Speak of the Devil
Modern drawings and other depictions of the devil originated from the ancient Greek god, Pan. His body had human form from the waist up, but it looked like a goat from there downwards. He also had horns and some say a short tail.
The Greeks associated him with orgies and sexual pleasure of all kinds,
especially male lust. Is it little wonder then, that later on, the early
Christian church decided to make his appearance its symbol of total evil?
Did You Know?Why is Friday the 13th considered an unlucky day? It's because of the Knights Templar.
At several places in the [Nile River] Delta, e.g. Hermopolis, Lycopolis, and Mendes, the god Pan and a goat were worshipped [some said] in these places goats had intercourse with women, and Herodotus instances a case which was said to have taken place in the open day. The Mendesians [reportedly] paid reverence to all goats, and more to the males than to the females, and particularly to one he-goat, on the death of which public mourning is observed throughout the whole Mendesian district; they call both Pan and the goat Mendes, and both were worshipped as gods of generation and fecundity. Diodorus compares the cult of the goat of Mendes with that of Priapus [god of the erect penis], and groups the god with the Pans and the Satyrs [Greek goat-man gods]. The goat referred to by all these writers is the famous Mendean Ram, or Ram of Mendes, the cult of which was [reportedly] established by Kakau, the king of the IInd dynasty [second dynasty of ancient Egypt, about 4800 years ago].
In other words, the worship of goat gods was common early in ancient Egypt, in at least one city, Djedet (later called Mendes) in the Nile delta and probably many others as well. Whether it actually originated there is unknown. However, we do know that sexually charged goat/phallic worship spread rapidly across Egypt. Later, it moved from that culture into ancient Greece and much of the known world at that time. The cult had many common elements, including gods that were half-man, half goat, varied sexual rites of intercourse with women and worship of the male sex organ (phallic worship). Even Osiris, one of the greatest of Egyptian gods, had the head and horns of a goat.
Pictures of Baphomet through the ages:
Left - Ancient Egyptian depiction,
By 312 CE, the Roman Empire officially became Christian, and the early Church rapidly banished whatever was left of worshiping Pan and his friends into the caves, literally underground. Graffiti left on the walls of the Roman catacombs and grottoes (tunnels and caves beneath cities) show evidence to this day that worship of a goat god continued, complete with many "kinky" types of orgies. Early Christians, seeing the same drawings, were shocked and labeled such practices as "grotto-esque," the origin of the word "grotesque."
The Church soon finished what the Romans had started. Pan or anything like him was declared definitely and officially evil. As the influence of the Church continued and spread after the Roman Empire fell during the 500s, such pagan practices not only went out of fashion but could easily turn a Pan follower into human barbecue. Such "pagans" as they were called, were often burned at the stake by church order.
During the Dark Ages (around 500 to 1000 CE), Europe convulsed with the invasions of "barbarians" from the outside, like the Goths, as well as the resurgence of "pagans" from the inside, like the Celts. Finally, as Christianity prevailed over the whole continent, all public practice of pagan rites ended. Still, invaders and others brought their own religions with them. Interestingly, most of these religions had their own horned gods, like Cernnunos, Asmodeus, Herne the Hunter, Tammuz and Damuzi, "The Green Man." Even the Muslims brought in their own version of the devil, Shaitan. These pagan or non-Christian figures had so much in common that eventually "Pannism" matured, evolved and soon became pan-European. Religious rites dedicated to such gods were common, though underground, throughout Europe during the Middle Ages, for example, among the Gypsies.
The photo below shows a modern re-enactment of such a pagan rite during the Middle Ages. There is definite Celtic influence, and the rites were typically outdoors, involved worshiping a horned sex/fertility god and demanded some kind of sacrifice. At that time the sacrifice was usually animal, though there were always rumors of some human sacrifice in remote areas of Europe. The photo below shows the celebration of the Celtic holiday and rite of Imbolc on February 1.
According to St. Bede, an English historian of the period (around 700 CE), many ceremonial practices of paganism were frequently "baptized," that is, brought into the church. As long as the pagan followers gave up idols, orgies, sacrifices and the like, and then accepted Christianity, the church accepted many of their rites and holidays. Bede wrote:
The temples of the idols in that nation ought not to be destroyed; but let the idols that are in them be destroyed; let holy water be made and sprinkled in the said temples, let altars be erected, and relics placed. For if those temples are well built, it is requisite that they be converted from the worship of devils to the service of the true God ... And because they have been used to slaughter many oxen in the sacrifices to devils, some solemnity must be exchanged for them on this account ... but kill cattle to the praise of God ... For there is no doubt that it is impossible to efface everything at once from their obdurate [stubborn] minds; because he who endeavors to ascend to the highest place, rises by degrees or steps, and not by leaps.
