Novus Ordo Seclorum

 Darkness and an eerie still governed the fringes of Ingolstadt, Bavaria on the night of April 30, 1776 and nothing was as usual. Portentous clouds sat low and concealed the stars so they couldn’t bestow their usual light. A strange sickness had poisoned the moon and made it blood red so it had no usual silver illumination to give. There was no usual sound of horses’ hooves beating against the city streets. So, the stray dogs unusually had nothing to bark at, which allowed the cold, wailing winds of a shoddily lit night to be heard far more than usual. It’s no surprise, then, that in a setting so meagre of usual light and sound, an unusual and shadowy mystery was being birthed, for while the town and rest of the world took repose, five men were wide awake abandoning societal, governmental, and religious control. And tonight, they’d exert their freedom by constructing a social edifice apportioned to the weird and unusual.

 Calling themselves the “Primo Illuminatur,” they sat around a semi-circular table in a dimly lit room on the town’s peripheries composing the principal doctrines and chief guidelines of a covert society which would be fully operational by dawn. Broken and in disrepair, the small building they were in made all sorts of creaks and rattling sounds. It was as if it knew something odd was happening and wanted to say “not here, you five. Not here, and especially not at this Godforsaken hour,” but was too petrified, so it restricted itself to murmuring squeaks, taking particular care not to more than slightly disturb the strange happenings in that forgotten part of town where the streets had no name. If walls had eyes, these walls would want theirs shut!

“Ever since Adam fell from God’s grace at Eden, humanity has not been given a proper science of salvation,” began the leader of the five, Johann Adam Weishaupt, at the opportune moment.

The house squeaked.

“No way for humanity to once again commune with the divine has been worked out in such a way that we retain our dignity and sense of freedom. Many ways have been ascribed but they are the ways of bondage and shame.  The task is ours, then, gentlemen, to show the species a new way, the way of illumination. We’ll give them our science of return, the Minerval Arts, through which all can be rendered conscious of humanity’s destiny and power.” Proud of his idealism, he paused, lifted up a vial filled with red viscous liquid and poured of it into five wine glasses.

The house creaked.

Having made sure all gathered had a glass, he raised his in a fashion redolent of a toast and went on softly yet fervently with “Novus Ordo Seclorum, Gentlemen.”

Novus Ordo Seclorum!” they responded with harmonized piety.

All took a decent quaff of the red viscous liquid leaving about half in each glass.

The house rattled.

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Their strange ritual did as it was designed to and gave them a feeling of fraternity, which they preserved as they carried on transcribing clandestine creeds and discussing strategies of securing influence.

Labouring feverishly, they hammered out the society’s plan of action for illuminating mankind, all mankind; on their list of places to conquer was a map of the world. Their prototype was based on freemasonry with which they all had firm bonds. In fact, all five came very close to being initiated as masons. They declined however, because they thought the organization was too low for their lofty standards after they got a peak behind its curtains. To them freemasonry wasn’t based on sturdy philosophical pillars, and would tumble accordingly within a short time; their wishes were too grand for that, Weishaupt’s especially. He wanted to build something that was consistent with human nature and thus, would evolve with the species. And since Weishaupt’s hubris wouldn’t allow him to watch his dreams turn to ashes, here he was forming his own furtive coterie.

As if intended, at exactly 1:00 am, an hour believed to be known to witches as the Devil’s Dawn, a howling wind blew through the slumbering town. It made the silver lindens outside of the building tremble and their spring leaves quivered ominously. Perhaps like the house, they too wanted to announce their disapproval of the uncanny ritual that the five were about to partake in but thought better of it due to a silencing terror.

While trees and leaves shuddered with presage, something resembling the corpse of a small girl was removed from beneath a cretonne covering.

“This do in remembrance of me,” started Weishaupt. “Take, eat: this is her body which inspires our strength.” With that he passed the article around the room. Each pinched off a piece and started to eat.

The trembling of the trees amplified.

Weishaupt then took up his cup with the red viscous liquid from earlier, whispered a supplication of gratitude, and invited the others to lift theirs as well, saying, “drink all of it: for this is her blood of the latter-most testament, which was shed for the approbation of our sins.”

They drank the contents of their cup.

The trees grumbled more intensely.

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Just as they were about to put down their glasses and end the unholy, artificial Eucharist, Aldous Gerhilde Eichel, having the most precipitated temper of the assembled, broke out in laughter. “My apologies, but does a part of our creed really have to always include playing tricks on people?” he asked with consummate lightheartedness.

The trees started to relax.

“Most assuredly, esteemed Aldous” replied an amused Weishaupt. “These rituals were born of my whimsical caprice and I intend for them to become custom.”

“Johann, I wish that you would bring perspicuity to my clouded mind for as amusingly diverting as they are, I cannot see their useful profit. Furthermore, the common man will think the worst! And although playing with the unthinking drones is always a source of delight, I fear rousing their horror and disapproval will work against our aims.”

“Ah, Aldous, you have struck the devil’s heart! Condemnation is exactly what I require of the rabble. I want them to be moved to hate and fear by religious piety and blind belief. So much so, that they will spread our names far and wide in fables of the demonic and unholy. In so doing, contrary to working against our aims, they will unknowingly turn us into a popular symbol of liberty and those who have eyes to see will see us for what we are – free thinkers. We shall be as a beacon in the sky and the wise shall be enticed unto us!”

“I agree with the always practical Weishaupt. His discernment into the mind of man far exceeds reproach or comparison,” said Torsten Kruez, the most silver-tongued of the five.

“He certainly has esoteric knowledge of man’s psychology,” said Luka Huber cool as typical.

The introverted Niclas Kappel only nodded at the other four.

