The Dark Side of Enlightenment Part 2

The secret conspiracy

(Published in GralsWelt 67/2011)

The Baroque age was the age of absolutism, which means: all governmental power was exclusively in the hands of the ruler. Everything was concentrated on him, everything originated from him. Whoever wanted to exert political influence had to gain the trust of the ruler and then influence him skillfully. The French King Louis XIV (1638-1715) provided the shining example for this total sole rule. His saying is well known: "I am the state".
This egocentric form of rule was imitated by many smaller and smallest princes and lords (in Germany there were well over a thousand independent rulers before the French Revolution) who wanted to rule in a state palace just as confidently as the adored, powerful King of France in Versailles.

Excluded from politics

As a result, almost all social groups, all elites, whether high or low, whether poor or rich, whether deserving or incapable, had no influence whatsoever on political decisions. Even the nobility were only allowed to serve as accessories at court. Only the personal advisers of the king, who enjoyed his trust, could influence his decisions. They were mostly saliva-loving courtiers. They mastered the courtly customs, knew how to spin intrigues and use the monarch's weaknesses for their own ends. Such questionable advisers were primarily concerned with their personal careers and the well-being of their families. Not to forget the ruler's confessor. Often a Jesuit who had above all the interests of the Church and his order in view and who was obliged to strict obedience to his superiors.

Politics was a secret policy, the quality of which depended on the understanding of the ruler and his advisers. The subjects had to keep their mouths shut and faithfully do the will of the sovereign. This form of society was unstable and corrupt, it led to many wars:
“The climax of absolutist power is at the same time the birth constellation of a new one elite. As much as this consisted of different groups, it still has one characteristic in common: All are deprived of political freedom of choice because the absolutist state is represented only in the person of the prince. This political challenge becomes the unifying element of the new elite. A number of groups did not find sufficient space in the existing institutions of the absolutist state: for example the nobility, who were socially recognized but without political influence; the bankers and merchants, who had economic power but were socially branded as homini novi (nouveau riche); the scientists, first of all the philosophers, who were socially without a proper place, but of the highest intellectual and cultural importance. A new layer was formed from these extremely heterogeneous groups " (4, p. 118 f.).

“The realm of shadows is the paradise of the dreamers. Here you will find unlimited land where you can grow as you wish. Hypochondriac fumes, old wives' tales and monastery wonders do not leave them lacking in building materials. "       Immanuel Kant

Philosophical discussion groups

Merchants, bankers and aristocrats met in non-political places such as the stock exchange, coffee houses, libraries or academies where the new sciences were discussed. Wealthy citizens and nobles founded clubs, salons, literary or philosophical circles in which scientists, philosophers, writers and artists with new ideas were welcome. This also prepared the ground for secret societies. Because not all modern, enlightening ideas could always and everywhere be discussed in public. Too many informers were on the way, ready to denounce "enemies of the state" at any time. Legal security was in short supply. In France, as an example, the king was able to ban an unpleasant contemporary to the Bastille for an indefinite period with a "lettre de cachet". Initially purely social meetings became institutions that were only allowed to discuss their ideas behind closed doors and had to plan their goals in secret.

Esoteric and Science
in the scientific worldview the primary is matter (materialism). What we call emotion, sensation, soul, spirit counts as brain function, so would be a product of matter.
For religious people, to a large extent also for representatives of the so-called "secret sciences", or esotericists, is the spiritual above of matter. The spiritual existed before the material world and worked and contributes to its development. The finer impulses of man, his inner impulses, are an expression of his non-material essence, his spirit.

Secret societies

At the beginning of the 18th century lodges arose all over Europe in which the new, the philosophy of the Enlightenment and the new science (natural science) were discussed. But it did not stop. The secret societies combine religious and political elements, surround themselves with a veil of mystical and occult secrets, the "Arcanum" (Arcanum (Latin) = the secret). In the mystery of the lodges one can see an antipole to the mysteries of the church or the secret diplomacy of the states. This veil of mystery also served as a camouflage. Enlightened personalities such as Fichte, Friedrich the Great, Goethe, Herder, Lessing (who were all Freemasons) have hardly allowed themselves to be absorbed by superstitious occultism. But some, less gifted, fell into mysticism, enthusiasm and superstition. Or they let themselves be blinded by impostors who presented themselves as "great initiates in the secret sciences".
It is not possible here to go into the many, different, mysterious groups in detail. But we must at least mention the most important ones by name.

