The Book of Baphomet.An introductory address delivered at the book launch, 4/8/12, Glastonbury, by Pete Carroll.
I’d like to begin by looking a little at the life and work of the man who brought the idea of Baphomet to the modern world, Eliphas Lévi, born Alphonse Louis Constant (February 8, 1810 - May 31, 1875),
He trained as a Catholic priest but resigned due to falling in love, he then started to write revolutionary politics/theology, for which he got imprisoned twice during the various political crises in mid 19th century France. After that he began an influential career in esoterics and magic, writing several books and visiting Britain where his ideas would eventually have a great impact on the Golden Dawn.
He made a journey from CLERGYMAN, to RADICAL, to MAGUS.
Apart from a little light reading in witchcraft, Levi’s books provided me with my first introduction to magic.
It was largely through the occultists inspired by him that Lévi is remembered as one of the key founders of the 20th century revival of magic. He came up with four ideas which seem important: -
1) Astral Light theory. This departure from straight neo-platonic ideas at least had the virtue of making people think a bit more deeply about how magic might work.
2) The Upright and Averse pentagrams as symbols having different meanings.
3) The equation between the 22 Trumps of the Tarot and the Hebrew Alphabet and the elements, with this he opened up a huge field of syncretic speculation.
4)Baphomet, an image worth a thousand words.
This may look a bit Kitsch now, having appeared on rather too many black leather jackets, but the ideas it appears to represent graphically have had enormous impact, basically Levi hints that this image constitutes his vision of God.
Levi seems to have written about it in rather guarded, almost milquetoast terms, but remember he had already got himself imprisoned for writing too plainly about politics.
The Image of Baphomet he presents seems to exhibit 7 qualities: -
ANDROGYNOUS Includes the Female.
LUCIFERIC Torch, light bringer, forbidden wisdom.
THERIOMORPHIC Half human half animal, Pan-like, Pagan, incorporates the ‘lower’ selfs’
SEXUALISED Breasts and symbolic penis. Goats as horny/satanic.
MAGICAL Caduceus, magical gestures, waxing and waning moon.
SHAMANIC Horned, theriomorphic, wild.
This seemed like just about everything I wanted in a deity!I thus offered it as a central rite of the Pact, in the Mass of Chaos (B).
So where did Levi get the idea from? Well partly from historical myth and legend and partly from his personal feelings and imagination and mysticism one suspects.
The Catholic Church and the French King accused the Templars of Heresy, almost certainly falsely, and their inquisitors threw in all the usual accusations of sex, sorcery, blasphemy, and Baphomet worship.
Occultists admire the Templars on the basis that they might just have actually had a taste for sex and blasphemy and maybe magic. However their actual sin as far as western Christendom was concerned was LOOSING THE HOLY LAND, following their disastrous defeat at Hattin.
The accusation of Baphomet worship arose from a mispronunciation, Muhammad = Mohamed = Mahomet = Baphomet. The crusaders imagined that the Moslems worshipped some mad primitive savage deity/devil, and it seemed that their deity was beating ours.
The Templars were really accused of going native and sympathizing with the Islamic enemy. The blasphemy accusations arose because part of their training involved getting prepared to appear to renounce their faith if captured. The Vatican has recently accepted this.
All gods and all religions and all magical traditions get cobbled together out of bits and pieces of previous traditions. It’s all syncretic, scholarship confirms this, and Chaos Magic adopts it as a guiding principle without apology or evasion.
So, starting with Levi’s drawing, what have modern esotericists done with Baphomet?
DUALISTIC ANDROGYNOUS LUCIFERIC THERIOMORPHIC
SEXUALISED MAGICAL SHAMANIC + GAIANISTIC
They have added GAIA, a sense of the sacredness of the Biosphere and Ecology, Life on Earth.
And that makes a rather pleasing Eight!
This new book by Nikki Ward and Julian Vayne resumes the fascinating history of the development of the concept of Baphomet from its earliest historical mention through its development by Levi and then to the cutting edge of its current manifestation.
Their brave and audacious exploration of the modern Baphometic current using full-on eroto-gnosis and extreme chemo-gnosis creates a tale which is destined to enter into esoteric legend.
I commend this book to you.