Who are the REAL illuminati?
Guest article by John Temple
In the second of his articles on the Search for Truth, occult writer and theologian, John Temple, dispels the misconceptions surrounding the 'illuminati' and attempts to discover what and who they really are.
Who are the real 'Illuminati'? An evil conspiracy of bankers, businessmen and politicians—the so-called 'New World Order', wicked black magicians, alien supermen, or the so-called 'Hidden Masters' who are supposed to 'rule our lives'? Or are the real Illuminati something quite different? We feel sure that John Temple's sane and reasoned view of the many misconceptions surrounding the Illuminati will appeal to all those who are sincerely searching for Truth rather than fantasy. In response to the many questions we continue to receive from readers about this subject we updated this article with an afterword on the equally contentious subject of the 'Hidden Masters' in November 2017.
It has always seemed ironic to me that those who, for reasons best known to themselves, promote the notion of an organised conspiracy of individuals hell-bent on world domination, see no contradiction in calling them the 'illuminati', when any good dictionary will speedily show that the word is derived from the Latin illuminatus, meaning 'enlightened'. Perhaps their semantic lapses may be excused given that 'enlightened' is now often coupled with pedestrian terms like 'self-interest', 'business practices' and 'media', the meaning of which have little if any connection with spirituality. Like many words derived from other languages, illuminati has lost much, if not all of the sublime meaning it once held in the minds of our wiser forebears. So very bad is the press which this word now attracts that it has become a synonym for all that is evil in mankind and in the world. Quite why (and how) this misconception has arisen is beyond the scope of this article. In passing, I would merely point out that this is not a unique case. Today, the words 'pentagram', 'magician' and 'secret' all have very different, and one might add, mostly negative connotations, to their original meaning. Much of this is due to ignorance, but much is also due to the nefarious purposes to which the occult and magical arts have been put over the centuries by unscrupulous men and women for their own, selfish ends. Yet, despite these etymological distortions, those who have even the most superficial acquaintance with Western and Eastern philosophy cannot be in any doubt that an illuminatus—that is, one who is truly enlightened in the spiritual and mystical sense of the word—is hardly likely to be interested in the manipulative and mendacious pursuits associated with the word 'illuminati' in the popular imagination.
All the great Spiritual Teachers of the past affirm that at best life on earth is a dream, happy for some, less so for others, and for some poor souls, a living nightmare, and that the real life; the life of the Spirit, is elsewhere. The great Poets have taught the same, albeit in different words, such as the well-known soliloquy from the 'Scottish Play': "Life's but a walking shadow; a poor player, that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more: it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing." If, as spiritually-aware, thinking individuals, we accept these teachings, then the pursuit of material power, fame, riches, and all the rest of the chimerical desires of the worldly-wise must be the very antithesis of enlightenment—for they lead to darkness and not Light. Or, to put it another way, a genuine 'illuminatus' must be as far removed from the petty concerns of politics and commerce as the sun is removed from a guttering candle in a dank, dark cellar, otherwise he or she would not be an 'illuminatus' but an 'ignoramus.'
However important fame, wealth and the pursuit of power may be to some of us, and however inevitable their presence in this material world may be, all the wise philosophers, mystics and poets of the past agree that they must ALL fade away in time, for as Shakespeare tells us: "...the great globe itself, Yea all which it inherit, shall dissolve, and, like this insubstantial pageant faded, leave not a rack behind." If this is true, and from Hermes to Pythagoras, and Buddha to Jesus, all the Messengers from God to Man have taught the same, then what possible attraction can these ephemeral illusions have for the truly enlightened—the real illuminati? Earthly power, whether it is wielded by a monarch, a dictator or a corporate mogul, is as nothing compared to the power contained in one atom of hydrogen, as science demonstrated all too clearly when the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima in 1945. And if such power is locked up in just one tiny speck of matter, how much greater must be the power of those who rule and order the Universe under the Creator of All? It is the pursuit of the knowledge, rightly called 'Divine Wisdom', possessed by the Spiritual Beings who wield these powers, which has ever been the goal of all sincere seekers after Truth. That there have been, and are, men and women who have discovered fragments of this knowledge is a matter of historical record. Who has not heard of Simon Magus, of Paracelsus, and of H. P. Blavatsky? All were credited with performing so-called 'miracles', all were devout, humble individuals, who did their best to enlighten mankind and alleviate the evils of this world. None occupied thrones, or were remotely interested in fame, wealth or the pursuit of material, as opposed to spiritual power. Whether we choose to call them illuminati, and whether or not they belonged to secret societies, the fact remains that they were all illuminated in the best and highest sense of the word, and the Light that filled them came from God, not man.
