Secret societies, as their name suggests, are something that the public doesn’t know much about. It wouldn’t be a secret otherwise! These societies exist, but they are not secret. The public is only privy to their actions, sometimes their missions, and often their inner rules. Occasionally, we as ‘normal people’ get a glimpse of what such a secret society does. This is often when the society in question takes a step against society. Usually, these confrontations can be quite unpleasant.
Secret societies are timeless and can be found in many forms. It is now easy to maintain international societies. The Internet makes it possible to connect with everyone and everything worldwide. However, the limited communication via pen or parchment didn’t stop societies from spreading around the world in the past. We have listed ten great societies in history (some of which have been around for centuries and still are!).
10. Ordo Templi Orientis
We start with a ‘youngster.’ The Ordo Templi Orientis is new-age esotericism that focuses on finding your own identity. To rise in the Ordo ranks, members perform rituals or other occult acts. Aleister Crowly, a well-known Ordo member, wrote the manifesto Mysteria Mystica Maxima to the Ordo Tempi. However, the Ordo Tempi fell in popularity after Crowly’s death. They are still around, but only in limited numbers, mainly in the United States of America and England. They have become more open to their practices, though they are not losing their weirdness! At the Ordo Tempi, for example, they have a strange fascination with sexuality and the ‘magic of masturbation.’ What can be magical about such an act?
9. The Bilderberg Group
We take a broad interpretation of ‘society’ for a moment because the Bilderberg group is, in principle, not a society, but a group of like-minded people. They are therefore not less mysterious, which is why this list should include them. It is a group who meet every year. This invitation is only for world leaders, media moguls, or SEOs from multinationals. This group has been gathering since 1954 (first meeting at the Dutch Bilderberg Hotel in Oosterbeek), hence the name. Their official agenda is to discuss integration of different cultures around world. They claim that this is what they are doing. No one knows what is being discussed and the media isn’t allowed to report on the guests’ findings after the meetings.
It is hard not to feel suspicious about this. The most common theory, but not the only one, is that these gatherings are meant to achieve world dominance by one government. The truth is that no one knows the truth. Except, of course… the invitees!
Health! We can travel back in time seven centuries ago to find love. Hashshashin, which means assassin in Persian, is what the members of this group are known for. They were alive in the Middle Ages. They were Muslims, but they were part of a group who had split from other Muslims because they disagreed about how they handled their affairs. These Shia Muslims believed it would be a good idea for their utopian state to be established. They were small in numbers so they needed military tactics to keep their utopia under control.
They did not hesitate to commit espionage, sabotage, and most importantly, political assassinations. But don’t judge them too harshly, because the members of the Hashshashin were known for the minimal civilian casualties they managed to make!
They were brutally killed by the Mongols, who conquered nearly all of Europe around that period, led by Genghis Kahn and his grandson Kublai. Their library, which contained precious manuscripts detailing their actions, was completely destroyed. It is believed that some members took drugs during the attacks. Hashshashin could mean ‘hashshash-in’ or, hashish-taker. However, the original meaning, “murderer” is really the more credible interpretation for most historians!
7. The Black Hand
Pietje Bel had a youth gang with this name, but The Black Hand, translated ‘De Zwarte Hand,’ was a society of a slightly different order. It was made up of anti-imperialists in Serbia and revolutionaries in Serbia. It dates back to 1912. The idea was to create a united Slavic nation. Their goal was to break up the Austria-Hungary royal family. The plan was to start a war between Serbians and Austria in order to reclaim the areas where Slavic populations lived.
Perhaps the group would have fallen to obscurity if not for its pivotal role in Franz Ferdinand’s murder, which marked the beginning of the First World War. However, this war didn’t bring the members what they desired and instead led to Russian rule for over thirty years through World War II.
6. Knights of the Golden Circle
The Knights of the Golden Circle, who were active a century before the Black Hand and on the opposite side of the globe, were active. This group of men were active during the American Civil War. This society was not limited to secret gatherings and rituals. They formed an outright guerrilla army with which they, sometimes successfully, made the enemy’s life miserable. Unfortunately, we don’t know about their internal rituals, but because they have a brilliant name, they still deserve a mention on this list!
Although many societies are accused of malicious intent, this is one of few instances where evidence is available. Its roots lie in Germany, shortly after the First World War. They soon developed a focus on the Aryan race, and began to discriminate against Jews and other “less fortunate.” In 1919 they started a political branch called the German Workers’ Party. Rumor has it that Adolf Hitler was a member of this society. He was at the very least a member. In fact, he gradually took over the party …
4. Sons of Liberty
The Sons of Liberty is not a single society but a collection of smaller groups that operate under the same heading. All this just before the American Revolutionary War (War for Independence from England, 1775–1783). They met around an oak tree, which is now called the freedom branch. They discussed their plans for promoting resistance (against English dominance). They are particularly known for their saying “no taxation without representation” or “no taxation without representation” (but of course it sounds much nicer in English). Another world-infamous act of the Boston’s Sons was the Boston Tea Party, where they dumped a whole load of tea into the harbor dressed as Indians. English can have a lot.
3. Skulls and Bones
To the disappointment of conspiracy fanatics, it appears that few occult rituals are performed during the club’s weekly meetings. This is all to say that nothing of the kind is ever shared! Initiation requires that members submit their sex histories to the club and are given a nickname based on this. That is how Bush Senior would be called ‘Magog’. This society deserves a nice 3rd place for having such a name.
They are the subject in a book that is very popular and a film adaptation that is even more successful. However, Dan Brown did not just write fiction about them. The actual organization originated in Germany around 1700. It was made up of a group free-thinkers who were enlightened. However, the media turned their backs on them and soon they were seen by the public as dissidents and rioters trying to undermine the government. The group disbanded shortly thereafter, but they are still remembered thanks to the constant attention they receive in popular media.
Some conspiracy theorists believe the Illuminati may not have disappeared, but are simply hiding. It is possible, as a true secret organization. After all, they are only really good secrets if we don’t know about them. All of them would have been members: the Bush family, Obama, Churchhill. We won’t know for certain if they are a true secret organization. This officially non-existent society is given a well-deserved second spot because they are so popular in media and because everyone knows about them.
1. The Freemasons
Although it is not as secretive as once, this is one the oldest, most widely distributed, and once secretive, organizations in the world. The Freemasons are home to approximately 5 million people today. They were established in 1717 but it is possible that something was going on even earlier. Some historians believe they have documents that date back as far as 1300.
The central idea was moral uprightness, charity work, and agogy. The conspiracy theorists think that this amount of goodwill is impossible and that is why there are rumors about Freemasons participating in all manner of occult ceremonies. One of the few rituals that have been confirmed is that you cannot join until another Freemason suggests you. Art, with 5 million members…
They deserve the top spot due to their size and the aura of mystery that surrounds them for so long.
As the Illuminati illustrates, it is difficult to say which secret societies exist in the world; after all, the “good” secret societies are unknown to us. However, the less ‘secret’ secret societies, those societies that exist openly and are secret only with their practices; those societies have been reviewed here. This means that only a few of the many societies are included. In any case, as far as societies are concerned, secret or not, occult or not, past or present, there is something to suit everyone’s taste. And if not… then you create your own society, right?