So in the last blog post we discussed the ram horns of Arsinoë, leading to another view on things...
The ram and/or goat remained an important divine, animalistic feature in ancient mythology and religious practice. In Greek and Hellenistic mythology, Pan remained an important character, not to mention the rituals associated with Dionysus and his satyrs. Naturally, their equivalents are to be found in the Roman religious sphere too, as Faunus and Bacchus, along with Juno Caprotina, with characteristic elements anchored in the Greek Amalthea. The ancients’ worship of these goat/ram gods and goddesses was often associated with abundance, joy, fertility, wine and ecstatic dance, elements that were all immoral in the eyes of the new religion – Christianity. Thus, when Christianity finally officially won the battle over the ancient polytheistic society, these deities became the face of evil, decadence and immorality. Dionysus/Bacchus, Pan/Faunus, Banebdjedet/Amun/Khnum suddenly became a unified persona of the Christian Devil. For centuries the true ancient divine goat creatures remained silent.
And so, in July 1098, in a letter by the Knights Templar Anselm of Ribemont, the sacred goat appeared once more, given the name Baphomet:
Sequenti die aurora apparente,
altis vocibus Baphometh invocaverunt;
et nos Deum nostrum in cordibus nostris deprecantes,
impetum facientes in eos, de muris civitatis omnes expulimus
(As the next day dawned
they called loudly upon Baphometh
while we prayed silently in our hearts to God;
then we attacked and forced all of them outside the city walls.)
A second testimony appears in 1195, in a poem written by the troubadour Gavaudan, giving the name Bafometz, followed by another poem in 1250 mentioning a Bafomet, identical to the name given in one of the four surviving chapters of the Occitan translation of Libre de la doctrina peril by R. Llull.
Later, during the inquisition, the name of the goat idol Baphomet appear twice in the trial transcripts against the Knights in the early 14th century, embedded in statements such as that below:
"...that in all the provinces they had idols, that is to say, heads, some of which had three faces, others but one; sometimes, it was a human skull ... That in their assemblies, and especially in their grand chapters, they worshipped the idol as a god, as their saviour, saying that this head could save them, that it bestowed on the order all its wealth, made the trees flower, and the plants of the earth to sprout forth."
Now, the credibility in the accusations is very low, as well known, but as Baphomet appeared long before the inquisition one can turn to the historical facts and follow in the Knights’ footsteps. It should be mentioned too, that the etymology of the term/name Bapohmet is highly debated; mostly dealing with French word for Muhammed. As a little ending note on the Knights Templar one can question their findings in and around the town of al-Mansura – located a few kilometres away from the ancient city of Mendes, the centre for the worship of Banebdjedet, the ram god himself – which ended in the killing of thousands and the imprisonment of Louis IX, although the rumour has it a few managed to escape...
|Painting on display in the Medieval house in al-Mansura. Copyright The Sirius Project|
After the inquisition the ram/goat god fell silent again, appearing once more in an essay published in 1818 by Joseph Freiherr von Hammer-Purgstall, entitled “Mysterium Baphometis revelatum, seu Fratres Militiæ Templi, qua Gnostici et quidem Ophiani, Apostasiæ, Idoloduliæ et Impuritatis convicti, per ipsa eorum Monumenta” (Discovery of the mystery of Baphomet, by which the Knights Templars, like the Gnostics and Ophites, are convicted of apostasy, of idolatry and of moral impurity, by their own monuments), aiming at discrediting Freemasonry and their association with the Templars. The essay opened up an entire new forum of open attacks on secret societies, including Rosicrucian orders and Freemasons.
Then, in 1855, possibly as an answer to the heated debate, the ancient goat god was brought to life in full strength as a mixture of Chinese whispers of folklore, superstition, ancient magic, the opposites of monotheistic rules and dogma – in the glory of 19th century religious, theosophistical revolution, Baphomet was given the face of the Antichrist in the eyes of Christianity, becoming one of the most important icons in the rising movement of underground societies; Eliphas Lévi made Baphomet into the source and creator of evil, the Satanic Goat of Mendes; eventually to be usurped as an epithet of Aleister Crowley, who by the words below possibly tried to bring old Baphomet back to his origins:
“The Devil does not exist. It is a false name invented by the black brothers 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.
As a final note, one can ask the question how the early Church would have looked upon the image of Arsinoë: a strong powerful female pharaoh, high priestess of Banebdjedet, God's wife of Amun, depicted with the horns of Amalthea, claiming direct ancestry from Dionysus - HEAVEN, WHAT WOULD THEY HAVE THOUGHT???