The tenor of my life has been the opposite of everything that is vile, and no man can lay any such thing to my charge. I have reason to rejoice that these writings have appeared. They are a vindication of the order and of my conduct.
I can and must declare to God, and I do it now in the most solemn manner, that in my whole life I never saw or heard of the so much condemned secret writings, and in particular, respecting these abominable means; such as poisoning, abortion etc.
Was it ever known to me in any case that any of my friends or acquaintances ever even thought of them. I was indeed always a schemer and projector, but never could engage much in detail. My general plan is good, though in the detail there may be faults. I had myself to form. In another situation, and in an active station in life, I should have been keenly occupied, and the founding of an order would have never come into my head.
But I would have executed much greater things, had not government always opposed my exertions, and placed others in situations which would have suited my talents. It was the full conviction of this, and of what could be done, if every man were placed in the office for which he was fitted by nature and a proper education, which first suggested to me the plan of Illumination. I did not bring Deism into Bavaria more than into Rome. I found it here, in great vigour, more abounding than in any of the neighboring Protestant States. I am proud to be known to the world as the founder of the Illuminati." -- Adam Weishaupt "I declare and I challenge all mankind to contradict my declaration, that no man can give any account of the order of Freemasonry, of it's origin, of it's history, of it's object, nor any explanation of it's mysteries and symbols, which does not leave the mind in total uncertainty on all these points.
Every man is entitled therefore, to give any explanation of the symbols and a system of the doctrine that he can render palatable. Hence have sprung up that variety of systems, which for twenty years has divided the order. The simple tale of the English, and the fifty degrees of the French, and the Knights of Baron Hunde, are equally authentic, and have equally had the support of intelligent and zealous brethren. These systems are in fact but one. They have all sprung from the Blue Lodge of three degree; Take these for their standard and found on these all the improvements by which each system is afterwards suited to the particular object which it keeps in view.
There is no man, nor system in the world, which can show, by undoubted succession, that it should stand as the head of the order. Our ignorance in this particular frets me. Do but consider our short history of 120 years - Who will show me the Mother Lodge? Those of London we have discovered to be self-erected in 1716. Ask for their archives. They tell you they were burnt. They have nothing but the wretched sophistications of the Englishman Anderson, and the Frenchman Desaguilliers. Where is the Lodge of York, which pretends to the priority, with their King Boudin, and the archives that he brought from the East? These too are all burnt. What is the chapter of old Aberdeen and it's holy cleric ate? Did we not find it unknown, and the Mason Lodges there the most ignorant of all the ignorant, gaping for instruction from our deputies?
Did we not find the same thing at London? And have not their missionaries been among us, prying into our mysteries, and eager to learn from us what is true Masonry? It is in vain therefore to appeal to judges; they are nowhere to be found; all claim for themselves the scepter of the Order; all indeed are on an equal footing.
