Aquino, Michael A. 1946-

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AQUINO, Michael A. 1946-

PERSONAL: Born October 16, 1946, in San Francisco, CA; married Lilith Sinclair (a Satanic cult leader). Education: University of California, Santa Barbara, B.A., 1968, M.A., 1976, Ph.D., 1980.

ADDRESSES: Home—P. O. Box 470307, San Francisco, CA 94147. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER: U.S. Army, career officer specializing in psychological warfare, began 1968, became Lieutenant colonel in military intelligence, retired; served in Vietnam. Ordained Satanic priest, c. 1971-72; Temple of Set, founder and leader, 1975-96.

MEMBER: Eagle Scouts Honor Society (past national commander).

WRITINGS:

The Church of Satan, privately printed, 1989.

Contributor to periodicals, including Cloven Hoof.

SIDELIGHTS: In 1969, one year after Michael A. Aquino both graduated from University of California Santa Barbara with a B.A. in political science and joined the army as a psychological warfare specialist, he joined the Church of Satan, headed by Anton LaVey; Aquino then served a tour of duty in Vietnam. When he returned, the army stationed him in Kentucky and he became a priest within the Church of Satan, forming a grotto—a group of believers—that met in his home there. Aquino soon became disenchanted with the Church, however, under LaVey's leadership, and in 1972, he, along with Lilith Sinclair—a Church of Satan leader who eventually married Aquino—split from it. This split appears to stem, in large part, from the two men's conflicting ideologies: LaVey, an atheist, believed that Satan did not exist but rather represented, as a symbol, strength and defiance; Aquino, on the other hand, believed in the literal existence of Satan, and in 1975, he established a church of his own, known as the Temple of Set.

Set, an ancient Egyptian god who evolved into the Judeo-Christian figure of Satan, reportedly appeared before Aquino and gave him a document called The Book of Coming Forth by Night, the founding text of the Temple. According to a contributor to Religious Leaders of America, Aquino defined the Temple's ambition as "awakening the divine power of the individual through the deliberate exercise of will and intelligence," referring to the process by which this happens as "Xeper." Two reasons why so little is known about the group, including the size of its following, stems from its secretive atmosphere, as well as its emphasis on the individual over unity.

While in the position of high priest of the Temple of Set, Aquino wrote and self-published The Church of Satan. In 1996, Aquino stepped down from his position, leaving the group in the hands of Don Webb.

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

BOOKS

Encyclopedia of Occultism and Parapsychology, 5th edition, Gale (Detroit, MI), 2001.

Religious Leaders of America, 2nd edition, Gale (Detroit, MI) 1999.

ONLINE

Temple of Set Official Web site,http://www.xeper.org/ (April 1, 2003), biography of Aquino.

University of Virginia Religious Movements Web site, http://religiousmovements.lib.virginia.edu/ (December 8, 2000), Joe Abrams, Temple of Set profile.*