• On social media, hip-hop queens Rihanna and Beyoncé are accused of becoming Illuminati. During their concert, they would perform signs in the shape of a triangle, symbol of the movement.
  • A fairly common fantasy that is nevertheless detached from its historical origin.
  • 20 Minutes looks back at the history of the Illuminati and its link with current culture.

Would Beyoncé and Rihanna have pledged allegiance to the Illuminati? This is what many Internet users imagine on TikTok. Accusations that are not new. Since the release of the Umbrella music video in 2007, Riri has been accused of being a kind of incarnation of the devil... And in another S&M click, released in 2010, the inscription "Rihanna, the princess of Illuminati" would have been detected by fans.

More recently, during the Superbowl, Rihanna also reportedly showed several signs during her halftime concert. First, she would have made a diamond sign with her hands. A sign that would not have been televised, but later broadcast on social networks. Then, his position on the stage would also have been well chosen. Rihanna would have been placed high leaving a triangle layout, also a sign of the Illuminati.


Rihanna's triangular hand geature represents illuminati. This cult known to many celebrities, sells their souls for fame. 🙏 #shame #fame #sellyoursoul #richesforhell #earthistemporary #heaveniseternal #repent #saveyoursoul #jesusisthetruththewayandthelife

♬ original sound - Gloria

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But it's not the only one. During a concert in Paris, a Queen B fan says she witnessed a strange scene: Jay-Z asked the entire audience to put his hands in a triangle and move them up and down. "Up and down, up and down". "I don't do this weird stuff. It surprised me that no one talked about that, because at some point I turn around and everyone makes the same sign." "Everyone was bewitched," she adds.

But where do these theories come from? 20 Minutes went back in time to understand how the Illuminati invited themselves into today's pop culture.

A birth in Bavaria

You have to go back to the eighteenth century in Bavaria to find the first traces of the Illuminati. Inspired by Freemasonry but also in the middle of the Enlightenment, the German Adam Weishaupt created a private club. In a society then oppressed where discussion around sensitive subjects such as religion was not free, the goal was above all to free oneself in a rather radical way from obscurantism. But after ten years, the club was finally banned.

The current explanation will finally no longer have any connection with this page of history, says Pierre-Yves Beaurepaire, historian and author of the Illuminati, from the secret society to conspiracy theories. Its current image takes shape a few years later. In France, as in Europe, the Revolution broke out and society exploded. Two spheres of society are mostly condemned to exile, the aristocracy and the clergy, argues Yves Pagès, author of the Pseudo-Illuminati conspiracy, the strange fate of an imaginary conspiracy.

Leaders of the Revolution

Among them, Father Barruel sees in the Illuminati the whole explanation of the Revolution and writes a book of it. According to him, this private group would be at the work of all the upheaval of society. Across the Channel, the British physicist John Robison also devotes a book to the subject. "These were speeches among many others against revolutionaries, attempts to explain the revolution as a phenomenon of a group of power having fallen the natural order," says Yves Pagès.

In Europe, these accusations will have a certain echo at the time. Yet the conspiracy is fabricated. The word "Illuminati" is invented by erasing all its historical origins. "The world is completely confused. This is the beginning of what we still know today. When you have some kind of general destabilization, certain events strike you with their speed and complexity. It's much easier to imagine that there are secret forces at work," says Pierre-Yves Beaurepaire. Very soon, the anti-Illuminati theses will also cross the Atlantic.

'A climate of widespread paranoia'

We are now in the nineteenth century. The year 1800 was marked by the U.S. presidential election between incumbent President John Addams and Thomas Jefferson. He becomes, according to the power in place, "the candidate of the Illuminati" to "steal the election". Same observation later, during the presidential election of 2020 where Donald Trump loses to Joe Biden. However, the Illuminati remain one conspiracy among many. "A little delirium compared to Rosewelds or reptilians," compares Yves Pagès. Several decades later, in a context of the Cold War, society falls into a "climate of generalized paranoia" with the invention of many delusions around extraterrestrials.

But how did this conspiracy get to our favorite stars? For Yves Pagès, the 1970s were surely a decisive turning point for this movement among black American communities. During several riots, especially in Chicago, police repression truly shattered society. "This old discourse that was carried only by reactionary pastors will begin to enter a certain black American culture rather rebellious, desperate, defeated, disenchanted," says the writer.

It is now the 2000s and the Twin Towers have just collapsed in New York. "For a religious people, you have to find a meta-explanation," says Yves Pagès. With the arrival of the Internet, the fantasy of a world manipulated by the Illuminati is also invited into pop culture, movies and music. The stars of black music - and more particularly those of rap and hip-hop - become, according to the collective imagination, puppets of the Judeo-Masonic elite.

A buzz, good or bad

But over time, these accusations of belonging to some form of Satanism have arguably become a marketing strategy for artists. According to Yves Pagès, Rihanna like Beyoncé or Jay-Z would actually have every interest in using these Masonic gestures like the eye or the triangle ... for the buzz. Whether it is good or bad. This strategy is also accompanied by a rather important blurring of the signs related to the Illuminati. "There are many symbols with multiple interpretations. Behind the eye, for example, everyone can put what they want," says Pierre-Yves Beaurepaire. More realistically, the triangle remains quite logical for the artists concerned. For Jay-Z, for example, it is the sign of his label Roc Nation.

Despite the extent of the current buzz, Yves Pagès continues to believe in "a pseudo-conspiracy". "We can neither speak of theory nor of myth. At the pinnacle of a fantasy." For him as for Pierre-Yves Beaurepaire, the current scale of the Illuminati remains very surprising. On the one hand, because its historical character and origin have been erased at the expense of a meta-conspiracy. On the other hand, because the phenomenon that has been has been for many years has now become trendy. "It has even become a game, a marketing thread to decipher," concludes Yves Pagès.

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