They obtained followers, not from their authenticity, but from their conduciveness, to the end which they proposed, and from the importance of that end. It is by this scale that we must measure the mad and wicked explanations of the Rosycrucions, the exorcists and Cabalists. These are rejected by all good Masons, because incompatible with social happiness. Only such systems as promote this are retained. But alas, they are all sadly deficient, because they leave us under the domination of political and religious prejudices; and they are as inefficient as the sleepy dose of an ordinary sermon." - Adam Weishaupt "But I have contrived an explanation which has every advantage; is inviting to Christians of every communion; gradually frees them from all religious prejudices; cultivates the social virtues; and animates them by a great, a feasible, a speedy prospect of universal happiness, in a state of liberty and moral equality, freed from the obstacles which subordination, rank, and riches, continually throw in our way. My explanation is accurate and complete, my means are effectual, and irresistible. Our secret association works in a way that nothing can withstand, and man shall soon be free and happy." - Adam Weishaupt "This is the great object held out by this association; and the means of attaining it is illumination, enlightening the understanding by the sun of reason which will dispel the clouds of superstition and of prejudice. The proficients in this order are therefore justly named the Illuminated. And of all illumination which human reason can give, none is comparable to the discovery of what we are, our nature, our obligations, what happiness we are capable of, and what are the means of attaining it. In comparison with this, the most brilliant sciences are but amusements for the idle and luxurious. To fit man by illumination for active virtue, to engage him to it by the strongest motives, to render the attainment of it easy and certain, by finding employment for every talent, and by placing every talent in it's proper sphere of action, so that all, without feeling any extraordinary effort, and in conjunction with, and in completion of ordinary business, shall urge forward with united powers, the general task. This indeed will be an employment suited to noble natures, grand in it's views, and delightful in it's exercise." - Adam Weishaupt
"And what is this general object? The happiness of the human race. But where are the proper persons, the good, the generous and the accomplished to be found? And how, and by what strong motives, are they to be induced to be engaged, in a task so vast, so incessant, so difficult and so laborious? This association must be gradual. There are some such persons to be found in every society. Such noble minds will be engaged by the heart warming object. The first task of the association must therefore be to form the young members. As these multiply and advance, they become the apostles of beneficence, and the work is now on foot, and advances witha speed increasing every day. The slightest observation shows that nothing will so much contribute to increase the zeal of the members as secret union. We see with what keenness and zeal the frivolous business of Freemasons is conducted, by persons knit together by the secrecy of their union. Let this circumstance of our constitution therefore be directed to this noble purpose, and then all the objections urged against it by jealous tyranny and affrighted superstition will vanish. The order will thus work silently, and sucurely, and though the generous benefactors of the human race are thus deprived of the applause of the world, they have the noble pleasure of seeing their work prosper." -- Adam Weishaupt
Spartacus (Weishaupt) to Cato (Zwack, A Lawyer)
"Nothing would be more profitable to us than a right history of mankind. Despotism has robbed them of their liberty. How can the weak obtain protection? Only by union; but this is rare. Nothing can bring this about but hidden societies. Hidden schools of wisdom are the means which will one day free men from their bonds. These have in all ages been the archives of nature, and the rights of men; and by them shall human nature be raised from her fallen state. Princes and nations shall vanish from the earth. The human race will then become one family, and the world will be the dwelling of Rational Men." -- "Morality alone can do this. The head of every family will be what Abraham was, the patriarch, the priest and the unlettered lord of his family, and Reason will be the code of laws to all mankind. This is our great secret.
True, there maybe some disturbance; but by and by the unequal will become equal; and after the storm all will be calm. Can the unhappy consequences remain when the grounds of dissention are removed? Rouse yourselves therefore, O men! Assert your rights; and then will reason rule with unperceived sway, and all shall be happy."
"Morality will perform all this; and Morality is the fruit of Illumination. Duties and rights are reciprocal. Where octavious has no right, Cato owes him no duty. Illumination shows us our rights, and Morality follows; that Morality which teaches us to be of age, to be out of wardenship, to be full grown, and to walk without the leading-strings of Priests and Princes."
"Jesus of Nazareth, the Grand Master of our order, appeared at a time when the world was in the utmost Disorder, and among a people who for ages had groaned under the yolk of Bondage. He taught them the lessons of reason. To be more effective, he took the aid of Religion--of opinions which were current--and in a very clever manner, he combined his secret doctrines with he popular religion, and with the customs which lay to his hand. In these he wrapped up his lessons --he taught by parables. Never did any prophet lead men so easily and so securely along the road to liberty. He concealed the precious meaning and consequences of his doctrines; but fully disclosed them to a chosen few. He speaks of a kingdom of the upright and faithful; His Father's kingdom, who's children we also are. Let us only take liberty and equality as the great aims of his doctrines, and Morality as the way to attain it, and everything in the New Testament will be comprehensible; and Jesus will appear as the Redeemer of slaves. Man has fallen from the condition of Liberty and Equality, the STATE OF PURE NATURE. He is under subordination and civil bondage, arising from the vices of man. This is the FALL, and ORIGINAL SIN. The KINGDOM OF GRACE is that restoration which may be brought about by Illumination and a just Morality. This is the NEW BIRTH. When man lives under government, he is fallen, his worth is gone, and his nature tarnished. By subdoing our passions, or limiting their cravings, we may recover a great deal of our original worth, and live in a state of grace. Thius is the redemption of men--this is accomplished by Morality; and when this is spread over the world, we have THE KINGDOM OF THE JUST."
