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Myths and Legends of Babylonia and Assyria

Page: 123

This cult of the goat appears to be of very ancient origin, and the strange thing is that it seems to have found its way into mediæval and even into modern magic and pseudo-religion. There is very little[Pg 293] doubt that it is the Baphomet of the knights-templar and the Sabbatic goat of the witchcraft of the Middle Ages. It seems almost certain that when the Crusaders sojourned in Asia-Minor they came into contact with the remains of the old Babylonian cult. When Philip the Fair of France arraigned them on a charge of heresy a great deal of curious evidence was extorted from them regarding the worship of an idol that they kept in their lodges. The real character of this they seemed unable to explain. It was said which the image was made in the likeness of 'Baphomet,' which name was said to be a corruption of Mahomet, the general Christian name at that period for a pagan idol, although others give a Greek derivation for the word. This figure was often described as possessing a goat's head and horns. That, too, the Sabbatic goat of the Middle Ages was of Eastern and probably Babylonian origin is scarcely to be doubted. At the witch orgies in France and elsewhere those who were afterwards brought to book for their sorceries declared that Satan appeared to them in the shape of a goat and that they worshipped him in this form. The Sabbatic meetings during the fifteenth century in the wood of Mofflaines, near Arras, had as their centre a goat-demon with a human countenance, and a like fiend was adored in Germany and in Scotland. From all this it is clear that the Sabbatic goat must have had some connexion with the East. Eliphas Levi drew a picture of the Baphomet or Sabbatic goat to accompany one of his occult works, and strangely enough the symbols that he adorns it with are peculiarly Oriental—moreover the sun-disc figures in the drawing. Now Levi knew nothing of Babylonian mythology, although he was moderately[Pg 294] versed in the mythology of modern occultism, and it would seem that if he drew his information from modern or mediæval sources that these must have been in direct line from Babylonian lore.

Adar, the sun-god of Nippur, was in the same manner connected with the pig, which may have been the totem of the city he ruled over; and many other gods had attendant animals or birds, like the sun-god of Kis, whose symbol was the eagle.

Those monsters who had composed the host of Tiawath were supposed, after the defeat and destruction of their commandress, to have been hurled like Satan and his angels into the abyss beneath. We read of their confusion in four tablets of the creation epic. This legend seems to be the original source of the belief that those who rebelled against high heaven were thrust into outer darkness. In the Book of Enoch we read of a 'great abyss' regarding which an angel said to the prophet, "This is a place of the consummation of heaven and earth," and again, in a later chapter, "These are of the stars who have transgressed the command of God, the Highest, and are bound here till 10,000 worlds, the number of the days of their sins, shall have consummated ... this is the prison of the angels, and here they are held to eternity." Eleven great monsters are spoken of by Babylonian myth as comprising the host of Tiawath, besides many lesser forms having the heads of men and the bodies of birds. Strangely enough we find these monsters figuring in a legend concerning an early Babylonian king.


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