A name sometimes given to a supposed demon, but almost certainly a corruption of the word 'Mohammed'.
Some authorities hold that the evil spirit Baphomet was a monstrous head, others that it was a demon in the form of a goat. According to Eliphas Levi, the name is composed of three abbreviations: Tem. olip. Ab, Templi oinnium hominum Pacis abhas, " the father of the temple of universal peace among men." Others claim that the word Baphomet is derived from two Greek words Baph and Metis meaning "Baptism of Wisdom."
Accusations of the blasphemous worship of Baphomet were leveled at the Knights Templar — an order of Christian knights charged with protecting the lives and property of Christian pilgrims traveling to and from the Holy Land — in the 14th century.
Eliphas Levi's conception of Baphomet, which Levi described as "the Sabbatic Goat or Baphomet of Mendes," is not intended to be an accurate recreation of the Templars' idol, but a symbolic amalgamation from four sources: the infernal goat supposedly worshipped by witches at their sabbats; the idol of the Templars; the phallic goat worshipped as a fertility god at Mendes, Egypt; and the demonic image on the traditional Marseilles Tarot trump, The Devil. Levi evidently intended that his image replace the Marseilles image of the trump, The Devil. He wrote:
"We recur once more to that terrible number fifteen, symbolized in the Tarot by a monster throned upon an altar, mitered and horned, having a woman's breasts and the generative organs of a man -- a chimera, a malformed sphinx, a systhesis 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 of these — the Baphomet of the Templars, the bearded idol of the alchemist, the obscene deity of Mendes, the goat of the Sabbath."
Given the broad scope of Levi's description, his Baphomet evidently means whatever we wish it to mean, provided we wish evil. Although he characterized Baphomet in this negative way, Levi intended his figure to represent a real set of potencies in the universe, the primitive urge to create and to procreate, to burst forth, to live and to dominate. It expresses the most physical and material aspects of the life-force. It is not so much evil as it is indifferent to morality. It is the power that causes life to cyclically rise up from the mud, and to dissolve back into the mud when its will is spent. Levi did not intend to represent a demon, but rather a philosophical concept. Some occultists have suggested that the Baphomet of the Templars was really the god of the witches deriving from the nature god Pan. Even so, Baphomet must be classed as demonic when viewed by the Christian standards that defined the other demons of the infernal regions.
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Sources: (1) Dictionary of the Occult, Caxton Publishing; (2) Spence, Lewis, An Encyclopedia of Occultism, Carol Publishing Group; (3) Gilbert, R. A., Baphomet and Son: A Little Known Chapter in the Life of 666, Holmes Publishing Group.
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