"...there is a power so organized, so subtle, so complete, so pervasive, that they had better not speak above their breath when they speak in condemnation of it." --- President Woodrow Wilson
"Don't believe the human eye In sunlight or in shade The puppet show of sight and sense Is the Devil's Masquerade." ---Robert Anton Wilson, 'Masks of the Illuminati'
Unlike most FAQs, which catalog many questions and provide answers, this document only attempts to explore a single question: Q: What is the Illuminati? There is no single definitive answer, as the word means different things in different contexts. To some, the Illuminati is synonymous with an international conspiracy working toward the goal of global domination. In this context, the Illuminati is usually perceived as an evil and subversive force that intends to enslave mankind.
Robert Anton Wilson wrote several fictional books on the subject of the Illuminati. While many consider it to be excellent fiction, it is undeniable that it involves itself with so many conspiracy theories, from the plausible to the absurd, that it becomes impossible to take seriously. Some of the hardened conspiracy theorists believe that Wilson is a secret member of the Illuminati who intentionally attempted to make a mockery of the subject, so that serious discussions would become polluted. The "real" Illuminati is the name of an organization founded in Bavaria in 1776 by Adam Weishaupt. Weishaupt formed a secret society within another secret society, Freemasonry. Some believe that Weishaupt created the Illuminati with the express purpose of overthrowing governments and bringing about a new social order. Others, as you will read, disagree. Many opinions exist as to the origins, motives, and the ultimate fate of the Illuminati.
Some (e.g. M. William Cooper) believe that the Illuminati were purposely allowed to flourish within the Lodges of Freemasonry, so that they could eventually claim that the had been invaded unknowingly, but the awful conspiracy had been squelched. This, according to Cooper, is a cover to deflect accusations, and to hide the fact that it merely went underground to re- surface later under a myriad of different names. Adam Weishaupt published, in addition to numerous tracts (usually under his pseudonym 'Sparticus') the following books:
A Picture of the Illuminati, 1786.
A Complete History of the Persecutions of the Illuminati in Bavaria, 1786.
An Apology for the Illuminati, 1787.
An Improved System of the Illuminati, 1787.
John Robinson wrote a book in the 18th century, exposing the Illuminati. He attributes the following quote to Weishaupt: "The great strength of our Order lies in its concealment; let it never appear in any place in its own name, but always concealed by another name, and another occupation. None is fitter than the lower degrees of Freemasonry; the public is accustomed to it, ex- pects little from it, and therefore takes little notice of it. Next to this, the form of a learned or literary society is best suited to our purpose, and had Freemasonry not existed, this cover would have been employed; and it may be much more than a cover, it may be a powerful engine in our hands... A Literary Society is the most proper form for the introduction of our Order into any state where we are yet strangers." (as quoted in John Robinson's "Proofs of a Conspiracy" 1798, re- printed by Western Islands, Boston, 1967, p. 112)
What follows are excerpts from various authors on the subject of the Illuminati and other secret societies, from the plausible to the ludicrous. I leave it to the reader to decide which are which.
Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea by Peter Trei, 1994 A look at the Harvard University Library Catalog shows that there was an Illuminati panic in New England in the late 1790's. After that, very few people seem to have had Illuminism on their minds. In the 1950s and 60's, about the only people who seem to mention it were the John Birch Society. In the mid-70's, Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson restarted popular speculation with their fictional "Illuminatus!" trilogy. This mixes actual history with conspiracy theory and pure invention, and very deliberately produces doubts in the reader's mind as to the nature of reality--a technique which the authors refer to as "guerilla ontology," in pursuit of "Operation Mindfuck."
They were apparently turned on to Illuminism by some of the correspondence they received while working as letters column editors at Playboy magazine. At the core of Illuminatus! is an eons-old conflict between the conspiracies representing the forces of order, bureaucracy, and repression, represented by the Illuminati, and the conspiracies representing the forces of chaos, spontaneity and freedom, representing by the Erisians (followers of Eris, the Greek goddess of discord). The plot involves every conspiracy you've ever heard of, many you haven't, monomaniacal midgets, golden submarines, giant squid, ancient Atlantis, zombie Nazi stormtroopers, and a good deal of sex. Wilson and Shea drew heavily on Akron Darual's "History of Secret Societies," the "Principia Discordia" of the Erisians, many kinds of fringe conspiracy theory, and their own imaginations. One of their conceits is that Adam Weishaupt, founder of the Bavarian Illuminati, secretly murdered George Washington and took his place.
