REBELLION AND REVOLUTION
It was not my intention to doubt that the doctrines of the Illuminati, and the principles of Jacobinism, had not spread in the United States. On the contrary, no one is more fully satisfied of this fact than I am.
PRESIDENT GEORGE WASHINGTON IN AN 1782. LETTER
The stability of both America’s finances and her people in the early nineteenth century must have been a source of great irritation to the wealthy schemers of Europe’s secret societies, even then in the process of changing their focus from ecclesiastical control to debt manipulation.
Russia was under the tyranny of the czar, who had steadfastly refused to create a central bank. Western Europe was financially drained following the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars. And since no loans meant no profits, European bankers looked to the Americas for new revenue.
Following the War of 1812, also called the Second War for American Independence, the United States was in extremely enviable circumstances: It had defeated the British empire, and its borders with the less-populated countries of Mexico and Canada were secure.
As previously noted, President Andrew Jackson had put an end to repeated attempts at creating a central bank, and by 1835 he had even paid off the national debt. The next year, he halted inflation caused by land speculation by ordering that public lands be sold only for gold or silver.
The lure of America must have been irresistible. However, President James Madison in 1823 had warned off all European intervention and exploitation in the Americas by issuing the Monroe Doctrine. To thwart this policy, a slow and stealthy infiltration process by foreigners was needed, and it may have begun as far back as 1837, the year of Jackson’s retirement. In that year a German-born representative of the Rothschild banking empire arrived in the United States and changed his name from August Schoenberg to August Belmont. According to a sympathetic Rothschild biography, Belmont was actually dispatched to Cuba by Amshel Rothschild and his son but took it upon himself to go to New York instead. Me was even rumored to be an illegitimate Rothschild himself. Whatever the truth, Helmont was in daily correspondence with the Rothschilds and became their acknowledged representative in the U.S.
With no apparent capital of his own, Belmont soon was buying up government bonds, and within a few short years had created one of the largest banking firms in the nation, August Belmont & Company. Because of his known ties to the family, the firm has always been considered by conspiracy researchers as a Rothschild enterprise.
At the outbreak of the Mexican War in 1846, it was Belmont who bought the greater portion of U.S. government bonds. Thanks to his aggressive business tactics, the Rothschilds soon had investments in American industry, banks, railroads, federal and state bonds, tobacco, cotton, and, of course, gold. Belmont was instrumental in later financing both North and South during the Rebellion which began in 1861.
From 1853 to 1857, due in part to substantial donations to the Democratic Party, Belmont represented the United States at the Hague, the seat of government for the Netherlands. He also insinuated himself into American society by marrying the daughter of the famous U.S. Naval Commodore Matthew Perry, hero of the Mexican War and Tokyo Bay. An avid equestrian, Belmont introduced Thoroughbred horse racing to the United States and served as president of the American Jockey Club.
In 1849 Alphonse Rothschild traveled to New York to determine if the family should replace their agent Belmont with a permanent banking firm. Rothschild was impressed with the obvious opportunities in America and wrote to his brothers that a bank should be established, adding, "Without the slightest doubt, this is the cradle of a new civilization."
Yet, despite the obvious opportunity, the Rothschilds apparently made the mistake of not making a major investment in the United States—at least not openly.
"Had they established a bank in New York at this early stage in the nation’s growth, there can be little doubt that the wealth derived from that one source would have dwarfed, within a generation, all that they had amassed so far in Europe," wrote Rothschild biographer Derek Wilson. "It is difficult to understand why James and Lionel [Rothschild] ignored Alphonse’s powerful advocacy."
It was indeed difficult to understand from a straightforward business viewpoint, but this decision might make eminently good sense when seen from the conspiratorial view of history.
First there is the long-standing allegation that the Rothschilds, due to both anti-Semitism and suspicion of Europeans by Americans, decided to exercise their power through intermediaries such as Belmont, the Rockefellers, Morgans, and others. And there is now abundant evidence that the bankers of Europe were already conspiring to destroy the economically strong, but politically fragile, American union.
Author Epperson reported that an authorized biography of the Rothschilds mentioned a London meeting where the "International Banking Syndicate" decided to pit the American North against the South in a "divide and conquer" strategy. Such a plan would provide the solvent U.S. federal government with an enemy that would require massive war expenditures and subsequent debt.
And in the event of Southern independence,
"each state could withdraw from the confederation, re-establish its sovereign nature and set up its own central bank. The Southern states could then have a series of European-controlled banks, the Bank of Georgia, the Bank of South Carolina, etc., and then any two could have a series of wars, such as in Europe for centuries, in the perpetual game of Balance of Power politics. It would be a successful method of insuring that large profits could be made on the loaning of money to the states involved," Epperson explained.
Griffin quoted German chancellor Otto von Bismarck as stating,
"The division of the United States into federations of equal force was decided long before the Civil War by the high financial powers of Europe. These bankers were afraid that the United States, if they remained in one block and as one nation, would attain economic and financial independence, which would upset their financial domination over the world. The voice of the Rothschilds prevailed... Therefore they sent their emissaries into the field to exploit the question of slavery and to open an abyss between the two sections of the Union."
It is historical fact that for some years the Rothschilds had financed major projects in the United States on both sides of the Mason-Dixon Line. Nathan Rothschild, who owned a large Manchester textile plant, bought his cotton from Southern interests and financed the importation of Southern cotton prior to the war. At the same time, wrote Rothschild biographer Wilson,
"He had made loans to various states of the Union, had been, for a time, the official European banker for the U.S. government and was a pledged supporter of the Bank of the United States."
"Europe’s aristocracies had never been happy about the prodigious success of the Yankee democracy. If the nation now broke into halves, proving that democracy did not contain the stuff of survival, the rulers of Europe would be well pleased," noted historian Bruce Catton.
Lending support to the idea of European manipulation of the American situation, another Rothschild biographer, Niall Ferguson, noted there is a "substantial and unexplained gap" in private Rothschild correspondence between 1854 and 1860 and that nearly all copies of outgoing letters from the London Rothschilds "were destroyed at the orders of successive senior partners."
If this indeed was the gambit, presidential aspirant Abraham Lincoln saw it clearly. He often tried to explain that his goal was to save the American union, not emancipate the slaves. During his famous debates with Stephen Douglas in 1858, Lincoln made his personal position on race quite clear:
"I will say, then, that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way, the social and political equality of the white and black races... I, as much as any other man, am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race."
But equally clear was Lincoln’s determination to preserve the federal union. In late 1862 he proclaimed,
"My paramount object in this struggle is to save the union... If I could save the union without freeing any slaves, I would do it; if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone, I would also do that."
Lincoln understood that the true reason for sectional friction in the United States was not slavery, but economics. The South desired to buy cheaper imported European products, but the powerful Northern manufacturers imposed stiff import tariffs. These tariffs were quickly increased after Southern congressmen left Washington in 1861. The industrial North, filling rapidly with immigrants willing to work for a pittance, had no need for slaves, while the major planters of the agrarian South were totally dependent on human labor. Although Southern leaders had continually demonstrated a willingness to compromise on the slavery issue, they felt they could not suddenly abandon their "peculiar institution."
Antislavery advocates in both North and South realized that technological advances meant the demise of slavery was only a matter of time. But extremists on both sides, encouraged by agents of the European financiers, continually fanned the fires of discontent.
The spearhead of this agitation came in the form of yet another secret society: the Knights of the Golden Circle (KGC).
The secretive Knights organization was the creation of surgeon and author Dr. George W. L. Bickley, who in 1854 founded his first knightly "castle" in Cincinnati, Ohio, drawing heavily from local Freemasons. This society "had close ties with a secret society in France called The Seasons, which itself was a branch of the Illuminati," charged G. Edward Griffin.
Patterned after Masonic lodges, the Knights had similar passwords, handshakes, "temples," and grand, lesser, and supreme councils. Initiates were sworn to secrecy with a live snake held over their head accompanied by this bloodcurdling oath:
Whoever dares our cause reveal, Shall test the strength of Knightly steel; And when the torture proves too dull, We’ll scrape the brains from out his skull And place a lamp within the shell To light his soul from here to hell.
The name Knights of the Golden Circle was derived from Bickley’s grandiose plan to create a huge slaveholding circular empire 2,400 miles in circumference with Cuba as the center point. This new nation was to include the southern United States, Mexico, part of Central America, and the West Indies in order to gain a dominance over the world’s supply of tobacco, sugar, rice, and coffee.
While modern historians either ignore or downplay the significance of the KGC, it is evident from contemporary writings and newspaper coverage that the organization was considered an extremely credible threat at the time. Bickley was certainly a mysterious individual, always claiming to be MI need of money, yet constantly traveling and entertaining dignitaries. The "financial nucleus" of his order was the American Colonization and Steamship Company, organized in Veracruz, Mexico, and capitalized for $5 million. Somebody other than Bickley was paying the bills.
He also had demonstrable ties to Great Britain, claiming to have been an 1842 graduate of the University of London. Early in the war Bickley was in the Confederate capital of Montgomery, Alabama, identifying himself as a correspondent for the London Times, and after the war he lectured extensively in England.
Bickley appeared to have shifting allegiances and philosophies. Previously, he had founded a society called the Wayne Circle of the Brotherhood of the Union, which purported to seek constitutional unity. Just before the war started, Bickley wrote an article for his Cincinnati paper Scientific Artisan in which he predicted the end of slavery, stating "this institution is one altogether unenviable, [as] every reasonable man in America will at once admit."
Despite the ideas put forth in his article, the first step in Bickley’s plans for the Knights of the Golden Circle was to create a separate slaveholding Southern nation, then move southward to Mexico. Like the Nazis much later, the KGC were concerned with purity of blood, as demonstrated by his call for "Anglo-Saxon blood" for the "Texasizing" of the Mexican population.
By 1860 there were more than fifty thousand Knights, mostly in Texas, awaiting orders to march on Mexico. Headquartered in San Antonio, Bickley gained popularity by pledging to "kill Wall Street" bankers, who he said were scheming against the South. He also said that if Lincoln was elected president, "Washington, not Mexico, would become the target" of the Knights.
In fact there were two tentative invasions of Mexico in the spring of 1860, but both were repulsed after Bickley failed to provide his men with promised reinforcements and supplies.
Texas hero and governor Sam Houston reportedly was a member of the Knights at the time but resigned when the Knights turned their attention from the invasion of Mexico to the secessionist movement.
It was in the cause of Southern secession that Bickley proved more successful, as the KGC came to form the nucleus of the Southern military. According to writer Ollinger Crenshaw,
"The Southern press received the plans of the order with enthusiasm and many newspapers became its exponents... The Vicksburg Sun said tin Knights of the Golden Circle gave the South a military organization capable of defending her rights at home and abroad."
The KGC was divided into three sections or "degrees"—the "Foreign and Home Guard Militia," the "Foreign and Home Guard Corps" of civilian support, and the "American Legion" which was the political and governing arm. Reportedly, by 1860 membership in the KGC was more than sixty-five thousand and constituted the "brains" of the South. Bickley made their objective clear when he declared, "The fact is, we want a fight, but how to get it is the question."
Through constant agitation, the Knights stirred up hatreds and fears throughout the North and South.
"After Abraham Lincoln was elected in 1860, this minority of the Southern minority conspired to bring off a last gamble. In 1861, to the extremists’ amazement, disunion triumphed," wrote historian William W. Freehling.
KGC activity in Northern states involved a plan to create a "Northwest Confederacy" composed of pro-Southerners in several states, including Ohio, Indiana, Minnesota, and Michigan. Illinois alone was reported to have a KGC membership of some twenty thousand. The plan was to seize federal arsenals, then take control of the states and release all Confederate prisoners. One state official, Edmund Wright, tried to opposed the Knights, only to have his wife poisoned and his home burned. In August 1862 sixty KGC members—out of a reported fifteen thousand members in Indiana—were indicted for conspiracy and treason but later released. Federal prosecutors were fearful of creating martyrs and the conspiracy cases were weak.
The Knights’ actions created havoc with the national government, prompting President Lincoln to lament, "The enemy behind us is more dangerous to the country than the enemy before us."
The Lincoln administration was compelled to imprison more than thirteen thousand people on charges of "disloyalty," which meant anything from speaking against the government to discouraging military enlistment. "Those who before the war had been called ’the loyal opposition’ found themselves after 1861 commonly referred to as traitors," wrote author Larry Star key.
Such repression incensed Democrats and anti-Republicans, who charged federal officials with exaggerating the KGC threat in order to suppress criticism of the administration. Membership in the Knights’ organization and its spin-offs, the Order of American Knights and the Sons of Liberty, grew to number in the hundreds of thousands. According to Griffin, the Knights went underground after the war, eventually emerging as the Ku Klux Klan.
In 1863 Bickley was arrested as a spy in Indiana and held without trial until his release in 1865. A broken man, Bickley died in Baltimore on August 10, 1867.
With national attention focused on the Southern Rebellion and disunity in the North, far-reaching financial measures were being taken in Washington.
In mid-1861, with the war just beginning, U.S. Treasury secretary Salmon Chase (the namesake of Chase Manhattan Bank) asked for and received from Congress the first income tax instituted in America. It began as a meager three percent federal tax on all income, but only a year later the tax was raised to five percent on all income over $10,000. "It was a graduated income tax, just as proposed by Karl Marx just 13 years before," noted Epperson, intimating that hidden agendas were being pressed behind the contingencies of war.
As the war progressed, Lincoln desperately needed more money. Instead of borrowing from the European banks as expected, in 1862 he issued about $450 million in currency printed with green ink called "greenbacks." This paper money was legalized by an act of Congress with nothing to secure it. Endorsing this debt-free, fiat money, Lincoln proclaimed,
"Government, possessing power to create and issue currency... need not and should not borrow capital at interest... The privilege of creating and issuing money is not only the supreme prerogative of the government but it is the government’s greatest creative opportunity."
It is fascinating to note that the two U.S. presidents who have issued debt-free currency—Lincoln in 1862 and John F. Kennedy in 1963—were assassinated. Lincoln’s assassin, Southern sympathizer John Wilkes Booth, has been established as a member of the Knights of the Golden Circle (along with the famous outlaw Jesse James). Various conspiracy researchers have connected Booth to the previously mentioned Illuminati, the Italian Carbonari, and through Southern secretary of state Judah Benjamin to the House of Rothschild. After the war, Benjamin, often called the "sinister power behind the throne" of Southern president Jefferson Davis, fled to England where he became a successful attorney.
As in the Kennedy assassination, Lincoln’s death sparked cries of conspiracy which still echo today. The Lincoln assassination conspiracy involved several persons, four of whom were hanged, including Mary Surratt, the first woman executed in this country for a capital offense. It is historic fact that the Lincoln assassination case was a complex plot including smuggling and kidnapping plans that involved Knights of the Golden Circle agents.
"The fact remains that the story of why Abraham Lincoln was murdered can only be completed within the confines of the Confederate cabal in Canada [which included KGC members as well as British agents] ..." noted author Starkey.
The plot also involved some of the highest offices in Washington, including Lincoln’s secretary of war Edwin Stanton. The full story of this plot has yet to reach a wide audience.
Despite pervasive use of the term, the conflict between 1861 and 1865 was never truly a civil war, which is defined as a conflict between factions or sections within a nation. The majority of citizens in each Southern state freely elected to leave the Union. Confederate President Davis, a former United States senator and secretary of war, in his inaugural address on February 18,1861, cited
"the American idea that governments rest on the consent of the governed, and that it is the right of the people to alter or abolish them at will whenever they become destructive of the ends for which they were established. . . . Thus the sovereign states here represented have proceeded to form this Confederacy; and it is by abuse of language that their act has been denominated a revolution."
"Secession—or rebellion, as the Jacobins preferred to call it—might be treason, but no court had ever said so—or ever would say so—no matter what the opinion the radicals had on the matter," observed historian Shelby Foote.
