Is Baphomet more closely associated with Satanism or the Templars?

  • The Knights Templar were a Catholic military order. They were very wealthy and very skilled, but after the Holy Land was lost in the crusades, mistrust built on them and rumors started to spread about them. One of these rumors was that the order worshiped Baphomet:

    The symbolic head of the goat of Mendes is occasionally given to this figure, and it is then the Baphomet of the Templars and the Word of the Gnostics, bizarre images which became scarecrows for the vulgar after affording food for reflection to sages – innocent hieroglyphs of thought and faith which have been a pretext for the rage of persecutions. How pitiable are men in their ignorance, but how they would despise themselves if only they came to know!

    Dogma et Rituel de la Haute Magie (translated)

    Satanism, on the other hand, is the belief that Satan, or any form of the devil, is the main force. So it appears the Baphomet is associated with both the Knights Templar and Satanism.

    Which association of Baphomet came first?

    I didn't downvote, but one suggestion would be to expand the question to elaborate more on how Baphomet represents duality. In terms of modern binary, it comes from Leibniz who was inspired by the binary notation system of the I Ching, but the I Ching is distinct from Western Hermeticism.

    Relating to the original question about binaries, you may want to look at Dionysus. As a dying/resurrected god, he is a precursor to Christ, yet he is also depicted as the "horned god", a characteristic that came to be associated with Satan. Transvestism, which involves merging characteristics of both sexes, is also an element of Bacchic ritual. Dionysus has chthonic elements and is associated with animalistic behavior, but is also an Olympian, elevated to heavenly status. *(If you ever feel like re-asking the question on the binary nature of Baphomet, I'll go into more detail;)*

    This is technically the second posting of a question that previously had an answer. I merged that version with this version, as this version is substantially better. I've also tried to clear up some of the comments from both questions; I hope folks will let me know if I messed up somewhere. Thanks.

  • plannapus

    plannapus Correct answer

    5 years ago

    Interestingly the first mention of Baphomet (that I can find, at least) seem to be in an occitan poem about the Crusades, attributed to Gavaudan (presumably written in 1195):

    Profeta seran Gavaudas
    Quel digz er faitz. E mortz als cas!
    e Dieus et honratz e servitz
    on Bafometz era gravitz (V, 64-6)

    (Gavaudan will be prophet in this: the words will become deeds. And death to the dogs! And God will be honoured and served where Baphomet was thanked.)

    Extract from Catherine Léglu "Moral and satirical poetry" in The troubadours: an introduction

    In this extract, it is relatively clear that the word Bafometz was just an occitanisation of the name Mahomet. And it's probably what was meant when the templars were accused of worshiping 'bafometic icons' (which was therefore a preposterous accusation but that's another question). After that, the idea that templars were worshiping an heretic figure called Baphomet probably remained in the collective imagination.

    The modern representation of Baphomet, used by modern satanism, seems to originate from Éliphas Levi (1854) 'Dogme et Ritual de la Haute Magie' (Part II). Its representation is on the frontispiece of the book.

    In the following extract he identify it with the Devil:

    WE recur once more to that terrible number fifteen, symbolized in the Tarot by a monster throned upon an altar, mitred and horned, having a woman's breasts and the generative organs of a man – a chimera, a malformed sphinx, a synthesis of deformities. Below this figure we read a frank and simple inscription – THE DEVIL. Yes, we confront here that phantom of all terrors, the dragon of all theogonies, the Ahriman of the Persians, the Typhon of the Egyptians, the Python of the Greeks, the old serpent of the Hebrews, the fantastic monster, the nightmare, the Croquemitaine, the gargoyle, the great beast of the Middle Ages, and – worse than all these – the Baphomet of the Templars, the bearded idol of the alchemist, the obscene deity of Mendes, the goat of the Sabbath. The frontispiece to this “Ritual” reproduces the exact figure of the terrible emperor of night, with all his attributes and all his characters.

    And here is how he describes it:

    The goat which is represented in our frontispiece bears upon its forehead the Sign of the Pentagram with one point in the ascendant, which is sufficient to distinguish it as a symbol of the light. Moreover, the sign of occultism is made with both hands, pointing upward to the white moon of Chesed, and downward to the black moon of Geburah. This sign expresses the perfect concord between mercy and justice. One of the arms is feminine and the other masculine, as in the androgyne of Khunrath, those attributes we have combined with those of our goat, since they are one and the same symbol. The torch of intelligence burning between the horns is the magical light of universal equilibrium; it is also the type of the soul, exalted above matter, even while cleaving to matter, as the flame cleaves to the torch. The monstrous head of the animal expresses horror of sin, for which the material agent, alone responsible, must alone and for ever bear the penalty, because the soul is impassible in its nature and can suffer only by materializing. The caduceus, which, replaces the generative organ, represents eternal life; the scale-covered belly typifies water; the circle above it is the atmosphere, the feathers still higher up signify the volatile; lastly, humanity is depicted by the two breasts and the androgyne arms of this sphinx of the occult sciences. Behold the shadows of the infernal sanctuary dissipated! Behold the sphinx of mediaeval terrors unveiled and cast from his throne!

    Both above translations I found in Karlson-Weimann (2013) The Baphomet: a discourse analysis of the symbol in three contexts. What were the sources of Eliphas Levi's description however is unclear.

    Great answer! Important point that the popular visual depiction of Baphomet seems to derive from Levi in in the mid-1800's as opposed to the medieval period. Also an important point about the "collective imagination" out of which a mythology of the Templars has arisen.

    So it does appear the Catholic Templars were 1st/2nd ish. The funny thing is the fact they worshiped it implies that weren't probably following there catholic beliefs so it could very well from what understand be associated with both catholic templars and satanism.

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