Κυριακή, 12 Μαΐου 2013

Baphomet

The 19th century image of a Sabbatic Goat, created by Eliphas Lévi. The arms bear the Latin words SOLVE (dissolve) and COAGULA (congeal).
Baphomet is an imagined pagan deity (i.e., a product of Christian folklore concerning pagans), revived in the 19th century as a figure of occultism and Satanism. It first appeared in 11th and 12th century Latin and Provençal as a corruption of "Mahomet", the Latinisation of "Muhammad", but later it appeared as a term for a pagan idol in trial transcripts of the Inquisition of the Knights Templar in the early 14th century. The name first came into popular English-speaking consciousness in the 19th century, with debate and speculation on the reasons for the suppression of the Templars.

Old drawing after Eliphas Lévi’s Baphomet by an unkown artist, around 1890
Since 1855, the name Baphomet has been associated with a "Sabbatic Goat" image drawn by Eliphas Lévi. It represents the duality of male and female, as well as Heaven and Hell or night and day signified by the raising of one arm and the downward gesture of the other. It can be taken in fact, to represent any of the major harmonious dichotomies of the cosmos.

Eliphas Lévi published "Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magie", in which he included an image he had drawn himself which he described as Baphomet and "The Sabbatic Goat", showing a winged humanoid goat with a pair of breasts and a torch on its head between its horns. This image has become the best-known representation of Baphomet. Lévi considered the Baphomet to be a depiction of the absolute in symbolic form and explicated in detail his symbolism in the drawing that served as the frontispiece:

Chris pat leblanc
The goat on the frontispiece carries the sign of the pentagram on the forehead, with one point at the top, a symbol of light, his two hands forming the sign of occultism, the one pointing up to the white moon of Chesed, the other pointing down to the black one of Geburah. This sign expresses the perfect harmony of mercy with justice. His one arm is female, the other male like the ones of the androgyne of Khunrath, the attributes of which we had to unite with those of our goat because he is one and the same symbol. The flame of intelligence shining between his horns is the magic light of the universal balance, the image of the soul elevated above matter, as the flame, whilst being tied to matter, shines above it. The beast's head expresses the horror of the sinner, whose materially acting, solely responsible part has to bear the punishment exclusively; because the soul is insensitive according to its nature and can only suffer when it materializes. The rod standing instead of genitals symbolizes eternal life, the body covered with scales the water, the semi-circle above it the atmosphere, the feathers following above the volatile. Humanity is represented by the two breasts and the androgyne arms of this sphinx of the occult sciences.

Jane Estelle Trombley
Lévi's depiction, for all its modern fame, does not match the historical descriptions from the Templar trials, although it may also have been partly inspired by grotesque carvings on the Templar churches of Lanleff in Brittany and Saint-Merri in Paris, which depict squatting bearded men with bat wings, female breasts, horns and the shaggy hindquarters of a beast, as well as Viollet-le-Duc's vivid gargoyles that were added to Notre Dame de Paris about the same time as Lévi's illustration.

The Baphomet of Lévi was to become an important figure within the cosmology of Thelema, the mystical system established by Aleister Crowley in the early twentieth century. Baphomet has been also connected with Satanism as well, primarly due to the adoption of its symbol by the Church of Satan.

Leo Taxil's poster for his hoax book about Freemasons and its public reveal depict Levi's Baphomet illustration
In 1885 Leo Taxil professed conversion to Catholicism, was solemnly received into the church, and renounced his earlier works. In the 1890s he wrote a series of pamphlets and books denouncing Freemasonry, charging their lodges with worshiping the devil (depicted as Levi's description and illustration of Bathomet) and alleging that Diana Vaughan had written for him her confessions of the Satanic "Palladism" cult. That book had great sales among Catholics, although Diana Vaughan never appeared in public. In 1892 Taxil also began to publish a paper La France chrétienne anti-maçonnique. In 1887 he had an audience with Pope Leo XIII, who rebuked the bishop of Charleston for denouncing the anti-Masonic confessions as a fraud and in 1896 sent his blessing to an anti-Masonic Congress in Trent.

Baphomet at a Freemason session. Picture from a hoax book by Leo Taxil (1890)
Doubts about Vaughan's veracity and even her existence began to grow, and finally Taxil promised to produce her at a lecture to be delivered by him on April 19, 1897. To the amazement of the audience (which included a number of priests), he announced that Diana was one of a series of hoaxes. He had begun, he said, by persuading the commandant of Marseille that the harbour was infested with sharks, and a ship was sent to destroy them. Next he invented an underwater city in Lake Geneva, drawing tourists and archaeologists to the spot. He thanked the bishops and Catholic newspapers for facilitating his crowning hoax, namely his conversion, which had exposed the anti-Masonic fanaticism of many Catholics. Diana Vaughan was revealed to be a simple typist in his employ, who laughingly allowed her name to be used by him. The audience received these revelations with indignation and contempt, and Taxil was mobbed on leaving the hall so that policemen had to escort him to a neighbouring café. He then moved away from Paris. He died in Sceaux in 1907.

Alex Yates ILLUSTRATIONS

Demon-of-love (Zabdiel) 


1 σχόλιο:

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