But Lincoln and the radical Republicans did proclaim that secession was treason and prepared huge armies and a naval blockade to force the Southern states back into the Union. And while twenty-two million Northerners were locked in strife with nine million Southerners, France and Britain made moves to encircle the conflicted nation.
With regimental bands playing "Dixie," Britain sent eleven thousand additional troops to Canada, which had become a haven for Confederate agents. France’s Napoleon III installed Austrian Archduke Maximilian as emperor of Mexico, which promptly opened negotiations with the Confederacy and allowed the transportation of supplies into Texas, bypassing the Union blockade. French troops were poised on the Texas border. Both France and England were ready to step in just as soon as flu- North and South had bled each other dry.
Two eventualities forestalled the complete breakup of the United States: Lincoln’s proclamation freeing slaves in Confederate states and the quiet intervention of Russia.
On September 22, 1862, just days after the federal army stopped a Confederate advance at the battle of Antietam, Lincoln announced his plans to order the freeing of Southern slaves unless the Southern states returned to the Union. This decree had been held in abeyance for nine months awaiting a Union battlefield victory.
With no response from the South, Lincoln issued his Emancipation Proclamation on January 1,1863. He proclaimed freedom for all slaves in Rebel-held territory. It was a purely political act, since obviously he had no authority in those areas. But it brought the issue of slavery to the forefront of the conflict. Lincoln later explained this pragmatic gesture by saying,
"Things had gone from bad to worse until I felt that we had reached the end of our rope on the plan of operations we had been pursuing; that we had about played our last card, and must change our tactics or lose the game. I now determined upon the adoption of the emancipation policy."
In other words, it was halfway through this fratricidal war that slavery became a central issue.
The proclamation was a brilliant strategic maneuver as the citizens of neither Britain nor France would have accepted their nation’s support of slavery—and it strengthened Lincoln’s hand at home.
When Lincoln instituted the first military draft in 1863, there were riots in several major cities including New York. Between July 13 and 16 more than one thousand people were killed or wounded as army troops restored peace at gunpoint.
"After the passage of many years, it is easy to forget that Lincoln had an insurrection on his hands in the North as well as in the South," commented Griffin dryly.
"To control [this Northern] insurrection, Lincoln ignored the Constitution once again by suspending the right of habeas corpus, which made it possible for the government to imprison its critics without formal charges and without trial. Thus, under the banner of opposing slavery, American citizens in the North, not only were killed on the streets of their own cities, they were put into military combat against their will and thrown into prison without due process of law. In other words, free men were enslaved so that slaves could be made free. Even if the pretended crusade had been genuine, it was a bad exchange."
By the fall of 1863 Lincoln was becoming increasingly concerned with the foreign military presence in Canada and Mexico. His concern over the French in Mexico led to a hasty attack at Sabine Pass at the mouth of the Sabine River separating Texas from Louisiana. On September 8, 1863, a mere forty-seven Texas militiamen with six cannons chased off a flotilla of Union ships composed of twenty-two transports carrying five thousand Yankee troops escorted by four gunboats.
With France and Britain coming dangerously close to both recognizing and aiding the South, it was Russia’s pro-North Czar Alexander II who tipped the balance the other way. After receiving information that England and France were plotting war to divide up the Russian Empire, Alexander ordered two Russian fleets to the United States in the fall of 1863. One anchored off the coast of Virginia while the other rested at San Francisco. Both were in perfect position to attack British and French commerce shipping lines. No threats or ultimatums were made public, but it was clear that should war come, the Russian Navy was in a position to wreak havoc. "Without the inhibiting effect of the presence of the Russian fleets, the course of the war could have been significantly different," commented Griffin.
Due chiefly to the presence of these fleets, coupled with the effect of the Emancipation Proclamation on their constituents, Britain and France declined to intervene for the South as planned.
By early 1865 the South had been bled dry, both in men and materials. The Mississippi River was in federal hands and Union general William T. Sherman had cut the Confederacy in two with his infamous "march to the sea" through Georgia.
"The [Confederate] nation was able to keep an army in the field at all only because of the matchless endurance and determination of its surviving soldiers," wrote Catton.
"Opposing it was a nation which the war had strengthened instead of weakened—a nation which had had the greater strength to begin with and which had now become one of the strongest powers on the globe. The war could end only as it did. The Confederacy died because the war had finally worn it out."
The blood cost of the war was horrendous—the 365,000 Yankee deaths combined with 258,000 Confederates totaled more dead than all other U.S. wars combined.
And the financial cost was staggering. At the end of 1861 government spending was $67 million. By 1865 this number had grown to more than $1 billion. The national debt, which was a mere $2.80 per capita for a population of 33 million in 1861, rose to $75 per person by 1865. It was estimated in 1910 that the total cost of the war, including pensions and the burial of veterans, totaled almost $12 billion, a preposterous sum at that time.
In the middle of this immense flow of money was Rothschild agent Belmont, financing both sides. He strongly influenced bankers in both England and France to support the Union war effort by the purchase of government bonds. At the same time, he quietly bought up the increasingly worthless bank bonds of the South at great discounts, with the idea that the South would be forced to honor them in full after the war. In 1863 the Chicago Tribune assailed "Belmont, the Rothschilds, and the whole tribe of Jews, who have been buying up Confederate bonds." Much later, this charge was styled a "libel" by those who could not understand the duplicity of Belmont and his employers with their public pro-North sentiments.
One of the younger Rothschilds visited America at the onset of the war and was as openly pro-Confederate as their agent Belmont was pro-Union. Concerning Lincoln, Salomon Rothschild wrote, "He rejects all forms of compromise and thinks only of repression by force of arms. He has the appearance of a peasant and can only tell barroom stories."
The Rothschilds played both sides and apparently felt little compassion for the American tragedy. Baron Jacob Rothschild rationalized the carnage by telling U.S. minister to Brussels Henry Sanford, "When your patient is desperately sick, you try desperate measures, even to bloodletting."
"The boot print of the Rothschild formula is unmistakable across the graves of American soldiers on both sides," concluded Griffin.
If indeed the War Between the States was a plot by the secret societies to split the United States—as claimed by a Knights of the Golden Circle tract published in 1861—backed by the European Rothschilds, it very nearly succeeded. The harsh Reconstruction policies of the Republican government, which caused the South to suffer under punitive economic policies well into the 1960s, generated enduring hatred and bitterness into the twentieth century as well as the growth of other secret societies in the South, such as the Ku Klux Klan.
Historian Foote used the term "Jacobins" to describe the secessionists of the era—disrupters of the established social, religious, and political order—who had been operating in America since the late eighteenth century. The Jacobins, a form of "Illuminized" Freemasonry, were the connective tissue that tied the secret societies of the Old World to hidden manipulation in the New World.
They had crossed the Atlantic after successfully destroying the "Old World Order" in France and were looking for new worlds to conquer. These fugitives were former members and the offspring of members of elder secret societies such as the Bavarian Illuminati, which traced its origins back to the dawn of humankind.
The men who created societies such as the Knights of the Golden Circle, the Thule Gesellschaft, and Cecil Rhodes’s Round Table Groups drew from a long history of these clandestine European organizations.
However, by the time of the War Between the States, much of the secret society machinations had been forgotten by the American public thanks to the Anti-Masonic Movement of the early nineteenth century.
Freemasonry, the oldest and most powerful secret society in the history of the world, had planted firm roots in early-day America and even played a significant role in the American Revolution. It played an even greater role in the subsequent French Revolution, which initially was greeted with great joy and approval in the United States. The number of Masonic lodges grew and membership increased. By 1826 it was estimated that Masons in the United States numbered nearly fifty thousand, mostly educated and professional men.
But in that year, one Mason broke ranks. It became known that a Captain William Morgan of Batavia, New York, was planning to publish ë book revealing the secret symbols, handshakes, oaths, and purposes of the Freemasons. Morgan, ë thirty-year member of the order, wrote, "The bane of our civil institutions is to be found in Masonry, already powerful and daily becoming more so. I owe my country an exposure of its dangers."
Before the book could be printed, Morgan and his publisher were kidnapped in Batavia. Irate friends and neighbors pursued the kidnappers and managed to rescue the publisher, but Morgan was not so fortunate. He was never seen again.
Years later, a Mason named Henry L. Valance confided to his doctor as he lay dying that he and two other Masons had dropped Morgan into the Niagara River. Valance said since that night he had suffered from a guilty conscience—"the mark of Cain"—and sought absolution for his sin.
Yet at the time of the kidnapping, no one could seem to get a straight answer regarding Morgan’s fate. According to the Reverend Charles G. Finney, writing in 1869, the wheels of justice were slowed by brother Masons in the courts and law enforcement, and among witnesses and jurors. Rumors that Morgan had been abducted and murdered by the Masons spread through New York and on into the New England and mid-Atlantic states and a major scandal erupted.
Due to the public backlash against the secrecy and exclusiveness of Masonry, Finney claimed that about forty-five thousand members left the order and more than two thousand lodges closed.
"Thousands of Masons burned their aprons. In a few years’ time, membership in the New York lodges dropped from 30,000 to 300 as a direct result of the Morgan incident," wrote author William J. Whaley.
In 1827 Morgan’s book, Illustrations of Masonry by one of the Fraternity Who Has Devoted Thirty Years to the Subject, was published posthumously. For the first time, non-Masons were able to learn of the order’s inner workings.
The chilling "blood oaths" of punishments for revealing Masonic secrets renewed the widespread belief that Morgan had been murdered by his fellows members. Morgan disclosed that the initiate into the order’s beginning or First Degree of the Blue Lodge pledged to,
"binding myself under no less penalty than to have my throat cut across, my tongue torn out by the roots, and my body buried in the rough sands of the sea at low-water mark, where the tide ebbs and flows twice in 24 hours. ..."
The penalties in higher degrees grew progressively more gruesome.
In 1829, under public pressure, the New York State Senate investigated Freemasonry and reported that wealthy and powerful Masons were found at every level of government. The Senate also criticized the "silent as the grave" news media, reporting, "This self-proclaimed sentinel of freedom, has felt the force of Masonic influence. ..."
Opponents of President Andrew Jackson—himself a Freemason—took advantage of the scandal to form the Anti-Masonic Party, the first time a third party was created in the United States. Anti-Masonic candidates were successful in state and local elections but failed to unseat Jackson in 1832. By the late-1830s the Anti-Masonic Party had turned to agitation against slavery and the strictly anti-Jackson members had joined the newly formed Whig Party. Nevertheless, a serious blow had been delivered from which Masonry was not to recover for decades.
Suspicions and sentiment against Masonry had been growing in the years prior to the abduction of Morgan as many Americans understood how the organization had played a role in the nation’s two earliest, but long forgotten, insurrections.
Early in 1787 about one thousand Massachusetts farmers, led by Revolutionary War veteran Daniel Shays, attacked the Springfield arsenal to seize arms. Their uprising resulted from anger over increased taxes, the banning of paper money, and laws that only the wealthy could hold state office.
Irate and overburdened farmers demonstrated in several towns. Samuel Adams, who claimed European "emissaries" were secretly stirring up the people, helped draw up a Massachusetts resolution suspending habeas corpus as well as the famous Riot Act which was read without much effect to the unruly farmers.
Men who less than ten years earlier had been rebels against English rule were now calling for the death penalty for Shays’s rebels. Only Thomas Jefferson, far from the scene as U.S. ambassador to France, offered sympathy.
"I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing," he wrote to a friend. "God forbid that we should ever be twenty years without such a rebellion... The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."
Shays’s small army finally marched on Boston but was turned back, more by a winter storm than by the hastily assembled militia funded by Boston merchants.
The American union was far from stable, especially in the western areas. In 1791 Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton—a Mason— had pressed through Congress ë series of tax laws intended to support the newly treated Kink of the United States and force lull repayment of the government bonds held by his friends. It was also an exercise to assert the power of the fledgling federal government. His actions resulted in the Whiskey Rebellion of 1794.
One group hardest hit by Hamilton’s taxes was the Scotch-Irish farmers of western Pennsylvania, who were particularly incensed at a tax on whiskey. Aside from their imbibing, most farmers converted their grain to whiskey for easy transport to Eastern markets. They saw the whiskey tax as a direct attack on their livelihood and tax collectors were met with weapons. A few were tarred and feathered.
According to some researchers of this period, the involvement of secret societies influenced by foreigners was demonstrable. For example, the natural disobedience of the angry farmers was heightened by agitation from French ambassador to the U.S. Edmond Genet.
Expelled from Russia for inciting revolution, Genet had arrived in America in the spring of 1793 and began organizing secret societies called "Democratic Clubs." They were direct replicas of the Illuminati-inspired clubs then advocating revolution in France. John Quincy Adams noted that the Democratic Clubs "are so perfectly affiliated with the Parisian Jacobins that their origin from a common parent cannot possibly be mistaken."
President George Washington also voiced concern, stating, "I gave it as my opinion... that if these societies were not counteracted... they would shake the government to its foundations."
In July 1794 Washington donned his old military uniform and reviewed an army of thirteen thousand men led by Robert E. Lee’s father, General Henry "Light-Horse Harry" Lee. The militia army, gathered from neighboring states, moved into Pennsylvania and the few hundred farmers opposing it quickly scattered. Two farmers were convicted of treason but later pardoned by Washington after Jefferson’s Republicans expressed dismay over what they saw as overreaction by the government. The Federalists saw the incident as a victory since it was their first opportunity to establish federal authority by military means within state boundaries.
But critics saw it as further imposition of elitist authority under a different name.
"Why did Messrs. Hamilton and Washington bother participating in the American Revolution?" wondered author Bramley. "They simply used their influence to create the very same institutions in America that the colonists found so odious under British rule."
With a lull blown revolution underway in I’Yance, under criticism by Jeffersonian Republicans and fearful of Illuminati influence in the nation’s Masonic lodges and Democratic Clubs, Federalists in Congress in 1798 passed the four Alien and Sedition Acts. These unpopular laws, "designed to protect the United States from the extensive French Jacobin conspiracy, paid agents of which were even in high places in the government," empowered the president to expel or imprison foreigners, curtailed immigration, and provided punishment for anyone writing or speaking "with intent to defame" the government.
Many thought these laws were a thinly disguised attempt to consolidate unwarranted federal power, and resolutions were passed in the Kentucky and Virginia legislatures essentially negating the acts. These states declared that since the federal government was the result of a compact between the states, if the federal government assumed powers not specifically granted by the Constitution, the states had the right to declare such powers unconstitutional. This was the beginning of the constitutional argument that supported secession in the mid-nineteenth century.
The religious nature of early Northeastern America, founded in great part by the Pilgrims and Puritans, proved resistant to the anarchistic ideas imported by Illuminized Freemasonry—but such was not the case in France.
If one desires to point to a major world event proven to have been inspired by secret society machinations, one need look no further than the French Revolution, which devastated that nation between 1787 and 1799. Revolutionary leaders, in seeking to overthrow the decadent monarchy of King Louis XVI, launched the first national revolution of modern times.
Although popularly believed to have begun due to a public uprising over lack of food and government representation, the record is quite clear that the revolution was instigated by cells of French Masonry and the German Illuminati.
The New Encyclopaedia Britannica tells us that in France,
"there arose a political system and a philosophical outlook that no longer took Christianity nor granted, (hat in fact explicitly opposed it... The brotherhood by such groups as the freemasons, members of secret fraternal societies, and the Illuminati, a rationalist secret society, provided a rival to the Catholic sense of community."
Secret society researcher and author Nesta H. Webster was even more pointed, writing in 1924,
"[The Masonic book A Ritual and Illustrations of Freemasonry] contains the following passage, ’The Masons . . . originated the Revolution with the infamous Duke of Orleans at their head.’"
