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FAQ: The Illuminati

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. "Weishapt, 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 begining 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 auther 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 Encyclop¾dia 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 information on the Illuminati in the Encyclop¾dia 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. ___________________________ (1) Albert G. Mackey, Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, Richmond, Virginia: Macoy Publishing. 1966, p.474 (2) Albert G. Mackey, Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, Richmond, Virginia: Macoy Publishing. 1966, p.1099 (3) Albert G. Mackey, Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, Richmond, Virginia: Macoy Publishing. 1966. p.475 (4) Albert G. Mackey, Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, Richmond, Virginia: Macoy Publishing. 1966. p.1099 (5) Encyclop¾dia Britannica, 15th edition. Vol. 22, p. 223, 2b (6) Encyclop¾dia 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

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