The symbol of a man with a horned goat head and known as Baphomet has been associated with Satanism, witchcraft and secret societies since the 12th century. The Templar Knights confessed to worshiping a horned idol after they were submitted to the same gruesome torture as the heretics they had sought out.
What Is Baphomet?
Baphomet is the symbol of a goat-headed deity found in the history of occultism. He was allegedly worshiped as an idol by the Templar Knights in the 14th century, but can be traced back to earlier origins. The etymology of the word is believed to be French, a corruption of the word Mohammed from the Latin “Mahomet“. A particular image of Baphomet, created by Eliphas Levi in 1854, in his book Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magie, became the most renowned depiction of the deity.
The Templar Knights
The Templar Knights were accused of worshipping a goat-headed figure or idol called Baphomet. When the Knights began to lose the power they had garnered during the crusades, but not their great wealth, the French King, Philip IV, accused them of the same crimes they had been accusing the heretics of. He had the Knights tortured and many of them killed in order to get his hands on their wealth. In the process of severe torture, some of the Knights confessed to the worship of idols.
At the time, the Church did not approve of the close relationship the Knights had with the Arabic people. During the crusades, the Knights stayed in Arab territories for long periods of time and found they had certain values which they shared with the Arabs, or Saracens as they were called then. The Knights were introduced to mysticism in the Arab territories and brought the knowledge back to Western culture, where it was a precursor to occultist practices such as alchemy, Gnosticism and Hermetism.
In the 19th century, Levi, a catholic priest-in-training turned occultist, included an image of the horned god in his first occultist works. The image consisted of a humanoid figure with a horned goat head. One arm pointed up to the sky, and the other to the ground. The figure also had breasts and, instead of a phallus, a caduceus. To Levi, the figure represented the important elements in alchemy: balance in nature, androgyny, magic and the goat’s head – man’s ego and animalistic instincts. His horned deity figure became well-used in many occult practices thereafter, but unfortunately also led to one of the main misinterpretations of its meaning, as a representation of evil or the devil.
Dr. Hugh Schonfield, a biblical scholar and one of the original members of the team who worked on the Dead Sea Scrolls, believed the word Baphomet translated into the Greek word Sophia, meaning “wisdom“, as well as “goddess“. Schonfield used a Jewish cipher called the Atbash cipher, which he had also applied to the Dead Sea Scrolls. In his book, The Passover Plot, Schonfield also purported the resurrected Jesus was not Jesus, but rather another man. He was quickly labelled an unbeliever, but was rather a spiritualist and supported fields like spirit channeling and parapsychology.
A goat-headed figure appears in many ancient religions from around the world. The Celtic god Cernunnos a shapeshifter and also the god of the hunt, is often shown with antler horns. The horned god Herne, mentioned in English folklore, is believed to be the same deity as Cernunnos, author R. Lowe Thompson suggests in the literary work The History of the Devil – The Horned God of the West Herne. In Greek mythology, the god Pan is usually depicted with horns. Along with goat-like horns, Pan is also illustrated with goat legs. He had the ability to use music to create magic and was allegedly the inventor of the panpipes!
Use in Other Occult Groups
Occult authors clearly link Baphomet to the Templar Knights, though the notion is discredited in mainstream literature. The symbol has also been used by the Freemasons as a representation of esoteric concepts. The Ordo Templi Orientis, a secret society established by occultist Aleister Crowley, included the symbol in their mythical studies as a representation of perfection, creative energy and magic. In the 20th century, the Church of Satan made their official insignia the Sigil of Baphomet. The founder of the church believed Baphomet represented Satan to the Templars and today it is viewed as a symbol of the power of darkness by the church’s followers.
Though commonly interpreted today as a symbol of evil, Baphomet stemmed initially from rumors and coercion, became a representation of balance in alchemy, and thereafter took on new meanings, influenced by the thinking at the time. Society continues to jump to conclusions about mysteries and things we have little understanding of, especially when provided with a charismatic, though frequently slanted, view. Perhaps we need to be willing to closely examine what we are presented with, understand all the different viewpoints and then make up our own minds about the mysteries and magic contained in the universe!