"But alas! the task of self-formation was too hard for the subjects of the Roman empire, corrupted by every species of profligacy. A chosen few received the doctrines in secret, and they have been handed down to us (but frequently almost buried under rubbish of man's invention) by the Freemasons. These three conditions of human society are expressed by the rough, the split, and the polished stone. The rough stone, and the one that is split, express our condition under government; rough by every fretting inequality of condition; and split since we are no longer one family; and are farther divided by differences of government, rank, property, and religion; but when reunited in one family we are represented by the polished stone. G is Grace, the Flaming Star is the Torch of Reason. Those who possess this knowledge are indeed Illuminati. Hiram is our fictitious Grand Master, slain for the REDEMPTION OF SLAVES; the Nine Masters are the Founders of the Order. Freemasonry is a Royal Art, inasmuch as it teaches us to walk without trammels, and to govern ourselves."
Spartacus (Weishaupt) to Cato (Zwack, a lawyer) --Feb. 6th, 1778
" 'Mon but est de faire la Raison' As a subordinate object I shall endeavor to gain security to ourselves, a backing in case of misfortunes, and assistance from without. I shall therefore press the cultivation of science, especially such sciences as may have an influence on our reception in the world, and may serve to remove obstacles out of the way. We have to struggle with pedantry, with intolerance, with divines and statesmen, and above all princes and priests are in our way. Men are unfit as they are, and must be formed; each class must be the school of trial for the next. This will be tedious, because it is hazardous. In the last classes I propose academies under the direction of the order. This will secure us the assistance of the literati. Science shall here be the lure. Only those who are assuredly proper subjects shall be picked out from the inferior classes for the higher mysteries, which contain the first principles and means of promoting a happy life. No religionist must, on any account, be admitted into these. For here we work at the discovery and extirpation of superstition and prejudices. The instructions shall be so conducted that each shall disclose what he thinks he conceals in his own breast, what are his ruling propensities and passions, and how far he has advanced in the command of himself. This will answer all the purposes of auricular confession. And in particular, every person shall be made a spy on another and on all around him. Nothing can escape our site; by these means we shall readily discover who are contented, and receive with relish the peculiar stated doctrines and religious opinions that are laid before them; and at last, the trustworthy alone will be admitted to a participation of the whole maxims and political constitutions of the order. In a council composed of such members, we shall labor at the contrivance of means to drive by degrees the enemies of reason and of humanity out of the world. and to establish a peculiar morality and religion fitted for the great society of mankind."
Spartacus (Weishaupt) to Cato (Zwack, a lawyer)
"By this plan we shall direct all mankind. In this manner, and by the simplest means, we shall set all in motion and in flames. The occupations must be so allotted and contrived, that we may, in secret, influence all political transactions. I have considered everything, and so prepared it that if the order should this day go to ruin, I shall in one year re-establish it more brilliant than ever. Nor will it signify though all should be betrayed and printed. I am so certain of sucess, in spite of all obstacles (for the springs are in every heart) that I am indifferent, though it should involve my life and my liberty. But I have the art to draw advantage even from misfortune, and when you would think me sunk to the bottom, I shall rise with new vigour. Who would have thought, that a professor at Ingolstadt was to become the teacher of the professors of Gottingen and of the greatest men in Germany?"
