The Illuminati is basically the mother of all conspiracy theories. Every theory, in one way or another, traces back to a few influential individuals who hold all the power and manipulate the world from behind the scenes. Some of the biggest tragedies, wars, and rebellions in world history have been linked to this mysterious group of high-powered people who control everything that happens in the world.
Many people don't know, but the Illuminati actually has a basis in fact. There was a secret society that went by the name "Illuminati" in Bavaria in the 1700's, though this group was supposedly eradicated before the end of the century. Even at the time, though, there were some who believed the group survived and continued to influence the world from underground.
Today, the idea of the Illuminati has made its way to common knowledge. Even those who know nothing of conspiracy theories have heard of the "New World Order" or some other form of world government conspiracy. In a recent poll, nearly a third of Americans actually believe in some sort of secret society manipulating the world, and that's enough to explore the idea further. So, where did the Illuminati conspiracy start and how did it evolve? Here are 15 Shocking Things You Didn't Know About the Illuminati.
15 The Founder
The founder of the Illuminati is a lot more ancient than you might expect. Adam Weishaupt of Bavaria (now part of Germany) started the order in 1776. He was tired of the conventional religious restrictions and prejudices that were prevalent at the time, and looked toward the already established Freemasons for inspiration. Weishaupt even thought about joining the Freemasons, but decided to create his own secret society that was more ritualistically focused.
By 1784, the group had expanded to include many upstanding Bavarian citizens, with its numbers reaching nearly 3,000 total members. As the Illuminati grew, the hierarchy became more intricate and complex. Where there were only three levels of ascension to start, there were now thirteen levels one must pass through. Eventually, in 1787, the doors were closed on the Illuminati as the Bavarian government found them out.
14 Initial Ideology
When the Illuminati was founded by Adam Weishaupt in 1776, it was truly a group for free-thinkers. Many of the ideas presented by the society, while radical for the time, are not far-off from many of the liberal views expressed in the modern day. They directly opposed organized religion and its structures, and instead pushed for a more morally based order. Their radical views included the justification of suicide and support of abortion, and even had medical procedures that were eventually seized by the Bavarian government. They were considering opening a female branch of the order, which was progressive for their time. Other secret societies were exclusively male and remained so for some time. As can be expected, the group vehemently opposed the monarchy in Bavaria, which is one of the reasons it was explicitly banned and was dissolved (or so historians think).
The structure of the Illuminati grew more complex as their numbers grew. As previously stated, the original totem-pole of the Illuminati only had three tiers. But eventually, they opted for more ceremony and more levels of ascension.
The first class had four stages—Initiate, Novice, Minerval, and Illuminatus Minor. Until a person has reached the Minerval stage, he/she is not allowed to use his/her moniker or attend any Illuminati gatherings. The second class starts with the Apprentice and Fellow levels, followed by Master, Illuminatus Major, and Illuminatus Dirigen. This second class borrowed from the already established Freemasons and their teacher/mentor relationships. The Illuminatus were those who presided over meetings. The final tier included the titles Priest, Prince, Magus, and King. The King was at the top of the organization and dictated his orders to those who held the titles directly under him.
12 The First Illuminati Conspiracy
The first time the Illuminati was the subject of the conspiratorial-minded was during the French Revolution. Two books were published in the late 1700's that detailed the involvement of the Illuminati in the French Revolution, along with assertions that Weishaupt was planning a similar revolution in Bavaria. Even though the group had been officially disbanded in 1787, these authors asserted that the Illuminati had survived its extermination and went on to be more powerful than ever. In reality, by all accounts, Weishaupt wouldn't have wanted a revolution. He was seen as more of a reformer than a "tear this up and start fresh" kind of guy.
This is the first time in history that the Illuminati was credited with manipulating global events from behind the scenes, but it would be far from the last.
