The following is an excerpt from Baphomet: The Temple Mystery Unveiled by Tracy R. Twyman and Alexander Rivera.
If the Freemasons are continuing the secret doctrine of the Templars, one would expect the rituals to Baphomet to have continued on in the Masonic order as well. Indeed the subject of Baphomet is addressed in the handbook for Scottish Rite Freemasons entitled Morals and Dogma by Albert Pike. Echoing the thoughts of Eliphas Levi, he wrote of Baphomet as the magical force of the universe:
There is in nature a most potent force, by means whereof a single man, who could possess himself of it, and should know how to direct it, could revolutionize and change the face of the world. . . .
This force was known to the ancients. . . . If science can but learn to control it, it will be possible to change the order of the seasons, to produce in night the phenomena of day, to send a thought in an instant around the world, to heal or slay at a distance, to give our words universal success, and make them reverberate everywhere.
This agent . . . is precisely what the adepts of the Middle Ages called the elementary matter of the great work. The Gnostics held that it composed the igneous body of the Holy Spirit, and it was adored in the secret rites of the Sabbat or the Temple, under the hieroglyphic figure of Baphomet or the hermaphroditic Goat of Mendes.
There is a life-principle in the world, a universal agent, wherein are two natures and a double-current of love and wrath. This ambient fluid penetrates everything. It is a ray detached from the glory of the Sun, and fixed by the weight of the atmosphere and the central attraction. It is the body of the Holy Spirit, the universal agent, the serpent devouring its own tail. With this electro-magnetic ether, this vital and luminous caloric, the ancients and the alchemists were familiar. Of this agent, that phase of modern ignorance termed physical science talks incoherently, knowing naught of it save its effects; and theology might apply to all of its pretended definitions of spirit. . . .
Far beyond the mere fertility of vegetation that most scholars have viewed Baphomet as a symbol of, Pike seems to be describing this figure as representative of the root of all physical powers and energies, now described, as Pike contemptuously states, according to the schematics of modern physics. While the prevailing model was by no means settled in Pike’s day, we imagine he was saying that what we now describe as electromagnetism, as well as gravity and the strong and weak nuclear forces, are all derived from this root. We can understand, then, why occultists still think of the knowledge of how to master this power as the ultimate mystery, and the ultimate wisdom.
In the book The American Quarterly Review of Freemasonry and Its Kindred Sciences, Volume 1 (1858), edited by Freemasonic scholar Albert Mackey, an article entitled “Horae Esotericae” by Giles F. Yates refers to an Arabic book called Sun of Suns and Moon of Moons that Yates found untranslated in the library of his Masonic lodge. There, he says, the author identifies an entity named “Bafumed or Karuf [calf]” symbolizing “the secrets of the nature of the world, or secret of secrets.” This book apparently was known in the past, and may have been lost.
We know it existed because of the work of ninth to tenth-century alchemist Ibn Wahshiyya, most famous for translating the mysterious Book of Nabathean Agriculture into Arabic. He wrote a book called Ancient Alphabets and Hieroglyphic Characters Explained, which was translated into English by none other than Joseph von Hammer-Purgstall, who published his version in 1806, twelve years before his Baphomet essay. Ancient Alphabets also makes reference to “Bahumed,” “Bahumed,” or “Bahumet” and to the Sun of Suns book, which Ibn Wahshiyya claims to have translated from Nabathean into Arabic.
He says the subject of the book is “the discovery of the Hermesian alphabets,” and then provides, presumably from that source, a hieroglyph of a beetle-like creature which he says is:
. . .expressive of the most sublime secret, called originally Bahumed and Kharuf (or calf), viz. The Secret of the nature of the world, or The Secret of Secrets, or The Beginning and Return of every thing.
This all-encompassing interpretation of the meaning of Baphomet as “the biggest thing ever,” seemingly shared by so many revered Masonic scholars, may explain why, according to Freemasons for Dummies by Christopher Hodapp:
Some early ritual books from the fraternity referred to God as “God of all Things” and abbreviated it as GOAT. That was quickly changed, and God is now referred to by Freemasons by the acronym GAOTU, for Grand Architect of the Universe.
