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351. The Term Illuminati.— The name of “ Illuminati” has frequently been adopted by various sects. The end of the sixteenth century saw the Alombrados in Spain, and in 1654 the Guerinets were founded in France, both societies of visionaries and ghost-seers. In the second half of the last century there was an association of mystics existing under that name in Belgium. Other fraternities, calling themselves Illuminati, and formed in more recent times, will be found mentioned in this work; but the society of which I am about to speak now is the best known of all Illuminati orders.
352. Foundation of Order.—Adam Weishaupt, a student in the University of Ingolstadt, learned and ambitious, and attracted by that love of mystery which is a prominent characteristic of youth, meditated the formation of a philosophicopolitical sect. When twenty-two years of age he was elected Professor of Canon Law in the same University, a chair which had for twenty years been filled by the Jesuits; hence their rage against, and persecution of, Weishaupt, which he met boldly, returning hatred with hatred, and collecting partisans. The great aversion he then conceived for the Jesuits appears in many of the statutes of the Order he founded. Jesuits, he often declares, are to be avoided like the plague. The sect of the Illuminati was founded in 1776 by Weishaupt, who adopted the pseudonym of Spartacus, but it was years before its ritual and constitution were finally settled. Weishaupt, in order the better to succeed, connected himself with the Freemasons, by entering the lodge “ Theodore of Good Counsel,” of Eclectic Masonry, at Munich, and attempting to graft Illuminism on Freemasonry. Many members of the craft, misled by the construction of his first degrees,
1 Suspected of being one of these Alombrados, Ignatius Loyola, the founder of the order of Jesuits, was for nearly a month imprisoned in the dungeons of the Inquisition at Salamanca ; when the holy fathers had perused his “ Spiritual Exercises,” in MS., they considered him harmless, and let him go.
entered the Order; but when they found that Weishaupt meant real work and not mere play, they hung back. The society was instituted for the purpose of lessening the evils resulting from the want of information, from tyranny, political and ecclesiastical.
353. Organisation.—The society was by its founder divided into classes, each of which was again subdivided into degrees, in the following manner :
Illuminatus Major, or Scotch
Epopt, or Priest.
Maglis, or Philosopher.
In the Nursery and Masonry degrees, the candidate was merely tried and prepared for the Mystery degrees. If he was found unreliable, he was not allowed to go beyond ; but if he proved an apt scholar, he was gradually initiated into the latter, where all that he had been taught before was overthrown, and radical and deistic theories and plans were unfolded, which were in nowise immoral or subversive of public order, but only such as, at the present day, are held by many men of just and enlightened views.
354. Initiation into the Degree of Priest.—The candidate for the priesthood, the first degree in the Lesser Mysteries, was taken, with his eyes bandaged, in a carriage, following a roundabout way, to the house where the initiation was to take place. On his arrival there his eyes were unbandaged, and he was told to put on the apron of the Scotch Knight, the cross of St. Andrews, and the hat, take the sword into his hand, and wait before the first door till summoned to enter. After a while he heard a solemn voice calling, “ Enter, orphan, the fathers call thee, and shut the door behind thee.” On entering he beheld a room, the walls of which were covered with rich red hangings, and splendidly illuminated. In the background stood a throne under a canopy,
and in front of it a table, on which were placed a crown, sceptre, sword, valuables, and chains. The priestly vestments were displayed on a red cushion. There were no chairs in the room, but a stool without back stood at some distance from the throne, facing it. The candidate, on being introduced, was told to choose between the things on the table or the vestments on the cushion. Should he, contrary to all expectation, declare for the crown and its concomitants, he would at once be expelled ; but if he chose the priestly dress, he was addressed with, “ All hail, thou noble one! and invited to take a seat on the stool and listen to the explanation of his future duties, which, as intimated above, were simply to act as an instructor of the uninitiated. The lecture being ended, a door at the back was opened, and the friend who had introduced the candidate entered in the priest's dress, which consisted of a white woollen toga, descending to the feet; the neck and sleeves were edged with scarlet silk ribbons, a silk girdle of the same colour encircled the waist. The deacon alone had, moreover, a red cross, about a foot long, on his left breast. The candidate was led into the inner room, the door of which had in the meantime been opened, and in which was seen an altar, covered with red cloth ; above it hung a painted or carved crucifix. On the altar itself were placed the book of the ritual, a Bible bound in red, a small glass dish with honey, and a glass jug with milk in it. A burning lamp hung over the head of the deacon, who faced the altar; the priests sat on both sides, on red-cushioned benches. The candidate was admonished, and promised to renounce the enemies of mankind, evil desires, the spirit of oppression, and deception; having done this, he was divested of his masonic clothing, and having promised in presence of the crucifix to be faithful to the Order, the assistants put on him the priestly dress, and then let him eat some of the honey and drink some of the milk, as a sealing of their covenant. The priest's sign was laying both hands in the form of a cross flat on the head; the grip consisted in presenting a fist, with the thumb held straight up; the other would then make a fist, pressing it on that presented to him, but so as to enclose the vertically presented thumb. The word was INRI. Then followed a long lecture of a moral and scientific character.
355. Initiation into the Degree of Regent. This degree was conferred only on such persons as by high intellectual attainments, social position, and tried fidelity, were considered capable of advancing the objects of the Order. The place of