vibe. The Bull of Ombos Pylon recently spent some time at this monument to transmutation, using the unique energy which permeates every inch of the place as inspiration for our own Initiation. How might we use the “junk” in our own worlds, and transform it into a palace of our own? How can we transform lead into gold?


Legends of Central Texas

Grand central

From Austin, it’s about a ninety minute drive northwest on smaller country roads, where the proper Hill Country starts to show itself. The town of Kingsland sits quietly on Lake LBJ, an unassuming country retreat.

Grand Central Cafe sits on the eastern side of town, a great little cafe inside a remodeled Victorian house. It’s a popular spot for Sunday brunch and holiday meals, where diners often come in from miles around. The space is well-appointed and the food is delicious.

And by the way, the house itself was the set of the 1974 film, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

In my experience, the staff are very open to talking about the house’s history, and there is even a plaque outside to commemorate its unique role in Texas film legend.  The house was originally built in Round Rock, north of Austin, where it stayed until it was purchased, dismantled, and moved in 1998.

It’s too rare, in our experience, to see a community not only accepting, but celebrating their dark side. A visit to the Grand Central Cafe is a refreshing change of pace in that sense. Where else will you find an entire small town who decided to preserve a piece of horror film history, and turn it to their advantage?

A meal out at the Grand Central is well worth the drive, and a great way to show your support for those who appreciate the darker, weirder aspects of Texas history.


Walpurgisnacht (2)

The night of April 30 is traditionally known as “Witches’ Night” throughout Europe. Festivals are still held to commemorate the occasion in Sweden, Germany, Finland, and others, providing a rich set of pagan practices to draw from, such as jumping over a small bonfire while making wishes for what one would like to manifest in the coming year.

For those of us on the left hand path, April 30 is the anniversary of the founding of the Church of Satan in 1966 – making last night the big 5-0. Despite the rift of separation between the Temple of Set and the Church of Satan, most Setians feel it’s valuable to acknowledge and celebrate our Satanic heritage from time to time. One fantastic way to do so is to celebrate Walpurgisnacht, in which we can overlap pagan practices with whatever Satanic rites we might like to Indulge in (see what I did there?).

Last night, the Bull of Ombos Pylon met on the banks of Waller Creek in downtown Austin. While working with the idea of permanence, endurance, and preservation, we also sent forth a blessing to the Temple’s newest Pylon – Black Rivers Pylon of Ottawa, ON – brought into Being on the same night.

Those of us who are fortunate enough to be able to Work with other Setians face to face have a special understanding of the power of the living Temple, and the importance of personal interaction. It is through this kind of Work that the words and works of the Temple will endure.




Doing It In Public


One of the stated goals of the Bull of Ombos Pylon is to engage and strengthen the magical current of Austin and Central Texas. So, while meeting in someone’s living room is all well and good for a while, eventually it’s good to branch out, look for a change of scenery, and find locations that call to our inner hellraisers.

Although Texas has a reputation for right-wing politics, good-old-boy Christianity, and guns guns guns, in reality, the attitude here is very much “live and let live.”  In my many years of affiliation with the Temple of Set, during which I’ve performed countless Workings in public places (and not just in liberal Austin), I have encountered zero instances of interference from members of the public. At the most, people will generally curiously watch for a moment, then lose interest and walk away. The key here is to act natural! We’re not breaking the law, and there’s no reason to skulk around as if we’re doing anything wrong. Acting sneaky will only attract unwelcome attention.

In choosing locations, there has always been a visceral, intuitive calling that led me to good spots. I’ve used Google (“best meditation sites in Austin”), word of mouth, or just stumbled across some amazing places. The Texas State Capitol building has been a place that we’ve returned to again and again, as it has tremendous magical potency. It has been declared a sacred site to the Temple of Set and the Bull of Ombos Pylon, and our magic is now a part of it. The Pylon and the Temple are strengthened by the energy of the Capitol grounds, and will continue to be for as long as the Setian current resides in Austin.