Illuminatus! became an underground bestseller, and while Shea seems to have been content to sit back and enjoy the royalties, Wilson has worked the interest it developed into a minor industry. He has brought out a steady stream of fiction and "non-fiction" concerning the Illuminati and related topics, notably the "Schrodinger's Cat" trilogy, "The Illuminati Papers," "Cosmic Trigger - The Final Secret of the Illuminati," and most recently the "Historical Illuminatus Series," which is up to four books.
FAQ: The Illuminati by Trevor W. McKeown Editor, Mensa World 3864-349 W. Georgia St. Vancouver, B.C. V6B 3Z3 Canada
Adam Weishaupt founded the Illuminati of Bavaria on May 1, 1776 on the principles of his early training as a Jesuit. Originally called the Order of the Perfectibilists, "its professed object was, by the mutual assistance of its members, to attain the highest possible degree of morality and virtue, and to lay the foundation for the reformation of the world by the association of good men to oppose the progress of moral evil." (1) Adam Weishaupt was born February 6, 1748 at Ingoldstadt and educated by the Jesuits. His appointment as Professor of Natural and Canon Law at the University of Ingoldstadt in 1775, a position previously held by an ecclesiastic, gave great offense to the clergy. "Weishaupt, whose views were cosmopolitan, and who knew and condemned the bigotry and superstitions of the Priests, established an opposing party in the University.... This was the beginning of the Order of Illuminati or the Enlightened...." (2) Weishaupt was not then a Freemason; he was initiated into Lodge Theodore of Good Council (Theodor zum guten Rath), at Munich in 1777. Status as a Mason was not required for initiation into the Order of Illuminati since the fourth, fifth and sixth degrees of Weishaupt and Baron Von Knigge's system practically duplicated the three degrees of symbolic Freemasonry. Although Knigge claimed to have a system of ten degrees, the last two appear never to have been fully worked up. (3) "The Order was at first very popular, and enrolled no less than two thousand names upon its registers.... Its Lodges were to be found in France, Belgium, Holland, Denmark, Sweden, Poland, Hungary, and Italy.
Knigge, who was one of its most prominent working members, and the author of several of its Degrees, was a religious man, and would never have united with it had its object been, as has been charged, to abolish Christianity. But it cannot be denied, that in the process of time abuses had crept into the Institution and that by the influence of unworthy men, the system became corrupted; yet the course accusations of Barruel and Robison are known to be exaggerated, and some of them altogether false.... The Edicts (on June 22, 1784, for its suppression) of the Elector of Bavaria were repeated in March and August, 1785 and the Order began to decline, so that by the end of the eighteenth century it had ceased to exist.... it exercised while in prosperity no favorable influence on the Masonic Institution, nor any unfavorable effect on it by its dissolution." (4) In the following year, 1785, Weishaupt was deprived of his professorship and banished from the country. He moved to Gotha where he died in 1811. The Encyclopędia Britannica refers to the Illuminati "cells" in an article on eighteenth century Italy as "republican freethinkers, after the pattern recently established in Bavaria by Adam Weishaupt." (5) and as a "rationalistic secret society" in an article on Roman Catholicism. (6) Depending on your perspective, the lack of any detailed information on the Illuminati in the Encyclopędia Britannica can be ascribed to their current power and secretiveness or to the much simpler explanation that the editors found the order to be of little importance in the flow of history and social development. John M. Roberts claims that "The Illuminati were the first society to use for political subversion the machinery of secret organization offered by free masonry ... through the craft they began to spread." (7) while Robert Gilbert feels that Christopher McIntosh "overestimates the strength and significance of the Illuminati." (8) Documented evidence would suggest that the Bavarian Illuminati was nothing more than a curious historical footnote. Certainly, this is the opinion of Masonic writers.