The change was made because outsiders to the club viewed their use of the word “GOAT” to symbolize the creator God as blasphemous and satanic. But there is much more linking Freemasonry and goats. The animal is widely claimed by non-members to be part of the hazing rites for initiation into Freemasonry, during a ceremony supposedly called “Riding the Goat.” Most Masonic literature on the subject makes it out to be a joke, based on the accusations of a secret doctrine of Satanism that have been made against the brotherhood by anti-Masons throughout the years. As we read from Albert Mackey’s Encyclopedia of Freemasonry and its Kindred Sciences (1917):
The idea that “riding the goat” constitutes a part of the ceremonies of initiation of a Masonic lodge has its real origin in the superstition of antiquity. The old Greeks and Romans portrayed their mystical god Pan in horns and hooves and shaggy hide, and called him “goat-footed.” When the demonology of the classics was adopted and modified by the early Christians, Pan gave way to Satan, who naturally inherited his attributes, so that to the common mind the devil was represented by the he-goat, and his best-known marks were the horns, the beard, and the cloven hoofs. Then came the witch stories of the Middle Ages, and the belief in the witch orgies, where, as it was said, the devil appeared riding on a goat. These orgies of the witches, where, amid fear of blasphemous ceremonies, they practiced initiation into their Satanic rites, became, to the vulgar and illiterate, the type of the Masonic mysteries; for, as Dr. [George] Oliver says, ‘It was in England a common belief that the Freemasons were accustomed in their lodges ‘to raise the devil.’
In Volume 14 of The Short Talk Bulletin of the Grand Lodge of New Brunswick in May 1936, the same argument was made, tracing the Masonic goat back to Pan via Satan, but also, back to Azazel. As it states:
The idea that the sins of the people might be transferred to a goat, which, driven into the wilderness to die, carried away the moral trespasses with which he was symbolically loaded, doubtless had much to do with the change which came over the complexion of the Great God Pan, when Christianity commenced to rewrite the ancient heathen mythology. Gently Pan, who harmed no one beyond creating terror, became first Satanic, and then, in the end, Satan himself.
A similar analysis is found in Thomas Wright’s Worship of the Generative Powers(1865), one of the first works in English to examine Joseph von Hammer-Purgstall’s “Baphometic Idols.” In it, Wright demonstrates amazing similarity between the rituals that the Knights Templar were accused of doing, and the rites of the pre-Christian cult of Priapus. Also remarkably similar were the purported activities of many Gnostic groups, the Cathar heretics of France, and the European witch cults of the Middle Ages. We even see the same symbolism in the Satanic “Black Mass,” allegedly celebrated throughout the centuries by the supposed “fifth column” of Satanist priests who purportedly lurk in secret within the upper echelons of the Catholic Church. Wright believed that the Christian image of “Satan” was in fact largely based on images of Priapus, and attempted to demonstrate that the traditions of underground “Satanist” and “witchcraft” cults were actually sublimated forms of Priapism.
After cataloging the widespread use of votive phalluses throughout Pre-Christian Europe, Wright describes how what he called the “cult of Priapus” spread deep into Europe. In Greek mythology, Priapus was of divine parentage (variously fathered by Pan, Hermes, or Zeus, depending on the story). He was cursed by Hera to be ugly and to have a dirty mind. He was so unpleasant to the other gods that they pitched him over the side of a cliff, like the Azazel goat on Yom Kippur. He landed on Earth and was raised by shepherds as one of their own.
Just as Hera cursed him to be, Priapus shared the stereotypical interests of pastoral Greek herdsmen: bestiality and the rape of passers-by. As part of his affliction, Priapus had a giant penis with an almost-perpetual erection, which he would nonetheless lose at certain key moments, much to his frustration. For instance, as he was attempting to rape the sleeping nymph Lotis (or the goddess Hestia, in the version told by Ovid), a donkey brayed, waking the victim just in time and causing the loss of his erection. In retribution, Priapus is said to have raped the donkey to death, and the brutal sacrifice of these animals was part of his cult from that point onward.
It is interesting that Priapus was considered a symbol of fertility, despite his association with impotence as well. This is a problem that the she-demon Lilith was said by Jews to cause. The association of the Priapian cult with dildos also reminds us of Samael’s need for an “intermediary” to simulate sex with his bride. One can see a parallel here between the unfulfilled lust of Priapus and the yearning that the castrated Samael has for Lilith. Perhaps his gigantic erection symbolizes potential energy unspoiled, stored up for future use, its magnitude only increased by repeated frustration of desire.
