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History of Baphomet: Alchemy, Templars

To: alt.magick.tyagi,alt.mythology,alt.thelema,alt.satanism,alt.magick,alt.pagan,talk.religion.newage
From: (nocTifer)
Subject: History of Baphomet: Alchemy, Templars (LONG)
Date: 16 Jun 1998 12:51:57 -0700

apologies for any duplication

I'm investigating the alchemical background behind the figure and name
of "Baphomet", which appears to have been applied around the turn of
the century to a variety of graphic images, some alchemical and some
merely unconventional.  typically it is fused in the exposition of the
apologist with the object of worship of the Knights Templar, but this
does not really bear out in the extant records of their trials and
the condemnations levelled against them (the usual term used there
is 'mahomet' and probably relates to a vicious accusation of frater-
nization with the Muslims).

two main sources I'd like analyzed are both apparently suspect, the
latter plagiarizing the former: Eliphas Levi and Albert Pike.  the
texts in which they ascribe alchemic connotation are included below
for a foundation upon which to critique both (Waite is sometimes
quite critical of Levi as a source and makes some categorical state-
ments of his own I'd like analyzed) and these brief extracts can
be found in their greater entirety as excerpts at the following URL:

the first set are from Levi's _Transcendental Magic_:

# The Gnostics represented [Azoth, the Universal Agent, Universal Medicine,
# Philosopher's Stone, etc.] as the fiery body of the Holy Spirit; it was
# the object of adoration in the Secret Rites of the Sabbath of the Temple,
# under the hieroglyphic figure of Baphomet or the Androgyne of Mendes.
# ---------------------------------------------------------------------
# _Transcendental Magic: its Doctrine and Ritual_, by Eliphas Levi,
#   transl. by A.E. Waite, Braken Books, 1995; p. 16.
# __________________________________________________________________

# At the beginning of the French translation of a book by the Sieur de
# Nuisement on the Philosophic Salt,
# {ED NOTE:  The Sieur de Nuisement is described as Receiver-General of
#         the Comte de Ligny-en-Barrois.  He belongs to the seventeenth
#         century and derived his alchemical inspiration from the
#         Cosmopolite, otherwise Sendivogius or Alexander Seton.  He
#         appears to have written in Latin, and the work to which Levi
#         refers was rendered into French and appeared originally in
#         1621 was _Traitez du Vray Sel, *Secret des Philosophes et des
#         l'Esprit general du Monde*, etc._.  Later editions are those
#         of 1639 & 1639.  According to Lenglet Du Fresnoy, it formed
#         part of a work entitled _Elements Chimiques et Spagiriques_
#         which has not otherwise been printed.}
# the spirit of the earth is represented standing on a cube over which
# tongues of flame are passing; the phallus is replaced by a caduceus;
# the sun and moon figure on the right and left breast; the figure is
# bearded, crowned and holds a sceptre in his hand.  This is the
# AZOTH of the sages on its pedestal of Salt and Sulphur.  The
# symbolic head of the goat of Mendes is occasionally given to this
# figure, and it is then the Baphomet of the Templars and the Word of
# the Gnostics -- bizarre images which became scarecrows for the
# vulgar after affording food for reflection to sages -- innocent
# hieroglyphs of thought and faith which  have been a pretext for the
# rage of persecutions.
# ---------------------------------------------------
# Ibid., p. 207 +n.
# _________________

I'd especially enjoy it if someone could at least verify whether
the above mentioned book in fact exists and how closely the figure
portrayed bears resemblance to the Levi Baphomet depicted in his text.

# CHAPTER XV The Sabbath of the Sorcerers
# We recur once more to that terrible number fifteen symbolised in the
# Tarot by a monster throned upon an altar, mitred and horned, having
# a woman's breasts and the generative organs of a man -- a chimera,
# a malformed sphinx, a synthesis of deformities.  Below this figure
# we read a frank and simple inscription -- The Devil.  Yes, we
# confront here that phantom of all terrors, the dragon of all
# theogonies, the Ahriman of the Persians, the Typhon of the Egyptians,
# the Python of the Greeks, the old serpent of the Hebrews, the
# fantastic monster, the nightmare, the Croquemitaine, the gargoyle,
# the great beast of the middle ages, and -- worse than all these --
# the Baphomet of the Templars, the bearded idol of the alchemists,
# the obscene deity of Mendes, the goat of the Sabbath.  The
# frontispiece to this Ritual [the Levi Baphomet] reproduces the exact
# figure of the terrible emperor of night, with all his attributes and
# all his characters.

I'd to get some idea if there is anything that Levi might be
referring to which could be called "the bearded idol of the
alchemists", however fallacious or ridiculously-based this may be.

here describing the figure itself:

# One of the arms is feminine and other
# masculine, as in the Androgyne of Khunrath, whose attributes we have
# combined with those of our goat, since they are one and the same
# symbol.

I have been informed that Levi was greatly inspired by this so-called
"Androgyne of Khunrath", and if anyone could elaborate a general
comparison between the two figures or verify that what Levi says
about it is accurate, I'd apprecaite it.  are there specific texts
to which I may refer that will have the graphic and/or describe
what the Androgyne meant to alchemists?

