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  • Kavya Jain


When someone says the word Illuminati, I am sure most people think of the various conspiracy theories that suggest a lot of celebrities, including Beyonce, are a part of it. When it comes to shadowy cabals that supposedly control the world, the Illuminati should be at the top of any conspiracy theorist's list, partially because of the interest it has sparked within the online community. An Illuminati Facebook page has over 3.4 million likes, and YouTube channels making theories about the Illuminati have almost 200,000 subscribers. Even Madonna, a famous singer, wrote songs about the group.

Historically speaking, the term "Illuminati" refers to the Bavarian Illuminati, a secret society that operated for only a decade, from 1776 to 1785. This organization was founded by Adam Weishaupt, a German law professor who believed strongly in Enlightenment ideals. He named the order Illuminatenorden, or order of Illuminati. This order sought to promote their ideas among elites. Weishaupt wanted to educate Illuminati members in reason, philanthropy, and other secular values so that they could influence political decisions when they came to power.

The Illuminati promoted a worldview that reflected Enlightenment ideals like rational thought and self-rule.

In 1785, Duke of Bavaria Karl Theodor banned secret societies, including the Illuminati, and instituted serious punishments for anyone who joined them. A lot of the members were imprisoned and locked away. Most of the group's secrets were disclosed or published. Hence a lot of historians believe that the Illuminati disappeared.

Now you might be wondering: How did the legend of the Illuminati live on even after the Illuminati vanished?

The most famous conspiracy theories were written by physicist John Robison in 1797, who accused the Illuminati of infiltrating the Freemasons, and Abbe Augustin Barruel, whose 1797 history of the Jacobins promoted the theory that secret societies, including the Illuminati, were behind the French Revolution. These conspiracy theories, and more, lead us to believe that the Illuminati still exists and functions in our generation.

The modern conspiracy theories surrounding the Illuminati were first popularized by Robert Wilson and Kerry Thornley through fictional works and fake letters that were sent to magazines in the 1960s.

Historians tend to think the Illuminati were only mildly successful in becoming influential. However, some believe the Illuminati successfully took over the world and still control it today. Thus, even though the conspiracies will continue to exist, if an all-powerful group does dominate the world, we probably wouldn't know about it.

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