Baphomet: A Serious Study

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Important Notice(s): Before reading this article, it is highly preferable that the reader make sure he has good general knowledge on the more traditional interpretation(s) of the origins of Baphomet and how it rose to popularity because of the sometimes interesting, some other times gawky conclusions of Eliphas Levi. I am not a scholar on the subject or an historian with a degree but the conclusions brought by the order of nine angles traditions seems to split the bridge in two from an etymological standpoint. When sufficient knowledge has been gathered, the reader is required to read this three pages MSS to be able to follow my conclusions and understand properly the unique interpretation of Baphomet in the sinister tradition. In the printed Hostia Volume II, (p.230), there is also mention of the possibility of a connection with Γαῖα which resonates with my conclusions when it comes to the goddess Ῥέα. In complete honesty, I had overlooked this part of Hostia when I wrote this article. 

baphomet-according-to-tradition

I will entirely abstain to comment on the very typical and controversial “Goat of Mendes”, be it for a few etymological references. My main objective is to provide a serious study of Baphomet in regard to the sinister tradition which is, as far as I know, the first esoteric movement to label this archetype as an essentialy feminine shapeshifter. Even though Levi presented the archetype as androgynous, (inspiring himself from gargoyles sculptures that were similar to the god Cernunnos) various occultists that studied its obscure etymology were led to believe it was actually very much masculine and father-like:

“Arkon Daraul, an author and teacher of Sufi tradition and magic argued that Baphomet came from the Arabic word Abu fihama(t), meaning “The Father of Understanding”. -Arkon Daraul, A History of Secret Societies.”

Levi seemed to come to a similar conclusion also:

“The name of the Templar Baphomet, which should be spelt kabalistically backwards, is composed of three abbreviations: Tem. ohp. AB., Templi omnium hominum pacts abbas, the father of the temple of peace of all men.” -Eliphas Levi, Dogmes et Rituels de la Haute Magie.

The main argument for this is mainly that one of the first references for Baphomet is believed to come from a 1098 letter, written by the crusader Anselm of Ribemont:

“As the next day dawned, they called loudly upon Baphometh; and we prayed silently in our hearts to God, then we attacked and forced all of them outside the city walls.” -Anselm of Ribemont.

Knowing how educated the crusaders used to be, it is concluded that some of them were inspired by certain idols in the Middle East and maybe even by alchemy. Thus, Baphomet could be inspired etymologically by Mahomet…

“The name Baphomet comes up in several of these confessions. Peter Partner states in his 1987 book The Knights Templar and their Myth, In the trial of the Templars one of their main charges was their supposed worship of a heathen idol-head known as a Baphomet” -Peter Partner.

But someone dug deeper, Dr. Hugh Schonfield, one of the scholars who worked on the Dead Sea Scrolls, thought about experimenting with the word Baphomet with the Atbash Cipher. His conclusions seems to always point toward the word “Wisdom”.

“The Atbash Cipher is a Hebrew code which substitutes the first letter of the alphabet for the last and the second letter for the second last and so on. When [the Hebrew letters that spell] Baphomet is applied to this code, it generates the Greek word Sophia which is translated in English as Wisdom. The Greek Goddess Sophia is brought to mind here.” -Dr. Hugh Schonfield.

This is where it gets more interesting and closer to the conclusions in the order of nine angles:

“The word Baphomet is semi-Greek: Baphe Metis. It means initiation by origin of water (baptismo) and Wisdom of Measurement as by math (metes – metric). In esoteric literature there is shown the far more ancient Babylonian version of the word: Bahu Mid.” -Dr. Hugh Schonfield.

When Schonfield applied his Atbash Cipher to all these etymologies he ended up with a greek derivative:

“Although written in Hebrew it reads as the Greek word Sophia that translates into “Wisdom” in English. No matter what you use, Wisdom is always coming up with regards to this word Baphomet, whether you use Sophia, Bahu Mid, or Baphemetis. What does all of this show? Sophia is Upper Shekina! Sophia is also Wisdom. Baphe Metis means Initiation into Wisdom. The word Baphe is some kind of lingo jargon made from the either the word baptismo or Bahu. Water and Spirit (kundalini) are Bahu and Shekina!” -Dr. Hugh Schonfield.

