The Mystical Head

The Head image

ne of the main accusations Philip the Fair put to the Templars was that of idolatry. The Order was said to worship a mysterious head called Caput LVIII, or, Head 58. Sometimes the name also included the astronomical sign for Virgo. As to the appearance of the head there are widely varied accounts. Some Templars testified that the head was that of a beautiful woman, made out of silver or gold, or adorned with precious jewels. Others said it was that of a bearded man, with burning, hollow eyes and small horns on the forehead. Some said the head was made of flesh and had three faces. The name of the head was Baphomet, which has been taken to be a deformation of Muhammad, thus linking the Templars with the infidel Muslims with whom the Templars indeed maintained close relations.

T he head was said to be the source of the Order's immense wealth, thus creating a classic Faustian witch hunt theme. It was claimed that in secret ceremonies, Templars would revere the head and touch it with cords tied around their waists, thus transferring its magical powers to themselves. In some accounts the head is replaced with a black cat, but the result of the ceremony is always the same. All Templars were supposed to keep these rituals strictly to themselves, and disclosure of information of the rituals was considered worthy of losing one's personal head.

T he origins of the said head are very interesting indeed. Apparently, according to one legend, it is the result of a necrophilic relationship between a beautiful lady of Sidon and a Templar, sometimes named as the Master of the Sidon Preceptory. Since the Rule of the Order demanded chastity from the knights, they were forbidden carnal relations with women. However, this Templar quite fancied a beautiful noble lady, who happened to die to the consternation of the Master. Still, he proceeded to exhume her. Upon consummating his love with the newly departed lady, the Templar is supposed to have heard a booming voice summoning him to the grave in due time to collect the fruits of the union, and when the knight returned in nine months, he found the head Baphomet in the lap of the lady. From this supernatural occasion, then, the powers of the head were given to the Order.

T his story has surfaced in several other places besides the trial of the Templars. It is attributable in this form to one Walter Map, writing in the late 12th century, and before him, all the way to the Greek legend of Medusa and Perseus, very much alive and well in the Mediterranean region. It appears that this form of the tale combines two very powerful images in the popular mind, namely those of the living producing offspring with the dead, and that of the Evil Eye, which is even today current in the that region. Apparently, this story need not have anything to do with the Templars except the fact that it was already instilled in the popular imagination, and thus it was easy to create a link between the Templars and truly abominable horrors.

T here is another side to the story on the name Baphomet.

Armory Bailey Barracks Chapel Dungeon Library Pub

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