October 21, 2015

Baphomet Rising , Part VI: The Monstrosity of the Idol



Baphomet Rising, Part VI: The Monstrosity of the Idol


The Oklahoma State Supreme Court ruled the Ten Commandments monument unconstitutional and ordered its removal in June of 2015. The Satanic Temple withdrew their proposed Baphomet statue in response.


Unfortunately, while the battle over the Ten Commandments monument in Oklahoma was playing out, Arkansas passed Senate Bill 939 for the exact same thing.

This July, the Satanic Temple unveiled the Baphomet statue in his full glory at a ceremony in an industrial warehouse in Detroit. Then, in September of this year, the Satanic Temple filed to have their Baphomet monument placed alongside the Ten Commandments monument in Arkansas. Finally, in October, only a few days from this writing, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin called for a constitutional amendment to restore the Ten Commandments to her state’s capital.

In an interview with Vice, Lucien Greeves says the Satanic Temple is both a satanic and satire group. He then points out that their Satan is a “literary construct inspired by authors such as Anatole France and Milton—a rebel angel defiant of autocratic structure and concerned with the material world.” Their Satan is not the Lord of Evil, but “an atheistic philosophical framework” they want to use “to separate religion from superstition and to contribute positively to our cultural dialogue.”

Even without Greeves' statement, the goal of the Satanic Temple should be obvious and you don’t need to understand anything about Baphomet, really. The blurred line between church and state has gone unchallenged for too long in America. If our country is based on the constitution, if our government is democratic, if our society is founded on the principle of religious freedom, then we cannot allow a religious monument at a state capital. However, if we are going to allow a religious monument at a state capital while still claiming all those things, then we must allow all religions to have monuments.

Oftentimes the best way to point out the complacency of our human thought, our dull acceptable of what should be unacceptable, and our lazy consideration of an issue is with the absurd. And is there anything more absurd than a religious monument to the sentient, supernatural champion of evil funded by a group of people who do not believe in the sentient, supernatural champion of evil?

Once we understand the history of Baphomet, it becomes clear why it’s the perfect choice for a protest monument. Not only is Baphomet an effective challenge to the lapsed division between church and state, it also demonstrates our silly insistence on allowing ridiculous superstitions to govern us (remember the Rider-Waite Tarot Deck), acknowledges all those paradoxes in thought and behavior that come with being human (Crowley's "Divine Androgyne"), champions knowledge while managing to represent the typically unrepresented (Levi).

But it also fulfils a particular human need. Remember Greeves' statement about seperating religion from superstition? In his “confessions,” Crowley wrote with uncharacteristic clarity and lack of theatrics about his Gnostic Mass featuring Baphomet:

“Human nature demands (in the case of most people) the satisfaction of the religious instinct, and, to very many, this may best be done by ceremonial means. I resolved that my Ritual should celebrate the sublimity of the operation of universal forces without introducing disputable metaphysical theories. I would neither make nor imply any statement about nature which would not be endorsed by the most materialistic man of science. On the surface this may sound difficult; but in practice I found it perfectly simple to combine the most rigidly rational conceptions of phenomena with the most exalted and enthusiastic celebration of their sublimity.”

Eliphas Levi probably sums it up best, however. In his The Book of Splendours, he wrote, “Baphomet is knowledge rising in opposition to idolatry, protesting through the very monstrosity of the idol.”

Can there be a better idol against idolatry then Baphomet?


PART I: The Dark God of the Templars
PART II: The Goat of Mendes
PART III: The Rider-Waite Tarot Deck
PART IV: The Great Beast
PART V: The Devil for Fun and Profit
PART VI: Monstrosity of the Idol


WORKS CONSULTED:
Barber, Malcom, and Keith Tate. The Templars: Selected Sources. Manchester University Press, 2002.
Brantley, Max. "Satanists Petition Arkansas for a Place at the Capitol." Arkansas Times. N.p., 08 Sept. 2015. Web. 12 Oct. 2015.
Bugbee, Shane. "Unmasking Lucien Greaves, Leader of the Satanic Temple." Vice.com. 30 July 2013. Web. 7 Oct. 2015.
Cavendish, Richard. The Black Arts. Perigree Books. New York, 1967.
Crowley, Aleister. The Book of Lies. Weiser Books. Massachusetts, 1986
—.The Confessions of Aleister Crowley. Penguin. New York, 1989.
—. Magick: Liber ABA, Book 4. Weiser Books. Massachusetts, 1998
—. Magick in Theory and Practice. Dover Books. 1976
Gilmore, Peter H. "The History of the Origin of the Sigil of Baphomet and Its Use in the Church of Satan." Church of Satan. Web. 06 Oct. 2015.
"January 13, 1128: Pope Recognizes Knights Templar." History.com. A+E Networks, 2009. Web. 05 Oct. 2015.
Johnson, M. Alex. "Oklahoma Removes Ten Commandments Monument Under Court Order." NBC News. 7 Oct. 2015. Web. 09 Oct. 2015.
Herodotus. The Histories. Penguin Classics. New York, 2003.
Jenkins, Nash. "Hundreds Gather for Unveiling of Satanic Statue in Detroit." Time. 27 July 2015. Web. 12 Oct. 2015.
Levi, Eliphas. Transcendental Magick. Weiser Books. Massachusetts, 1968.
—. The Book of Splendours. Weiser Books. Massachusetts, 1973.
Nelson, Sara C. "Satanic Temple Submits Application For 7ft 'Baphomet' Demon To Be Erected Next To Ten Commandments." Huffington Post. 01 July 2014. Web. 9 Oct. 2015.
Peters, Edward. The First Crusade: "The Chronicle of Fulcher of Chartres" and Other Source Materials. University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011
Trayner, David. "Satanic Temple Unveils Controversial Baphomet Sculpture to Cheers of 'Hail Satan'" The Independent. Independent Digital News and Media, 26 July 2015. Web. 12 Oct. 2015.
Waite, Arthur Edward. The Pictorial Key to the Tarot. Dover. 2005

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