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Picture of Illuminism - Esoteric/Exoteric 

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'Esoteric meaning' is intended for or understood by only a particular group for example: an esoteric cult, relating to that which is known by a restricted number of people, confined to a small group: esoteric interests, or not publicly disclosed; confidential. Masonic Esoterica are later inclusions to the fraternities with mythic origins, created as an attempt to lend greater credence to it’s antiquity.


Some writers have made great strides in linking the allegorical meanings and symbolic teachings to a broader history, not directly linked to Freemasonry, but from some ethereal connection to the past mystery schools of antiquity which is evident in many of the Gnostic and hermetic ideas that exist within Freemasonry. As Above, So Below, and that the presence of the divine being within us, not an external entity.


These ideas are still hidden within allegories and symbols, but are very similar to the lineage of the Ancient Mystery Schools. Here are some examples of these schools, the Egyptian Book of the Dead, the school of Pythagoras, the Hermetic and Kabbalah traditions, Medieval Alchemists, Freemasons, etc. These combine to establish the foundation of the Mystery School traditions that have been concealed throughout the centuries.


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The Word Illuminism Comes from the Latin ‘Illuminare’ meaning ‘To Give Light’

This provides the basis for other related words such as illumination, Illuminati, illuminist and illuminate. These examples are mystical in nature and have been labeled intellectual illumination throughout history. During the late 15th, 16th and 17th centuries in Spain and France various groups believed that there was a divine illumination that could be experienced from the celestial realms that did not need the offices of the established Church.


In Spain they were called the Alumbrados and in France the Illuminées. Many of these groups believed that it was possible for the human mind to become divine. They followed spiritual practices that would help them receive a direct experience of God. In Germany a different form of Illuminism was formed that has become known as the Bavarian Illuminati. This group had nothing to do with other Illuminati groups in a direct way, Christian or non-Christian.


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Christian Groups Included the Spanish and French Groups

The non-Christian groups include the Illuminationists of Persia and the new and different Order of the Illuminati established in 1880 by Leopold Engels. The Order of the Illuminati, established in 1776, was a product of the rational philosophy of the Age of Enlightenment in France. It became part of European Freemasonry that was separate from the earlier ‘infiltration’ by Rosicrucians.


Weishaupt was in some ways the product of the period and his ideas were seen as a threat to the powerful organizations of the time, the Catholic Church, the European monarchies and the ruling class elite. To fulfill his Utopian dream a major part of Weishaupt's strategy was to infiltrate the best organized secret group of its time, the Freemasons. The three primary Craft Grades of English masonry were considered to be too low class for the European intelligentsia and the serious debate of meaningful issues in the areas of politics and religion.


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The Link Between the Bavaria Illuminati and the Freemasons was Vital to Weishaupt

in his plan to spread the principles of the Illuminati Order throughout Europe and beyond. Weishaupt adopted the hierarchical structure of Freemasonry and planned to use the first three Masonic Craft Degrees in his initiatory grading system. Those wishing to join the Illuminati would have to pass through various initiatory levels. As they progressed the Initiates would discover more of Weishaupt’s secret plans to change society.


Another Order of the Illuminati was started around 1880 by Leopold Engel in Dresden. This Order had no links to the 18th century original, but was a lodge of the Theosophical Society claiming to follow the Illuminati tradition. This Order was named Ordo Templi Orientis (Oriental Templar Order) where it became a ‘freemasonry lodge’ offering various initiatory degrees.


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In 1923 the OTO was Taken Over by Alister Crowley

Where it moved into a even darker and controversial world of Crowleyan Magick. Crowley created his own religion with the Law of Thelema as its central religious principle. He claimed that the OTO offered esoteric instruction through dramatic ritual and guidance in a system he called illuminatedethics. His unique occult system drew from his experiences and associations with the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn.


The earlier connections with Engels, Reuss and the later OTO with references to the Illuminati and Freemasonry. He devises a complicated organizational structures and series of rituals identifying an imaginary connection with the ‘Illuminati’. When he publishes the OTO magazine Equinox he again uses the term Scientific Illuminism, adding that this publication offered a bridge between religion and science.


references          The Masonic Traveler           International Society of Philosophy



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