Author Bramley wrote,
"During the first French Revolution, a key rebel leader was the Duke of Orleans, who was grand master of French Masonry before his resignation at the height of the Revolution. Marquis de Lafayette, the man who had been initiated into the Masonic fraternity by George Washington, also played an important role in the French revolutionary cause. The Jacobin Club, which was the radical nucleus of the French revolutionary movement, was founded by prominent Freemasons."
It was the Duke of Orleans, grand master of the Grand Orient Lodge of Freemasons, who reportedly bought all the grain in 1789 and either sold it abroad or hid it away, thus creating near starvation among the commoners. Galart de Montjoie, a contemporary, blamed the Revolution almost solely on the Duke of Orleans, adding that he "was moved by that invisible hand which seems to have created all the events of our revolution in order to lead us towards a goal that we do not see at present. ..."
Drawing on an impressive number of contemporary writings, Webster added,
"If, then, it is said that the [French] Revolution was prepared in the lodges of Freemasons—and many French Masons have boasted of the fact—let it always be added that it was Illuminized Freemasonry that made the Revolution, and that the Masons who acclaim it are Illuminized Masons, inheritors of the same tradition introduced into the lodges of France in 1787 by the disciples of Weishaupt, ’patriarch of the Jacobins.’" (emphasis in the original)
Giuseppe Balsamo, a student of the Jewish Cabala, a Freemason, and a Rosicrucian, became known as Louis XIV’s court magician Cagliostro. He wrote how the German Illuminati had infiltrated the French Freemason lodges for years and added,
"By March 1789, the 266 lodges controlled by the Grand Orient were all ’illuminized’ without knowing it, for the Freemasons in general, were not told the name of the sect that brought them these mysteries, and only ë very small number were really initiated into the secret."
Pro-revolutionary members of France’s National Constituent Assembly had formed a group which became known as Society of the Friends of the Constitution. After the assembly moved to Paris, this group met there in a hall leased from the Jacobins’ convent of Catholic Dominican friars. These revolutionaries, sworn to protect the revolution from the aristocrats, soon were known as the Jacobin Club. Since that time, all revolutionaries have been called Jacobins.
At least that is the official story of the Jacobins. As usual, the Jacobins are tied to earlier secret societies, in this case a movement to restore a kingship in Britain.
In 1688 England’s unpopular and pro-Catholic Stuart king, James II, was deposed by his Dutch son-in-law, the Protestant William of Orange. James—whose name in Latin was Jacobus, hence the name Jacobites— fled to France. There he continued to be supported by Freemasons in Scotland and Wales who sought to restore him to the English throne. They were accused by French Freemasons of converting Masonic rituals and titles into political support for this restoration.
According to some versions of Masonic history, James was ensconced in the Chateau of Saint-Germain by his friend, French king Louis XIV, where, with the help of Catholic Jesuits, he established a system of Masonry that became the basis of Masonic traditions such as the "Scottish Rite."
"The theory that connects the royal house of the Stuarts with Freemasonry ... as a political engine to be wielded for the restoration of an exiled family to a throne ... is so repugnant to all ... that one would hardly believe that such a theory was ever seriously entertained, were it not for many too conclusive proofs of the fact," was the convoluted admission of this political involvement by Masonic author Albert Mackey writing in the nineteenth century.
After a series of failed rebellions, the Jacobites in Scotland were finally crushed at the battle of Culloden Moor near Inverness in 1746. Their leader, Charles Edward Stuart, "Bonnie Prince Charlie, the young pretender," escaped to France, taking with him Jacobites imbued with Francmasonic ideals. A year later in Arras, France, Charles chartered a Masonic Sovereign Primordial Chapter of Rose Croix known as "Scottish Jacobite."
"The organization of this chapter was intended only as the beginning of a plan to enlist other Masons ... to create a chapter in whatever town they might think proper, which they actually did... among them one at Paris in 1780, which in 1801 was united to the Grand Orient [Lodge] of France," explained Mackey.
"The Jacobite character of the Paris lodge is not a matter of dispute," wrote Webster. But she argued that "the founders of the Grand Lodge in Paris did not derive from the Grand Lodge in London, from which they held no warrant, but... took their Freemasonry with them to France before the Grand Lodge of London was instituted; they were therefore in no way bound by its regulations."
This may be where English and Continental Freemasonry began to diverge.
According to Mackey, the attempt to connect Masonic traditions with the Stuart claims to the English throne was the first time politics had been introduced into the "speculative philosophy" of freemasonry. It certainly was not the last.
French Masons too were heavily involved in the political events of that day. Webster noted, "All the revolutionaries of the Constituent Assembly were initiated into the third degree" of Illuminized Masonry, including revolutionary leaders such as the Duke of Orleans, Valance, Lafayette, Mirabeau, Garat, Rabaud, Marat, Robespierre, Danton, and Desmoulins.
Honore-Gabriel Riquetti, Comte de Mirabeau, a leading revolutionary, indeed espoused ideals which were identical to those of Adam Weishaupt, founder of Bavarian Illuminized Masonry. In personal papers, Mirabeau called for the overthrow of all order, all laws, and all power to "leave the people in anarchy." He said the public must be promised "power to the people" and lower taxes but never given real power "for the people as legislators are very dangerous [as] they only establish laws which coincide with their passions." He said the clergy should be destroyed by "ridiculing religion."
Mirabeau ended his tirade by proclaiming, "What matter the means as long as one arrives at the end?"—the same end-justifies-the-means philosophy preached from Weishaupt to Lenin to Hitler.
As is common in world events, the issues that sparked revolution originally centered on finances. France had spent a considerable amount of money supporting the American Revolution. In February 1787 French noblemen were summoned to an assembly by the controller general of finances, who proposed increasing taxes on the wealthy to reduce the national debt. Needless to say, the wealthy noblemen rejected this idea and instead called for a meeting of Estates-General, France’s parliament composed of the three Estates of the nobles, the clergy, and the commoners. It had not met in nearly two hundred years.
Agitation for the Estates-General to consider political reforms continued through 1788, with disturbances in major French cities, including Paris. During this period, representatives of the three Estates were elected.
The three Estates met at Versailles on May 5, 1789, and were immediately divided over how voting should be tabulated. Popular votes would favor the majority, primarily the commoners, while a vote by the Estates would favor the nobles and clergy.
Third Estate commoners, gaining support from some of the priests, won out, and King Louis XVI grudgingly called for a National Constituent Assembly to devise a new French constitution while secretly gathering troops to suppress the gathering.
Word of these troop movements spread, and in the ensuing Great Fear of July 1789, a crowd in Paris stormed the king’s chief prison, the Bastille, where they released only seven prisoners—most were mentally ill—but acquired much-needed guns and powder.
Contrary to popular history, this attack was not the spontaneous action of a downtrodden mob. "That brigands from the South were deliberately enticed to Paris in 1789, employed and paid by the revolutionary leaders, is a fact confirmed by authorities too numerous to quote at length. ... In other words, the importation of the contingent of hired brigands conclusively refutes the theory that the Revolution was an irrepressible rising of the people," wrote Webster.
Meanwhile mounted couriers dispatched by the secret societies rode from town to town warning the fearful peasants that conspirators against the nation were hiding in the aristocrats’ castles and manors. They were told the king had ordered them attacked. Chaos and violence were soon widespread and hailed as a revolution.
"We see in the French Revolution the first time where grievances were systematically created in order to exploit them," wrote author Still.
Such exploitation began with the Freemasons as early as 1772 when the Grand Orient Lodge was firmly established in France, counting 104 lodges. This number grew to 2,000 lodges by the time of the Revolution, with 447 lodge members participating in the 605-member Estates-General. According to several researchers, the Grand Orient Lodges were the core of the Illuminati penetration of Freemasonry.
This penetration began in the early years of the eighteenth century when the Jacobites and Templar remnants fought for control of the French lodges of Freemasonry. Author Webster believed that "Scots Masonry" was merely a veil for Templarism and that the Grand Lodge of France was "invaded by intriguers" (meaning the Jacobites).
French Masonry soon split into two factions—the Grand Lodge of France with its Templar tradition infused with Illuminism, and the expelled Grand Lodge Lacorne, which in 1772 became the Grand Orient Lodge with the future Duke of Orleans at its head.
"The Grand Orient then invited the [Grand Lodge of France] to revoke the decree of expulsion and unite with it, and this offer being accepted, the revolutionary party inevitably carried all before it, and the Due de Chartes [soon to be Duke of Orleans] was declared Grand Master of all the councils, chapters and Scotch lodges of France. In 1782 the ’Council of Emperors’ and the ’Knights of the East’ combined to form the ’Grand Chapitre General de France,’ which in 1786 joined up with the Grand Orient. The victory of the revolutionary party was then complete," explained Webster.
Alarmed over the spreading havoc, the national assembly in 1789 hastily introduced a Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, proclaiming liberty, equality, the inviolability of property, and the right to resist oppression—all basic longtime tenants of Masonry.
When the king refused to approve the declaration, a Parisian mob marched to Versailles and took him to Paris, where the assembly continued to hammer out new laws and policies. One was to nationalize property of the Roman Catholic church to pay off the national debt. This action drove a wedge between the commoners and their supporters within the clergy, increasing hostility on both sides. The assembly then attempted to create a constitutional monarchy similar to England’s, but the weak and fearful Louis tried to flee the country in June 1791. He was captured at Varennes and returned to Paris under guard.
Meanwhile, buoyed by the situation in France, Masonic-based revolutionary clubs sprang up in other countries, including England, Ireland, the German states, Austria, Belgium, Italy, and Switzerland. Tensions between outside nations and France rose until 1792 when France declared war on Austria and Prussia.
Confronted with both a war and a revolution, France degenerated into the Reign of Terror, during which time King Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette, and many thousands, chiefly aristocrats, were executed.
In a move similar to Hitler’s action 150 years later, the Jacobins closed down all Masonic lodges in 1791, ironically fearful that Freemasonry’s organizing power might be turned against them.
"Behind the Convention, behind the clubs, behind the Revolutionary Tribunal, there existed . . . that most secret convention which directed everything ... an occult and terrible power of which the other Convention became the slave and which was composed of the prime initiates of Illuminism," noted Webster.
Author Epperson, after an exhaustive study of the subject, agreed. He wrote, "The invisible hand that guided the entire French Revolution was the Illuminati, only 13 years in existence, yet powerful enough to cause a revolution in one of the major countries of the world."
Wars, riots, and coups continued in France until a young General Napoleon Bonaparte finally seized complete control in 1799. Although he carried on his own brand of terror in Europe for years, Napoleon proclaimed an end to the revolution. France was in a shambles. Hundreds of thousands had died of starvation, war, violence, and the guillotine. The power of both the monarchy and the monolithic church had been largely destroyed.
"So in the ’great shipwreck of civilization,’ as a contemporary has described it, the projects of the Cabalists, the Gnostics, and the secret societies which for nearly eighteen centuries had sapped the foundations of Christianity found their fulfillment," commented Webster.
The confidence to initiate a major revolt such as the French Revolution may have been gained in the new lands of America. While the American Revolution was not the sole creation of secret societies as in France, there was nevertheless a definite undercurrent of secret society connections based on both religious and philosophical differences.
In the early seventeenth century, two distinct groups of Englishmen made their way to the new land of America: "Illuminized" Freemasons who louiulc’d llu- ill lalfil Jamestown colony, and the religions Pilgrims who fared better at Plymouth. It is instructive to briefly consider both.
Jamestown was named after England’s King James I, who commissioned the first "authorized" version of the Bible. It became the first permanent English settlement in America after its founding by Captain John Smith in 1607. The colony was strictly a business venture of the Virginia Company of London, a firm formed in 1606 by secret society members including Sir Francis Bacon, who might rightfully be viewed as the founder of modern America.
The well-educated son of the lord keeper of Britain’s Great Seal, Bacon became a lawyer and member of Parliament. Despite a quarrel with Queen Elizabeth, he was knighted in 1603.
Sir Francis Bacon served as England’s grand chancellor under King James I and was described by author Marie Bauer Hall as "the founder of [English] Freemasonry ... the guiding light of the Rosicrucian Order, the members of which kept the torch of true universal knowledge, the Secret Doctrine of the ages, alive during the dark night of the Middle Ages."
British author Icke said Bacon was "a Grand Commander of the Brotherhood Order called the Rosecrusians, and very much involved in the underground operations of the Knights Templar traditions."
Bacon indeed was a fascinating figure, largely ignored in history except for his scientific work.
Despite his attacks on scholastic orthodoxy, Bacon gained renown as a scientist and philosopher. Twenty years after Bacon’s death in 1626, his "Invisible College" of followers formed a society of learned men, which in 1660 became the Royal Society of London for the Promotion of Natural Knowledge. According to Masonic historian Albert Mackey, many members of the original society were also members of the Company of Masons.
"This was the reason of their holding their [Society] meetings at Mason’s Hall, in Masons’ Alley, Basinghall Street," wrote Mackey. "They all entered the Company and assumed the name of Free and Accepted Masons . . . [which] gave birth to that denomination of Freemasons which afterward became so famous."
"In Stuart England, the early Freemasons of Charles I and Charles II were men of philosophy, astronomy, physics, architecture, chemistry and generally advanced learning. Many were members of the country’s most important scientific academy, the Royal Society, which had been styled the Invisible College after it was forced underground during the Cromwellinn Protectorate. . . . Early members included Robert Boyle, Isaac Newton, Robert Hooke, Christopher Wren and Samuel Pepys," wrote author Laurence Gardner.
He noted of the men of the Royal Society that "like the early Templars, they were endowed with very special knowledge."
For nearly three decades, according to authors Michael Baigent and Richard Prince,
"’Rosicrucianism,’ Freemasonry and the Royal Society were not just to overlap, but virtually to be indistinguishable from one another."
According to some Masonic writers, the only meaningful difference between the Freemasons and the Royal Society was that the latter conducted open meetings.
England’s first recorded Masonic initiation was for Sir Robert Moray in 1641. Moray also was one of the founders of the Royal Society and said to be its "soul" and "guiding spirit." He also was said to be a chemist and a patron of the Rosicrucians, yet another example of that sect’s penetration of Freemasonry.
Bacon for many years has even been identified by some as the true author of the writings of William Shakespeare, an allegation not as ludicrous as it sounds. There is ample evidence to support it, and believers included Mark Twain, Walt Whitman, Henry James, Sigmund Freud, and Ralph Waldo Emerson.
It was alleged that William Shakespeare was merely an illiterate stable hand and actor whose name was used to mask the radical political writings of a secret Elizabethan society which included Bacon, Sir Walter Raleigh, and Edmund Spenser. It was even rumored that Bacon was actually the illegitimate child of Queen Elizabeth.
Adding to the suspicions concerning Shakespeare’s true identity was the fact that no biography of the Bard was written for more than one hundred years after his death in 1616. In addition, not one remnant of an original Shakespeare script has ever been found—not even correspondence with producers, patrons, or fellow actors—and there is really no proof of his official biography as an actor and playwright other than that a certain Shakespeare did exist. In his last will, this Shakespeare made no mention of his literary works, left his wife merely his "2nd-best bed and furniture," and signed the document "William Shackspeare."
Another valid argument against Shakespeare’s authorship was that the dramas and comedies evinced a knowledge of history, politics, geography, and court etiquette unlikely in ë commoner. In Love’s labour’s Lost there supposedly was found an anagram in Latin which translated, "These plays, the offspring of F. Bacon, are preserved for the world." Acknowledged as a "master of English prose," the courtly Bacon would certainly seem the prime candidate as author of the Shakespeare material.
Bacon’s Masonic beliefs were advanced in two books—De Sapientia Veterum (The Wisdom of the Ancients) and New Atlantis. In the latter, according to occult researcher Andre Nataf, "Bacon is here describing a Utopia which underlies many secret societies, including modern Freemasonry."
Masonic writer Manly P. Hall said the reason New Atlantis was not published until after Bacon’s death was that,
"it told too much... [revealing] the entire pattern of the secret societies which had been working for thousands of years to achieve the ideal commonwealth in the political world."
