Central to the accusations brought against the Knights Templar was that they worshipped an idol, said to have taken the form of a head or sometimes a black cat. The Fifth category of accusations states that the brothers practiced idol worship of a cat or a head.
Although the popular mythology related to the Templars gives this idol the name of Baphomet, the fact remains that in all the testimonies against the Templars, the term Baphomet was used but twice.
That this one aspect of the Templars mythos, could generate so many theories as to its true origins is amazing. The interest in the Baphomet has survived over 600 years and taken many forms. The opinions on the Baphomet vary greatly from scholar to scholar and mystic path to mystic path. The purpose of this section is to shed some light on some of the theories and the connection, if any, to the Knights Templar.
One thing that is certain is that writers of the nineteenth century were prone to believe that the Templars were Devil worshipping Occultists, while historians of the twentieth century were of the belief that the Templars were party to the machinations of a corrupt government and church. It remains to be seen what the common consensus of this century will be regarding the order. While twentieth-century historians may have believed in their innocence, the Baphomet mythos did survive. This is indicated by the following dictionary definition:
“Baphomet was the deity worshipped by the Knights Templar, and in Black Magic as the source and creator of evil; the Satanic goat of the witches’ Sabbath and one of the names adopted by Aleister Crowley.”
Dictionary Of The Occult And Supernatural by Peter Underwood
The Popular Conception of Baphomet
The image of the Baphomet is as varied as the explanations as to its etymology. Below is an illustrative image of the Baphomet by the nineteenth-century Occultist, Eliphas Levi and a listing of some of the more common descriptions of it.
- An idol with a human skull
- Ahead with two faces
- With a beard
- Without a beard
- With the heads of a cockerel
- With the head of a man
- With the head of a goat and the body of a man but with wings and cloven feet
Levi’s illustration (above) shows the more popular appearance of the demon, said to be a symbol of lust, generation and wisdom.
- The head of the goat
- The upper body of a woman (maternity)
- Cloven feet
- A pair of wings
- A candle on its head
- a symbol of revelation combining male sexual potency with the four elements and intelligence.
The Templar Connection
Theories on the etymology of the Baphomet are many. To some, it is believed to be a corruption of the Moslem prophet “Mahomet” or in English Mohammed. The Templars fought alongside Moslem Assassins during their time and it is held that they may have adopted Islamic beliefs. This doesn’t really hold water to anyone familiar with Islam as the religion forbids all forms of idolatry.
Another train of thought is that Baphomet is really a joining of two Greek words meaning absorption into wisdom. In either case, the fact remains that the Templars were accused of practicing their initiations and rituals in front of a large idol of the demon Baphomet.
How did this belief come to be? Since King Philip of France sought to own the vast Templar wealth, he along with his puppet Pope Clement V had the Templars captured and tortured. During these tortures, they made many confessions, among these, the disclosure that they had worshipped an idol said to be the Baphomet. Were these claims true? Perhaps we’ll never know. Jacques de Molay, who had earlier confessed his and the Templars guilt slowly burned at the stake insisting the order was innocent of all but one offence, that of allowing torture to cause them to lie and confess untruths.