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Eliphas Levi’s Baphomet: Understanding Ancient Knowledge

Eliphas Levi’s Baphomet: Understanding Ancient Knowledge

If you were to come into my home, you would encounter various symbols/statues from many different cultures; Celtic, Sumerian, Egyptian, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Native Indian, German etc. Those of you who are familiar with my writings by now know I am a Spiritual/Omnist, “Active Nihilist” or as some have called me a student of Alchemy; mentally, physically and spiritually. I don’t believe in any particular organized religion, I do however believe all religions and ancient teachings hold a piece of a much bigger puzzle. I study them all; discard dogma and take what is substantial. I believe in the divine we carry within and that “God”or whatever you choose to call it can be found within and without. As such in my house the “Art”, “Pieces” I collect are not there to be worshiped but to represent different aspects as well ass to help me dissect whenever I am studying a subject pertaining to it.

Having had a unique upbringing, I have always been open to learning Psychologically and Spiritually. Since very young I have had a hunger to understand the very fibre of what makes humanity and our world in general. My quest has not been one I’ve planned; more often than not life simply pushed me in different directions as if answering an inner call and helping me see past the superficial that was put in front of me. My belief and love for life then, is not found within a “regimen” imposed on me or by indoctrination but rather a series of unexpected “random” yet quite purposeful events. I love to discover and understand the “Root” of things; I am not someone who simply accepts or discards anything simply because it may seem charismatic or uncomfortable.

In the past I have written about Esoteric Ancient Knowledge such as “Sacred Feminine” “Lessons of Enki” and covered a bit on “Sacred Tantra” and the “Awakening of Our Inner Warrior”Today I want to write about a subject which has been quite misunderstood for too long by too many and even though its real history is hidden but available, most people seem to discard it, turn away from it or to simply take what has erroneously been taught in the last centuries. I have picked this subject as I find one which has much to teach humankind about our own nature; however it is a subject which requires of you to have the strength to listen through to the end vs. simply dismissing it out of fear of confronting your own shadow. We have bee programmed to desensitize from ourselves; anything that may point at the “other” side of our nature is simply dismissed as “evil” or something not to look at. Are we one dimensional? Are you “happy” all the time? Do butterflies have one wing? Ask yourself those question before the programming in you pushes you to reject what at a visceral level your mind, body and spirit already know. Keep in mind “that which you negate controls you; that which you resolve sets you free”

Baphomet is certainly a controversial figure; who he was or rather what he was to represent is of much controversy. Most people without knowing its origins have falsely associated it with the demonic, as if his roots lay there–this has been done mostly by the media which most of the time likes to distort things in order to profit from it–sadly people take it as real and empirical; as researching and studying would be too much work and we as a society have gotten too used to being handed down information vs. seeking to exercise our own power.

Let’s take a look at the history of Baphomet represented by Eliphas Levi on“Sabbatic Goat”. I have no desire to convince you one way or the other, this is simply a look at history and you do with it whatever you want. I have simply chosen this subject as I find it compliments Jung’s Alchemical teachings quite well, as well as being a source of illumination to our own nature.

At the very top of this article you can see one of the most commonly know images of Baphomet; by now your mind probably associates it with the devil instead of what it actually was meant to represent–It has a goat head, a five pointed star and a flame at the very top. It is androgynous, seating in a position for meditation and between his legs holds a Caduceus. His arms; one is pointed to the sky while the other one is pointing at the Earth. If you look on his back, he has wings. This image was drawn by “Occultist” Eliphas Levi (Occult definition is “hidden”; nothing more or less) in the late 19th century in his book “The Doctrine of Transcendental Magic”.

