The Iconography of Baphomet

History and Symbolism

Baphomet is a religious symbol often tied to the occult. The most popular image that has come to be associated with Baphomet is “Sabbatic Goat” drawn by Eliphas Levi in 1856. Levi intended this image to represent the desire to create, procreate, and to possess great power and influence. The imagery is not intended as evil, but rather morally indifferent.

The figure is shown as a human body sitting cross-legged with a goat head. Baphomet is a hermaphrodite, featuring both male and female qualities to represent the duality of human spirit. “Flow and ebb” is written across the forearms in Latin. The image features a Pentagram, a 5 point star with each point representing different elements. The top point is the spirit, then in clockwise order, water, fire, earth, and air. In the lap are two snakes winding up around a staff towards each other. This symbol, a Caduceus, represents the power of negotiation and reciprocity. Baphomet was possibly influenced by a goat-like deity named Pan, after the Greek word for “all.” These iconic symbols both represent a dual, omnipresent nature. The name Baphomet is a translation of “The father of the temple of universal peace among men,” in Latin, backwards. Baphomet has been linked to many different organizations and individuals throughout history such as the Knight’s Templar, the Freemasons, Wicca, Paganism, Aleister Crowley, Witchcraft, and the Church of Satan. A Baphomet-like image is also featured as the Devil in the Rider-Waite Tarot Deck.

In Wicca and Witchcraft

The figure is pointing at both a white and black moon, symbolizing light and darkness. This pose, with one hand pointing up and one pointing down is known to represent the saying “as above, so below.” This phrase is used often in rituals and spells and refers to the connectedness of all things, unity, protection, and that the universe and man are one and the same. "Dynamic interconnectedness to describe the physical world as the sort of thing that imagination and desire can effect. The magician's world is an independent whole, a web of which no strand is autonomous. Mind and body, galaxy and atom, sensation and stimulus, are intimately bound. Witchcraft strongly imbues the view that all things are independent and interrelated.” The symbols of personal power and the magnetism of universal forces in the image of Baphomet are crucial to the practice of Wicca and Witchcraft.

In Satanism

One of the Satanists’ beliefs is that we are all our own god, free to rule ourselves and adhere to our own moral compass. The torch sprouting out of the goat’s head represents intelligence, balance, and enlightenment. Originally written by Anton Szandor Lavey in the Satanic Bible, one of the Nine Satanic Statements reads “Satan represents man as just another animal, sometimes better, more often worse than those that walk on all-fours, who, because of his divine spiritual and intellectual development, has become the most vicious animal of all!”

As followers of the Church of Satan are still largely underground, images such as those of Baphomet are incredibly important to the prevalence of Satanism in modern day society.

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