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The Templars and the origin of Baphomet

topic posted Sat, May 5, 2007 - 2:23 PM by  Anistara
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Food for ThOught:

At first look, it appears ghastly-a grotesque sphinx like creature, with the head of a goat, cloven hooves, and the body of a nude woman. It is the Baphomet, one of the most misunderstood religious symbols of all time.

The name Baphomet is derived from an enigmatic figure first described at the trials of the Templars, a medieval order of Crusader Monks accused of Heresy, witchcraft, and other crimes against the Catholic Church.

The Order, (ostensibly) founded in 1118 by nobleman Hugues de Payens, was the first of a number of Military Monastic Orders that flourished during the Crusade years. The word "Templar" derives from the full official name of the order, "The poor knights of Christ and the Temple of Solomon." Originally promoted as the protectors Christian pilgrims to Jerusalem, they were known as fierce warriors with tremendous military prowess.

In a very short time after their inception, the Knights Templar became very popular. They were exempted from taxation, and had amassed great wealth and property by the 13th century. By this time, Jerusalem had fallen back into Muslim hands, and enthusiasm for crusades was waning. The Templars were now living quite well. They had tremendous political and financial influence (even instituting Europe's first banking system).

However, with no Crusades to justify their continued existence, they became to some a target of resentment. King Phillip of France, possibly with an eye toward gaining control of Templar finances, issued secret orders to have all of the Templars in France arrested on grounds of heresy and sorcery. Torture elicited confessions of various crimes and heresies from many of the Knights. The laundry list of unlikely confessions included spitting on the cross, denying Christ, and worshipping an idol called Baphomet.

The Baphomet is still an enigma, and there is of course some debate whether or not it was a real item or the product of torture. Several knights recalled that Baphomet was variously a severed head, or an idol possessing two or four heads, or sometimes, as a goat or goat's head. The name is highly unusual, and many suggestions about the origin of the word have been put forward. Idries Shah has proposed that the name is a corruption of a name of Mohammed. Abufihamat, pronounced "Bufihimat," a word very similar to Baphomet, is Moorish-Spanish for "father of wisdom," an epithet used to describe the Prophet. This seems unlikely, although there seems to be a concerted effort to link the Templars with Islam. The Templars certainly had contact with Muslim ideas, and even incorporated symbols of Islam into their emblems, but Islam forbade Idol worship just as strenuously then as now- creating an image of the prophet in order to worship it would have been a tremendous blasphemy.
posted by:
Anistara
California
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  • Others have suggested more intriguing possibilities-a respected Dead Sea Scrolls scholar, Dr. Hugh Schonfield, believes that baphomet is a kabbalistic cipher for the Gnostic Goddess Sophia. The code, known as the "Atbash Cipher," is a common kabbalistic substitution cipher, where the Hebrew alphabet is laid out twice in opposite directions, each letter from the top row substituting for one on the lower. Using this system, the name Baphomet spelled in Hebrew characters yields the name Sophia. Curiously, a number of Templar artifacts bear an image of an unusual bearded androgyne which resembles alchemical drawings of the Anima Mundi, or soul of the world, who is identical to the Gnostic Sophia (Sophia was often referred to by the Gnostics as a hermaphroditic deity). Even more curiously, Gnostic texts often equate Sophia with Mary Magdalen, who is sometimes implied as the lover or companion of Christ. (They also resemble depictions of Abraxas, a Gnostic solar deity, and some images of Osiris used by Gnostic groups) The images are certainly not drawn from any orthodox Christian symbolism:

    altreligion.about.com/library...met6.jpg


    • Historians over the years have debated whether or not there was any truth at all to the charges against the Templars. There is some evidence of connections between the Knights and the Cathars, or Albigensians, a heretical Gnostic group which was the very first target of the inquisition. The Cathars were pious ascetics whose main offense to the Church seems to have been their acceptance of women as the spiritual equals of men, and their unusual beliefs about Mary Magdalen. In a time when it was still a matter of debate whether women had souls, even the suggestion was beyond blasphemy. (The Templars, too, seemed to take a more positive view of women. Surviving records show many instances of women joining the Order, a practice which was discontinued by Papal order.) The Cathar's last stand was in the mountain fortress of Montsegur. The Templars are rumored to have refused to participate in the fight, and may have assisted fleeing Cathars. The main trouble with a Cathar origin for Baphomet, however, is that the Cathars assiduously avoided any use of religious symbolism.
      • Another interesting connection between the two groups can be found in the Arthurian Grail romances. The imagery of the mysterious bearded head surfaces again in the Grail romances of Chretien of Troyes, where thinly disguised Templars are the Guardians of the Holy Grail. The grail in this story is not the cup of Christ of later versions, but a mysterious dish accompanied by a lance.

        The story, commissioned by a Templar nobleman, is rife with alchemical and sexual allegory. The hero Percival visits a mysterious castle, Montsalvat- believed by many to be identical to the Cathar stronghold of Montsegur. During his stay, he observes two odd processions: a maiden carrying a platter (the grail) with a single wafer on it, and a page carrying a lance which bleeds continuously. Out of respect, he avoids asking about the items.

        He awakens to find the castle deserted. Outside, he encounters the mysterious Fisher King, who is tellingly wounded "in the thigh," (an allusion to a loss of sexual potency) and admonishes the hero that his failure to discover the secret of the Grail and the lance has cursed the land with infertility (most of the grail stories follow in similar vein, seeming to hint at pre-Christian sexual rites associating the health of the land with the virility of the king). A fourteenth century painting underlines the hidden message of the Grail stories- it depicts the Grail knights kneeling before a glowing vision of the Goddess Venus: z.about.com/d/altreligio.../p/venus2.jpg
        • Eliphas Levi

          05/05
          "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 hermetecism, the one pointing up to the white moon of the Qabbalistic 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 ugly 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."

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