Following is the description of the Temple of Set in the _Encyclopaedia of American Religions_ - the definitive [and massive] work published and periodically updated by the Institute for the Study of American Religion (ISAR) [For further information concerning this publication, contact ISAR; Post Office Box 90709; Santa Barbara, CA 93190; USA]:
The Temple of Set was founded in 1975 by members of the international priesthood of the Church of Satan who had resigned from that institution because of what they considered to be its over-commercialism. A senior initiate, Michael A. Aquino, invoked the Prince of Darkness in quest of a new mandate to preserve and enhance the more noble concepts which the Church of Satan had conceived. The mandate was given in the form of _The Book of Coming Forth by Night_, a statement by that entity in his most ancient semblance as Set. Set ordained the Temple of Set to succeed the Church of Satan. The Temple describes itself as an initiatory institution dedicated to Set, an ancient Egyptian deity, the corrupted legends of whom became the basis for the Christian Satan.
"Temple initiates do not consider Set an evil figure, nor do they consider the Temple merely a refutation of conventional religion. According to Temple philosophy, the universe is a non-conscious environment possessed of mechanical consistency. In contrast to the universe, and occasionally violating its laws, is Set. Set has, over a period of millennia, altered the genetic makeup of humans in order to create a species possessing an enhanced, nonnatural intelligence. The techniques and teachings of the Temple are designed to identify and develop this higher evolutionary potential in appropriate individuals.
The Temple is governed by the Council of Nine, which appoints the High Priest of Set and the Executive Director. There are six initiatory degrees: Setian, Adept, Priest/ess of Set, Master of the Temple, Magus, and Ipsissimus. The program is designed principally for individuals, although there are local Pylons of the Temple in several parts of the United States. International conclaves for the entire Temple are held annually. The Temple provides an annotated reading list containing material on a wide range of occult, scientific, and religious subjects. Topics covered include ancient Egypt, historical and contemporary occultism, psychology, ethics, and experimental science."