This "ideal commonwealth" proved to be America, hailed as a land of boundless opportunity and the site of the Masonic "Great Plan" to build a "New Atlantis."
"Time will reveal that the continent now known as America was actually discovered, and, to a considerable degree, explored more than a thousand years before the beginning of the Christian era," wrote Hall.
"The true story was in the keeping of the Mystery Schools, and passed from them to the Secret Societies of the medieval world. The Esoteric orders of Europe, Asia, and the Near East were in at least irregular communication with the priesthoods of the more advanced Amerindian nations.
"Plans for the development of the Western Hemisphere were formulated in Alexandria, Mecca, Delhi, and Lhasa [Tibet] long before most European statesmen were aware of the great Utopian program."
Following this ancient secret society plan, Sir Walter Raleigh and other members of the "Baconian Circle" made an ill-fated expedition to America, landing on Roanoke Island, North Carolina, in 1584. Raleigh, who was executed by King James I in 1618 for treason, was accused by the Catholic Jesuits of operating a "School of Atheism" because of his Freemason connections and philosophy.
With the failure of Raleigh’s colony, interest about America waned in England until the posthumous publication of Bacon’s New Atlantis.
Many of the subsequent Jamestown colonists led by Captain John Smith were Rosicrucian Freemasons and, some have said, relatives of Bacon. They certainly were for the most part aristocratic Englishmen who relied on their Utopian ideals rather than hard work for success. The colony suffered severe hardships and would have disappeared but for the aid of friendly Indians and the arrival in 1610 of Thomas West, Lord De La Warr, and reinforcements.
Meanwhile two groups of religious dissenters were colonizing America further north.
In 1534 King Henry VIII broke with Catholicism and formed the Church of England. Those who sought to purify the new church of any taint of Catholicism were called Puritans and a splinter group who wanted nothing whatsoever to do with the church were known as Separatists. Collectively these dissenters became known as Pilgrims when they journeyed to America.
The Pilgrims set up colonies in Plymouth, Massachusetts, and elsewhere in New England. Plymouth leader William Bradford quickly decided that the communal style of living advocated by the London merchants who financed the colony was not working well.
"Everyone was fed from common stores," wrote Still. "The lack of incentive was threatening to turn Plymouth into a another Jamestown. ... So Bradford instituted an incentive system. He assigned a plot of land to be worked by each family. From then on, the little community was never again in need of food....
"The first two colonies in America were excellent examples of two rival systems," Still continued, "one based on the concept of individually-held property driven by incentive, the other based on the communal theories of Plato and Francis Bacon."
As America grew, so did English Freemasonry. A Freemason center was founded in London on June 24, 1717, when four lodges united to form the Grand Lodge of England, also called the Mother Grand Lodge of the World.
"Encouraged by the Mother Grand Lodge in London, the Freemasonic lodges in the colonies of America began to plot and agitate against British rule," wrote author Icke.
One of the earliest revolts was led by Nathaniel Bacon, a descendant of Sir Francis, according to journalist Still. Bacon in 1676 organized a militia supposedly to fight Indians, but instead he took control of Jamestown, thus starting the first revolution in America. His rebellion disintegrated with his sudden death at age twenty-nine.
According to several sources, American Masons included George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, Ethan Allen, Henry Kimx, I’anick Henry, John Hancock, Paul Revere, and John Marshall. Benjamin Franklin became grand master of the Philadelphia Lodge in 1734.
Colonel LaVon P. Linn, a Masonic chronicler, wrote that of the estimated 14,000 officers in the Continental Army, 2,018 of them were Freemasons representing 218 Lodges, many of them "field lodges" that moved with the army from camp to camp. British Freemasons recruited members from among the American troops they trained prior to the revolution, thus "most of the military personnel involved, commanders and men on both sides, were either practicing Freemasons themselves or were steeped in the values and attitudes of Freemasonry," noted authors Baigent and Leigh.
According to one theory, it was Washington, who became a Mason at age twenty, who helped initiate revolution in the British colonies. In 1754 Washington led a military foray into the Ohio Valley, where his troops fired upon French soldiers. These Frenchmen later said they were ambassadors under diplomatic immunity, a claim dismissed by Washington. French retaliatory action forced Washington’s force to surrender at Fort Necessity, Pennsylvania. The incident turned long-standing frontier tensions into the French and Indian War, which spread to Europe as the Seven Years War. This war drained Britain’s finances, forcing Parliament to saddle the American colonies with higher taxes, a key issue of the revolution.
According to A New Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, "In the tense times before the American Revolution the secrecy of the Masonic Lodges offered the colonial patriots the opportunity to meet and plan their strategy. The Boston Tea Party was entirely Masonic, carried out by members of St. John’s Lodge during an adjourned meeting." Others have identified the lodge as Saint Andrew’s, but the point is made.
Of the fifty-six signers of the Declaration of Independence, only one was known not to be a Freemason, asserted Masonic writer Manly P. Hall, who in The Secret Teachings of All Ages also told of a most mysterious incident at the time of the signing of this historic document. As the debate over their future reached a crescendo and many hesitated to sign the declaration realizing they would be putting their life on the line, suddenly a tall stranger with a pale face spoke out. No one knew who he was or where he came from, but the force of his oration was transfixing. His stirring words ended with the cry, "God has given America to be free!"
Amid cheers filled with emotion, every man rushed forward to sign the declaration except the stranger. "He had disappeared," wrote Hall, "nor was he ever seen again or his identity established." Hall said this episode paralleled similar incidents in world history, when strange unknown men suddenly appeared just in time for the creation of some new nation. "Are they coincidences," he asked, "or do they demonstrate that the divine wisdom of the Ancient Mysteries is still present in the world, serving mankind as it did of old?"
Recall that England in 1764 had outlawed the creation of colonial scrip. This forced the colonists to sell bonds of indebtedness to the Bank of England and use its banknotes. "The colonies would gladly have borne the little tax on tea and other matters had not it been that England took away from the colonies their money, which created unemployment and dissatisfaction," wrote Benjamin Franklin.
Author Epperson commented,
"Franklin acknowledged that the cause of the Revolution was the resistance of the colonies to the idea of borrowed money, resulting in debt and inflation as well as interest payments, and not ’taxation without representation’ as is commonly believed."
Again, this is an issue that we of modern-day America are not supposed to consider, much less understand.
"When speaking of deficit spending," explained author Griffin, "... the colonists discovered, every government building, public work, and cannon of war is paid out of current labor and current wealth. These things must be built today with today’s labor, and the man who performs that labor must also be paid today. It is true that interest payments fall partly to future generations, but the initial cost is paid by those in the present. It is paid by loss of value in the monetary unit and loss of purchasing power for one’s wages." (emphasis in original)
Faced with the staggering costs of the American Revolution, the colonists found that the unrestricted printing of money offered no lasting solution. In an attempt to avoid interest on borrowed money, the new states began printing their own paper fiat money eventually called "Continentals." The total money supply grew from $12 million in 1775 to $425 million by the end of 1779. liy that year the one-dollar Continental note was worth less than ë penny, hence the* old slogan "not worth a Continental.".
Working to agitate these financial problems into open revolution were the secret societies. Freemasons were drawn to Samuel Adams’s Committees of Correspondence and the Sons of Liberty, which organized boycotts of British goods. Purposeful violent acts, such as the Boston Tea Party, were instigated by the inner-core members of the Freemason lodges, although sometimes even peaceful demonstrations got out of hand.
In the summer of 1765, wealthy Boston merchants, including many Masons, formed a group opposed to England’s Stamp Act called the Loyal Nine. This group organized a procession of more than two thousand demonstrators who marched on the home of the local stampmaster and burned his effigy. After the initial instigators left, the aroused crowd began destroying property. Armed citizen patrols were organized and the very merchants who formed the Loyal Nine denounced the violence of the crowd.
Thomas Paine clearly advocated Masonic ideals, as when he attacked the divine right of kings in his book Common Sense. Referring to the Norman invasion of England by William the Conqueror in 1066, Paine wrote,
"A French bastard landing with an armed Banditti and establishing himself king of England against the consent of the natives, is in plain terms a very paltry rascally original. It certainly hath no divinity in it."
Author A. Ralph Epperson concluded that Masons controlled the American Revolution, while William Bramley noted,
"There was clearly something deeper driving the revolutionary cause: the rebels were out to establish a whole new social order ... A ’Who’s Who’ of the American Revolution is almost a ’Who’s Who’ of American colonial Freemasonry."
Most of the patriots never realized this hidden manipulation.
"Few of these men, if any, knew of the ’plan’ of which only the leaders of Masonry were aware," noted Still. "Most believed they were simply involved in the cause of gaining independence from a tyrant. Masonry was to most of them, as it is to most of the membership today, merely a fraternal organization promoting social skills and providing fellowship to its members."
Further proof of Freemasonic influence in the American Revolution can be found in an examination of the U.S. dollar bill—with Mason George Washington on the front and Masonic symbols on the reverse. One finds a pyramid with a missing capstone but topped by an "eye," both significant a long standing Masonic symbols. There are also the Latin phrases Annuit Coeptis (He hath prospered our beginning) and Novus Ordo Seclorum (New Worldly Order).
Charles Thompson, designer of the Great Seal of the United States, was a Freemason and a member of Benjamin Franklin’s American Philosophical Society, an American counterpart to Britain’s "Invisible College." According to author Laurence Gardner,
"The imagery of the Seal is directly related to alchemical tradition, inherited from the allegory of the ancient Egyptian Therapeutate [medicine]. The eagle, the olive branch, the arrows and the pentagrams are all occult symbols of opposites: good and evil, male and female, war and peace, darkness and light. On the reverse—as repeated on the dollar bill—is the truncated pyramid, indicating the loss of the Old Wisdom, severed and forced underground by the Church establishment. But above this are the rays of ever-hopeful light, incorporating the ’all-seeing eye,’ used as a symbol during the French Revolution."
Author Bramly noted that the official seal of the United States bears the words E Pluribus Unum (One out of many) originally depicted a Phoenix bird rising from ashes, a Masonic symbol traced to ancient Egypt. But so many people mistook the long-necked Phoenix for a turkey that the Bald Eagle was substituted in 1841.
With these undeniably Masonic symbols prominently displayed on money and considering the wealth of information available to the scholar, Washington was clearly correct in his 1782 quote acknowledging the role of Illuminized Freemason doctrine in the early United States.
Many conspiracy writers view one particular secret society—the Illuminati—as an early stage manager of world affairs from behind the scenes, a group powerful and dedicated enough to infiltrate and control even the Freemasons. To understand the mysterious and elusive Illuminati or Illuminated (enlightened) Ones, one must first turn to Germany in the eighteenth century.
Although Illuminati concepts can be traced back through history to the earliest sects claiming esoteric knowledge, the order was first publicly identified in 1776. On May I of that year—a clay long honored by Communists who sonic believe formal their philosophy kissed on the Illuminati doctrine—the Bavarian Illuminati was formed by Adam Weishaupt, a professor of Canon Law at Ingolstadt University of Bavaria, Germany.
One of his cofounders reportedly was William of Hesse, the employer of Mayer Rothschild. It is certainly true that the Rothschilds and German royalty were connected through Freemasonry: Rothschild biographer Niall Ferguson wrote that Mayer’s son Salomon was a member of the same Masonic lodge as Mayer’s bookkeeper Seligmann Geisenheimer.
Studying to be a Jesuit priest, Weishaupt was undoubtedly angered over the 1773 banning of the order by Pope Clement XIV. While this act eventually led Weishaupt to break with the church, he remained fascinated with Jesuit theology. He also was greatly influenced by a merchant known only as Kolmer, termed by author Webster "the most mysterious of all the mystery men."
Kolmer, suspected by some researchers to be the same man called Alto-tas who was admired and mentioned by the French court magician and revolutionary Cagliostro, learned the esoteric knowledge of Egypt and Persia while living in the Near East for many years. Kolmer preached a secret doctrine based on an ancient form of Gnosticism called Manichaeanism or Mandaeanism that had used the word "Illuminated" prior to the third century.
Kolmer reportedly met Cagliostro on the Island of Malta, the old Knights Templar stronghold, while on his way to France and Germany in the early 1770s. Cagliostro, the future French revolutionary, then became involved in Masonic activities with the famed Venician lover Giovanni Giacomo Casanova, as well as the mysterious Count of Saint-Germain.
In Germany, Kolmer passed his secrets along to Weishaupt, who then spent several years determining how to consolidate all occult systems into his new "Illuminated" order. Weishaupt’s devotion to the ancient mysteries of Mesopotamia is shown by the fact that he had the Illuminati adopt the Persian calendar.
Considering his deep knowledge of the Jesuits, Weishaupt may have taken the name "Illuminati" from a secret splinter group called the "Alumbrados" (enlightened or illuminated) of Spain, which was created by Jesuit founder, the Spaniard Ignatius Loyola. The Alumbrados taught a form of Gnosticism, believing that the human spirit could attain direct knowledge of God and that the trappings of formal religion were unnecessary for those who found the "light." It is no wonder that the Spanish Inquisition issued edicts against this group in 1568, 1574, and 1623. Weishaupt wrote that with his formation of the Illuminati, he, too, incurred "the implacable enmity of the Jesuits, to whose intrigues he was incessantly exposed."
Despite this enmity, Weishaupt created a pyramid structure of degrees for his initiates based on the Jesuit and Freemason structure, with key personnel located within only the top nine degrees. To his fellow Illuminati, Weishaupt was known by his code name "Spartacus" in honor of the slave who led a bloody revolt against the Romans in 73 B.C.
According to a 1969 magazine article, the Illuminati originated within the Muslim Ismaili sect, a group closely connected to the venerated Knights Templar who may have brought Illuminati ideals to Europe centuries before Weishaupt. This article stated that Weishaupt studied the teachings of the leader of the infamous Muslim Assassins, named for their consumption of hashish, and himself achieved "illumination" by ingesting homegrown marijuana. A harbinger of the psychedelic 1960s, the Illuminati slogan Ewige Blumenkraft meant "Eternal Flower Power."
The Illuminati were indoctrinated with ancient esoteric knowledge and were opposed to what they saw as the tyranny of the Catholic church and the national governments it supported.
"Man is not bad," Weishaupt wrote, "except as he is made so by arbitrary morality. He is bad because religion, the state, and bad examples pervert him. When at last reason becomes the religion of men, then will the problem be solved."
Weishaupt also evoked a philosophy which has been used with terrible results down through the years by Hitler and many other tyrants.
"Behold our secret. Remember that the end justifies the means," he wrote, "and that the wise ought to take all the means to do good which the wicked take to do evil."
So, for the enlightened or illuminated, any means to gain their ends is acceptable—whether this means lies, deceit, theft, murder, or war.
The key to Illuminati control was secrecy. Edinburgh University professor John Robison was a Mason invited to join the Illuminati in the late eighteenth century. After investigating the order, Robison published a book which offered his conclusions in its title, Proofs of a Conspiracy Against All the Religions and Governments of Europe Carried on in the Secret Meetings of the Iree Masons, Illuminati, and Reading Societies.
He quoted from Weishaupt’s letters to fellow Illuminati. One 1794 work, Die neuesten Arbeiten des Spartacus und Philo in dem Illuminaten-Orden, stated:
"The great strength of our Order lies in its concealment. Let it never appear in any place in its own name, but always covered by another name, and another occupation. None is fitter than the three lower degrees of Freemasonry; the public is accustomed to it, expect little from it, and therefore takes little notice of it. Next to this, the form of a learned or literary society [the Thule Society] is best suited to our purpose. ... By establishing reading societies and subscription libraries ... we may turn the public mind which way we will. In like manner we must try to obtain an influence in ... all offices which have any effect, either in forming, or in managing, or even in directing the mind of man."
