Illuminati: The Perfectibilists
The Shadow of Solomon
by Laurence Gardner
In order to create an environment of trepidation, there has to be a common enemy. The church has Satan or the strangely defined antichrist but, to be effective in their mission, scaremongers must ignore the church because it promises salvation and this would defeat their objective. There has to be an adversary that is beyond clerical confrontation - someone or something that is so powerful at a secular level as to be insurmountable. In this regard, the name of the long defunct 18th century organization from Bavaria called the Illuminists has been resurrected.
Since their history has disappeared into the mist of time, it is easy enough to claim that they now exist as an elite group of freemason who prevail above all the degrees, and are conspiring to take over the world - if they have not done so already. With a slight shift of emphasis in the old nominal style to create a truly gothic image, it is claimed that these emissaries of the global damnation are called the Illuminati.
The Great seal
In real terms, there is nothing sinister about the term Illuminist; it simply means 'enlightener', and could just as easily be a fairy lamp-lighter in a children's nursery tale. But, as we have seen, the Latin for 'light-bringer' (lux-fer) was the linguistic root of 'Lucifer', and therein lies the satanic connotation which is now applied to the term Illuminati. The difference between Illuminati and the Church's satanic enemy, however, is that the Illuminati are said to have the Church already within their power.
The term Illuminati became associated with Freemasonry because a philosophical order of the Illuminists was founded in Bavaria by the ex-Freemason Adam Weishaupt, professor of natural and canon law, and dean of the faculty at the University of Ingolstadt, on 1 May 1776. This is the same year that is printed at the base of the pyramid on the Great Seal of the United States: MDCCLXXVI, and which is accompanied by the words , Novus Ordo Seclorum ( New Order of Ages).
So, this gives us the root source for the mysterious 'New World Order' that many are terrified will bring about the rise of the Antichrist. But a little investigation reveals that, by virtue of seclorum (of the world), a strategically wrong translation has been promoted in order to set the stage for the Illuminati myth. When correctly translated, it turns out that Novus Ordo Seclorum is not some catastrophic future Armageddon, but relates to the egalitarian ideal of America's Founding Fathers when the Declaration of Independence was issued on 4 July '1776' - the year as given on the Great Seal. Novus Ordo Seclorum was not used to define 'order' in terms of control. It actually relates to an order in terms of a 'series' (as in a numerical order or progression) - a New Series of Ages. It derives from Virgil's Eclogue 4, verse 5, which discusses a longing for an era of peace and harmony.
At the end of prayers in Latin, and dating from the 2nd-century Gloria (a hymn praise to the Trinity), is generally found the phrase secula seculorum - literally 'for ever and ever' (ages and ages), followed by 'Amen'. In classical Latin, 'world' (depending on its particular usage) would be a variant of derivative of mundus, but seclorum relates specifically to ages, centuries and generations.
Unfortunately, one figure who uses the incorrect translation and has managed to promote the 'New World Order' myth to a wide audience is the fictional symbologist Robert Langdon in the Dan Brown novel Angels and Demons. When discussing the dollar bill with Vittoria (the adopted daughter of a priest), Langdon explains that Novus Ordo Seclorum relates to a 'New Secular Order'. Since Robert Langdon is portrayed as a knowledgeable Harvard professor, many readers have forgotten that he is a fictional character in a fictional story, and have taken him at his word!
Apart from the coincidence of the 1776 date, there is nothing whatever to connect the Declaration of Independence with the Bavarian Illuminists. It could be just as easily be linked that year with the foundation of the Freemasons' Hall in London, the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in Italy or the introduction of the Royal Mail coaches in Scotland - they are all equally unrelated. But are there, in fact, masonic allusions in the Great Seal, as depicted on the dollar bill?
On the same day that the Declaration was issued, the Continental Congress formed a committee with Benjamin Franklin, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, who were asked to prepare a device for the Great Seal. On 10 August, they reported back with a draft design that included just about everything they could think of - symbols from England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Holland, Germany and Belgium, surrounded by 13 escutcheons denoting the individual colonies which had been settled from these countries. In the form of a combined shield, the whole was supported by representation of Liberty and Justice, and surrounded by the Eye of Providence in a radiant triangular glory.
