What is the Illuminati, and when did they start?

30 Aug

There is a perennial curiousness about secretive orders and organisations, the Freemasons being the other major subject of scrutiny.  But who are they and where did they come from?

Dan Brown would have you believe they are sent to protect Jesus’ bloodline heirs.  Bit far-fetched, that one.  Conspiracy theories abound regarding which high-up members of government are trying to control us through a powerful network with a secret goal.    Nothing could be further from the truth, and this misconception has all been caused by a simple matter of mistranslation.

The name ‘Illuminati’ has always been translated as ‘illuminated’, as in, the elite intellectuals.  We get the image of people who think they are better than everyone else, and follow naturally on to the idea that they desire power and control.  But the Illuminati began in 1780 with a simple lady called Aimé Argand.  She was neither arrogant nor influential.  She did, however, have a passion.

A passion for enlightening others.

Aimé Argand was the inventor of the Argand lamp, an innovative oil lamp design producing the light of 6-10 candles and patented as a breakthrough in modern lighting.

She was soon joined by Antoine-Arnoult Quinquet, a French lamp maker who took Aimé’s design and improved upon it by adding a glass chimney to further improve wick combustion and cleanliness.  Bernard Guillaume Carcel added a clockwork mechanism to the design to aid the oil travelling up from the reservoir.  Great minds such as Sir Gurney and Monsieur Franchot also joined the ranks and worked together to help illuminate the world.  Ignacy Łukasiewicz and Robert Edwin Dietz both later produced breakthroughs in kerosene lamplighting thanks to being in touch with the group.  They called themselves ‘the Illuminators’ and were at the forefront of lamp design right the way through the discovery of electricity and beyond.  Joseph Swan and Thomas Edison were, naturally, Illuminators.

Unfortunately, as time went on there became less and less need for innovation.  Lighting isn’t an issue the way it was in the 18th century and since the mass-production of the lightbulb the Illuminators found themselves with very little to research that wasn’t already having money poured into it by large corporations.  The modern remnants find themselves in much the same boat as the Masons these days – a drinking club with a few leftover speeches and handshakes whose members meet just for fun.

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Posted by on August 30, 2012 in What?, When?, Who?


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