Whether the members of the Illuminati movement founded by Adam Weishaupt in the 18th Century were illuminated in this same sense, or were motivated by 'enlightened' self-interest, is not for me to say, and forms no part of this article, which is intended to dispel the misconceptions surrounding the word 'illuminati', and to attempt to discover what it really means. Those of you who are interested in this movement and its various offshoots can find plenty of information about it in books and on the Internet. Which leads me on to a question many thinking people ask: 'are there any books which reveal the secrets of the illuminati?'
To which my answer is a resounding 'yes', always assuming that we are talking about highly evolved, spiritually enlightened men and women and not a secret cabal of dodgy financiers, shady arms dealers and mendacious politicians who like to dress up in weird 'occult' costumes and conduct bizarre rituals in secluded Swiss châteaux to further their alleged evil ends! I happily leave the investigation and discussion of all such colourful characters to those writers who have a liking for that sort of thing. There have been a number of books published during the last two centuries which, in my personal opinion, provide true portraits of the real illuminati. Among these may be mentioned Bulwer-Lytton's classic occult novel Zanoni, The White Brother by Michael Juste, and The Golden Star by J Michaud PhD.
The real 'conspiracy'—if we must use that word—is the epidemic of greed and selfishness which holds almost the entire world in its insidious grip. It is humanity itself, both in the mass and in the individual, which is building the totalitarian atmosphere which threatens to deprive man of his God-given freedom of thought and action. It is a silent, unconscious conspiracy which few talk about and even fewer think about. But this forms no part of my present discussion, though it is a subject I may explore in a future article.
None of this is to say that there do not exist conscious conspiracies and conspirators pursuing various political, monetary and social agendas for their own selfish ends. But is this news to any thinking person? To the diligent student of human history there have always been such opportunists, whether they were known to the public or simply pulled the strings of their marionettes from the shadows. To suggest, as some conspiracy theorists do, that there exists an organised movement on a world-wide scale that goes back to Adam Weishaupt and his illuminati, whose avowed aim is to usher in a New World Order of Orwellian despotism on a global scale, strikes me as both ludicrous and implausible. We have only to watch the daily news to see that the so-called 'movers and shakers' of the world not only rise and fall with monotonous regularity, but that they can rarely agree with one another about anything, much less establish the coordinated and cooperative consensus needed to organise and implement a New World Order. It seems to me that the only 'new' thing about this non-existent 'order' is the name! Unless, of course, you can point to any period of human history during the last few thousand years when the vast majority were not exploited, misled and manipulated by their so-called rulers? To call such money-grabbing, power-hungry nonentities 'illuminati' seems to me to be adding insult to injury!
I would rather apply this much-maligned and misunderstood word where it truly belongs; to those who are the true saviours and real benefactors of mankind. Those great men and women, both known and unknown, appreciated and unappreciated, who silently go about in the world with love in their hearts for all, drying the tears of the sorrowful, lifting up the downtrodden and oppressed, relieving those in distress and revealing the mysteries of the Creator and Creation to those who have eyes to see and ears to hear. They are the REAL illuminati, the enlightened ones, the peacemakers, the light-filled children of God, and as such, I salute them!
About the author
John Temple is the pen-name of a writer who has studied and practised the occult sciences for more than 50 years. He graduated from Cambridge University with a first in Theology and Religious Studies and has lectured to students around the world on a wide variety of occult, religious and mystical subjects.
He is now retired and lives quietly in London with his wife, two Yorkshire terriers and a talkative African Grey Parrot called 'John' (no relation). He can be contacted via this website.
Read more articles by this author on the Search for Truth
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Hidden meaning in the Book of Proverbs
An investigation of the origins of the Book of Proverbs and the hidden meaning in it.
Esoteric meaning of Easter.
An investigation of the true significance and esoteric meaning of Easter.
Hidden Wisdom in the Bible. An investigation of the hidden wisdom in the Bible, why and how it was concealed, and the tools the sincere seeker needs to dig it out.
If God is good why does he allow evil? A metaphysical investigation of the problem of Good and Evil.
Esotericism in the Nativity. An occult investigation of the Bible story of the birth of Jesus, revealing the many layers of hidden meaning it contains.
Searching for Truth.
The true story of one seeker's personal journey of spiritual discovery.
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Article added 31 January 2013. Updated 24 November 2017.