By Kris Littlesun
This is an account of my experiances aspecting Baphomet at the recent Queer Pagan Camp.
I am Baphomet
I am confusion, I am chaos
I slip and slide between the boundaries, between the lines
You cannot name me, you cannot define me
As soon as you try, I change, I shift
I cannot be contained by words or labels, by maps or systems
These maps and systems have their uses but…
There is always a But.
There are those who call me evil, who call me the devil
When I refuse to take the side of good, they think I must be on the side of evil
But I am not on any sides, any side that is defined will never tell my story
Do not try to name me, do not try to define me
For I am Baphomet, and I cannot be held.
(In this piece I use “they/their” as a gender neutral singular rather than as a plural, don’t be confused!)
My connection with Baphomet first developed while reading Hermaphrodeities: the Transgender Spirituality Workbook by Raven Kaldera. This book talks about various transgender, gender queer and a-gendered deities and talks about them in relation to various issues related to the lives of transgender/transsexual/intersex people. The book itself, while not perfect, was great as a way for me as a trans person to feel a sense of place and history within my spiritual life. The chapter on Baphomet really struck me, but in a way that I couldn’t quite define; there is of course the simple fact that depictions of Baphomet show a being that is of mixed physical sex, bearing both breasts and a combination of genitals including a large cock which, as Kaldera points out, is often depicted as a different colour from the body which implies that it may be a strap on. As a transgender male who hasn’t has a mastectomy (and isn’t sure I want one) there was certainly a definite joy in finding a deity that represented a celebration of a body similar to my own. However much of the detail of the description in this book didn’t resonate with me in any real way, and when I was trying to explain to people what it was about Baphomet that captured me so strongly I really wasn’t able to say. I can only assume that by reading about them I was able to open up to them in my own way despite what was actually written in the account.
Very quickly after reading about Baphomet, I complied the beginnings of a costume – goat leg chaps that could be attached either to a belt or my strap-on harness and a pair of fantastic large plastic black and red devil horns I found in a fancy dress shop – right from the beginning I had the urge to embody this deity, my experience with them was one of feeling them come through me, feeling their presence in the world as I am. Baphomet is seen as the deity of the physical world, and so it seems appropriate that the relationship would be one that is so physical. I wore my goat legs and horns at a few events, including a couple of queer/all gender ritual sex parties and I had really good experiences during these events. I wanted to try something more focused, and try to really bring Baphomet out.
It turned out that a friend of mine from queer pagan camp (QPC) had read Kaldera’s book at around the same time as I had and had found it equally powerful and inspiring. We talked about doing some kind of ritual together based on the ideas of the book (she had connected strongly with Aphrodite Urania, or the bearded Aphrodite, who is featured in one of the chapters), but we only really started talking about how it was going to work when we got to camp. This was to be the first time I had ever aspected a deity during a ritual, though the whole 10 day camp was one of firsts and I was up for the challenge.
As I started mentioning to people that I was going to be aspecting Baphomet it became clear that there was a strong idea around about what happened when they were about. Baphomet was dark, Baphomet was heavy. Someone told me that at a Baphomet ritual that had happened at QPC many years previously, the person who had been the vessel for possession had put a pen knife through his hand (though I later found out that this never actually happened, someone was obviously being mean and trying to wind me up!). I knew instinctively however that it was unlikely that it would be like this when I was aspecting them. The Baphomet I knew would do their utmost not to live up to narrowly defined expectation, would instead always show people the parts of themselves that was lacking in the audience’s psyche.
On the morning of the ritual I started preparing early, I was a bit nervous about the ritual but only because I was worried that I wouldn’t feel the deity in me and become tongue tied. In bed before getting up I invoked Baphomet in my own special way (this at least was in keeping with their reputation). In the visions that I had that morning, rather than having the traditional large cock with cunt hidden underneath Baphomet’s genitals were a mass of shifting, changing movement, hazy and indefinable. One of the issues with aspecting a deity who is all about defying expectations is that it’s very likely that the outfit you had prepared for them will suddenly become woefully inadequate. I managed to improvise the effect with a handful of goosegrass tucked into the base of my harness and wrapped around the dildo. It would do.
The preparation before the ritual was hectic and vaguely stressful, though I managed to keep calm throughout (mainly because I had been able to focus solely on the ritual for most of the morning while others involved had various things vying for attention). I had made a mask previously in the week that fitted round my head and over my horns, it was just made out of card but, with much help from a friend skilled in these kinds of matters, I had made it into a very impressive looking goat snout and painted it in brown and brass with the look of iron armour. There were no mirrors in the place we were preparing so I couldn’t see how it looked together, but when I wore it with the horns it felt really fantastic and I could feel myself changing.
As I stood behind the curtain waiting for my signal I felt slightly dizzy and dazed – I knew that I hadn’t drunk as much water as I normally would and it was way past lunch time, but there seemed to be more here. My boots felt heavy and clunky as I had been mostly barefooted for the last two weeks, and the path I was to walk was rough and bumpy. I was worried about my horns catching on the curtain as I fumbled through it and causing an inappropriate comedy moment. I repeated my first line over and over in my head – I am Baphomet, I am Baphomet, I am Baphomet…
Finally it was time for my entrance; I carefully lifted the curtain and crept out. I am used to performing, but I am used to having a script and having things planned out in advance, but this was here and I had nothing to fall back on except the deity that was coming through me. I started talking and words flowed, some of them were words that I had been thinking before, some of them were new. I stumbled over a sentence – a quick look round assured me my audience were with me and I was comforted, and Baphomet continued. I felt a wave of satisfaction as the talk came to a natural close (I had also been a bit worried about whether it would be too short or too long or if I would not know how to end it and sound silly), and, after greatfully receiving a wolf whistle from someone in the crowd, moved into the nearby hut to drop Baphomet for that time.
After I felt tired and quite flat and low on energy, though there were also many physical reasons why I might have felt like this. I got very good feedback from people who attended, which was very nice, and people said I should do it again which I really hope I have the opportunity to do. I feel like the experience has opened me up to a deeper level of understanding both of Baphomet and myself, of the world that exists without labels and judgement and how it changes when those are applied. I am very grateful to my QPC family for providing me the platform and support to explore this relationship and share the fruits.