Conspiracy theorists though, are not noted for applying Occam's razer and have decided that there is a connection between the Illuminati, the Freemasons, the Trilateral Commission, International Zionism and (if you read the writings of Jack T, Chick of Chino California) communism that all leads back to the Vatican in a bid for world domination. Believe what you will but there is no evidence that the Illuminati survived its founders. As an aside: the Alumbrados (Spanish for 'enlightened') were members of a mystical movement in 16th century Spain; for the most part reformed Jesuits and Franciscans. They believed that the human soul could enter into direct communication with the Holy Spirit and, due to their extravagant claims of visions and revelations, had three edicts issued against them by the Inquisition. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits in 1534 and composer of the 'Constitutions of the Society of Jesus' has written nothing that would suggest he was in sympathy with the Alumbrados. (9) The name translates as 'illuminati' in Italian but the name is the only similarity with the later Bavarian Illuminati. NOTES: (1) Albert G. Mackey, Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, Richmond, Virginia: Macoy Publishing. 1966, p.474 (2) Ibid., p. 1099 (3) Ibid., p. 475 (4) Ibid., p. 1099 (5) Encyclopaedia Britannica, 15th edition. Vol. 22, p. 223, 2b (6) Encyclopaedia Britannica, 15th edition. Vol. 26, p. 937, 2b (7) J.M. Roberts, The Mythology of Secret Societies, New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. 1972, pp. 123-4 (8) Christopher McIntosh, The Rose Cross and the Age of Reason Leiden, E. J. Brill, 1992, reviewed by Robert Gilbert in the Transactions of Quatuor Coronati Lodge No. 2076, London: Butler & Tanner Ltd. 1993 p. 241 (9) "The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius", trans. by L.J. Puhl (1951); "The Constitutions of the Society of Jesus; Translated with an Intro- duction and a Commentary", by G.E. Ganss (1970).
Whoever does not close his ear to the lamentations of the miserable, nor his heart to gentle pity; whoever is the friend and brother of the unfortunate; whoever has a heart capable of love and friendship; whoever is steadfast in adversity, unwearied in the carrying out of whatever has been once engaged in, undaunted in the overcoming of difficulties; whoever does not mock and despise the weak; whose soul is susceptible of conceiving great designs, desirous of rising superior to all base motives, and of distinguishing itself by deeds of benevolence; whoever shuns idleness; whoever considers no knowledge as unessential which he may have the opportunity of acquiring, regarding the knowledge of mankind as his chief study; whoever, when truth and virtue are in question, despising the approbation of the multitude, is sufficiently courageous to follow the dictates of his own heart, - such a one is a proper candidate. [ Adam Weishaupt, "An Improved System of the Illuminati" (Gotha: 1787) ] The tenor of my life has been the opposite of everything that is vile; and no man can lay any such thing to my charge. [ An Apology for the Illuminati (Gotha: 1787) ]
Karl Marx was hired by a mysterious group who called themselves the League of Just Men to write the 'Communist Manifesto' as demagogic boob-bait to appeal to the mob. In actual fact the 'Communist Manifesto' was in circulation for many years before Marx's name was widely enough recognized to establish his authorship for this revolutionary handbook. All Karl Marx really did was to update and codify the very same revolutionary plans set down seventy years earlier by Adam Weishaupt, the founder of the Order of the Illuminati in Bavaria. And it is widely acknowledged by serious scholars of this subject that the League of Just Men was simply an extension of the Illuminati which was forced to go deep underground after it was ex- posed in 1786 by a raid conducted by the Bavarian authorities. [ Larry Abraham, 'Call it Conspiracy' (Double A Publications: Seattle, Washington, 1985) p. 41 ]
Cecil Rhode's commitment to a conspiracy to establish World Government was set down in a series of wills described by Frank Aydelotte in his book 'American Rhodes Scholarships.' Aydelotte writes: "The seven wills which Cecil Rhodes made between the ages of 24 and 46 [Rhodes died at 48] constitute a kind of spiritual auto- biography... Best known are the first (The Secret Society Will) and the last, which established the Rhodes Scholarships... In his first will Rhodes states his aim still more specifically: 'The extension of British rule throughout the world... the foundation of so great a power as to hereafter render wars impossible and promote the interests of humanity.' The 'Confession of Faith' enlarges upon these ideas. The model for this proposed secret society was the Society of Jesus, though he mentions the Masons." It should be noted that the originator of this type of secret society was Adam Weishaupt, the monster who founded the Order of Illuminati on May 1, 1776, for the purpose of conspiracy to control the world. The role of Weishaupt's Illuminists in such horrors as the Reign of Terror is unquestioned, and the techniques of the Illuminati have long been recognized as models of Communist methodology. Weishaupt also used the structure of the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) as his model, and rewrote his Code in Masonic terms. [ Ibid., p. 91 ]
Of special interest is the powerful society if Afghanistan in ancient times called the Roshaniya--illuminated ones. ...The major tenets of this cult were: the abolition of private property; the elimination of religion; the elimination of nation states; the belief that illumination emanated from the Supreme Being who desired a class of perfect men and women to carry out the organization and direction of the world; belief in a plan to reshape the social system of the world by first taking control of individual countries one by one, and the belief that after reaching the fourth degree one could communicate directly with the unknown supervisors who had imparted knowledge to initiates throughout the ages. Wise men will again recognize the Brotherhood. ...The Roshaniya also called themselves the Order. Initiates took an oath that absolved them of all allegiance except to the Order and stated, "I bind myself to perpetual silence and unshaken loyalty and submission to the Order... All humanity which cannot identify itself by our secret sign is our lawful prey." The oath remains essentially the same to this day. The secret sign was to pass a hand over the forehead, palm inward; the counter- sign, to hold the ear with the fingers and support the elbow in the cupped other hand. Does this sound familiar? The Order is the Order of the Quest.
