The ram and the devil

Goat of Mendes by BlackRoseImmortal666 on Deviantart

Last year (well almost) I wrote a post about the archetype of the ram and its potential symbolism, but there’s one thing I missed out on: is the ram associated with Satan? Since then I have encountered artwork that features ram heads in Satanic pentagrams and ram-headed devils, but all of them are modern and with no formal attachment to any esoteric or occult tradition (with one possible exception). People also seem to mistake the image of Baphomet’s goat head with a ram, even when it the image is still ostensibly that of a goat’s head and not a ram’s head. Some people even say the sign of Aries is the sign of Satan, likely with no basis other than the fact that Aries has horns. So, is the ram really an image of Satan? The answer might actually be yes and no. The icon of the Baphomet was called the Goat of Mendes, a title borrowed from that of the Egyptian deity Banebdjedet. But Banebdjedet was a ram-headed deity, not a goat-headed one. He was the lord of the ancient Egyptian city of Djedet, which the Greeks referred to as Mendes. He was considered a god of fertility, but he was also also considered to embody the soul of the sun god (though the Book of the Heavenly Cow attributes him to be the soul of the god Osiris). The Greek historian Herodotus incorrectly referred to Banebdjedet as a goat-headed deity, and Eliphas Levi, who created the modern icon of Baphomet, used the term Goat of Mendes to refer to the Baphomet, though Baphomet does not appear to have a lot of association with Banebdjedet. Other than that, there is the Devil that appears in the Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot, which actually derives from Levi’s Baphomet, and he has ram horns and a reversed pentagram. It’s my assumption that the Tarot devil was meant to portray Baphomet as a devil or god of lust and desires, but this has no real connection to Baphomet, but is it realted to the ram? Possibly, but it might have been attempted as a he-goat.

There’s something I feel must be mentioned. Levi did believe that the goat was the symbol of lust who threatened heaven and upheld evil (as he describes in page 386 of Transcendental Magic, its Doctrine and Ritual), but it’s important to remember that the Baphomet’s pentagram, which points upwards, is meant to be a symbol of light. Not Satan, not evil, not darkness, but light. And the intent of Levi’s Baphomet was not to create the goat of evil, but the embodiment of harmony between opposites in the cosmos (such as light and darkness or mercy with justice), independent of any association with Satan. The connection between Baphomet and Satan comes from the goat’s medieval connection with lust, and Satan’s own connection with the horned deities of old, and the goat was perfect for Anton LaVey’s own spiritual philosophy which was meant to be purely carnal. But while the goat on its own was associated with Satan, subversion, evil, lust, and matter over the spirit by Levi and other occultists before but the Baphomet has no actual connection with Satan. I don’t think therefore that it is the Baphomet that is the satanic symbol, but the goat.

Eliphas Levi’s Baphomet, in color.

I don’t know if my talk of Baphomet was going off on a tangent or not, though it was enlightening for me to think of and write and it does have its place in this topic. Nonetheless, let’s get back to talking about the ram, not the goat. Now last year I mentioned the association of Baal (as the demon Bael) with the sign of Aries. Here’s the funny thing: Baal had bull horns, not ram horns. Although Baal-Hammon had ram horns, the chief Baal, which would later become the demon Bael and Beelzebub, had the horns of the bull and not the ram.

Now I know I have associated Baal with Beelzebub and Beelzebub with Satan, but I must mention that as I have written this article, my ideas of what Satan is are beginning to change. Sadly, the bit about Banebdjedet and the bit about Baal are the only things I can immediately think of when I think of the ram in conjunction with Satan. As I said, most satanic associations with the ram come from modern artwork, and how often people confuse rams with goat, even when the difference between rams and goats should be obvious. So, I’ll return to the question I posed earlier. Is the ram an image of Satan? My answer is that, traditionally the ram is not an image of Satan, but I personally think that it can be an image of Satan, but that all depends on how you choose to view Satan. Remember, Satan or The Devil is actually an amalgamation of all pagan gods. Since the Christians intended Satan to be the symbol of all they thought was evil, he also represented paganism itself, which the Christians believed was evil and so they vilified it and turned it into a devil. I actually plan to write more about a new personal perspective on Satan/Beelzebub/The Devil later on, in a post slated for my 21st birthday. But I will say this in closing, perhaps Satan is flexible enough that, depending on your idea of him and your personal spiritual philosophy, you can represent Satan as a ram or use the ram to represent to represent your spiritual philosophy which Satan can be a part of, much like Anton LaVey chose the goat to represent his philosophy.

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