The occult icon Baphomet has had a long, convoluted history (which we will touch upon shortly)—but perhaps the version most recognizable to our modern eyes (goat head, breasts, caduceus, wings, pentagram) was first rendered by magician Eliphas Levi in 1856.
Can Levi’s image be copyrighted? Probably not…but specific renderings, such as the one the Satanic Temple is legally threatening the producers of the new series Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina over, could be.
Let’s just cut to the chase, here: the “Sabrina” statue looks a stupid lot like the Satanic Temple version:
Like, the producers of this TV show had to be dumber than a box of rocks to think that this was going to be OK & not a violation of copyrighted material. I’m almost certain they didn’t do any of their homework on either The Satanic Temple or the history of the root image/archetype—because I’m willing to bet they thought the original statue was just some copy of an ancient monument.
The image of Baphomet itself is largely a relatively modern pastiche of a whole lot of other esoteric symbols. The earliest mentions of the deity were in relation to the torture , “confessions,” and execution of the Knights Templar in the Middle Ages—but it was described as either a severed head, a three-faced head, or a cat.
(The most “accurate” depiction of the Knights Templar version of Baphomet—assuming it was “real” at all and not just something completely made up by their inquisitors—can be found in the recent movie Hereditary. It’s not Baphomet in that film but rather the “real-life” demon Paimon—but trust me, it’s a similar deal. To be written about at a future time.)
Levi, on the other hand, seemed to make his version an agglomeration of the Horned God worshipped in traditional witchcraft, the Egyptian “Goat of Mendes” (actually, a Ram), and the Devil from the medieval tarot deck. If running copyright existed back through the millennia, a whole lot of parties could have been lining up to sue Levi.
Of course…it was a bizarre but popular anti-Catholic screed pretending to be an anti-Freemasonic screed called the Taxil Hoax that, I believe, helped carry Levi’s image to the modern era.
Leo Taxil hated the Catholics so much that in the 1890s he created a hoax history of Satanism that used Levil’s Baphomet image as a key element. Taxil figured that if he showed how nutty the Catholics were being over the whole Freemasonry thing…people would be like: “oh, those dumb over-reactionary Catholics!”
Instead…PEOPLE TOOK TAXIL’S HOAX SERIOUSLY!!!! (let me underline this a thousand times)
People like Jack Chick, who then put the Levi image of Baphomet in his tracts, showing how he’s connected to Satan worship. You know a lot of the “Baphomet” stuff you see on YouTube conspiracy videos? That’s from Taxil’s Les Mystères de la franc-maçonnerie dévoilés, via countless intermediaries.
This brings us to the present day, where this goat-headed god and his convoluted history finds himself as the icon of the Satanic Temple. Now, the Satanic Temple’s stated position is that they are in fact nontheistic—and don’t actually worship Satan, Baphomet, or any other figure like that.
“The organization actively participates in public affairs that have manifested in several public political actions and efforts at lobbying, with a focus on the separation of church and state and using satire against Christian privilege that it says interferes with personal religious freedom.”
Using satire in the fight against Christian privilege…just like Leo Paxil. There is a huge assumption here…about the ability of the bulk of humanity to understand satire instead of taking it literally. (An assumption that I think is quite a gamble.)
We can see the “Sabrina” use (pretty much, stealing) of The Satanic Temple’s icon (the specific statue image, created by them) very much being like the appropriation by Taxil of the Levi Baphomet image. It’s just another link in the “chain”…the persistence and survival of the larger archetype through improbable means.
But there is one more thing I’d like to touch upon here…and that’s the crucial difference between the Levi and Satanic Temple/Sabrina Baphomets.
The Satanic Temple Baphomet has no breasts.
Without the breasts, the key point of Levi’s conception of Baphomet—the divine androgyny—is lost. Beyond the breasts and phallic-type caduceus, Levi drew one of Baphomet’s arms as male, and the other female.
Per Levi: “Humanity is represented by the two breasts and the androgyne arms of this sphinx of the occult sciences.”
And we can go down quite a rabbit-hole regarding the intersection between Divine Androgyny, Gnosticism, the Templars, and this proto-Baphomet (again the movie Hereditary is symbolically informative here)…climaxing with the Atbash substitution cypher, which translates “Baphomet” in Hebrew into the Gnostic goddess “Sophia.”
To be fair to The Satanic Temple, it’s very possible they based their image of Baphomet of the famous Leo Taxil poster, a Baphomet that is almost an exact copy of Levi’s but without the breasts.
But do you see a pattern here???
And what of the next generation whose first exposure to Baphomet is Chilling Adventures of Sabrina? or a rando conspiracy-laden YouTube video?
The “information” is like a virus…it adapts, survives.