A Visit To The Florida Foundry Where Satanic Sculpture Baphomet Was Forged
During the Inquisition, the Knights Templar were accused of heresy and Satan worship. Their alleged god was Baphomet.
And more than 500 years later, Eliphas Levi drew the first image of Baphomet. He has horned goat’s head and wings, a pentagram on the forehead. Baphomet is man and beast, male and female. He points to heaven and hell.
And his latest incarnation as a nine foot tall, bronze monument was forged in a sleepy Florida town.
Mark Porter is the artist commissioned by The Satanic Temple to make the statue. Behind a manufactured home in a rural Florida town, he digs through an ankle-deep pile of crushed ceramic at the base of a charred palm tree.
He scours the boneyard of man-made fossils and finds bits of Baphomet’s mold.
“I think this is a piece here,” he says., holding it up. “Here this is it. You can see the wings.”
On a nearby trailer, the one-ton Baphomet sculpture is ready for transport. It’s wrapped in blankets and a crunchy blue tarp. Porter pulls it up for a peak, and shows me photos.
The Baphomet sculpture is stunning in bronze. Its imagery is shocking, creepy and there’s an almost comedic undertone to it. It’s museum-grade blasphemy.
There are tweaks from the original concept. Baphomet has two children, one male and one female, look up adoringly at him. He’s designed so you can sit in his lap.
Porter says he obsessed on the sculpture during the year and a half build.
“I hope people can appreciate it as a work of art, and not just, you know, a prank,” Porter said.
Baphomet’s duality extends to its placement. Originally bound for Oklahoma, the pagan deity was going to sit opposite a Ten Commandments sculpture on the state capitol grounds.
But then the Oklahoma Supreme Court stepped in, ruling that the Ten Commandments monument violated the state constitution. There's talk of changing the constitution.
Mike Ritz is the Oklahoma lawmaker who donated the Ten Commandments statue. He said if Satanists want to display Baphomet on public property, they can do it the same way he did: Shepherd a bill through the state legislature.
Politics aside, what does Ritz think of the Baphomet sculpture?
“I think it will scare children and people who aren’t used to seeing monsters on display,” Ritz said.
How you view Baphomet is shaped on your upbringing, said Doug Mesner. He’s better known as Lucien Grieves, the cofounder of The Satanic Temple.
“If they don’t have this cultural baggage, this religious cultural baggage, they can recognize it for the art it is without fear,” Mesner said.
His organization spent $100,000 on the Baphomet sculpture, with a third raised through crowdfunding. Mesner said the statue could end up in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Texas or Florida. But he’s confident it will find a home.
“Some people say it looks demonic and monstrous and such a hideous object would have no place on public ground," Mesner said. "Whereas other people look at it and see it as a beautiful, classical sculptural work.”
Back at the Florida foundry where Baphomet was forged, they hook up the trailer for the road trip to Detroit. It'll be unveiled at a party Saturday night. The drivers have no idea what they’re hauling. And they’ve managed to keep the foundry’s location secret from the neighbors as well.
Wherever Baphomet ends up, his mother mold will stay in Florida. It’s an insurance policy in case Baphomet is destroyed or vandalized, and also means they can clone the statue.
For now, though, the first Baphomet will remain a child of Florida.