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15 Secret Societies We’re Not Supposed to Know About

15 Secret Societies We’re Not Supposed to Know About

We are obsessed with secret societies – possibly because we can’t stand the idea that someone knows something we don’t. Even if we heard about a new secret society that was dedicated to the perfect preparation of human corpses for cooking, we would want to know everything we possibly could about the Fraternal Order of Gourmet Cannibals, just to find out if they have a mystical gravy recipe.

Secret Societies pepper our fictions, and they bolster our conspiracy theories. If we can’t find an explanation for the slight change in the taste of our favorite burrito, it’s because the Illuminati are influencing society through our foodstuffs. If there’s a missing historical artifact, it’s because the Freemasons are hording them all for favors at their Christmas party.

The weird part is, we know that there are secret societies in our midst – surely that means they’re not especially good at being a secret society? Geez, Illuminati, you had ONE job! But as we all know, it’s no fun having a secret if you don’t tell people that you know something that they don’t.

The truth is, a lot of secret societies aren’t out to take over the world. A lot of them these days do charity work and drive around in little cars, or wear funny hats and sit around drinking beer in their underwear.

Or maybe, just maybe, that’s what they want us to think.

15. The Freemasons


The Freemasons are the poster-child for secret societies, which sort of flies in the face of the “secret” part, really. Their name has become a convenient buzzword in movies and literature, a secretive boogeyman to use as an antagonistic organization for characters that might stumble upon mysteries.

In truth, these days they’re a pretty boring, conservative organization, rather than chasing after Nicholas Cage, you’re more likely to find them chasing after charitable donations. But historically they attracted a fair number of powerful men – in the US you may find founding fathers as members purely because the order happened to have its North American roots in Pennsylvania. There’s a lot of drama in their lodge meetings and initiation ceremonies, where the larger part of their mysterious symbolism and archaic rituals come into play – and it is here that they swear to keep the secrets of their order.

Although there is a tradition that Freemasons seem to be able to get out of parking tickets, there may actually be some truth to their claims of great power.

14. The Illuminati


If something mysterious happened, then the Illuminati must have been involved. Aliens dropped onto the White House Lawn? Illuminati. A cure for cancer exists but is being hidden? The bloody Illuminati.

Our popular knowledge of the Illuminati stems from Dan Brown’s novel “Angels and Demons”, and the movie that made us all start to dislike Tom Hanks just a little bit. The book did get a few things right. The Illuminati began as an offshoot of the Freemasons, a group of enlightened thinkers who were persecuted for their ideas.

They had some great ideas too. Their aim was to teach scientific concepts, gender equality, free thought, secularism, and other modern philosophies to people in their “Mystery Schools” – which is a name that could only be cooler if it also came with a hologram membership card and a decoder ring.

However, in 1785 the Illuminati was infiltrated by government agents, broken up, and suppressed due to the fact that Charles Theodore, Elector of Bavaria, began a campaign to crush societies that might threaten the monarchy.

So remember, kids, ideas can threaten the monarchy – get to it.

13. The Skull and Bones


The Skull and Bones has the coolest name of all the secretive organizations, and yet the most lame membership imaginable. It is literally the secret society for Yale students whose parents are wealthy and powerful, so they’re expected to be wealthy and powerful in return.

Yep, its the secret society of rich douchebags.

Its members are known colloquially as “Bonesmen”, which is a title only a idiot would choose for themselves. Notable Bonesmen include at least three US presidents, John Kerry, a CIA chief, a US Head of War, and numerous senators – so that tells you almost everything about the caliber of person this group attracts.

What do they do? Well, apart from being a conduit through which to network with other rich and powerful douchebags and therefore perpetuating elitism in the higher echelons of government, they basically do a lot of frat-house bullshit such as stealing keepsakes from other Yale fraternities, and giving each other traditional nicknames such as “Long Devil” and “Sancho Panza”.

We almost wish they were doing some kind of sacrificial ritual every now and then.

12. The Rosicrucians


Most secret societies seem to harbouring kinda dull secrets, but at least this secret society is actually interesting in a slightly bat-crap crazy way.

An offshoot of the Freemasons, membership into the Societas Rosicruciana is by invitation only, and it offers assistance to those trying to unearth the mysteries of nature and science.

The order itself was founded in the 17th Century, and its members believed then – and many still believe now – that they can bring about a transformation of the planet through occult and mystic means.

While in the 17th century many people thought the Rosicrucian manifestos – preaching the coming of a universal reformation of mankind – were just allegorical and not to be taken literally, modern followers of Rosicrucianism tend to take the ideas very seriously.

