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?
Who founded the Order of the Illuminati?
What happened to the group after the ban?
Then why do we still hear so much about them today?
What does the modern Illuminati want to do?
Who's been flagged as a member?
Is there evidence for the existence of the Illuminati?
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.
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: