The Purpose of the Order
At the end of the 18th century, a secret Order was founded in Bavaria by Professor of Law Adam Weishaupt (1748-1830) of the University of Ingostald.
After graduating from the College of Jesuits and the Law School of the University of Ingolstadt, Adam Weishaupt became professor at the latter in 1772. Using the structure of the Jesuit Order as a model, he aimed at establishing a "Secret School of Wisdom" in which excellent students, free from the bonds of tradition, would teach modules exceeding university education. This secret organization was originally called "Order of Perfectibilists” (Orden der Perfectibilisten), or "Order of the Illuminati" (Orden der Illuminaten).
This school would aim at the freedom of spirit (which at that time did not exist at all), the fight against moral decline, moral and spiritual development, and finally the overall improvement of members and, consequently, of mankind. Weishaupt used to say that the purpose of this secret Order was to make man understand the value of perfecting his spirit, to prevent concepts and aims that were harmful to the world, and additionally to aid virtue through knowledge and science.
The Order was founded on 1 May 1776, initially consisting of five members, namely Weishaupt and some students. The names of the members were replaced by aliases from ancient Greek history. Therefore, Weischaupt was called Spartacus, Massenhausen Aias, Zwackh Katon, Knigge Philo and so on. Additionally, cities and countries also received ancient names. Ingolstadt, where the Order was founded, was called Eleusis, Munich Athens, Vienna Rome, Bavaria Achaia, Tyrol Peloponnese, the cities Freising, Regensburg, Augsburg, Bamberg respectively, Thebes, Corinth, Nicomedia, Antioch. As a calendar, they used the Persian one. January was called Dimeh, February Bimek and so on, and finally, a cryptographic language was used in the correspondence of the Order.
The Order also had secret signs of recognition, internal teaching and grades. The evolution of the Order was slow. Nevertheless, several members of that time in Bavaria joined the Order. The founders and the first to enter took the title of Aeropagitus.
In 1779 the internal organization of the Order was constructed; it was divided into 3 levels; a) Neophytus, b) Minerval (Student of Artemis), c) Enlightened Minerval. The next (higher) degree was the "Areopagus" with Weishaupt as Master of the Order.
At all degrees and levels, many signs of the Jesuit Order were incorporated, given that Weishaupt was originally a Jesuit. Note that in February 1777 Weishaupt was initiated at Munich's "Behutsamkeit" Masonic Lodge, and the following year Zwackh was initiated at a Lodge of Augsburg.
The initial difficulty in expanding the Order resulted in a period of decline. Then the thought that the newly established Order should join Masonry prevailed. With the aid of Marquis Von Constanzo, the founders were able to obtain permission from the Grand Lodge of Berlin to establish a Lodge named “Theodor zum Guten Rat”. This Lodge was subsequently proclaimed an independent one and was incorporated into the Order of the Illuminati. According to J.G. Findel, Weishaupt was initiated in 1777. On a trip to Frankfurt, the Marquis Constanzo succeeded in initiating Baron Von Knigge (1780).
The initiation of Knigge, an educated Freemason, into the Order of the Illuminati, resulted in its progress and spread. Many new members were initiated, including many of Germany's most prominent men (rulers, clergy, state officials, proffesors, etc.). Even Goethe was initiated into the Order of the Illuminati, and received the nickname "Avaris". The Order simultaneously spread to other countries such as France, Belgium, Italy, etc.
Von Knigge gradually became the second in command of the Order and compiled the Constitution, its Rituals and its new internal structure and organization incorporating Masonic degrees.
Once again, three classes existed, but each of them consisted of more degrees as follows:
I. Seed School
3. Illuminatus Minor
1. Entered apprentice
3. Master Mason
4. Illuminatus Major or Scottish Neophytus
5. Enlightened Leader (Iliuminatus Dirigens) or Scottish Knight
α) Minor Mysteries
6. Priest or Warden
7. Prince or Regent
β) Major Mysteries
8. Great Philosopher
9. Rex or King
(Later revised in another structure)
Accepted as Neophytes were those who were considered to have the appropriate qualifications and were 18 years old. After trials and examination, they were admitted to the 2nd and the 3rd degree, and subsequently the rest of the degrees, but very few reached the 8th and 9th degrees containing the deeper and secret purposes, as well as the aims of the Order.
Meetings at the Higher Degrees were held at the "Theodor Zum Guteo Rat" Lodge in Munich, which was the Mother Lodge. The purpose of the Illuminati was to raise the human race, to provide mutual assistance and support to members, and to achieve the highest degree of morality and virtue in order to change the world.
Strict obedience to the principles of the Order was expected of all members. The teaching consisted of three parts and mainly concerned with the following subjects:
1. The regeneration of the spirit, starting from self-awareness.
2. Belief in the evolution of mankind.
3. Knowledge of morality, culture of good and love.
These ideas created the Order of the Illuminati, which was beyond any political movement.
Initially, Weishaupt had no specific view of internal organization and the Rituals, and so he borrowed from the Jesuits and the Ancient Mysteries.
It was not until then related to Freemasonry. A prerequisite was the establishment of a large scientific library along with a Museum of Natural History and Historical Reason as it was believed that the struggle against the enemies of reason and humanity could only be won through knowledge.
As time went by, there was pressure from many sides on Weishaupt, to deliver more content to the degrees. Then he started creating Rituals with great diligence.
Unfortunately, disagreement between Weishaupt and Knigge adversely affected the operation of the Order, ultimately resulting in the resignation of the latter. This seriously damaged the Order’s operation, as Weishaupt could not effectively control it since it had significantly spread. At the same time the Jesuits and other clergy initiated a methodical war to exterminate the Order. Although the Jesuit Order was dissolved by the Pope in 1773, it still had great power, especially in Bavaria. Many freemasons were added to the enemies, some reactionary advisors to the Bavarian ruler, and some self-motivated who accused the Order of political action.
These coordinated attacks resulted in the issue of a decree in June 1784 that banned the operation of secret societies by the Bavarian Leader Karoll Theodorus, who was influenced by his mentor, Pater Frank, the head of the Rosicrucian Circle of Munich. The Illuminati suspended their action in Bavaria but this did not save them. Many were arrested, Officers and employees were fired, even clergy were transferred. Weishaupt was fired from the University and fled to Regensburg.
With the publication of various documents of the Order of the Illuminati, found in Landshut, the pressure against Weishaupt was intensified and a new decree was issued, imposing death penalty on the members of the Order in the event that it once again became operational.
Weishaupt, located in Regensburg, was still a target of blatant accusations, while men of the Bavarian ruler had him under surveillance in order to capture him as soon as he crossed the border. To protect him, Duke Ernestus hired him to serve him, resulting in the Bavarian ruler to complain to the former, accusing Weishaupt of infanticide, incest, etc and ask for his extradition. Eventually, Earl Stolberg, who had assumed the leadership of the Order as the successor of the Weishaupt, ordered in 1785 its dissolution and cease of action.
Weishaupt died in Gotha in 1830.
The following phrase is interesting about how Weishaupt imagined a candidate's qualifications.
«He who does not shut his ears to the laments of misery, nor his heart to compassion. He who is a friend and brother of the unfortunate. He who has a heart eager to love and friendship. He who withstands adversity and is not tired of achieving the work he has undertaken and is not afraid to overcome his difficulties and his soul is capable of capturing great plans and at the same time being superior to humble incentives. The one who, for the sake of truth and virtue, despises the plunder of the crowd and is brave enough to hear his heart. He who does not laugh at the weak. The one who hates indolence. He who does not speak about his knowledge but also does not consider them useless, and yet as superior he considers self-consciousness, he is the right candidate».