In other words Christianity adopted much of pagan practice from the other peoples of Europe. For example, Christmas was originally a pagan holiday honoring the winter solstice. The Church simply adopted the holiday as the "birthday of Jesus." The Celtic holiday Samhain (nowadays called Halloween) was transformed into "All Saints Day." This general practice had two major results for the "goat god" followers:
To mainstream Christians the "horned goat god" became the very picture of evil. To holdout pagans, the Greek god Pan was changing into something broader and more universal than just an ancient Greek myth and an excuse for fun, bizarre orgies.
The origin of the word "Baphomet" is unclear, but the earliest known reference to it is from the notes of a member of the Knights Templar, in 1098, the crusader Anselm of Ribemont:
As the next day dawned, they called loudly upon Baphomet while we prayed silently in our hearts to God; then we attacked and forced all of them outside the city walls ...
He never said who "they" were. Could they have been the enemy? Or were they some of his fellow Knights Templar or crusaders turned pagan? His text is not clear.
Evidence suggests that the Baphomet following grew during the 1100s, possibly fueled with help from the Knights Templar. By 1200, references to Baphomet were appearing in writings all over Europe, by church advocates railing against the religion. The few pictures that remain show him as the traditional goat-headed horned devil figure. Apparently, the god's makeover didn't extend to appearance.
As rumors spread and panic grew, it seemed that a new enemy of Christianity had popped up during this time, right in the middle of European culture. His name was Baphomet. The church soon began going to great lengths to stamp out his followers. After 1200, evidence of trials and executions of accused "Baphomet worshippers" appeared all over Europe for the next hundred years.
This mass "witch hunt" exploded into open warfare in October 1307. King Philip IV of France had, for many years, been growing envious of the Knights Templar's wealth and power. When word of "Baphometism" among the ranks of the Knights spread dramatically in France during that year, this rumor was all the king needed. He went to Pope Clement V and had their order condemned. On October 13 of that year, the king moved swiftly and secretly to eradicate the order and seize most of their wealth.
There were battles everywhere in France, but the Knights Templar were no match for the French Army. Within a few years, the movement to eradicate the Knights spread to almost all of Europe, and only a few of them escaped. The charge of Baphomet worship was the most damning complaint against them and caused many to be burned at the stake, including their French leader, Jacques De Molay.
Some writings say that, just before his execution in 1314, De Molay cursed Philip in the name of Baphomet, predicting he would die within a year. Of course, onlookers and church leaders laughed and scoffed. However, King Philip definitely did not have the last laugh. As if to confirm the curse, he died in 1315.
After this series of mass executions, the very mention of the word "Baphomet" could be cause for trial, imprisonment or worse. Once more, the goat-man religion, even with its new name and more universal god, went totally underground and disappeared from sight in mainstream Europe. Some evidence of a few brave, secretive holdouts remains. However, the power of the church reigned supreme. It effectively hid and marginalized the worship of Baphomet as a movement and religion for the next 500 years.
The five centuries before 1800 were not kind to Baphomet or his followers. However, all of this changed in the 1800s. The church and government in Europe were no longer executing occult followers, and men of intellect were able to think freely. Kings, queens and parliaments even allowed occultists to write and publish their beliefs. The first and most important of the men to take advantage of this new freedom lived in late nineteenth-century Paris. He name was Eliphas Lévi (born Alphonse Louis Constant, 1810 - 1875).
Lévi (see the photo below and on the right) entered training for the priesthood early in life but quickly became disillusioned by Christianity and gave it up. He later pursued several spiritual pathways that only brought him to dead ends.
Having given up the Christian religion, Lévi still yearned for spirituality. This quest drove him to find another faith. In 1818, the name Baphomet had appeared publicly, for the first time in the nineteenth century, in an essay by the Viennese Orientalist Joseph Freiherr von Hammer-Purgstall. He sought to use Baphomet to condemn the Knights Templar and by extension, the Freemasons. Though Hammer-Purgstall was later discredited for using faked evidence, Lévi discovered Baphomet through his writings and started doing some research of his own.
Of course, these studies led him to learn of Baphomet's long and fascinating history. Lévi realized that since 1818, the name of Baphomet had become further associated with the occult and gathered a sizeable following. Soon Lévi became convinced that Baphomet represented the essence of the spirituality he was seeking.
Lévi was also the first to declare that a pentagram or five-pointed star with one point down and two points up represents evil, while a pentagram with one point up and two points down represents good. Because of the occultists inspired by Lévi, he was one of the key persons who began the modern revival of occult magic. His occult renaissance extended through the twentieth century and into contemporary times.
The Lévi quote above explains the basis of his beliefs. His book, Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magie, became the manifesto (bible?) for a new movement, and soon Baphomet "temples" were springing up all over France and the rest of Europe. A new/old religion was being reborn that lasted a generation after Lévi's death.
At the time he died, Lévi was gathering a substantial following that could have advanced these beliefs much further, incorporating the goat-man cult and practices of the past. However, his resistance against true paganism and untimely death cut short any logical progress into primal rituals and black magic. The lot fell to others who outlived and came after him, to make these connections.
