Saturday Ramble: Do the Illuminati really exist?
They make for rattling good yarns by writers such as Dan Brown of The Da Vinci Code, and many another.
I confess I have something of a taste for these confections, although I read them more as comedies than thrillers. One attraction is that most modern novels are full of detailed research into the subject, subtly led astray by the writer’s imaginative interpretation and need for dramatic action.
But is there a scintilla of truth in the kernel of them? Do the Illuminati truly exist? Let’s start with some definitions from The New Oxford Dictionary of English:
Illuminati: People claiming to possess special enlightenment or knowledge of something: some mysterious standard known only to the illuminati of the organization.
Two examples are then given:
1. A sect of 16th-century Spanish heretics* who claimed special religious enlightenment. *Note: some genuine Spanish mystics of the period were infamously labelled “heretics” by the Inquisition. It’s a pity the OED follows that tradition.
2. A Bavarian secret society founded in 1776, organized like the Freemasons*. *Note: there is evidence that the Freemasons, especially those of the 33rd degree, did at some stage possess knowledge of the Great Death Contemplation that goes back to the Mystery Schools of antiquity and is identical with the “showing of the nature of reality” that I have written about extensively, for example: HERE.
One factor muddies the waters of our quest for the Illuminati. It is the presence of a large number of dandies eager to dress in colourful outfits and call themselves “Chevalier”, or some other term of personal inflatus. We can safely put them to one side.
Anyone who calls themself a magician or a magus is just playing around on the edges of psychic phenomena. They may indeed be sensitive to layers beyond physicality, but much of the information they uncover is so general and banal it’s better left alone.
Let’s start our quest with the obvious candidates: the clergy.
Could the priests, curates and vicars of our churches hide a secret cadre of true spiritual adepts? In my view, they are very thin on the ground … if they exist at all.
In Church circles, clergy are generally divided into Actives and Contemplatives. The Actives do the donkey work, while the Contemplatives (just a few in our times) lock themselves away in monasteries and other quiet places such as a handful of hermitages. They are worthy of our respect, but we must judge them on their merits.
In a recent edition of Andrew Marr’s Start the Week on BBC Radio 4, the head of the Catholic Church in England, Archbishop Vincent Nichols, remarked that if anyone thought being an Archbishop brought them closer to God, it was news to him. He said it with a rueful laugh. I believed him.
But there is a more serious candidate, the late Pope John Paul II, now beatified with almost indecent haste — does the Church know more than we do?
What we do know is that this immensely popular priest was brought up in Poland and joined the Rosicrucians, a mystical sect that followed “the Rosy Cross.”
After a bad road crash in which he was seriously injured, the future Bishop of Rome had a profound spiritual experience that closely matched a description given by his Rosicrucian master. I suspect it was a showing of the nature of reality, a privileged view of one’s immortality.
Such spiritual masters undoubtedly exist but work in the shadows. I doubt they have pretensions of power in the outer world or would wish to be known.
There are pockets of activists within the Church, such as Opus Dei, that have mystical objectives at the very least. And any number of shadowy organisations such as the Priory of Sion, of Holy Blood, Holy Grail fame, that live on the claim of genetic descent from Jesus Christ.
My own view is that anyone who claims mystical powers from their physical bloodline, or DNA, is a fantasist or a scoundrel.
Each one of us has long routes back in time that theoretically can be traced to the “Creator of the Universe”. But, as Carl Jung put it, “The sole and natural carrier of life is the individual and this holds true throughout nature”.
We are left then with specific individuals, not bloodlines or groups.
Any organisation that uses physical means to obstruct or defend what it believes to be divine power, is corrupt and acts egoically.
It was said that China’s Mao Tse Tung and his deputy Chou Enlai used magical aspects of Taoism, including Yin and Yang techniques, to pave their way to political power. Given the chaos they inflicted on the people, especially the middle classes which they slaughtered by the million during the Cultural Revolution, this example does not fit any of our definitions, even if true.
So, in the absence of real evidence — and I would be grateful for information from any reader who knows better — I will narrow down our quest to one area: individual seekers after genuine mystical experience, of which there are many.
Any genuine mystic knows that illuminations are given rather than taken and after a suitable period of request and spiritual alignment. You can’t claim your place in the mystical hierarchy, you have to prove your fitness for it first.
The existence of genuine Illuminati in the sense of powerful secret societies is probably a myth created by the runaway human imagination. In other words, Old Nick himself: the ego.
John Evans is the author of The Eternal Quest for Immortality: Is it staring you in the face? Available from Amazon and all good booksellers.
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