The many accounts concerning Baphomet describe the idol as a monstrous head, a demon in the form of a goat, a figure with a goat's head and a body combining the characteristics of a dog, bull, and ass. The body was thought to symbolize the burden of matter from which arose the repentance for sin. The human hands formed a sign of eroticism to impress mystery upon the initiates. First they represented the sanctity of labor; and by pointing two lunar crescents, the upper being white and the lower black, they also represented good and evil, mercy and justice. The lower part of the goat's body was veiled but expressed the mysteries the universal generation symbolized by the caduceus or the phallus. The goat's female breasts were the only symbols of maternity, toil, and redemption.
Most accounts of the idol Baphomet were from the confessions of the Knights Templar at their trials after the Inquisition. This is why the idol still remain a fascination and a puzzlement. Instead of definitely establishing the existence of the idol the variances in the Knights confessions did the opposite. Not only is there an uncertainty whether the idol existed but, also, whether there was just one or several idols. The uncertainty of the idol's existence arises because some of the heresy and devil-worship charges brought against the Templars were never proven, and Baphomet was thought to represent the devil. During the knights' confessions the idol seemed to change or was shown in different forms. It was described differently as having a frightful head with a long bird and sparking eyes; or a man's skull; or having three faces. Some said it was made of wood while others said it was metal.
Although some accounts give the idol a goat's body as previously mentioned and others are vague, others described the head in detail. It possessed horns and between the two horns was a torch which represented the intelligence of the triad. Still below the torch, on the forehead, is the sign of the microcosm, or the pentagram with one beam in ascendant symbolizing human intelligence. The situating of the pentagram below the torch was to signify that human intelligence is the image of the divine intellect.
Among the heresy charges brought against the Templars was that some had embrace Mahometanism even though they had sworn to fight against every pagan belief. The charge arose when a knight confessed that he was made to adore the idol by kissing its feet and uttering the word 'Xalla,' which was a word of the Saracens. This was seized upon for proving heresy against the Order, but it must be remembered that western Christians were constantly trying to attribute the idol to Mahomet as an expression of their desire to persecute the Knights.
The belief in Baphomet still exists among some occultists. They hold the idol of the Templars was really the god of the witches deriving from the nature god Pan. In the 19th. century the Austrian Orientalist Baron Joseph von Hammer-Purgstal discovered an inscription on a coffer in Burgandy which he claimed indicated the Baphomet came from the Greek words meaning "Baptism of Metis (Wisdom)." This seemed to exalt Metis or Baphomet as the true divinity.
In the 20th. century German occultists formed the secret order of the O.T.O. (Ordo Templi Orientis or Order of Templars in the East). They installed the English occultist Aleister Crowley to head their British section. Crowley took Baphomet as his magical name. A.G.H.