For more informations on the wisdom interpretaion of Schonfield, the Atbash Cipher or the upper & lower wisdom, read his numerous works or “Chemical Wedding” by Bruce Dickinson & Julian Doyle…


Now that we ventured in the more general studies of the origin of Baphomet, we shall dive into David Myatt interpretation of this archetype which led him to believe it had more muliebral qualities (See the MSS above). Continuing it seems, with the Greek inclinations but before, it is extremely important to note, as some other scholar noted that:

“I should point out that Baphe is not a Greek word, ancient or Biblical, that means Wisdom, Initiation, Holy Spirit, Cleansing, or anything normally related to Baptism in everyday speech. Baphe is a noun in Attic Greek that means “dye” as in coloring. However, Baptein means the verb “to dye” as in to color something by dipping it.” -Unknown.

In the MSS: Baphomet, an esoteric signification, we can see that Myatt was probably aware of this when he shared this fragment from “The Persians”.

βαφή: dyeing, dipped in, stained; and a metaphor for blood, qv. Aeschylus, Πέρσαι, vv. 316-7 πυρρὰν ζαπληθῆ δάσκιον γενειάδα ἔτεγγ᾽ ἀμείβων χρῶτα πορφυρέᾳ βαφῇ. -Baphomet, an esoteric signification.

And Also:

“The name of Baphomet is regarded by Traditional Satanists as meaning “the mistress (or mother) of blood” – the Mistress who sometimes washes in the blood of her foes and whose hands are thereby stained.” -Baphomet, an esoteric signification.

Personally, I am led toward an interesting conclusion which is maybe what Myatt had in mind ultimately but it is hard to know. According to the tradition, Baphomet is considered to be:

“In the Septenary System, Baphomet, as Mistress of Earth, is linked to the sixth sphere (Jupiter) and the star Deneb. She is thus in one sense a magickal “Earth Gate” (qv. the Nine Angles), and Her reflexion (or ‘causal’ nature – as against Her acausal or Sinister nature) is the third sphere (Venus) related to the star Antares” -Baphomet, an esoteric signification.

The Greek sources that Myatt provides from various classical/occult authors could be interpreted in many different manners and do not point to a solely sinister manifestation like presented in the tradition. In ancient Greece and ancient Egypt, being “possessed by the mother of the gods” (μητρίζω) was definitively not a possession in the demonic kind of way. It was more often than not, a mean to divination or to semi-godhood as it is so often shown in Greek mythology. Also ΜΗΤΡΙΣ literally means  Mother (Earth). Continuing with this line of thought we can see that Myatt shares that “μητρίς” means motherland which was long believed in ancient greek to mean fatherland:

“Blessed and ill-fated – for both are your birthright – you search for your fatherland: but it is your mother’s land, not your father’s. There is an island, Ios, hometown of your mother, which will receive you after you die; but beware the riddle of the young boys.” -Pausanias

And finally:

“μήτηρ: mother; qv. Hesiod, Ἔργα καὶ Ἡμέραι, 563, where the expression ‘mother of all’ occurs:” -Baphomet – An esoteric signification.

My opinion and conclusions, according to these greek quotes (See MSS) is that, Baphomet was inspired or IS a manifestation of the Greek Goddess Rhea or perhaps Hecate/Artemis… In the order of nine angles tradition, Baphomet is supposedly the Mistress of Earth, an Earth Gate, the mother of all “demons” and known to be stained in blood… Rhea is the daughter of Gaïa (Mother earth/mother of all) and she represents the flow of time which is a metaphor for motherhood and menstrual blood which could explain why Baphomet is considered by satanists to be a blood stained mother. She is also known as “THE MOTHER OF GODS” which again, is fitting with the satanist association to Lilith; the mother of all demons.

“Some consider Rhea to be merely another form of era, the earth, while others connect it withrheô, I flow (Plat. Cratyl. p. 401, &c.); but thus much seems undeniable, that Rhea, like Demeter, was a goddess of the earth.” -Theoi Encyclopedia.

In Hostia, volume I, there is also two sections (that I had overlooked and added to this article; 2016/7/13) where the origin of Baphomet is discussed. In the printed Hostia Volume II, (p.230), there is also mention of the possibility of a connection with Γαῖα which resonates with my conclusions when it comes to the goddess Ῥέα:

“There is a tradition regarding the origin of the name Baphomet which deserves recording, even though it is not regarded as authentic, having no present-day proponents. This tradition regards the name as deriving from ~ouaacr’tLC; ­ the Greek name for the Egyptian goddess Bastet, recorded by Herodotus (2.137 ff). It is interesting that Herodotus identifies the goddess with Artemis, the goddess of the moon. Bubastis was regarded as the daughter of Osiris and Isis and often represented as a female with the head of a cat – cats were regarded as sacred to her. Artemis was a goddess unmoved by love and she was regarded as Apollo’s twin sister (the identification of her as a ‘moon goddess’ followed naturally from this since Apollo was linked with the sun). Like Apollo, she often sent death and plagues, and was propitiated sometimes with sacrifices. It is interesting that (a) ~ou~acr’t£La is the Pythagorean name for ‘five’ [qv. Iamblicus: Theologumena Arithmeticae, 31] • perhaps a link with the ‘pentagram’?; (b) the Templars, with whom the name Baphomet is associated, were said to have worshipped their deity in the form of a cat.” -Hostia, volume I, (p.41)

