Baphomet
The goat idol of the Templars and the deity of the sorcerers’
Sabbat. Some authorities hold that the Baphomet was a monstrous
head, others that it was a demon in the form of a goat.
One account of a veritable Baphometic idol describes it thusly
‘‘A pantheistic and magical figure of the Absolute. The torch
placed between the two horns, represents the equilibrating intelligence
of the triad. The goat’s head, which is synthetic, and
unites some characteristics of the dog, bull, and ass, represents
the exclusive responsibility of matter and the expiation of bodily
sins in the body. The hands are human, to exhibit the sanctity
of labor; they make the sign of esotericism above and below,
to impress mystery on initiates, and they point at two lunar
crescents, the upper being white and the lower black, to explain
the correspondences of good and evil, mercy and justice. The
lower part of the body is veiled, portraying the mysteries of universal
generation, which is expressed solely by the symbol of
the caduceus. The belly of the goat is scaled, and should be colored
green, the semicircle above should be blue; the plumage,
reaching to the breast, should be of various hues. The goat has
female breasts, and thus its only characteristics are those of maternity
and toil, otherwise the signs of redemption. On its forehead,
between the horns and beneath the torch, is the sign of
the microcosm, or the pentagram with one beam in the ascendant,
symbol of human intelligence, which, placed thus below
the torch, makes the flame of the latter an image of divine revelation.
This Pantheos should be seated on a cube, and its footstool
should be a single ball, or a ball and a triangular stool.’’
In Narratives of Sorcery and Magic (1851), Thomas Wright
states
‘‘Another charge in the accusation of the Templars seems to
have been to a great degree proved by the depositions of witnesses[]
the idol or head which they are said to have worshipped,
but the real character or meaning of which we are totally
unable to explain. Many Templars confessed to having
seen this idol, but as they described it differently, we must suppose
that it was not in all cases represented under the same
form. Some said it was a frightful head, with long beard and
sparkling eyes; others said it was a man’s skull; some described
it as having three faces; some said it was of wood, and others
of metal; one witness described it as a painting (tabula picta)
representing the image of a man (imago hominis) and said that
when it was shown to him, he was ordered to ‘adore Christ, his
creator.’ According to some it was a gilt figure, either of wood
or metal; while others described it as painted black and white.
According to another deposition, the idol had four feet, two before
and two behind; the one belonging to the order at Paris,
was said to be a silver head, with two faces and a beard. The
novices of the order were told always to regard this idol as their
saviour. Deodatus Jaffet, a knight from the south of France,
who had been received at Pedenat, deposed that the person
who in his case performed the ceremonies of reception, showed
him a head or idol, which appeared to have three faces, and
said, ‘You must adore this as your saviour, and the saviour of
the order of the Temple’ and that he was made to worship the
idol, saying, ‘Blessed be he who shall save my soul.’ Cettus Ragonis,
a knight received at Rome in a chamber of the palace of
the Lateran, gave a somewhat similar account. Many other witnesses
spoke of having seen these heads, which, however, were,
perhaps, not shown to everybody, for the greatest number of
those who spoke on this subject, said that they had heard speak
of the head, but that they had never seen it themselves; and
many of them declared their disbelief in its existence. A friar
minor deposed in England that an English Templar had assured
him that in that country the order had four principal
idols, one at London, in the Sacristy of the Temple, another at
Bristelham, a third at Brueria (Bruern in Lincolnshire), and a
fourth beyond the Humber.’’
Some occultists have suggested that the Baphomet of the
Templars was really the god of the witches deriving from the
Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology • 5th Ed. Baphomet
153
nature god Pan. During the nineteenth century, the Austrian
Orientalist Baron Joseph von Hammer-Pürgstall discovered an
inscription on a coffer in Burgundy that he claimed showed
that the name Baphomet derived from two Greek words meaning
‘‘Baptism of Metis [Wisdom]’’; the inscription exalted Metis
or Baphomet as the true divinity.
When Karl Kellner and other early twentieth century German
occultists founded the secret order OTO (Ordo Templi
Orientis, or Order of Templars in the East), they adopted an
emblem of Baphomet taken from Richard Payne Knight’s A
Discourse on the Worship of Priapus as the seal of the order’s
grand master. At a later date, when British occultist Aleister
Crowley became head of the British section, he took the name
Baphomet as his motto. He had previously wrestled with the
numerological significance of the name.
Sources
Crowley, Aleister. The Confessions of Aleister Crowley. Edited by
John Symons and Kenneth Grant. New York Hill and Wang,
1969.
Lévi, Éliphas. Transcendental Magic. London Rider, 1896.
Reprint, New York Samuel Weiser, 1972.
Partner, Peter. The Murdered Magicians The Templars and
their Myth. Oxford Oxford University Press, 1981. Reprint,
N.p. Crucible, 1987.
Wright, Thomas. Narratives of Sorcery and Magic. London R.
Bentley, 1851. Reprint, Detroit Grand River Books, 1971.