The symbol of the Bohemian Club was also the symbol on the seal of
Adam Weishaupt's Bavarian Illuminati Order.
When the Illuminati Order was founded by Adam Weishaupt on May 1st
1776, the higher grades did not already exist within the Society,
until 1780. The members who did know the true story of the Order, the
date of its foundation and the name of its founder called themselves
the Areopagites (or Conscii).
The other members were kept ignorant or deluded with myths. They were
called Novice, Minerval and Illuminated Minerval. The seal of the
Minerval Assembly was "an owl flying in a star-studded sky with the
capital letters Q.E.Q.N. (Quantum est quod nescismus)" (Le
Forestier, "Illuminés" 67). This is translated as "How great is our
The term Minerval and the symbolism of the seal of their Assembly was
inspired by the goddess Minerva. Minerva is the Roman name of Athena
who is the Greek goddess of crafts and the domestic arts and also
those of war. She was the patron goddess of Athens. Her symbol is the
owl. She was originally the Great Goddess in the form of a bird.
Athena is also known as the goddess of wisdom.
There were so many owls in ancient Athens that a saying of the
time, "to send owls to Athens," meant taking something to where it is
already plentiful. The Greeks made the owl sacred to Athena, the
goddess of wisdom. The Greeks considered them birds of prophecy -
portents of evil as well as triumph, depending upon the circumstances
of their appearance.
The stigma of evil and supernatural power persisted through the
centuries. Many people have feared the bird, some believing that the
owl's cry foretold death and disaster. Since owls shared a fellowship
with demons and witches, it was believed that they also had the power
to ward off other bad spirits.
The original Illuminati seal had actually nothing to do with the
unfinished pyramid and All-seeing Eye radiant triangle on the Great
Seal of the United States.
By 1781, the Illuminati Order recruited many German freemasons and
also took over Masonic lodges. Freemasonry, especially the Scottish
rite, exerted an influence on the Illuminati Order. The Order adopted
a new organization after the Convention of December 20, 1781. Due to
its Masonic connection, the Illuminati Order became the Illuminated
The seal of the Illuminated Freemasonry Assembly was a "medallion
bordered by a double string. In the center was engraved an owl,
perched on an open book, which was underlined by two crossing laurel
branches. On the book, one could see four letters: S. (Sigillum), E.
(Ecclesiae), M. (Minervalis), the fourth being the initial of the
Illuminati name given to the Colony" (Le Forestier, "Illuminés" 259).
Le Forestier, René (1914). Les Illuminés de Bavière et la Franc-
Maçonnerie Allemande. Paris: Hachette.
The Great Seal of the United States of America