...The Roshaniya took in travelers as initiates and then sent them on their way to found new chapters of the Order. It is believed by some that the Assassins were a branch of the Roshaniya. Branches of the Roshaniya or the "illuminated ones" or the Illuminati exists and still exist everywhere. One of the rules was not to use the same name and never mention "the Illuminati." That rule is still in effect today. I believe that it is the breaking of this rule that resulted in Adam Weishaupt's downfall. One of the greatest secrets of the ages is the true story of the Holy Grail, the robe of Jesus, the remains of the Cross of Crucifixion, and whether Jesus actually died or if he survived and produced a child. Many myths surround the Knights Templar concerning these relics, and most myths through- out history always have at least some basis in fact. If my sources are correct, the Knights Templar survive today as a branch of the Illuminati, and guard the relics, which are hidden in a location known only to them.
We know that the Templars are Illuminati because the Freemasons absorbed and protected those that escaped persecution of the church and France, just as Freemasons would absorb and protect Weishaupt's Illuminati centuries later. The Knights Templar exist today as a higher degree of Freemasonry within the Templar Order. In fact, the Knights Templar is a branch of the Order of the Quest. ...The Knights Templar were founded sometime during the 11th century in Jerusalem by the Prieure de Sion for the express purpose of guarding the remaining relics of Jesus and to provide military protection for the religious travelers during their pilgrimage to the Holy City. ...Adam Weishaupt, a young professor of canon law at Ingolstadt University in Germany, was a Jesuit priest and an initiate of the Illuminati. The branch of the Order he founded in Germany in 1776 was the same Illuminati previously discussed. Researchers agree that [Adam Weishaupt] was financed by the House of Rothschild. Weishaupt advocated "abolition of all ordered national governments, abolition of inheritance, abolition of private property, abolition of patriotism, abolition of the individual home and family life as the cell from which all civilizations have stemmed, and abolition of all religions established and existing so that the Luciferian ideology of totalitarianism may be imposed on mankind."
In the same year that he founded the Illuminati he published 'Wealth of Nations,' the book that provided the ideological foundation for capitalism and the Industrial Revolution. It is no accident that the Declaration of Independence was written in the same year. On the obverse of the Great Seal of the United States the wise will recognize the all-seeing eye and other signs of the Brotherhood of the Snake. Every tenet was the same. Date and beliefs cornfirm Weishaupt's Illuminati is the same as the Afghan Illuminated Ones and the other cults which called themselves 'illuminated.' The Alumbrados of Spain were the same as were the 'illuminated' Guerinets of France. In the United States they were known as the Jacobin clubs. Secrets within secrets within secrets--but always at the heart is the Brotherhood. I believe that Weishaupt was betrayed and set up for persecution because he ignored the rule that the word 'illuminati' or the existence of the Brother- hood would never be exposed to public knowledge. His exposure and out- lawing accomplished several goals of the still-hidden and still very powerful Brotherhood. It allowed members to debunk claims of its existence on the grounds that the Illuminati has been exposed and outlawed and thus were no longer a reality. It allowed members to deny allegations of conspiracy of any kind. The Brotherhood of the Snake is adept at throwing out decoys to keep the dogs at bay. Weishaupt hay have been a fool--or he may have been doing exactly what he was told.
