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CONTENTS 6 Inside Top Secret Societies
8 Shrot!ded in Mystery
13 Secret Societies in Literature
31 Secret Societies in Film
32 The Illuminati
39 A Society Wardrobe
42 Skull & Bones
48 Fraternities vs. Collegiate Secret Societies
58 The Rosicrucians
64 7he Sons of Liberty
68 The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn
70 Ordo Templi Orientis
72 Knights of the Golden Circle
75 Knights Templar
78 The Outrageous Five
80 The Black Hand
81 Central Intelligence Agency
84 The Bohemian Grove
86 Symbols of Secret Societies
88 "01' Boys' Clubs " for Girls
89 Sinister Secret Societies
TOP â€˘ SECRET â€˘ BEHIND CLOSED DOORS We know they exist: clandestine gatherings of wealth y men with mutual agendas, secret handshakes, and covert ceremonies that date
back centuries. We've heard rumors o f conspiracies. bizarre rituals, exclus ive membership, and sometimes dangerous initia tion s . We've wondered about ominous signs we've seen on doors in
inconspicuous buildings across the country: "The Order of Really Mysterious Men" or "The Lodge of Suspicious Fellows." Finally, we've seen for ourselves the outrageous cos tum es
depicted in movies and on television, emblazoned with cryptic symbols and crests that only a select few understand. Yet aside from the fla shy images and rumors, we know very little about secret societies. We are always left to wonder: Who are those guys ... and what are they doing behind those closed doors?
THE DEARLY DEVOTED Nea rl y every village, town, and city in the United States has secret societies "hidden" right under our noses. Ma ny are forms of
centuries-old orders like the Freemasons, Odd Fellows, llluminati, or Shriners. Others are simply men 's clubs like the Rotary, Lions, or Elks. And while not formally secret societies, the Rotary, Lions, and Elks (like the Freemasons) are joined by men who swear secret oaths and adhere to confidential practices. What separates service-oriented all-male societies like the Rotary and the Elks from "secret" societies like the Freemaso ns is more than just the arcane oaths and cryptic initiation process it takes
SE C RET SOC IETIES
to join. The difference boils down to an allegiance stronger than basic loyalty. Not that Rotary and Elks members are not loyal to their clubs, but the devotion of secret society members goes much deeper. Secret society brothe rhoods take loya lty to a whole other level- the kind ofloyalty that puts the brotherhood above all else. Even family. In a secret society, this allegiance is nonnegotiable. If a member behaves disloyall y, he is likely to meet with an extremely harsh punishment. Even death is not off the table. For the inductee, becoming a member of a secret society is lifechanging. He kn ows the group he is pledging his allegiance to may ask him to do more than host a spaghetti dinner fund raiser or coat drive. He knows this before he joins: he learns the ru les and codes of conduct while pledging ("preparing" to become a member). So before he takes that final oath pledgin g his life to this exclusive brotherhood, he had bette r be sure he knows what he's getting into! To an outsider, the oaths, rites, and rituals of secret societies can appear outrageous, but according to Adam Parfrey, the coauthor of Rit,w/ America, they are deSigned first and foremost to be intimidating. Parfrey says this is a way the hierarchy can challenge prospective members and test their loyalties. He points to old hazing initiation pranks that made people believe their heads were about to be chopped off or, less dramatically, they were drinking goats' blood. "Some groups actually seemed to appeal to the sadistic," Parfrey says. The idea is that the more intimidating the task, the more impressive the man who completes it.
tttttttttt Beginnings of Brotherhood A fraternity (t he Latin Fratermeans "brot her") is a brotherhood, a lthough the term can also mean a distinct or fo rmal organi zation. The defini t ion of a frate rni ty is an organized society of men associated 10 an environment of companionship and bro therhood, and dedicated to the intellectual , physical, and social development of its members. There is evidence of fraternal orders as far back as the first Egyptians and documented fraternal orga nizations existmg as far back as ancient Greece and Rome. III premodern cultures, they came to be known as Mannerbunds, German for all-male "warriorbands" or "warrior-societies" and used to describe hugely powerful, secret organizations with closed-door ceremonies and confidential memberships, ri tuals, a nd prac tices. Today these Mann erbunds have evolved into different types of a ll-ma le organ izations and agencies, including college fraternities, orders, men's clubs, religious sects, paramilitary, quasi-governmental groups, and other powerful international organizations. What they all have in common is their penchant for secrecy.
SEC RET SOC I ETIE S
ith brotherhoods like the Freemasons, which dates back to the Middle Ages, and the Cosa Nostra (better known as the Mafi a) , which began in the , 800s, it's a wonder how many societies have managed to persevere for so long...yet still remain so mysterious. The answer to that is simple: The more mysterious they are, the more attractive they become to outsiders looking to get in . With such a high priori ty placed on confidentiality (and hars h punishments rumored to be handed down to those who spill club secrets), prospective me mbers know their conti nued me mbership in these private brotherhoods depends on keeping mum. Regardless of what actuall y happens in these cloakÂˇand.dagger meetings, it's no secret these covert clubs have kept us nonmembers fascinated for centuries.
SECRECY THROUGH THE AGES Though many secret societies were formed with political and religious goals in mind , their fixation on mys tery and secrecy has left them wide open to criticism as the focus of many conspiracy theories, blamed for aliens, UFOs, assassi nations, occult practices, and the infiltration of the CI A. And though, in reality, the intent of these societies is usuall y much less mischievous and destructive, they have had, more than once, a major im pact on world history thro ugh the ages.
WHY JOIN? Reasons for joinin g a secret society haven 't changed much over the years. Back when many of these orders of brotherhood were formed, membe rs en joyed getting away from their wives and kids for a few evenings of dri nki ng and smoking with their "brothers" every week, The same goes for many men's clubs today-men enjoy the camaraderie of like-mi nded men on their time off and they seek to develop friends hi ps in this fas hion. Yea rs ago men were also drawn to these organizations because many provided life insurance and other care for members and their families at a time when Social
SECRET SOCIETIES TIMEIJ.INE
The first Chinese secret soc iety, the Red Eyebrows, helps to overthrow the tyrant Wang Mang in 25 C.E.
SEC R ET SOCIETIES
A Mysterious Slip of Paper and the Illuminati In 1784, a messenger en route to Paris was struck by lightning. The authorities discovered a piece of paper on the dead messenger's body, written by Adam Weishaupt, head of the Bavarian Illuminati, and titled "The Original s hift in Days of Illumination." It described the Illuminati's ultimate goal for "New World Order through Revolution:' It also spoke of the French Revolution (which hadn't happened yet). Bavarian authorit ies discovered more revealing documents in Weishaupt's home about controlling all facets of Freemasonry, overthrowing European monarchies, and putting an end to the Catholic Church. The French authorities believed this secret society known as the Illuminati was a huge threat. They ordered the prosecutio n of all members of both the Illuminati and the Freemasons. Weishaupt and his family managed to escape persecution and lived in Gotha, Germany, until his death in 1830.
RA ND OM OBS ERVANCES r...J The m e mbers of the Improved Order of the Red Men. which dates back to the earl y 1800s. dressed in Native American garb and had rituals inspired by Native American
culture. ye t refused to admit Native
Americans in to the ir soc iety. r...J
Som e original secret orders have since
dropped the rituals and esoteric pretense to morph into full-ti me insurance companies.
SECRET S O C I ETI ES
Security, Medicare, and life insurance did not exist. Still others were drawn to the obscure religious or political practices the clubs glorified or to the exclusivity they offered. In addition , as Parfrey furth er explains in Ritual America, of the more than 600 secret societies present at the turn of the century, many had specific purposes: They were labor unions, business groups, rural or agra rian organizations, religiOUS and occult organizations, sobriety groups, drinking groups, and immigra nt (or antiÂˇimmigrant) organizations. No matter their purpose or to whom they appeal, all secret societies have one thing in common: a membership privy to certain things nonmembers are not privy to. Whether it's secret handshakes, undercover initiations, or an agenda with hidden objectives, regardless of what actually happens behind closed doors, these secret brotherhoods continue to fascinate us for one simple reason: People love a good secret.
SINISTER SOCIETIES There's something inherently diabolical about a secret society. Just consider a few of tlle events secret societies have been linked to throughout history:
+> The secret society known as the BAVARIAN ILLUMINATI was accused of sparkin g tlle French Revolution . +> Another secret society, the BLACK HAND, is credited with an assassination in Sarajevo that led to World War l. +> Members of the ORDER OF SKULL& BONES-a secret society with past U.S. presidents as members- are rumored conspirators in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. + > The revolutionary activities of the CARBONARI, a secret society in Italy loosely associated with the Freemasons, led to a series of revolts that ultimately shaped the state of Italy in 1820. +> The CHINESE TRIADS, a group of criminal secret societies in China that are currently involved in organized crime, narcotics trafficking, and computer software piracy, have also been known to take part in overthrowing unpopular Chinese governments. Still other secret societies have been connected throughout history with such activities as high-profile kidnappings and assassinations, drug dealing, grave robbing, group sex, cannibalism, and polyga my, according to Amy D. Bernstein, secret societies expert and author of Secrets of tile Code. "President John F. Kenn edy even gave a speech before the American Newspaper Publishers Association condemning these groups as a 'grave danger' to democracy," Bernstein writes in U.S. News ÂŤ( World Report.