Statues of Priapus were traditionally placed in gardens, where they were believed to engender the crops. They also fulfilled a scarecrow-like function, protecting the crops not only from rapacious fowl, but also from people who might steal or otherwise tamper with them. Placards placed in gardens warned that Priapus would rape trespassers—vaginally, anally, or orally—if the crops were harmed in any way. The Priapian tradition was also related to the use of “herms,” which consisted of the head of a satyr on top of a squared-off column with a large erect phallus jutting out the center. These were rubbed for good luck. Likewise, Thomas Wright documents the continuation of Priapism throughout Christian Europe with the use of amulets and coins featuring disembodied penises, sometimes with hands, feet, and even penises of their own. These were worn for good luck, or, rather, for the warding off of the evil eye.
Likewise the “fig” hand signal fulfilled a similar function, which could be performed either by making a fist with the thumb pushed between the middle and index finger, or else sticking the middle finger up alone, a la the modern “flipping off” gesture. The true meaning of this signal, then, is a curse, to say “May Priapus (that is, the Devil) fuck you.” But originally, it was done to ward off evil, or bring good luck at a time of need, just like “crossing your fingers” is done now.
The Priapus statues called herms were so named because the features of Priapus and Hermes were in many ways conflated. For one thing, some genealogies had Hermes as the father of Priapus, or his grandfather via the half-goat, half-god-man known as Pan. All three of them have been depicted with horns and a goaty-looking beard in different instances—Pan most consistently, and Priapus quite often. Pan actually had the hairy legs and hooves of a goat, and was a full-blown satyr living in Arcadia, the unspoiled wilds where his father Hermes ruled. His mother and nurse were said to have fled in fear when they first saw him, because of the uncanny nature of his appearance. Despite this, they say, the gods of Olympus thought he was beautiful and may have named him “Pan” (“All”) because to them he was perfect.
However, another, less flattering, origin of his name is given by Servius, a commentator on the writings of Virgil, who tells us that his mother was Penelope, wife of Odysseus. In this version of the story, she purportedly had sex with all 108 of her suitors and somehow conceived Pan from all of them. This fits with Pan’s association with sexual promiscuity. But many other sources, including Herodotus, Cicero, Apollodorus and Hyginus, claim that Pan’s parents were Hermes and Penelope, which makes us wonder if the 108 suitors in Homer’s epic were somehow symbolic of different aspects of Hermes. Either way it is obscene, as Hermes was said by Homer to be Odysseus’ great-grandfather. After he killed the suitors, Hermes led their souls to Hades personally.
Pan was a physical embodiment of the spirit of the wilderness, and is invoked as such even today. He inspired wonder and lust, as well as madness. A visit from him—invited or unprovoked, usually in some wild or desolate place—would bring crazy visions, “panic attacks” (the word “panic” stemming from his name), and sometimes permanent insanity. It is the madness that comes upon seeing the raw, wild, and androgynous root of sexual energy—the undivided, unpolarized energy of life itself that divides and ignites creation. Weird horror author Arthur Machen described a vision of this entity in his short story The Great God Pan:
Though horror and revolting nausea rose up within me, and an odour of corruption choked my breath, I remained firm. I was then privileged or accursed, I dare not say which, to see that which was on the bed, lying there black like ink, transformed before my eyes. The skin, and the flesh, and the muscles, and the bones, and the firm structure of the human body that I had thought to be unchangeable, and permanent as adamant, began to melt and dissolve.
I know that the body may be separated into its elements by external agencies, but I should have refused to believe what I saw. For here there was some internal force, of which I knew nothing, that caused dissolution and change.
Here too was all the work by which man had been made repeated before my eyes. I saw the form waver from sex to sex, dividing itself from itself, and then again reunited. Then I saw the body descend to the beasts whence it ascended, and that which was on the heights go down to the depths, even to the abyss of all being. . . .