Weishaupt not only set out to deceive the public, but he reminded his top leaders they should hide their true intentions from their own initiates by "speaking sometimes in one way, sometimes in another, so that one’s real purpose should remain impenetrable to one’s inferiors."
"Weishaupt’s followers were enlisted by the most subtle methods of deception and led on towards a goal entirely unknown to them," noted Webster. "It is this that... constitutes the whole difference between honest and dishonest secret societies."
Unlike anarchists that seek an end to all government, Weishaupt and his Illuminati sought a world government based on their philosophy of human-centered rationalism. This world government, of course, would be administered by themselves.
"The pupils [of the Illuminati] are convinced that the order will rule the world. Every member therefore becomes a ruler," he proclaimed.
In 1777 Weishaupt blended his brand of Illuminism with Freemasonry after joining the Masonic Order’s Lodge Theodore of Good Counsel in Munich. The French Revolutionary leader and Illuminati member Mirabeau noted in his memoirs,
"The Lodge Theodore de Bon Conseil at Munich, where there were a few men with brains and hearts... resolved to graft on to their branch another secret association to which they gave the name of the Order of the Illumines. They modeled it on the Society of Jesus [Jesuits], while proposing to themselves views diametrically opposed."
It was here that the anticlerical message of Freemasonry combined with one against established government. In this Freemason lodge Mirabeau and the Illuminati formulated the very political agenda proposed at France’s Constituent Assembly twelve years later.
The Illuminati philosophy was further spread—although unwittingly—by the Bavarian government which cracked down on the order in 1783. Authorities saw the Illuminati as a direct threat to the established order and outlawed the organization. This action prompted many members to flee Germany, which only spread their philosophies farther. Secret Illuminati orders sprang up in France, Italy, England, and even the new lands of America.
Mason, Founding Father, and former president Thomas Jefferson wrote with admiration,
"Weishaupt seems to be an enthusiastic philanthropist. Weishaupt believes that to promote the perfection of the human character was the object of Jesus Christ. [Weishaupt’s] precepts are the love of God and love of our neighbor."
Either Jefferson lacked knowledge of the inner Illuminati teachings or, as was charged in his time, he himself was a secret member.
Warnings against the Illuminati came from many quarters. Professor Robison, utilizing the order’s own internal papers, made it perfectly clear that the organization was created for the "... express purpose of rooting out all the religious establishments and overturning all the existing governments of Europe."
But Weishaupt presented yet another dimension to this goal of political and religious upheaval, one which may provide the basic motivation for all secret societies right up to today: the desire for power. He wrote,
"Do you realize sufficiently what it means to rule—to rule in a secret society? Not only over the lesser or more important of the populace, but over the best men, over men of all ranks, nations, and religions, to rule without external force, to unite them indissolubly, to breathe one spirit and soul into them, men distributed over all parts of the world?"
Weishaupt achieved such power himself by creating a pyramid chain of command so secure that no one knew he was the head of the Illuminati until Bavarian authorities seized the group’s internal papers. In these documents, Weishaupt described his organization,
"I have two immediately below me into whom I breathe my whole spirit, and each of these two has again two others, and so on. In this way I can set a thousand men in motion and on fire in the simplest manner, and in this way one must impart orders and operate on politics."
In 1790 the Illuminati appeared to have disbanded, but many members had simply fled to other countries while retaining their loyalty to the group’s ideals. The Bavarian government tried to alert the leaders of other nations to what they saw as the danger of the Illuminanti. Officials collected Illuminati documents into a publication entitled Original Writings of the Order of the Illuminati and distributed it to other European governments. But their warning fell on deaf ears.
Webster wrote, "The extravagance of the [Illuminati] scheme . . . rendered it unbelievable, and the rulers of Europe, refusing to take Illuminism seriously, put it aside. ..." Many researchers claim this same incredulous attitude has helped protect the descendants of the Illuminati even today.
It was easy enough for the Illuminati to elude Bavarian authorities in the late 1780s. They simply went further underground, having successfully merged with Continental Freemasonry earlier in that decade.
Masonic historian Waite tried to distance Freemasonry from the Illuminati by writing, "The connection of the Illuminati with the older Institution is simply that they adopted some of its Degrees and pressed them into their own service."
Despite Wake’s attempt to make this distinction, it was recorded that Weishaupt’s group had formed an earlier alliance with the "Order of Strict Observance" of Freemasons in Frankfurt, Germany. This order was based on an earlier Rosicrucian group called the Order of the Gold and Rosy Cross.
One prestigious member of the Order of Strict Observance was the Hanoverian Baron Adolph Franz Friedrich Ludwig von Knigge. Though himself long proposing reforms in Masonry, once Knigge discovered the strength of Weishaupt’s Illuminati, he joined and took up their cause.
Although Weishaupt was absent, Knigge represented the Illuminati at the Masonic Convention of Wilhelmsbad in Hesse, convened on July 16, 1782, under the chairmanship of the Duke of Brunswick and attended by Masonic representatives from all over Europe. Leading the Illuminati contingent under his Illuminati name "Philo," Knigge "effected a kind of marriage between Masonic advanced Degrees and those of Illuminism," wrote Waite. Although Knigge and Weishaupt later quarreled and parted ways, the baron proved instrumental in merging the Illuminati with the higher degrees of Freemasonry.
According to Webster, Knigge,
"who had been traveling about Germany proclaiming himself the reformer of Freemasonry, presented himself at Wilhelmsbad, armed with full authority from Weishaupt, and succeeded in enrolling a number of magistrates, savants, ecclesiastics and ministers of state as Illuminati... Illuminism was left in possession of the field."
The same year of the Wilhelmsbad congress, according to author Still,
"the headquarters of Illuminized Freemasonry was moved to Frankfurt, the stronghold of German finance, and controlled by the Rothschilds." He added, "For the first time, Jews were admitted into the Order. Previously, Jews had only been admitted to a division of the Order called ’the small and constant Sanhedrin of Europe.’"
Jacob Katz, in his Jews and Freemasonry in Europe, wrote that founders of the Frankfurt Lodge of Freemasonry included Frankfurt rabbi Zvi Hirsch, Rothschild chief clerk Sigismund Geisenheimer, and all of Frankfurt’s leading bankers, including the Rothschilds, who would later fund Cecil Rhodes and his societies.
Although the Order of Strict Observance officially disappeared after the Wilhelmsbad convention, authors Lynn Picknett and Clive Prince argued that the Rectified Scottish Rite accepted there was merely the Strict Observance under a different name. The idea that the Strict Observance, which claimed lineage through the Knights Templar to the Ancient Mysteries, simply changed names to camouflage itself is well supported by the fact that the Wilhelmsbad chairman, the Duke of Brunswick, "one of the most active and influential Freemasons of the age," was himself a member of the Strict Observance. Additionally, according to Masonic author Waite,
"It would seem that we can trace [to the Order of Strict Observance]—practically without exception—every important personality in connection with French Freemasonry, not to speak of Germany itself."
Waite admitted that, following the Wilhelmsbad convention, Strict Observance was "transformed" into other rites and "Hidden Grades."
With divisive issues settled and the Illuminati safely hidden away within the Freemasons, the Convent of Wilhelmsbad proved a turning point for the order. Although attendees were sworn to secrecy, the Count de Virieu later wrote in a biography,
"The conspiracy which is being woven is so well thought out that it will be ... impossible for the Monarchy and the Church to escape it."
"From the Frankfurt Lodge, the gigantic plan of world revolution was carried forward," Still wrote. "The facts show that the Illuminati, and its lower house, Masonry, was a secret society within a secret society."
Weishaupt’s Illuminism was the public manifestation of a centuries-old struggle between organized religious dogma and a humanism based on ancient esoteric knowledge both theological and secular. Such knowledge required great secrecy because of the unrelenting attacks by both the church and the monarchies. But where many of the older Gnostic sects, including the Carbonari, advanced honest beliefs and values, Weishaupt had a more cynical and disruptive agenda of his own.
"Weishaupt . . . knew how to take from every association, past and present, the portions he required and to wield them all into a working system of terrible efficiency," wrote critic Webster, "... the disintegrating doctrines of the Gnostics and Manicheans, of the modern philosophers and Encyclopaedists, the methods of the Ismailis and the Assassins, the discipline of the Jesuits and Templars, the organization and secrecy of the Freemasons, the philosophy of Machiavelli, the mystery of the Rosecrusians—he knew moreover, how to enlist the right elements in all existing associations as well as isolated individuals and turn them to his purpose."
Considering what this one German professor achieved in the eighteenth century, it is clear why recent conspiracy writers have expressed a concern over what a modern Illuminati, armed with technology and influence over the mass media, might accomplish.
Many researchers today believe the Illuminati still exist and that the order’s goals are nothing less than the abolition of all government, private property, inheritance, nationalism, the family unit, and organized religion. This belief partially comes from the intriguing notion that the much-denounced Protocols of the Elders of Zion—used widely since its publication in 1864 to justify anti-Semitism—was actually an Illuminati document with Jewish elements added for disinformation purposes.
"Even though the Illuminati faded from public view, the monolithic apparatus set in motion by Weishaupt may still exist today," Still commented. "Certainly, the goals and methods of operation still exist. Whether the name Illuminati still exists is really irrelevant."
The ongoing connective tissue between the modern and ancient secret societies has been Freemasonry, which existed as a formidable force long before certain lodges became "Illuminized."
During the late Middle Ages when any opposition to the Holy Roman Universal (Catholic) church was forced deep underground, among the only organized groups able to move freely throughout Kurope were the guilds of stone masons, who maintained meeting halls or "lodges" in every major city.
The masons, who traced their own secret knowledge of architecture and building back to Egypt and beyond, were essential in the construction of Europe’s churches and cathedrals. They were the direct descendants of early guilds of masons which existed both in Egypt and Greece and utilized esoteric construction techniques in their craft. These techniques had been passed down through the sects and mystery schools and some continue to confound modern builders.
According to The New Encyclopaedia Britannica, Freemasonry is the largest worldwide secret society and was spread largely by the advance of the British empire in the nineteenth century. There were even Masonic lodges established in China under the auspices of the Grand Lodge of England beginning in 1788. The infamous Chinese Triad Society began as a Masonic order, along with one called the Order of the Swastika, according to the author of A New Encyclopedia of Freemasonry. These Chinese Masons conducted identical rites, wore similar jeweled symbols and leather aprons. They referred to the deity as the "First Builder."
There are several organizations that, while not officially Masonic, draw from the Masons. These include such social or "fun" organizations as Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine (Shriners) and the Orders of the Eastern Star, DeMolay, Builders, and Rainbow. These groups are predominately American as British Masons are expressly forbidden to join such affiliates.
According to journalist George Johnson,
"Early on, Masonry developed an aura of mystique. Its members possessed a power based not on royal or ecclesiastical authority but on knowledge, not only of stone cutting and mortaring but of the mysteries of ancient Greek geometers [experts in geometry]."
Already possessing certain esoteric or secret knowledge, the Masons were an ideal vehicle for the covert distribution of anticlerical teachings.
The most famous of the Masonic symbols—the letter G inside a square and compass—in fact stands for geometry, according to Masonic historian Albert Mackey, who added that Masons have been taught that "Masonry and Geometry are synonymous terms" and "the geometrical symbols found in the ritual of modern Freemasonry may be considered as the debris of the geometrical secrets of the Medieval Mason, which are now admitted to be lost." Occult geometry, sometimes called "sacred geometry," long has utilized geometrical symbols such as the circle, the triangle, the pentagram, etc., as symbols for metaphysical and philosophical concepts.
Authors Christopher Knight and Robert Lomas had an interesting take on the well-known Masonic symbol of the square and compass. They claimed it originated as a stylized form of the ancient symbol for a king’s power—a pyramid with its base at the bottom representing earthly power—superimposed with a reversed pyramid representing the heavenly power of the priest. Together, these pyramids of power create the symbol which has come to be known as the Star of David.
"It first came into popular use on a large number of Christian churches in the Middle Ages," they wrote, "and the earliest examples were, we were amazed to find, on buildings erected by the Knights Templar. Its use in synagogues came very much later."
One Masonic tradition claimed that Abraham, the patriarch of the Hebrews, taught the Egyptians special knowledge predating the Great Flood. Later, this knowledge—reported as the work of the legendary Hermes Trismegistus—was collected by the Greek philosopher Euclid, who studied the work under the name geometry. The Greeks and later Romans called this discipline architecture.
Critics of Freemasonry have claimed the prominent G stands for Gnosticism, a philosophy of Gnostic sects such as the Alumbrados, which was outlawed by the early church.
Authorities disagree as to the actual origin of Freemasonry but all acknowledge that it predates ancient Egypt. Masonic lore traces its origins back to the construction of the biblical Tower of Babel and King Solomon’s Temple of Jerusalem.
Writing in the nineteenth century, Mackey stated that the Masons of the Middle Ages derived their knowledge of building as well as organization from the "Architects of Lombardy." This guild in northern Italy was the first to assume the name "Freemasons," which has become the shortened name for the fraternal Order of Free and Accepted Masons. The term "Accepted" applied to later members who were not connected to the original stone masons. One paper on alchemy specifically mentioning "Freemason" can be dated to the 1450s.
Other Masonic scholars claim to historically date the order to Rome’s Collegium Fabrorum or College of Workmen, a group of builders and architects that became a prototype of the later guilds. Most writers trace Masonic secrets through those warrior-priests of the Crusades, the Knights Templar. One eighteenth century writer claimed modern Freemasonry was founded by Godfrey de Bouillon, leader of the First Crusade, which captured Jerusalem, and reportedly also the founder of the mysterious Priory of Sion.
The secrets of the origins of Freemasonry have been tightly held despite the publication of numerous books and literature on the subject. Walter Leslie Wilmshurst, a ranking Mason and author of The Meaning of Masonry, wrote, "The true, inner history of Masonry has never yet been given forth even to the Craft itself." Many researchers believe that even most Masons themselves have lost sight of the organization’s true origin and purpose. "The overall picture is one of an organization that has forgotten its original meaning," wrote the authors of The Templar Revelation.
This allegation was echoed by the Masonic authors of The Hiram Key, Knight and Lomas, who wrote,
"Not only are the origins of Freemasonry no longer known, but the ’true secrets’ of the Order are admitted to have been lost, with ’substituted secrets’ being used in their place in Masonic ceremony. ..."
Yet, following an exhaustive study of the Knights Templar, they concluded,
"We now could be certain, without any shadow of a doubt, that the starting place for Freemasonry was the construction of Rosslyn Chapel in the mid-fifteenth century."
Rosslyn, near Edinburgh, Scotland, was built by the Saint-Clair family. The Saint-Clairs were close to the original Knights Templar and William Saint-Clair of Rosslyn became the first grand master of Scottish Freemasonry. Catherine de Saint-Clair was married to the first grand master of the Knights Templar.
Much of the confusion over Freemasonry’s origins and growth dates from the rift between the Roman Catholic church and the Protestant Church of England when many Masonic records were lost. Wars and revolutions took their toll on Masonic libraries in all nations.
King Henry VIII, in breaking with Rome, not only discontinued the church’s building programs in England, causing widespread unemployment, but looted the assets of the Masons under the guise of taxes and tribute. To survive, the lodges began opening their memberships to non-Masons. These outsider merchants, landowners, and others—many with Templar backgrounds became known as "Speculative" Masons. They embraced a mystical and esoteric doctrine based on traditions predating Freemasonry and brought to the order by Knights Templar members fleeing persecution by the church.
By the time four London lodges formed a United Grand Lodge in 1717, Speculative Freemasonry completely dominated the original guild stonemasons or "Operative" Masons. It is primarily from Speculative Masonry that the order derived its esoteric knowledge.
Author Webster stated that the origins of Freemasonry cannot be traced to any one source, but that the order resulted from a combination of traditions that evolved and merged over a period of time.