...Allegations that the Freemason organizations were infiltrated by the Illuminati during Weishaupt's reign are hogwash. The Freemasons have always contained the core of the Illuminati within their ranks, and that is why they so freely and so willingly took in and his the members of Weishaupt's group. You cannot really believe that Freemasons, if they were only a simple fraternal organization, would have risked everything, including their very lives, by taking in and hiding outlaws who had been condemned by the Monarchs of Europe. It is mainly Freemason authors who have perpetuated the myth that Adam Weishaupt was the founder of the Illuminati and that the Illuminati was destroyed, never to surface again. ...Most members of the Freemasons are not aware that the Illuminati practices what is known as 'secrets within secrets,' or organizations within organizations. That is one purpose of initiation. ... Only those at the top who have passed every test truly know what the Masons are hiding, thus rendering it impossible for anyone outside to know much at all about the group. The Freemasons, like everyone else, are responsible for the clean- liness of their home. The occupant of a secret house within a secret house within a secret house cannot clean if he cannot see the number of rooms or what they contain. Their house is a stinking cesspool. Look to the Masons for the guilty party if anything happens to me. [ Milton William Cooper, 'Behold a Pale Horse' (Light Technology Publishing: Sedona, AZ, 1991) pp. 74-77 ]
[ A reader wishing to remain anonymous made the following contribution to the ezine, Conspiracy Nation. It is an analysis of 'En Route to Global Occupation,' by Gary H. Kah (Lafayette, Louisiana, Huntington House Publishers, 1992). Kah is a high ranking government liaison and author. ] The author's investigation into Freemasonry included interviewing former and current members, some of whom had reached the level of either Thirty-Second or Thirty-Third degree. "The testimonies of current Masons differed drastically from those of Masons who had left the Order. Current members expressed no knowledge whatsoever of any higher religious aims of the Order. They were fiercely loyal to the lodge and told me that Freemasonry was nothing more than an international secret fraternity based on good works. Former Masons, on the other hand, offered views that could not have been more opposite from those of their counterparts. They told me that the organization was anti-Christ and that it was dangerous, particularly in its higher levels, citing the previous as their main reason for leaving, adding that it was Luciferically-inspired....[Regarding the discrepancy] I concluded that current members either would not reveal what they knew because of the oaths of secrecy they had taken or else they truly were unaware of these things, not yet having reached a level where they were exposed to the underlying purpose of their Order." One researcher had gathered secret Masonic materials and writings for over twenty years "from widows of deceased Masons who were unaware of the significance of the Order and its literature." The Illuminati and Knights Templars received repeated mention throughout, confirming that Freemasonry is a continuation of the Illuminati.
...The Knights Templars were initially a religious and military organization during the crusades, composed of nobles who were "granted favors by many European rulers and gained possession of property throughout the continent. Through gifts of land and money, the Templars became extremely wealthy and powerful." By 1300 "the Templars, through their enormous wealth and wide- spread organization, had become the bankers of Europe...." According to ... Morals and Dogma, "Their watchword was, to become wealthy in order to buy the world." Later the King of France arrested the Knights Templars and conducted an investigation. "The Knights confessed to a variety of notorious crimes and admitted to taking blasphemous oaths against Jesus Christ upon admission into the order." These crimes consisted of spitting upon the crucifix, committing obscenities, and practicing unnatural vices (sodomy).
The Pope intervened to protect his papal jurisdiction. Later, due to mounting public pressure, he launched his own investigation for fear the King's had involved torture. The Pope's investigation revealed the same results. In front of witnesses and without torture, the Knights admitted to abominations, indecencies, and obscenities. "The Knights Templars, as it turned out, had been masters of deception, expert in duplicity, appearing to serve Christ on the surface while worshipping Lucifer within their inner rites." Morals and Dogma confirmed that they "had two doctrines, one concealed and reserved for the Masters...the other public." The Pope abolished the order. It then went underground, trusting its dangerous secrets only to those who had passed successfully through a series of degrees. Hundreds of years later, they surfaced again, this time as a benevolent organization of good works, taking over the stone mason guilds of Europe, since the original Knights Templars had viewed them- selves as grand builders and had with their riches built many castles and estates. The stone mason guilds were eager to make the union because they were at that time in danger of going under due to their shrinking numbers. The transition was successful with the public viewing it favorably as an organization of simple good works. By 1776, Adam Weishaupt, a famous Mason, had developed the Illuminati, a secret society within a secret society. One Masonic historian himself has stated that the goals include "found[ing] a new Hierarchy, to overturn all authority, and to press down all the Social Order under the level of Equality." Another Masonic historian stated "the express aim of the Order was to abolish Christianity, and overturn all civil government." In Weishaupt's own words, the Illuminati "will by degrees, and in silence, possess themselves of the government of the States, and make use of those means for this purpose...."
