Iconography: Baphomet

Baphomet is a very well recognised icon when it comes to the occult - a depiction of a horned and winged goat adorned with estoric symbols. It has been publicized more recently in Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, but it's also been popping up all over my social media news feeds. Because of this, I decided to take a dive into the history of this icon and see what the true meaning behind Baphomet really is.

Baphomet was first depicted as a deity that the Knights of Templar were accused of worshipping, due to appearing in a transcript for The Inquisition of the Knights Templar in 1307. The Knights of Templar were Christian followers in the time of the crusades (so, prime time for witch burnings) that were eventually rumoured to be incorporating other beliefs - specifically Islam - into their own belief systems. Baphomet was actually mistaken as a translated term for the Islamic prophet Muhammad, which was seen as a false idol in Christian heydays, and so the Knights were tortured and condemned for this idol.

The actual image of Baphomet was created by occult icon Eliphas Levi in his 1891 book Transcendental Magic: It's Doctrine and Ritual, where it was depicted as the Sabbatic goat. Levi used influence from the Devil card in tarot reading and depicted Baphomet as an "absolute in symbolic form". It was the "perfect harmony of mercy with justice" and "of magic light of universal balance".

Famed occultist Aleister Crowley who founded the religion Thelema adopted the icon that Eliphas Levi had created and used the image of Baphomet in his Gnostic Mass, which was a gathering of his followers of mystical knowledge. Crowley, who did not believe in Christianity and that the devil actually existed, defined Baphomet instead as an emblem. He said, "The Devil does not exist....A devil who had unity would be a God... 'The Devil' is, historically, the God of any people that one personally dislikes... This serpent, SATAN, is not the enemy of Man, but He who made Gods of our race, knowing Good and Evil; He bade 'Know Thyself!' and taught Initiation. He is 'The Devil' of The Book of Thoth, and His emblem is BAPHOMET, the Androgyne who is the hieroglyph of arcane perfection..."

Baphomet is occasionally portrayed as a synonym for Satan and is a seen to be a member of the hierarchy of Hell, or hoaxed as a demon worshipped by the Freemasons. Eventually, the Sigil of Baphomet as the goat with a downward pointing pentagram was adopted as the official symbol of the Church of Satan and used amongst Satanists today. In 2014 the Satanic Temple commissioned a large statue of Baphomet to stand alongside a monument of the Ten Commandments in Oklahoma as a protest for "respect for diversity and religious minorities". In 2015 the Oklahoma Supreme Court decided to rule all religious displays as illegal and the statue was moved to other Christian monuments for further protests.

Interestingly, the similar statue of Baphomet that the Satanic Temple commissioned was displayed in Chilling Adventures of Sabrina in the Academy of Unseen Arts, in which the Satanic Temple sued for plagiarizing the depiction they created of Baphomet. This lawsuit was later settled out of court.

For uses in candle magic, Baphomet as conceived in the original illustration, represents duality; male and female, light and dark, above and below, come together and break apart. It is a symbol of initiation, enlightenment and balance. It is burned for the purposed of victory, balance, knowledge, wisdom and enlightenment.

So what do you think? Is Baphomet simply an icon made from common misconceptions and miscommunications? Let me know what you think in the comments below!

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