What is Baphometic?
The goat which is represented in our frontispiece bears upon its forehead the Sign of the Pentagram with one point in the ascendant, which is sufficient to distinguish it as a symbol of the light. Moreover, the sign of occultism is made with both hands, pointing upward to the white moon of CHESED, and downward to the black moon of GEBURAH. This sign expresses the perfect concord between mercy and justice. One of the arms is feminine and the other masculine, as in the androgyne of Khunrath, whose attributes we have combined with those of our goat, since they are one and the same symbol. The torch of intelligence burning between the horns is the magical light of universal equilibrium; it is also a type of the soul exalted above matter, even while cleaving to matter, as the flame cleaves to the torch. … The caduceus, which replaces the generative organ, represents eternal life; the scale-covered belly typifies water; the circle above it is the atmosphere, the feathers still higher up signify the volatile; lastly, humanity is depicted by the two breasts and the androgyne arms of this sphinx of the occult sciences. … The dread Baphomet henceforth, like all monstrous idols, enigmas of antique science and its dreams, is only an innocent and even pious hieroglyph.
—Éliphas Lévi, Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magie
Lévi’s Baphomet appears in a different light if it is historically contextualized. When developing his historical narrative, Lévi was informed by scholarly debates about the emergence and early development of Christianity, which often revolved around the question of “true” religion and its role in contemporary society. The meaning and intention of this narrative can only be comprehended if one takes into consideration the ideas that he had propagated in the 1840s under his civil name Alphonse-Louis Constant, when he was known as one of the most notorious socialist radicals. At that time, he claimed to be the representative of a “true” Catholicism which he opposed to the corrupted Christianity of the Churches, and which he vehemently identified with “true” socialism. He regarded himself as the latest representative of a long tradition of revolutionary heretics who struggled for the realization of a universal religious association. In the 1850s, he re-signified and elaborated this narrative, now identifying “occultism” with “true Catholicism” and, at times more or less explicitly, with “true socialism.” His Baphomet has to be seen as an iconic representation of this “true” doctrine, as the Knights Templar were considered to be the successors of the very same heretical revolutionary tradition that reached back to the “Gnostics” of the late ancient School of Alexandria, the environment where the momentous separation between “true” and “false” religion supposedly took place. In this light, the Baphomet is not only a magnetistic symbol representing Lévi’s theory of magic, but first and foremost an embodiment of the one and only true tradition whose ultimate goal is the establishment of a perfect social order.
—Julian Strube, “The ‘Baphomet’ of Eliphas Lévi: Its Meaning and Historical Context”
The identity of opposites … is the recognition (discovery) of the contradictory, mutually exclusive, opposite tendencies in all phenomena and processes of nature (including mind and society). The condition for the knowledge of all processes of the world in their “self-movement,” in their spontaneous development, in their real life, is the knowledge of them as a unity of opposites. Development is the “struggle” of opposites. The two basic … conceptions of development (evolution) are: development as decrease and increase, as repetition, and development as a unity of opposites (the division of a unity into mutually exclusive opposites and their reciprocal relation).
In the first conception of motion, self-movement, its driving force, its source, its motive, remains in the shade (or this source is made external — God, subject, etc.). In the second conception the chief attention is directed precisely to knowledge of the source of “self”-movement.
The first conception is lifeless, pale and dry. The second is living. The second alone furnishes the key to the “self-movement” of everything existing; it alone furnishes the key to “leaps,” to the “break in continuity,” to the “transformation into the opposite,” to the destruction of the old and the emergence of the new.
—Vladimir Lenin, “On the Question of Dialectics”
The true Magick of Horus requires the passionate Union of opposites.
—Aleister Crowley, Little Essays Toward Truth