SECRECY AND ITS ROOTS IN RELICION Many religions are rooted in secret traditions, and many still involve secrecy: Believers are told things forbidden to outsiders, and more information is revealed in stages as believers rise th rough the ranks. In the Church of Scientology, for example, there is a series of eight grades or levels one must pass before progressing to complete knowledge, known in the religion as the "Bridge to Total Freedom." Many secret societies incorporate this "ladder approach" into their systems; the only way to achieve success and res pect within the group is to pass a series of tests or steps. In man y college fraternities, for example, new members rise up through the echelons by performing tasks and gaining knowledge, usually about the history of the fraternity, its founders, and its code of conduct. Secrecy wi thin religion is noth ing new. While Christianity is seen today as open and inviting, as Catherine Beyer, an educator, illustrator, and web au thor from Wisconsin, points out, "It can' t be forgotten that for most of its existence, the Catholi c Church performed all of its rituals and wrote all copies of scripture in Latin , which was understood by almos t no one outside of the Church." Just as goods were traded back in the Middle Ages, so were belief systems. When crusaders and merchants like Marco Polo introduced Eastern art, architecture, literature , and science to
Europe, they also introduced mystical and esoteric philoso phy and religio n. During this time, Italy was already exchanging philosophical ideas with the Middle East, so the ideas the crusaders and merchants eventuall y exchanged with the Europea ns had been tremendously influenced by the Middle East.
SECRET CLUBS LONG AGO » The builders' and arti sans' gui lds of classical Rome , ca ll ed the Coll egia, a re thought to be "the model for the medieval trade brotherhoods, forerunn ers of secret soc ieties," according to
A Secret History of Freemasonry by Paul Naudon . In these ancient brotherhoods, trade secrets were guarded. Members used passwords a nd covert signs to recognize one
SECRET SOCIETIES TODAY While many secret societies are still functioning, nearl y all of them have changed with the times. Medieval torture practices considered illegal in today's wo rld are, thankfull y, gone. So are most, if not all, immoral ones. (This is not the case wi th evil secret societies such as the Cosa Nostra, Ku Klux Klan, or al-Qaeda, which continue both illegal and immoral practices.) Though they still remain private and highl y guarded, we have, in fact, been able to uncover bits of information about secret societies and piece together profiles of the better-kn own brotherhoods, thanks to discontented and disgruntled society dropouts who have squealed on their former brothers. Through extens ive interviews with these ex-members, ma ny conducted by authori ties such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FB I), we have gained in sight into many behind-dosed-doors activities of secret societies. In addition, we ca n thank the media for much we have learned about secret societies in recent yea rs. The Freemasons, the Illumi nati, and the Cosa Nostra, among others, have become
another and as protection against competitors. » According to Bernstein, both the Ma sons
(Freemaso ns are also ca ll ed "Masons") , who dat e bac k to the Middle Ages, and Yale Uni ve rsity 'S infamous sec ret society Order of Skull & Bones , which began in 1832, "create closed , supportive environme nts which downplay competition in favor of an intense groupfocused mentality." » Early Chri stia ns kept th eir communities a secret to avoid persecution by Roman authorities, as did the Jews in Spain and Portugal during the Inqui sition in th e 14th and 15th centuri es. Both th e early Christian s and Jews used a system of signs and w ords to recogn ize eac h other in publi c in order to remain sec ret. » Durin g th e Civil War, a number of soldiers from
North and South carried proof that th ey were Freemasons at all tim es. They believed thi s w ould sec ure them good treatment if they were captured by enemy troop s who feared the we llknown society.
SEC RET SOCIETIES
A Dramatic A ssassination by the Black Hand "Two bullets fi red on a Sarajevo street on a sunny June morning in 1914 set in motion a series of events that shaped the world we live in today. world War One, world War Two, the Cold War and its conclusion all trace their origins to the gunshots that interrupted that summer day:'-Assassination of Archduke Ferdinand, 1914, EyeWitness to History (www.eyewitnesstohistory.com. 1998) The victims were Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the throne of the Austro-H ungarian Empire, and his wife , Sophie. The assassin was 19-year-old Gavrilo Princip, a member of the Serbian nationalists' secret society, the Black Hand. The Balkan region of Europe was tense at the start of the 20th century, and the Black Hand society members believed the death of the archduke would change the political climate in the region and help their fellow Serbians. Besides Princip, there were seven other conspirators lin ing the motorcade ro ute in Sarajevo as the archduke and his wife were returning from an official visit to City Hall . Each conspirator took a different position, ready to attack the royal car if the opportunity presented itself. After a series of missteps and errors, the Austrian commander, General Potiorek, had pleaded with the archduke to leave the city, as it was "seeth ing with re bell ion." But as the royal process ion navigated a sharp turn en ro ute from City Ha ll , it slowed directly in fro nt of Princip, who seized the opportunity and fired the two shots.
entertainment fodder for books, television, movies, and pop culture; there's always a secret society behind the villain in the latest bestselling novel or Oscar-winning fi lm, causing mayhem in all sorts of destructive, covert ways. In Dan Brown's novel Tile Da Vinci Code, it was the Opus Dei (founded in Spain in 1928 by a Catholic priest) and Priory of Sion (begun in France in 1956). In Brown's next book, Angels ll[ Demol1S, it was the !I1uminati. In The Lost Symbol, also by Dan Brown, and in the fi lm Na tional Treasure, it was the Freemasons. In the fi lm Th e Good Shepherd it was the Order of Skull & Bones. And, of course, there would be no movie series based on Mario Puzo's The Godfather, no Goodft lla s movie directed by Martin Scarsese, and no H BO series TIle Sopranos without the Cosa Nostra. There are also very low-profile secret societies out there we know next to nothing about. What we do know is that with modernday distractions like television, video games, and the Internet, membership in these secret orders has dropped abruptly since the late 1960 5. Active societies are desperate to attract new members.
But few people today have the motivation to spend months memorizing society rules or following strict practices in order to climb the ladder of an organization's hierarchy. After all , why bother, when you can sit at home and "join" the Illuminati in TIle Secret World on Xbox'
"The very word 'secrecy' is repugnant in a free and open society: President Kennedy said , "and we are as a people inherently and historically opposed to secret societies. to secret oaths and to secret proceedings."
Calling our "way of life u nder attack" from secret societies, the president added, "We are opposed around the world by a monolithic and ruthless conspiracy that relies primarily on covert means for expanding its sphere of influence: '"
ARCHDUKE FRANZ FERDINAND AND FAMILY
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Secrecy is a fundamental requirement of membership in the Cosa Nostra (the Mafia). Members are required not only to keep their activities hidden, but also to deny the very- existence of the organization ... even to their families.
he single most important rule of membership in the Cosa Nostra is Om.rta: the Oath of Silence. Initiates swear this oath when becoming "made men"-those who have earned the respect and honor of others and are forma lly inducted into the Cosa Nostra. It requires members to keep the secrets of the brotherhood and strictly prohibits them from collaborating with the authorities. Ever. In any circumstance. It even forbids membe rs from seeking the assistance of the police when they are victims of a crime themselves. The Cosa Nostra (Italian for "this thing of ours"), also known as the Mafia, the Mob, or La CosaNostra (LCN to the FB I), is the American arm of the Italian Mafia-gangsters and criminals from Italy expelled by their country. It is the most notorious and widespread of all criminal secret societies and the foremost organi zed criminal threat to American society.
A coalition of crimi nals, linked by blood ties and dedicated to pursuing crime, the Cosa Nostra consists of different coscas
(families or groups) that are arranged geographically and engaged in significant and organized racketeering activity.
SEC RET SOC I ETIES
Members of the Cosa Nos tra have a slightl y different view of their orga ni za tion. While they obviously know their group engages in unlawful activities . th ey in s tead see the ir association
as an ave nue throu gh which to conduct business a nd strengthen their communities. Senior mem bers have passed down th e organi zatio n's code of conduct fro m generati on to generation , with
rules for governing family and business stemming from the old country. The code, though objectionable in modern society, is the code they have always li ved by. It is the onl y code they know. Mostl y active in the New York metropolitan area, parts of New Jersey, Philadelphia, Detroit, Chicago, and New England, the Cosa Nostra has members in othe r major cities, and intern ationally they are linked to the Italian Mafia. Though the organization originated back in the 1800s in rural Sicily, it has managed to hold fast, fi rs t infiltrating the social and econom ic fabric of Ital y, then eventuall y of the world. The wo rd mafia , deri ved from the Sicilian dialect of Italian, li terall y translates to "hostili ty to the law" or "boldness." The word was first used in 1838 , in a police report in the province of Trapani, Italy, and has since evolved into an international label for all organi zed crime, whether referring to the Ita lian Mafia , the Russ ian Mafia, or the Asian Mafia. The Cosa Nos tra is referred to (by both its members and the authorities) only as the "American arm" of the Italian Mafia. Back in the 1800s, only white males of full Italian herita ge could join the Cosa Nostra. In the early 1980s, that rule was extended to include men whose fathers we re of Italian descent (even if their mothers were not) and men married to non-Italian women. The rule never budged, however, on the patrilineal requirement. In the mid1800s, when the Cosa Nostra began to take shape, the government of mainland Italy had trouble maintaining law and ord er on the island of Sicil y. Sicilians disrega rded the authorities and instead relied upon relati ves and family ties for sa fety, protection, justice, and survi val. Gang-related violence centered on famil y connections became commonplace, and for the next hundred years, Sicilian casco s ruled the area, and man y of the codes of conduct associated with th e Mafia came into existence. The extreme right-wing rise o f fascism in Italy under Benito Mussolini , who specificall y had his eye on putting an end to the Sicilian Mafia, led to the expulsion of powerful Mafia clan leaders. These Mafia ca ptains found new ho mes in Am er ica, ta kin g
their power, notoriety, and codes of conduct with them to the different boroughs of New York City.
