The Baphomet: The "Demon" of the Knights TemplarThe Baphomet is a strange symbol that looks like a combination of every pagan nature god out there, from the goat god Pan through the horned Herne that hunted the ancient woods. Part goat, part man, sometimes winged and always strange, the Baphomet is often found represented on the tarot card "the Devil," and you can usually find it on heavy metal albums or around the necks of Satanists as part of a pentagram . But what exactly is the Baphomet, and what does this strange creature represent for those who use it as a focus?
Despite occult references and theories, there isn't a record of the Baphomet before the fall of the Knights Templar . The French King Phillip the Fair in 1307 levied charges of idolatry, witchcraft, homosexuality and worshipping the devil . The Templar were captured, and under torture most of the knights admitted to secret rights that involved the figure Baphomet. There were no idols found, and the confessions were later recanted, but there were recorded descriptions of the supposed Baphomet. It was a figure that had the head of a human skull, or a goat, or a man with a long beard, it was male or female, sometimes with two faces, made of wood, metal or both, and it held a human head that glowed with knowledge. There were theories that Baphomet was a bastardized version of the name Muhammed, which would show that the Templar had not only betrayed Christianity, but they'd gone over to Islam, which was supposedly the enemy. The descriptions varied so much that it was pretty clear to anyone without a vested interest that the Baphomet was a made up creation to satisfy the torturers, and it remained buried in the records of the debacle that befell the holy order.
At least until the 1800s. In the year 1818 many forgotten idols were discovered in the museum of Vienna, referred to as heads of Baphomet. There are some theories that the name in this case might refer to the "absorbtion of knowledge," making the Baphomet a figure of wisdom bearing instruction to the curious. There were very few real examples of what a Baphomet looked like though, until later in that century in 1861 the famed occultist Eliphas Levi illustrated the Baphomet, or the "goat of Mendes" which refers to an Egyptian deity, in his book "Doctrine and Ritual of High Magic," which was a popular handbook for any fashionable occultist.
From the publication of that book onward, the Baphomet was firmly set in its place as an occult figure. Even the Wickedest Man in the World hhimself, the infamous number 666 , Aleister Crowley took on the title of Baphomet in the late 1800s. By the beginning of the 20th century, with Ouija boards and spiritualism still in full swing, the Baphomet was firmly entrenched as a strange and powerful sigil of unknown knowledge.
And the Baphomet would have remained squarely in the quaint period of occultism, but it came back in force in the 1960s. Anton Lavey, the inventor of modern satanism and the author of the Satanic Bible , essentially adopted the Baphomet and used it in depictions of rituals throughout the book and made liberal use of its name, tying the goat headed symbol very firmly to the movement of modern Satanism. Baphomet also resurfaced again during the Satanic Panic of the 1980s. This panic, which was nearly as ridiculous as the Salem Witch Trials , was a time period when a significant portion of Americans believed there was a worldwide conspiracy of Satanists who were out to murder, rape and lead the younger generation astray through sex, drugs, heavy metal, Saturday morning cartoons and the infamous Dungeons and Dragons. The Baphomet returned again, firmly viewed as a daemon , if not as a direct and literal interpretation of Satan.
Since the 1980s the Baphomet has turned up in a lot of places. Jack Chick, evangelical Christian and author of the infamous Chick tract comic books , has accused the Freemasons in print of following Satanic rituals invoking the Baphomet like the Templars did. There are also accusations that the Baphomet is a symbol followed by the Illuminati, and other, New World Order types of groups. Just as with the Templar Knights and the inquisition that drew the figure forward though, the Baphomet can mean whatever you want it to mean, since it was created not from tradition or faith, but whipstitched from paranoia, accusation and desperation.
"Who is Baphomet?" by Anonymous at Secret Arcana
"History of the Baphomet," by Anonymous at Satanic Kindred
"Myth of the Baphomet," by Anonymous at Freemasonry