I Want to Believe: Illuminati

Prisms and pyramids, all-seeing eyes, did somebody say far-fetched paranoia? It’s time to introduce the king— no, the overlord— of all conspiracies, the one I’ve procrastinated on for three weeks, the Illuminati! Hey there Loco community, it’s been awhile! You saw this coming, didn’t you?

For decades, rumors of an elite society have circulated through the public, reaching conspiracy theorists and average citizens alike. It is omnipresent in conspiracy circles, Hollywood films (see: Angels and Demons), and is even referenced in children’s shows like Disney XD’s Gravity Falls. The Illuminati has become iconic; a symbol, a meme, an organization to fear. But what do we really know about this so-called “secret society,” and where did it come from? Why do people believe in it? From Beyoncé to Baphomet to Bohemian Grove, I’m going to need you to stick with me, because we’re in for a wild ride!

No hate for Gravity Falls; it’s a great show. Photo Credit

I have no shame in sounding like an orator on Ancient Aliens. Ah, it’s good to be home.

For those of you who don’t know, the Illuminati is supposedly a sect of elite overlords working behind the scenes, controlling each minute part of our existence. Before we dive in, however, a disclaimer: there are sects related to the Illuminati that actually exist, but there are an equal amount of fictitious cults whose goals are exaggerated— or completely unknown to us. Here and now, we’re addressing the shadier side of the secret society.

Described by BBC as “a smorgasbord of every intrigue under the sun,” the Illuminati conspiracy has foggy origins and is thusly shrouded in mystery. Publicity has only served to further the already-complex theories, and the resulting conspiracies are, well, a clusterf*ck.

In the midst of all the confusion, there are two clear histories regarding the birth of the Illuminati. Some theorists say the secret society can trace their lineage back thousands of years, which would make the sect far more powerful and global than the public originally imagined. However, in this theory, their conception was the result of genetic manipulation and breeding between humanity and a reptilian extraterrestrial race. Discounting that for the sake of our sanity, we’ll acknowledge only theory number two, its far more credible counterpart.

According to the more modern theory, the Illuminati began as the thought-child of an 18th century Bavarian thinker, Adam Weishaupt. Weishaupt came from a family of Jewish converts to Christianity, and he was raised only by his uncle, a scholar. He completed his studies, became a professor, and started a family. All was well until 1784, when his innermost, controversial ideas were exposed by the Bavarian government.

It’s ya boy, Adam W. Photo Credit

Weishaupt, having grown up with the deeply conservative and Catholic Bavarian state, began to feel that both the monarchy and the church were repressing his free will to think and act. He eventually became convinced that religion was not an adequate governing system and decided to investigate other forms of government. He toiled with Freemasonry (this is a subject for another time, kids), but became disenchanted with their ideas and policies and instead created his own society. As it was, “the Order of the Illuminati” became a somewhat anti-religious and free thinking group, focused entirely on ‘illumination’ of the mind.

Despite the position his society held against religion, however, Weishaupt himself was not against religion as a whole; rather, he disapproved of the way its policies were imposed.

[The Illuminati] offers freedom from all religious prejudices; cultivates the social virtues; and animates them by a great, a feasible, and speedy prospect of universal happiness. It is necessary to create a state of liberty and moral equality, freed from the obstacles which subordination, rank, and riches, continually throw in our way.

-Adam Weishaupt, founder of the Illuminati.

With these ideals in mind, on the evening of May 1st, 1776, the first official meeting of the Illuminati was held to establish the rules of the order. In the years following, with funding from the bank due to bankers themselves being members, the Illuminati continued to grow both in size and diversity. It’s possible that by the end of 1784, the Illuminati had between 2,000 and 3,000 members.

Unfortunately, as the sect grew, the innermost members argued amongst themselves, as they began to harbor different ideas about the path of the Order. This civil war of sorts would eventually lead to the discovery of the previously ‘secret’ society and a crackdown from the Bavarian government. The resulting investigation shut down the sect. Weishaupt lost his job as a professor. He was forced to live in exile, and after his departure, the Bavarian state considered the Illuminati dismantled.

Whew, after that wordy explanation, where does that leave us?

In the years following the Illuminati’s supposed annulment, facts became mixed with fiction. New ideas about the ‘real’ ultimate goal of the society surfaced; in actuality, their desire was to form a sort of ‘New World Order,’ or ‘one world government,’ in which all religions and opposing governments are subjugated. Believers in this theory go on to say that nearly all wars since the French Revolution were planned and executed by the society in pursuit of their goals.

Now, do I believe all of this is true? Call me a skeptic, but it seems a bit Big Brother-ish, doesn’t it? …Then again, Donald Trump is in office, and Kellyanne Conway literally quoted Orwell’s 1984, so God knows what’s actually happening. Is this what hell looks like?

Regardless, according to most accounts, the Illuminati was (is?) a real, tangible society in which people believed and followed. The question is, did it ever really disappear? This is the question conspiracy theorists are dying to answer, as there is very little proof of historical fact to work with.

