On the Illuminati
Extract from Not in His Image, Ch. 9, Schools for Coevolution
The telestai of the Mysteries were sophisticated shamans, past masters of “archaic techniques of ecstasy.” Traditionally, shamans were the intermediaries between the human-made realm of culture and the nonhuman realm of nature. Their special calling demanded a schizoid capacity to move between two worlds, keep the two worlds distinct, and effectuate exchanges between them. Schizophrenics naturally have this mobility, but without a proper spiritual orientation and appropriate training they are easily undone by it. Successfully managed schizophrenia can result in great works of mythopoesis, as seen in the writings of Antonin Artaud, Philip K. Dick, and Carlos Castaneda, to cite just three (male) examples.
Mystery adepts who were responsible for the cultivation of human potential to its optimal level took great care not to risk schizophrenic damage with their pupils and neophytes. They realized how easy it is to induce and exploit schizophrenic states that can arise spontaneously in the process of initiation. The requisite lowering, or total dissolution, of the ego-self produces high suggestability in the subject. Neophytes in the Mysteries were prime subjects for “imprinting,” the process in which a predetermined psychic content or program is implanted in the subconscious mind. Imprinting occurs universally in nature as the means by which instinctual programs are transferred from one generation to another. Ethologist Konrad Lorentz (1903–89) famously imprinted newborn ducks, convicing them that he was their mother. Lorentz coined the term “inner release mechanism” (IRM), whereby organisms are genetically predisposed to respond to certain stimuli. The ideas expressed in his popular book On Aggression (1966) were known to initiates through their intimate, firsthand observation of psychomimetic activities, formulated today in the science of neurolinguistic programming.
In short, the psyche can be trained to imitate behavior modeled for it ritualistically, or repeat assigned behavior when exposed to a specific signal (posthypnotic suggestion). Such manipulations of the psyche depend on the primary condition for intiation: temporary dissolution of the filter of self-consciousness.
Behavioral manipulation, psychological programming, and mind control were utterly repugnant to the genuine telestai of the ancient Mysteries. Such procedures represented to them a path leading away from consecration to Sophia and the Great Work of coevolving with nature, toward social engineering and personal power games. The goal of the telestai was to foster a sane and balanced society by helping individuals reach their peak potential, and never to interfere directly in social management.
Over the course of time some initiates did take the path of social engineering, however. Dissident members of the Gnostic movement who came to be known as “Illuminati” chose to use initiatory knowledge to develop and implement various techniques of behavior modification. Originally, the Illuminati were members of the Magian order, an ancient Persian lineage of shamanism from which the Gnostic movement was derived.*
Historians understand the Magi to have been the priesthood of Zoroaster, or Zarathustra. According to a scribal note written on the margin of Alciabides I, a work attributed to Plato, “Zarathustra is said to have been older than Plato by 6,000 years.”163 In her extraordinary and little-known book, Plato Prehistorian, Mary Settegast situates the rise of the Magian order, the original priesthood of ancient Iranian religion, in the Age of the Twins, around 5500 B.C.E., a date supported by the Greek sources. The Age of the Twins, or Geminian Age, lasted from 6200 to 4300 B.C.E. The motif of duality associated with the constellation of the Twins is consistent with the central theme of Iranian religion: absolute cosmic duality, Good versus Evil.
But this type of duality is not what we find in Gnostic teachings. The problem faced by the Magian predecessors of the Gnostics was the duality of human intention, not the dichotomy of cosmic absolutes. Around 4000 B.C.E., with the rise of urban civilization in the Near East, some members of the Magian order chose to apply certain secrets of initiation to statecraft and social engineering. They became the advisors to the first theocrats of the patriarchal nation-states, but in fact the advisors were running the show. Their subjects were systematically programmed to believe they were descended from the gods. The Illuminati inaugurated elaborate rites of empowerment, or kingship rituals. These rituals were in fact methods of mind control exercised on the general populace through the collective symbology and mystique of royal authority. Kingship rituals were distinct from the rites of initiation that led to instruction by the Light and consecration to the Great Goddess. Their purpose was not education and enlightenment, but social management.
Gnostics refrained from assuming any role in politics because their intention was not to change society but to produce skilled, well-balanced, enlightened individuals who would create a society good enough that it did not need to be run by external management. The intention of the dissident Magians to run society by covert controls was based on their assumption that human beings are not innately good enough, or gifted enough, to create a humane world. This difference in views of human potential was the main factor that precipitated the division of the Magians.
Historians recognize a split in the Magian order, but do not understand either its origin or its consequences. Within the order, the telestai were given the title of vaedemna, “seer,” “wise one,” as distinguished from the priest, the zoatar, who officiated openly in society and advised Middle Eastern theocrats on matters of statecraft and social morality, not to mention agricultural planning—for Zoroaster was by all accounts responsible for the introduction of planned, large-scale agriculture. It is generally agreed that women discovered by gathering plants how to cultivate them, and men later expanded this discovery into the ancient equivalent to agribusiness. So arose the first theocratic city-states in the Fertile Crescent. (Civilization may be defined as the way of life that begins by amassing vegetables to increase population, and ends with a population of vegetables.) Urban populations required social control, and the Illuminati assumed the role of planners and controllers—more often than not, hidden controllers.
In Plato Prehistorian, Mary Settegast explains that “at one extreme Zarathustra has been described as a primitive ecstatic, a kind of ‘shaman’; at the other, as a worldly familiar of Chorasmian kings and court politics.”164 The distinction between the shaman-seer and the sacerdotal figure engaged in court politics exemplifies the split in the Magian order. In book 3 of the Republic, Plato disclosed the Illuminati rationale: “contrive a noble lie that would in itself carry the conviction of our entire community.” The first recorded use of the word gnostikos occurs in Plato’s Politicus (258e–267a) where the ideal politician is defined as “the master of the Gnostic art.”165 From its introduction into the Western intellectual tradition, gnostikos was wrongly associated with the Illuminati faction and hence the name came to be disowned by the telestai who did not engage in statecraft and social management, using the “noble lie” rationale.
In fact, gnostikoi like Hypatia would never have used that term to describe themselves. Six centuries after Plato, it came into use as an insult. The Church Fathers ridiculed the teachers in the Mysteries with the term gnostokos, intended to mean “smart ass,” “know-it-all.” Among themselves, the initiates would have used the term telestes. Paradoxically, “gnostic” comes down to us tainted by the condemnation of the Roman Church and associated with the very members of the Magian order who were disowned by the guardians of the Mysteries.
The Illuminati program was (and still is) essential to patriarchy and its cover, perpetrator religion. While it cannot exactly be said that the deviant adepts known as Illuminati created patriarchy, they certainly controlled it. And still do. The abuse of initiatory knowledge to induce schizophrenic states (“entrainment”), manipulate multiple personalities in the same person (“platforming”), and command behavior through posthypnotic suggestion (the “Manchurian candidate” technique) continues to this day, with truly evil consequences for the entire world. If we accept that the Mysteries were schools for Gaian coevolution dedicated to the goddess Sophia, they could not have been run by the Illuminati, as some contemporary writers (who believe they are exposing the Illuminati) have supposed. Everything the Gnostics did in the schools was intended to counterbalance and correct the machinations of the deviant adepts. Initiation involved melting the ego boundaries in preparation for deep rapport with nature, not lowering of ego consciousness so that the subject could be “sectioned” and behaviorally programmed using the power of suggestion, imprinting, and other psychodramatic methods. These behavioral modification tools of the Illuminati were strictly forbidden in the Mysteries overseen by Gnostics.
* It is impossible to develop this claim within the limits of this book. See my article “Gnostics or Illuminati?
” on Metahistory.org.