Allegedly a goat-headed devil figure
Central to the accusations brought against the Knights Templar, was the accusation that, they worshipped an idol named Baphomet, which is said to have taken the form of a head or sometimes a Black Cat. The truth behind this mythos varies with various scholars.
The Baphomet is one aspect of the Templars mythos, could generate so many theories as to its true origins is amazing. The interest in the Baphomet has survived over 600 years and taken many forms. The opinions on the Baphomet vary greatly from scholar to scholar and mystic path to mystic path. The purpose of this section is to shed some light on some of the theories and the connection, if any, to the Knights Templar.
Mistakingly some describe the Templars as Devil worshipping Occultists, while historians of the twentieth century were of the belief that the Templars were party to the machinations of a corrupt government and church. It remains to be seen what the common consensus of this century will be regarding the order.
Twentieth century historians may have believed in innocence, the Baphomet mythos did survive as is indicated by the following dictionary definition: "Baphomet was the deity worshipped by the Knights Templar, and in Black Magic as the source and creator of evil; the Satanic goat of the witches' Sabbath and one of the names adopted by Aleister Crowley."
The image of the Baphomet is as varied as the explanations as to its etymology. A listing of some of the more common descriptions of it.
An idol with a human skull
Ahead with two faces
With a beard - Without a beard
With the heads of a cockerel
With the head of a man
With the head of a goat and the body of a man
Wings and cloven feet
The upper body of a woman (maternity)
A candle on its head - a symbol of revelation combining male sexual potency with the four elements and intelligence
Theories on the etymology of the Baphomet are many. To some it is believed to be a corruption of the Moslem prophet "Mahomet" or in English Mohammed. The Templars fought along side Moslem Assassins during their time and it is held that they may have adopted Islamic beliefs. This doesn't really hold water to anyone familiar with Islam as the religion forbids all forms of idolatry.
Another train of thought is that Baphomet is really a joining of two Greek words meaning absorption into wisdom. In either case the fact remains that the Templars were accused of practicing their initiations and rituals in front of a large idol of the demon Baphomet.
How did this belief come to be? Since King Philip of France sought to own the vast Templar wealth, he along with his puppet Pope Clement V had the Templars captured and tortured. During these tortures they made many confessions, among these, the disclosure that they had worshipped an idol said to be the Baphomet.
Were these claims true? Perhaps we'll never know. Jacques de Molay, who had earlier confessed his and the Templars guilt slowly burned at the stake insisting the order was innocent of all but one offence, that of allowing torture to cause them to lie and confess untruths.
Schonfield showed that by applying the Hebrew Atbash code to the name Baphomet, the name Sophia [Shvpia], female wisdom, is revealed. Sophia is equated with Isis by Plutarch.- David Wood, Genisis
The number 58 is less puzzling if one remembers that five (5) is the number of the pentagram and eight (8) is indicative of Isis. We may now complete the simple equation which exposes her secret number: 5 X 8 = 40 = 58 - 18 ISIS
The numbers 5 and 8 are also exhibited in the beliefs of the 'Brothers of the Rose Cross', where the rose is constructed with a centre of five petals, surrounded by eight petals.
Isis' magic was allied to the wisdom of the Egyptian god Thoth. His wife or consort, Nehemaut, was known to the Gnostics as Sophia.- Graham Hancock, The Sign and the Seal
By this analysis, therefore, when the Templars worshipped Baphomet what they were really doing was worshipping the principle of Wisdom.
Public indignation was aroused by charges of worshipping the devil in the form of an idol called Baphomet. Baphomet was the Templar symbol of Gnostic rites based on phallic worship and the power of directed will. The androgynous figure with a goat's beard and cloven hooves is linked to the horned god of antiquity, the goat of Mendes.- Peter Tompkins, The Magic of Obelisks
Some confessed that they had also worshipped an idol in the form of a cat, witch was red, or gray, or black, or mottled. Sometimes the idol worship required kissing the cat below the tail. Sometimes the cat was greased with the fat from roasted babies. The Templars were forced to eat food that contained the ashes of dead Templars, a form of witchcraft that passed on the courage of the fallen knights."- John J. Robinson, Dungeon, Fire and Sword
They bestowed worship in their chapter on a heathen idol, variously described as to its physical characteristics, but known as a 'Baphomet', which etymologically was the same word [in Old French] as 'Mohammed'. [Once or twice the form Mahomet is actually used by witnesses in the trial.] Like so many persecuted heretical groups of the past, they were said to hold their chapters only secretly and at night.- Peter Partner, The Murdered Magicians
It was impossible for the Templars to have 'picked up in the East' the practice of worshipping an idol bearing the name of the Prophet Mohammed, since no such idol existed anywhere in the Levant, even among breakaway sects such as the Ismailis or the Druse. The idea that Muslims were idolaters was itself a part of another system of 'smears', the pejorative representation of the oriental world by western Christians."
Probably relying upon contemporary Eastern sources, Western scholars have recently supposed that 'Bafomet' has no connection with Mohammed, but could well be a corruption of the Arabic abufihamat (pronounced in the Moorish Spanish something like bufihimat). The word means 'father of understanding.' In Arabic, 'father' is taken to mean 'source, chief seat of,' and so on. In Sufi terminology, ras el-fahmat (head of knowledge) means the mentation of man after undergoing refinement - the transmuted consciousness.- Idries Shah, The Sufis
During the Inquisition evidence there are several references to members of the order receiving on initiation a little cord that had been in contact with the 'head'.- Ian Wilson, The Shroud of Turin - The Burial Cloth of Jesus Christ
Based upon the idol's description as a "demon" having "very fierce-looking face and beard", the idol very likely could have been Asmodeus, the "daemon guardian" who helped Solomon build his Temple. A statue of the demon guards the door of the parish church at Rennes-le-Château.