And also:

“The tradition recorded above, and the one described in part I, both regard Baphomet as a female divinity – and both are esoteric traditions, hitherto unrecorded. It is possible that both are correct – that is, that the actual name Baphomet derives (as mentioned in part I) from the Greek: (See Hostia for Greek) the prefix refering to being ‘dyed/ stained’ or ‘dipped’ in blood -qv. Euripides,Hercules Furens: (See Hostia for Greek) (1190) The suffix derives from ‘mother’ or ‘mistress’ used in a religious sense (qv. Iamblicus ‘De Mysteriis’). This name – Baphomet – is thus a descriptive one for the “dark” (i.e lunar) goddess, to whom sacrifices were made, and which was actually known in former times as ‘Bubastis’ – that is. Bastet, to whom cats were sacred. Thus, Baphomet could be regarded as a form of Artemis/ Bastet – a female divinity with a ‘dark’ side or nature [when viewed via conventional morality] to whom sacrifices have been. and continue to be. made. Sinister tradition regards Baphomet as the Bride of Satan/Lucifer – this would fit well since Lucifer is often regarded as a form of Apollo: Artemis is the female form(‘sister’) of Apollo. Here. it must be remembered that both Apollo and Artemis were not aetherial. moral and lofty divinities (the classical gods have been romantically misinterpreted) – they could be. and often were. deadly and dark: both ‘sinister’ and ‘light’. ” -Hostia, volume I, (p.41)

Also deeply fascinating is that there is a goddess called Metis which again, seems to correlate with the semi-Greek “Baphe Metis” that is linked to wisdom. Moreover, she was considered to be an Oceanid (The lesser gods and goddesses of the rivers, the sea, and the springs.) which fits perfectly with the interpretation that Baphe Metis means: initiation by origin of water (baptismo), yet again giving credit to the fact that Baphomet origin might be found in Greek mythology.

“Metis /ˈmts/ (Μῆτις, “wisdom,” “skill,” or “craft”), in ancient Greek religion, was of the Titan generation and, like several primordial figures, an Oceanid, in the sense that Metis was born of Oceanus and his sister Tethys, of an earlier age than Zeus and his siblings. Metis was the first great spouse of Zeus” -Wikipedia

Myatt also knew what Metis meant as seen again in the MSS: Baphomet – An Esoteric Signification:

“μῆτις/μήτιος: wise, skilled, craft. The form μήτιος occurs in Pindar, Nemean Odes, 3, 9 τᾶς ἀφθονίαν ὄπαζε μήτιος ἀμᾶς ἄπο” -Baphomet – An esoteric signification.

Also crucial is the following which seems to confirm my conclusions:

This tradition regards the name as deriving from  [boubastis] – the Greek name for the Egyptian goddess Bastet, recorded by Herodotus (2.137 ff). It is interesting that Herodotus identifies the goddess with Artemis, the goddess of the moon. Bubastis was regarded as the daughter of Osiris and Isis and often represented as a female with the head of a cat – cats were regarded as sacred to her. Artemis was a goddess unmoved by love and she was regarded as Apollo’s twin sister (the identification of her as a ‘moon goddess’ followed naturally from this since Apollo was linked with the sun). Like Apollo, she often sent death and plagues, and was propitiated sometimes with sacrifices. It is interesting that (a) [boubasteia] is the Pythagorean name for
‘five’ [qv. Iamblicus: Theologumena Arithmeticae, 31] – perhaps a link with the
‘pentagram’?; (b) the Templars, with whom the name Baphomet is associated,
were said to have worshipped their deity in the form of a cat. The tradition recorded above, and the one described in part I, both regard Baphomet as a female divinity – and both are esoteric traditions, hitherto unrecorded. It is possible that both are correct that is, that the actual name Baphomet derives (as mentioned in part I) from the Greek μ [baphe metra]: the prefix referring to being ‘dyed/stained’ or ‘dipped’ in blood. The suffix derives from ‘mother’ or ‘mistress’ used in a religious sense (qv. Iamblicus ‘De Mysteriis’). This name – Baphomet – is thus a descriptive one for the “dark” (i.e lunar) goddess, to whom sacrifices were made, and which was actually known in former times as ‘Bubastis’ – that is, Bastet, to whom cats were sacred. Thus,
Baphomet could be regarded as a form of Artemis/Bastet – a female divinity with
a ‘dark’ side or nature (when viewed via conventional morality) to whom
sacrifices have been, and continue to be, made. Sinister tradition regards
Baphomet as the Bride of Satan/Lucifer – this would fit well since Lucifer is often
regarded as a form of Apollo: Artemis is the female form (‘sister’) of Apollo. Here,
it must be remembered that both Apollo and Artemis were not aetherial, moral
and lofty divinities (the classical gods have been romantically misinterpreted) –
they could be, and often were, deadly and dark: both ‘sinister’ and ‘light’ -Baphomet According To Tradition

