The controversial Satanic leader has allegedly expired.
Michael Aquino was the other great leader of the golden age of occultism – from 1975, he headed the temple of Set after breaking from the Church of Satan, where he had been a leading figure but eventually fell out with founder Anton LaVey over aspects of Satanism – namely whether or not Satan was a symbolic figurehead for a non-theistic organisation, as LaVey claimed, or an actual diety as Aquino believed.
The Temple of Set was always in the shadows of LaVey’s organisation, and Aquino was very much a less charismatic leader, even though he looked the part with his teased eyebrows and sinister demeanour. as a mouthpiece for Satanism, he was arguably more sincere than LaVey – at least if you actually believe in Satan as an actual force. Like LaVay – and more or less anyone else with a high profile in Satanism – Aquino was caught up in the Satanic Panic, accused of all sorts of abusive behaviour – the only case to ever come to court saw him acquitted, but conspiracy theorists and others have continued to make unproven claims against him ever since. Most famously, he appeared alongside Zeena LaVey and Ozzy Osbourne in the notorious and hysterical Geraldo Rivera special Devil Worship: Exposing Satan’s Underground. Aquino was also, rather oddly, a Lt. Colonel in the US Army – his presence being testament to the laws surrounding religious freedom.
A statement on the Temple’s website states that “Ipissimus Michael A. Aquino PhD remanifested from his physical body” on “Sunday, September 1, LIV of the Aeon of Set” – Temple members follow their own calendar and no one seems quite sure when this was in more traditional dating, though stories of his death seem to have started to appear at the end of June.
As Satanic organisations go, the temple of Set has been fairly low-profile in recent years, a far cry from the days when it was challenging the Church of Satan for dominance. But Aquino and his organisation had a longer run than most fringe religions, and managed to poke the bear of religious intolerance and Satanic Panic hysteria very effectively.