"The Templars' stronghold in Jerusalem, the site of their foundation, was finally overrun by the Moslems in 1244. Thirty-three years later the victorious sultan, Baibars, inspected their castle and is recorded to have discovered inside the tower 'a great idol, in whose protection the castle had been placed: according to the Frank who had given it its name [this is an unreadable word, made in diacritic letters]. He ordered this to be destroyed and a mihrab [Moslem prayer niche] constructed in its place."
During The Trial of the Templars in 1307 Brother Jean Taillefer of Genay gave evidence. He "was received into the order at Mormant, one of the three perceptories under the jurisdiction of the Grand Priory of Champagne at Voulaine. He said at his initiation 'an idol representing a human face' was placed on the altar before him. Hughes de Bure, another Burgundian from a daughter house of Voulaine, described how the 'head' was taken out of a cupboard, or aumbry, in the chapel, and that it seemed to him to be of gold or silver, and to represent the head of a man with a long beard. Brother Pierre d'Arbley suspected that the 'idol' had two faces, and his kinsman Guillaume d'Arbley made the point that the 'idol' itself, as distinct from copies, was exhibited at general chapters, implying that it was only shown to senior members of the order on special occasions.- Noel Currer-Briggs, The Shroud and the Grail
The treasurer of the Paris temple, Jean de Turn, spoke of a painted head in the form of a picture, which he had adored at one of these chapters.
Nearly all the brethren agreed that the head was bearded and had long hair, and the Templars, like the majority of their contemporaries, regarded long hair as effeminate, so the length of the 'idol's hair was remarkable for this, if for no other reason.
It is possible that the head idol was intended to represent the severed head of John the Baptist, based on allegations that he was revered by the Order. The Templars took part in the sack of Constantinople during the Fourth Crusade in 1203-4. Robert de Clari described the opulence and numerous relics at the sacred chapel of the Boucoleon Palace, amongst them supposedly the head of John the Baptist. An egregore is a magical entity that is artificially created by the focused thoughts and desires of a medium (analogous in many ways to Tibetan tulpas.) Supposedly a medium or statue could then serve as a tenant for the egregore, nourished by the sexual life-powers of the members.- P. R. Koenig, Too Hot to Handle
"The Egregora does exist in the so-called 'astral plane' and it is a demon, that is to say, an illusory entity. It is not a true Microcosm, but a gestalt of vitalized shells, a focus for everything that is negative, defeatist, maudlin, bigoted, introverted in human nature - a morass completely hostile to progress and to the spiritual evolution of mankind.
The representation of the egregore as bust recalls the ancient literary tradition of animated statues or Salome, who wanted the head of John the Baptist, probably to master his visionary powers. The classic prototype of such an egregore is Baphomet, the alleged egregore of the Templars, who was (as the Roman Emperor of the Gods) likewise worshipped in the form of a bust. In the secret statutes of the Templars, Baphomet was besought with the introduction to the Qu'ran and dismissed with the 24th chapter of the Book of Sirach.
Another possibility as to the identity of the Baphomet may lie with Nicodemus, who in the Gospel of John who brought spices for Christ's burial. He is also mentioned in the apocryphal Evangelium Nicodemi (4th C.) as a ruler of the Jews who testified in Christ's favor. The Interpolation in the First Continuation of Chrétien's Perceval (12??) tells of the flight of Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea to England and includes the following intriguing passage:- Forrest Jackson, The Baphomet in History and Symbolism
Another possibility for the origin of the Head relates to the imagery on the first Grand Master's shield, which consisted of three black heads on a gold field. After about two hundred years, it is plausible that this head imagery could have worked itself into the legend of the Baphomet. According to more than one account, the Head was the actual skull of Hugues de Payen, which was preserved as an object of veneration.
We found indisputable evidence for the charge of secret ceremonies involving a head of some kind. Indeed the existence of such a head proved to be one of the dominant themes running through the Inquisition records. Among the confiscated goods of the Paris preceptory a reliquary in the shape of a woman's head was found. It was hinged on top, and contained what appeared to have been relics of a peculiar kind."- Baigent, Leigh & Lincoln, The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail
Herodotus (4:26) speaks of the practice in the obscure Issedones of gilding a head and sacrificing to it. Cleomenes of Sparta is said to have preserved the head of Archonides in honey and consulted it before undertaking an important task. Several vases of the fourth century BC in Etruria depict scenes of persons interrogating oracular heads. And the severed head of the rustic Carians which continues to 'speak' is mentioned derisively by Aristotle."- The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown ofthe Bicameral Mind
A similar tradition could be found in the Celtic cult of the severed head which figured predominently in Peredur, a Welsh romance about the Holy Grail.
A great lady of Maraclea was loved by a Templar, a Lord of Sidon; but she died in her youth, and on the night of her burial, this wicked lover crept to the grave, dug up her body and violated it. Then a voice from the void bade him return in nine months time for he would find a son. He obeyed the injunction and at the appointed time he opened the grave again and found a head on the leg bones of the skeleton (skull and crossbones). The same voice bade him 'guard it well, for it would be the giver of all good things', and so he carried it away with him.- Ward, Freemasonry and the Ancient Gods