The Concept, Origin and Spread of the Order of Illuminati



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The Concept, Origin and Spread of the Order of Illuminati

One of the most vexed issues in the present international world order is Illuminati. The concept of illuminism is fraught in much controversy, with people holding different views in respect of different aspects thereto. At the very heart of the controversies is the basis of the Order of the Illuminati; whether it is real conspiracy or a fictional belief; what it essentially entails; and the implication of membership thereto, if any. Deriving from this, several questions have arisen, with many uncertain answers by scholars, philosophers, and researchers alike. In light of the foregoing, the paper succinctly critiques the article, ‘a primer on the Illuminati’ by William McIlhany.

The subject of illuminati is no doubt a significant concern to a majority of people today. A cursory perusal over written articles, movies or fictional books on this subject portrays somewhat fierce conspiratorial order. Suffice to say, many attribute illuminati with inhumane acts coupled with manifestation of supernatural powers. Elsewhere, other commentators hold the view that Illuminati arose as an order with the germane aim of defying the existing religious, social and political orders and replacing them with their desires, and subsequently exercising control over the same (McIlhany, 31).

Summary and Evaluation

The article by William McIlhany on the subject of Illuminati attempts to offer response to the above conflicted questions. With much precision, William McIlhany in his informative article has placed much emphasis on unveiling the root of Illuminati, its central theme, its spread, reprisal thereto and the current situation. At the very onset of the paper, McIlhany remarks that since time immemorial, there have emerged many secret and conspiratorial movements. In the author’s perspective, these movements have often been driven by certain motives, with the key goals being inter alia gain absolute authority over the universe, dismantle existing governance arrangements and at last destroy religious orders (McIlhany, 31). This is akin to the position highlighted in the introductory section of the paper.

The central philosophy adopted by the author in respect to Illuminati is that it had originated as an association in the eighteenth century. As a consequence of destructive movements, McIlhany asserts that Illuminati arose in Bavaria, Germany, in pursuance of the instructions from Adam Weishaupt (McIlhany, 32). In this regard, the author holds that Weishaupt’s formation of the organizational structure of Illuminati was inspired by the desire to direct worldwide attack on religion and monarchy. Thus, on May 1, 1776 Weishaupt formally founded the order, in which it was referred to as ‘the Order of Illuminati’ (McIlhany, 32). Though the author gives the origin of the Order, the article does not however give a sound rationale behind the adoption of the name itself.

Following the formation of the Order of Illuminati, it is illustrated in the article it gained the membership of other persons, precisely clergymen and leaders of various institutions, inclusive of monarchs. With such membership, it became much easier to exercise authority and issue directives on how the Order of Illuminati was henceforth to be governed. Regarding its organization, McIlhany writes that its members were required to submit to the Order. In fact, McIlhany states that Weishaupt established spies wherein secret police would kill anyone who opted to reveal the secrets of the conspiracy (McIlhany, 34).

I am led to believe that the author has not fully brought out the issue regarding the membership of the Order of Illuminati satisfactorily. Precisely, it appears as though the membership was limited to clergymen and leaders. Even though it is reasonable to observe that such persons would have significantly contributed to the membership of the Order, other ordinary persons were as well included. Thus, the author should as well address their input in equal measure.

Critical to this critique, it is noted in the article that most loyal members of the Order enjoyed myriad sensual and material benefits. In the averments of the author, ‘the power of the Order must be turned to the advantages of its authors…money, services, honor, goods, and blood must be expected for the fully proved Brethren.’ Within the writings of the Order were included the system of operations. Some of the instructions included; fomenting hatred and bloodshed between the religious, racial and ethnic groups; entrenching hatred between children and parents; and instructions on the kind of buildings to be burned (p.34). Indeed the author remarks that with the above arrangement and benefits, the conspiratorial structure in Bavaria made great achievements. These pieces of information are indeed reliable, considering that the article provides specific dates when each material event took place.

The spread of the Order of Illuminati is traced to 1782 when its power and influence began to mushroom outside Bavaria (McIlhany, 34). Herein, it is indicated that Von Knigge was quite instrumental in persuading many German and French people to join the Order (McIlhany, 34). The upshot of this was that the whole of German freemansory become under the auspices of the Illuminati. Besides, as the French Revolution ensued, the Order of Illuminati had spread in France (McIlhany, 35). This trend spread to other parts of Europe and into the US. However, according to the author, the practice of the Order of Illuminati was met with much resistance. Its revival was nonetheless engineered by leaders such as Karl Bahrdt and Baron von Knigge (McIlhany, 36).


While the preceding paragraphs sets out the summary and evaluation of the article in respect to the Order of Illuminati, it is important to observe that there are areas that I agree with the author. One of the aspects that I subscribe to is in respect to the roots of the Order of Illuminati. As the author puts it across, Illuminati emerged as an organizational conspiratorial structure established by Weishaupt. This position has been reaffirmed by several other scholars, philosophers and commentators (Gardiner, 167).

Even though it may not be said with highest degree of precision the concise chronological development of Illuminati, it suffices to attribute it to the conspiratorial movements evident during the eighteenth century. The writings of Adam Weishaupt were critical in designing appropriate instructions to oversee the management of the Order of Illuminati (Gardiner, 167). Thus, while one may loosely assert that Weishaupt might not have been the first developer of the conspiratorial, he was, however, very instrumental in its formation, growth and spread.


The study sought to determine the root origins of the conspiratorial of Illuminati. This is against the backdrop that Illuminati is one of the most vexed orders to understand in the present day. Thus, as highlighted in the preceding paragraphs, many people do not really understand the development, nature and spread of Illuminati. Nonetheless, the critical review has pointed out that Illuminati is a conspiratorial concept that emerged in the eighteenth century. The underlying rationale behind its formulation was the desire to challenge the existing orders by replacing them and exercising authority over the world.

Works Cited

Gardiner, Philip. Secret Societies: Gardiner’s Forbidden Knowledge: Revelations about the Freemasons, Templars, Illuminati, Nazis, and the Serpent Cults. Red Wheel/Weiser, 2007.

McIlhany, William H. “A Primer on the Illuminati.” New American 25 (2009): 31-36.

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