Around 1782, Weishaupt "succeeded at forging an alliance between illuminized Freemasonry and the growing Rothschild banking network, thereby giving the Order the financial means to begin to carry out its plans." By making an alliance with international financiers, "it took root, it grew, it flourished, it gathered into itself more men of royal and noble titles than were possessed by the Hohenzollern family; even the Jesuits joined it." Weishaupt convinced many Christian leaders to join by holding out the Illuminati as a Christian organization with the express purpose of unifying the world for the sake of Christ. The World Council of Churches, "an organization that is strongly influenced by Freemasonry," continues Weishaupt's work by promoting interfaith unity despite the requisite com- promise of each individual faith. Weishaupt himself wrote of his sarcastic glee in getting a famous protestant minister to join by believing that the Illuminati were genuinely Christian, "O Man, Man! To what may'st thou not be persuaded?"
During the 1800's, as the United States began to emerge as a world power, the Illuminati shifted its attention from Europe to the U.S. "In fact, many of this country's political founding fathers were Masons. Most of them, like George Washington, were decent men who knew of no higher aims of the Order and who even spoke out against the activities of the Illuminati." ...The role of the Soviet Union in the development of a new world order involves the birth of communism. Karl Marx was hired by the League of Just Men, a branch organization of the Illuminati, to write the Communist Manifesto and to penetrate and subvert the labor movement in France. In the early days of the revolution, "the revolutionaries called themselves Spartacusts (after Adam Weishaupt's Illuminati pseudonym) before becoming known as Bolsheviks and later as Communists." There were other Illuminati who infiltrated the labor movement. On the labor movement's committee charged with the responsibility of making the movement international in scope were a personal secretary to one of the two highest-ranking officials of the Illuminati, a French Freemason, and the secretary of the English Masons' Union.
An enemy of the Templars shall tell us the secret of this Papal hostility against an Order that has existed for centuries ... It will be easy, as we read, to separate the false from the true, the audacious conjectures from the simple facts. "The Templars, whose history is so imperfectly known, where those terrible conspirators. In 1118, nine Knights Crusaders in the East ... consecrated themselves to religion, and took an oath between the hands of the Patriarch of Constantiople ... The avowed object of the Templars was to protect the Christians who came to visit the Holy Places; their secret object was the re-building of the Temple of Solomon on the model prophesied by Ezekiel. This rebuilding, formally predicted by the Judaizing Mystics of the earlier ages, had become the secret dream of the Patriarchs of the Orient. The Temple of Solomon, re-built and consecrated to the Catholic worship would become, in effect, the Metropolis of the Universe; the East would prevail over the West, and the Patriarchs of Constantipole would possess themselves of the Papal power." [ Albert Pike, 33rd Degree Mason, 'Morals and Dogma' (House of the Temple, Washington DC, 1871), p. 815. ]
The Occult Sciences of the Ancient Magi was concealed under the shadows of the Ancient Mysteries... and it is found enveloped in enigmas that seem impenetrable, in the Rites of the Highest Masonry. Magism was the Science of Abraham and Orpheus, of Confucious and Zoroaster. ...Moses purified and re-veiled them, for that is the meaning of the word 'reveal.' He covered them with a new veil, when he made of the Holy Kabalah the exclusive heritage of the people of Israel, and the inviolable Secret of its priests. ...It was the remembrance of this scientific and religious Absolute, of this doctrine that is summed up in a word, of this Word, in fine, alternately lost and found again, that was transmitted to the Elect of all Ancient Initiations; it was this same remembrance, preserved, or perhaps profaned in the celebrated Order of the Templars, that became for all the secret associations, of the Rose-Croix, of the Illuminati, and of the Hermetic Freemasons, the reason of their strange rites, of their signs more or less conventional, and, above all, of their mutual devotedness and of their power. [ Ibid., p. 840 ]
Here are three articles from the "Coil's Masonic Encyclopedia," 1961, by Henry Wilson Coil, 33rd degree. This is an excellent, albeit slightly idio- syncratic reference work. RITES: Illuminati of Bavaria. This order was first called the Order of Perfectibilists, and was a fairly short lived, meteoric, controversial society formed May 1, 1776, in Bavaria, by Adam Weishaupt, aided by Baron von Knigge and others, suppressed in 1784, and entirely disappeared by the close of the century. It was not primarily Masonic, and evidently not founded by any Masonic authority, though it pirated or paraphrased Masonic rituals and at one time or another had a number of prominent Freemasons in the group. Freemasonry has received a great many denunciations from several sources by reason of the aberrations of the Illuminati, and the enemies of Freemasonry encouraged the idea that Illuminism and Freemasonry were the same. For details of the lives of Weis- haupt and Knigge, reference must be made to those titles in the general text but, since Illuminism was their creation and developed as they directed, their acts are material and discussed here. Adam Weishaupt, Professor of Canon Law at the University of Ingolstadt, con- ceived the idea of founding an order which, by mutual helpfulness, counsel, and philosophic discussions, would increase morality and virtue, lay the foundation for the reformation of the world, and oppose the progress of evil, all of which objectives were expressed in the name, "Order of Perfect- ibilists" or "Perfectionists," which was soon changed to "Illuminati," which is best translated as "intellectually inspired."
