Reference to the illuminati often involves uncomplimentary remarks. This is due to the individual having an incomplete understanding of the history of the word, and the corruption of its original signification by groups and individuals. Mystics are often dismayed by being told that the illuminati is not the mystically or spiritually idealistic organization that they had believed. And, in fact, there is an negative connectation associated with the word. The world Illuminati, from the Latin, means "the enlightened ones." The word also derives its meaning from illumination, that is, light, which is to be taken both in the intellectual sense and as a physical phenomenon.
The word and its equivalent in other languages dates back to antiquity and was used by esoteric, mystical, and secret orders, particularly by the Rosicrucians, as meaning a most enlightened state of mind. Simply, those who in their philosophical and mystical studies acquired a mastery of related teachings and doctrines which were being disseminated to them had conferred upon them the dignity and honor of being of the Illuminati,"the enlightened ones."
Such an individual had to exhibit more than an intellectual mastery of the teaching of the mystical or metaphysical Order of which he was a member. His moral character also had to be of the highest quality. These qualification are the original distinction associated with the word Illuminati and the Degree in the Rosicrucian Order, AMORC, by that name.
In the sixteenth century, the true Illuminati were suppressed in Spain by the Roman Catholic Inquisition. The enlightened members of the Illuminati were "free thinkers." They sought individualism in expressing their thoughts, which brought them into conflict with the restricted doctrines of the Church. The action taken by the inquisition and the publicity given it made the otherwise uninformed public think of the Illuminati as some nefarious movement.
In 1776, a secret Masonic society with political overtones was formed by Adam Weishaupt, a professor of canon law, that is, of legal procedure within the Church. Although Weishaupt had been educated by the Jesuits, his act of forming a secret Masonic society made him an apostate insofar as the Church was concerned. As a result, Weishaupt and his Masonic body were accused of being anti-Jesuit and were suppressed in 1785.
Weishaupt personally was also classified at the time as a "free thinker", The term was almost considered heretical by the Church because of the non-acceptance by such people of the dogmatic doctrines of the prevailing religion. Weishaupt and his Masonic order, which was of his own creation, were also accused of political interference. He advocated freedom of thought in the school and the right of the people to read any book they chose, even ones contrary to theological authority. This campaign for liberation on his part and opposition to the political influence of the Church caused Weishaupt to be accused of many acts of which he was not guilty, such as plotting a revolution. The literature of the day publicized Weishaupt's alleged villainy, and the Illuminati were wrongly associated with him.
Actually, the true Illuminati had been in existence centuries before the time of Weishaupt. They had no connection with his society and did not participate in a crusade against religion or secular affairs of the time. Nevertheless, for a long period reference works continued to associated the word Illuminati with Weishaupt and his activities . The name Illuminati was stigmatized by individuals who misused it for their personal ventures.
In the eighteenth century, the words Illumination and Illuminati again came to the attention of the people in another manner. This was the period of the beginning of enlightenment, and the word were used in connection with the interest being aroused in philosophy and scientific reason-that is, the appeal to reason instead of the blind acceptance upon faith. The Illuminati of this period were not, of course, associated with the earliest and continued use of it by the ancient, secret orders. Rather, it was identified with men and women of the eighteenth century who were given to the use of individual thought as " opposed to reliance upon external authority." This period was marked by the growth of metaphysical systems arising from the works of the philosophers Descartes and Leibnitz .