Not surprisingly, this uninspired concept was unenthusiastically received, and the matter was referred to the Congress secretary Charles Thompson. With the aid of a heraldist, William Barton, his newly drafted design was submitted and approved in 1782.
The American bald eagle on the obverse was taken from the original escutcheon as a unique representation of America (others included a rose for England, a thistle for Scotland and a fleur de lys for France). The eagle's shield carries 13 red and white stripes (valour and innocence), representing the 13 new states, beneath a chief of blue. In the eagle's beak is a scroll with the motto E Pluribus Unum ('Out of Many,One'), denoting the unification of the colonies. In the eagle's right (dexter) talon is an olive branch - a time-honoured symbol of peace - while in its left (sinister) talon are 13 arrows. In Rosicrucian terms, these could be linked to the hermetic shafts of enlightenment as clutched by the baby Jesus in Sandro Botticelli's painting Madonna of the Book (1483).
The idea of their use in the United States design came from the arms of the united Netherlands, wherein a bunch of arrows, clutched by a lion, signified the individual provinces that broke free from Spanish domination in the 16th century. To emphasize the importance of peace, the eagle was set with its head facing the olive branch which (again to symbolize the new states) was given 13 leaves. At the obverse crest are 13 stars on an azure field in a radiant cloud and golden glory. Although now stylized into a 1-4-3-4-1 star formation, the original design was simply one of randomly set asterisk shapes, and there is no specific pattern for the stars in Thompson's description.
On the reverse, the triangulated All-seeing Eye of Rosicrucian philosophy was also the historical Eye of Providence which has shone so well on the American cause. The unfinished pyramid is stated in the Seal explanation to represent 'strength and durability', while showing that there will always remain work to be finished. This was taken from an earlier $50 bill design by Francis Hopkinson (designer of the American flag). Contrary to popular belief, the triangle above is simply a flat triangle; it does not constitute a three-dimensional pyramidion separated from its base. The motto at the crest is Annuit Coeptis. Also from Virgil, this comes from his Georgics (an instructional manual for farmers) and relates to 'providence in undertaking'.
A number of things are said about the Seal by those who claim it to be a message of Illuminati intent promulgated in the public domain by way of the dollar bill.
* The truncated pyramid with the separate portion above is indicative of the letter A, thereby signifying America's intended New World Order of the Illuminati.
* Since Jesus holds the arrows of enlightenment in Botticelli's painting, the fact that the American eagle is facing away from them signifies America's denial of Christ.
* The Virgil motto Annuit Coeptis, being from Rome in pre-Christian times, is a prayer to Jupiter, and a denial of God.
* The combined elements of the Seal's roundels are black magical symbols of phenomenal power.
* The pyramid face has 72 bricks - a sacred number in ancient Babylon. It is a portrayal of the Tower of Babel.
* The pyramid is a gateway for evil Egyptian Gods.
* The Seal reverse is surmounted by the Evil Eye which, in its dollar bill guise, is distributed to bring public misfortune.
* 13 is the number of those in the highest rank of the Illuminati.
* Annuit Coeptis translates as 'announcing the birth of', and relates to the sun of Satan.
It is difficult to understand quite what any of this nonsense has to do with Freemasonry, but it does show that the Great Seal is actually far less masonic than many have imagined. Freemasonry is not unique in using symbols and emblems - so does heraldry, and that is primarily what is involved here. The Seal follows all the common rules for Arms design, while at the same time being distinctly American. In fact, the only symbol that is directly masonic is the All-seeing Eye, and even this was used as a christen emblem of the ever-watchful Eye of God long before Freemasonry evolved.
If there was a connection between America's Founding Fathers and the Bavarian Illuminists, what would it have meant in practice? In the first place they were not actually called Illuminists - that was a tag by which they became known. They were actually styled the Order of Perfectibilists. They Encyclopedia Britannica explains that the term Illuminati is an Italian rendition of Illuminists, which derives from the German aufklarung (enlightenment).