After much traveling, writing, experimenting with many worldviews and sketching out others, Crowley finally, in 1920, gathered all of his thinking on the occult together into a single, organized philosophy. He called it Thelema and founded it in Palermo, Sicily, in Italy. Soon it became a worldwide movement, the twentieth-century version of Lévi's "transcendental magic." Being both ceremonial and occult, Thelema advocated paganism and black magic but at the same times had all the trappings of a religion, with its own mysticism, gods and rituals.
The Baphomet of Lévi became an important figure within the cosmology of Crowley's Thelema. In one of his books of Thelema, Magick (Book 4), Crowley asserted that Baphomet was a divine androgyne (figure combining male and female) and "the hieroglyph of arcane perfection:"
The Devil does not exist. It is a false name invented by the Black Brothers [the church] to imply a Unity in their ignorant muddle of dispersions. A devil who had unity would be a God ... "The Devil" is, historically, the God of any people that one personally dislikes ... This serpent, SATAN, is not the enemy of Man, but He who made Gods of our race, knowing Good and Evil; He bade "Know Thyself!" and taught Initiation. He is "The Devil" of the Book of Thoth, and His emblem is BAPHOMET, the Androgyne who is the hieroglyph of arcane perfection ... He is therefore Life and Love. But moreover his letter is ayin, the Eye, so that he is Light; and his Zodiacal image is Capricornus, that leaping goat whose attribute is Liberty.
For Crowley, Baphomet is moreover a representative of the spiritual nature of male semen, while also being symbolic of the "magical child" produced as a result of sexual magic. As such, Baphomet represents the union of opposites, especially as mystically personified in chaos and Babylon, beginning and end. Biologically manifested, these forces became the sperm and egg united in the fertilized egg, according to Crowley.
Numerous pagan and neopagan cults have adopted the Sigil of Baphomet as their own. Even the sensational contemporary Church of Satan uses it as their symbol. However, to Lévi , Crowley and members of the Baphomet Cult, it has great power and symbolizes the ultimate forces of nature and eternity. This sigil is as emblematic of the Baphomet Cult as the cross is for Christianity.
What happened to Crowley in the end? History was not kind to Thelema, the new Baphomet cultists or Crowley. After 1930, the Great Depression and World War II occupied the world much more than the occult or black magic. After 1945, the Cold War with the Soviet Union and the ending of colonialism drew much more attention than mystical incantations or pagan rites.
Crowley died quietly in 1947 after a long illness. He lived long enough to see his occult "empire" with all of its publicity, writings and former glory become virtually forgotten. After his funeral and cremation, a close friend read a simple poem Crowley wrote, "Hymn to Pan."
Even though Aleister Crowley seemed to disappear into history along with his beliefs, this vanishing act turned out to be just a short intermission. The year 1967 and the "Summer of Love" changed all that. Everything occult made a phenomenal reappearance in the mass media, first in Britain and the U.S. and then all over the globe.
All the "evils" advocated by Crowley and publicly condemned just two generations earlier suddenly became the "in thing" to do. Crowley's famous command "Do what thou wilt" became, in the "hippie" lingo, "Do your own thing." Free love, recreational drugs, public orgies, paganism, occult practices and even black magic were all freely trumpeted as desirable by large numbers of people, especially the young.
Rock stars like the British Jimmy Page (of Led Zeppelin), David Bowie and the American Jim Morrison (see the photos below, from left) publicly announced their interest in and even advocacy of the beliefs and practices of none other than Crowley himself. Crowley's Magick volumes became trendy reading along with Catch 22, The Prophet, Lord of the Rings, and Steppenwolf, all popular "must read" books of the "flower child" era.
So, it naturally followed that a revival of Crowley would bring a resurgence of interest in his "patron saint," Baphomet. In fact, it's believed by many that a large number of revelers and worshippers during the 1960s and 1970s, who were accused of "Satanism" by the ignorant, were actually trying to revive worship of the goat-man god, whether in the name or Baphomet, Pan or any other. Figures as diverse as Timothy Leary, Mick Jagger and Charlie Manson were jumping on the Crowley bandwagon and bringing back Baphomet.
Even though the free-love generation finally ran its course, interest in Crowley and Baphomet has continued. The modern Goth subculture, for example, owes much of its philosophical existence to Crowley and his ideas. This movement still thrives worldwide, especially in Britain and the U.S. Reports continue that some kind of unorganized but real Baphomet Cult lives on as well, although once again retreating to its favorite place, the dark underground.
So pay special attention to that weird guy at the next Halloween party you attend. You know, he's the one who dresses up with the goat-head costume, says he's "horny" and acts high. Who knows? Maybe he's just having innocent fun. Or he could be one of Baphomet's faithful. Speak of the devil ...