Whatever the truth is concerning Baphomet origins, it seems that the roots of this archetype were kept a secret or are born out of certain mixtures from around the world such as Bastet, Hecate, Artemis, Rhea, Gaïa (…)  The order of nine angles added to these alterations, giving to the androginous archetype a muliebral emphasis in favor of a masculous one. This supports the tradition entirely:

“One of the most outward practical signs of the O9A logos is the fact that the
O9A has and always has had Sapphic nexions and “has more female
supporters than either the Church of Satan or the Temple of Set [and] more
women with children.” {5} For the code of kindred honour embodies respect
for women and gender equality and – as is evident from basic texts such as
Naos – the O9A also embodies equality in regard to the sexual preference of
individuals. Furthermore, the O9A has always emphasized that “only through
the female are the forces represented by the three alchemical substances
and their nine combinations capable of being released in a physical way.” {6}
That is, it is women who are the key to creating, opening – and keeping open
– nexions to the acausal. Thus, in the O9A, women are of fundamental
importance, equal partners, and indeed essential to the O9A, with the O9A
ethos contrary to and opposed to the misogyny still so rife in the Western
world, as elsewhere.” -O9A in Disguise.

I do believe that Anton Long chosen sources to represent Baphomet as a dark feminine entity are a bit stretched and could fit the goddess Rhea just as well. But ultimately, it is the task of the practicioner to discover for himself the true acausal essence of Baphomet through praxis. All that is written here is merely another interpretation by a passionate occultist, a scholar attempt and nothing more. My conclusions, as always, are fallible.

-Beldam, 128 yf

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6 thoughts on “Baphomet: A Serious Study

  1. Interesting study and research. Hard to know what the ‘correct’ interpretation is, but your sources are accurate. I did not include your research in mine with regards to the archetype of the Femme Fatale. I had a different angle from which to approach Baphomet, but your conclusion with regard to the importance of the feminine within the Sinister Tradition coincides with mine.

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  2. It is worth observing that Western magick assigns the Goat of Mendes to the Sphere of the Sun, specifically insofar as the Sphere of the Sun unifies the magickian with her Higher Self. Baphomet of Mendes is held to be a symbolization of magickal adepthood. This strongly parallels the O9A’s description as Mother Baphomet as the archetypal Rounwytha, and therefore, also a symbol of the magickian-turned-adept.

    Do you think that the conception of Baphomet being dyed-in-blood could relate to the alchemical process of Rubedo? Von Sangettal attributed the Sphere of Mars to Rubedo due to the planet’s blood-red color, an attribution which traditional Gematria correspondences cited by Thelemites confirms.

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    1. Good day my friend,

      My honest opinion concerning your question is that it is highly plausible that the traditional archetype of Baphomet could be alchemically represented by the process of the Rubedo since the Goat of Mendes has always been represented as hermaphrodite (Union of the dual).

      As for Von Sangettal attribution, I believe it to be most correct. According to my table of correspondences, the planet mars is attributed to blood and the ruby stone. I also do not recall where I have been reading this but the Sun & Mars Spheres represent a very important stage of discovery for the follower of the Seven-Fold-Way. I will post it here if I ever stumble upon it again.

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      1. I compared the descriptions of the planetary initiations via the Tree of Wyrd written by Hagur, Sangettal, and Fleming to the descriptions of the planetary initiations via the Qliphoth as written by Asenath Mason, Dragon Rouge, Michael W. Ford, and the 218 Current (not to mention my defunct coven’s experience). While the results of a planetary initiation (i.e. sphereworking) are something deeply individual and often very nuanced, all the initiatory ordeals following initiation through the sphere of, say, Venus, fall under a similar category. There’s really no difference in the effects of initiation through the sphere of the Sun, whether one uses the Sephiroth or the Tree of Wyrd (the Qliphoth has a sphere of the Black Sun instead, which is an initiatory force all its own). These schemas are just ways to contact and self-initiate via planetary forces.

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