11 Fear Of The Illuminati
The fear of the Illuminati stemmed from two pieces of work that connected them to the French Revolution—Memoirs Illustrating the History of Jacobinism by Augustin Barruel and Proofs of a Conspiracy by John Robison. These books were popular and compelling, leading many European leaders to fear the unknown henchmen behind the curtain.
This fear manifested itself in the worker revolts of 1848. These revolutions spanned the continent and rulers in these areas were generally fearful of the power that may lurk beneath the surface. For this reason, many of the afflicted countries dealt with the revolts in a harsh manor, killing anyone associated and oppressing the working class to an even greater degree. While the revolution was considered a success in France, most of the other countries involved re-established their monarchies and suppressed anyone who spoke out against them.
10 Continuation Of Conspiracy Theories
The origin of the Illuminati conspiracy theories dates back to the late 1700's, but persisted through nearly every major world event. During and after World War II, many of the conspiracies surrounding the world bank, entertainment, and world politics landed on the shoulders of the supposed Illuminati. Anything from antisemitism to communist witch hunts had a basis in the idea that there were forces working behind the scenes to manipulate the way the world worked and even to overthrow the western world.
Many groups formed to oppose the Illuminati or other forces that may be controlling the world. These groups were usually deemed far-right and populist. Just like today, they told of a shadow organization responsible for all of the forces that may be a threat to global relations.
While the original Illuminati was never intended to worship anything, let alone Satan, the idea persists that those in-line with the Illuminati worship the devil and even make sacrifices to him. In reality, the Illuminati was against any form of organized religion. It's understandable how Satanism and the Illuminati got intertwined by history, as the original Illuminati resisted the Catholic belief system that was so prevalent at the time. They were seen as anti-God but they are much closer aligned with modern-day atheists than full-on Satan worshipers. While successful individuals may be tied to the organization through rumors and speculation, it does not mean anyone is selling his/her soul to the devil for money and influence.
Of course, if the Illuminati is indeed responsible for some of what they're accused of, it paints them in an evil light. But satanic worship doesn't necessarily need to be a part of it.
8 JFK Assassination
Now that the foundation for the Illuminati conspiracy theories has been established, it's easy to see how the lore of the group has made its way to the modern-day era, effectively being blamed for all major events in world history since its inception.
The JFK assassination was of a particular note, because it remains one of the most puzzling and fishy events in American history. Many people reference a speech John F. Kennedy made before his assassination, which affirmed the existence of secret societies in America and their attempt to cover things up and manipulate the masses. This speech is referenced in nearly all Illuminati conspiracy videos and is one piece of compelling evidence that may hint toward their existence (or the existence of a similar group).
7 All Powerful
The Illuminati, in its modern iteration, is seen as a sort of Boogie Man figure for those who buy into its existence. Those who believe in the shadow organization pulling the strings of society assert that there is nothing the Illuminati doesn't have its fingers in. Everything from politics to art and entertainment is considered to be ruled by the Illuminati, with those who reject their way of thinking passed by for others who subscribe to it. If modern conspiracy theorists are to be believed, the Illuminati controls virtually everything that happens in our society down to who becomes famous and who dies in a tragic accident. They control how we get information as well as the information itself. The Illuminati knows about everything and nothing happens without their express consent or direct involvement.
6 False-Flag Conspiracy Theories
Some critical thinkers in the conspiracy world are of the mindset that not all conspiracy theories are created equal. This is, of course, true to some extent, as those who believe the earth is flat shouldn't necessarily be lumped in with a group that thinks the JFK assassination was sketchy.
These Illuminati believers take it one step further, insinuating that the Illuminati makes up some of its own conspiracy theories and presents them to the public. Some of the more outlandish conspiracies about the group, some say, are used as a tool for the Illuminati to make their existence less believable. There are all kinds of theories out there about the Illuminati and its members, with some even going as far to say that members of the group (figures like Jay-Z and other high profile members) ritualistically rape children and sacrifice humans to the devil. This kind of theory makes regular people roll their eyes and think that the Illuminati is just a conspiracy myth.