As I’m sure you’ve heard, our modern idea of the Illuminati is largely based on a sort of Satanic cult for the rich and famous: Hollywood performers or other successful people— Queen Bey, of course, among others. This newer, elaborate conspiracy suggests that new recruits— that is, up and coming stars— trade their freedom for fame, and are inducted into the ever-growing sect of elitists. In the creepier version of the theory, inductees are also possessed by demons when they join the ranks. Obviously, there is little proof of such an induction ceremony, except for little historical facts regarding the actual initiation process as it was.

Following the discovery of Weishaupt’s ~incendiary~ activities, the Bavarian authorities seized secret papers that allegedly kept information regarding the order’s initiation. To ascend to the next level in the society, for example, required a report, by the recruit, on his personal flaws, the identity of his enemies, and a list of each of his books. Official convocation required the sacrifice of his interests to those of the society.

Now, maybe it’s just me, but that sounds a little less severe than selling one’s soul to the devil… So, how did this modern idea become the norm? The answer is surprisingly, and perhaps disappointingly, simple.

The idea of the Illuminati that we’ve adopted today has barely anything to do with its Bavarian origins. David Bramwell, an author and broadcaster, has completely dedicated himself to separating fact from fiction in the society. The Illuminati’s modern incarnation can be attributed to a little-known 1960s text, the Principia Discordia. The idea of the Principia Discordia was based upon Discordianism, a concept created by enthused anarchists wishing to cause, and I quote, “civil disobedience, practical jokes and hoaxes.”

The novel did not receive any critical acclaim on the book market, but one writer specifically, Robert Anton Wilson, decided “the world was becoming too authoritarian, too tight, too closed, and too controlled.” Basically, he wanted to reintroduce society to chaos, and the best way to do so was to spread misinformation through whatever means possible. And, you guessed it: he decided he would do so by beginning with stories about the Illuminati.

It’s an idealistic means of getting people to wake up to the suggested realities that they inhabit.

-David Bramwell, author.

Clearly, the culprit here is fake news, but hardcore theorists are not so easily defeated; you could blame it on miscommunication through the years, or simple lack of research (although mixing up sacrificing your interests is a long way from sacrificing your body and soul to an evil immortal being). Whatever the case, such theorists believe there is evidence of unholy activities—like possession— in the modern Illuminati through examples like Beyoncé’s onstage alter ego, Sasha Fierce.

Beyoncé vs Sasha Fierce, Photo Credit

In interviews, Queen Bey has discussed losing herself to her character as if they’re two different people. For some, this is evidence enough of demonic possession, although one could argue that it’s, hey, a stage name? Or maybe schizophrenia? You can watch an example here (at the 7 minute mark, Beyoncé talks Sasha Fierce):

Beyoncé on Sasha.

It’s not just Beyoncé, either. “Demonic possession caught on tape” aside, theorists cite other sources to prove their beliefs true. Because we, the American public, are ridiculous, the masses have gathered photos of every other “example” of a secret society in the works, as told by subtle hand signs.

Jay-Z and Bey Carter flashing a triangle, Photo Credit

This triangular gesture, according to the public, represents the Carters’ affiliation with the Illuminati, but Jay says it’s just a symbol for his entertainment company, Roc Nation.

Logo Courtesy of Roc Nation Entertainment

Be that as it may, other big-name celebrities have flashed similar signs, using either a triangular-shape or the international symbol for “okay,” which looks like this:

Hiya, baby Biebs. Photo Credit

Conspirators believe that this symbol in particular represents their affiliation with the devil, as the three fingers and the ‘o’ could be interpreted as “666.” It’s more common than you might expect in their photos, but with celebrity photography, there’s only so many poses, am I right? It’s up to you to decide if these similarities are a coincidence.

See: A History of Celebrities and Illuminati Symbolism.

While I honestly can’t tell you why Tom Cruise is flashing the “Roc Nation” sign with Kanye West, I can’t completely bring myself to believe that all of the above are worshippers of Satan. Especially not Emma Watson! Goddamn love Emma Watson. What a beautiful soul.

Anyway, while many famous people— most notably, Beyoncé— denied ties with the Illuminati (‘y’all haters corny with that Illuminati mess’), the mystery surrounding the hand signs remains. It could easily be chalked up to pure coincidence, but of course, the theory lives on and evolves. The next level, even more demonic aspect of the Illuminati x Hollywood theory, is Baphomet and the Bohemian Grove.

I know— what the hell is that? Well, Baphomet is a continuation of the horned-god archetype, a common figure associated with occultism and/or paganism. It is believed by some scholars that  “Baphometh” is a corruption of “Mahomet,” another name for the Prophet Muhammad. Over time, however, the mystery surrounding its history has grown, and so too have the interpretations of the name and its origins. So, really, it’s open to interpretation. According to some worshippers, “[Baphomet] embodies opposites and celebrates contrasts.”