Stories about frightening encounters with a Pan-like creature persist today with both urban and rural legends still being told about satyrs that rape, kill, and inspire madness. The deadly “Pope Lick Monster” of Kentucky is one such example. The flying, blood-sucking “Chupacabra” (“Goat-sucker”) of South America is another (although he mostly chooses livestock for victims). The Native North American figure of the Wendigo has a similar reputation, as he lives in the deep woods and drives his prey crazy before he kills them. But his horns are described as deer antlers.
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Having heard such stories in our youth many times before, we were quite surprised to come across a far more ancient version in The Book of Nabathean Agriculture. Here a creature called “Al-Ghul” is described that sounds very similar to both Pan and Baphomet. It was said to be a human female from the waist up, with the legs and hooves of a donkey. Ghuls were described as living “in underground dens and dry, barren deserts, where people do not travel,” just like Azazel and Lilith. The ghuls would only come out at night because the sun harmed them. Like the giant offspring of the Sons of God in Genesis or the Watchers in The First Book of Enoch, ghuls had a rapacious appetite for flesh and blood.
But their favorite prey was said to be humans. According to Nabathean Agriculture, ghuls can smell humans from far away, and “the utmost pleasure and lust of this animal is to get a human being in its power.” Anyone who “looks attentively” at it for a while will die of fright. In particular, if anyone under the age of 20 looks a ghul in the face, it was said that “he will become paralyzed” upon seeing it and “will not be able to move until it takes him and cuts his throat and drinks his blood,” after which the man, still living, had the horror of watching his penis and testicles get eaten by the creature, before it finally gobbles up his intestines. Arab astrologers identified a constellation in the heavens as “the head of the Ghul,” and one of the blinking stars within as the eye with the deadly stare. The Greeks called this same constellation the head of the Gorgon monster, Medusa, a woman with a serpent’s tale instead of legs (like Lilith), and serpents on her head, as well as a paralyzing stare like Al-Ghul.
Indeed, the whole story of the Gorgon and the “Aegis”—the magical shield that it was affixed to—has an interesting tie-in regarding the goat symbolism that we are examining. According to the Greeks, their highest God, Zeus, was raised in hiding, exiled on the island of Crete for fear of being eaten by his father, Kronos. His wet nurse during his infancy was a she-goat named Amalthea. Her name means “tender,” specifically referring not to the financial term, but to that definition of “tender” as “a person who attends to or takes charge of someone or some thing” (Webster’s College Dictionary, 1999). Some sources say the god Pan (also called “Aegipan”) was nursed there alongside Zeus as well.
Having little thanks for the favors of Amalthea, Zeus had her slaughtered as soon as he was fully grown, and fashioned from her skin the “Aegis,” an impenetrable shield. The word “aegis” (or aigis) literally means “goat-skin.” Zeus would shake this shield in the air in order to create thunder and lightning that could cause men to die of fright. Thus he earned the epithet “Aigiokhos,” meaning “wielder of the goat-skin.” He also made the “cornucopia” or “horn of plenty,” from one of Amalthea’s horns. This magical object contained an inexhaustible supply of fruits and flowers.
The Aegis is also the subject of other myths involving the figures of the bright-eyed wisdom goddess Athena, the cunning blacksmith god Hephaestus, and the Gorgon Medusa. Poet and mythographer Robert Graves believed that the Aegis originally belonged to Athena only, and that the myth was transposed onto Zeus at a later date. He also theorized that the reason why a goat was sacrificed at the Acropolis in Athens every year was because the Greeks saw the goat as a representation of Athena. He conjectured that the skin of the animal might have been placed on the shoulders of a statue of Athena after the sacrifice, as the Egyptians did with a ram skin to statues of their ram god Ammon. He thought that this may have been the origin of the ritual goatskin that would later be fashioned into the Aegis shield and associated with Zeus.
Eventually, the Aegis had the head of the Gorgon Medusa fixed to it, purportedly by Hephaestus, its real builder according to Homer. Euripides said that the Aegis was made from a goatskin that originally belonged to Medusa. You will recall that she had serpents on her head instead of hair and that one look at her face would turn a man to stone instantly. As we said, this was very similar to how the face of a ghul could cause mind-bending terror that paralyzed and sometimes even killed instantly. This was a property that was retained even after the head was severed by the hero Perseus, and affixed to the Aegis shield. The face was permanently frozen in a grimace of pain, its eyes rolling upward.
