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Myth of the Baphomet
Baphomet (bæ ·fomet). [a. F. Baphomet; cf. Pr. Bafomet, OSp. Mafomat.] a. A form of the name Mahomed used by mediæval writers. b. Alleged name of the idol which the Templars were accused of worshipping. (According to l'Abbé Constant, quoted by Littré,1 this word was cabalistically formed by writing backward tem. o. h. p. ab., abbreviation of templi omnium hominum pacis abbas, 'abbot' or 'father of the temple of peace of all men.') Hence Baphomet·ic a.
1818 Hallam Mid. Ages (1872) I. 140 Baphomet is a secret word ascribed to the Templars. 1855 Milman Lat. Chr. _VII._ xii. ii. 278 The great stress .. in the condemnation of the templars is laid on the worship of Baphomet. The talismans, bowls, symbols, are even called Baphometic. 1831 Carlyle Sart. Res. II. vii, My Spiritual New-birth, or Baphometic Fire-baptism.

Oxford English Dictionary, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1984 (23rd Printing) p. 659.
The Baphomet is not a masonic symbol, nor is it worshiped by freemasons. It has no traditional relation to the pentagram, nor the Goat of Mendes, nor Pan, nor the Green Man. The name seems to have first appeared in twelfth century France and its image first appeared in 1855. Then Anton Szandor LaVey and his atheistic Church of Satan adopted it in 1966. But it all starts with the Roman Catholic Inquisition and the Knights Templar. 16
Established in 1118 by Hugh de Payen and André de Montbard 2, the Knights Templar — from September 13, 1128, properly styled Pauperes commilitis Christi et Templi Salomonis — are forever linked to the history of the Baphomet. But of 231 knights examined by the pope’s Commissioners in Paris, only 12 admitted, under torture, to knowing anything about the icon, as against 183 who confessed that they renounced Christ and 180 who confessed to defiling the cross in various ways.3
The term’s identification with Mahomet appears to be derived from its usage in Provence. This had been the centre of the Cathar Church in France, until the Albigensian Crusade of 1209-1229 killed its protectors and the nascent Inquisition killed or silenced any survivors. Montague Summers4 suggested, without proof, that the name was a combination of two Greek words (baphe and metis) and meant 'absorption into wisdom.'15
It should be noted that the term Baphomet is not to be found in King Philippe’s grounds for arrest, issued September 14th, 1307, the 127 articles of accusation drawn up on August 12th, 1308, nor in any of the papal bulls issued by Pope Clement V. The articles of accusation refer to the adoration of idols: a cat or head, sometimes having three faces. The descriptions revealed during the trials varied but generally were of a "head with one face or two faces, sometimes bearded and sometimes not, made of silver or of wood, a picture of a man or of a woman, an embalmed head that glowed in the dark or a demon."5 The trials say little of the actual head, but there are some textual accounts of it. Guillame de Arbley who was the preceptor of the Templar house at Soissy in the diocese of Meaux testified on October 22, 1307 that he had seen the bearded head twice, which he claimed was gilded and made of silver and wood.6
Although modern writers will occasionally refer to the Templars' use of the pentagram, or five-pointed star, they fail to provide examples. The seals of the Masters generally depicted crosses, castles, fish, lambs, lions and the like. The plans of their castles and strongholds in Europe — those few they constructed — were dependent on topography and sightlines, not sacred geometry.14
Éliphas Lévi
What does this have to do with Freemasonry, or more particularly, anti-masonry? The presumed link is the pentagram. Over six hundred years after the suppression of the Knights Templar, one Éliphas Lévi took it upon himself to determine the value of the pentagram and equate it with the Baphomet. He termed the Baphomet, "the Goat of Mendes" — confusing it with Banebdjedet, an Ancient Egyptian ram god— and included a fanciful illustration of it as a frontispiece to his Doctrine and Ritual of High Magic in 1861.7 Although his frontispiece illustration depicts a one-point-up pentagram, he is also credited with being the first to arbitrate that the one-point-down image represented the Baphomet.8 No known graphical illustration associating the pentagram with evil appears before this. Michael Howard claims that Lévi based the illustration on a gargoyle that appears on a building owned by the Templars; the Commandry of Saint Bris le Vineux.9 The Catholic Inquisition of the early 1300s does not appear to have made a connection between the Templars' alleged worship of the Baphomet and the pentagram. Goldberg’s Sacred fire : the story of sex in religion depicts an image that could act as a link between the Templars and Lévi. But there is no mention in the text and no source is cited.10
Abel Clarin de la Rive, 1894 [
The next similar depiction appears in 1894 when self-confessed fraud Leo Taxil incorporated a similar figure into his attacks on Freemasonry.11 These three images, and subsequent imitations,19 constitute the complete catalogue of images purporting to represent the Baphomet. They have no historical precedent. They have no existence other than in the imaginations of their authors. And the point cannot be made too strongly — they have nothing to do with Freemasonry.