Racketeering : committIng crimes such as extortion . loan-shark ing, bribery. and obstruction of justice to further one 's
illegal business activities.
Confused by the colorful words and phrases you hear peppered throughout conversations between mobsters? Here's a basic transla1!l0n to keep you in the know:
Babbo A mafia term for an underling who is considered useless.
The books A phrase indicating membership in the family. If there is a possibility for promotion , then the books are open. If not, the books are closed.
Cafone Peasant or lower-class. Clock To keep a person under surveillance. Come heavy To walk in carrying a loaded gun. You should not take a meeting with a Russian drug dealer .unless you "come heavy:'
Guests of the state or Guest.s of the government Going to prison, doing time.
In the wind After leaving the witness protection program, you are "in the wind;' meaning you are on your own somewhere out there.
Moe Green special Getting killed with a shot in the eye, like the character Moe Green in The Godfather. One form of "sending a message:' Pezzonovante Literally means .95 caliber, though also a term for someone who is a big shot.
R~ One who snitches or squeals after having been arrested.
Spring cleaning cleaning up, hiding, or getting rid of evidence.
Through the eye A message to say "We're watching you!"
:.". Va Fa Napole "Go to Naples" (i.e., "Go to hell").
"THE CASTELLAMMARESE WAR" Old World mobsters Giuseppe "Joe the Boss" Masseria (Sicily, d. 193[) and Salvatore Maranzano (Sicily, d. [93[) continued the traditions and ri tuals of the Sicilian coscos when they settled in America, monopolizing businesses like alcohol distribution during Prohibition. Largely preying on vulnerable Italian immigrants, they caused a three-year bloody rivalry of control between families called the "CasteUammarese War," named afte r their village in Sicily. Maranzano's "army" were decidedly the vic tors of this war and took control of the Cosa Nostra in its wake. Maranzano went on to restructure the organization in New York City, forming it into a system that is still adhered to today. The restructuring called for a single Mafiosi family to be assigned to each city, outside of New York City. They were to be headed by a boss and an underboss. Below that, each famil y was di vided in to crews of soldie rs, each crew headed by a capo (boss). In New York City, because of its size, the city was split into fi ve families-k nown as the famou s Five Families of New York City-with Maranzano placing himself at the top of the pyramid as capo dei capi, or "boss of bosses ." The Five Families that made up thi s criminal conglomerate we re the Lucchese (the Bronx), Bonanno (Brooklyn) , Gambino (Queens), Luciano/ Genovese (Manhattan), and Profaci /Colombo (Staten Island) fam ilies .
Known as "Mustache Petes," the early generation of Sicilian Mafiosi in America claimed many prominent members with many colorful nicknames. The practice of "FAT TONY" giving nicknames among the Mafia became customary among members as well as among FBI agents trying to keep track of the most dangerous mobsters. Don't let their creative nicknames throw you, however: They were all as sinister as they come.
Baby Face » Lester Nelson, Chicago (d. 1934)
Benjamin Si egel, Brooklyn (d. 1947)
The Chin » Vincent Gigante, New York City (d. 2005)
Dapper Don and Teflon Don » John Gotti, New York City (d. 2002)
Don Carlo » Carlo Gambino, Si cily (d. 1976)
Gasplpe » Anthony Casso, Brooklyn (b. 1940)
NO HAPPY ENDING FOR MARANZANO
GoH Bag » Sam Hunt, Chi cago (d. 1956)
The Grim Reaper » Gregory Scarpa, Brookl yn (d. 1994)
.loe Bananas » Joseph Bonanno, New York City (d. 2002)
.lohnny Sausage » John Barbat o, New York City (b. 1934)
Louie Bagels » Loui s Daidon e, New York City
Lucky Luciano » Ch arli e Luciano (Salvatore Lucania), New York City (d. 1962)
No Nose » John DiFron zo, Chicago (b. 1928)
Sammy Bull » Salvatore Gravano, Brooklyn (b. 1945)
Scarface » Alphonse Capone, Chicago (d. 1947)
Three-Finger Brown » Tommy
Lucc hese, Sicily (d. 1967) ·not a member of Cosa Nostra but a gangster working for the American Mafia
•• •• •
While the newly constructed hierarchy put in place by Maranzano commanded res pect from Italia n Americans in New York City on the whole, there were some very unhap py Cosa Nostra members. Charlie "LucJ.,.y" Luciano was one of them . Lucky Luciano had been promised equal status by Maranzano, and when that didn't pan out, he felt betrayed. In [93[, he hired a team of hit men to kill Maranzano. Then, with Maranzano out of the wa y, Luciano took over as the most powerful Mafia boss in America. Lucky Luciano used his stature to run the Cosa Nostra like a major corporatio n. He set up a ruling body called the "LCN (La CosaNostra) Commission," composed of seven bosses, and divided the different businesses run by the Cosa Nos tra (rackets) among the families. He did away with the role of capo dei capi, yet he was still the undisputed leader of the LC N Commission. The commission was primarily developed in order to settle internal disputes within the organization. In 1936, Luciano was arrested on charges of organized prostitution and sentenced to prison, but he didn't give up his role of capo. Instead he Just got made? What
WHO YOU CALLlN' WALNUTS?
would your mob nickname be? Visit a mob nilme generator online and find out: www.mymobnameocoml.
continued to rule the Cosa Nostra from his jail cell through acting boss "Don Vito" Genovese
(Sicily, d. 1969). In the wake of Luciano's impri sonment, the Cosa
experienced great growth,
in add ition to many crushing defeats. It can be credited with the expansion of Las Vegas, after developing gambling ope rations there and in Havana , Cuba. U nder Luciano's reign, the
Cosa Nostra ruled the largest d ru g-smuggling operations in the world and headed up a host of other organized crime operations. Up until th is time, the public was unfamiliar with the name "Cosa Nostra," though people certainly knew of the group's activities. In '958, when Genovese was indicted on charges of
MEYER LANSKY, AKA THE MOB'S
conspiring to sell narcotics. the secret name "Cosa
Nostra" entered public record. Outsiders were finally able to put a name behind the faces of organized cri m e.
SECRET SOC IETIES
BIG BUCKS IN CRIME The members of the Cosa Nostra do not limit th emse lves to drug running. They 're a lso in vo lved in a laundry list of criminal activity, including illegal gambling, political corruption, extortion, kidnapping. fraud, counterfeiting, murders, bombings , and weapons trafficking. Th ey are a lso known to engage in arso n and other racketeering crimes.
The Cosa Nostra-along wi th the Mafia in Italy-is infamous for it s vio lent assaults on Ita lian law enforcement officials. According to the FBI ,
in Sicily th e term "Excel lent Cadaver" is used to distinguish th e assassination of prominent government officials from the common criminals and ordinary citizens killed by the Mafia. Highranking vict im s include police commissioners, mayors, judges, police colonels and generals, and Parliament members,
THE JOURNEY TO MADE MAN According to Pierre de Champlain , author of Mobsters, Gangsters and Men of Hon o",., "Cosa Nostra's selection process is even more rigorous than any prestigious business enterprise, and the selection of candidates may take several years." Former Mafia member Tommaso Buscetta (Sicily, d. 2000) , who defected from the organization in 1984, told the author that prospective candidates are "carefully observed and screened for a period of time without knowing it. "
Mafiosi gain status when they are invited into the Cosa Nostra and are also rewarded with res pect and a large share of the take collected by the organization as a result of racketeering. The Cosa Nostra considers this money "income,"
For Italian men engaged in criminal activity, being asked to become a member of the Mafia is the highest honor they can possibly receive. As Buscetta explained, new recruits to the Cosa Nostra start at the very bottom. They are required to perform various tasks that involve violence or intimidation, such as collecting monies owed to other members and families. "As time goes on," Champlain writes in U.S. News", World Report, "recruits will be tested for their loyalty and competence by being asked to perform more daring criminal assignments," And by "more daring criminal assignments," onc can only guess
what Champlain means. Once a candidate has proven he is a "man of honor" and has value to the organization, he is officially invited to join "the family." Joining the family involves a detailed initiation ceremon y that dates back to the 1800s. This rite of passage originated in Sicily and has changed only minimally. The ceremony has three distinct steps: t. The candidate must be presented by
a member to the whole group. 2. The rules- or commandments-are fully described to the candidate, ensuring he clearly understands what he's getting himself into. He is also give n an opportunity to back out at this time (which is unlikely because he is made to understand
that the penalty for backing out would be death). The candidate is then asked to choose a godfather from among the other members. 3.
Standing before his godfather, the candidate must swear the Fratuzzi Oath. TOMMASO BUSCETTA
Banding Together for a "Mafia Takedown"
The Fratuzzi Oath is the Mafia loyalty oath. It CAPACI is named after an 1889 Bagharian secret MASSACRE society called Fratuzzi, or "Little Brothers." The oath goes beyond ensuring the candidate wi ll be loyal to the club. It spells out the consequences if that oath is broken. Champlain retells an account of the Fratuzzi Oath told by Giuseppe Alongi, a police commissioner in Pa lermo,
in a book Alongi wrote in 1900. "On a table in front of him," Champlain recounts, "the aspirant would see the image of a saint, a dagger, and a candle. One of the members would ask the candidate to present his right hand and would then pierce a finger with the dagger, drawing enough blood that it would drip on the image." The novice holds the saint's picture as it burns, stands before his godfather, and recites the oath: " I pledge my honor to befaitlif"l to the Fraternity [FratellaHza], as the Fraternity is faithful to me. As this saint alld a felV drops of my blood are bltmed, 50 lVill I give all my blood for the FratemiLy, until my ashes and my blood return to tl1eir origilwf conditiol1 , as it lVillllot ever be possible for l11e to leave the Fraternity."