"Thus Operative Masonry may have descended from the Roman Collegia and through the operative masons of the Middle Ages, whilst Speculative Masonry may have derived from the [Hebrew] patriarchs and the mysteries of the pagans. But the source of inspiration which admits of no denial is the Jewish Cabala... The fact remains that when the ritual and constitutions of Masonry were drawn up in 1717, although certain fragments of the ancient Egyptian and Pythagorean doctrines were retained, the Judaic version of the secret tradition was the one selected by the founders of the Grand Lodge on which to build up their system."
Freemasonry continued to broaden its appeal. In 1720 Masonic lodges were established in France under the auspices of England’s United Grand Lodge. They formed a Grand Lodge in Paris in 1735. These were distinct from the Scottish lodges which had been formed after Charles Stuart I fled England. Tensions between the two branches of French Masonry were heightened in 1746 with the exile of Charles Edward "Bonnie Prince Charlie" Stuart, the "Young Pretender" and his followers, who encouraged political use of the order.
It was during this time that the true lineage of Freemasonry became publicly known. In 1737 the tutor of Prince Charles Edward’s sons and Royal Society member Andrew Michael Ramsey delivered a speech to the Freemasons of Paris. In what became known as "Ramsey’s Oration," he clearly stated that "our Order formed an intimate union with the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem," an order closely associated with the Knights Templar. Ramsey also said that Freemasonry was connected to the ancient mystery schools of the Greek goddess Diana and the Egyptian goddess Isis.
German Mason Baron Karl Gottlieb von Hiind had joined the Frankfurt lodge and in 1751 he formed an extension of the Scottish Rite called the Order of the Strict Observance after its oath of unquestioning obedience to mysterious and unseen "superiors." As previously described, this order ended with the fusion of the Illuminati and German Freemasonry during the Wilhelmsbad Convention.
Von Hund admitted carrying on the traditions of Knights Templar forced into exile in Scotland in the early 1300s. Order members proclaimed themselves "Knights of the Temple." He claimed to be carrying out the orders of "unknown superiors" who were never identified or located. While some claimed these "superiors" were not human, most researchers believe they probably were Jacobite supporters of the Stuarts who died or lost faith following the defeat of the "Young Pretender."
These superiors did provide von Hund with a list of names reported to have been ongoing grand masters of the Knights Templar, thought to have become extinct in the mid-1300s. A nearly identical list discovered recently was connected to the mysterious Priory of Sion headquartered in Rennes-le-Chateau in southern France, through an Austrian historian named Leo Schidlof, reportedly the author of genealogical lists entitled Dossiers secrets or secret files.
"Save for the spelling of a single surname, the list Hund produced agreed precisely with the one in the Dossiers secrets. In short, Hund had somehow obtained a list of Templar grand masters more accurate than any other known at the time," wrote the authors of Holy Blood, Holy Grail.
They felt this provided strong support for the belief that both the Priory and Freemason Hund were directly tied to the Knights Templar.
After years of clashes with the Roman Catholic church, Freemasons in England—now under the Church of England—announced in 1723 that the organization would accept persons from all religions. Today there are an estimated six million Freemasons active in the world in nearly one hundred thousand lodges.
Freemasonry is formed into three basic lodges:
the Blue Lodge, the beginning step which is divided into three stages or degrees
the York Rite, composed of ten more degrees
the Scottish Rite with its total of thirty-two degrees of initiation
The invitation-only thirty-third degree represents the human head atop the thirty-three vertebrae of the back. This is the highest publicly known degree.
The vast majority of members look upon their affiliation with Freemasonry as little different from joining the Lion’s Club, the Optimists, or The Chamber of commerce. And from their standpoint, this is true. Even Masonic literature makes clear that only those initiates who progress beyond thirty-third-degree status are educated in the group’s true goals and secrets.
This hierarchy is readily admitted by Masonic authors.
"There has always existed an external, elementary, popular doctrine which has served for the instruction of the masses who are insufficiently prepared for deeper teaching," wrote Mason Wilmshurst. "There has been an interior, advanced doctrine, a more secret knowledge, which has been reserved for riper minds and into which only proficient and properly prepared candidates, who voluntarily sought to participate in it, were initiated."
The thirty-third-degree Mason Manly P. Hall wrote,
"Freemasonry is a fraternity within a fraternity—an outer organization concealing an inner brotherhood of the elect... the one visible and the other invisible. The visible society is a splendid camaraderie of ’free and accepted’ men enjoined to devote themselves to ethical, educational, fraternal, patriotic and humanitarian concerns. The invisible society is a secret and most august fraternity whose members are dedicated to the service of an ... arcanum arcandrum [a sacred secret]."
Prominent nineteenth-century Mason Albert Pike admitted that Freemasonry has "two doctrines, one concealed and reserved for the Masters, ... the other public. ..." Past Provincial Grand Registrar Wilmshurst confirmed that the "first stage" or initial degrees of Masonry are "concerned merely with the surface-value of the doctrine" and that "beyond this stage the vast majority of Masons, it is to be feared, never passes."
Even many high-ranking Masons are never brought into the inner circle of knowledge. In his memoirs; the famous Freemason Casanova wrote, "That those even who have occupied the Chair of the Master [Mason] for 50 years may yet be unacquainted with its Mysteries."
Author Epperson made the interesting observation that every Mason will deny that there exists an inner and outer circle to the order because the "average Mason" is truly unaware of this system while the "Illuminated Mason" is pledged not to reveal it.
"This second layer is protected by an oath of secrecy, which means that if you knew about its existence, you would be obligated by an oath not to tell anyone," he explained.
The power structure of the order also caused concern among many researchers.
"World Masonry is a massive pyramid of manipulation," wrote conspiracy author Icke. "The pyramid structure allows the Elite, the few at the top of Freemasonry, to control the majority by misleading them and keeping them in the dark."
This deception has been accomplished by providing both initiate Masons and the inquiring public alike with such a mass of contradictory and confusing information, traditions, and history that even Masonic scholars cannot agree on many issues. Author Mackey acknowledges that Masonic records are "replete with historical inaccuracies, with anachronisms, and even with absurdities."
There was a reason for this obfuscation. "The growth [of Freemasonry] synchronixes with a corresponding defection of interest in orthodox religion and public worship," noted Wilmshurst. "The simple principles of faith and the humanitarian ideals of Masonry are with some men taking the place of the theology offered in the various Churches."
Though its leaders deny it to be a religion, Freemasonry nevertheless offered a substitute for religion. No wonder it had to be circumspect in its teachings. Up to within living memory, anyone speaking concepts popularly believed to be sacrilegious or blasphemous risked serious community censure, bodily injury, or even death.
Wilmshurst explained that one seeking enlightenment,
"in the form of new enhanced consciousness and enlarged perceptive faculty... must be prepared to divest himself of all past preconceptions and thought-habits and, with childlike meekness and docility, surrender his mind to the reception of some perhaps novel and unexpected truths..."
Referring to the teachings of Masonry as "veiled" and "cryptic," he wrote,
"The meaning of Masonry ... is a subject usually left entirely unexpounded and that accordingly remains largely unrealized by its members save such few as make it their private study. ..."
However, Wilmshurst gave some clues to the hidden history of Freemasonry when he wrote of a "Golden Age" when,
"men were once in conscious conversation with the unseen world and were shepherded, taught and guided by the ’gods’... "
He noted that humankind lost its way after a "fall" due to its attempt to gain the same knowledge as its creators, a concept comparable with the biblical "fall from grace."
This "fall" of mankind, according to Wilmshurt writing in 1927, was not due to any individual transgression but to "some weakness or delectin (lie collective or group-soul of the Adamic race" so that "within the Divine counsels" it was decided that "humanity should be redeemed and restored to its pristine state," a process which required "vast time-cycles for its achievement." He added that this restoration also required "skilled scientific assistance" from "those ’gods’ and angelic guardians of the erring race of whom all the ancient traditions and sacred writings tell."
Masonic author Manly P. Hall demonstrated that Wilmshurst was not merely speaking allegorically, explaining,
"In the remote past the gods walked with men and... they chose from among the sons of men the wisest and the truest.
"With these specially ordained and illumined sons they left the keys of their great wisdom... They ordained these anointed and appointed ones to be priests or mediators between themselves—the gods—and that humanity which had not yet developed the eyes which permitted them to gaze into the face of Truth and live... These illumined ones founded what we know as the Ancient Mysteries."
So one inner Masonic secret has to do with their awareness of prehistoric "gods" who left their knowledge to certain individuals, thus illuminizing them. This knowledge was passed down through ancient Mystery Schools to the founders of both the Jewish and Christian religions, whose traditions were learned by the Knights Templar and brought to the inner core of modern Freemasonry.
The transition from ancient secret societies to more modern secret organizations was invigorated by the introduction of this "Illuminized" Freemasonry in the late eighteenth century, itself a blending of elder esoteric lore with Cabalistic traditions. These secrets continue to lurk at the inner core of Freemasonry even as its unknowing millions of members enjoy its outward philanthropy and fellowship.
The diligent researcher can begin to understand these ancient secrets only after the most laborious and serious study—much is still not being told in a direct manner, as admitted by Masonic authors.
Another of the ancient secrets concerned the concept of reincarnation, which, apologized Wilmshurst, "will be novel and probably unacceptable to some readers." He added, "We are merely recording what the Secret Doctrine teaches."
It was this hidden and esoteric side of Freemasonry that prompted critics to charge the order as antireligious.
"Accusations that the Freemasons have cultivated the occult sciences—particularly alchemy, astrology and ceremonial magic—have pursued the order throughout its history," acknowledged the modern editors of Mackey’s book.
Within early Freemasonry were men called magicians—not the stage illusionists of today but men who took the name from the term Magi, or wise men. Until the Enlightenment of the eighteenth century, magic was merely another name for science. These magicians seriously claimed to have the ancient knowledge of metal transmutation, matter manipulation, and eternal youth.
One of the most magical of these Masons was a person known as a "Wonderman," who was thought to have lived for hundreds of years.
People who knew the Count of Saint-Germain either characterized him as a charlatan or an immortal magician. The truth probably lay somewhere between, although there was a definite strangeness about the man.
No one ever learned his true origins, but rumors were thick. Some claimed this brilliant man who spoke all European languages and evinced a deep knowledge in many fields was actually the third son of Leopold-George, third son of Francis II of Transylvania and Charlotte Amalie of Hesse-Reinfels. Occult author Hall reported that Saint-Germain once told William of Hesse that he was actually Prince Ragoczy of Transylvania and had been educated by the last Duke of Medici. As Saint-Germain claimed to have discovered the secret of immortality, perhaps memory of the count provided some of the modern Count Dracula legend.
Others said this noted violinist was the son of the king of Portugal while others said he was merely the offspring of a wandering Portuguese Jew or, according to some reports, a Strasburg doctor’s son named Daniel Wolf. One account even claimed he was the result of a liaison between an Arabian princess and a reptile.
Whoever he was, the Count of Saint-Germain, called a "Wonderman" due to his vast knowledge and social skills, proved to be one of HK- most successful agents of the secret societies in his time. He first appeared in London about 1743 where, two years later, he was arrested as a Jacobite spy but later released.
Leaving London, the count traveled through Germany and Austria. He met Marshal de Belle-Isle, France’s minister of war, who introduced Saint-Germain to the French court. He was immediately popular, claiming to have lived for centuries after discovering the "Elixir of Life," a formula for physical immortality. As recounted by author Richard Cavendish, the count told courtiers he had been among the guests at Cana when Jesus turned water into wine and had known Egyptian Queen Cleopatra. His knowledge of history was extraordinary, as he described details of events that astounded the most scholarly historians. Considered one of the world’s greatest minds, French literary giant Francois-Marie Arouet, better known as Voltaire, once stated that Saint-Germain "is a man who knows everything."
He obviously was quite a showman. Once he spoke of being friends with the legendary King Richard the Lion Heart "... turning to his manservant for confirmation. ’You forget, sir,’ the valet said solemnly, ’I have been only 500 years in your service.’"
Saint-Germain also claimed to possess the secrets of removing flaws from diamonds and transmuting various metals. He was given a laboratory for his alchemical experiments by King Louis XV, who also employed the count on secret diplomatic and spying missions. Saint-Germain made it clear where he had received his extraordinary knowledge. "One needs to have studied in the pyramids as I have studied," he once said.
In 1762 the count traveled to Saint Petersburg, where he assisted in placing the daughter of a friend, the Princess of Anhalt-Zerbst, on the Russian throne following the death of Peter III. His friend’s daughter became known as "Catherine the Great."
"St. Germain’s involvement in the overthrow of Peter of Russia was not a petty scam," noted author Bramley, "it was a major coup which altered the political landscape of Europe."
The significance of Saint-Germain lies in his close associations. After leaving Russia, the count made connections with important Freemasons such as Casanova and the future French revolutionary Cagliostro. It was in Germany, according to Cagliostro, that Saint-Germain helped establish Freemasonry and initiated him into the Order of the Strict Observance in an underground chamber near Frankfurt. Sharing leadership in this order were the Duke of Brunswick and Prince Karl of Hesse, "head of all German Freemasons" and brother of William IX, the patron of Mayer Rothschild. "One of Saint-Germain’s best frinuls and pupils was Prince Karl von Hesse-Kassel," noted Tomas, "who wrote Memories de Mon Temps [Memories of My Time], in which he calls the count ’one of the greatest philosophers who ever lived.’"
"Saint-Germain was the ’Grand Master of Freemasonry’ and it was he who initiated Cagliostro into the mysteries of Egyptian masonry," confirmed author Webster, who added that Cagliostro soon "far eclipsed his master." Cagliostro founded his own Egyptian branch of Freemasonry drawn from the teachings of Saint-Germain and his knowledge of the Jewish Cabala. All of this laid the foundation for the Illuminati takeover of German Freemasonry.
While in Germany in 1774, Saint-Germain stayed for a time with William IX of Hesse. Perhaps during his stay, Saint-Germain exchanged secrets with William and his financial adviser Mayer Rothschild. Considering Rothschild’s interest in antiquities as well as the Cabala, one can imagine his fascination with Saint-Germain’s knowledge of the Egyptian Mysteries.
"St. Germain’s activities are important because his movements provide a fascinating link between the wars going on in Europe, the deeper levels of the Brotherhood, and the clique of German princes—particularly the House of Hesse," wrote author Bramley.
Another connection between Rothschild’s royal mentor and occult Freemasonry was Jean-Baptiste Willermoz, who, as a Mason since 1753 and a wealthy silk manufacturer from Lyons, undoubtedly moved in the same circles as Mayer Rothschild. Willermoz, who also claimed to receive instruction from "unknown superiors," stayed for a time with the Prince of Hesse-Kassal. A member of the Masonic "Rite of Elect Cohen," Willermoz was a moving force during the 1782 Wilhelmsbad Conference and is considered by many to be a founder of modern spiritualism.
Willermoz may have had contact with Saint-Germain, as an old work entitled Freimaurer Bruderschaft in Frankreich [The Freemason Brotherhood in France], Vol. II, stated:
"Amongst the Freemasons invited to the great conference at Wilhelmsbad ... we find St. Germain included with St. Martin and many others."
Saint-Germain and Cagliostro may not have been the only connections between the Hebrew Cabala and Freemasonry. Another contender was a mysterious and little-known person named Hayyim Samuel Jacob Falk.
"Whilst St. Germain and Cagliosiro figure in every account of 18th century magicians, it is only in exclusively Judaic or Masonic works, not intended for the general public, that we shall find any reference to Falk," noted author Webster.
The German poet Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, a close friend of Cabalist philosopher Moses Mendelssohn and librarian for the Duke of Brunswick, a ranking Masonic official, wrote several important Masonic tracts entitled Ernst und Falk: Gesprache fur Freimaurer (Ernst and Falk: Speak for Freemasonry). Although not documented, Lessing’s title would indicate a connection between Falk and German Freemasons, which included the Rothschilds.