” born Alphonse Louis Constant (8 February 1810 – 31 May 1875), was a French sage, poet, and author of more than twenty books about magic, kabbalah alchemical studies, and Occultism Considered the greatest occultist of the nineteenth century. Levi acquired the profile of an original thinker and writer whose works attracted the attention of the very heterogeneous ambiences of the era, from Paris to London, from esotericists to artists of romantic or symbolist inspiration. He also expressed his independence by leaving the Masonic lodge of the “Great Orient”, believing that it was a form of modern secularization, where knowledge of the original meanings of symbols and rituals was lost.  He become outspoken against ANY type of Secularization and Indoctrination”

Eliphas Levi followed an ecclesiastical career until he found himself in a particularly great struggle, where he saw and felt the cognitive dissonance being taught to others. He saw religious leaders as people who were more concern with indoctrination and the hiding of old teachings vs the illumination and liberation of humanity; at the age of 26 he quit the priestly path yet remained close enough as to be able to studied and examine for himself texts and manuscripts which were kept away from the public. The more he studied the origins, the more he found himself in the world of the “Occult’

With all of that said, Eliphas Levi wasn’t the creator of the image of “Baphomet”, he came to know of him during his studies of the origins. Baphomet is much much older than the image made public during the 19th century. Baphomet has similarities with gods from all over the world, including Europe, India, Sumerian, etc. Many of those similar statues were found with horns; this doesn’t mean the statues were used to represent the devil or anything demonic – we would be better off looking for the origin behind the symbolism instead of letting ourselves be guided by limiting beliefs which were imposed later on.

According to Carl Jung, horns were used as an archetype of God— the concept of a deity having horns is equally present in Celtic Gods, Greek Gods, Egyptian Gods, etc. In ancient times the concept of horns was not to represent anything evil or negative–it was often related to bull and goats to represent virility. Within the Celtic culture there was a Deity named Cernunnos which was the “God” of fertility and nature; Cernunnos inspired a part of the figure created by Eliphas Levi. Cernunnos then is a representation of nature and fertility, it was to be seen by modern religious thinkers as bad due to its association to sexuality–anything of sexual origin was and still is condemned.

In Britain, Cernunnos was known as Herne; “the hunter” “God of the Wild Hunt”.Herne had a more human face but with the characteristics of a satyr; from the waist down he had skin covered on animal hair. Between the horns Herne had a solar disk which is reminiscent of Egypt; like Hathor who had cow horns. The cow for the Egyptians was the mother. If one digs deeper, the origin of why the cow in Egypt was associated in with the mother, one discovers that the word “Cow”translated to “the word” or better known to most through the bible “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”“The word” which meant “to create“. I will write more about that in the future to better explain the origins, connections and the rules of translation or coding used back then.

We cannot interpret ancient symbolism from our limited modern knowledge nor our doctrinal beliefs. Like Anthropology to decipher something we need to look at its origins and pay close attention to the psychology people had at that time; what it represented to them on their terms and why–To them horns had everything to do with the sun and the moon (bull horns/cow horns) which was the unity of the supreme God; it never had a demonic or depraved connotation.

When we look at the skin/fur it was to represent the Earth, nature. Some statues of Herne show him holding a penis between his legs; in no way was this to be a depravity; simply and eloquently represented VIRILITY/FERTILITY–it was people’s own twistedness which later on led some religious leaders to misinterpret and condemn something they did not understand or which to them hit “too close to home” and to their own darkness. They falsely twisted things, teaching us the devil has horns and goes around exposing an erect phallus; that explains why we now see images such as like the one of Baphomet and we automatically assume we are looking at the image of a demon; couldn’t be further away from the truth; we need to learn to try to be as neutral or as objective as possible when choosing to undertake the studies of all cultures and their history.

Alchemy very well teaches that symbols are to represent energy (our whole world permeates with energy; a fact which has been proven scientifically) the more powerful the energy the more they were given “sacred symbols“; interestingly enough anything that represents powerful energy has been tainted as “Bad” /”Evil” leaving only symbols such as certain crosses (the cross is a symbol of lesser energy) for humankind to relate–in other words suppression of light within. It is easy then to teach individuals to believe they need an intermediary to connect with the divine.

Symbols represent energy, it is the “Alchemist” who gives it meaning of “Good”or “Bad”. What you hold within is what you will give; it is isn’t the symbol that makes anyone do anything good or bad, it’s the essence found within that decides the path by which the energy will find its way. Again it comes down to self responsibility vs. blaming the external for our own natures.