Could this unique state of madness and terror caused by things like Pan, Al-Ghul and Medusa be thought of as similar to that terrible “Baptism of Wisdom” which Baphomet is named for: a realization of the horror of existence, like the Knowledge of Good and Evil that the Serpent blessed and cursed Adam and Eve with? Traditionalist Julius Evola, in his classic book The Mystery of the Grail, gave us a relevant description of how the vision of Baphomet affected the Templars:
The central ritual of Templar initiation was kept very secret. From one of the proceedings of the trial we learn that a knight who underwent it returned as pale as a corpse, and with a lost expression on his face, claiming that from then on he could never be happy again. Shortly after, the same knight fell into a state of invincible depression and died. . . What produces an extreme terror in some knights and causes them to flee. . . is the vision of an idol. . . the Baphomet.
Thomas Wright believed that the Knights Templar were practicing Gnostic rites of Priapism when they worshipped Baphomet, whom he saw as just another incarnation of Priapus. He found confirmation of this in the artifacts and images of Gnostic sex orgy rituals purportedly discovered by von Hammer-Purgstall on former Templar properties. These include images of the famous osculum inflame—the “obscene kiss” of the rear end of a statue of a goat-headed entity, corresponding to the accusation that the Templars “kissed the anus of a goat” during their rituals.
The Templar rites, as described by the knights under confession, were identical in many ways to the elements of the alleged “Witches’ Sabbath” that accused witches have confessed to attending throughout centuries of persecution in the Christian world. From the Middle Ages of Europe, to sixteenth century England, to colonial America, the descriptions of the Sabbath in these confessions are remarkably uniform. These ceremonies were officiated by a dark figure, usually described as a man dressed in black with a goat’s head, or a man who could transform into a goat. There was a mock Eucharist with a black Host, blaspheming of God, and ritual trampling upon the Cross (just as the Templars are said to have done). New initiates were made to sign a black book pledging their soul to him, and they received a mark from the goat god that tagged them as belonging to him.
These witches had a number of different nicknames for this figure. According to The God of the Witches by Dr. Margaret Alice Murray, these include: the Black Man (or Man in Black), the Antecessor, Robin Artisson (or Robinus Filius Artis), Christsonday, and Janicot (supposedly meaning “Little John” in Basque). Dr. Murray correctly connects this figure to a pre-Christian horned god:
The great Gaulish god was called by the Romans Cernunnos, which in the English parlance was Herne, or more colloquially “Old Hornie.” In Northern Europe the ancient Neck or Nick, meaning a spirit, had such hold on the affections of the people that the Church was forced to accept him, and he was canonised as St. Nicholas, who in Cornwall still retains his horns. Our Puck is the Welsh Boucca, which derives either directly from the Slavic Bog “God” or from the same root.
Puck and Cernunnos, along with the aforementioned Priapus, Pan, and Hermes (the Roman Mercury), all seem to be different versions of the same horned personality. To this we can also add the Greek Dionysus (the Roman Bacchus), the Roman Silvanus and Faunus, and the Celtic Green Man. What they have in common includes association with fertility, sexuality, luck, wealth, magical transformation, initiation, mischief, trickery, and the wilderness.
Puck (also related to bucca, a “male goat” in Old English) was a mischievous fairy (or “pixie,” another word related to his name). He was known for his “merry jests.” He could be invoked by witches to perform small tasks in exchange for food and drink. He could also show up uninvited and perform mischief, such as causing milk to spoil. Depictions of him show him looking very much like both Baphomet and Priapus, with a goat head and goat legs, a gigantic erect phallus, and protruding breasts. Witches are shown in some of these images dancing around him, and he does seem to have been the figure invoked at a Witch Sabbath. Shakespeare named him both “Puck” and “Robin Goodfellow” in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, calling him a “Hobgoblin” and a “shrewd and knavish sprite.”
As we mentioned, he was apparently known to witch covens as “Robin” as well. He seems to have influenced the stories of the thief Robin Hood and his Merry Men (thieves like Hermes), including “Little John” (whose name corresponds to Janicot, the Basque name for the goat god of the Witch Sabbath). Interestingly, a Robin Hood play was once performed at May Day (a witch holiday) every year by gypsies on the grounds of Rosslyn Chapel in Scotland (allegedly built by Templars who escaped persecution in France) under the patronage of the chapel’s hereditary curators, the Sinclairs (a Templar-descended family).
