A Mystery Solved At Last

A Mystery Solved At Last Image
[from http://intranet.ca/~magicworks/knights/solved.html ]

Baphomet: A "Mystery" Solved At Last?

I wish to give my thanks to Frater Baraka IV of Whiskey Rebellion
Camp O.T.O. for his kindness in allowing me to reprint his
article and theory on the Baphomet here.

(This article originally appeared in the
official publication of Whiskey Rebellion Camp, Pittsburgh PA
Ordo Templi Orientis. (C
) 1995)

Baphomet: A "Mystery" Solved At Last?

by Frater Baraka, IV*

Sooner or later every student of either the esoteric or the
history of the Crusades encounters the name of an allegedly
sinister entity known as "Baphomet". Baphomet was said to be the
"god" or "idol" of the Knights Templar, but has also been
described as "the goat of Mendes", "the god of the witches", a
latter-day version of the Greek god Pan, a symbol of an
alchemical principal, and even Satan himself. And while each of
these has a following, there is evidence suggesting the
possibility that Baphomet's origins are not only not sinister,
but human rather than supernatural.

The "mystery" of Baphomet begins in 1307 with the demise of the
Knights Templar. The military order of "warrior monks" was
founded in 1118 in France after the First Crusade to protect
European pilgrims on their way to and from the Holy Land. For
nearly two centuries the Templars grew in size, strength,
political clout, reputation (good at first, but bad towards the
), but most of all in wealth, and this would prove to be their
undoing. In the early fourteenth century King Philip IV of
France, who was deeply in debt to the Templars, decided to not
only cancel that debt but seize their wealth and property for
himself and having his puppet pontiff Clement V dissolve the
order. To do this, Philip would have to have the Templars
convicted of heresy. With "evidence" gathered from agents who
infiltrated the Templars, along with a sworn deposition from a
disgruntled ex-Templar on whose testimony his prosecutors could
build a case, Philip made his move. Acting on sealed orders they
were not to open until the previous midnight, Philip's officials
arrested every Templar they could during the dawning hours of
Friday, October 13, 1307. While some of the charges, such as
sodomy and desecration of Christian symbols, were obviously silly
even to many people at the time, other allegations, such as the
chanting of "Yallah!" (Daraul, 1961), sounded like descriptions
of documented Sufi Muslim practices (Khan, 1974). But it is the
charge of worshipping an idol called "Baphomet" that has inspired
the most controversy.

At first, "Baphomet" was simply a head, and presumably a human
one, but under the duress of torture, Baphomet's descriptions
became progressively elaborate and fantastic. Nearly every
historian who has written on the subject has dismissed the
"Baphomet" issue as patently false, just one more trumped-up
charge against the Templars. However, after studying both the
hypothetical and more plausible connections between the Templars,
Sufism, and Freemasonry, I have come to the tentative conclusion
that the "Baphomet" matter may have contained a sizable element
of truth -- one which the inquisitors certainly distorted, but
true nonetheless.

Most of us who have heard of Baphomet first encountered the name
in either a history book or the works of Anton Szandor LaVey,
whose goat's-head-in-the-inverted-pentagram illustration is
supposed to be Baphomet, or else in the works of Aleister
Crowley, who equated Baphomet with the Greek god Pan (Crowley,
). Crowley even adopted the name "Baphomet" as his own motto
when he joined Ordo Templi Orientis (Order of the Oriental
Temple, or O.T.O.
). Other occult writers who have discussed
Baphomet include nineteenth century authors Eliphaz Levi and
Albert Pike, and Baphomet is the model for "The Devil" in the
Waite-Rider and Case-B.O.T.A. tarot decks. Many historians have
claimed that the name "Baphomet" was Old French for Muhammad,
whose name is sometimes spelled Mahomet, although Crowley (1989)
presented an interesting, but probably coincidental, claim that
the name came from a Greek phrase for "baptism of wisdom". The
problem with Crowley's case is it overlooks two basic facts about
the Templars: 1) as Roman Catholics, Greek names were not that
important to them (and to Catholics at the time, the Greek
Orthodox Christians were in some ways just as much "infidels" as
the Muslims
), and 2) the Templars who lived in the Holy Land,
along with the masons they employed, had to deal with the local
population on a regular basis, often became fluent in Arabic, and
for a European in the Holy Land --Templars included -- to "go
" was not particularly unusual. But it was in the
pop-history book" Blood, Holy "that I first came
across the idea that "Baphomet" was derived from an Arabic term,
"meaning "Father of Understanding", rather than from
an Old French name for the founder of Islam. Since that book,
although a "good read", is not one scholars take seriously due to
its highly speculative theses, I decided to check their source
for this, Idries Shah's which contains additional
relevant information discussed below.

