Baphomet appears in numerous occult contexts, often aligned with demonology, medieval witchcraft, or Satanism. The contemporary Church of Satan features its image in their insignia. It represents the Devil on Trump XV of the Major Arcana in the Rider-Waite deck. Ceremonial magicians in lineages from Eliphas Levi to Anton LaVey encounter Baphomet as a demonic name, a symbol of alchemical or arcane concepts, and a power to invoke.

Nevertheless, Baphomet originates in a phonetic corruption of “Mahomet” or Muhammed. Allegations against the Knights Templar included participation in the foreign “cult of Mahomet.” Islam was cast as an Old Testament paganism by racist imaginations to fuel lurid stories about the Templars worshipping “Baphomet.” The accusations became charges of heresy and witchcraft, ultimately bringing about the end of the order and the execution of its last grand master.

Baphomet is only one example of entropy in occult traditions. The history of magic is entwined with religion, science, and fraud. Occult fraudsters drape themselves in whatever will lend them credibility, instill fear, or enhance their stature, yet some of their marks are true believers who practice sincerely. A critical pagan values detecting entropy and sifting truth from lie. In that way one can embrace the organic change of a living tradition, acknowledge fraudulent accretions, and rest on a solid foundation.