Very similar goat man imagery is associated with several other figures, although their animal symbolism is not always that of a goat. For instance, the Roman Faunus eventually became amalgamated with Pan, as he was a wild god of the woods with horns and animal legs, but originally he was more of a wolf than a goat. There is also the horned Dionysus, the god of wine, who was more associated with the bull. To the Greeks, Dionysus was the god of divine madness, who revealed epiphanies to his followers when they were in a state of religious ecstasy. This was achieved through wild, drunken orgies in which sacrificial animals were torn to pieces by the teeth and claws of the worshippers. These rituals would have made the Priapists proud, undoubtedly setting the standard for the excesses of later Gnostic, Satanist, and witch cults. Dionysus was called “Eleutherios” (“the Liberator”) and “Lyaeus” (“he who unties [the mind from worry]”).
Purportedly, one of the items “revealed” to initiates of the cult of Dionysus was a giant dildo, supposedly crafted and used anally by the god himself! The story of its origin states that a shepherd named Prosymnus helped Dionysus rescue his mother Semele from the underworld on the promise that he and the god could have sex afterwards. However, the shepherd died before the promise could be consummated. As a way of making amends, Dionysus made a phallus out of fig wood (the tree associated with Priapus because its fruit was seen as symbolic of the penis). He then placed it on the shepherd’s tomb and proceeded to sit upon it!
Dionysus was often depicted as an androgynous or even feminine youth. When he made his appearance at these rituals (as a manifested spirit), he was described as disheveled with a manic look in his eyes, as if returning from a realm beyond known existence. This was the true “wilderness” where he reigned, although it was symbolized by the forest, thus his epithet “dendrites” (“of the trees”). He was said to have come from the mythical “Mount Nysa,” always described by the Greeks as someplace very far away and foreign to them. Just like the Gnostics and the witches of later times, the Dionysian mystery cults were at best just barely tolerated by the authorities, and frequently outlawed.
Other gods of the wilderness are usually shown as having a relationship to Dionysus. Silenus was one such figure, a wild man of the woods who is said in some myths to have raised Dionysus, or at least to have been in charge of finding him suitable foster parents. This happened after his mother was killed by the goddess Hera while he was still in utero, and his father Zeus had to carry him in his own testicles until he was ready to be born. Silenus was often portrayed as being part of the procession that would parade down the street during Dionysian festivals, along with satyrs and women with wild hair, their mouths still dripping blood from the brutal sacrifice.
Moving on to the myths of other cultures, the Celtic figure of Cernunnos is interesting for many reasons. He sits cross-legged like Eliphas Levi’s Baphomet. His epithet “Herne the Hunter” sounds similar to Hermes. He was known as the “Lord of Wild Things.” His name seems to mean “the Horned One.” He has been connected by scholars to Mercury. Busts of his head showing two faces, back-to-back like the Roman Janus, have been found.
Cernunnos and Robin Goodfellow have both been connected to the Green Man, a.k.a. “Jack-in-the Green,” whose foliage-sprouting face can be seen in gardens and greenery throughout Europe and the British Isles. Like the ritual phalli of Priapus, these fertility totems were omnipresent there at one time. They show the face of a man grimacing, seemingly almost under torture, as plants sprout from his face, and even from his nose and mouth. In a sense, it is reminiscent of the Gorgon head on the Aegis. He is frequently shown horned, and seems somewhat similar to the bearded faces of Bacchus or Dionysus that most of us have seen at one time decorating a garden gate. These Green Man masks are purported to ensure favorable circumstances to the crops nearby when given proper homage, just like the herms mentioned previously. The oldest known version has been found in France dated to 400 AD.
This “Green Man” is probably connected to several others in Celtic folklore. Most notably, the story of the “Green Man of Knowledge” is quite interesting. In this story, the title character, whose face is described as similar to that of the Green Man totem mask mentioned above, rules over a netherworld called “No Man’s Land,” which like the chaos that Lilith sprang from, doesn’t really exist. He is, as a title implies, as wise man, but he uses his wisdom for ill, to keep the land enchanted under his spell, and rules as a tyrant.