Spartacus (Weishaupt) to Cato (Zwack, a lawyer) (Speaking of the Priests Degree)
"One would almost imagine, that this degree, as I have managed it , is genuine Christianity, and that it's end was to free the Jews from slavery. I say, that Freemasonry is concealed Christianity. My explanation of the hieroglyphics, at least, proceeds on this supposition; and as I explain things, no man need be ashamed of being a Christian. Indeed, I afterwards throw away this name and substitute reason. But I assure you this is no small affair; A new religion, and a new state-government, which so happily explain one and all of these symbols, and combines them in one degree. You may think that this is my chief work; but I have three other degrees, all different, for my class of higher mysteries, in comparison with which this is but child's play; but these I keep for myself as General, to be bestowed by me only. Were you here I should give you this degree without hesitation. But it is too important to be trusted to paper, or to be bestowed otherwise than from my own hand. It is the key to history, to religion, and to every state government in the world."
Minos to Sebastian
"The proposal of Hercules to establish a Minerval school for girls is excellent, but requires much circumspection. Philo and I have long conversed on this subject. We cannot improve the world without improving women, who have such a mighty influence on the men. But how shall we get hold of them? How will their relations, particularly their mothers, immersed in prejudice, consent that others shall influence their education? We must begin with grown girls. Hercules proposes the wife of Ptolemy Magus. I have no objection, and I have four step-daughters, fine girls. The oldest in particular is excellent. She is twenty-four, has read much, is above all prejudices, and in religion she thinks as I do. It may immediately be a very pretty Society, under the management of Ptolemy's wife, but really under his management. You must contrive pretty degrees and dresses, and ornaments, and elegant and decent rituals. No man must be admitted. This will make them become more keen, and they will go much farther than if we were present, or than if they thought that we knew of their proceedings. Leave them to the scope of their own fancies, and they will soon invent mysteries which will put us to the blush, and create an enthusiasm which we can never equal. They will be our great apostles. Reflect on the respect, nay the awe and terror inspired by the female mystics of antiquity.
(Think of the Danaids--think of the Theban Bacchantes.)
Ptolemy's wife must direct them, and she will be instructed by Ptolemy, and my step-daughters will consult with me. We must always be at hand to prevent the introduction of any improper question. We must prepare themes for their discussion--thus we shall confess them, and inspire them with our sentiments. No man however must come near them. This will fire their roving fancies and we may expect rare mysteries. But I am doubtful whether this Association will be durable. Women are fickle and impatient. Nothing will please them but hurrying from degree to degree, through a heap of insignificant ceremonies, which will soon lose their novelty and influence. To rest seriously in one rank, and to be still and silent when they have found out that the whole is a cheat (hear the words of an experienced Mason) is a task of which they are incapable. They have not our motives to persevere for years, allowing themselves to be led about, and even then to hold their tongues when they find out that they have been deceived. Nay there is a risk that they may take into their heads to give things an opposite turn, and then, by voluptuous allurements, heightened by affected modesty and decency, which give them an irresistible empire over the best men, they may turn our Order upside down, and in their turn will lead the new one."
Philo (Baron Von Knigg) To Cato (Zwack, a lawyer)
"We must consider the ruling propensities of every age of the world. At present the cheat and tricks of the priests have roused all men against them, and against Christianity. But, at the same time superstition and fanaticism rule with unlimited domination, and the understanding of man really seems to be going backwards. Our task, therefore, is doubled. We must give such an account of things, that fanatics shall not be alarmed, and that shall, not withstanding, excite a spirit of free inquiry. We must not throw away the good with the bad, the child with the dirty water, but we must make the secret doctrines of Christianity be received as the secrets of genuine Free Masonry. But farther, we have to deal with the despotism of Princes. This increases every day. But then, the spirit of freedom breathes and sighs in every corner, and, by the assistance of hidden schools of wisdom, Liberty, and Equality, the imprescribable rights of man, warm and glow in every breast. We must therefore unite these extremes. We proceed in this manner."