Modesty and humility seems to have been no trait of Weishaupt, for he was one of the first to attempt to fly with little knowledge of human aerodynamics. His ambition outweighed his judgment; his ideals were too refined for a rude world. Like many other promoters, Weishaupt sought the aid of Freemasonry to give his machine both propulsion and ballast. But it dragged Freemasonry down without helping Illuminism very much. He was too shrewd and subtle for his own good, though such qualities gave him headway for a time. Although he formerly belonged to the Jesuits, he secured admission to a lodge of Freemasons in 1777. Ironically, that was named "Lodge of Caution." We are not informed as to just how Weishaupt became associated with Adolph Franz Friedrich Ludwid Baron Von Knigge, for the latter lived in North Germany, was of the nobility, and, after his initiation in 1773, showed little interest in Freemasonry.
But noblemen were found in abundance in the most fraudulent orders in Germany claiming some Masonic connections. Weis- haupt, in 1780, dispatched the Marquis de Costanzo to propagate Illuminism in the north and Knigge probably then first showed interest in the society. He became more and more enthusiastic as the plan was revealed to him, and, in 1781, accepted the invitation to visit Bavaria and receive full access to all of Weishaupt's materials. Knigge not only completed the scale of degrees but became a proponent of them, bringing to his aid the assistance of Johann J. C. Bode, a prominent German Mason. The order was at first very popular and attracted, it is said, some of the best men in Germany and some of the worst. It had 2000 names on its rolls and spread to France, Belgium, Holland, Den- mark, Sweden, Poland, Hungary, and Italy. Knigge, especially, was a highly religious and intellectual man and would have had nothing to do with that or any other order which was anti-Christian, yet, the vicious attacks and accusations by Baruel and Robison had great influence, and it was even charged that the Illuminati were themselves agents of the Jesuits, though the latter were opposing it in their usual secret manner. The Illuminati were extremely secretive, even identifying themselves and their chapters by assumed classical names; for examples, Weishaupt was Spartacus, Knigge was Philo, Ingolstadt, the headquarters, was Eleusis, Austria was Egypt, etc. Dates were given in a sort of cryptography. The ceremonies were divided into three principal classes and those into degrees as follows: I. The Nursery: 1. Preparatory Literary Essay 2. Novitiate 3. Minerval 4. Minor Illuminatus 5. Magistratus II. Symbolic Freemasonry: 1. Apprentice 2. Fellow Craft 3. Master 4. (a) Scots Major Illuminatus (b) Scots Illuminatus Dirigens (Directory) III. Mysteries: 1. Lesser: (a) Presbyter, Priest, or Epopt (b) Prince or Regent 2. Greater: (a) Magus (b) Rex or King (some of these latter degrees were never completed). The Illuminati were finally beset by both internal and external disorders, for Weishaupt found fault with some of Knigge's ritualistic work and peremptorily ordered it changed, whereupon, Knigge became disgusted and resigned in 1784.
The Jesuits had fought it from the first and eventually all priests became its active enemies and raised so much opposition that the Elector of Bavaria suppressed the Order by edict, June 22, 1784, many Illuminati being imprisoned and some, including Weishaupt, being forced to flee the country. Though the first edict had been obeyed, it was repeated in March and August, 1785. Not only Illuminism, but Freemasonry was exterminated in Bavaria and neither ever recovered its former position. The Illuminati seem to have completely disappeared everywhere by the end of the 18th century.
