17.6.15

BAPHOMET: ACTING THE GOAT

Nikki Wyrd and Julian Vayne. The Book of Baphomet. Mandrake, 2015.

In reading and reviewing this book, the phrase 'curate's egg' kept coming to mind. That means to say I found the book to be good in parts. It is a stimulating but rather odd concoction of writings by a male and female couple who have evidently been practitioners of Chaos Magick for many years and are initiated Wiccans, as well as being enthusiastic users of mind-altering substances in their rituals and relate some of their experiences in sufficient detail to make parts of this book a veritable head-trip. If you are curious to know how to use toad venom as a magical sacrament and the effects thereof, you will find it in this book.

For all of the authors' apparent erudition, it takes them several billions of years and over 30 pages to mention their headline subject. The first chapter, The Song of Life, is something like a creative writing essay on the evolution of the cosmos. Here is an example of their vibrantly poetic writing style: "Sex is the amphetamine of evolution. A handy way of shaking your chromosomes about and getting variation both faster and in a way that is likely to favour the previous set of variations that worked best. It's a biological epic win and has swept through life on this planet like a dose of the pox. As soon as complex cells had started fucking the whole system goes into overdrive". I'm not sure that Darwin would have dared use such terminology, but times have changed, and humanity has, it is alleged, evolved since those days of Victorian restraint.

On page 32, before we come to the subject of Baphomet, the authors state how the book itself evolved: "This book decided to emerge as a collage. Instead of a simple coherent history or linear narrative, we formed a many coloured patchwork of words, experiences and ideas. Our two bodies and their third mind gave rise to a multitude of perspectives, a chorus of voices". 

Within its many chapters there are indeed many perspectives on the mystery of Life on Earth, its origins and possible purpose. Through occult knowledge, gnosis, science, history of the Knights Templar and Freemasonry, we are led to the modern day where Pagans, Wiccans, and Chaos Magicians are free to celebrate and even worship the Great Spirit in any way they wish.

The emergence of the "secret knowledge" known only to initiates is such a complex and diverse subject that the authors must be congratulated on keeping their book so compact, a handy size and under 230 pages in total. Also, it has to be mentioned that the book is physically appealing with a solid hard cover with impressive artwork.

As to who Baphomet actually is, the short answer would be the embodiment of the Great Spirit, the anima mundi representing all Life on Earth, and indeed its Creator. There are several visual symbols, usually goat-headed with two large horns, female breasts and male genitalia. Pan, the goat-headed god, means "All", after all! The concept is of the human being animal and spiritual, male and female, mixture of good and evil, wild and tame, and all the other opposites one can think of. It is our work to unite these opposites in harmony within ourselves, although one may argue that it is an eternal process, the intrinsic nature of life itself, while ever seeking unity.

If, as Crowley asserts, the name Baphomet means the "hieroglyph of perfection", as "the Devil of the Book of Thoth", and also as "Father Mithras", the cubical stone which was the corner of the Temple, the nature of Baphomet is that all of these attributions may be true.

Dr Hugh J. Sconfield, a scholar who worked on the Dead Sea Scrolls, argued in his book The Essene Odyssey that the word Baphomet, rendered in Hebrew, is code for the word meaning Wisdom, or Sophia in Greek.

At the end of the book, the authors provide some Magickal exercises that one may undertake to invoke Baphomet. The rather sinister image of Baphomet as 'Devil' would certainly deter most seekers of Truth, but to those who are grounded and initiated it may be one way of communing with the Great Spirit. For others, a gin and tonic and a walk in the park might do the trick. Ultimately, as in Gnosis, it's up to you! - Kevin Murphy

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