For now I tend to favor the Arabic origins over the Old French
for the following reasons: first, as an iconoclastic religion,
Islam strictly forbids images, either painted or sculpted, of
either God or Muhammad, so the idea of even unorthodox Muslims
worshipping an idol is simply ludicrous. Second, of those authors
I have read who claim that "any expert on Old French" will say
that Baphomet was another name for Muhammad never actually cite
any such Old French experts to document this assertion. One such
writer was Peter Partner, who even found a French troubadour
ballad from the late thirteenth century and published an English
translation, showing parenthetically that "Bafometz" had appeared
in the original French (he had rendered it as "Mohammed" as if
this had somehow proved his point
). What Partner had
inadvertently done was prove that a) Baphomet was a known entity
before the demise of the Templars, and most likely a person with
spiritual power, capable of working miracles (although Islam
never credits Muhammad with any "miracle" other than receiving
the Qu'ran
), and b) that Baphomet was known among non-Templars
(although Partner believed the ballad's author was an ex-Templar,
that troubadour's audience certainly had non-Templars among
), and if Shah is correct in his assertions about Sufic
influences on the troubadours, then we have in the ballad Partner
quoted possible proof of a link between Sufism and Baphomet. (As
for the Templars and the Sufis, not only were there many
documented contacts between Templars and Sufis [as well as other
unorthodox Muslims such as the Ismailis
] during their time in the
Middle East, but there were also opportunities for contacts in
Europe. France, after all, borders Spain, and during the Crusades
Sufism flourished in Muslim-ruled Spain and influenced the early
Qabalistic Jews and other mystics on both sides of the border;
Robert Graves, in his introduction to Shah's book, even claimed
that Templars fought alongside Sufi warriors in Spain. And many
Masonic trappings, such as the checkered floor and the tolerance
of all monotheistic religions, are at least Islamic in origin if
not specifically Sufic.) But in my opinion the strongest support
for Baphomet as abufihamet is the number of Arabic sobriquets
which begin with abu which belonged to historical individuals
rather than esoteric principles.