“Though Johan is wisdom incarnate, my confusion still abounds. I always thought our objective was the illumination of the rabble,” said a sterner Aldous.

“That is our doubtless aim,” answered Weishaupt.

“It would appear as if my dull wits are failing me again, then. It is true that our actions might cause wise men to draw close to us. However, I do not apprehend how inspiring the masses’ trepidation and pious disdain with our rituals of fake blood and cake fashioned like a child’s corpse will help to illumine them. If anything it would seem as if we are pushing away those we are after and attracting our kind; men who need no more wisdom.”

“We are seeking after women too.”

“I know. By “men” I refer to all humankind.”

“Your word choice betrays a subconscious prejudice.”

“Of a truth I only imagined men would come,” continued Aldous masking his dislike of Weishaupt’s reproof with a tender grin.

“As to your misgiving,” Weishaupt went on “once again you encamp in vicinity of truth, but you see the trees and not the forest. I’m sure you’re alert to state of the rabble. They need help but are unaware of their low condition. They perpetually follow those who are set over them because they are too feeble of mind to actively walk their own road. They are as ships without sail meandering wherever the tides decree. They all want the same, dress the same, speak the same and still audaciously lay claim to their spurious individuality. But I digress. Nevertheless, one thing the rabble is ever in need of is governance. And who governs them, esteemed Aldous? Is it not the wiser and stronger among us who rule?”

“Assuredly, it is they who govern”

“Now, since strength intensifies in numbers, my aim is to bring together the rulers, free thinkers, and vanguards. Under this banner, the banner of Illuminati, we will work on raising humanity to the heights of wisdom providing for them a new social order with an ever evolving system of ethics so that individuals and the cultures that they share can grow and flourish”

Finding his explication faultless, the rest of the group nodded in commendation.

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“So you see, concerned Aldous,” continued Weishaupt “our silly, sacrilegious rituals that evince my Jesuit inheritance are indispensable. We need the common people to think the worst of us. Of course, we have no more powers than ordinary men. Of course, we are rocked with the same insecurities and basic concerns as they are. Of course, we cannot rule the world or control millions. We can only seek to make higher culture palatable to the masses. But they must not know this. To them we must appear devilishly cunning and all encompassing.”

The group gave affirming nods.

 

“Furthermore,” the leader went on jokingly “we must keep things interesting for the prudent ones who will adhere to our cause. For although wisdom calms the passions, drama still has deathless appeal.”

The group gave affirming chortles.

With mission crystal clear, they spent the remainder of the early morning delegating duties. It was decided that Weishaupt was responsible for introducing the ideals of the society to the faculty of the University of Ingolstadt where, like his father, he taught law. Aldous was to speak to the layman and introduce the society to the rare ones who were enlightened or on the verge of enlightenment. Luka Huber and Niclas Kappel were responsible for gathering intelligence on secret sects and societies across Europe; their introverted natures and affinity for pouring over copious amounts of data made them appropriate for the task. Torsten Kruez, being gifted in conversation, was assigned the job of dispersing troublesome propaganda and hair-raising tales about the society and its rituals.

Daybreak loomed by the time they all received and comprehended their specific assignments. A climbing sun had commenced its rule of daytime by gently awaking nature with its light and heat. And she slowly got up with an expected magnificence. Nature yawned; birds streamed in delightful flight. She stretched; butterflies lay beautiful on enchanting flowers dampened with rosy dew. She rose up entirely; all animals, in general, took their place in the drama of life. They all seemed to enjoy the expiration of a dark and cold night. It was as if existence wanted to proudly proclaim “the age of dark unreason is over at last! Here comes the light at dawn. Welcome to the world, Bavarian Illuminati, First Order of the Illuminated!” but didn’t because the words got in the way.

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Soon after the sun came up, Weishaupt started with “we can adjourn now. We have labored enough; our weary heads have earned their pillows. But before we go, let me express my inestimable gratitude for all of you. Never has a finer group been assembled. Individually, you are all men of great might, but together we’ll become as gods if Aldous can only manage to develop a love for tricks.”

The group laughed. Aldous’ laugh was the heartiest.

“Perhaps, troublesome times are ahead,” continued Weishaupt “ perhaps, with this society, we have created our own damnation, but I would rather be put to the torture rack with this group, than inherit a Heavenly kingdom filled with cowards who are terrified of a little thinking. You four, by contrast, are the bravest of the brave. You have sought after the truth even when it showed you your own darkness. You have drawn close to edge of life’s abyss, stared inside, and suffered as it stared back into you. Thus, you have realized that you are spirits embodied in time and space, and through the development of your reasoning powers, you have, at times, cast off the flesh wherein you dwell confined. Yours is the way of heartbreak and I too have walked its lonely, icy glaciers and confusing labyrinths. We have struggled for our illumination and if we are lost, we are lost in a light too bright for us for we have seen something we cannot show – it’s a mystery that too vast for the understanding.”

The group nodded. Aldous’ nod was the heaviest.

Weishaupt went on with “our wisdom has made us conceited and it should be so. It is human nature to feel better than other people. We all fall short of divine grandeur lost in ourselves; that is what life requires. Nevertheless, ours is a tempered conceit – a necessary conceit. Our flaws are indispensable, so, away with their sacrament of penance, away with retribution. It is time to forget about sin. “Wash from your minds any memory of that mistress who tempts us away from enjoying life” is our message to humanity. Novus Ordo Seclorum, Gentlemen and Good morning.”

“Novus Ordo Seclorum and Good morning” they replied. Aldous’ reply was the loudest.

Thus, they left the little broken down house on the fringes of town where the streets had no name proud of the trouble that they expected to start.

 

 

 

by Mark Hutchinson //Featuring photography from Wellington Sanipe

 

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