Angels & Demons: Illuminati 101

Angels & Demons

“Jesus Motherf**king Christ It’s Alive..”—Robert Anton Wilson

By Stella Maris February 28, 2009

The first thing you need to know about the Illuminati is that nothing is real. As soon as you begin to take any of it seriously, they’ve got you.

Therefore, always remember that the overriding immutable rule of the intrepid Illuminati investigator is not to believe anything that you can’t independently verify for yourself. Especially don’t believe anything you read on the internet. And, if you watch a television documentary where someone is talking about the Illuminati in a grave tone of voice, then take immediate evasive action–such as changing the channel or going for a pee. In fact, don’t even believe anything you read in this article.

Yes, I know that the Author’s Note at the beginning of Dan Brown’s bestseller Angels & Demons categorically states that “The brotherhood of the Illuminati is also factual”. He does the same thing with the Priory of Sion in The Da Vinci Code.

But this is a literary device. It’s how fiction writers hook you in. It’s not real.

Okay, granted, technically the Illuminati did indeed once exist. Historically, the Order of the Illuminati was founded at Ingolstadt University in Bavaria, on Walpurgisnacht, May 1st, 1776 by a Jesuit-trained law professor by the name of Adam Weishaupt. However, the movement lasted all of eight years, becoming officially defunct when secret societies were banned by the government in 1784.

The most interesting aspect of the brotherhood were its members, allegedly including Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Beethoven, and the mysterious Comte de Saint Germain, who was thought to have attained the Philosopher’s Stone of immortality.

Conveniently for fiction writers, the Comte de Saint German went on to travel throughout Europe as a spy, leading to an endless underground stream of colorful spin-off adventures, and Adam Weishaupt himself refused his university pension and fled into exile, thereby opening the door to panoplies of possibilities.

The most popular theory regarding the demise of the Illuminati is that Weishaupt was used as a stand-in for George Washington, due to their close physical resemblance, thereby deftly tying covert Illuminati influence into the success of the American Revolution. In some versions of the story, Weishaupt actually permanently performed the duties of the first US President in order to cover up Washington’s untimely early death, and it’s therefore Weishaupt’s own portrait that’s featured on the US dollar bill.

Embroideries abound when a swift glance at the genealogy of John Adams, Washington’s Vice-President and successor as second US President, reveals that his family emigrated to Boston from Barton Saint-David, the ultimate center point of the Glastonbury Zodiac on Albion’s mythical Saint Michael Line. For good measure, Adams’ ancestor was said to have been a member of a secret Dragon Order, dedicated to restoring the Stuart monarchy to the British throne.

And so it goes.

Inevitably, astonishing “secret information” has been “revealed” over the years, tracing the inception of the Illuminati either from a lineage of shadowy Sufi mystics or from Noah via John the Evangelist and thence to the Knights Templar, thereby incorporating centuries of hidden knowledge into Freemasonic and Rosicrucian degrees of initiation. Even Aleister Crowley manages to get in on the act—and I’m sure there’s probably an Illuminati sex ritual sequestered somewhere obscure that hasn’t yet been discovered. If not, we can happily invent one.

The most creative conspiracy theorists attribute everything from UFOs to McDonald’s hamburgers to the current global Credit Crunch to the power of the Illuminati’s ultra-secret New World Order manoeuvres.

Fortunately of all of our collective sanities, in the 1970s, former Playboy magazine editor Robert Anton Wilson actually “got” the surrealist joke and ran with it, generating a veritable cottage industry of thirty-five books and even a theatrical production based on the Illuminati, which indelibly influenced modern popular culture for years to come.

As it happens, Robert Anton Wilson became my own personal Cosmic Trigger, as result of “accidently” being introduced to him by my friend Mark Chorvinsky when I was going through my angst-ridden bohemian film student phase at Maryland University.

Synchronistically, Mark’s mother and my mother were best friends back when we were kids. I used to go Trick-or-Treating on Halloween with Mark and his brother, when I was far too young to know what I was getting myself into. We inevitably lost touch when my family moved to England, which made the coincidence even weirder when I literally ran into Mark in the corridors of Maryland U’s television studios out of the blue.

By this time Mark was an internationally renowned Magician and Fortean investigator. He had established a magic-themed bookshop in Rockville, Maryland called Dream Wizards (which unsurprisingly hosted amazing Halloween parties!) and founded Strange Magazine, dedicated to the serious investigation of the weird and wonderful.

Being more experienced in these matters, Mark immediately recognized the significance of our chance reunion and invited me to meet his friend Robert Anton Wilson, who was in town lecturing.

It’s taken me years to unravel just how the Ariadne’s Thread of RAW’s connection to the Maryland-based Prometheus Society and the DC-based L5 Society corresponded to my personal close encounter with Andrija Puharich, who was working with an intriguing group of scientists in a lab around the corner from where I was living in Silver Spring… but, that’s another story.

For now we just need to be aware of Robert Anton Wilson’s role in the resurrection of the Illuminati archetype at the precise moment that the public mindset was ready to absorb it. In fact, I would even go as far as to suggest that Dan Brown’s Angels & Demons would have been an entirely different book if it hadn’t been for Robert Anton Wilson’s preliminary Illuminati performance art.

Sadly, Mark Chorvinsky passed away in 2005, followed closely by Robert Anton Wilson’s demise in 2007, so neither of them will be around to witness the contemporary resurgence of the Illuminati in Angels & Demons when the film is released in May 2009.

But the first question that we’ll be asking ourselves as we watch the movie is… did Ron Howard’s team get the joke? And, if not, then who’s gonna deliver the punchline?

All Hail Eris!

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