You’ve probably seen this scary ‘goat man’ depiction but never knew the name.Well, it’s Baphomet, and despite that distinctive look, he wasn’t associated with the Devil until the 20th century!
Today we’ll take a closer look at this figure so that those out there considering adding this horned figure of contradictions can make the decision a well-informed one.
It’s a tall order, as this guy is dates back to the Crusades (1095 – 1291) and even has associations with the famous Knights Templar!
Let’s take a closer look and you’ll see what we mean – Baphomet definitely has a rich history to go with that shocking appearance and a lot of potential as an interesting tattoo subject!
What Is the History behind Baphomet Tattoos?
When you see Baphomet depicted these days, it has to more to do with a famous drawing entitled ‘The Sabbatic Goat’ done in by a French occultist named Eliphas Levi in the mid 19th century than its original and somewhat mysterious origins.
This is because of the name ‘Baphomet’, as we’re not wholly sure how it originated or even the actual meaning.
The first mention of the name occurs in a letter from the 1090’s that was found on a crusader and during the year 1307 the Knights Templar were interrogated by the infamous Spanish Inquisition, for their supposed worship of an idol by the name of – you guessed it – Baphomet.
Scholars argue a lot about the name, with the most common explanation being that it is a corruption of ‘Mahomet’, implying that the Templars were worshipped a forbidden image of Mohammed.
Supporting this theory, during the Inquisition it was said that some Templars admitted to worshipping an idol that looked like the bearded head of a man.
That said, there was also the word ‘Mammet’, which meant ‘false god’ or ‘idol’.
We don’t know if the Mohammed interpretation is just Inquisition propaganda, of course, as a man will say just about anything to get off of a flaming chair or out of a spiky sarcophagus.
What we DO know is that once Levi made his famous drawing, the current image of Baphomet became very popular among occult circles.
One of the most notable, famous Occultist Aleister Crowley, mentioned Baphomet in his ‘Gnostic Mass’ text and then Levi’s image was pretty tied up with the image that we all know and recognize today.
What does Baphomet Symbolize?
When Eliphas Levi created ‘the Sabbatic Goat’, he took a little artistic license, as it were, with the intent that Baphomet would represent balance.
To see what he meant, try to blank-out the immediate ‘hey, that’s the devil!’ reaction and take a closer look at the details of Levi’s famous drawing.
First, while you do have that goat face and horns, you also have an angel’s wings. Next, consider the gender, because Baphomet is quite apparently hermaphroditic.
There is also a caduceus, a Greco-Roman symbol of reciprocity and negotiation, in Baphomet’s lap (those two intertwined snakes!).
Basically, the message is that Baphomet was considered by Levi to be balanced, not really good or evil.
It is adorned with many symbols, which gives it a lot of personal meaning for many different people, but the overall theme of balance is definitely there once you take a really good look at it.
What Do Baphomet Tattoos Mean?
Baphomet is a popular tattoo option for the occult-minded and also a choice for fans and students of Crowley’s teachings.
To these folk, it’s not so much a ‘devil’ but rather representative of the often terrifying, but truly balance wisdom of the beyond.
This is not a tattoo that you will often see among the ‘uninitiated’, though the fearful visage of Baphomet is quite imposing and some wear his image as a symbol of power and mystery.
The modern-day Satanic temple even commission a bronze statue of Baphomet, although the interpretation of this figure being ‘the Devil’ didn’t really come into play until the 20th century.
That said, symbols evolve and so a Baphomet tattoo can mean a lot of different things, requiring knowledge about it’s wearer to fully understand the intent of their tattoo.
On a positive note, so many symbols of balance, delivered in a frightening manner may represent courage and balance being found in the frightening unknown.
Good and evil, like the Yin and Yang, the angel and the demon, or the pentagram – which upwards makes the shape of Adam, the first man, while inverted with 2-points skyward, represents the cloven hoof.
Occultists would likely say that wearing the symbol without understanding it could be hazardous, but beyond this negative associations would be more likely made by onlookers, rather than the owner of this tattoo.
With so many symbols, both beneficial and baneful, it’s hard to argue that it actually is quite balances, though most who behold it are likely to simply think ‘devil’ and that will be the whole of their interpretation.
Characteristics and Styles of Baphomet Tattoos
The original drawing has been reinterpreted in many ways, so this is the type of tattoo where the ingrained symbols will likely be retained, though it could lend itself to black and white or even vibrant colorful styles – depending on the wearer.
Where Do Baphomet Tattoos Usually Go?
In all but the boldest souls, the often negative interpretation of this symbol usually requires that it be hidden, much like the mysteries that the Baphomet itself holds.
Some get a large back tattoo or an upper sleeve, for instance, where it might be easily hidden or showed to the world (or a select few) when desired.
What might Affect this Tattoo’s Meaning?
This tattoo could be rendered seriously or satirically, depending on the wearer’s intent. In the proximity of an angel tattoo is might further reinforce duality or even the wearer’s opposition to this aggressive symbol.
Some fans of Crowley even wear this to represent a high respect for the mysteries that it represents and may even get this tattoo in the same place, among multiple members, as a sign of occult unity.
Some final words about Baphomet tattoos
So, there you have it! As you can see, whether deity or Devil, Levi’s Sabbatic Goat is powerful imagery long after his own death.
If you’re looking for something dark and mysterious, then this mystical imagery might well be the perfect fit for you.
Power… balance… or simply knowledge? With tattoos, the context is YOU, so this is a mystery in which only you will truly know the meaning.