WEISHAUPT, ADAM Founder of the Illuminati of Bavaria, born at Inglstadt, 1748, died 1811. He was educated in law and attained the rank of Professor in 1772 at the University of Ingolstadt. He had been educated by the Jesuits but acquired a dislike for them, and in his professional life, he was soon in conflict with the whole clergy, partly because he held the chair of Canon Law, which had always been held by an ecclesiastic. In conferences with his students in whom he planted liberal ideas on religion and philosophy, and he soon conceived of a close association of enlightened or intellectual persons who might advance the moral and intellectual qualities of themselves as well as others. This idea materialized as the Illuminates or Illuminati, who at first had no connection with Freemasonry. In 1777, he was admitted to Lodge Theodore of Good Counsel (translated by some as Lodge Theodore of Caution) at Munich, and from that time, he sought to interrelate the affairs of his Illuminati with Freemasonry. He soon formed an association with Baron von Knigge, an able and upright man from north Germany, and the two might have accomplished their objectives and some good had it not been for the opposition of the Jesuits (who were still powerful though banished from Bavaria) and the Roman Catholic clergy. More- over Weishaupt and Knigge could not agree upon some of the latters' ritualistic interpretations. From the literature on the subject of Illuminism and from the caustic remarks of Masonic writers, we might suppose that this order or movement lasted a long time, but the whole drama opened with the organization of the Perfectionists in 1766 and, 18 years later in 1784, the Bavarian government banned all secret associations.
The next year, Weishaupt was discharged from his position at the University and banished from the country. He fled to Gotha and found asylum with Duke Ernest of that little city, remaining there until his death in 1811. In Gotha, he published a number of works, those on Illuminism being: "A Picture of Illuminism," 1786; "A Complete History of the Persecutions of the Illuminati in Bavaria," 1785 (only the first of two planned volumes published); "An Apology for the Illuminati," 1786; "An Improved System of Illuminism," 1787, and others. The most objective writers on the subject give Weishaupt credit for being of high moral character and a profound thinker, and it is worth noting that his associate, Knigge, spoke with great respect of his intellectual powers. It appears, however, that he was the victim of at least two powerful forces, first, the vindictive hate of the Church of Rome and the Bavarian government and, secondly, his own inadequate judgment of how to launch a revolutionary and more or less secret movement such as Illuminism. He was really employing methods of the Jesuits, for his whole order seems to have been composed of spies and counter spies, and only those most adept at scheming and trickery were advanced. The candidates all had pseudonyms, that of Weishaupt being Spartacus, and those who became too inquisitive about matters as to which their suspicions were aroused were turned out. If the purpose had been philosophic, ethical, or for the improvement of the mind or salvation of the soul, it need never to have been quite so secretive, and from the Masonic standpoint, Weishaupt was not justified in using the Fraternity as the vehicle for his scheme, good or bad, though he had ample precedents on all sides.
KNIGGE, BARON VON (ADOLPH F. R. L.) German Freemason and, in part, founder of the Bavarian Illuminati. He was born near Hanover in 1752, and died at Bremen in 1796. He was initiated in a lodge of the Strict Observance at Cassel in 1772, but, for a time, seemed uninterested in the Society, thogh later becoming one of the foremost German writers on the subject. He published "On the Jesuits, Freemasons, and Ros- icrucians," 1781, anon.; "Essay on Freemasonry," 1784; "Contribution Towards the Latest History of the Order of Freemasons," 1786; and "Philo's Final Declaration," 1788. He also wrote many non-Masonic works, one being "On Conversation with Men," towards the end of his career and after a sad experience with the Illuminati and disappointment with the Strict Observance, causing him therein to devote much space to secret societies and denunciation of Freemasonry. The most interesting and significant part of Knigge's career was his participation with Weishaupt in the promotion of the Bavarian Illuminati, he being almost an equal party.
From the days of Spartacus/Weishaupt, to those of Karl Marx, to those of Trotsky... this worldwide conspiracy has been steadily growing. This conspiracy has played a definitely recognizable role in the tragedy of the French Revolution. It has been the mainspring of every subversive movement during the 19th century; and now at last, this band of extraordinary personalities from the underworld of the great cities of Europe and America have gripped the Russian people by the hair of their heads and have become practically undisputed masters of that enormous empire. [ Winston Churchill, London Illustrated Sunday Herald, Feb. 8, 1920. ]
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