So, What Exactly Is the Illuminati Conspiracy?

The conspiracy claims that many of the world's leaders and celebrities are Illuminati members. We break down the theory and explore the possibilities.

So, What Exactly Is the Illuminati Conspiracy?

illuminat imagery

This feature was originally published on February 20, 2015.

There are theories to explain the '69 moon landing, JFK's assassination, 9/11, Area 51, AIDS, and, well, Beyoncé. Conspiracy theories, in a way, are meant to give us answers to things that may be difficult to wrap our heads around. How did George W. Bush win the presidency? Oh, because he was a member of the Skull and Bones secret society. These kind of theories are a dime a dozen, but while some theories seem absurd, some of them have turned out to be true, like the U.S. government intentionally not curing STDs in infected black people to study them, and that same government's mind control programs.

If the moon landing "hoax" took over the early 1970s (don't remind Buzz Aldrin of that, or he'll punch you in the face #thuglife style), then the pentagrams, skulls, eyes, and pyramids of the Illuminati have been the most talked about conspiracy theory of the 2000s—thanks to the Internet. Type "Illuminati conspiracy" into Twitter or YouTube and you'll get a ton of results that show how hardcore people are about the theory and getting to the bottom of it. It's Roswell, New Mexico, all over again. So, what is the Illuminati and the conspiracy around them? What do they want? And, probably the main thing on your mind right now: Who's in it? C'mon, Lady Gaga has to be. Have you seen her videos? Blue Ivy? Obama? The Founding Fathers

It's all complicated, and when you take into account most of what's been said about the Illuminati, there are a lot of moving parts that stretch many, many years. As you might expect, not all that's been said about them is verifiable, but there's some truth behind the group as a whole, which goes back centuries (to the year America was founded, to be exact). 

Let's take a look at the group and why they're talked about today.

Are the Illuminati real?

are they real

Who founded the Order of the Illuminati?

adam weishaupt

What happened to the group after the ban?

after illuminati

Then why do we still hear so much about them today?

today illuminati

What does the modern Illuminati want to do?


Who's been flagged as a member?

who is in illuminati

Is there evidence for the existence of the Illuminati?

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If you want evidence, all you have to do is search YouTube for it, and you'll find plenty of people who think they've found it. There are a ton of creepy videos that explain the Illuminati's supposed power. Many of the videos tap into people's fears (which is why a lot of them add a soundtrack full of horrifying sounds and sometimes show violent pictures). Symbols that are now synonymous with the Illuminati are the Eye of Horus and the pyramid (which are both famously on American currency). Since the Illuminati are said to have influence over entertainment, finding those symbols in music, television or in movies is alleged proof of their involvement.

It's interesting that these symbols became intertwined with our vision of the Illuminati, and not the Owl of Minerva, which was the Order of the Illuminati's original symbol. 

People have also looked at quotes from past presidents as evidence, like JFK's speech to the American Newspaper Publishers Association:  

Or George H.W. Bush's speech in 1991, where he mentions a New World Order:

... and his toy pyramid:

Conspiracy theorists point to celebrities who use these symbols in their work, or in photographs, as evidence that they're part of the society. Occult symbols have also been connected with the Illuminati, like the "OK" hand symbol around a person's eye, which is meant to signify "666," the number of the Beast. Then there's Jay Z, Beyonce, and everyone in pop music's use of the diamond hand symbol. 

And since they're already famous, well, it's easy for theorists to make the assumption that these celebrities are throwing out hints of their Illuminati involvement, and not just finding something to do with their hands during a photo or video shoot.

But the evidence has been forced so much that pointing out Illuminati is essentially a meme nowadays:

What are the arguments against its existence?

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"Proof" when it comes to disproving the existence of a modern, godlike Illuminati comes from the lack of hard evidence for its existence.

With so many versions of what the Illuminati could be (Satanic? Masonic? Atheist? Reptilian?), theorists can't even agree on who or what they are. And, all of those artists who put occult or Illuminati symbolism in their videos? They're doing it on purpose, either because they know you'll talk about it, or because their production team couldn't think of any other designs to use. If this organization wanted to rule the world in secret, they're doing a shitty job. First rule of Fight Club is: You don't talk about Fight Club. Each and every one one of those celebrities would have been kicked out by now for blatantly flaunting their membership. Also, those YouTube videos and websites exposing the Illuminati would likely have been mysteriously erased by now if the group had complete control over things like the Internet.

Going back to the purpose of conspiracy theories in general, they're meant to make sense of the impossible (even if the theory itself doesn't make sense when you dig deeper). Some would like to think someone like Jay Z can become successful on his own, not with the help of a centuries-old secret society.

If there are Illuminati, conspiracy theorists probably aren't going to be very happy when they see how much power the group doesn't have. And, if they do exist, they may be completely different than what the conspiracy theorists have cooked up. Secret societies have been around for ages, but for one with the power to influence world events and shape history to its will? That would be extraordinary. But, it's hard to definitively say that they don't exist. In fact, you probably can't. So the only "proof" you're going to get is the kind that debunks single theories (like Reptilians), and not the existence of the group as a whole. It's an unfalsifiable theory.

And no, Tupac wasn't a member.

How many people believe that the Illuminati are real?

how many

So, do the all powerful Illuminati exist today?


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