The problem with the misrepresentation of the erect “Phallus” came to us much later when sexuality was seen as depraved and a tool used to tempt people to do evil things; yet patriarchal dogmas have been responsible for the abuse and perversion of sexuality and what it means to be sexual. Ultimately a person only gives and does as his or her own internal growth are capable of at that moment in time. Some people often point out to dark magic and how these symbols can be found there; these same people would be surprise to find out that symbols of the virgin, angels and crosses can be found within the practice of black magic as an aide…what does this mean then? It means and solidifies once more that it’s not the symbol which is bad but the essence of the person and the direction such person chooses to move that energy to. You can have a “bad” person wear a “good symbol” yet this will do nothing to prevent that person from expressing his or her own dark nature; the same is true for it’s opposite.

I won’t deny witchcraft is based on powerful symbology; however it is important to understand powerful energy needs to be carefully moved. Alchemy teaches theInitiate to understand and respect this truth, that is why Carl Jung tried to teach us to work on ourselves, to look at ourselves otherwise the essence within remains tainted and hidden–once more let me be clear “what you hide controls you”. Alchemy is clear that in order to move powerful energy one has to have done the internal work otherwise the consequences to our own psyche can be damaging; it isn’t the energy or the symbol that is damaging, it’s the conduct–we are the philosophical stone.

The use of these symbols later on became rituals; as our mind understand symbolism much better than anything else. These rituals of fertility which were held annually were to represent not just one aspect or one side of God but both; feminine and masculine/God & Goddess.

If we take a look at Pan from Greek Mythology, one would recognize we are talking about the same thing–God of nature and fertility– people however don’t see it as evil due to its human face–I will later on explain why Eliphas Levi chose to use the face of a “beast” on his painting instead of keeping it human.

The gargoyle figures (another representation of Baphomet) on the Cathedral of Notre Dame of Paris were built by The Knights Templar; why did they choose such symbology? Because they were more educated sociologically and culturally about symbolism and about what represented Good or Bad. They knew this figures had no relation to anything diabolical or infernal–it is for political and religious reasons such symbology has been distorted. Currently we have tremendous technological advances yet we have become a “lazy” society that remains for the most part ruled by old dogmas; hence there is so much fighting and division–let us not forget the old adage “Divide and Conquer”. It is only in understanding the origins where we can get closer to the truth, not by the inspection of water down, mistranslated, or misrepresented texts–worst yet limiting ourselves to only one branch of study.

The first writings or beliefs on Baphomet came to light in the 11th century, when the Templars were accused of being heretics and were also subjected to torture. Those who tortured them claimed the Templars had admitted to demonic practices; I hope with all we now know, we are capable of grasping the concept that one is capable of admitting to just about anything when one is to confess under torture. Among one of the things they were being accused of was the“adoration and worshiping” of a being named “Baphomet”. In reality they were not talking about the whole statue of Baphomet but rather of a head with a long beard. They were accused of having turned to the “dark” beliefs of the “Saracens”with whom the Templars spent much time with. As mentioned before the Templars who were living or had lived in Southern France were accused of heretics; in neighboring languages ​​terms such as “Baomet” (a variation of Baphomet) was used; in the act against the Templars no further explanations were given other than the fact they found the Templars using the term “Baomet”frequently.

There is a hypothesis based on some records but it has never been confirmed nor denied that the head the Templars “venerated”; not “worshiped”; was the embalmed head of John the Baptist– to some Templars John the Baptist was considered superior to Jesus and a real mentor to people. It is also of interest to mention that in the Castle of Tomar, located in Portugal; was found a large coin with an image of a head with a full beard looking in 3 directions, which is supposed to represent Baphomet; later on this image was associated with Zeus. As you can see all of them are heads to represent a powerful being or persona; nothing evil or demonic. Modernly due to our own ignorance, the image is associated with evil witchcraft or demonic yet Baphomet was simply meant to represent the “other side” that Carl Jung so much talked about. It was to represent the shadow, the occult, what is hidden; that’s it.