From that moment on , he is a member of the Cosa Nostra.
PART OF THE FAMILY Everything changes for the new member after the initiation ceremony. People around him treat him with respect and distinction. Nothing can be done without first asking his permi ssion. "When he arrives in public places, such as restaurants or bars, people will sta nd up, give him a chair, come up to him ," Champlain says. "A made member, whether he is liked or hated, gets respect, especially in his own neighborhood, where he is seen as being above the ordinary person ." As in many other brotherhood organizations, respect and allegiance are key to Cosa Nostra members. "Respect can be extended to severa l generations of a Cosa Nostra mem ber's family," Champlain explains. "Respect will be given to a member's grandch ildren. eve n if they have committed a serioll s
blunder; and help will be provided to them."
In 1992, italian law enforcement felt the wrath of the italian Mafia with a vengeance. it was the beginning of a newfound coalition between the italian Criminal Affairs Department and the u.s. FBI, hell-bent on bringing down the Mafia for good. The coalition began when ital ian magistrate Giovanni Falcone (the director of the Criminal Affairs Department in Rome), his wife, and three police bodyguards were killed by a massive bomb so powerful it blew a 30-foot crater in the road. The murders became known as the Capaci Massacre, named for the town in Palermo, Sicily, where it happened. Less than two months later, the Mafia struck again-this time at Falcone's replacement, judge Paolo Borsellino. Borsellino and five of his bodyguards were killed outside the apartment of Borsellino's mother in Palermo when a car packed with explosives was detonated by remote control. under judge Falcone's tenure, the FBi and italian law enforcement had established a close working relationship aimed at dismantling the mighty italian organized crime groups operating in both countries. That relationship intensified in the wake of Falcone's and Borsellino's murders. Most recently, in 2011, the FBi arrested 130 Cosa Nostra members in New York City (and other East Coast cities) in the largest internationally coordinated organized crime takedown in the bureau's history. The report from the FBi read that members of New York's infamous Five Families-the Bonanno, Colombo, Gambino, Genovese, and Luchese crime organizations-were rounded up along with members of the New jersery-based DeCavalcante family and New England Mafia to face charges including murder, drug trafficking, arson,loansharking, illegal gambling, witness tampering, labor racketeering, and extortion. "The notion that today's mob fami lies are more genteel and less violent than in the past is put to lie by the charges contained in the indictments unsealed today:' said janice Fedarcyk, assistant director in charge of the FBi's New York Field Office, right after the arrest. "Even more of a myth is the notion that the mob is a thing of the past; that La Cosa Nostra is a shadow of its former self'
SECRET SOC I ETIES
THE RULES AFTER THE OATH The code of conduct new members must follow is nearly as important as the oath itself. The rules are similar to the Ten Commandments, and all are fairly straightforward: +> BE LOYAL. New members are asked if they would be ready to kill their own sons or brothers if it is found out they have turned informan t. +> PRACTICETHE OMERTA (OATH OF SILENCE) . Though frequently broken, the Omerta is the single most important rule of the Cosa Nostra. Betraying this oath is punishable by death. +> BE A TEAM PLAYER. Don't engage in battle if you ca n't win. The directi ve extends to personal life. +> BE A MAN OF HONOR. Respect womanhood and your elders.
fBI'S MOB TIMEliNE 1951
determines that A U.S. Senale comm,tte e h
. tion" known as t e a "sinister criminal orgaOlz a Mafia is in operation in the United States.
, e uncovers a
1957 The New York Slale P0 I,c
. LeN figures from around the meeting of major I New York town of . the small upsta e country I~ f the attendees are arrested. Appalachian. Many 0 The event is the catalyst that change~ the way law enforcement battles organized cnme.
1959 Genovese is convicted for conspiracy to H ceives a 15-year violate narcotics '~WS. e re the family from sentence but continues to run . his prison celt in Atlanta, Georgia.
+ > NEVER BETRAY ANY OF THE SECRETS OF THI S COSA NOSTRA. +> NEVER VIOLATE THE WIFE OR CHILDREN OF ANOTHER MEMBER. No close interaction with sisters, wi ves, or girlfriends of members, unless you have "honorable" intentions. +> DO NOT STEAL. +> NEVER BECOME INVOLVED WITH NARCOTICS. Using any form of narcotics is strictl y forbidd en in the Cosa Nostra, as one is expected to be of sound mind at all times.
New members quickly learn the penalty for breaking these laws is death.
1962 Joseph Valachi
(New York City,. d. 1971), " ·,5 sent to the same pnson as n a "rna d e rna , bid an on a narcotics conviction. La e e Genovese
ts on his
informer. valaChivsulraVciVh~:i:l:ree aa:e:pthOUght rt behind bars . a ,e d I to kill hi and gets a hfe Genovese ha sen • sentence for the murder.
1963 Valachi cooperales
ernment and appears _ _ bcomminee on Investigations. Permanen I Su t He testifies that he i~ a m~mbesr of a Skencor:n as . . the United tates criminal society 10 meS the first La Cosa
La Cosa a detailed look inside Nostra mem . . ' ower bases. the organization. IOcludlng Its p codes. and secret rituals.
1969 GenovesV dies in his prison cell. I , The Genove se f amily is now under the cyonktrc°ty° . " L bardo (New or " Philip "Senny Squint
COSA NOSTRA TO DAY <-oJ
The Cosa Nostra is still involved i n many illegal
activities : murder. extortion. drug trafficking. corruption of public offiCials, gamb ling, infiltration
of legitimate businesses. labor racketeering. loan sharking , prostitution . pornog r aphy, ta x -fraud schemes, and stock manipulation schemes .
SE CRET SOCIETIES
VliO 1980s Frank " Funzi" Tieri
(New York 1981), recognized as the Genovese family boss, is convicted for operating a criminal organization through a pattern of racketeering that included murder and extortion. Anthony "Fat Tony " Salerno (New York City, d. 1992) becomes boss.
1985 Salerno and the bosses of the other four New York families are convicted for operating a criminal enterprise-the LeN Commission. Lombardo turns full control of the Genovese family over to Vincent "The Chin" Gigante-the same man who had tried to kill family boss Frank "Prime Minister" Costello (New York City, d. 1973)
30 years earlier.
198& Soldier and right-hand man to Anthony Salerno, Vincent " Fish " Cafaro (New York City, b. 1933) turns against the Genovese family and cooperates with the FBI. According to Cafaro's sworn statement, Gigante ran the family from behind the scenes while pretending to be mentally il!.
.r. :.. ~ "..-
1992 John "Teflon Don" Gotti, the head of the Gambino crime family in New York City, is convicted of five murders. cOl)spiracy to commit murder, racketeering, obstruction of justice, illegal gambling, extortion , tax evasion, and loan-sharking in.a hugely publicized trial in New York City. Named "Teflon Don " after three previous high-profile trials in the 1980s that all resulted in acquittal. Gatti dies of throat cance'r in prison in 2002.
1997 Gigante's strange behav' ior, n;...umbling while walk~g around New York's East Village in a bathrobe, earns him the nic.kname "the Odd Father." Gigante is convicted of racketeering and murder conspiracy and sentenced to 12 years.
2002 Another F81 invesI~
tigation leads to Gigante's indictment for running the Genovese family f r::m orison . .\1,; . ,(', , He pleads guilty to obstruction of justice in 2003 . .
2005 Gigante dies in prison in the same federal hospital where Gambino family leader John Gotti died in 2002.
2012 Alphonse Trucchio (Queens, b . 1977}-one of the youngest mobsters to be made a captain in Mafia history and member of the Gambino crime family-Is sentenced to 121 months in prison for racketeering and other crimes, including extorting two strip clubs in Queens .
SE C RET SOCIETIE S
And the Password Is "Mahabone"
Some Freemasons believe their history can be traced back to 967 B.C.E., to the building of King Solomon's Temple, described in the Book of Kings. The legend centers on the master builder, Hiram Abiff, who was kidnapped and murdered after refusing to divulge the secret password of the Masons. King Solomon, unable to find Abiff's body, established a new Masonic secret word to allow the trusted Masons back to wo rk on the temple. The secret is believed to be the word "Mahabone;' meaning "the Grand Lodge door opened;' which is now the password used to enter the third and highest degree (o r level) of Masonry.
reemaso nry is essentially the wo rld's firs t and largest fraterni ty. The name comes fro m the occupation held by the original members-stonemasons who built castles and cathedrals in England and Scotland in the late 14th centu ry. Two kin ds of maso ns existed at the time. Those who worked with ordi nary stone we re called "rough maso ns." Those who carved more intricate designs into softer stone, called "freestone," were named "frees tone maso ns" or "free masons ," Freemaso nry bega n when s tonemasons
fo rmed local organ izations, called lodges, to take care of sick and in jured members, as well as the families of those who were killed on the job. The masons also used the lodges as places to meet, receive
FREEMASONS AND THE BOSTON TEA PARTY Some con spiracies suggest that Freemasons w ere among the dozens of men who, dressed as Native
American s, boarded three British ships in Boston Harbor on December 16 , 1773. and dumped hundreds of crates of tea into the wat er. T his event, know n as th e Boston Tea Party, was a precursor of the American Revolution.
the ir pay, plan th e ir work, train new apprentices. and sociali ze.