5 Terrorist Attacks And Shootings
As previously stated, subscribers to the Illuminati conspiracy theories believe that the group has its hands in nearly everything, including some of the biggest tragedies in recent memory. The biggest attack that's attributed to the Illuminati may be the 9/11 terrorist attacks, which is subject to its own subset of conspiracy theories itself.
Some, such as popular American conspiracy talk show host Alex Jones, even believe that the Sandy Hook massacre was actually a false-flag attack and that the parents of the victims were actually crisis actors who were hired as the role of the children's parents. The reason the Illuminati (or New World Order or whatever name the theorist chooses to use) is said to have staged this attack is to clamp down on firearms laws. A similar theory exists about the motive behind the Boston Marathon bombing.
4 Fear And Control
All successful conspiracy theories have to have a "why," or else they fall apart before they get any legs. The Illuminati's supposed reasoning for staging all of these attacks are simple—create a culture of fear in which individual citizens relinquish their rights in favor of a safer, more stable environment. In theory, the Illuminati wants to tighten its grip on the world. They want surveillance in every way they can have it because it is easier to control the public and silence dissent when everything is monitored 24/7.
Their problem, though, is that they have to give the public an appearance of choice. This enhanced surveillance needs to be requested by the American public rather than forced down their throats. As long as the public believes that they were not manipulated and freely chose increased surveillance, the Illuminati can centralize control without anyone knowing they exist.
3 Imagery In Pop Culture
There are countless examples of Illuminati imagery in pop culture today. And if you've clicked through this article, you've likely seen many of them on YouTube or other sources. A lot of the imagery associated with the Illuminati can also be traced back to ancient Egypt, giving many artists (in the eyes of conspiracy theorists) a way out of the criticism.
It seems foolish for a secret society's members to flaunt their secrets to the public, but some believe this is a hiding-in-plain-sight tactic for the group. Some notable culprits of Illuminati imagery in entertainment are Jay-Z, Katy Perry, and Madonna. Jay-Z seems to almost troll his fans with his references at this point, but Katy Perry's "Dark Horse" music video was seen by some to be confirmation of her induction into the group. Alex Jones claimed that Madonna's Super Bowl halftime show was an Illuminati ritual. Basically anything with eyes perks up any Illuminati believer who watches.
2 The Illuminati Website
If you're curious about the Illuminati and want to learn more, you can always look on their webpage for further details!
Another form of "hiding in plain sight" can be seen in the illuminatiofficial.org page. Even some believers think this webpage is fake, as the group is far too smart to broadcast its existence to the internet. It's not clear who runs the page, but it describes the group as "An elite organization of world leaders, business authorities, innovators, artists, and other influential members of this planet. Our coalition unites influencers of all political, religious, and geographical backgrounds to further the prosperity of the human species as a whole."
There's even a section where you can apply to join the Illuminati, which is one reason why many consider this webpage to be fake. If all of the Illuminati's supposed acts are to be believed, it's not too out-of-the-question to think they may have established a web presence as well.
1 Celebrity Murders And Cloning
Because the Illuminati is believed to have so much reach and power, many people believe that famous individuals fear speaking out against them. Anyone in a position of power, so theorists believe, will be killed, cast out, or otherwise discredited if they speak out against the shadow government. These people believe that certain celebrities have stood up to the group and found themselves dead as a result.
Some notable killings attributed to the Illuminati were Heath Ledger, Tupac, Michael Jackson, and Whitney Houston. Whitney Houston, in fact, was theorized to be a fertility sacrifice to create Blue Ivy Carter (Jay-Z and Beyonce's first child). Some people even say the Illuminati have perfected cloning and have replaced celebrities with clones when they rebel against them. A video of Beyonce looking spacey at a basketball game is used as a piece of evidence for this.
Sources: nationalgeographic, JFK Secret Society Speech, illuminatiofficial