In just the last couple of years, we’ve also performed Workings on the downtown boardwalk, standing under one of the original remaining moonlight towers, at the top of Mount Bonnell, and under a freezing full moon at Mayfield Park. As Austin continues to reveal herself to us, I know we will discover even more incredible sites in which to sow the seeds of our magic.

Dark Reminiscence

The following is a guest post by Pylon member Nachtreisander, sharing his unique perspective of our beautiful city.


In Austin and the areas surrounding it, hidden waters run deep and dark. When I first moved to Austin in the early ’90s, I quickly became aware that the city seemed to be a magnet for certain types of individuals, who like myself were seeking things that seemed less easily attainable elsewhere.  “Finding oneself” is not unique to the young, nor is Austin the only city that attracted people who wanted to live unconventionally, but it sure seemed like early ’90s Austin was one of the major destinations for individuals interested in breaking from the pack, to explore different ways of thinking and living.

I was still in the very early years of my own magical journey, having absorbed a few years of random new agey, occultnic gobbledygook, before rejecting most of it. I entered my early 20s realizing that I didn’t know much about anything, except that the goofy combination of Wiccan beliefs and ’70s bookstore mysticism that I’d previously (and eagerly) embraced seemed like bullshit. But I felt pretty strongly that magic was real. Some of it sure seemed to work, and I’d settled into a comfort zone of being a LaVeyan style Satanist, for lack of finding a better fit. I never bothered with joining the Church of Satan, as it didn’t seem necessary to me. LaVey’s written works were simple enough to digest, and I didn’t need help getting laid, or a new social environment. I didn’t feel like I wanted to belong to an organized group of any kind at that time. But LaVey’s ideas were simple and refreshing, in that they were relatively lacking of the kinds of claptrap that made other magical systems off-putting to me back then. Satanists believed in magic, but seemed more concerned with living a fulfilling life in the real world, and that resonated strongly with me.

I’d grown disillusioned with crystals and chakras, and I wasn’t interested in replacing the creepy, jealous God of Abraham with Mother Nature either. That growing discontentment with the new agey, white light style of spiritual revolt that seemed to be dominant in occult circles I was privy to paralleled a feeling of running against the wind in other areas of my life. I lived in Houston at the time, and while I was comfortable there, I was also bored.

Boredom is a strange feeling, as it can indicate that a person needs to open their eyes and work to find things that stimulate them. It’s a bourgeois obstacle much of the time. Boredom is often a problem with being too comfortable with an unchallenging state of being. It certainly was for me at that time. I began to feel like I needed to get out of town and see what experiences other places might offer an oddball like me. I suggested to my roommate that we should check out Austin, which was only a three hour drive, and had a reputation as being a more bohemian town than Houston. Neither of us had ever spent any significant time there, but after making a day trip  to the Capitol City, I quickly began making plans to move there, shocking my roommate and most of the people I socialized with. I’d sensed that Austin was the right place for me, and within a month I was living there, knowing only a small handful of people.

Austin in the early ’90s was still a magical place, both literally and figuratively. For young people, or the young at heart, it was on a short list of cities where being a weirdo was OK. Rent was cheap, there were plenty of crappy low effort jobs available, and it seemed like the perfect place to run to if the pressures of other cities and mainstream culture had gotten you down. Consequentially, a LOT of people flocked there from all over the country, looking to forge their own version of the pursuit of happiness. The city had a transient feel, and still does, being a melting pot of people from all over the country. Meeting the occasional Austin native was rare, and felt like spotting a unicorn, but it didn’t matter. Sure, some of the aging hippies bitched about how things were falling apart, but Austin still seemed like a place where being strange wasn’t detrimental, and could actually be a positive personality trait. I took to the town like a fish to water, and it was definitely a case of being the right time and place for me.

In the first few years I lived there, I began to have a growing awareness of a mostly hidden current that runs through Austin, and it’s one that can be an extremely creative catalyst for certain individuals, but it can also destroy others. Austin is built on and from that current, but like magic itself, tapping into it comes with certain risks.