They established trade guilds to discuss the ir craft and fa ir wages. They developed secret handshakes, code wo rds, and other signs to distinguish themselves fro m the rough masons. Based on the belief that each man can m ake a difference in the world, many men who were not builders were drawn to the prac tices of Freemaso nry. To encoura ge intellectual di ve rsity, stonemasons began acce pting men from other pro fess ions into the
fraternity. These m en we re known as "accepted Maso ns." Today, the terms "Freemasonry," "Maso nry," and "Free and Accepted Masons" are used interchangeably to refer to the frate rn ity, and "lodge" refers both to a unit of Masons and the room or building in which they meet. Today, there are more than 13,000 lodges in the Uni ted States and about 5 million Masons worldwide. including almost 2 m ill ion in the
United States. All lodges follo w the sa me principles of Freemasonry, but their activities may vary. Each grand lodge is sovereign and independent; there is no U. S. or international gove rning body for Freemasonry.
S ECRE T SOC IETIE S
IN CON GR ESS. )ULY 4 I'~ "tntmilltol~rcf.mfiolf ;'..... _..vIa " t t!S v.'IÂˇ""'~ttÂˇt.ri Ca..
'" Some conspiracies imply that the Knights Templar started the French Revolution in revenge for the treatment they received at the hands of King Philip IV.
FREEMASONS AND KNIGHTS TEMPLAR : ARE THEY CONNECTED? The Freemasons have long been connected with the Knights Templar, an organization form ed in the Middle Ages still shrouded in secrecy today. These knights were monks who took up arms in 1118 C.E. in order to protect Christian pilgrims traveling from Jaffa, the port city in Israel, to Jerusalem. As the story goes, the Knights Templar discovered a great treasure buried in the ruins of King Solomon 's temple in Jerusalem. The Knights became so rich that they were the targets of envy and suspicion. In 1307, Kin g Philip IV of France had all the Knights Templar arrested in order to take possession of their great wealth. What happened to the Knights after th eir arrest is not known, but some say they went into hiding, only to reemerge in Europe during the 17005 as the modern Freemasons-leaving one to assume that the Freemasons and their history are perhaps not as innocent as they make themselves out to be. The modern order of Freemasons was born in '7'7, when four Freemaso n lodges in London combined to form the first Grand Lodge, which had authority over all other lodges in England. Grand Lodges soon appeared all across Europe. Some men believed that the Freemason rituals held the secrets of the universe, passed down directly from God. But as time passed and the Freemasons grew in numbers, the government and the Catholic church became suspicious of the organization's secrecy and liberal religious beliefs. In '737, King Louis XV banned the Freemasons in France. And in '738, Pope Clement XI I forbade Catholics from becoming Freemasons on penalty of excommunication; the Portuguese government made Freemasonry punishable by death.
LIBERTY, JUSTICE , AND FREEMASONS FOR ALL After the American Revolution, the American Freemason lodges broke from the British and reorganized under state Grand Lodges. Although these lodges were never centralized under any formal authority, they recognized each other as mutual fraternities. Two different forms of Masonry came to exist in America-the Scottish Rite (following English traditions) and the York Rite (following French traditions). At the turn ofUle 20th century, the Freemasons had more than 85Â°,000 members. By the 1930s, there were more Ulan 2 million Masons in Ule United States.
MEETINGS, MEMBERSHIPS, AND DEGREES There are two kinds of meetings for members of Freemasons. The most common is a stated meeting,
which revolves around administrative procedures: financial matters, applications, and planning for lodge activities, which can be social or philanthropic based on different members' interests. The second kind of meeting is ceremonial, used for admitting new Masons and bestowing degrees. Most sources agree there are 33 stages of Masonic membership. The first three are Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft, and Master Mason. These stages, referred to as "degrees," correspond with members' self-development and increased knowledge of Freemasonry history and rituals. As a man completes each phase ofiearning, the lodge holds a ceremony to present his degree. Degree names are derived from the craft guilds of the Middle Ages. To become a stonemason, a man first apprenticed. When he had proved his skills, he became a "fellow of the craft," and when he acquired outstanding ability, he was known as a "master of the craft." The master is the leader of the lodge, similar to the rank of president in other organizations. The senior and junior wardens represent the first and second vice pres idents.
Most Freemasons never progress past level three as it is very difficult to learn and become proficient in all the rituals and symbols of each of the degrees. This is the Freemason motto: "Better men make a better world."
STEEPED IN HERITAGE M asonry is not a religion. However, mem bers are requi red
to have a belief in a Supreme Bei ng and to belong to an established religion . Men of all fai ths are represented and religion is not discussed at lodge meeti ngs. A man fi rs t becomes a Mason at his local lodge. After he has been awa rded the three degrees of Maso nry, he may join any of the other allied Masonic organi za tions, each of which has a s pecial social, educational, or philanthropic focu s. The best known in the United States are the Shrine, Scottis h Rite, and York Rite. Many Maso ns wea r lapel pins or frate rnity rin gs and ca rry membership ca rds. The "Ritual" is a formal ceremony of ini tiation that is virtuall y th e same as it was more than
yea rs ago; new members recite
codes of belief that have been passed down ora ll y fo r ge nerations. This "Ritual," which takes the fo rm of lectures and theater in the Lodge, is used to teach new Masons the value of true friends hi p, the benefits of knowledge, and the necessity of hel ping those in need. Because Grand Lodges are mostly self-governi ng, their regulations and res trictions on membership va ry, but most tend to follow a basic s tructure. Members must be at least the minimum age of 2 1, believe in a Su preme Being of some sort, be of good morals and re puta tion , and have pos iti ve re ferences confirming th e ir good characte r. Modern Freemasons are very ac ti ve in good
causes, such as medical and educational projects loca l food banks, and child I.D. programs.
"We represent a fraternity. which believes in justice and truth and honorable action in your community ... men who are endeavoring to be better citizens ... to make a great country greater. This is the only
institution in the world where we can meet on the
level all sorts of people who want to live rightly. Alth ough I hold the highest civil honor in the world , I have always regarded my rank and title as a Past Crand Master of Masons the greatest honor that had eve r come to me. -HARRY S. T RUMAN ~
A GLIMPSE INTO AFIRST DEGREE OF INITIATION I, [Candidate gives full name], in the presence of the Great Architect of the Universe, and of this worthy, worshipful, and warranted Âˇ Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons, regularly assembled and properly dedicated, of my own free will and accord, do hereby and hereon sincerely and solemnly promise and swear, that I will always heal, conceal, and never reveal any part or parts, point or points of t e secrets or mysteries of or belonging to ~ ree and Accepted Masons in Masonry....1 solemnly swear to observe, without evasion, equivocation, or mental reservation of any kind, under no less a penalty, on the violat ion of any ofthem than that of having my throat.cut across, my tongue torn out by the root and buried in the sand of the sea at low water mark, or a cable's length from the shore, where the tide regularly ebbs and flows twice in 24 hours or the more effective punishment of being branded as a willfully perjured individual, void of all moral worth, -and totally unfit to be received into this worshipful Lodge_ ... So help me God, and keep me steadfast in this my Great ~s.m:l.~61emn obligation of an Entered Apprentice Freemason.
SECRET SOC IETIES
SECRET HANDSHAKES Masonic handshakes may have had several uses in early days. Originally, a mas ter mason would teach an apprentice mason a secret handshake, refl ective of the degree of learning the apprentice mason acquired. Then , when the mason traveled for work and gave another master mason or foreman the secret handshake, that person would know that the apprentice had learned a certain degree of masonry (and the s ubsequent handshake) from a maste r mason. Additionally, when some countries began to outlaw Freemasonry, many Freemasons continued to meet clandestinely, and a secret handshake was a perfect way to express support without alertin g authorities.
Nowadays, secret handshakes are ways for Masons to express friendship as well as respect for each other. There are many different handshakes, such as the Shibboleth handshake, the Tubalcain-secret-handshake, the Mahabone, the Boaz handshake, and the Jachin handshake. SHIBBOLETH HANDSHAKE
Masonic ritual can
take years to
Like the build i ng of any great structure, the powerful metaphors and symbo ls of Mason r y build
character-one stone at a time.
The secret Masonic handshake of the Fellow Craft degree begins as a regular handshake, but then one Mason presses his thu mb against the area between the first and second knuckle joints of the first two fingers of the other person . The second Mason reciprocates the gesture by pressing his th umb against the area between the first and second knuckle joints of the first two fingers of the other Mason. Thi s handshake is sometimes referred to as "Shibboleth." MAHABONE
The Master Mason has a handshake or grip known as the "Mahabone." This entails interlacing the thumbs of both hands when two Masons meet and shake (with their right hands). One Mason presses his fingers against the other mason's wrist. The other Mason presses the tops of his fingers agains t the other Mason's hand in a similar gesture. This secret handshake is also known as the Strong Grip of the Master Mason.
Double-Crossing Mason In 1826, a former Freemason na med Will iam Morgan wrote a book t it led Freemasonry Exposed that revealed many secrets about the group, such as initiation oaths and ha nds hakes. In res ponse, he was kidnapped and taken to the Canadian border. One story claims the kidnappers drowned Morgan in the Niagara Rive r. Another claims he escaped across the border and lived the rest of his li fe in Canada. The kidnapping created a great deal of anger and suspicion against the Freemaso ns, whom many early Americans viewed as murderers. The Freemasons suffered heavy members hip losses as a resu lt. The number of lodges in New York dro pped from 480 in 1825 to 75 just 10 years later It was IÂˇt until the nation became preoccupied wi th the Civil Wa r that the Freemasons once again began to gain popularity.
INFAMOUS FREEMASONS Not all Freemasons li ve a life of good citize ns hip and philanthropy. In fact, man y have made headlines proclaiming that they have not exemplified Freema son values.
The mos t fa mOlls of the in famous Freemasons,
Benedict Arnold, betrayed th e colon ial army du ri ng the Revolutionary War. While Freemason Geo rge Washington became a hero, Benedi ct Arnold was labeled a traitor for divulging American battle plans to the Briti sh. Paul Bernardo and his wife, Karla Homolka , were seri al rapi sts and kill ers from Canada, committin g th eir crim es throughout the 1980s. It is believed he jo ined th e Freemasons as a cover-up. The Maso ns claim that Bernard o was not ac ti ve in his lodge; his m embership with the Freemasons was suspended after the guilty verdict. In 1995, in return for her confession and testimony agai nst her husband, Homolka was give n a plea bargain of 12 years in prison. Bernardo received th e Canadian max imum sentence, wh ich is life in pri so n. Brad Bleidt, a local radio ow ner and finan cial adviser, ran a Ponzi scheme and confessed to swind lin g peo ple out of $27 million . He eve n cheated hi s ow n lod ge out of $1.2 mi ll ion and two oth er lodges of $125,000 and $686,000. Many of his indi vidual in vestors were fellow lodge m embers, church members, and fami ly m embers. Sentenced to I I yea rs in prison in December 2005, he was suspended by the Grand Master of Masons in Massachusetts prior to his trial.
BECOME A FREEMASON! The requirements for becoming a Mason are as follows: +>- You have to be male and at least 21 years old. Some lodges and some jurisdictions allow 18Âˇ or 19-year-olds to join; some make exceptions for tho se who are sons of Masons or for university
students. +>- You must believe in a Supreme Being. No particular religion or faith is required or excluded. All are welcome. +>- You should enjoy meeting and working with people of different social classes, faiths, backgrounds, races, and countries. Masonry is universal in its ideals.
+>- If you are a family man, Masonry considers that your family obligations come first, so you must be sure that you have the time to participate (meetings are two or three times a month during the introduction phase, and after initiation about once
a month) and that you can afford the initiation fees and the annual dues without hardship to yourself or your family. Fees and dues vary from lodge to lodge, but are usually no more than $150 per year and go to the upkeep of the lodge or to charity. +>- You should be com ing to Masonry "of your own free will and accord" to lea rn to improve yourself and to enjoy the company of other good people.
To join, all you have to do is ask a Mason (as the Masons say, To Be One, Ask One)-preferably someone you know or at least someone who lives or works nearby. You have to be able to meet him in person. Contacting someone by email may get you pointed to a lodge in your area, but you callnot get a recommendation from someone you have never met.
SECRET SOCIETIES IN
Grab a bucket ofpopcorn, turn down the lights, and watch one of these great flicks in which secret societies are shown for better and for worse.
I}The Brotherhood of the Bell (1970)
6}Eyes Wide Shut (1999)
When a successful p rofessor is asked to do a job by the powerful secret society he used to be a member of, he realizes that once you are " in," you can never get "out."
Starring Tom Cru ise and Nicole Kidman , this film centers on a man's infiltration of an underground secret sex society.
7} The Ninth Gate (1999)
Based on a true story and adapted from the book Wiseguy by Nicholas Pileggi, Goodfellas is an insider's view of the rise and fall of the Lucchese crime fam ily associates Henry Hill and his friends.
In this thriller, Johnny Depp stars as Dean Corso, a corrupt rare-book dealer who is hired to locate the last remaining copies of The Nine Gates of the Shadow Kingdom and finds himself ensnared in conspiracy involving satanic ritual and murder.
3} Mississippi Burning (1988)
8}The Skulls (2000)
Two FBI agents investigat ing the murder of civil rights workers during the 19605 look to break the conspiracy of silence in a small Southern town where segregation divides black and white.
A college sen ior joins a secret elite fraternity, "T he Skulls," on ly to realize that his life is in grave danger after he begins to investigate the suicide of his best friend.
4} Enemy of the State (1998) Murder and cover-up ensue w hen the U.S. Congress moves to pass new legislation expanding the powers of the Central Intelli gence Agency.
5}Fight Club (1999) Starring Brad Pitt and Edward Norton, Fight Club centers on two men who form an underground fight club that inevitably turns into a violent revolution .
9}The Da Vinci Code (2006) Direct ed by Ron Howard and based on Dan Brown's novel, The Da Vinci Code wi ll leave you breathless as a murder and clues in Leonardo Da Vinci 's paintings lead to the discovery of a rel igious secret that has been protected for over 2,0 00 years .
10 } National Treasure (2004) A hidden map on the back of the Declaration of Independence takes Benjamin Franklin Gates on a dangerous hunt for a treasure some believe was left behind by the Knights\ Templar.
SECRET S OCIETIES
All members of the society
are trained in si x disciplines. or fields. so they are always prepared for any event and
can at any moment respond to questions or challenges
with an advantage : M ilitary
""" """ """ """
Scholarship Leadership Science
he Illuminati ori ginated in Bavaria in the late 18th century. A philosopher named Adam Weishaupt wanted to reform the way gove rnment worked, believing that through enlightenment (illumination) , the world could become more orderly, more efficient, and more successful. He believed traditional religious thought was problematic and that scientific research was more valuable than religion . He therefore set out to form an orga nization based on rational thou ght. He also believed that this goal could be accomplished only by gathering a small gro up of men in secret. At this time, the Catholic Church was so powerful, it would not tolerate dissention like this. Anyo ne who questioned the beliefs of the clergy might be put to death. Weis haupt started this secret organization, called the Illum inati, on May I , 1776.
The first members were only five peo ple and included intellectuals. Each me mber was given a position in the group and there was a clear hierarchy of "classes" of members. The higher your class, the more secrets would be shared with you. illuminati men would meet and discuss ideas of enlightenment and free thinking. They modeled themselves upon the Freemasons. All members took a vow of secrecy and swore an oath ofloyalty to Ule group. The organization grew to about 2 ,000 strong across Europe, counting among its members some of the literary elite, such as Ferdinand of Brunswick and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Eventuall y they were discovered. Accused of plotting to overthrow Ule Bavarian government and the Catholic Church, the Illuminati were quickly abolished by the incoming ruler, Karl Theodor, in 1785. All their documents were seized and the group was disbanded. Even so, many believe a secret organization survived and was
instrumental in the French Revolution , World Wars I and II , and to this day is still known as the i1Juminati.
TODAY'S ILLUMINATI In modern tim es. many cons piracy th eorists have uncovered
evidence (or at least innuendo) that points toward a modern version of the Illuminati, which has nothing much to do with the original version, except that it's secret and it's made up of people who want to change the world. This modern version seems to be less about enlightenment and more about takin g over the world. The conspiracy theorists ask, "Why is it that certain people maintain power while others never quite rise to the top' Is there a group of powerful men who are making decisions that ultimately will impact how we live?" Accordillg to the believers, it's the lIlumillati. And according to conspiracy journalists like Alex Jones, the illuminati is a secret society that exists to this day throughout the world. It is made up of powerful, elite leaders in industry, politics, and banking. The goal of the Illuminati is to maintain a power structure and to ultimately create a new wo rld order that is run by one group, with one supreme leader. Jones and other cons piracy theorists believe the Illuminati are immune from scrutiny and can get away with anything- terrorist acts, political coups, military actions. They answer to nobody. Many theorists point to the United Nations, which was originally established to maintai n some order around the world. Claims are made that it is actually run by the i1Juminati, even with separate governments participating. The modern Illuminati do not care about the little people. They onl y want to wield more and more power until they establish their one-world government. And for those who are cynical, there is some evidence that is difficult to ignore.
ILLUMINATI EXPOSED? In 1996. a young woman named "Svali" escaped from what she call ed the Illuminati cult. She revea led all its secrets and is stili fighting to get her story out. She reports that she was a programmer, meanin~ she was in charge of brainwashing other people into embracing the tenets of the Illuminati. "Svali's" version of the Illuminati differs from the commonly held idea that the Illuminati is historicall y made up of 13 families who wield power and influence throughout the world. Her experiences illustrate a more malevolent version of the society, one that will resort to any measure to gain followers and ensure their loyalty, including kidnapping and brainwashing. She reports that "each region of the U.S. has nerve centers, or power bases for regional activity. The U.S. has been divided into seven major geographical regions. which contain military compounds. They are hidden. These bases are used to train Illuminati in military techniques, in preparation for the ultimate collapse of the government."
LEVELS According to "Svali," here are several levels ofleadership within the Illuminati: +> LOW LEVEL: This is presided over by a high priest and priestess who participate in some form of ritual. The low-level members report to a Leadership Council. + > METROPOLITAN LEADERSHIP COUNCIL: Consists of a head, plus assistants and administrators. They oversee training of the low-level priests and priestesses. They report to the Regional Leadership Council. +> REGIONAL LEADERSHIP COUNCIL: There are seven regional councils, which report to a National Council. +> NATIONAL COUNCIL: The National Council consists of industry leaders and bankers, including, according to "Svali," such well-known names as the Rockefellers, who have been active in American banking and politics; the Mellons, of CarnegieMellon University and banking entities; the Carnegies, a family of wealthy industrialists; and the Rothschilds, a very wealthy family. They report to the Supreme World Council. +> SUPREME WORLD COUNCIL: Oversees everyone else.
