THE SABBATIC GOAT
Occult figural candles of Baphomet or The Sabbatic Goat are used by practitioners of occultism to obtain certain desires. Red Baphomet candles are said to cause someone to burn with lust and are used in spells of sexual arousal and domination. Black Baphomet candles are believed to be devotional to the being known as Baphomet, however one conceives of him.
So who or what is "Baphomet"?
Well, with respect to most mythological or symbolic entities, who or what that being is truly depends on whom you ask.
For the bulk of Christians, the name Baphomet means nothing whatever. Reliable historians will tell you that the word is a corruption of "Mahomet" (Mohammed) and that it relates to an ascribed debauch of Muslim worship perpetrated by 12th-14th century Christian monks called the Knights Templar. The wealth and power of these Templars, it is said, had grown so tempting that the King of France and his Pope that in order to pillage their wealth, their political enemies disbanded them in the early 14th century under the mandate of trumped up charges of heinous heresy and scandalous treason, of which "the worship of Baphomet" was but one accusation.
19th century writers such as Eliphas Levi and Albert Pike would make much of the 500-year-old false accusations against the Knights Templar to fabricate from the name Baphomet a veritable Deity of Hedonism and Rebellion against a Christian establishment. It was Levi who, in the mid-1800s, first drew and published the now-familiar image shown here of Baphomet as a seated, hermaphroditic, winged, goat-headed and goat-footed man with women's breasts, a flame on his forehead and a caduceus at his groin. Levi may have partially derived his image of Baphomet as a "Sabbatic Goat" from the 18th-19th century Spanish artist Francisco Goya, who painted a "Witch's Sabbath" in 1800 in which a group of seated women were offering their dead infant children to a seated goat. Levi also incorrectly identified Baphomet with The Goat of Mendes, an ancient Egyptian god whose name should more properly be translated as "Harpocrates, the Ram of Mendes," a sheep-god who was the Creator and tutelary deity of his region (the city of Mendes). Harpocrates was a granter of fertility, but he was not associated with debauch or lust -- and, most important from the standpoint of this investigation into mythography, in animal-form, he was a ram, not a buck goat. .
Various 20th century occultists mention Baphomet in relation to the tarot, in which the 16th trump card, The Devil, often resembles the card constructed circa 1910 by Arthur Edward Waite and Pamela Coleman Smith, shown at left. They will ascribe, accordingly, all manner of characteristics to this name, usually ignorant of its historical usage. However, in earlier forms of the tarot, the card of The Devil does not look much like the Smith-Waite version, which seems to have been inspired by Levi's 19th century drawing of Baphomet.
Crowleyites will tell you that Baphomet is one of the names of their master, Edward Alexander "Aleister" Crowley, whose notorious character and sly publication record secured him some attention in the 20th century. Crowley did sign many documents with this name, as well as other fanciful handles, such as "To Mega Therion" (Greek for "The Great Beast"). However, to his credit, he did not accept wholeheartedly Eliphas Levi's conflation of the evil-looking Baphomet fantasized as the object of the anti-Knights Templar accusations with Harpocrates, the Ram of Mendes -- for the 16th major trump card of Crowlwy's tarot deck, produced in collaboration with Frieda Harris, depicts the Ram standing beneath a stylized phallus, as a friendly four-legged, multi-eyed animal-god, not a demonic half-human hermaphrodite.
Typically, among modern eclectic occultists, the term Baphomet is not associated specifically with the qualities of a Creator God such as The Ram of Mendes. Rather, it is usually given antagonistic qualities, pitting it against such a fashioner-of-our-cosmos. One also encounters modern attempts to link Baphomet with Gnostic dualism and similar ideas of trans-archonian worship and, thus, without much believability, to so-called "Gnostic" orgiastic sex worship.
Satanists from the Church of Satan, founded by Anton LaVey in 1966, usually claim that Baphomet is the name of their identifying sigil, a point-down pentacle enclosing a goat's head, surrounded by five Hebrew letters spelling out LVYThN ("Leviathan"), shown to the right. Some of these same individuals will claim that their cherished symbol is related to and derives from the Knights Templar or from some Masonic source (probably because Albert Pike was a Freemason and made something of a splash by plagiarizing Levi and lauding Lucifer and Baphomet as important esoteric symbols). However, no copy of the sigil has yet turned up in any works by Levi or Pike -- and the earliest known example of this sigil as LaVey used it occurs in a 1961 French encyclopaedia of occultism, "Histoire en 1000 Images de la Magie" by Maurice Bessy (Editions du Pont Royal), a copy of which LaVey owned. (The book was later published in English as "A Pictorial History of Magic and the Supernatural" and was widely available in the United States and Great Britain.)
It is worth noting that Bessy's book features TWO versions of the image, as follows:
(1) An interior illustration on page 198 -- copied uncited from an older book -- shows a single circle surrounding an array of Hebrew letters and another circle running around the central point-down pentagram which contains a line drawing of a goat's head. The outer letters proceed from the bottom and run counter-clockwise: lamed, vav, yod, tav, nun (final), spelling the word LVYThN ("Leviathan") Interior to the inner circle are sets of Roman letters which proceed from bottom left to bottom right around the goat's head to read LIL-ITH ("Lilith") and from top left to top right to read SA-MA-EL ("Samael"). This illustration is next to another, apparently drawn by the same hand, in which a point-up pentacle is surrounded by a double-circle with a male human figure inscribed inside the star; the letters on the outer ring are Hebrew, proceeding from the bottom right: yod, he, shin, vav, he, spelling the word YHShVH ("Yeheshua" or "Jesus"). This second circle also has interior Roman letters straddling the man's head: from upper left to upper right AD-AM ("Adam") and from lower left to lower right E-V-E ("Eve"). Bessy's caption describing these two figures contains the following, which is relevant to pentagrams in general: "Pentagrams are the result of obscure numerological speculations...."
(2) The cover illustration for Bessy's book, produced by a so-far anonymous graphic designer at the French publishing house Editions du Pont Royal, is a highly simplified version of the Samael-Lilith-Leviathan pentacle on page 198, rendered suitable for foil-stamping on the book's cloth binding. In the simplification process, the graphic designer removed the names "Samael" and "Lilith" and also modified the goat's head considerably. It is this 1961 cover-image from Maurice Bessy's book that Anton LaVay copied in 1966, and for which he claimed a spurious ancient pedigree.
Some peculiar Satanists will tell you that Baphomet is a goddess, or better yet, the hermaphroditic conglomerate of many species, and they ascribe some pretty interesting qualities to Hir, from cannibalism and representation of the trodden aspects of the wild to Sabbatic Goat Dionysian revel-mongering. As one gets further and further out into the fringes of the occult community almost ANYTHING is possible.
Some people invoke Baphomet to be daring or to see what will happen. They may also invoke Choronzon for similar reasons. Some will call up Satan and His Imps. Those of a more traditional bent may make pacts with The Devil at a crossroads. One might call this a kind of modern scientific experiment on par with Frankenstein's anthropo-construction (per Mary Shelley's horror novel). Some suggest that the invocation of powerful or horrific beings is a necessary step in the Hermetic spiritual journey.
Credits: This page was co-written by nagasiva yronwode.
For more information on devil-related folk-magic, see these illustrated pages: