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Baphomet

What does Baphomet mean?

Baphomet is term that was originally associated with an idol that the Knights Templar were said to have worshipped. Later, Baphomet was incorporated into other occult traditions as a powerful figure, often depicted as a winged man with the head of a goat.

image of Baphomet

Where does Baphomet come from?

Baphomet has reportedly been in use since at least the 1090s, where it appeared in an early Crusader’s letter. The name itself, although certainly not its modern image, may have been connected with Islam, as chroniclers referred to mosques as Bafumarias. Some think Baphomet is a corruption of Mahomet, an alternate spelling of Muhammad, although many other cryptic origin theories have been provided.

Regardless of its specific origins, Baphomet got much more attention after the Knights Templar, a medieval Catholic military order, were interrogated under the Inquisition. Under torture, some admitted to worshipping a pagan idol named Baphomet. This figure didn’t have a consistent appearance or nature, and not all Templars admitted to worshipping it. It’s not clear whether Baphomet actually had anything to do with the Templars’ activities, whether it was an accusation the Church created to lend more weight to their other charges of heresy, or whether it was simply a product of the torture the Templars were undergoing.

Baphomet fell into relative obscurity for some time, but was reborn in 19th-century occult works thanks especially to Eliphas Lévi. In the mid-1850s, Lévi published a picture of Baphomet in his book Dogmas and Rituals of High Magic. The illustration greatly inspired Baphomet’s current incarnation; it was a human-goat amalgamation referred to as the “Sabbatic Goat.” This depiction would go on to influence the iconic Rider-Waite tarot card image of the Devil. In some occult, mystical, or religious traditions, Baphomet is a deity that represents the sum of the entire universe and all its opposing forces.

A few things to note…

Lévi’s work cemented Baphomet’s association with the occult, and depictions of Baphomet appeared in occult texts throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It was fixed yet more when the Church of Satan adopted the figure, depicted in an inverted pentagram, as their official symbol in the late 1960s. A new sigil, a symbol considered to have magical powers, of Baphomet was created for the Satanic Bible, originally published in 1969 by Anton LaVey.

In 2014, Baphomet was brought again to both public consciousness and controversy when the Satanic Temple, a political organization promoting the separation of church and state, offered to donate a statue of Baphomet to stand alongside a monument to the Ten Commandments outside the Oklahoma Supreme Court. In 2015, a statue of the figure was unveiled, to much controversy, in front of Detroit's Satanic Temple.

Due to its association with Satanism, Baphomet can be viewed as a demonic or subversive symbol, and thus stand in for something considered evil or deviant. It can also serve as an identifying marker for those aligned with the occult. However, many occultists view Baphomet not as demonic but as an idol or deity that harmonizes cosmic opposites, e.g., good and evil, man and woman.

For example…

“Just put a poster of Baphomet flanked various snakes, demons, and succubi (not to mention dead babies clutching hand grenades) around you while you work, and you will find yourself becoming a regular Norman Vincent Peale.”

Tim Maroney Tim Maroney Google (August 17, 1989)

“I promised to design a kawaii baphomet sticker once I reached 666 followers, now it's finally done!”

♡ PLENTY ♡ @Plentyblush Twitter (March 26, 2017)

“I would have been more inclined to vote for Hillary if it had come out that she had a baphomet tattoo or something tbh.”

Andy Hills @Handyandy58_ Twitter (March 19, 2017)

This is not a formal definition of Baphomet like most terms we define on Dictionary.com, but is rather an informal word summary that touches upon the key aspects of the meaning and usage of Baphomet that will help you expand your word mastery.