STRUCTURE The structure of the Illuminati is based on a pyramid. Those below are not privy to the information known to those above. Members strive to reach the next levels by demonstrating their understanding of their current level and by showing their commitment to the tenets of the organization. The machine works brilliantly in this way: The power structure is always intact.
According to conspiracy theorists, the Illuminati members rise higher up the pyramid, and thus become more enlightened or illuminated. Fewer and fewer reach the highest levels. Hence the pyramid.
SYMBOLS The Illuminati believe in the magic power of their images. They believe that by placing symbols of the Illuminati around the world, their power increases. The more we see these images, the more we
are under the spell of the l!I uminati. + > PYRAMID WITH THE ALL-SEEING EYE: Seen on the U.S. dollar bill, this eye is synonymous with the Eye of Horus from ancient Egypt, which signifies protection, royal power, and good health. +> THE BAPHOMET: This is a pagan deily represented by a goatheaded figure. Baphomet is represented through many different images. Some say that Lady Gaga and even, if you will, the image of Uncle Sam are homages to Baphomet.
Many celebrities have been photographed framing one eye with the palms tipped together in a pyramid shape, representing their allegiance to the Illuminati. So you cannot assume that you are immune. The Illuminati run deep. Deeper than we had ever imagined.
M IND CONTROL Ma ny people believe the Illuminati maintain their power by using the occult, magic rituals, and ceremonies. They use this power to control banks, governments, industry, and trade. They also control Hollywood and the music industry. They use entertainment to control the minds of young people. For the conspiracy. minded, there is an assumption that Lady Gaga, Ribanna, )ay-Z, and Eminem are all cult members. These cult watchers tell us to listen to these artists' lyrics and pay attention to their behavior. Notice the photos of Lady Gaga, in which she strikes a pose that looks just like the Illuminati symbol of Baphomet, a goat-headed fig ure who is prevalent in the culture of the occult. And Gaga's logo depicts a headless fe male form with a lightning bolt that drives right through the body, as if she's been restarted-or illuminated. Finally, she often covers one eye-imitating the All-Seeing Eye of the Illuminati. Rihanna has seductive videos in which she is seen dancing within a pyramid . She poses in provocative ways to call attention to her sexuality but also to seduce us into watch ing her closely, absorbing the imagery of the Illuminati. That's how they control us. That's how the wo rld will eventually be ruled by one group: the Illuminati.
THE FUTURE According to conspiracy theories, we will never truly be safe from the Illuminati. They have a master plan to control the world, the world's wealth , and our thoughts. So, for the paranoid , modern Illuminati are everywhere, and their inAuence is incredibly broad.
MEMBERS According to some conspiracy theorists, today's Illuminati is still made up of '3 of the wealthiest families in the world. The only way to infiltrate this elite group is to marry into one of those families, or bloodlines, that go back thousands of years. And even then, you will only have a slightly closer glimpse of the secrets of the Illuminati.
SECRET SOC IE TIES
DuPont Wealthy industrialists
Reynolds Tobacco magnates
Rockefeller Bankers, Onassis Shipping magnate, married into Kennedy family
Pohtlcalleaders and captains of IIldustry
Founders of the Dutch East India Company
~ARDROBE "Regalia" generally refers to the clothing associated with society rituals: Tobes, aprons, gloves, uniforms, and swords. Many of these items were developed in the 19th century for new clubs and societies looking to imitate the popular Freemasons. Secret society regalia also includes the endless number of badges, medals, ornaments, and insignia from this time period.
T HAT "TOP SECRET LOOK " As outsiders, whenever we catch a glimpse of brotherhoods in uniform (maybe at a parade or in a movie), we are immediately intrigued: Men in aprons? Carrying swords? What are all those weird symbols? Is that a fez? Undeniably, costumes used by many secret societies have long been alluring for us common foUc Many secret society styles border on the outlandish, yet each society prides itself on adhering to its own, unique "look." "l"hough most societies got their looks after copying the popular Freemasons in the ,800s, back then each group made an effort to add its own distinctive touch. The emblematic aprons, the odd hats, the masks, the badges, swords, medalsnearly every piece was covered in symbols and insignia specific to the society. And though the pageantry of elaborately decorated costumes is sometimes spectacular to see, it is important to note that every symbol and insignia has a specific historical purpose. In the beginning, the responsibility of decorating the fraternal regalia of secret societies fell upon the female relatives of members. Wives, mothers, and sisters designed, created, and sewed for their men, supplying lodges with the proper garb for both ceremony and ritual. Only in the late 19th century did professional artists, engravers, and costume manufacturers step in to take over this job. One of the country's leading manufacturers of uniforms and regalia was the HendersonÂˇAmes Company of Kalamazoo, Michigan. For more than 40 years, the most wellÂˇknown of the manufacturers in the country, Henderson-Ames created uniforms, ceremonial swords, Aags, and emblems for lodges, secret societies, and other organizations such as bands, police and fire departments, and even the United States military. In '933, the company merged with another regalia firm, the Lilley Company of Columbus, Ohio, forming the Lilley-Ames Company. Although it has been out of business for more than 60 years now, many of its productsparticularly its swords-have become heirlooms and collector's items, continuing the company's legacy.
SECRET SOC IETIES
THE APRON 'S TIES TO BROTHERHOOD
ACLOSER LOOK AT APRONS According to Freem ason broth er F.R. Worts of th e Grand Lodge of Briti sh Columbia and Yukon , you can tell a Freemason memb er 's po sition in th e society by the apron he wears. Entered Apprentice: A pl ai n wh ite la mbskin 14 to 16 inches w ide, 12 to 14 inch es dee p, square a t th e bottom , white tasse ls, and with out ornam ent. Fellow Craft: A plain w hite lambskin, simila r to the Entered Apprentice, with th e addition of two skyblue rosettes at th e bottom. Master Mason: Th e sa me as a Fell ow Craft, w ith sky-blu e lining a nd edging, 11/2 inches de ep, and an additional rosette on th e fall or flap. No oth er color or orn ament is a llowed, except for offi cers and past officers of th e lodges who have embl ems represe nting th eir officer positions in silver or w hite in th e cent er of the apron .
SEC RET SOC I ET IE S
The apron is the signature piece of a secret society ensemble. The Masonic apron, in particular, was one of the most frequently copied items of fraternal regalia. Take a closer look at any society's apron, and you can learn a lot about the history of the society. The Freemasons traditionally wore aprons as a tribute to stonemasons of an earlier era. Their aprons displayed an enormous amount of craftsmanship, with every word or symbol thoughtfully planned and strategically placed. Other items of regalia bore insignia linked to past and present lodge officers: homages to significant members who were Masons, such as George Washington and Benjamin Franklin . Decorating Masonic aprons began in the '730S and became a society-wide common practice. Tassels and rosettes were introduced over the years, as were blue ribbons and silk, and square appliques for Masters' aprons. Perhaps the most famous Masonic apron is the one President George Washington wore to his inauguration in 1789. This apron still exists today, close.ly guarded at the Freemason's G rand Lodge of Pennsylvania.
FLASHY FRATERNAL FASHION Over time, as secret society rituals grew more complex and theatrical in nature, costumes (sometimes heavily embellished) became popular. Some orders (such as the Knights ofPythias, the Odd Fellows, and the Order of Red Men) began favoring the more ornate and ostentatious costumes. In the ,8th century, when jewels sbaped as miniature stonemasons' tools began appearing on different Masonic emblems for officers, more elaborate constructions using precious metals and stone became a popular way to identify rank among the officers on both aprons and ceremonial uniforms. "One of the most common things you see for sale [nowadays] is a Knights Templar uniform, including the chapeau hat with the peacock feathers, the sword, the white gloves, and the sashes with the silver stars on them," Dave Lettelier, curator of the Maso nic Museum in Phoenix, says. "Those organizations got big after the Civil War, because a lot of the young men who grew up hearing about the Civil War didn't have a military organization to join. So they wou.ld join a fra ternal order and dress up and march tbrough city streets in all their finery." During fonnallodge activities, members and officers of many secret societies step it up a bit, sometimes with bats, sashes, and gloves. The only other time lodges required a change in uniform was for presentations tl,at were dramatic in nature. Lettelier explained in an interview how some fraternal organizations started the tradition of putting on plays to make their "teachings" easier to remember. "Most of your Scottish Rite Temples [the Ancient and Accepted
Scottish Rite is a branch of Freemasonry] have beautiful theaters in them," Lettelier said. "It was an early form of entertainment. People joined these different groups because they wanted to see the degrees acted out in theatrical form."
BANNERS The most artistic members (or their wives) were usually handpicked by lodge officials to craft the official fraternal banners and other accoutrements. After the Civil War, military uniform manufacturers began creating lodge goods and employed professional artists and craftsmen to paint, carve, sew, and build regalia and furniture.
SWORDS Swords used by fraternal societies are most easily identified by their ornate structure-and the fact that though they appear so elaborate, they are pretty useless as traditional weapons. Complete with pommels, hilts, and scabbards (knobs, handles, and sheaths), the nature of their decoration sets them apart from functioning swords. Often beautifully detailed with symbols and art relating to the society, the blades on fraternal swords are usually etched for nearly their entire length. Common etchings depict the heads of knights, scenes of the Middle East, biblical figures (like Samson), and military motifs. The blades are usually straight, always unsharpened, and actually Rexible. "Tbe purpose of a fraternal sword is that of a chivalric blade, not of a martial one," sword expert Mike McWatters explains in his fnternet blog. "It is the tradition of the sword and the honor of carrying one that is .eRected." McWatters likens the fraterna l sword and its symboHsm to the samurai sword. " lif you want a sword that will cut down a tree, look somewhere else," McWatters says. "To their owners, these were swords that embodied what it means to live by a code of honor, serve a greater purpose, and fight for a noble cause." Like the society apron, we can learn a lot about a society by studying its fraternal sword. Common features of fraternal swords include a cast (the metal body of the sword), decorative pommel (often a knight's head), initials on the hilt and/or scabbard, and the owner's name etched into the blade. Of course, fraternal markings appear prominently to identify which society the owner belongs to. Also etched somewhere on the blade will be the sword manufacturer's name.