Adam Weishaupt, a professor of natural and canon law, and dean of the faculty at the University of Ingolstadt, was born in 1746. His background was rather unusual, since he came from a Jewish family, but was raised as a Catholic by Jesuits. A keen student Pythagoras, he was initiated into a lodge of Freemasonry at Munich in 1774, but was disappointed by the low education standards and lack of cosmopolitan experience of his fellow masons. Despite what was happening in France, Britain, Ireland and America, the general standard of German Freemasonry at this time was poor. There was a Rite of Strict Observance, founded by Baron von Hund, which attempted to place a Christian interpretation on pre-Christian mysteries, and it was to this unit that Weishaupt became attached. But he soon left, and made the decision to start a more enlightened fraternity that was better suited to those who were more academically inclined.
Weishaupt's particular dislike was superstition. He had suffered from prejudice too, coming from a Jewish background. His objective for the Order of Perfectibilists was to free the minds of members from such things by way of mutual study and debate. His claim, from first-hand experience, was that the conceptual religion of Christ had degenerated into school of fanaticism and intolerance, and that those at the forefront of religious teaching were the most irreligious of all in benevolent Christian terms. He drew a distinct line between Christianity and 'churchianity', maintaining that human dignity and liberty had become forfeit when Nature was abandoned in favor of control by a dogmatic Church establishment.
The order of the Perfectibilsts was not a mason institution with secrets and mysteries, although it had grades of merit and attainment within its ranks. What it promised was rational discussion and research, and within no time Weishaupt had 2000 registered members. They not only joined in Germany, but also from France, Belgium, Holland, Denmark, Sweden, Poland, Hungary and Italy. What he had inadvertently begun was the first fully-fledge correspondence course. This led him to consider the possibility of a social structure with no national boundaries, no feudal regime to render people in servitude, and no cultural or class regulation to forge divides between races. He preached a release of free-thinking from State oppression, and a total withdrawal of Church control over matters of science and philosophy.
All things considered, Weishaupt was a well-motivated idealist and natural revolutionary. He was a supporter of the French Revolution, and hoped that it would have a beneficial spin-off effect in Germany. Of the French conflict, he wrote:
Salvation does not lie where strong thrones are defended by swords, where the smoke of censers ascend to heaven, or where thousands of strong men pace the rich fields of harvest.
Unsurprisingly, none of this was popular with the secular or clerical authorities, but Weishaupt's idealistic dream of equal rights was too big to be of any real concern - that is, until his group decided that they themselves guilty of those very things they preached against. How could there be fairness and harmony in society if it did not exist within their own organization? Where were the women? The Order of Perfectibilists therefore opened its doors to female members, and the ranks swelled yet again with those who took a new message into the outside world. They called it 'feminine equality'.
This was the last straw. Such a thing had never been heard of in the 1780s, and the authorities rose up to confront Adam Weishaupt. He was accused of breaking God's laws and plotting to overthrow the Church. Every charge in the book, from heresy to treason, was hurled at him, and, in 1784, he was banished from the country. His Illuminists (as they had become popularly known) were subsequently proscribed by Duke Karl Theodore of Bavaria, and the Order was terminated. Meanwhile, Weishaupt found asylum with Duke Ernst of neighboring Gotha, where he lived until his death in 1811.
But were the founding fathers of America actually influenced in any way by the Illuminati? It is possible, but very unlikely. Indeed, the July 1776 Declaration of Independence was signed less than two month after Weishaupt's Order had been established. The link which is cited by so many who insist that the Illuminati now control America stems from an event in 1798. On 9 March of that year, long after the perfectibilists had been disbanded, the Congregationalist minister Jedediah Morse made an announcement at the New North Church in Boston.
From a treatise by the Jesuit Abbe' Augustus Buruel, Morse stated that the European Illuminati were conspiring to overthrow the rights and liberties of America's newly acquired status. What the book actually stated was in reference to the French Revolution:
'Princes and nations shall disappear from the face of the Earth… and this revolution shall be the work of the secret societies.'
