Illuminati Owl Symbolism
The owl is wisdom and vigilance, the embodiment and pinnacle of the Illuminati. Knowledge is power and you should strive to obtain it. The Owl of Minerva, born of the Greeks and Romans, is the Illuminati symbol, or seal, found on secret documents and transcripts from the highest assemblies.
Watch for this symbol in places of power, but do not place your trust too quickly – the symbol has been used by interlopers and frauds.
Pallas Athene (or Minerva to the Romans), the goddess of wisdom, honored the owl as her sacred bird. The owl was recognized as an emblem of penetrating sight and intelligence. It was considered to be a favorable omen if an owl was spotted on the battle field or at times of crisis. The Athenian silver tetradrachm bore the owl (Athene noctua); and owls were protected and thrived in great numbers at the Acropolis of Athens (a temple dedicated to Athena).
Minerval Seals of the Illuminati: two of three known to still exist. P.M.C.V. stands for Per Me Caeci Vident (Through me the blind become sighted). An owl holding an opened book (signifying learning), surrounded by a Laurel wreath (a symbol of learning or graduation); Per Me Caeci Vident was a reminder to the Superiors of the class, whose responsibility it was to properly instruct the Minervals. These medallions were worn around the necks of Minerval initiates.
For a secret society called the Order of the Illuminati – emulating the ancient schools of wisdom, and having a “Minerval Academy” as a foundation – would there have been a more fitting symbol than the Owl of Minerva?
The class of Minerval was a relatively low rank in the scheme of things. However, it was the soul of the Order, and functioned as a sort of assembly line for recruits.
Candidates advanced from Novice to the Minerval degree, where they were properly vetted, scrutinized, and indoctrinated. The Quibus Licet notebooks were introduced, maintained and thoroughly kept (which eventually turned into a detailed history of yourself and those around you). You were admonished to gain wisdom from figures in ancient Greece and Rome; essays were required to pass the test; and the art of Scrutator (or Physiognomy) was elevated to a sacred science. The Minerval Superior – a Minor or Major Illuminatus – was given the code: Nosce te ipsum; Nosce alios [Know thyself; Know others].
A Minerval Academy was also known as a Church; its meetings marked on the Illuminati’s calendar as sacred. To the right is the seal of the Freising Minerval Church. Instead of the letters P.M.C.V., they are replaced with S.E.M.T.: Sigil Ecclesiastic Minerva Thebes; or, “Seal of the Freising Minerval Church” (i.e. Freising’s alias within the Order was Thebes).
Another layer of the owl symbolism, was to assure its initiates that the Illuminati does its bidding at night: nocturnal toil (see Perfectibilists: The 18th Century Bavarian Order of the Illuminati (Trine Day: 2009), pp. 220-2). It harkens back to the tradition of night being the “mother of counsels.” Desiderius Erasmus, for instance, recorded the Latin adage: In nocte consilium [Night is the mother of counsel]. Apparently, the lesson is to be cautious or prudent, not to undertake a thing impulsively (“sleep on it”). Indeed, for one of the maxims the Illuminati had given to the Minervals, was: Quidquid agis, age prudente et respice finem [Whatever you do, do cautiously, and be mindful of the end] (Perfectibilists, op. cit., p. 227 n. 33).
During each Minerval ceremony, the initiates recited, and received a lecture upon, a translated and slightly altered version of the Ode to Wisdom by Elizabeth Carter (1717-1806):