The secret sciences
In esoteric literature there are references to secret societies whose secret knowledge is only passed on through initiation. In mystery schools the initiate was supposedly able to consciously experience life after death on earth (through obesity?). He was allowed to prepare for what he encountered after his earthly death; the fact of several earth lives was familiar to him afterwards.
Written records are forbidden and betrayal of secrets is punishable by death. This would explain the well-known esoteric saying: "Who does not speak knows - who knows does not speak".
A book, which is difficult to read, has recently appeared, in which the very complicated, sometimes confused, mystical one handed down by the secret societies has been published "Secret history of the world" is disclosed as much as it seems possible through research into myths and source study (3). Many, allegedly thousands of years old, partly misunderstood, imaginative traditions from very different cultures on different continents are interpreted and related to each other. This creates a multi-layered, sometimes confused and sometimes contradicting picture of the spiritual development of mankind and its esoteric knowledge.
This supposedly very old occult wisdom is said to come from Sumerians, Babylonians and Egyptians. Traces of it can also be found in the Bible. After the victory of Christianity and the ban on ancient cults, the lineage was therefore continued underground. Today, this esoteric knowledge is overloaded with myths that are difficult to interpret and in which the here and the hereafter merge. It also appears that a number of barely clearable errors have crept in.
Many important personalities in history were supposedly privy to this "anti-scientific" understanding of the world, which also provides the basis for religions. Occasionally these initiates are said to have expressed their knowledge in veiled, symbolic representations that are incomprehensible to outsiders.
Centuries ago some of this occultism - today often referred to as spirituality - was cultivated in the churches. The ancient rituals practiced to this day indicate this. Then so-called spirituality was banned from the churches as superstition; it could only partially survive in popular belief. Today, very few believers are aware of the origin and original meaning of the ritual acts.


A - probably fictional - Christian Rosenkreutz (1378-1484)[i] travels through many countries and gained great wisdom. When he returned to Germany, he had to realize that the world was not yet ready for the reforms he wanted. But he wrote down his knowledge in several books: In 1614 a little book was published with the title “General and General Reformation of the whole, wide world”. It is considered the translation of the book "Ragguaguli di Parnasso" by the Italian satirist Boccalini (1556-1613), but also contains a manifest: "Fama Fraternitatis or discovery of the brotherhood of the laudable Order of the Rose Cross". This first manifesto made a great impression and many wanted to know more about this mysterious brotherhood.
As promised in the “Fama Fraternitatis”, a second booklet “Confessio Fraternitatis or Confession of the Praiseworthy Brotherhood of the Honored Rose Creuser Written to the Scholars of Europe” appeared in 1615. The “Confessio Fraternitatis” was a disappointment. Apart from attacks against the Pope, Mohammed and philosophy, or the call to make better use of the wisdom of individual masters of past centuries, it had little to offer.
Finally, in 1623, the “Chymic wedding Christian Rosencreutz. Anno Domini 1459 ". While the author or authors of “Fama Fraternitatis” and “Confessio Fraternitatis” are unsure, the “Chymic Wedding” can be ascribed to the Lutheran pastor Johann Valentin Andreae (1587-1654), who some researchers also consider the author of “Fama” and Turn off “Confessio”. Andreae was a brilliant scholar who, with good reason, can be trusted to found the Rosicrucians (8, p. 349 f.). What he aimed at with his chemical wedding is controversial. The assumptions range from a continuation of Luther's Reformation to a joke that makes fun of the widespread occult ideas.
Above all, the “Chymic Wedding” served the longing of many people for the wonderful. The three mentioned Rosenkreutzer writings were the impetus for the establishment of lodges and their preliminary stages in the 17th and 18th centuries.
Various discreet societies maintain the Rosenkreutz traditions to this day (10).


Freemasonry was probably founded by Rosicrucians in England in 1645 (8, p. 354), but today June 24, 1717 (St. John's Day) is usually considered to be the founding day of speculative masonry. At the beginning of the 18th century, Masonic lodges sprang up all over Europe. These were neither ecclesiastically nor state influenced, but represented an organizational form peculiar to the new, bourgeois society. Lessing, himself a Freemason and after his entry disappointed by the harmlessness of his lodge (4, p. 137), says: “In its essence, Freemasonry is as old as civil society. Both could not have developed otherwise than with each other - if civil society is not just a scion of Freemasonry " (4, p. 119).

