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It was always my understanding that the illuminati mythos had its roots in Adam Weishaupt's Bavarian Illuminati of 1 May 1776, and this is what I have always argued with conspiracy theorists on countless platforms and forums.

However, according to the Britannica encyclopedia a Spanish historian named Marcelino Menéndez y Pelayo identified a Spanish group with Italian influences, named the aluminados, as existing as early as 1492. Britannica claims that aluminados translates to Illuminati.

Britannica encyclopedia

Spanish historian Marcelino Menéndez y Pelayo first finds the name about 1492 (in the form aluminados, 1498) but traces them back to a gnostic origin and thinks their views were promoted in Spain through influences from Italy.

Question

Should the aluminados be considered to be the roots of the illuminati mythos?

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  • `An order with secret rites [...] which [...] has been joined successively by the dead of past centuries in unbroken retrogression until now it embraces all the generations of man on the hither side of Adam and is drumming up distinguished recruits among the pre-Creational inhabitants of Chaos and Formless Void.'
    – Tomas By
    Commented Aug 26, 2022 at 20:23
  • Yeah, seems legit.
    – Ne Mo
    Commented Aug 26, 2022 at 22:12
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    I've checked the Spanish source (Historia de los heterodoxos españoles) and they should be called "iluminados". "Aluminados" is only used once by a doctor who was making fun of them in a text, so the change in the name was a joke. Even the Spanish historian (Menéndez y Pelayo) considers their true name "iluminados". Commented Aug 27, 2022 at 15:21

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Did Adam Weishaupt's Bavarian Illuminati know of the Spanish group? Is there anything in the writings of the Bavarians which resembles the ideas of the Spanish? If not, then this seems to be simply a coincidence of names.

There's also the question of which Illuminati mythos you're asking about. There are at least two:

One is the line through Freemasonry and related groups, such as the Ordo Templi Orientis. The important factor for distinguishing this "authentic" mythos is that it has demonstrable sources before 1975.

The other line started in 1975 with The Illuminatus! Trilogy, by Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson. They started with some basic facts about the Bavarians and made up a lot of plausible-seeming fiction on top of it. They were thoroughly familiar with Discordianism, which is a postmodern joke disguised as a religion (or a religion disguised as a postmodern joke - it's hard to tell) and applied its principles thoroughly in their writing.

In particular, Operation Mindf*ck is an important part of Discordianism. That requires the attribution of "all national calamities, assassinations, or conspiracies" to the Bavarian Illuminati, in a deliberate attempt to spread paranoia. This was extremely successful, and all modern Illuminati conspiracy theorists are their victims.

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  • Fnord! 23 skidoo!
    – cmw
    Commented Aug 29, 2022 at 1:42
  • Ixnay on the onx-bray.
    – Ne Mo
    Commented Aug 29, 2022 at 16:13

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