These days, Rosicrucianism has some fervent proponents in the Rosicrucian Fellowship, who teach “mysteries” to their members, and believe that there are 13 exalted beings that have advanced beyond the cycle of rebirth.

11. Bilderberg


This is a more modern version of the secret society, with no archaic rituals and dramatic initiations, but it does have the same rather concerning grasp of global power.

Back in 1954, a group of the world’s most influential men met in the Hotel de Bilderberg in the Netherlands. Its ostensible aim was to strengthen American-European trade relationships. It was deemed a success, and the meeting has become an annual event.

However, there is a huge blanket of secrecy shrouding everything that goes on in the Hotel de Bilderberg during this conference. This has given rise to a variety of conspiracy theories about what this group of powerful, rich men are discussing and arranging behind tightly closed doors. Whether you buy into it or not, it’s undeniably sinister that deals are made in secret that effect the world, and we aren’t allowed to be privy to the details.

Investigative journalists to this day attempt to gain access to the Bilderberg meetings, but security always manages to discover them and eject them some miles away from the hotel.

10. The Knights Templar


The secret society from which most popular secret societies were born. Like a giant secret Labrador squeezing out secret Labradoodle puppies.

Founded in 1119, the order was the wealthiest of the secret societies – and yet, they managed not to spend their time stealing keepsakes from other knights. Their order had some skilled combatants, but a lot of their members were, essentially, accountants managing the infrastructure throughout Christendom. The pope even declared them exempt from local laws. In 1307, Phillip IV – who was deeply in debt to the Knights – took advantage of the public’s growing distrust in their secretive ways, and had French members arrested, tortured, and executed.

Though officially disbanded in 1312, there are rumours that they reformed in the guise of other societies, such as the Freemasons and the Illuminati. The Freemasons have several nods to the order in their organization, including usage of the Knights’ red cross, and the Order of Malta.

9. Ordo Templis Orientis


The Ordo Templis Orientis (Order of the Temples of the East) was formed in the early 20th century by Carl Kellner and Theodore Reuss – though its most famous member was Aleister Crowley.

Originally, the society was modelled on the ideals and structures of Freemasonry, but Aleister Crowley waded in and decided that the society needed a bit more ritual and mystery. Styling himself as “The Great Beast”, he proclaimed that the central tenet of the order would be, “Do what though wilt shall be the whole of the law”. Crowley traveled the world, planting seeds of the OTO in Europe and North America, and in doing so rewrote all the order’s rituals until nothing of their early Freemason roots remained.

It’s of course no surprise to anybody who has even heard of Aleister Crowley that an important part of the OTO is the teaching of “Sex Magic”, where initiates are taught how to masturbate, among other things.

The order continues today, with a raft of secretive initiation ceremonies, rituals, and oaths – with members rising through the ranks after being taught “the Mysteries”, with the aim of the organization “to instruct the individual by allegory and symbol in the profound mysteries of Nature, and thereby to assist each to discover his or her own true Identity”.

8. The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn


The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn is rumored to be an early precursor to the Ordo Templi Orientis, but without quite so much masturbation. Well there might be masturbation, we didn’t think it polite to ask.

The organization was formed in the late 19th century and was dedicated to the study and undertaking of the occult, metaphysics, and paranormal activities. Everything you tend to see in modern popular culture that revolves around occult rituals tends to have its roots somewhere in the Hermetic Order.

Unlike most secret societies, women were always admitted as an equal to male members. Initiates would learn various different types of magic depending on their promotion through the organization, with the highest level being named “Secret Chiefs”, and directed the lower orders in their activities.

Their magical manuscripts are shrouded in mystery, with their contents obscured by a complex cipher. When they were decoded, it was believed that the rituals held therein were those discovered by the Rosicrucians.

7. The Improved Order of Red Men


When your secret society revolves around the cultural misappropriation of another race, it’s probably time to start wondering whether you should just throw in the towel and get yourself some Templars instead.

The organization was put in place to challenge to tyranny of the British Monarchy, and it used a lot of pseudo-Native American imagery (hence the Red Men moniker). And before you allow yourself for a moment to consider the possibility that they might admit actual Natives to their order, check out their membership requirement:

“No person shall be entitled to adoption into the Order except a free white male…”.

The order was arranged into “tribes”, with the timeframe of a year termed as a “sun”. Their Native American ape-ing was ostensibly because they were descended from the Sons of Liberty, who disguised themselves as Natives during the Boston Tea Party.

However, recognizing their racial snafu, in the 1970s they began to support the struggles of Native Americans, including sponsoring the adoption of Native children.

6. The Scotch Cattle


What do we do if someone has ideas that are different to ours? If your answer is “form a secret society to crush them”, then you may be a descendant of a member of The Scotch Cattle.

If you lived in South Wales in the 19th Century, chances are you weren’t holding a title like “Social Media Guru”, you were more than likely a coal miner. During the mid-19th century, miners were staging a lot of strikes for improved pay and conditions. Unfortunately some of their number weren’t really willing to play ball on the industrial action, and so The Scotch Cattle were born.

This group of miners would leave a written warning to anybody working during a strike. If they continued to work, a “herd” of The Black Cattle would don disguises – some in elaborate cowhide costumes, others in children’s clothing – and smash down the door of the offender, break furniture, burn fabric, and sometimes beat him severely.

5. The Thule Society


A favourite of Hollywood to utilize the idea that Hitler was using magical powers to raise unholy armies to conquer the planet, the truth is more an indicator of a little man’s obsession.

The Thule Society was actually formed shortly after World War I, with a focus on studying the occult and popular German folklore. Unfortunately, it also happened to be the principal sponsor of the German Workers Party, which was reorganized by Hitler into the Nazi Party.

The Society studied such ideas as the origins of the Aryan race, and had its members sign a blood declaration of faith concerning their connection to these origins. While the organization itself had some dedication to the study of occult practices, its primary goals were those of totalitarianism and racism, the perpetuation of a “master race”.

The society has been the subject of various conspiracies, include the idea that members helped create Nazi UFOs, but the truth is so much more petty, and so much more destructive.

4. The Sons of Liberty


Rebellion is awesome, add to that a secret society and you have a compounded explosion of epicness. Enter the Sons of Liberty.

By now, most of us are aware that in the 18th century, the British Government used America like its personal piggy bank, raising taxes wherever they saw fit. In 1765, the Sons of Liberty was founded in Boston, MA. Other factions of the Sons of Liberty sprung up around the colonies soon afterward.

Each group set about making often violent statements against those who represented the British monarchy, including the burning down of houses, and tarring and feathering.

Their most famous act was the Boston Tea Party of 1773, where members disguised themselves as Native Americans, boarded ships and destroyed a shipment of tea. They also rallied a crowd following the Revolutionary War, calling for the expulsion of British Loyalists.

Unfortunately, their name has also been “revived” for right wing societies in modern times, but thankfully none of them have managed to achieve epic status.

3. The Hell Fire Club


If you’re going to name your secret society, you have a sacred duty to make it mysterious and cool. The founders of the Hell Fire Club clearly chose their name, threw up some horns, put on some AC/DC (which was amazing, given that it was founded in the 18th century), and rode a team of horses with lightning bolts painted on their sides.

The rumoured early years of the club’s activities – which took place in Dublin, Ireland – include playing cards with the devil, burning servants to death, and enacting an exorcism upon a black cat.

Hell Fire Clubs began to spring up all over Ireland and the UK, with authorities claiming that the members of the clubs were Satanists. The truth is the members were freethinkers, and more than usually Atheists. They chose their name to stir up conversation and irritate the normals.

However, every society has some bad apples, and the Hell Fire Club’s was Richard Chappell Whaley, who with other members of the club kidnapped a farmer’s daughter, murdered her, and then ate her.

2. Nizari Ismailis


More popularly known as the Hashshashin, the group called Nizari Ismailis is where we get our modern word “assassin” from.

This secret society, which was formed in Medieval Persia, was said to have been led by the mysterious Old Man of the Mountain. As a group they pioneered the use of psychological warfare and surgical strikes in their efforts to oppose the Sunni Seljuq regime, without resorting to killing them.

The Nizari rarely carried out assassination work of their own, but relied upon a small class of acolytes known as the Fedayeen to do the dirty work of actual murder.

The society was feared by the crusaders, who created stories about deadly assassins, which were then further embellished by Marco Polo.

Alas, the Nizari were no match for the Mongol Empire – because very few people were a match for that much raping an pillaging – and were completely decimated at the battle of Kwarizim.

1. The Nine Unknown Men


Formed in around 226BC, the Nine Unknown Men are possibly the oldest secret society in the world, and also the only one recorded in India’s history. Emperor Ashoka, grandson of the Emperor who unified the Indian subcontinent, founded the order. Disgusted by carnage inflicted by his recent war, Ashoka converted to Buddhism and wanted to form a group of men who would hold the key to everything in the world.

The secret society of nine anonymous individuals set about gathering as much scientific knowledge as they could – and because Ashoka was afraid that normal men would use science and technology for destructive purposes, only these nine men were allowed to study.

Allegedly the society lives on today, with nine men constantly attempting to perfect a book containing all knowledge, their key to everything in the world.

Or maybe they’re looking for an actual key, which is hard, because it’s so small.


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