This Sunday, my guest is Jon E. Graham who has translated numerous books from French into English one of which will be the main subject of this week’s episode, ‘The Bavarian Illuminati: The Rise and Fall of the World’s Most Secret Society’ being available in English for the first time.

Jon has been interested in the occult since his teenage years but began to focus more on the subject while living in France having close connections to a group of French surrealists in Paris. He’ll be telling us how surrealism and occultism have been related especially since WWII and what his approach was on his path. As of today, Jon has embraced runes and the Norse cosmology as a working system for himself.

Jon’s amazing translation of ‘The Bavarian Illuminati: The Rise and Fall of the World’s Most Secret Society’ has been recently published with Inner Traditions and is based on the French original by René Le Forestier (1868-1951). Back in his time, Le Forestier was highly regarded for his scholarly studies of forms of freemasonry and particularly for debunking occult groups fighting for members during the 19th century as well as providing in-depth psychological portraits of the personalities involved. Jon will tell us about the person of Le Forestier, his writing style and concept of research.

Two of the main characters that made the history of the Bavarian Illuminati:
Adam Weishaupt (left) and Freiherr Adolph von Knigge (right)

One of the main characters of the Bavarian Illuminati is probably a well-known name among our audience, Adam Weishaupt, professor at the University of Ingolstadt, Bavaria. We will go into great detail on this fascinating individual and explore all the influences, how he ended up fighting against the Jesuits and against censorship at university despite of being not only a professor for law but also of Canon law.

In this episode, we will also explore the overall political and societal system in Bavaria and talk about Weishaupt’s ideas of democracy, freedom and (in a modern term) self-empowerment which made him turn against oppressive systems in general both of mundane and clerical nature and led to the foundation of the (in)famous Bavarian Illuminati on May 1st 1776. Of course, one can’t talk about Illuminati in general or the Bavarian Illuminati in particular without discussing conspiracy theories so we will dig deep into the birth of those theories and how and why in 1786 the Illuminati were disbanded by the authorities.

We will go on to question Weishaupt’s interest in the occult and talk about his ultimate goals and also whether the Illuminati can be considered successful and where they are today.

Finally, Jon will tell us about his upcoming projects involving a translation coming out in fall this year on Norse colonies of Greenland incorporating Inuit folklore, archaeology, church and trail history which all seem to show Greenland differently than one might expect.

Music played in this episode

As much as I would love to tell you more about this week’s music, I am unable to. I found it as free music to be used under a CC license, but could not find out more about the artist(s) that created it, except for their name.

BUT I LIKED IT! And this is why I am playing it for you this week.


1) BLACK SNOW – by airtunes

(Track starts at [6:41])

2) SPACE DUST – by airtunes

(Track starts at [52:01])

3) BLUE NOTES – by airtunes

(Track starts at [1:33:42])

Intro and Outro Music
especially written and recorded for the Thoth-Hermes Podcast by Chris Roberts

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