…Not such a bad thing, right? Maybe not, but at least in some way, this goat-headed deity holds sway over the Illuminati. Many believers point at pop-culture references to the Sabbatic goat as done by Madonna and Bey to affirm their affiliation with the Order, but then, you can’t prove anything with just a few onstage costumes, can you?

See: Celebrities Wearing Baphomet.

Whether he is blatantly referenced by the popstars or not, according to one occultist, “Baphomet serves as a poignant reminder of the dangers of state-sponsored, religiously justified oppression.”

Does that ring a bell? Sounds a bit similar to Adam Weishaupt’s original idea for the Order of the Illuminati, no? Indeed, Baphomet serves as a ruler of sorts, a symbol of the occult practices supposedly taking place during gatherings for the Illuminati at a place called Bohemian Grove.

Bohemian Grove is a campground in California that is privately owned by a men’s art group known as the Bohemian Club, and members of the group come from various affluential backgrounds, from musicians to former U.S. Presidents. The mascot of the Bohemian Club is an owl, representative of knowledge— which, of course, is one of the many pursuits of the Order of the Illuminati; that is, illuminating the mind. The motto of the club is “Weaving Spiders Come Not Here,” implying that outside concerns and networking are not to be discussed during the meetings.

I’m sorry, did somebody say, “cult?” Oh, that’s right. I did.

The Bohemian Club actually has a lot of shady club rituals, such as the “Cremation of Care” and the Grove Play, both impractically expensive performances that look strikingly like something a secret society would conduct. So, okay, Illuminati conspirators. I’ll give you this one.

See: Bohemian Grove Exposed.

Spooky as it may appear, according to an investigative journalist, it is far less mystery and far more beer. Alex Jones and his cameraman infiltrated Bohemian Grove, and at the end of their stay, their exploration was discussed by Welsh journalist Jon Ronson. Ronson documented his opinion on the activities at the Grove in his own book, where he wrote:

“My lasting impression was of an all-pervading sense of immaturity: the Elvis impersonators, the pseudo-pagan spooky rituals, the heavy drinking. These people might have reached the apex of their professions, but emotionally they seemed trapped in their college years.”

So what does this all mean, conclusively? It means that the Illuminati we know and theorize about is a little less than a conspiracy and more exaggerated history and weird rich people.

The idea of an untouchable, secretive elite must resonate with people that feel left behind and powerless.

-Sophia Smith Galer, BBC author.

In reality, we have to wonder if the whole concept of the Illuminati is just an elaborate ruse to criticize those who have made a successful living in showbusiness or elsewhere. Why else would it have endured? In other words, they want someone to blame or some other reason for their own lack of success. A sad truth, no matter how you look at it.

Is Illuminati real or it is our way of undermining each other’s success?

-Unarine Ramaru.

There’s a lot going on here; what can I say? The Illuminati is such a melting pot of interconnected conspiracies, it’s almost impossible to separate fact from fiction. If you’re interested in reading more about the “real, confirmed” Illuminati, check it out on Complex or Buzzfeed. If you want to read the Principia Discordia, it’s available on Amazon!

The Illuminati is a sprawling subject, and we’ve covered only a mere paint stroke on a full canvas. There is so much more to discover, but for us non-famous folk, maybe it will forever remain a mystery. Flashing gang signs is one thing, but human sacrifices are another. My conclusion: New World Order is a negative. What do you think?

Quoth BBC, if you like this story, you might also like:
“The strange photographs used to ‘prove’ conspiracy theories”
“How to avoid falling for lies and fake news”
“Why are people so incredibly gullible?”

See you guys at Bohemian Grove!

.  .  .

References (do you know how hard it is to find some coherent nonsense on Illuminati websites??):

Galer, Sophia Smith. “Future – The Accidental Invention of the Illuminati Conspiracy.” BBC, BBC, 9 Aug. 2017.

Various authors. “Quotes About Illuminati (34 Quotes).” (34 Quotes), Goodreads.

GotQuestions.org. “What Is the Illuminati Conspiracy?” GotQuestions.org, 4 Jan. 2017.

Image courtesy Bridgeman/ACI Oil painting by J. H. Tischbein, et al. “Meet the Man Who Started the Illuminati.” National Geographic, 1 Nov. 2016.

Amy. “History of the Illuminati .” The Illuminati Cult, people.virginia.edu/~sfr/enam481/groupa/illumhist.html.

“Bohemian Grove.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 27 Sept. 2017, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bohemian_Grove.

“Who Is Baphomet?” The Vigilant Citizen, VC, 24 Oct. 2016, vigilantcitizen.com/hidden-knowledge/whoisbaphomet/.

Morgan, James. “Decoding the Symbols on Satan’s Statue.” BBC News, BBC, 1 Aug. 2015, www.bbc.com/news/magazine-33682878.

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