We cannot go into the lodge work, the mystical-religious secret teachings of the Freemasons here[ii]. The alleged goal of the Freemasons is to polish the rough man, the "uncut stone" and to elevate the Brethren to the Regions of Light.

I.deengeber of the American Revolution
Freemasons as supporters of the philosophy of the Enlightenment gave ideas to the American independence movement. Freemauer were just as involved in the "Boston Tea Party", the starting signal for the revolution, as they were in laying the foundation stone for the White House. The dollar bill (the current version dates from 1932) also bears Freemason symbols, which gives rise to much speculation. In addition the "Freemason Lexicon":
“The St. Andrews Lodge was based in the 'Green Dragon Tavern' in Boston, which has often been referred to as the headquarters of the liberation struggle. Its members contributed significantly to the Boston Tea Party (December 16, 1773), which gave the starting signal for American liberation. His name was mentioned by the many Freemasons, whose names got a bright ring during the American War of Liberation:
George Washington, James Otis (who first proclaimed human rights in court), Samuel Adams, Alexander Hamilton (who designed the floor plan of the United States), Patrik Henry (the 'Speaker of the Revolution'), Judge John Marshall, Generals Nathaniel Greene , Lee, Marion, Sullivan, Lord Stirling, Putnam, Baron Steuben, de Kalb, Lafayette, Montgomery, Jackson, Gist, Knox, Wooster, Ethan Allen ... ”(6, p. 611).
(In “Short, concise, curious” on page 358 “How a price cut triggered a revolution” a peculiarity of the American Revolution is described, which led to the “Tea Party”).

It is significant for us that Freemasons were carriers of the ideas of the Enlightenment. The philosophy of the Enlightenment set the trend for the revolutions of the 18th and 19th centuries. The American Declaration of Independence - the majority of the signatories were Freemasons - is a document of Enlightenment thought. Likewise, the catchwords "Freedom - Equality - Fraternity" and the "Human Rights Declaration" of the French Revolution.

So it made sense to accuse the Freemasons of a long-planned plot to overthrow the French monarchy (2). The rumor mill was boiling. Conspiracy theories, which assume the Freemasons to abolish Christianity or strive for world domination, are still popular today.

The Catholic Church and many Catholic princes saw the Freemasons as their mortal enemies. These wanted to abolish the monarchies and the church. The Freemasons were later blamed for the horrors of the French Revolution.

In Protestant Germany there was a fear of a conspiracy by the Jesuits with the aim of re-Catholicization. The Jesuits were even suspected of infiltrating the lodges and making them serve their goals. Evangelical princes entered lodges and gained important positions. In this way they could control the lodge work and counteract any attempted coup.

Modern conspiracy theories about the Freemasons are not entirely unjustified in that, e.g. B. in Italy, "Different Masonic lodges (Masoneria derivata)" gives or gave “Which have little to do with the normal Masonic lodges ... They are the central link between the Mafia and civil society. The P2 Lodge, whose existence became known in the 80s, was famous and notorious. Politicians, bankers, right-wing extremists, entrepreneurs and secret services were united in it. This lodge was closely connected to the Sicilian Mafia " (7, p. 32). The most prominent member of the now dissolved secret box P2 (Propaganda Due) was allegedly Silvio Berlusconi (9).


From the outside, the goals of this secret society were similar to those of the Freemasons. Many Illuminati were also Freemasons and are likely to have represented the same ideas shaped by the Enlightenment. However, some authors see Freemasons and Illuminati as opposing poles: The Freemasons were therefore more idealistic-ethical-spiritual and strove to ennoble human beings. The Illuminati, on the other hand, were materialists who advocated a nihilistic philosophy. When they were persecuted in Bavaria, many had to flee. To this day it is assumed that they then infiltrated the Masonic lodges and brought their destructive concerns into them. It is claimed "The program that was put into practice by the French National Assembly in 1789 had been drawn up by the German Illuminati" (3, p. 580 f.). Indeed, Danton, Desmoulins, Guillotin, Marat, Mirabeau, and other leaders of the Revolution were Freemasons, but not necessarily Illuminati as well.
(In “Short, Concise, Curious” on page 363 “A Root for Conspiracy Theories” we have dedicated a separate article to the Illuminati.)

