The symbol of the “sabbatic goat,” portrayed
as a half-human, half-goat figure, or a goat head.
It is not a symbol of modern witchcraft.
Baphomet by Eliphas Levi
Baphomet 17
The origin of the name Baphomet is unclear. It may
be a corruption of Mahomet (Muhammad). The English
witchcraft historian Montague Summers suggested it
was a combination of two Greek words, baphe and metis,
meaning “absorption of knowledge.” Baphomet has also
been called the Goat of Mendes, the Black Goat and the
Judas Goat.
In the Middle Ages the Baphomet was believed to be
an idol, represented by a human skull, a stuffed human
head or a metal or wooden human head with curly black
hair. The idol was said to be worshiped by the Order of
the Knights Templar as the source of fertility and wealth.
In 1307 King Philip IV of France accused the Order of the
Knights Templar of heresy, homosexuality and, among
other things, worshiping this idol and anointing it with
the fat of murdered children. However, only 12 of the 231
knights interrogated by the church admitted worshiping
or having knowledge of the Baphomet. Novices said
they had been instructed to worship the idol as their god
and savior, and their descriptions of it varied: it had up
to three heads and up to four feet; it was made of either
wood or metal, or was a painting; sometimes it was gilt.
In 1818 a number of idols called heads of Baphomet
were discovered among forgotten antiquities of the Imperial
Museum of Vienna. They were said to be replicas of
the Gnostic divinity Mete, or “Wisdom.”
Perhaps the best-known representation of Baphomet
is the drawing by the 19th-century French magician Eliphas
Levi, called “the Baphomet of Mendes.” Levi combined
elements of the Tarot Devil card and the he-goat
worshiped in antiquity in Mendes, Egypt, which was
said to fornicate with its women followers (as the church
claimed the Devil did with witches). Levi’s Baphomet has
a human trunk with rounded, female breasts, a caduceus
in the midriff, human arms and hands, cloven feet, wings
and a goat’s head with a pentagram (see pentacle and
pentagram) in the forehead and a torch on top of the
skull between the horns. The attributes, Levi said, represented
the sum total of the universe—intelligence, the
four elements, divine revelation, sex and motherhood
and sin and redemption. White and black crescent moons
at the figure’s sides represent good and evil.
Aleister Crowley named himself Baphomet when he
joined the Ordo Templis Orientalis, a secret sexual magic
order formed around 1896 in Germany

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