It is a literary and historical curiosity that masonic author, Albert Pike quoted extensively, and apparently uncritically, from the writings of Éliphas Lévi. He writes: "Hierogliphically to express this law of prudence, they gave their mercury, personified in Egypt as Hermanubis, a dog’s head; and to their Sulpher, represented by the Baphomet of the Temple, that goat’s head which brought into such disrepute the occult Mediaeval associations." "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." 18 It is clear that Pike’s authority was Lévi, who had no authority.
Placing the image of a goat face inside a five-pointed star appears to be the inspiration of Paul Jagot, in his Science Occulte et Magie Pratique (Paris : Editions Drouin, 1924, p. 172). It incorporated an open star, not a pentagram, and Jagot provided no citation.
The image next appeared in The Handbook of Magic & Witchcraft by Charles W. Olliver (London : Rider & Co., 1928, p. 47). As reproduced at the top left of this webpage, the head is now contained in a pentagram, with the addition of the words "Samael" and "Lilith". Olliver also failed to provide citation.
In 1931 Oswald Wirth included the goat head and pentagram in his La Franc-Maçonnerie Rendue Intelligible à ces Adeptes, Deuxième Partie: "Le Compagnon," (Paris: Derry-Livres, 1931, p. 60). Again, the image was uncited.
Maurice Bessy provided an illustration of the goat head and pentagram inside two circles, with the word "Leviathan" written between the lines in Hebrew, in his A Pictorial History of Magic and the Supernatural (London :1964, p. 198). He also provided no source.
Only in the later twentieth century, with the creation of the American Church of Satan, did the inverted pentagram, with or without the goat head, become a popular symbol for Satan. Their source appears to be Oswald Wirth and Maurice Bessy, neither of whom identified it with the Baphomet.12

1.Littré, Emile, (1801-1881) Dictionnaire de la langue francaise : contenant ... la nomenclature ... la grammaire ... la signification des mots ... la partie historique ... l'etymologie / par E. Littre. Paris : Librairie de L. Hachette, 1863- [v in ; 33 cm] Note that he is quoting Éliphas Lévi as Constant. ^
2.William of Tyre Historia rerum in partibus transmarinis gestarum The Council of Troyes, where the Rule of the Temple was drawn up, began on January 13, 1128. Note: xii. 7, in Recueil des historiens des croisades: historiens occidentaux, i (Paris, 1844), 520. Other twelfth-century accounts: Chronique de Michel le Syrien, xv. ii, trans. J. B. Chabot, iii (Paris, 1905-1910), 201-3, and Walter Map, De nugis curialium, i. 18, ed. T. Wright (Camden Society, 1850), pp. 29 ff. ^
3.Found at thestargoddess.net/baph.htm ^
4.Rev. Alphonsus Joseph-Mary Augustus Montague Summers (1880-1948) British priest and man of letters; editor and compiler of The History of Witchcraft and Demonology 1926, and The Geography of Wichcraft1927. Also see Francis King, Sexuality, Magic and Perversion. New English Library, Times Mirror. 1972. 174 p., p. 87 : "Joseph Von Hammer... considers it to simply be the Greek word metis, wisdom... He considers that the name Baphomet is derived from the Greek words Baphe Metis, i.e. the baptism of Metis...." ^