# {ED NOTE:  ....
#         Levi ...affirm[s] that the monster in question
#         was a pantheistic figure of the Univeral Agent and also the
#         bearded demon of alchemists.  There is, however, no such demon
#         in the pictorial emblems of Hermetic Philosophy, nor is it
#         true, as he adds, that ancient Hermetic Masonry in its highest
#         Grades referred the achievement of the Great Work to a bearded
#         demon, the reason in this case being that no Hermetic Masonry
#         is older than the second half of the eighteenth century.}

# ------------------------------------------
# Ibid., pp. 375-80 +n.
# _____________________

here Waite fairly and soundly identifies Levi as a source on this
figure's history and meaning.  I would like to know if Waite's
categorical denial of predecessors is accurate from your knowledge.

# ...the old grand idol of the Goat of Mendes....

# According to some, the Baphomet was a monstrous head, but according to
# others, a demon in the form of a goat.  A sculpted coffer was disinterred
# recently in the ruins of an old Commandery of the Temple, and antiquaries
# observed upon it a baphometic figure, corresponding by its attributes to
# the goat of Mendes and the androgyne of Khunrath.  It was a bearded
# figure with a female body, holding the sun in one hand and the moon in
# the other, attached to chains.  Now, this virile head is a beautiful
# allegory which attributes to thought alone the initiative and creative
# principle.  Here the head represents spirit and the body matter.  The
# orbs enchained to the human form and directed by that Nature of which
# intelligence is the head, are also magnificently allegorical.
# -------------------------------------------------------------
# Ibid., pp. 385-7 +n.
# ____________________

I would like to find out also to what it is that he refers when he
speaks of the "Goat of Mendes" and if there are also reliable
references on this figure or if it is a quasi-projection of the
Hermetic, fevered imagination to which Levi, Crowley and LaVey
have seen fit to succomb.

secondarily I would like to have slight comment on the words of
Albert Pike, whose text at least pretends to alchemic integrity:

# To know how to extract from all matter the pure salt concealed in it,
# is to have the Secret of the Stone.  Wherefore this is a Saline stone,
# which the Od or universal astral light decomposes or re-compounds: it
# is single and manifold; for it may be dissolved like ordinary salt,
# and incorporated with other substances.  Obtained by analysis, we
# might term it *the Universal Sublimate:* found by way of synthesis,
# it is the true *panacea* of the ancients, for it cures all maladies
# of soul and body, and has been styled, *par-excellence*, the medicine
# of all nature.  When one, by absolute initiation, comes to control
# the forces of the universal agent, he always has this stone at his
# disposal, for its extraction is then a simple and easy operation,
# very distinct from the metallic projection or realization.  This
# stone, when in a state of sublimation, must not be exposed to contact
# with the atmospheric air, which might partially dissolve it and
# deprive it of its virue; nor could its emanations be inhaled without
# danger.  The Sage prefers to preserve it in its natural envelopes,
# assured as he is of extracting it by a single effort of will, and a
# single application of the Universal Agent to the envelopes, which
# the Kabalists call *cortices*, the shells, bark, or integuments.
# Hieroglyphically to express this law of prudence, they gave their
# Mercury, personified in Egypt as Hermanubis, a dog's head; and to
# their Sulphur, represented by the Baphomet of the Temple, the goat's
# head which brought into such disrepute the occult Mediaeval
# associations.
# _Morals and Dogma_, by Albert Pike, L.H. Jenkins, Inc., 1950; p. 779.
# _____________________________________________________________________

is Pike's text here a plagiarism of some type?  (he blatantly takes
the text of Levi as his own elsewhere)   does it make sense to the
practical and theoretical alchemists among you, seeming as it does
to me that he is talking about rather nefarious enterprises (the
'shells' of the Kabbalah are typically affiliated with demons, etc.)?

# There is in nature one most potent force, by means whereof a single
# man, who could possess himself of it, and should know how to direct
# it, could revolutionize and change the face of the world.
# This force was known to the ancients.  It is a universal agent,
# whose Supreme law is equilibrium; and whereby, if science can but
# learn how to control it, it will be possible to change the order
# of the Seasons, to produce in night the phenomena of day, to send
# a thought in an instant round the world, to heal or slay at a
# distance, to give our words universal success, and make them
# reverberate everywhere.
# This agent, partially revealed by the blind guesses of the disciples
# of Mesmer, is percisely what the Adepts of the middle ages called the
# elementary matter of the great work.  The Gnostics held that it
# composed the igneous body of the Holy Spirit; and it was adored in
# the secret rites of the Sabbat or the Temple, under the hieroglyphic
# figure of Baphomet or the hermaphroditic goat of Mendes.
# Ibid., p. 734.
# ______________

here at the last is a word for word plagiarism of Levi's text,
and I would like to know if there is anything known about Pike
as a source (Scottish Masons apparently find him quite integral
to their rites), especially about alchemical description and/or

last but not least I'd enjoy it if you could say something about
the figure of the rooster with the human face on its breast.
this apparently symbolizes the alchemical "Mercurius", and was
identified by Crowley as 'Baphomet'.  I noticed that the text
of Sir Richard Payne Knight's study of Priapus contained a
picture of it, labelled 'Baphomet', also.

thank you for your time.  if you could cc me any response I
would greatly appreciate it, as I don't always receive the
posts to this email list. (nocTifer)
=================================================  ADDENDUM

overheard on IRC:


the first equates to the last and so forth

aleph = tau
beth  = shin
gimel = resh


by this method one may discern that Sophia (SVPYA) is the
equivalent of Baphomet (BPVMT).

-- (emailed replies may be posted); 408/2-666-SLUG
cc me replies;;

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