One such individual was the tenth century Sufi martyr Husayn ibn
Mansur al-Hallaj, who died in 922CE. A pantheist, an alleged
miracle worker, and a most definitely unorthodox Muslim, Hallaj
was imprisoned and tried for blasphemy for his public
descriptions of his mystical union with God. Finally convicted
after a nine year inquiry, Hallaj was maimed, crucified,
beheaded, and his torso was cremated. Some of the stories
surrounding his death include an account of the Caliph's Queen
Mother having Hallaj's head preserved as a relic (Singh, 1970).
Various Sufi sects have rituals commemorating Hallaj's death, and
Shah claimed that Hallaj was the model for the "Hiram Abiff"
character in the Master Mason initiation ritual. Although Shah
cited other reasons connecting Hallaj to Hiram Abiff and the sect
of Sufis known as "the Builders" (who built the Al Aqsa Mosque
and the Dome of the Rock on the site of Solomon's Temple in
Jerusalem, which was the Holy Land headquarters for the Templars
and the mythical scene of Masonic initiations
), Hallaj bore some
interesting parallels to the Old Testament's descriptions of
Hiram the artificer: first, both men were sons of widows; second,
both men had "sons of David" play key roles in their lives (Hiram
worked for Solomon, and one of Hallaj's prosecutors was named Ibn
Daud [Massignon, 1994], which is Arabic for "Son of David"
), and
third, the Old Testament Hebrew for "Abiff" is abyu
(Kohlenberger, 1987). Having already encountered writers who
hypothesized a connection between the Templars and Freemasonry
(which, although plausible, is nowhere near as romantic or
fantastic as some, such as John J. Robinson in" in "have claimed
), I had already found the first two most
interesting, and further investigation of Hallaj, who, according
to the medieval Islamic poet and historian Farid al-Din Attar,
turns out to have been known by several titles beginning with
abu-, brought the third coincidence to my attention. And since,
as noted above, some of the Templars may indeed have been
participants in documented Sufi practices, could the charge that
the Templars "worshipped a head called Baphomet" not have had
some factual basis, namely the commemoration of a decapitated
Sufi martyr whose head became a relic and who had been given the
sobriquet abufihamet? The only problem here is that despite all
the other abu- titles belonging to Hallaj, there is no known
documentation linking him to abufihamet. Perhaps this
documentation does exist (it would be useless to hypothesis that
"perhaps it once existed, but no longer does"
), but has not yet
come to my attention, and should someone who knows of it ever
read this essay, I would be most appreciative to hear of it.
Until then, the above thesis, although plausible in my opinion,
and hopefully interesting to the reader, remains purely
speculative. But if it does turn up, then at last we will have
proof positive that the Templars possessed a body of knowledge
that would later become known to the Freemasons, regardless of
how Freemasonry came to be.


Attar, Farid al-Din (A.J. Arberry, trans.)" Saints and
"New York: Arkana, 1990.

Baigent, Michael, Leigh, Richard, and Lincoln, Henry"
Blood, Holy "New York: Dell, 1982.

Case, Paul Foster
" Tarot: A Key to the Wisdom of the "(revised edition). Los Angeles: Builders of the Adytum, 1990.

Crowley, Aleister
" Book of "York Beach: Samuel
Weiser, 1974.

The Confessions of Aleister "New York: Arkana, 1989.

Daraul, Arkon
" History of Secret "New York: Citadel
Press, 1961.

Howarth, Stephen
" Knights "New York: Dorset, 1991.

Khan, Pir Vilayat Inayat
" the "New York: Harper
Colophon, 1974.

Kohlenberger, John R. III, ed
" New International Version
Hebrew-English Interlinear Old "Grand Rapids:
Zondervan, 1987.

LaVey, Anton Szandor
" Satanic "New York: Avon Books,

Levi, Eliphaz (A.E. Waite, trans.) York
Beach: Samuel Weiser, 1970.

Massignon, Louis (H. Mason, ed. & trans.)
": Mystic and
"Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1994.

Partner, Peter
" Murdered Magicians: The Templars and their
Myth. New York: Barnes & Noble Books, 1993.

Pike, Albert" and Dogma of the Ancient and Accepted
Scottish Rite of "Charleston: Supreme Council of the
Thirty Third Degree for the Southern United States, 1871.

Robinson, John J
" in Blood: The Lost Secrets of
"New York: Evans, 1989", Fire, and Sword: The Knights Templar in the
"New York: Evans, 1991.

Shah, Idries New York: Doubleday Anchor, 1964.

Singh, Kapur
" Al-"Patiala: Guru Gobind Singh,
Department of Religious Studies, Punjabi University, 1970.

Waite, Arthur Edward" Key to the "New York:
Causeway, no date.

Frater Baraka invites opinions and support to his thesis. Those
wishing to contact the author may write to him at P.O. Box
101722, Pittsburgh PA, 15237 or zentao93@juno.com

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