"Jesus Christ established no new religion; he would only set religion and reason in their ancient rights. For this purpose he would unite men in a common bond. He would fit them for this by spreading a just morality, by enlightening the understanding, and by assisting the mind to shake off all prejudices. He would teach all men, in the first place, to govern themselves. Rulers would then be needless, and equality and liberty would take place without any revolution, by the natural and gentle operation of reason and expediency. This great teacher allows himself to explain every part of the Bible in conformity to these purposes; and he forbids all wrangling among his scholars, because every man may there find a reasonable application to his peculiar doctrines. I told you, says he, but you could not bear it. Many therefore were called, but few were chosen. To these elect were trusted the most important secrets; and even among them there were degrees of information. There was a seventy and a twelve. all this was in the natural order of things, and according to the habits of the Jews, and indeed of all antiquity. The Jewish theosophy was a mystery, like the Eleusinian or the Pythagorian, unfit for the vulgar, and thus the doctrines of Christianity were committed to the adepti, in a disciplina arcani. By these they were maintained, like the vestal fire. They were kept up, only in hidden societies, who handed them down to posterity; and they are now possessed by the Genuine Freemasons."
Quotes From the Writings of the Illuminati "These powers are despots, when they do not conduct themselves by it's principles; and it is therefore our duty to surround them with it's members, so that the profane may have no access to them. Thus we are able most powerfully to promote it's interests. If any person is more disposed to listen to Princes than to the Order, he is not fit for it, and must rise no higher. We must do our utmost to procure the advancement of the Illuminati into all important civil offices." "Rulers who are members must be promoted through the ranks of the order only in proportion as they acknowledge the goodness of it's great object, and manner of procedure. It's object may be said to be the checking of tyranny and princes, nobles and priests, and establishing a universal equality of condition and of religion." "For the Order wishes to be secret, and to work in silence, for thus it is better secured from the oppression of the ruling powers, and because this secrecy gives a greater zest to the whole." "It will be of great service, and procure us both much information and money, and will suit charmingly the taste of many of our truest members, who are lovers of the sex. It should consist of two classes , the virtuous and the freer hearted; they must not know of each other, and must be under the direction of men, but without knowing it. Proper books must be put into their hands, and such (but secretly) as are flattering to their passions." "We must allow the underlings to imagine (but without telling them the truth) that we direct all the Free Mason lodges, and even all others, and that the greatest Monarchs are under our guidance, which indeed is here and there the case." "There is no way of influencing men so powerfully as by means of the women. These should therefore be our chief study; we should insinuate ourselves into their good opinion, give them hints of emancipation from the tyranny of public opinion, and of standing up for themselves; it will be an immense relief to their enslaved minds to be freed from any one bond of restraint, and it will fire them the more, and cause them to work for us with zeal, without knowing that they do so, for they will only be indulging their own desire of personal admiration." "We must win the common people in every corner.
This will be obtained chiefly by means of the schools, and by open, hearty behaviour, show, condescension, popularity, and toleration of their prejudices, which we shall at leisure root out and dispel." "If a writer publishes anything that attracts notice, and is in itself just, but does not accord with our plan, we must endeavor to win him over, or decry him." "The great strength of our Order lies in it's concealment, let it never appear in any place in it's 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, expects little from it, and therefore takes little notice of it. Next to this, the form of a learned or literary society is best suited to our purpose, and had Freemasonry not existed, this cover would have been employed; and it may be much more than a cover, it may be a powerful engine in our hands. By establishing Reading Societies, and subscription libraries, and taking these under our direction, and supplying them through our labours, we may turn the public mind which way we will." "A literary society is the most proper form for the introduction of our order into any state where we are yet strangers." "The power of the Order must surely be turned to the advantage of it's members. All must be assisted.
They must be preferred to all persons otherwise of equal merit. Money, services, honory goods and blood, must be expended for the fully proved brethren, and the unfortunate must be relieved by the funds of the society."