Falk fled Germany to avoid being burned at the stake as a sorcerer and arrived in London in 1742, apparently with only the shirt on his back. Yet, soon Falk had purchased a comfortable home containing much silver and gold as well as his own private synagogue.
Webster connects Falk not only with the Cabala but with the French Revolution.
"The Duke [of Orleans] was in touch with Falk when in London and Falk supported his scheme of usurpation," wrote Webster, wondering if "in Falk’s ’chests of gold’ that we might find the source of some of those loans raised in London by the Due d’Orleans to finance the riots of the Revolution. ..."
Webster saw in Falk the most likely person in the historic record— next to the Rothschild connection—who might have introduced Cabalist teachings into the higher degrees of Freemasonry.
"Falk indeed was far more than a Mason," she wrote, "he was a high initiate—the supreme oracle to which the secret societies applied for guidance."
Webster added that the "inaccessible" Falk may well have been one of the "real initiates whose identity has been so carefully kept dark... whilst St. Germain and Cagliostro . . .emerge into the limelight. ..."
Whether Falk or Rothschild or both provided the connection, it is plain that both Freemasonry and the Knights Templar drew heavily from the Cabala for both concepts and rituals.
Over the years there has been much concern—even outright paranoia as in the anti-Masonic movement—regarding the role of the Masonic orders in world affairs beginning with the American and French Revolutions and continuing up to today.
This mindset can be better understood by a listing of a mere handful of significant Masons, beginning with the American Presidents Washington, Monroe, Jackson, Polk, Buchanan, Andrew Johnson, Garfield, Taft, Harding, Truman, Ford, and both Teddy and Franklin Roosevelt. Other famous American Masons include John Hancock, Benjamin Franklin, Paul Revere, Sam Houston, Davy Crockett, Jim Bowie, Douglas MacArthur, J. Edgar Hoover, and Hubert Humphrey. Historical foreign Masons include Winston Churchill, Cecil Rhodes, Horatio Nelson, Duke Arthur Wellington, Sir John Moore, Simon Bolivar, Giuseppe Garibaldi, Franz Joseph Haydn (who provided the melody to Deutschland tiber Alles), Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Voltaire (Francois-Marie Arouet), Giuseppe Mazzini, Mikhail Bakunin, Aleksandr Kerensky, Aleksandr Pushkin, Benito Juarez, and Jose de San Martin.
Such a wide divergence of personalities prompted authors Baigent and Leigh to argue "the impossibility of ascribing any political orientation, or even political consistency, to Freemasonry." However, in their detailed study of early Masonry and the Knights Templar, Beigent and Leigh took no notice of the infusion of Illuminati into Freemasonry in late eighteenth century. This infusion brought the philosophies of Hegel and Weishaupt which included "the end justifies the means" and "to achieve synthesis requires two opposing forces." Conspiracy researchers make it clear that Illuminized Freemasons have used any and every opportunity to advance their cause regardless of which side they may support at the moment.
The Masonic slogan Ordo ab Chao, or Order out of Chaos, generally is regarded as referring to the order’s attempt to bring an order of knowledge to the chaos of the various human beliefs and philosophies in the world—a New World Order.
Conspiracy author Epperson explained that the slogan actually means the "’order’ of Lucifer will replace the ’chaos’ of God." Author Texe Marrs places his interpretation on a more mundane level, writing that Ordo ab Chao is a "Secret Doctrine of the Illuminati" based on the Hegelian concept that "crisis leads to opportunity." Marrs stated, "They work to invent chaos, to generate anger and frustration on the part of humans and thus, take advantage of peoples’ desperate need for order."
Author Bramjey saw this very mechanism in operation early on in England following tin-overthrow of Catholic King James II in 1688. Noting that the Mother Grand Lodge had conferred Masonic degrees on his Hanoverian successor, llnunlry said,
"The English Grand Lodge was decidedly pro-Hanoverian and its proscription against political controversy really amounted to a support of the Hanoverian status quo. In light of the Machiavellian nature of Brotherhood activity, if we were to view the Mother Grand Lodge as a Brotherhood faction designed to keep alive a controversial political cause, i.e. Hanoverian rule in Britain, we would expect the Brotherhood network to be the source of a faction supporting the opposition. That is precisely what happened. Shortly after the founding of the Mother Grand Lodge, another system of Freemasonry was launched [Freemason Jacobites] that directly opposed the Hanoverians!"
Allegations of Masonic plots—hard to find in mainstream publications and even harder to prove—are not restricted to dimly recalled history. One largely unreported story during the Ronald Reagan presidency clearly indicated that at least one Freemason lodge was conspiring to overthrow the government of Italy.
This scandal also involved a little-known group connected to the Freemasons called the Knights of Malta, which inherited the military orders of the old Knights Templar.
John J. Raskob, one of the thirteen founders of the American Order of the Knights of Malta, was involved in the abortive coup against President Roosevelt in the early 1930s, foiled only after Marine major general Smedley Butler blew the whistle on the scheme.
Modern American Knights included CIA directors John McCone and William Casey. Casey, along with Reagan’s first secretary of state, Alexander Haig, have been connected to a fellow Knight named Licio Gelli, who during the 1980s turned a little-used Italian Masonic lodge into what was termed a "worldwide fascist conspiracy" with the help of the Mafia, the Vatican Bank, and the CIA.
Propaganda Masonica Due, better known as the P2 Lodge, was founded in Italy in 1877 to serve Italian Freemasons visiting Rome. Gelli, who became a Mason in 1963, had gained control over P2 by 1966 and increased the membership from fourteen to nearly one thousand. Obviously, Gelli had help. Italian journalist Mino Pecorelli, a P2 member himself, claimed the CIA was funding P2, a charge echoed by CIA contract agent Richard Brenneke in 1990. Pecorelli later was found fatally shot in the mouth in a classic gangland slaying. According to Icke, the P2 Lodge was connected not only to the CIA but to "the Carbonari, an amalgamation of Freemasons, the Mafia and the Italian military. . . ."
Gelli—a "business partner" of Nazi war criminal Klaus Barbie, a financial backer of fascist South American dictator Juan Peron, a paid CIA contact and an honored guest at Ronald Reagan’s 1980 inauguration"—created what an Italian court indictment called a "secret structure [that] had the incredible capacity to control a state’s institutions to the point of virtually becoming a state-within-a-state." Gelli also claimed to be on friendly terms with former CIA director and president George Bush, who some claimed was an "honorary" P2 Lodge member.
By 1981 Italian authorities had discovered the P2 plot. In searching Gelli’s home, they found a list of the Masonic conspirators’ names, which included three cabinet ministers, forty members of Parliament, forty-three military generals, eight admirals, security service chiefs, the police chiefs of four major cities, industrialists, financiers, entertainment celebrities, twenty-four journalists, and hundreds of diplomats and civil servants.
They also found a document entitled "The Strategy of Tension," a carefully designed plan to fabricate so much leftist terrorism that the Italians would demand an authoritarian or even fascist government. This plan evolved from an operation named "Gladio" created just after World War II by CIA official James Jesus Angleton in an effort to prevent a communist takeover in Italy. Gladio tactics involved creating alliances between the Mafia and Vatican officials as well as the CIA and the Knights of Malta.
Several investigators have claimed that a major force behind the P2 Lodge was the highly secret Freemason Grand Alpine Lodge of Switzerland, whose membership includes almost everyone of any importance in that nation of banks. Former British prime minister and Bilderberger Harold Wilson called Alpine Lodge members "the Gnomes of Zurich," claiming they had more power than any government.
P2 was implicated in several acts of terrorism beginning with the 1980 bombing of the Bologna train station which killed eighty-five persons and possibly even the December 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. According to a little-publicized report by investigators for the airline’s insurance company, the Pan Am flight’s victims included a CIA team which was on its way to Washington to report its discovery of CIA drug smuggling and gun running activities in the Middle East with financing through P2 members. These extralegal activities were being run from Washington in the same manner as the Iran-Contra activities and reportedly involved high-ranking officials. Other CIA agents quickly arrived at the crash site and reportedly made oil with vital evidence.
Conspiracy author Jonathan Vankin reported Italian media allegations that the P2 Lodge was funded through the Panamanian company Amitalia and that President Bush’s invasion of Panama in 1989 was partially a cover for the destruction of records linking him, the P2 Lodge, and the CIA to the Pan Am 103 bombing. Vankin disparaged this allegation as "another demon raised from conspiratoriological hell," yet provided many intriguing bits of evidence in support of this thesis.
During subsequent trials in Italy involving P2 members, one prominent American name kept cropping up—a name with close connections to secret societies in the United States. Italian prime minister Giulio Andreotti, a close friend of Gelli who was tried for Mafia involvement, named Henry Kissinger as a character witness. In addition, both a close associate and the widow of former Italian prime minister Aldo Moro— kidnapped and murdered reportedly by the leftist Red Brigade in 1978—testified that Moro had been told by Kissinger to halt his stabilizing policies or "you will pay dearly for it."
A London Independent article stated that Moro’s murder may have been contrived by the CIA through P2 members in the Italian government. Others even claimed the entire P2 scandal may have been orchestrated by the mysterious and most secret Priory of Sion.
The P2 story caused a major scandal in Europe but received scant attention in the American media, even when it grew to implicate top Vatican officials, American bishop Paul Marcinkus, and Kissinger.
Michele Sindona and Roberto Calvi, two prominent members of the seditious P2 Lodge, were involved in numerous questionable business deals with Marcinkus, the American Catholic bishop in charge of the Vatican Bank at the time. Sindona later was accused of laundering money for both the Sicilian and American Mafia and Calvi used Vatican money for investments in banks and enterprises all over the world, including Washington’s infamous Watergate complex.
Markcinkus and the Vatican Bank became major shareholders in Banco Ambrosiano, owned by Sindona’s partner, Calvi (called "God’s banker" due to his Vatican connections). In mid-1982, as this Mafia-Freemason-fascist-Vatican scheme began to further unravel, the convicted Calvi fled to London, where he was found hanging from scaffolding underneath Blackfriars Bridge under conditions with Masonic connotations. Only a few hours earlier, Calvi’s secretary, Graziella Corrocher—who also happened to be the P2 Lodge bookkeeper—fell or was pushed through a fourth floor window of the Ambrosiano bank building.
In 1986 Sindona and an accomplice were convicted of ordering the death of Giorgio Ambrosoli. An estate liquidator, Ambrosoli was fatally shot in 1979 after he found evidence of criminal activity in Sindona’s papers while working in Sindona’s home. Just two days after being sentenced to life in prison, Sindona was found dead of cyanide poisoning in his cell. While it is still debated whether Sindona’s death was suicide or homicide, just before he died, he said, "They are afraid I could reveal some very delicate information that they don’t want divulged."
Markcinkus, after assurances he would not be prosecuted by the Italian authorities, left the Vatican in disgrace and returned to the United States to settle into semiretirement. Ironically enough, it was Banco Ambrosiano’s namesake—Saint Ambrose of Milan—who in the fourth century denounced any interest on loans as "against nature."
"New York DA Frank Hogan, who prosecuted several local Mafiosi for [the P2] caper, attempted to extradite and prosecute Marcinkus also, but was blocked by White House intervention," noted author Wilson.
Gelli, under several indictments in Italy, apparently remains free and in hiding.
These Masons "engineered frauds that led to the largest bank failures in American and Italian history," reported Vankin and Whalen, yet coverage of this billion-dollar disaster was almost nonexistent in the American media.
British conspiracy author Icke echoed the fears of many conspiracy writers when he wrote,
"I believe strongly that something similar is happening in the United Kingdom and many other countries [the United States?], which mirrors the methods and aims of P2."
Any attempt at an in-depth discussion of the inner workings and philosophies of Freemasonry would bog down in endless details and unresolved controversies. They are, after all, a secret fraternity and require some secrets.
Suffice it to say that Freemasonry has provided an overt bridge to the modern era for the covert teachings of the Ancient Mysteries, incurring the wrath of both church and state along the way.
This was stated clearly by Masonic author Hall, who wrote,
"Freemasonry is therefore more than a mere social organization a few centuries old, and can be regarded as a perpetuation of the philosophical mysteries and initiations of the ancients."
Wilmshurst was even more to the point. He wrote,
"When Christianity became a state religion and the church a world power, the materialization of its doctrine proceeded apace and has only increased with the centuries. Instead of becoming the unifying force its leaders meant it to be, its association with ’worldly possessions’ has resulted in making it a disintegrative one. Abuses led to schisms and sectarianism . . . whilst the Protestant communities and so-called ’free’ churches have unhappily become self-severed altogether from the original tradition and their imagined liberty and independence are in fact but a captivity to ideas of their own, having no relation to the primitive gnosis and no understanding of those Mysteries which must always lie deeper than the exoteric popular religion of a given period... Since the suppression of the Mysteries in the sixth century, their tradition and teaching have been continued in secret and under various concealments and to that continuation our present Masonic system is due."
So another secret is out. Freemasonry and its progenitors have passed along knowledge inimical and dangerous to organized religion.
While espousing the Christian ideals of brotherly love, charity, and truth, even Masonic authors make it clear that Freemasonry is not an adjunct to the Christian religion. The innermost secrets of the order, some of which appear to be the antithesis of Christianity, have raised considerable suspicion and concern over the years, including an early church prohibition.
On April 28,1738, just one year after the Mason Ramsey publicly connected Freemasonry to the outlawed Knights Templar, Pope Clement XII issued his famous bull, In Eminenti. He condemned Freemasonry as pagan and unlawful and threatened any Catholic who joined with excommunication.
Modern Christian authors have continued this condemnation of the order. "The Masons have but one purpose": concluded author Epperson, "They exist to utterly destroy Christianity. ..."
Others see in Freemasonry an ambivalent public view on religion at best. Journalist Still, who conducted a lengthy study of the group, wrote in 1990, "Every aspect of Masonry sirins to have - both a good and a bad side to it - an evil interpretation and a benign interpretation. Those who wish to find a Christian interpretation in its symbols can find ample published Masonic justifications. Those who wish to show that Masonry is really a form of Deism—built for all religions and faiths:—can easily do so."
Webster, that earlier Freemason researcher and author, concurred, writing in 1924,
"The truth is that Freemasonry in a generic sense is simply a system of binding men together for any given purpose, since it is obvious that allegories and symbols, like the x and ó of Algebra, can be interpreted in a hundred different manners."
Yet Masonic authors themselves reveal that the order is not without metaphysical thought, rather it is very much devoted to divine understanding.
"Freed of limitations of creed and sect, [the Mason] stands master of all faiths," wrote Manly P. Hall. "Freemasonry... is not a creed or doctrine but a universal expression of Divine Wisdom... revealing itself through a secret hierarchy of illumined minds."
Hall saw Freemasonry as a "world-wide university, teaching the liberal arts and sciences of the soul to all who will hearken to its words." He said the traditions of hundreds of religions and the knowledge of a thousand ages spawned Masonic philosophy.
Wilmshurst stated clearly that Masonry "is a system of religious philosophy in that it provides us with a doctrine of the universe and of our place in it."
Though writing in the 1920s, Wilmshurst sounded like a consummate New Ager. He wrote of "positive energy," reincarnation or regeneration of the spirit, as well as a person’s "aura," by which he explained the biblical Joseph’s coat of many colors. He even went so far as to state that,
"Just as our Craft organization has its higher assemblies and councils... so in the mighty system of the universal structure there are grades of higher life, hierarchies of celestial beings working and ministering... beyond our ken."
Having addressed all this, Wilmshurst stated that the "secrets" of Freemasonry deal with introspection of the human soul but that "beyond this brief reference to the subject it is inexpedient here to say more." Obviously, all Masonic secrets are not publicly available despite a wealth of published material.