Although Baphomet is older than Eliphas Levi’s creation (which is the image most people have come to know) we need to look more closely as to why he depicted it this way. Eliphas Levi was a Kabbalistic person, whose study of the Kabbalah was profound; specially in the Esoteric Arts. The Kabbalah is not dark; such distortion came from anti-Semitic believers who once more think the symbol controls the person. Personally I have nothing against Judaism, Islamism, Catholicism, Christianity or others; as I said before, I believe they all have something valid and very real to teach but many of their leaders with their political/sociological views have led their people to much discord and separation. Eliphas argued that the name of Baphomet had been derived from Kabbalistic encoding and explained it as such:

“The name the Templars use and that must be written Kabbalistically backwards is made up of 3 abbreviations Tem-ohp-ab which means in Latin “Templi Omnium Ominus Pax Abbas”

Properly translated the above Latin quote says “The father of the temple of peace for all men” ; that is all it meant, nothing malicious. Arkon Daraul who was author and teacher of “Sufi” traditions (the most mystic and spiritual branch of Islamic beliefs) argued that Baphomet came from an Arabic Word which meant “father of Knowledge”We also have another scholar Dr. Hugh Schonfield whose works on the Dead Sea Scrolls made him popular. He had a different theory on the meaning of “Baphomet“; Schonfield studied “ancient Jewish Coding” and used it to translate the scrolls. Let me make it clear that in ancient times people would write in “code” “cipher” so that most could not understand what they were reading only the“learned” “the Initiates” could –example: When Jesus said “He who has ears to hear” or when he told his apostles “To you it has been granted to know the mysteries” . Hugh Schonfield stated that when using the decoding system on Baphomet the word means “Sophia” which means “Wisdom” and synonymous with “Goddess Sophia”.

In 1589 Peter Binsfield associated and published without explanation of proper study or research but guided by a political and personal agenda; a list of demons and their associated sins; associated with the seven deadly sins were: Lucifer (pride), Mammon (greed), Asmodeus (lust), Leviathan (envy), Beelzebub (gluttony), Satan (Wrath) and Belphegor (sloth). This man never went back to the origin of things and simply caused huge confusion between what is hidden and what is damaging to humankind; the worst part is too many people have taken his book literally. In reality Asmodeus was the “guardian” of hidden treasure nothing to do with lust. Belphegor was the “guardian” of Paris (of the hidden knowledge of Paris), Mammon the Egyptian God of the night or the other side of the Sun; what is hidden; nothing to do with greed. If you notice within everyone of the ones I have repeated there is a commonality; “what is hidden”--There lies the “key”–fear to all that is hidden for we have been programmed to believe everything that is hidden has to be bad–that is exactly why we don’t like to look at our own shadow or to look in; for in there lies “the evil” which can “control” us.

Lucifer was the light nothing to do with “Pride”–Lucifer brings the light from the hidden depths; esoteric not exoteric knowledge–exoteric teachings are based on dark external rituals while esoteric teachings are internal, seeking of truth, facing the abyss. Satan is in the bible considered the devil but even the bible does not considered him a Demon nor father of all demons yet in modern times people confuse demon, with devil, with daemon, with Lucifer–it’s all a huge mess. In ancient texts that precede the Bible and from which its knowledge derives (accepted and recognized by bible scholars) the devil is the other side, the adversary meant to promote chaos–I have said in past articles “Chaos” precedes creation; which means only you can decide which way you go, up or down.Unfortunately if one confuses things enough, mixing good knowledge with bad knowledge, put the good and the bad in the same bowl and people will no longer recognize one from the other–they will forget the origins and give up the ability or desire to find out what is what; that is exactly what happened to Eliphas Levy’s Baphomet or “Sabbatic Goat”, it became misunderstood.

