The term Baphomet is a word derived from the medical Latin word “Baphometh” this is usually a term used to describe or explain a foreign deity an “idol” of sorts. In the 14th century the Knights Templar were accused of worshiping this deity, and subsequently it was incorporated into disparate occult and mystical traditions. It appeared as a term for a pagan idol in trial transcripts of the Inquisition of the Knights Templar.
The name didn’t become popular in English usage until the 19th century, when it was debated and speculated that it was the reason for the suppression of the Templars.
Since 1856, the name “Baphomet” has been associated with a “Sabbatic Goat”(like the one and the beginning of this post); it contains elements representing the “sum total of the universe” (e.g. male and female, good and evil, etc.)
The name Baphomet appeared in July 1098 in a letter by the crusader Anselm of Ribemont:
The word “Bafumarias” was used by a chronicler of the First Crusade, Raymond of Aguilers, as a name for the mosques. In 1195 the name “Bafometz” appeared in an Occitan poem “Senhors, per los noshers peccatz” (troubadour Gavaudan). In 1250 a poem bewailing the defeat of the Seventh Crusade by Austorc d’Aorlhac refers to “Bafomet.” De Bafomet is also the title of one of four surviving chapters of an Occitan translation of Ramon Llull’s earliest known work, the Libre de la doctrina pueril, “book on the instruction of children”.
On Friday October 13, 1307 the medieval order of the Knights Templar was suppressed by King Philip IV of France, he had many French Templars arrested, followed by tortures that lead to confessions. There had been over 100 charges against the Templars, most of which were the same as the ones leveled against the Cathars and many of the King’s enemies, he had earlier kidnapped Pope Boniface VIII and charged him with near identical offenses of heresy, spitting and urinating on the cross, and sodomy. These kinds of acts were intended to simulate the sort of humiliation and torture that a Crusader could be subjected to if captured by the Saracens, where they were taught how to commit apostasy “with the mind only and not with the heart”. Similarly Michael Haag suggests that the simulated worship of Baphomet did indeed form part of a Templar initiation ritual.
The indictment (acte d’accusation) published by the court of Rome set forth … “that in all the provinces they had idols, that is to say, heads, some of which had three faces, others but one; sometimes, it was a human skull … That in their assemblies, and especially in their grand chapters, they worshipped the idol as a god, as their saviour, saying that this head could save them, that it bestowed on the order all its wealth, made the trees flower, and the plants of the earth to sprout forth.”
The name “Baphomet” came up several times in the confessions of the Templars, in the book The Knights Templar and their Myth written by Peter Partner in 1987 he states that “In the trial of the Templars one of their main charges was their supposed worship of a heathen idol-head known as a ‘Baphomet’ (‘Baphomet’ = Mahomet).” the description of this “object” changed from confession to confession, some Templars even denied any knowledge of it at all. Others, under torture, described it as being a severed head, a cat, or a head with three faces. It was know that the Templars possessed several silver-gilt heads as reliquaries, some were marked/named including one marked capud lviiim, another said to be St. Euphemia, and possibly the actual head of Hugues de Payens (first grand master of the Knights Templar).
Gauserand de Montpesant, a knight of Provence, said that their superior showed him an idol made in the form of Baffomet; another, named Raymond Rubei, described it as a wooden head, on which the figure of Baphomet was painted, and adds, “that he worshipped it by kissing its feet, and exclaiming, ‘Yalla,’ which was,” he says, “verbum Saracenorum,” a word taken from the Saracens. A Templar of Florence declared that, in the secret chapters of the order, one brother said to the other, showing the idol, “Adore this head—this head is your god and your Mahomet.”
Modern scholars including Peter Partner and Malcolm Barber say that the name “Baphomet” was an Old French corruption of the name Muhammad, which leads us to believe that some of the Templars, through their long military occupation of the Outremer, had begun incorporating Islamic ideas into their belief system, and this is what was seen and later documented as heresy by the inquisitors. Alain Demurger rejects the idea that the Templars could have adopted the doctrines of their enemies. Helen Nicholson wrote that the charges were essentially “manipulative” the Templars “were accused of becoming fairy-tale Muslims.” medieval Christians believed that Muslims worshiped idols and objects and that they worshipped Muhammed as God, with mahomet becoming mammet in English, meaning an idol or false god. This idol worship is attributed to Muslims in several chansons de geste. An example of this are the gods Bafum e Travagan in a Provençal poem on the life of St. Honorat, completed in 1300. In the Chanson de Simon Pouille, written before 1235, a Saracen idol is called Bafumetz