On Friday 13th, 1307 – the Knights Templar were arrested en masse by order of the King of France and the Pope. They were imprisoned, tortured, and eventually executed. While held behind bars, confessions were extracted resulting in bizarre tales of secret rituals and the worship of a devilish head called Baphomet. But was there any truth in this? As William Shakespeare once noted, people will say anything when being stretched on the rack.
The Knights Templar alleged worship of Baphomet
The main accusations against the Templar knights were a mix of heresy and sodomy. In short that they had rejected God and engaged in unnatural practices. Kissing each other in different parts of the body. Spitting on the cross of Jesus. But worst of all, going into religious rapture over a strange head. This head was something Satanic that might even speak to them during their rituals.
I’ve always felt that if there was any truth to the Baphomet story, then hallucinogenic drugs were involved. You could visualise the Templars going into some kind of trippy state of mind and imagining that an inanimate head – carved to look terrifying – was suddenly moving its lips and issuing commands.
The depiction of Baphomet is normally a goat-like devil with horns and a hairy face. It looks rather like the fifteenth card in the Tarot deck. A half-man/half-goat with its hand raised in mock benediction. Some believe this head or figure referenced a god of the old pre-Christian religions with that combination of animal and human.
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Baphomet as Jesus Christ
Then there is the heretical view that Baphomet might even be a relic of Jesus Christ – possibly his head. This would have been an unacceptable view in the medieval period when the Templars were on crusade. The church insisted that Jesus ascended bodily into heaven. Nothing was left behind. Well, apart from fingernails, and other discarded parts of his anatomy which became relics in several churches. Even his foreskin cut during the circumcision popped up around Europe. But not his head. So, if the Templars claimed to have that – they were in big trouble.
How then, might the Templars have got hold of the head of Jesus. One theory is that head worship had been common in the Levant for thousands of years. The heads of heroes, holy people, and even family members were removed and kept for veneration while the rest of the body was buried or cremated. Could the Templars have chanced upon the severed head of Jesus kept as a relic and maybe hidden away under the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, where they were based?
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