“Other Templars questioned after Jean de la Cassagne had seen, variously, an idol like a bearded head which was the figure of Baphomet (…) a black and white idol.”
– Malcolm Barber: The Trial of the Templars, II
“Item, that they said that that head could save them.”
– The Articles of Accusation against Templars (anno 1308)
“[O]ld man, with radiated head, a terminal figure always shown in front face (…) the true Baphomet of the Templars.”
– C.W. King: Gnostics and Their Remains, III–Abraxaster
Most people know Baphomet as Éliphas Lévi’s grand emblem, presented in his Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magie. Some readers may also be familiar with the old story of the mummified head of the long-haired and long-bearded man, called Baphomet even before Lévi, and worshipped by the templars in their secret rituals. The story itself is an important cluster of symbols, and very close to the heart of our lodge Salome.
There are different parts of the occult doctrine, all of which correspond to the various body parts of the (macrocosmic) human being. For example, there are the “doctrine of the heart” and “doctrine of the eye,” as mentioned in The Voice of Silence. Also, there are mysteries regarding the feet, the hands, and the head of the Master. The head’s (chakric) centers that correspond to the bodily centers work in constant tandem with those of the body, guiding them and complementing them with their own higher functioning. But some states are unnatural yet persistent, as compromises: wounded states of being, where a blow of some kind has landed on the whole and crippled it. Such is also behind the story of the Severed Head of the Master. The story of the ever-living head, removed from the world and yet affecting it, is of a particularly esoterical nature and cannot be given here. Its idea, however, can: The head removed by the dance of Salome and not put into the tomb with the body, but preserved elsewhere, became the Gnostic and – claimedly or actually – Satanic idol of the “rejected cornerstone” of the occult doctrine. The story of the prophet’s execution is the story of religion itself, the story of persecution and casting out.
In the center of our adoration of Baphomet is, therefore, the head with the same name, the severed head of the prophet, removed by the Dance but kept safe and unseen hence. The whole story is emblematic, symbolic, and forms the twisting pathways of the labyrinth in itself. Yet, in this labyrinth, a careful aspirant can follow the golden thread, reach the center, and re-emerge unscathed by its guardians. This doctrine of the head of the old grandmaster, who never actually went away but has remained with his esoteric schools for two millennia, in abscondito, is at the same time the secret of the most important point of connection. It also unites all the grades of lodge Salome:
a) – SALOME, for she asked for the head on a platter for her dance.
b) – ASTERION the minotaur, who has the head of a human being on the shoulders of a bull.
c) – BAPHOMET, who in Lévi’s depiction has the body of a human and the head of a beast.
Thus in lodge Salome, the first point of contact with the severed head of the master is at the point where the first grade turns to the second. That point, the portal of Li-Rosh, is where one chooses how to continue one’s grade working. There are two possible routes:
The Right Hand choice: ASTERION leading to BAPHOMET
The Left Hand choice: BAPHOMET leading to ASTERION
Since the Star of Azazel is about uniting the paths of hands, one has to undergo both of these practices to go through the Salome grades entirely, but their order is free. Their idea is also the same, only seen from two opposite directions: they are about uniting the apparently mundane and animistic (BEAST) with the spiritual and intellectual (HUMAN) in beneficent harmony. In one’s first grade working, the Salome member has followed one’s process and seen where some of the obstacles and possibilities lay. In the second grade, one grasps these challenges either by the head or tail and starts working on the set principles. In brief, it will be either
a) – Intensified following of the brotherhood principles in the mother lodge (ASTERION)
b) – Organizing a group (e.g. lodge) of one’s own and keeping it dynamic (BAPHOMET)
In continuing either of these, the member chooses several points of personal interest and is guided to harness these interests and inspirations as tools and goals for the common Work. How this is done depends on the choice of grade. The aspirant of both grades must understand that their Work is not done solely for one’s personal benefit, but as much for, and therefore under the guidance of the Unseen Master – the severed and yet ever-living head of the brotherhood.