One can readily see why authors Still, Epperson, Webster, and others saw in Freemasonry an insidious attempt to subvert Christianity. Still claimed Masonic initiation rites "provide a system to gradually and gently realign a man’s religious beliefs. Thus, a Christian is slowly encouraged to become a Deist [one who believes in no supernatural intervention by God in human affairs]; a Deist becomes an Atheist; an Atheist to a Satanist."
At another point, journalist Still backed away from the claim that Masons are Satanists. He stated the god of Masonry is actually Lucifer and explained that the difference is that "Luciferians think they are doing good [while] Satanists know they are evil."
Epperson concurred with this Luciferian interpretation, writing,
"So the secret inside the Masonic Order is that Lucifer is their secret god."
He quotes Master Mason Pike as writing,
"You may repeat it to the 32nd, 31st and 30th degrees—The Masonic religion should be, by all of us initiates of the high degrees, maintained in the purity of the Luciferian doctrine."
Wilmshurst explained with typical Masonic obscurity,
"To clear vision, Christian and Masonic doctrine are identical in intention though different in method. The one says ’Via Crucis’ [through the Cross]; the other ’Via Lucis’ [through Lucifer]; yet the two ways are but one way."
This belief in two separate but equal gods provides significant support to those connecting Freemasonry directly to the Cathars of France and the earlier Gnostics, both of which were mercilessly exterminated by the Catholic church. Both of these sects were known dualists, those that believe in the equal power of good and evil, light and dark.
It is illustrative to note that in the 1980s fundamentalist Christians were upset to learn that the Lucis Trust, a New York tax-exempt, nonprofit "New Age" organization concerned with topics dear to the secret societies such as economics and environmentalism, originally had incorporated as a publishing house under the name the Lucifer Publishing Company. The firm published the works of Alice Bailey and Madame Blavatsky, both advocates of Theosophy. Trust officials explained "Lucifer as here used means ’bringer of light or the morning star’ and has no connection whatsoever with Satan as conventional wisdom would have it."
Contrary to the idea that Pike and his fellow Masons were simply secret Satan worshipers, several Masonic writers demonstrate that less simplistic issues are involved. Even anti-Mason author Epperson demonstrates that Pike made a deeper examination of his subject by quoting Pike’s book Magnum Opus as stating,
"All have admitted two gods with different occupations, one making the good and the other the evil found in nature. The former has been styled ’God,’ and the latter ’Demon.’ The Persians or Zoroaster named the former Ormuzd and the latter Ahriman; of whom they said one was of the nature of Light, and the other that of Darkness. The Egyptians called the former Osiris, and the latter Typhon, his eternal enemy."
Author Still explained that to Luciferians, God has a dual nature — the loving side, Lucifer, and the bad side, Adonai, both equal in power but opposite in intent.
"This idea is symbolized by the circular yin-yang symbol of the Buddhists or the black-and-white checkerboard pattern seen on the floor of Masonic lodges or buildings," he wrote.
Mason Pike wrote that Adonai, one of the biblical names for God, was the rival of Osiris, the Egyptian sun god, a prominent figure in Masonic traditions.
Some anti-Masonic writers saw in the Masonic symbols of ancient Egypt a return to the worship of the pagan sun god. However, Pike, in his book Morals and Dogma intended only for the inner core of Masonry, made it clear that worship of the sun was an adulteration of an earlier belief.
"Thousands of years ago, men worshipped the sun... Originally they looked beyond the orb [our solar system’s sun] to the invisible God... The worship of the Sun [the invisible God] became the basis of all of the religions of antiquity," he wrote.
This secret becomes clearer when closer study reveals that this Great Architect of the Universe is a supreme creative being, while, according to Pike, "[Osiris] the Sun God... created nothing."
Masonic authors draw a distinction between the celestial "sun" and the "Sun" god which, they say, is the bringer of light. The gift of light — light usually being interpreted as knowledge — is greatly venerated in Masonic rituals. Interestingly enough, the appellation "Morning Star" and "Bringer of Light" were at times applied to Jesus.
So one inner Masonic secret echoes the belief of the ancient Gnostics and Cathars, namely that there is only one great creative cosmic God, referred to in Masonic literature as the Great Architect of the Universe, but that there may be two opposing aspects to this deity. A hidden aspect of this belief is the idea that in the distant past on Earth there walked "gods," or powerful inhuman beings of the Hebrew Bible and the even earlier Babylonian and Sumerian legends. According to various traditions, it was these "gods" who brought humans civilization and science.
That inner-core Freemasons understood scientific principles as well as metaphysical ones is exemplified by their veneration of the collection of Greek writings that Plato’s disciples called Hermes Trismegistus after the Greek god Hermes, who established alchemy and geometry. Freemasons also trace their philosophies to the Greek philosopher Pythagoras, who greatly influenced Plato, the idol of Cecil Rhodes and John Ruskin.
Both Pythagoras, who stated the Earth moved around the sun, and the Hermetic writings were said to have utilized secret "science" that survived Noah’s Flood. Hermes, deified as Thoth by the Egyptians and thought to have intimate knowledge of the gods and the stars, voiced the principle "As above, so below." This indicated a knowledge of universal unity, comparing favorably with Albert Einstein’s unified field theory.
"From the smallest cell to the widest expanse of the galaxies, a repetitive geometric law prevails and this was understood from the very earliest of times," explained author Laurence Gardner.
Wilmshurst said the person who reaches "the summit of the Mason’s profession" will become "conscious of being the measure of the universe; he realizes that the earth, the heavens, and all their contents, are externalizations, projected images, of corresponding realities present within himself."
Alchemy became known as the "Hermetic science" and Freemasonry contains both Hermetic branches and Hermetic rites. The mythical and magical practice of alchemy was passed down from the Egyptians. "It was more than science," explained authors Picknett and Prince.
"The practice embraced a fine web of interlinking activities and modes of thinking, from magic to chemistry, from philosophy and hermeticism to sacred geometry and cosmology. It also concerned itself with what people today call genetic engineering and methods of delaying the aging process, and of trying to attain physical immortality."
"There can be no doubt that in some of what are called the [Masonic] High Degrees there is a very palpable infusion of a Hermetic element. This cannot be denied," wrote Masonic historian Mackey.
This Hermetic tradition was focused in a companion secret society to Freemasonry—the Rosicrucians.
Some researchers believe that Freemasonry grew out of the earlier mystical traditions of the Rosicrucians, a secret brotherhood with knowledge said to reach back into antiquity.
Documents available in France today contend that an Order of the Rosy Cross was founded in 1188 by a pre-Masonic Templar named Jean de Gisors, vassal of English King Henry II and the first independent grand master of the Order of Sion.
Some recent writers, however, believed that Rosicrucianism and Freemasonry were separate philosophies which only merged in the late eighteenth century as with the Illuminati influence.
Whatever the truth, the fact remained, as acknowledged by Mackey, that "a Rosicrucian element was very largely diffused in the Hautes Grades or High Degrees [of Freemasonry coming from] the continent of Europe about the middle of the 18th century."
Although the Rosicrucians claim to trace a lineage back to ancient Egypt and beyond, the name only came to the fore between 1614 and 1615 with the publication of two tracts. One, entitled Fama Fraternitatis Rosae Crusis or Report of the Rosicrucian Brotherhood, was supposed to have been written by a Christian Rosencreutz (translated literally as Rosy Cross) and detailed his journeys through the Holy Land and the Mediterranean area gaining esoteric Eastern knowledge. After studying with the illuminated Alumbrados of Spain, Rosencreutz returned to Germany, where he formed the Order of the Rosy Cross.
The name has variously been interpreted as a play on the name Rosencreutz; derived from the Latin ros or dew and crux or cross; a chemical symbol for "light"—hence knowledge; or a reference to the blood-covered cross of Jesus or the red cross on the shields of the Knights Templar. Count Mirabeau, the Freemason French Revolution leader, claimed the Rosicrucians were, in fact, nothing more than the outlawed Knights Templar continued under another name.
The fictional tracts, known as the "Rosicrucian Manifestos," disclosed the existence of this secret brotherhood and promised a coming age of enlightenment along with the revelation of ancient secrets. They most probably were written by Johann Valentin Andrea, a German Lutheran cleric who traveled extensively through Europe before becoming spiritual counselor to the Duke of Brunswick, chairman of the Freemason Convention of Wilhelmsbad, and the Freemason leader connected to William of Hesse and the Rothschilds.
According to Mackey, Andrea concocted the tracts in an effort to jump-start a society by which "the condition of his fellow-men might be ameliorated and the dry, effete theology of the church be converted into some more living, active, humanizing system."
A third Rosicrucian publication, the fantasy Chemische Hochzeit or The Chemical Wedding by Christian Rosencreutz, was so filled with symbolic references to the outlawed Knights Templar that the Catholic church condemned it along with the Rosicrucian Manifestos. One early German Rosicrucian society called the Order of the Gold and Rosy Cross became the basis of the Freemason Strict Observance Lodge which many years later hid the Illuminati.
Rosicrucians were seen by the church as Satanists and accused of making compacts with the devil and sacrificing children. Others saw them as the progenitors of today’s scientific inquiry as well as the protectors of ancient secrets.
Prominent Rosicrucians included Dante Alighieri (author of The Divine Comedy), Dr. John Dee (scientist and "007" spy for Queen Elizabeth I), Robert Fludd (who participated in translating the Bible into English for King James I), and Sir Francis Bacon, whose writings inspired the colonization of America. Although he predated the order, authors Picknett and Prince found Rosicrucian ideals in Leonardo de Vinci, who they claimed created the famous Shroud of Turin through an early photographic technique, using his own features as a model.
Most researchers saw the Rosicrucian movement as a major force in the ongoing struggle between scientific rationalism and church dogma that resulted in the breakup of the Holy Roman Empire, the creation of Protestantism and the resulting Church of England, as well as the Renaissance. According to Picknett and Prince, "It is scarcely an exaggeration to say that Rosicrucianism was the Renaissance." (emphasis in the original)
"Following the [Protestant] Reformation, the Rosicrucian Order was largely responsible for the establishment of a new spiritually aware environment. People discovered that the Apostolic history of the Roman bishops was an outright fraud, and that the Churcli had deliberately sabotaged the story of Jesus. It also became’ apparent that the Rosicrucians—like the Cathars and Templars before them—had access to an ancient knowledge which held more substance than anything promulgated by Rome."
But the rise of the Protestant orders did little to decrease the violence aimed at anyone diverting from the public mindset of the day. Gardner reported that, ironically,
"the Rosecrusian scientists, astronomers, mathematicians, navigators and architects became victims of the pernicious Protestant establishment. The Anglican clerics called them pagans, occultists and heretics, just as the Roman Church had done before."
So the rational humanist Rosicrucians were forced underground by the church. By the time of the formation of the Grand Mother Lodge of Freemasonry in 1717, Rosicrucian leaders Christopher Wren and Elias Ashmole had firmly established Rosicrucian-based Speculative Masonry deep within the order. It was the avowed Rosicrucian Ashmole, according to Webster, who drew up the three existent basic Masonic degrees adopted by the Grand Lodge. Nineteenth-century Masonic author J. M. Ragon asserted that the Rosicrucians and Freemasons merged during this time, even meeting in the same room at Masons’ Hall in London.
"After 1750 . . . where once there were clear distinctions between Masons, Rosicrucians and organizations that claimed Templar origins, suddenly all such groups became so intimately entwined as to seem virtually one and the same," reported Picknett and Prince.
Two competing orders of Rosicrucians are still active in the United States today. Both claim to hold secrets handed down from ancient Egypt and both are the object of scorn and derision by religious fundamentalists.
Rosicrucian publications have indeed evinced knowledge from far beyond its founders’ times. Author Gardner flatly stated that Rosicrucian philosophy could be traced through Plato and Pythagoras to the Egyptian Mystery School of Pharaoh Tuthmosis III, some 1,500 years before Christ. This linkage agreed with Webster’s findings. She wrote,
"Rosicrucianism was a combination of the ancient secret tradition handed down from the patriarchs through the philosophers of Greece and of the first Cabala of the Jews."
As with the wars and conflicts of the twentieth century, the traces of secret society agitation and manipulation are found in earlier rebellions and revolutions, including the War Between the States and the French and American Revolutions.
In the case of America’s sectional conflict, it becomes clear that European agents incited violence in both the North and the South. This agitation found fertile ground in homegrown fanatics such as John Wilkes Booth, a member of the secret Knights of the Golden Circle.
The bankers and lenders of Europe, led by the ubiquitous Rothschilds, financed both sides. Essentially, the War Between the States was a struggle for control between the European bankers and Abraham Lincoln—the one man in the United States who appeared to comprehend the forces at play.
Once open warfare broke out, Britain and France concentrated troops in Canada and Mexico awaiting the right opportunity to exploit the situation. Only President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation elevating slavery as the cause celebre of the conflict and the quiet intervention of the Russian navy prevented this plan to break up the United States from succeeding.
It was a setback for the European secret societies, who had been so successful in destroying both the church and the monarchy in France between 1789 and 1799. First with agitation by the Jacobin societies and later using paid agents who led the mobs against the Bastille and aristocrats’ homes, society members instigated the Revolution and subsequent Reign of Terror.
The role of the Freemasons, and particularly the newly "Illuminized" Lodges, was blatant in this French tragedy. Some Masonic publications proudly admit Freemason involvement. Many Masons, including President Thomas Jefferson, were supportive of the French Revolution as well as early rebellions in the young United States.
There was even documented involvement of Freemasons in the American Revolution, with many colonists recruited into the British "field lodges" prior to the break with Britain. It may well have been the brother-against-brother nature of the revolt that prevented the vastly superior English military from vigorously prosecuting the war against the ragtag colonial rebels, thus securing them success in their rebellion. Freemasonry, which grew to a prominent and powerful force following the Revolution, suffered a severe setback beginning with the kidnapping of Captain William Morgan in 1826. The suspicious members of the Anti-Masonic Movement caused a loss of membership and prestige in the order for many years.
This may have been just as well, since the documented history of the German Illuminati clearly indicated the existence of a secret society bent on subverting any and all government and religion. Despite laws against this order, Illuminati members merely hid themselves away within the ranks of Freemasons. Their ideals were advanced right on through the secret Round Tables of Cecil Rhodes, backed by the might of the Frankfurt Lodge, which was under the control of Hessian royalty, the Rothschilds, and their associates.
The Count of Saint-Germain and other "magicians" brought ancient knowledge from the Middle East to the inner core of Freemasonry. This knowledge involved secret traditions concerning the biblical account of Jesus’ life as well as the origins and purposes of mankind, much of which was at variance with church dogma of the time. In fact, many critics of Freemasonry, then and now, accuse the order of being anti-Christian if not outright Satanists. Such accusations have necessitated extreme secrecy as dissidents from the church have long been subjected to community censure, and even physical violence.
Secrecy remained commonplace within the societies right up to the late twentieth century, when members of Italy’s Propaganda Due lodge were found to be fomenting a jesuits plot involving the Vatican., certain large banks, the Mafia, and the CIA.
The secrets of Freemasonry must be most profound and compelling to have caused members over the centuries to persevere in their effort to protect and propagate their knowledge against official and clerical censure and oppression. It is abundantly clear that this knowledge, passed down largely through ritual allegory and symbols, predates the ancient Egyptians.
It is highly significant that so many esoteric beliefs are traced back to Egypt and, more specifically, the ancient cultures of Persia.
But my discussion concerning philosophies, magic, and religion is quickly enmeshed in a quagmire of definitions, interpretations, and personal beliefs. The uncontestable fact here is that there are significant prehistorical overtones to the doctrines of both Freemasonry and Rosi-crucianism. These shall be inspected more closely in connection with the Ancient Mysteries.
However, consideration first must be given as to how the several threads of such ancient knowledge were brought into Freemasonry. A major source of those ancient secrets seems to have been through the discoveries of a group of Medieval knights: the legendary Knights Templar.