The goat idol of the Templars and the deity of the sorcerers' Sabbat. Some authorities hold that the Baphomet was a monstrous head, others that it was a demon in the form of a goat. One account of a veritable Baphometic idol describes it thusly:
"A pantheistic and magical figure of the Absolute. The torch placed between the two horns, represents the equilibrating intelligence of the triad. The goat's head, which is synthetic, and unites some characteristics of the dog, bull, and ass, represents the exclusive responsibility of matter and the expiation of bodily sins in the body. The hands are human, to exhibit the sanctity of labor; they make the sign of esotericism above and below, to impress mystery on initiates, and they point at two lunar crescents, the upper being white and the lower black, to explain the correspondences of good and evil, mercy and justice. The lower part of the body is veiled, portraying the mysteries of universal generation, which is expressed solely by the symbol of the caduceus. The belly of the goat is scaled, and should be colored green, the semicircle above should be blue; the plumage, reaching to the breast, should be of various hues. The goat has female breasts, and thus its only characteristics are those of maternity and toil, otherwise the signs of redemption. On its fore-head, between the horns and beneath the torch, is the sign of the microcosm, or the pentagram with one beam in the ascendant, symbol of human intelligence, which, placed thus below the torch, makes the flame of the latter an image of divine revelation. This Pantheos should be seated on a cube, and its footstool should be a single ball, or a ball and a triangular stool."
In Narratives of Sorcery and Magic (1851), Thomas Wright states:
"Another charge in the accusation of the Templars seems to have been to a great degree proved by the depositions of witnesses[:] the idol or head which they are said to have worshipped, but the real character or meaning of which we are totally unable to explain. Many Templars confessed to having seen this idol, but as they described it differently, we must suppose that it was not in all cases represented under the same form. Some said it was a frightful head, with long beard and sparkling eyes; others said it was a man's skull; some described it as having three faces; some said it was of wood, and others of metal; one witness described it as a painting (tabula picta ) representing the image of a man (imago hominis ) and said that when it was shown to him, he was ordered to 'adore Christ, his creator.' According to some it was a gilt figure, either of wood or metal; while others described it as painted black and white. According to another deposition, the idol had four feet, two before and two behind; the one belonging to the order at Paris, was said to be a silver head, with two faces and a beard. The novices of the order were told always to regard this idol as their saviour. Deodatus Jaffet, a knight from the south of France, who had been received at Pedenat, deposed that the person who in his case performed the ceremonies of reception, showed him a head or idol, which appeared to have three faces, and said, 'You must adore this as your saviour, and the saviour of the order of the Temple' and that he was made to worship the idol, saying, 'Blessed be he who shall save my soul.' Cettus Ragonis, a knight received at Rome in a chamber of the palace of the Lateran, gave a somewhat similar account. Many other witnesses spoke of having seen these heads, which, however, were, perhaps, not shown to everybody, for the greatest number of those who spoke on this subject, said that they had heard speak of the head, but that they had never seen it themselves; and many of them declared their disbelief in its existence. A friar minor deposed in England that an English Templar had assured him that in that country the order had four principal idols, one at London, in the Sacristy of the Temple, another at Bristelham, a third at Brueria (Bruern in Lincolnshire), and a fourth beyond the Humber."
Some occultists have suggested that the Baphomet of the Templars was really the god of the witches deriving from the nature god Pan. During the nineteenth century, the Austrian Orientalist Baron Joseph von Hammer-Pürgstall discovered an inscription on a coffer in Burgundy that he claimed showed that the name Baphomet derived from two Greek words meaning "Baptism of Metis [Wisdom]"; the inscription exalted Metis or Baphomet as the true divinity.
When Karl Kellner and other early twentieth century German occultists founded the secret order OTO (Ordo Templi Orientis, or Order of Templars in the East), they adopted an emblem of Baphomet taken from Richard Payne Knight's A Discourse on the Worship of Priapus as the seal of the order's grand master. At a later date, when British occultist Aleister Crowley became head of the British section, he took the name Baphomet as his motto. He had previously wrestled with the numerological significance of the name.
Lévi, Éliphas. Transcendental Magic. London: Rider, 1896. Reprint, New York: Samuel Weiser, 1972.
Partner, Peter. The Murdered Magicians: The Templars and their Myth. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1981. Reprint, N.p.: Crucible, 1987.