The image above was created by Alphonse Louis Constant under the pseudonym of Eliphas Levi Zahed, and published in a two volume book titled Dogme et Ritual de la Haute Magie, in 1856. The English title is Transcendental Magic: It’s Doctrine and Ritual, as translated by Arthur Edward Waite, a Freemason and esoteric author. But the literal translation is The Dogma and Ritual of High Magic.
In this book, Levi called the image ‘The Templar Baphomet’ and the ‘Baphomet of Mendes’, explaining that it is a composite representation of Pan and similar archetypal horned-gods of fertility, generation, virility, pleasure, and hedonism; comparing it to the Devil card from the Tarot, which is usually shown with a man and woman chained to the block on which he stands to represent man’s bond with the material world and the incarnate soul.
Card number 15, The Devil, from the Jean Noblet tarot.
Born in 1810, Levi, a former Roman Catholic Priest, became an occult writer after dropping out of seminary and discovering the esoteric path. Some historians speculate that he was in fact excommunicated for his heretical views and unorthodox teachings. Nevertheless, he went on to join the Fraternitas Rosae Crucis (FRC), and eventually rose to the office of Supreme grand Master of the Conclave and Supreme Master for the Western World. Fascinated with the idea of synthesizing philosophy, mathematics, religion, and other aspects of life, he utilized his theological training to convey esoteric ideas through symbolism and defied the narrow view and rigid interpretation perpetuated by what he claimed as church indoctrination. (Barrett 153, Tau Apiryon)
The Age of Enlightenment
While the age of enlightenment refers to the period between 1688 and 1789, the later part of the eighteenth century saw an occult revival amidst political unrest, criticism of the established church, and social revolution. Free thought and liberation from political and religious persecution enticed millions to explore new philosophies and novel avenues of self expression. Charles Darwin published The Origin of Species in 1859 which shook the already weak faith of many in the established Church, and numerous old fallacies and superstitions were turned aside to make room for a modern age of reason.
Ironically, free thought quickly gave way to spiritualism and occult curiosity as numerous esoteric publications revived the art of spiritual alchemy, Kabalah, and other arcane philosophies which spawned new religions, fraternal orders and secret societies.
The eighteenth century produced such notable and prolific authors as Madam Helena Petrovna Blavatsky (founder of the Theosophical Society), Albert Pike (Scottish Rite Grand Commander and prolific Masonic writer), Theodore Reuss (founder of the Ordo Templi Orientis), Arthur Edward Waite (Rosicrucian, Golden Dawn), Gerald Brosseau Gardner (founder of Gardnerian Wicca), John Yarker (Oriental Rite of Memphis,Rite of Mizraim), Samuel Liddel MacGreggor Mathers and William Wynn Wescott ( Co-founders of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn), Paul Foster Case ( member of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn and founder of the Builders of the Adytum), Aleister Crowley (member of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, Outer Head of the Ordo Templi Orientis, founder of the Argentium Astrum, founder of the religion of Thelema), and Gerard Encausse (founder of the order of Martinism).
Levi and others revived old Pagan, Babylonian and Egyptian gods that the Roman Catholic Church had been effectively demonizing for centuries; most especially the Capricornus Goat god who exemplified pleasure, fertility, and primacy of nature. Pan, the Black Goat of the Sabbat, was also known as the Green Man and Cernunnos, whose archetypal history can be traced all the way back to Babylonia and Sumeria as one who taught initiation and commanded mankind to ‘Know Thyself’. Once considered to be the embodiment of Gnosis and enlightenment, he became the scapegoat for all that was wrong in the world when Rome embraced Christianity; and along with other Pagan icons, was sacrificed on the altar of deception, ignorance, megalomania and greed.
Green-Man in St. Wilfrid’s Mobberley (Church of England)
The word Pan as a prefix, means “all, whole, all-inclusive”, which explains the ubiquitous nature of this god and his correspondence to the universal life force. But there has been quite a lot of speculation as to the origin of the name of Baphomet. Indries Shaw, a Sufi scholar claimed it originated from the Arabic term abu fi ‘hamat, meaning ‘father of wisdom’ or ‘father of understanding’, explaining also that the Arabic term Ras el ‘fahmat means ‘head of knowledge’. And according to author Joshua Seraphim the Arabic word for father also translates into ‘source’ or ‘chief seat’, relating it to the great Sufi healer and martyr, Husain ibn Mansur al ‘Hallaj, who was crucified and beheaded in 922 A.D. His mother had his head preserved as a relic, which calls to mind the unsubstantiated stories about the Templar Knights worshiping the preserved head of John the Baptist. (Harper Etymology, Secret Rituals 59)
Another theory of the etymology of Baphomet states that a combination of the Greek words baphe and metis, meaning absorption of knowledge, or baptism of Metis who is a Gnostic goddess of wisdom. (Guiley 30, Walker, 89)
According to Levi, the name of the Templar Baphomet should be “spelt Kabalistically backwards, producing three abbreviations: TEM OHP AB, which represents the Latin phrase Templi omnivm hominum pacis abbas, and translates to: The Father Of The Temple Of Peace Of All Men.” Stephen Dafoe, a respected author on Templar history, considers this to be a reference to King Solomon’s Temple, which Levi believed had the sole purpose of bringing peace to the world. (Levi 86, Man Behind Baphomet)
In Dogme et Ritual de la Haute Magie, Levi explained the image of Baphomet thus:
The goat which is represented in our frontispiece bears upon its forehead the Sign of the Pentagram with one point in the ascendant, which is sufficient to distinguish it as a symbol of the light. Moreover, the sign of occultism is made with both hands, pointing upward to the white moon of Chesed, and downward to the black moon of Geburah. This sign expresses the perfect concord between mercy and justice. One of the arms is feminine and the other masculine, as in the androgyne of Khunrath, those attributes we have combined with those of our goat, since they are one and the same symbol. The torch of intelligence burning between the horns is the magical light of universal equilibrium; it is also the type of the soul, exalted above matter, even while cleaving to matter, as the flame cleaves to the torch. The monstrous head of the animal expresses horror of sin, for which the material agent, alone responsible, must alone and forever bear the penalty, because the soul is impassible in its nature and can suffer only by materializing. The caduceus, which, replaces the generative organ, represents eternal life; the scale-covered belly typifies water; the circle above it is the atmosphere, the feathers still higher up signify the volatile; lastly, humanity is depicted by the two breasts and the androgyne arms of this sphinx of the occult sciences. (Levi 82)