Let’s examine what really is Baphomet; what did Eliphas Levy tried to represent…you shall soon see that it has absolutely nothing to do with anything demonic or malicious. The symbols found on this image are neutral in themselves and only minds guided by their own beliefs can give it a good or bad connotation. It is an image full of occult symbolism; the result is not very pretty but that is because Levi mixed various occult symbols with the hope people would understand their own nature. The goat bears the symbol of the pentagram, with a point at the top and a symbol of light. His two hands form the symbol of Hermeticism (one up, one down). The name that points up to the white moon is “Solve” and the one that points to the black moon is “Coagula”. This sign expresses the harmony of being; mercy and justice; it also signifies the process of evolution. “Coagula” means the process of Coagulation, it’s all that is “stuck” “untouched” inside ; while “Solve”means to “dissolve” “resolve” “loose” “release”; hence one points down (animalistic being, stuck without observing shadow) the other points up towards illumination. Levi then was trying to show us one cannot be illuminated without looking at the shadow of self. Why did he use the terms associated with mercy and justice? because they are both part of a perfect unison. Psychologically speaking it means to show mercy to your “dark side” “shadow” and Justice was to remind you of the “peace” or “illumination” to come when you choose to resolve/heal your“dark” side. His arms are one male and one female to represent the androgynous state of the spirit and to represent all the attributes we have had to unite with our inner animal.

The flame of intelligence bright between its horns is the magical light of universal balance. It is to represent the image of the soul raised above as flame; although it was tied to matter, it now shines above it. The head of the ugly beast expresses the horror of the sinner who has to accept his own punishment; it highlights our weaknesses, the low frequency aspects of human nature–but it has nothing to do with the demonic because human beings are not demonic. It also focuses on self responsibility for our actions and encourages to look for the lesson or the responsibility we may have on the bad things that happens to us. Another reason why it is a goat face, is to showcase the fact that Goats are very smart, resilient, stubborn creatures who don’t just give in. The reason for which the face is so “scary” is to represent the horror we feel when looking in and facing our own “dark” actions, secrets, desires, as we have been conditioned to look away not straight at them. That is why it emphasizes the look on the “beast” is to express the horror, as we are not used to confronting ourselves–yet in order to transcend and ascend we need to first dive and descend beneath the false layers we have created inside. Levy explained in his book that is not “God” who punishes us but our own selves as we try over and over to escape our own horrors.

The staff between its legs is nothing more than the symbol of fertility or LIFE represented by the Caduceus of Hermes which symbolizes eternal life through the activation of all chakras; from the base of the spine to the head where the “Pineal Gland” lies; it’s the use of feminine and masculine serpentine energy (called as such because of the way it moves) towards “Astral Light”.

It’s body covered with scales represents water, the semicircle above is the atmosphere, the feathers represent connectivity and the ability to rise or to elevate oneself. Humanity is represented by the two breasts and the androgenic arms of the sphinx of the occult sciences. We have him in a Buddha position representing introspection and the goat legs represent the lowest part of man’s nature. He is sitting on a cube on top of the planet to represent its culmination.

It is clear the image of Levi’s Baphomet is a mix of many things, what is also clear is that he never intended to represent a demon; he just used all the symbols to represent what an integrated human being is–to be an individual is to be human and divine–in harmony.

If we put our preconceptions aside Levi’s image well represents what a human being is; with his light and darkness; and what it has to do to integrate. He never intended for people to use it as a symbol for anything satanic, barbaric, evil; he simply wanted to show us what we need to do to ascend and transcend our lowest parts and to evolve. He showed us the Alchemical process; which is the use of opposing forces to create Astral Light. The real basis of magic and illumination does not lie in fighting with self or with our world but to use its own forces to unite and enlightened. If others get caught in the “dark” aspects of this representation and utilize the energy to focus on what is negative; it’s not the symbol that does it but the person is projecting his or her nature, his or her own need to hurt others or to ran away from self. The “Sabbatic Goat” or Baphomet was created to symbolize the path to Astral light–That’s it!

I hope the above has helped you to better understand the symbology behind Eliphas Levi’s Baphomet and hopefully it will help you better understand the shadow within.

“The true student will read between the lines and gain wisdom. If the light is within you, it will manifest”

Sofia Falcone


Sofia Falcone

Sofia Falcone
I passionately believe one person can make a difference. I write from my own experiences and interests. It is my greatest hope that by writing about my own challenges and hopes, others may feel inspired to believe more in their inner power and to fully embrace themselves.

Reprinted on crystalwind.ca with permission from Sofia Falcone.

Source here

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