Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index

Baphomet


Baphomet, by Eliphas LÚvi
The arms bear the Latin words
SOLVE (dissolve) and COAGULA, (congeal).

A Baphomet is an idol or image. The word's etymology is questionable. Variously, it has been described as: an idol with a human skull, a head with two faces, a cat idol and a bearded head.

During the supression of the Knights Templar it was claimed by the Inquisition that the knights used a Baphomet as part of their initiation ceremonies, and that this (among other things) sealed their heresy as an Order.

A much more recent and well known depiction shows Baphomet in the form of a goat, with a torch on his head between his horns. This image comes from Eliphas Lévi's 1854 Dogme et rituel de la haute magie (in English known as Transcendental Magic). Lévi's depiction, for all its fame, is not particularly authentic to the historical description from the Templar trials.

Baphomet, as Lévi's illustration suggests, has occasionally been understood as a synonym of Satan or a demon, a member of the hierarchy of Hell. Baphomet appears in that guise as a character in James Blish's The Day After Judgment. Jack Chick claims that he is a demon worshipped by Freemasons, a claim that apparently originated with the Taxil hoax. The head of Lévi's Baphomet inscribed in an inverted pentagram is a symbol occasionally adopted by Satanists and other followers of a Left Hand Path.

Many theories exist as to the origin of the term, including: