Throughout the history of the arcane, Baphomet has held an unprecedented position. As a depiction of the Absolute in symbolic form, it can be found everywhere in the occult world, in both right and left-hand path practices. Sometimes called the “Goat Idol of the Knights Templar”, or the deity of the “Sorcerers’ Sabbat”, it’s been stated that because it is depicted as a paradoxical being, both human and animal, male and female, good and evil, etc., it represents the major harmonious dichotomies of the cosmos.
There are several theories concerning the origins of the name “Baphomet”. The most common explanation claims that it is an Old French corruption of the name of Mohammed (which was Latin-ized to “Mahomet”) – the Prophet of Islam. During the Crusades, the Knights Templar ventured throughout the Middle-East where they became acquainted with Arab mysticism. This contact with Eastern civilizations allowed them to bring back to Europe the basics of what would become Western occultism, including Gnosticism, alchemy, Kabbalah, and Hermetism. The Templars’ affinity with the Muslims led the Church to accuse them of the worship of an idol named Baphomet, thus leading to a plausible link between Baphomet and Mahomet.
The most famous likeness of Baphomet is found in Eliphas Levi’s “Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magie“. Levi is the man behind the image of Baphomet as the “Sabbatic Goat of Mendes”. This modern depiction of it appears to take its roots from several ancient sources, but primarily from pagan gods. Baphomet bears resemblances to gods all over the globe, including Egypt, Northern Europe, and India. In fact, the mythologies of a great number of ancient civilizations include some kind of horned deity. In Jungian theory, Baphomet is a continuation of the horned-god archetype, as the concept of a deity bearing horns has found to be universally present in individual psyches. The Horned God is one of the oldest fertility gods in human history, taking various incarnations such as Pan, Cernunnos, Dionysus, etc. As stated previously, Baphomet is also a composite creation symbolic of alchemical realization through the union of opposite forces, a Chimera hermaphrodite with bi-sexual features.
Baphomet has become the ultimate “scapegoat”, the face of witchcraft and black magic; a dark, foreboding figure, one synonymous with that Judeo/Christian miscreant called “Satan”. But, in truth, Baphomet can represent the accomplishment of reaching the “Higher Self”. Because of this it has been adopted by some practitioners of the left-hand path as a symbol of self-deification or becoming one’s own god. Self-deification, though, does not come about through a simple proclamation. It is a slow process, taking years of study upon the heterodox path, going your own way, breaking away from the prevailing cultural norms. But with a revaluation of all values, and allowing the ego to better understand the subconscious, a supreme knowledge of the self can come about, thus reaching a state of perfect equilibrium. It is then that the occult initiate can point the right hand towards the heavens and the left towards the earth and pronounce that hermetic axiom which has reverberated over the millennia: “As Above, So Below”.
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