While it’s true that people who live fast often die young, that seems doubly true here in Austin. Time and time again, I saw people who were drawn here almost as if to a beacon, to ride a high wave of success or creativity for a few years, only to meet sudden and abrupt ends. In other cases, the city’s reputation as a paradise for slackers led to many naive folks mingling with dangerous people who moved here to victimize or exploit them. Part of that can be explained simply as growing pains, as a city explodes in population, and goes through changes as a result, but to me, there has always been a lot of danger in Austin, just barely hiding under the surface, and it eats up those who are unaware or ill-equipped to handle it.

But that danger and the city’s dark nature is also exhilarating and empowering to individuals who approach it with caution, and who are comfortable working with dark currents. People who naturally suspect that the smiling hippie guy they’ve met at a party might also aspire to be the leader of his own death cult are probably also suited to working with the magic that is native to this place. One should be prepared to encounter some hard truths along the way, and to face the sometimes uncomfortable need to discard things along the path of self transformation. Moving to Austin was one of several events that created massive changes in my life, and the dark nature of the town has continued to inspire and transform me. I changed into a person that grew dissatisfied with Satanism, although to a much lesser extent than other magical systems I’d encountered previously. Its use of Satan as a symbol of personal sovereignty and rebellion still rings true, but it became unsatisfying to use an Abrahamic boogieman once the fun shock factor wore off. So, what I have Become is deeply tied to Texas, but especially Austin.

More on this at another time…

The Ten Commandments

To commemorate the closing of 2015, Brother Virgil created a fantastic Working of personal and universal transformation. The members of the Bull of Ombos Pylon performed this Working on the grounds of the Texas State Capitol Building on the night of December 12, 2015.

What follows is an edited version of Brother Virgil’s commentary and the text of the rite.  The theme of the Working was “Planting the seeds of Liberty.”