Free thinkers and occultists

In principle, the various secret societies were similar. It is not uncommon for its members to belong to several secret organizations at the same time.
The focus was on the philosophy of the Enlightenment. There were also mystical-religious ideas, such as those found in B. can be expressed in Rosenkreutzer writings.
These occult ideas of the secret societies were influenced by various, often Gnostic, ideas (see box). Much of it can still be found today in esotericism.
As a rule, the secret circles were not confessional (a sacrilege for clerics at the time). It is typical of the Enlightenment that philosophers and writers shook the foundations of the churches and questioned traditional dogmas. Many lodge members, especially the intellectual leaders, such as B. Goethe, were more likely to be free spirits or agnostics than devout Christians. An unbearable condition for the churches; because from their point of view only a believing Christian could be a "decent person".

How did the drift into the occult come about?

Was Newton an initiate?
The world is more complicated than we commonly think, and some famous scientists are considered secret esotericists. Therefore we should not hastily dismiss Baroque people who believed in the Arcanum as nonsensical enthusiasts. Maybe you have to be a dreamer to discover revolutionary new things. Here is an example among many:
To celebrate the three hundredth birthday of Sir Isaac Newton (1643-1727), one of the most important scientists of all time, the well-known political scientist and economist John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946) said in a keynote address:
"He was the last magician, the last Babylonian and Sumerian, the last great intellect, who looked at the visible and spiritual world with the same eyes as those who began to build our spiritual heritage a little less than 10,000 years ago".
Newton left a box full of handwritten notes. Much of it about alchemy and theology - partly written in a secret script - and supposedly intended for the “brotherhood of initiates” (1, p. 265 f. And "Newton's suitcase" under "Esotericism").

Esoteric masters

Then as now, clear but cold science is not enough for many people; the religious longing present in every human being demands satisfaction.

Given the belief in miracles of many Baroque people, it is hardly surprising that one or the other lodge was dedicated to alchemy, astrology, necromancy, spiritualism, fortune-telling, etc. It should not be overlooked that at that time the natural sciences were still at the beginning of their development. It was not uncommon for science and superstition to merge. There was not yet a great difference between astronomy and astrology (Copernicus, Kepler and Newton were astronomers and Astrologers), chemistry and alchemy were pretty much the same, and medicine had barely been able to emancipate itself from the Middle Ages. The alleged masters of Arcana (from Arcanum = the secret) were able to take advantage of the widespread belief in miracles, which the Catholic Church zealously supported. Its followers believed that people today would be capable of miracles similar to those described in the Bible. Those who become Rosicrucians, Freemasons, Illuminati, allegedly get access to secret knowledge with which “miracles” can be worked. Comparable ideas of occult masters - in this world or in the hereafter - and their wonderful possibilities can still be discovered today in the esoteric scene.

The great initiates of the Baroque era such as Casanova, Cagliostro, or the Count of Saint-Germain, who once made the headlines, are now dismissed as impostors, fraudsters, and swindlers. We will deal with these later. About other controversial personalities of this time, such as Franz Anton Mesmer (cf. "Mesmer's Magical Magnetism") and Karl Freiherr von Reichenbach (cf. "The Magician of Cobenzl",) we have already reported elsewhere.

Continued "The Dark Side of Enlightenment" Part 3.

(1) Doucet, History of Secret Sciences, Wilhelm Heyne, Munich, 1982.
(2) Dumas Alexandre, Joseph Balsamo, Structure of Taschenbuch Verlag, Berlin, 2000.
(3) Black Jonathan, The Secret History of the World, Goldmann, Munich, 2008.
(4) Fischer Michael W., The Enlightenment and Its Opposite, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin, 1982.
(5) Hagl Siegfried, Chaff and Wheat, Gralsverlag, Purgstall 10 Eggersdorf, 2003.
(6) Lennhoff Eugen / Posner Oskar / Binder Dieter A., Internationales Freemaurer Lexikon, Herbig, Munich, 2000.
(7) Roth Jürgen, Mafialand Germany, Eichborn, Frankfurt, 2009.
(8) Seligmann Kurt, Das Weltreich der Magic, Bechtermünz, Eltville, 1988.
(9) http: //de.wikipedia,org/wiki/Propaganda_Due. 
[i] Some esotericists consider Christian Rosenkreutz to be a historical figure and the founder of the mysterious order. Exceptional abilities are ascribed to him and his brotherhood (3, p. 475 f.).
[ii] More on this in (5)