The Real Scoop on the Illuminati
Conspiracy theorists say the Illuminati's origins are unknown. They say that this secret society of wealthy and powerful individuals, possibly of extraterrestrial origin, seeks to enslave the world, using occult rituals. But the Illuminati's history is well-documented, and the facts tell a very different story.
- The Beginning (and End) of the Illuminati
- Illuminati Secrets Published
- Agenda of Global Domination?
- Economic and Political Elites
- Seeds of Confusion
The Beginning (and End) of the Illuminati
The start date of the Illuminati is well-known. Citing the order's founder Adam Weishaupt (1748-1830), Leopold Engel, whose Geschichte des Illuminaten-Ordens (History of the Illuminati-Order, 1906) is still considered authoritative by scholars, dates their beginning to May 1, 1776. By 1784, Bavarian Prince-Elector Charles Theodore (1724-1799) was made aware of the Illuminati by his ex-Jesuit advisors. The Jesuit Order had been disbanded at the time, but former Jesuits still held influential positions in government and education throughout Europe. Weishaupt, had openly antagonized them since beginning his employment at Ingolstadt University, Bavaria in 1772. From the onset, Weishaupt had made himself some very powerful enemies.
Believing the Illuminati were planning to overthrow him, Charles Theodore issued three prohibitions against them over the next two years. The last of these made Illuminati recruitment efforts a capital offense. However, Engel suggests that the Illuminati provided a convenient scapegoat during a politically turbulent time. Charles Theodore was about to trade portions of Bavaria to his southern neighbor Austria for a royal title in her Dutch territories. This did not sit well with many Bavarian citizens.
The last Illuminati lodge was closed in 1785. Although individual members of the disbanded order continued to pursue the Illuminati's goals afterwards, most scholars agree that their influence ended no later than 1820.
Illuminati Secrets Published
At the command of Charles Theodor, the vast majority of Illuminati documents were published in two volumes, Einige Originalschriften des Illuminatenordens (Some Original Writings of the Illuminati Order, 1786) and Nachtrag von weitern Originalschriften (Supplement of Additional Original Writings, 1787). These publications were followed by other works, such as Der aechte Illuminat (The Authentic Illuminatus, 1788) and Die neuesten Arbeiten des Spartacus und Philo (The Latest Works by Spartacus and Philo, 1794). In short, the secrets of the Illuminati were made public over 200 years ago.
The publication of the Illuminati’s secret rituals and plans for humanity also robbed the order of its power. Recruiting one of Germany’s literary darlings, Baron Adolph Knigge (1752-1796), the Marquis de Constanza explained, “It is in this secret nature, where this society’s greatest strength can be found; the unbroken preservation of the secret proves that the organization consists of solid, faithful persons.”
Agenda of Global Domination?
The Illuminati certainly had a vision for the world. They were utopian visionaries. Weishaupt, a professor of canon law, originally named this order "Perfectibilists," a term borrowed from Swiss philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778). Rousseau's concept of perfectibility proposes that human beings have a near-unlimited capacity for good or evil. Weishaupt believed that the human race could achieve a state of moral near-perfection by providing heads of state and religious and educational leaders with advisers who had undergone a rigorous regime of moral education. These advisers were trained in secret.
Their agenda was the proliferation of world-changing ideas that were shared by many Enlightenment Era thinkers, such as Rousseau and Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson even defended Weishaupt as an “enthusiastic philanthropist” in a letter to Bishop James Madison, dated January 31, 1800.
The Illuminati opposed repressive forms of government, especially monarchy. They also fought against oppressive religious dogma and the excessive inequality of wealth that was commonplace in Europe. However, they did not advocated atheism or the abolition of personal property. Neither did they have an “occult” agenda, as many conspiracy theorists claim. In fact, they vehemently decried practices such as alchemy and organizations like the Rosicrucians, who promoted them.
The Illuminati rituals and documents are widely available in the original German, and an English translation is currently in progress.
Economic and Political Elites
Conspiracy theorists claim that the Illuminati recruited Europe’s economic and political elite. While the order initiated those wealthy enough to attend universities, and some members, like Ernest II, Duke of Saxony-Gotha, were quite powerful, the order’s statutes cautioned against it. It was felt that persons born into wealth and power lacked empathy toward one’s fellow men and thus would not be very helpful in advancing the Illuminati’s goals. Weishaupt himself was not a wealthy man, often endured periods of financial hardship, and died in obscurity.
According to Engel, Austrian composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) also belonged to the Illuminati, although he was not very active in the order. It is well known, that Mozart died in poverty.
Other notable members include poets, philosophers, and educators, such as Goethe, Herder, and Pestalozzi. The elite sought out by the Illuminati was Europe’s intellectual elite.
Seeds of Confusion
The Illuminati scare reached a global dimension in the aftermath of Maximilien Robespierre’s Reign of Terror (1793-1794), even playing a role in the 1800 Presidential runoff between Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr. The Reign of Terror, during which thousands of people were tried by revolutionary tribunals and quickly executed, was the darkest chapter of the French Revolution. Outraged by the bloodshed Abbe Augustin Barruel (1741-1820), a Jesuit priest, was convinced there was a conspiracy to stamp out Christianity. Consequently, he wrote Memoirs Illustrating the History of Jacobinism. Relying on hearsay and rearranging documented facts to suit his purposes, he painted a terrifying picture of a shadowy alliance of Freemasons, occultists, and Illuminati. For this alliance, the horrors of the French Revolution were merely the first battle in a global war against Christianity and private property. Thomas Jefferson read the book and called it “the ravings of a Bedlamite.” However until recently, Memoirs, and John Robison’s equally questionable Proofs of a Conspiracy Against all the Religions and Governments of Europe, have been the only works containing English translations of Illuminati source documents.
As far as their occult activities are concerned, Illuminati and conspiracy researcherTerry Melanson, has pointed out that Illuminism, an unrelated esoteric movement, was enjoying immense popularity when the Illuminati were active, especially in France. Illuminism and Weishaupt's "Illuminatism" are very different philosophies, but many people still think they are the same thing.