Satanic Statue Symbolism Aug 1, 2015 23:50:29 GMT -5
Post by Joanna on Aug 1, 2015 23:50:29 GMT -5
Satanic Statue Symbolism
A controversial statue unveiled by the Satanic Temple at a secret ceremony in Detroit has attracted protests. But who is the goat-headed figure? And what do the elements of the statue symbolize? The bronze statue is almost 9-feet-tall and depicts a winged hermaphrodite known as Baphomet, flanked by two smiling children. It cost $100,000 to create and hundreds of Satanists turned out for its unveiling.
Long term, the Satanic Temple wants to move the piece 900 miles southwest to Oklahoma and erect it opposite a Ten Commandments monument outside Oklahoma City's Capitol Building. The Baphomet will "complement and contrast" the Christian commandments which include "unconstitutional prohibitions against free speech and free exercise of religion," according to Satanists. "Our statue will serve as a beacon calling for compassion and empathy among all living creatures," says Lucien Greaves, the group's co-founder. He hopes people of all ages will "sit on the lap of Satan for inspiration and contemplation ... It's a nice little tourist attraction. People would travel a great distance to see it."
Baphomet. The name Baphomet dates to the Inquisition and torture of the Knights Templar around 1100. According to French chroniclers of the Crusades, the Templars confessed to worshiping a heathen idol called Baphometh. Some scholars believe "Baphometh" was simply a corruption of "Mahomet" – the Prophet Muhammad. But over the years as the mystery and speculation the Templars has grown, so too have the interpretations of the word and its meaning. One elaborate interpretation even drove the plot in Dan Brown's historical thriller The Da Vinci Code, where the word Baphomet is decoded and translated to mean "Sophia" or wisdom.
Levi's Baphomet. The best-known modern image of Baphomet was drawn in 1856 by the French occultist Eliphas Levi, in his book Transcendental Magic: Its Doctrine and Ritual. He envisaged a winged hermaphrodite with a torch between his horns and pentagram on his forehead. Its arms bore the Latin words SOLVE (separate) and COAGULA (join together) – the powers of "binding and loosing" usurped from God. Levi's drawing was the inspiration for the Satanic Temple's new monument. "It contains all these binary opposites – above and below, part animal, part human. Male and female," says Greaves. "It embodies opposites and celebrates contrasts."
Two-finger salute. Two fingers on the right hand point upward and two on the left hand point downward, indicating "as above, so below." These words and the accompanying gesture are familiar to occultists. They are drawn from the ancient works of Hermes Trismegistus, whose writings became popular during the Renaissance and Reformation. The phrase is also used in relation to science, the universe and God, but Levi wrote that, by making the gesture, his Baphomet "expresses the perfect harmony of mercy with justice."
Two young children. "We hope children will see this as a beautiful work of art – there is nothing to be afraid of. That's what the children symbolize," Greaves claims. "The goat's face has a neutral expression. It's not demonic, ferocious or monstrous – as people make it out to be – if you look at it without the cultural baggage."
But do children really have nothing to be afraid of from Satan? "I don't think children approaching the monument without being primed by propaganda will find anything horrific about it," says Greaves. "But we're about not indoctrinating children. For the most part, children are forced into religion. That's something we definitely don't care to do."
The Caduceus. On the Baphomet's stomach is an old Greek symbol of two serpents entwined around a staff – the staff which was carried by Hermes and heralds in general. The caduceus represents trade, negotiation and reciprocity and was co-opted into the Baphomet by Levi. "For us it symbolizes reconciliation of the opposites – such as having a Satanic monument opposite a Christian one," Greaves says. "We think that's a powerful message when it's sitting opposite the Ten Commandments – you can have these dualities, differences without conflict."
Breasts. Levi's Baphomet was a hermaphrodite with breasts, "but we took the breasts off," explains Greaves. The Temple did not want to become embroiled in a debate concerning gender, which might detract from what it believes are the more important messages of the Baphomet. Instead, he says, the boy and girl reflect that "male-female dualism" seen in Levi's Baphomet.
Pentagram. Seen both on the forehead of the Baphomet and on the throne behind him, the pentagram is a widely recognized Satanic symbol – and often appears inverted. Saint Peter's cross is often inverted too – as it was during the Satanic Temple's unveiling ceremony. "This inversion is Satan's perception. It asks people to reconsider their cultural grounding, look at the evidence and reconsider their values," says Greaves. “You have this one-sided vision with institutionalized religion as the arbiters of moral correctness. It prevents them considering whether they could be incorrect today on issues such as gay marriage and reproductive rights. It's true you don't have to identify with Satan to take on those causes. But the image of Satan resonates for us."
Torch between horns. "The torch of knowledge is the middle horn – it glorifies the pursuit of knowledge. We put a high value on that – it's really central to our beliefs in general," Greaves adds. As Levi wrote: "The flame of intelligence shining between his horns is the magic light of the universal balance, the image of the soul elevated above matter, as the flame, whilst being tied to matter, shines above it."
Inscriptions. These have yet to be added but the Satanic Temple gave details of their plans in a statement last year. On the front of the statue, above the inverted pentagram, will be one of the Satanic Temple's seven fundamental tenets: "The spirit of compassion, wisdom, and justice should always prevail over the written or spoken word." The back of the stone slab will display a passage from Lord Byron's dramatic work, Cain, that reads: "Then who was the Demon? He who would not let ye live, or he who would have made ye live forever, in the joy and power of knowledge?"
What is the Satanic Temple? "We understand the Satanic figure as a symbol of man's inherent nature, representative of the eternal rebel, enlightened inquiry and personal freedom rather than a supernatural deity or being,” Greaves explains. "We actively provide outreach and participate in public affairs where the issues might benefit from rational, Satanic insights."
Source: James Morgan, BBC News, August 1, 2015.