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Temple of Set founder, Lt. Col. Michael Aquino, died by suicide

Michael Aquino served as a retired Lieutenant Colonel in Psychological Operations in the United States Army.



Lt. Col. Michael Aquino, a retired U.S. Army officer and founder of the Temple of Set, has sadly passed away, with reports indicating his death as an apparent suicide.

Michael Aquino served as a retired Lieutenant Colonel in Psychological Operations in the United States Army.

His educational background includes attending the Industrial College of the Armed Forces at the National Defense University, the Defense Intelligence College at the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Foreign Service Institute at the Department of State, the United States Army Special Warfare Center, the United States Army Command and General Staff College, the United States Army Intelligence School, and the United States Army Space Institute.

Michael received numerous accolades, including the Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal, Army Commendation Medal (three times), Special Forces Tab, Parachutist Badge, USAF Space & Missile Badge, Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross, Psychological Warfare Medal (First Class), and Air Service Medal (Honor Grade).

His academic achievements include a B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. in Political Science, along with an M.P.A. in Public Administration from George Washington University, all conferred by the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Serving as an Adjunct Professor of Political Science at Golden Gate University, he shared his expertise. Additionally, Michael held the position of National Commander of the Eagle Scout Honor Society, receiving the Knight Eagle Distinguished Service Award. He was also honored with the Order of the Arrow’s Vigil Honor and the Alpha Phi Omega Fraternity’s Distinguished Service Key.

Upon retiring as a U.S. government official in 2006, he assumed the title of the 13th Baron of Rachane, Argyllshire, bestowed upon him by Scotland’s Lord Lyon King of Arms. As a member of Clan Campbell, he holds this noble position.

Michael Aquino has been a Priest dedicated to the ancient Egyptian god Set since 1975, serving as the High Priest of the International Temple of Set until 1996. An American political scientist, military officer, and prominent figure within Anton LaVey’s Church of Satan, Aquino established the Temple in the United States in 1975.

Dissatisfied with LaVey’s leadership, Aquino departed and, as per his account, conducted a ritual to invoke Satan, who purportedly revealed to him a sacred manuscript known as The Book of Coming Forth by Night.

In this work, Satan identified himself as Set, the name used by his followers in ancient Egypt, according to Aquino. Several dissatisfied members of LaVey’s Church joined Aquino in forming the Temple, leading to the emergence of various Setian groups across the country.

Setians hold the belief that Set is the sole deity, attributing the bestowal of the “Black Flame” to distinguish humans from other animal species.

Set is regarded as a revered teacher whose example should be emulated, though he is not worshipped as a deity. The Temple, grounded in individualism, advocates for practitioners to pursue self-deification, thereby attaining awareness of immortality.

Setians acknowledge the presence of magic as a force that can be harnessed through rituals, although the nature of these rituals is not explicitly specified by the Temple. Aquino characterizes Setian rituals as “black magic,” a term he interprets idiosyncratically.

Upon initiation into the Temple, Setians have the opportunity to progress through six degrees, each entailing increased responsibilities to the community.

Consequently, a significant proportion of members typically remain within the first two degrees. The Temple is governed by a high priest or high priestess, along with a broader Council of Nine. It is further divided into groupings called pylons, where Setians can convene or correspond to advance their magical practices in specific areas.

Pylons affiliated with the Temple can be found in various locations, including the United States, Australia, and Europe, estimating the Temple’s membership to be between 200 and 500 individuals.