5.Edward Burman Supremely abominable crimes : the trial of the Knights Templar London : Allison & Busby, 1994. 304 p. ISBN: 0749002689 ^
6.Reference from Stephen Dafoe, found at templarhistory.com/head.html ^
7.Baphomet illustraton from Dogme et Rituel Haute Magie par Éliphas Lévi. Paris: Germer Bailliele, 1861. Art and Symbols of the Occult. Vermont: Destiny, 1993. p. 70 ^
8.Image shown top left. Éliphas Lévi, Transcendental magic, its doctrine and ritual. trans. Arthur Waite 438p illus. ii, p. 55. ^
9.Howard, Michael, (b. 1948) The occult conspiracy : the dark side of politics from ancient Egypt until today. London : Rider, 1989. 196p,[8]p of plates : ill : 1facsim, ports ; 25cm. ISBN: 0712622403 ^
10.B. Z. Goldberg, (Ben Zion Goldberg) b. 1895 The Sacred Fire: The Story of Sex in Religion. London : Jarrolds, 1931. 287 p. 24cm. illustration entitled: "Idol" of Knights Templar, showing semitic influences (p 177).^
11.Frontispiece engraving with text from Leo Taxil’s "Le Mystères de la Franc-Maçonnerie - Le Mysteres de la Franc-Maçonnerie Dévoilés - La Franc-Maçonnerie Dévoilée et Expliquée" Dessins de Méjanel - Gravures de Pannemaker, Édition de Propagande Populaire, Manuel résumé du grande ouvrage, Engraving signed: P. Méjanel: Letouzey & Ané, Éditeurs, 17, Rue du Vieux-Columbier Paris^
12. Oswald Wirth, La Franc-Maçonnerie rendue intelligible a ces adeptes II, "Le compagnon," Paris: Derry-Livres, 1931, p. 60.. Maurice Bessy, Histoire en 1000 Images de la Magie, Editions du Pont Royal, 1961.^
13. Malcolm Barber, The Trial of the Templars. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998 c. 1978 ISBN: 0 521 45727 0 pbk, 312 p.
Piers Paul Read, The Templars. London: Weidenfeld & 1999. ISBN: 0-297-84267-6. 350 p.
J. Michelet, Les Procès des Templiers, 2 vols. (Collection de Documents Inédits sur l'Histoire de France), Paris, 1841-51 [ notarial record of Paris hearings, October and November 1307 and hearings of papal commission between 1309 and 1311, based upon the copy deposited at Paris at the close of the papal commission.
14.A. J. Farey, Templars in the Corona de Aragon. London: Oxford University Press, 1973. ISBN: 01 97131379. Appendix IV, p. 453.^
15.Cf. Hugh [Joseph] Schonfield (1901-1988), The Essene Odyssey. Appendix A, "The Essenes and the Templars", 1984. Dr. Schonfield used the atbash, an Hebrew substitution cypher, to translate "Baphomet" as "Sophia", the Greek goddess of wisdom and theorized that the Templars had been influenced by the Cathars. ^
16.Cf. <templarhistory.com/baphomet.html>. ^
17.de la Rive, Abel Claren. [b. 1855] La Femme et l'Enfant dans la Franc-Maçonnerie Universelle. Paris & Lyon: Delhomme & Briguet, Editeurs, 1894. cover art detail.^
18.Morals and Dogma, Albert Pike. Charlestion : Supreme Council of the Thirty-Third Degree, 1871. pp. 735, 779.^
19.See Appendix 1, Baphomet imitators.^


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