Morse's theory was heightened, nevertheless, by another book, Proofs of a Conspiracy Against all the Governments of Europe, by Dr John Robinson of Edinburgh. Once again, this had nothing to do with America - simply that the monarchies of Europe were, at the time, under threat from a wave of anti-clerical republicanism.
Rev Morse had somehow forgotten that America was already free of British monarchical constraint, and that the United States was constituted as a federal republic over which European governments had no control. For a short time his fears were newsworthy and gained some press coverage when he accused Thomas Jefferson of being an Illuminati agent. In the event, the Morse absurdity was short-lived, but it reared its head again when John Kennedy, America's first Catholic president, was assassinated in 1963. How could this possibly happen unless it was the retribution of the Bavarian Illuminati? From that moment, things became ever more exaggerated, and reached a point in July 1969 when a left-wing Chicago Newspaper blamed the Illuminati for America's growing drugs problem, stating:
‘The possibility that Adam Weishaupt killed George Washington and took his place, serving as our first President for two terms, has now been confirmed… The two main colors of the American flag are red and white; these are also the official colors of the Hashishism. The flag and the Illuminati pyramid have thirteen divisions. Thirteen is, of course, the traditional code for marijuana!’
Such lunacies did not stop in 1969. Even now, articles of this type are cited as if they are part of some authoritative archive. Much of what is unpopular that happens in America is blamed on the Illuminati, but the problem is that no one can identify where the supposed conspiratorial plots are hatched. It must all be done in secret, behind closed doors - and that, of course, resolves into just one possibility: the Freemasons. They must be the Illuminati.
That apart, it is perhaps relevant to ask whether there any similarity between Weishaupt's ideals and those of the Founding Fathers. His desires were for national equality, sexual equality, freedom from feudal constraints and freedom from Church controls. Certainly the two were similar, as were the mutual concepts of revolution to achieve those ends. The only difference was that the Americans had their revolution and won their freedoms, but neither was achieved by Weishaupt.
By 1792 a similar mood to Weishaupt's ideal was indeed emerging in Philadelphia and New England as a spin-off from the French Revolution. In that year Samuel Jennings, a Pennsylvanian artist living in London, produced his painting Liberty Displaying the Arts and Sciences. Commissioned by the directors of the Library Company of Philadelphia (where it is still displayed), the work features Liberty, with a broken chain at her feet, in a setting of masonic iconography concerning the Liberal Arts. It was 73 years before slavery was abolished by Abraham Lincoln, but Liberty (in her Marianne guise) is seen proffering a grey book to a group of freed slaves, while others celebrate at the liberty pole outside. The book that Liberty presents is actually the Library Company's catalogue of the era - a potent statement of intent that the whole world of books and the knowledge contained therein would become available to all.
It is now possible to see why the designers of the United States are claimed to have been Illuminati, and are consequently accused of godlessness and sinister practice. These are precisely the charges that were levelled by the feudal aristocracy and fanatical priests against Weishaupt. Those who level such accusations today against the Founding Fathers of America are, of course, perfectly free to do so, but at the same time they must also be prepared to recognize that they are placing themselves in the ranks of racial exploiters, sexual discriminators and religious extremists.
The historical Illuminai were never in a position to wield any power over anyone. They influenced the thinking of a great many people, and possibly assisted the mind-set for the French Revolution, but they never once influenced any government except against themselves. The measure of their success can be notionally perceived in hindsight, but at the time they were a failed Order, and were totally non-existent by the late 1780s. As for their attachment to the Freemasonry, it too was non-existent; Weishaupt founded the group specifically because he was unimpressed with German Freemasonry. It is impossible to presume that, in the context of all this, the Illuminati managed to contrive a powerful New World Order, and have since been running a conspiratorial global network for the past 200 years. The Illuminati simply do not exist, neither in the top echelons of Freemasonry, nor anywhere else.
Copyright 2005 by Laurence Gardner
For more information about those claimed to be Illuminati see http://nexusilluminati.blogspot.com/search/label/illuminati
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