In brainstorming ideas, I kept finding myself thinking about “the end of the beginning.” That concept was more of a Year XLIX thing initially, but I’ve found it to be especially relevant this year, and it may be there’s a bit of a time overlap thing going on. And that makes me think about the pivot points of long story arcs in our lifetimes (and Initiation for the Initiated), the paths that have led each of us to the present moment. There comes a point when you look back and think about all the ways you’ve grown, the things you’ve put behind you, and the things you’ve meant to get rid of, but for whatever reason, keep hanging around.
Sometimes, like the Serpent, we have to shed our skin so our new form can emerge in its fullness.
What skin do you have to shed? Maybe the change has already taken place and needs to be commemorated; maybe it’s a choice that’s been put off for too long and it’s time to take action. But there is Liberty to be found in freeing ourselves of what was once a hindrance… a habit, a toxic entanglement, a counterproductive belief or mindset. And Adept Black Magicians know the formula and its power. The Liberty we win by overcoming our hindrances is an end in itself. But the lessons we’ve won through our transformations can also serve as a Gift to those not yet aware of the power at their fingertips through the very existence of the Gift of Set.
So where am I going with this? Stay with me a second…
We’ve used the Magic of Place many times at the Texas State Capitol campus.  If there is any place in America that needs the Fire of Liberty to break the grip of Restriction, could there be a more fitting place than Texas, a state notorious around the world for its embarrassing theocratic politicians and strongholds of toxic Christian Nationalism? (“Texas” is slang for “crazy” in Norway; did you know that?):
Sure, Austin is a whole other scene, a sanctuary of sorts, and nothing about Texas is as black and white as it seems to outsiders; our Pylon knows this all too well. But the truth of the matter is, beyond the relative sanity and “coolness” of Austin the preachers and churches still hold way too much power over otherwise decent people who have been sorely misguided by the toxic culture they’re soaking in, and don’t yet realize they have other options.
There are those, of course, who grow sick of the toxic elements of this host culture and act out about it.
FLASHBACK: October 2014. An Oklahoma man claims Satan told him to destroy and piss on the monument of the Ten Commandments at the Oklahoma State Capitol:
ten commandments 1
Take a look at that monument. Look familiar?
Turns out the Oklahoma monument was a replica of the one found in Texas. The Texas monument was donated to the state by the Fraternal Order of Eagles at the encouragement of Cecil B. DeMille (yes, the Ten Commandments movie guy):
Even the most basic research on the origins of the state capitol Ten Commandments monuments comes back with hit after hit of news stories about the controversies generated by these monuments being placed on public government property.
Now, we all know the monument of the Ten Commandments at the Texas State Capitol is highly unlikely to come down during our lifetimes, as much as we might like it to, and as much as an insult it is to secular governance and the separation of church and state. Even if we weren’t the law-abiding citizens we are, the investment-risk-reward ratio of an attempted “black op” against the monument on the State Capitol campus doesn’t even make sense on paper. Even if we “succeeded” somehow in destroying or stealing it we would fail, as publicity surrounding such an act would only feed into the phony “Christian persecution” narrative so beloved by the preachers and churches.
What might happen if the monument of the Ten Commandments at the Texas State Capitol were permanently and irreversibly consecrated to the Powers of Darkness, a monument ablaze with the Black Flame, inspiring consciousness, curiosity, intelligence, and evolution in all who encountered it, a power source spreading the Black Flame like cobwebbing blood vessels in all directions of the map, spreading its influence deep into the surrounding regions, gradually weakening and undoing the strongholds of tribal narcissism and anti-intellectualism once and for all?
All that said, please find my proposal below:
– Gather and decompress at the Capitol monument. Take a good look at this object and observe your emotions. What does the presence of this thing say to you? What does that say about your relationship with your host culture? What would you change about it if you had your way?
– SILENT BELL and INVOCATION: When the time seems right, begin slowly walking in a counterclockwise circular path around the Capitol building. Go at a leisurely pace, individually and by your own path; no rush. “Sound” 9 bell chimes or other fitting markers of the Working’s beginning by the power of your Will alone. Then radiate the Invocation of Set or an Invocation of the Dark Powers as guided by your own genius; again, by your Will alone. Blaze with the Black Flame within you. Feel the vast stores of your yet untapped power coursing through your body as a consequence of the Gift of Set.
– SILENT SUMMONING OF THE ELEMENTS: As you journey around the Capitol in your heightened state of Being, reflect again on all that has led up to this point and the skin you intend to shed (or have shed already). Examine both the past and the future in light of your place here in the present moment. What are the lessons of your transformations? What does the future hold? What next? During this time, you may summon or connect with whatever godforms, daemons, or manifestations of the Dark Powers most resonate with your Work. But summon them silently, again by the power of Will alone.
– SACRIFICE: Complete the counterclockwise circuit around the Capitol, returning at last to the monument of the Ten Commandments. Look upon it for the last time, for from this day forward, this object of stone will be forever transformed, as you yourself will be. Symbolically shed your skin as guided by your own genius, then offer your shed skin at the feet of the monument, that it may serve as “kindling” to set the monument ablaze with the Black Flame.
– TRANSFORMATION: Summon your utmost power and consecrate the monument of the Ten Commandments to the Powers of Darkness, permanently and irreversibly transforming it into an inexhaustible battery engulfed in the Black Flame, spreading the fire of consciousness, curiosity, intelligence, and evolution in all who encounter it, spreading its influence far beyond the city limits into the surrounding regions and beyond. For so long as this monument exists, its existence now empowers the Aeon of Set and corrodes the grip of Restriction and the god of Moses upon the hearts of humanity, in spite of the lies etched upon its surface.  The following Statement is recommended to finalize your act:
“Set is mightier than the god of Moses.”
– Reading from the Statement of Azazel:
“But on Earth, where man wandered in mindless bliss, the firmament blazed forth with fiery tongues, and all the land was covered by the Black Flame, which burned not, though it bewildered the eye to see it.
“And Raphael and his guardian Angels were dismayed, for nowhere could they see man or the spirit which had come to him. Then did Raphael call upon Michael to strike the Black Flame with the force of God, but even then was the Flame vanishing of its own accord. And at first it seemed that Earth was unchanged, but in the eyes of man did Raphael see the first gleam of thought.”
– Personal Work as required
– CLOSING: “So it is done, and so it begins.”