There have been many rumors and claims regarding this symbol, and here we recount the Church of Satan’s discovery and use of this powerful image.
Prior to the worldwide press given the Church of Satan—and later the publication of The Satanic Bible— the now familiar goat / pentagram / “Leviathan” graphic had not been used as the prime symbol for Satanism.
Examine the literature and imagery predating the founding of the Church of Satan in 1966: Satanism is usually denoted by inverted crosses or crucifixes and blasphemous parodies of Christian art. There are also images of goats and devils, and demons—along with their sigils from grimoires—all used to represent the “satanic.” However, the complete graphic which we now call the “Sigil of Baphomet” only became associated as the foremost symbol of Satanism in the public and media consciousness after the founding of the Church of Satan and Dr. LaVey’s use of it. From its inception, the Church of Satan has been constantly spotlighted in print, film, and television media all over the globe, so this was to be expected.
The word “Baphomet” dates back to records of Templar trials, and there are ongoing discussions concerning its derivation and meaning. However, there is no clear evidence that the symbol which we in the Church of Satan call “Baphomet” is similarly derived; the evidence, if any, has not yet been released in any public forum.
The Unholy Genesis of the Sigil of Baphomet
A discussion concerning the symbolism of pentagrams is contained in Eliphas Lévi’s Dogme et Rituel de la haute magie (1855-56 & 61, translated into English by A. E. Waite under the title Transcendental Magic). There are no accompanying illustrations. Here is the English translation of the quote:
The Blazing Pentagram
The Pentagram, which in Gnostic schools is called the Blazing Star, is the sign of intellectual omnipotence and autocracy. It is the Star of the Magi; it is the sign of the Word made flesh; and, according to the direction of its points, this absolute magical symbol represents order or confusion, the Divine Lamb of Ormuz and St. John, or the accursed goat of Mendes. It is initiation or profanation; it is Lucifer or Vesper, the star of morning or evening. It is Mary or Lilith, victory or death, day or night. The Pentagram with two points in the ascendant represents Satan as the goat of the Sabbath; when one point is in the ascendant, it is the sign of the Saviour. By placing it in such a manner that two of its points are in the ascendant and one is below, we may see the horns, ears and beard of the hierarchic Goat of Mendes, when it becomes the sign of infernal evocations.
The pentagram or pentalpha is a symbol which has long been affiliated with demonic activity. From at least the early Middle Ages an entire genre of ritual magic handbooks and manuals has claimed to originate from King Solomon based, no doubt, on his legendary reputation for conjuring and employing demons in the construction of his temple. Among the oldest of these grimoires is the Testament of Solomon dating from perhaps as early as the First Century BC. This text includes a diagram of the pentalpha and relates that Solomon had a ring inscribed with that symbol which gave to him the ability to call forth demons and to have them work his will. The image in the manuscript shows the star point up. Inscribed on a ring however, the direction of the point might be immaterial as it could be perceived either way.
What was the source for this symbolism presented by Lévi in this work? Scholars researching the sources for his writings might be able to trace this.
As far as we now know, the first printed artwork for an image of a goat face in a five-pointed star appeared in an engraving on page 387 of the 1897 book La Clef de la Magie Noire, by French nobleman and occultist Stanislas de Guaita. The book was part of his multi-volume Essais de Sciences Maudites which not only put forth some of his own occult ideas underlying his establishment of a group of Rosicrucians but also served as a platform for his share of the accusations of Satanism that he and his enemies—such as La Bas author J.K. Huysmans and friends—were publicly throwing at each other at the time. De Guaita wrote that he considered Eliphas Lévi to be one of the greatest geniuses of the 19th century so it is not surprising that he would take one of Lévi’s concepts and embellish it further.
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