Swords from the late ,800s and early [900S frequently show up at auctions and collectors' shows around the country. Currently, active groups like the Freemasons, the Elks, the Krughts of Pythias, the Knights of Columbus, the Loyal Order of the Moose, and the Ancient Order of Hibernians continue to utilize swords in their regalia.
WILLIAM HOWARD TAFT
ome say Skull & Bones was created in res ponse to the ru li ng by Yale and Harva rd that the elite acade mic club Phi Be ta Kappa could no longe r be secret. Others say it was in res ponse to the anti-Mason m ovement of that era . There are also suggestions that the society was ins pired by then-common German intellectual societies, which Russell had visited dur ing his travels to Europe. All we do know for certain is that the people who are members are also some of the most powerful people in the wo rld. They protect their hold on their power and position through this secret organi zation whose walls have yet to be penetrated by any outsiders .. .until now. The secrets of Skull & Bones are out. The clandestine club was originally named the Eulogian Club, after a German club of the sa me name. It was considered the second chapter of the German group. TI,e name was then changed to "The Order of Skull & Bones." According to several sou rces, Skull & Bones owns a summer home and its own private island on the s t. Lawrence River. The name of this place is Deer Island in Alexandria Bay, New York. Spanning 40 acres, the retreat is intended to give members of Skull & Bones- or Bonesmen, as they are called-an opportunity to "get together and rekindle old friendships," according to Alexa ndra Robbins, a Yale graduate, in her Atlalltic M OI l tilly expose on the order, written in 1998. Bonesmen wo rship Eulogia, the goddess of erudition (the goddess associated with being well-spoken and a great orator). The goddess supposedly rose from the heavens after the death of the Greek orator Demosthenes in 322 B.C.E. The number 322 is still part of the Skull & Bones culture. In fact, the "inner temple" of the clubhouse is room 322. And to th is day, the number 322 is on all of the society's stationery. Bonesman Daniel Coit Gilman (class of 18 52) incorporated the society as the Russell Trust Association in 1856. This allowed the group to manage the fund s tha t were donated by members to the organization. The fund s were invested over the years , and it is rumored that each Bonesman received a $1 5, 000 gift upon joining the society. Gilman went on to become a president of the University of Cali fornia, and he was the founding president of Johns Hopkins University, an inAuential position that earned hi m the ear of politicians, bankers, and other leaders in society.
FAMILIAR NAMES M embers of Skull & Bon es a re some of the most powerful people in the world . Former presidents W illiam Howard Taft, George Bush, and George W. Bush, and former presidential candidate John Kerry, w ere all Eulogians. When asked about the society during his 2004 presidential ca mpaign, Kerry said on Meet th e Press. "It 's a secret," George W. Bush said. "It's so se cret, I can't say anythin g more." These men don't deny th eir membership, and, in fact, by refu sing to give the press any insider information, they re main true to the society.
MEMBERSHIP "Bones would shape the characters of those who would shape the world," wrote Franklin Foer in the New Republic. There is a sense that in joining Skull & Bones, the elite members are called to a higher duty. It implies that they are meant for something greater than just their Yale education. Members understand that they are to begin a life of service, rather than leisure. They understand that the world order itself is at stake and they are part of the solution. Others say those claims are just mumboÂˇjumbo to protect the secrets that lie within the club. So is there a coincidence? Are these men selected because they are supposed to join the power elite' Or are they already members of the elite, simply continuing the already established legacies of their respective families'
RECRUITMENT To get some answers, let's take a look at recruitment. Members of Skull & Bones are "tapped" in April of their junior year at Yale University. Another man will literally tap a junior on the shoulder and invite him to join the group. For the most part, members are tapped to join Skull & Bones by someone they already know. But this is a meritocracy, so if you are the captain of the football team, the editor of the college paper, or the president of the student body, you can also expect to be asked to join. Until recently, you had to be a white male. The first black member was part of the class of 1965. In October 1991, under pressure from various members, the Bonesmen voted to admit women into the society.
As a junior, you might be sitting at dinner in the dining hall and at 8 p.m. on a certain Thursday in April, you will be tapped on the shoulder. Or you might be in your dorm room and hear a tap at the door. The Skull & Bones senior, or perhaps an alumnus of the group who has come back to recruit you, will say something to you about being called to duty or being selected to serve our world. You are expected to respond with a resounding yes to the invitation. But how much do the candidates actually know about the initiation rites before they take place' The whole thing is secret, right? But secrets leak out. Here is what we know about the initiation rituals:
INITIATION When it comes to the initiation rituals of Skull & Bones, we know what we know only from those who have either left the order altogether or have spoken anonymously. In either case, we know very little ... and yet a pattern emerges. Clearly these guys take it all seriously. The initiation takes place in the inner sanctum, or Inner Tomb.
of the clubhouse (known as the Tomb) on High Street in the middle
of Yale University's New Haven campus. The 15 men gather and, one by one, they enter the Inner Tomb. The room is dar k. Shadowy lighting reveals skulls and bones hung on the walls. The effect is terrifying. A group of men, or Knights, all dressed in robes, greets each initiate separately. There is one leader, named Uncle Toby. Others are dressed as Don Quixote, Elihu Yale, a pope, and various skeletons. They yell as the initiate enters, and then the ceremony begins. Although we will never know for sure. because everything we know
is based on the accoun t of either a former member or a current member
who has met in secret with a repo rter, some say the initiates are forced to li e in a coffin and recount their sexual
history to the other members. Others say these same initiates are forced
to stand naked in front of the other members and reveal their deepest, darkest secrets. All of them. Though the confessions are treated with respect and dignity within the orga nization, thi s is also the way to cultiva te-and guara ntee-secrecy among its me mbers. After all , would you want your secrets getting out for DRESSING the world to hear? So, in effect, secrecy LIKE DON QUIXDTE is guaranteed: Nobody outside the group reall y knows what is discussed within the halls of 322 . Throughout the initiation ritual, members taunt the initiate with screams. The initiate reads an oath of secrecy, drinks "blood" (really, it's grape juice) from a skull , and finall y, as the scream ing ends, Don Quixote ta ps the initiate on the left shoulder with a sword and pronounces him a "Knight of Eulogia." He is then given a new name, which is only to be used within the confines of the clubhouse. Then and only then, the newly kn ighted member is taken on a tour of the clubhouse, where he views various artifacts that have been collected over the years. These include skulls, coffins, skeletons, and other memorabilia. In the past, men were also then exposed to the "Bones Whore" who was there to make "men" out of the young undergrads.
â€˘ THE TOMB AT YALE
THE CLUBHOUSE The front door of the Skull & Bones clubhouse isn't meant to be secret. It is clearly marked with a skull and bones, a warning to keep intruders away and a symbol of what lies within. "It's this sepulchral, tomblike, windowless, granite, sandstone bulk that you can't miss," says Ron Rosenbaum,
a journalist for the New York Observer and a former classmate of George W. Bush who spent many years trying to infiltrate the sacred space but only got as far as the edge of the lawn. Inside, it is dark and dreary, according to anonymous sources. It looks more like a fraternity house than a breeding ground for future world leaders. Inside, you will find old couches, old paintings, and-yes, old skeletons hanging on the walls! The society takes its name very seriously-though one could interpret the message of skeletons as suggesting the need to take action rather than sitting idly by, waiting to die. Author Alexandra Robbins has suggested that this notion fits nicely with the notion that these men will rule the world someday soon.
Inside the Tomb, Bonesmen keep their clocks set five minutes ahead of "real" time. This is to create a sense that the Knights exist in a separate world, away from the "barbarians" who live outside in the "real" world. According to some rumors, the Tomb has a landing pad on the roof for the helicopter owned by the Bones.
CRAVE ROBBERS? There's even a glass cabinet that is said to house the bones of the Apache leader Geronimo. These are rumored to have been pilfered from Geronimo's grave in 1918 by none other than Prescott S. Bush, father of President George H.W. Bush and grandfather of President George W. Bush. He and several other Bonesmen apparently went to Geronimo's grave in Oklahoma and retrieved the skull, a few bones, and a few artifacts. According to Time magazine, Ned Anderson, a former Apache tribal leader in Arizona, brought suit against the Skull & Bones society in 1981, hoping to recover the supposed remains of the Indian leader. "I believe strongly from my heart that his spirit was never released," Geronimo's great-grandson
Haryln Geronimo, 6r, told the National Press Club. To this day, the bones remain in the glass cabinet, but their provenance is still in dispute. "We still call it Geronimo anyway," a Bonesman says.
MEETINGS Once the initiation rites have been completed, Bonesmen meet twice a week for dinner. They discuss politics, li terature, business, and the future of the world. Sometimes they debate current events.
MEMBERS OF THE ORDER OF SKULL 8, BONES Since the group's inception, Bonesmen have gone on to manage the Carnegie, Rockefe ller, and Ford Foundations, all of which are involved in international relations, international
business, and politics. Bonesmen have played key roles in the Central Intelligence Agency and the Council on Foreign Relations-an organization that meets to discuss and develop ideas about how the United States should implement its foreign policy. Former Bonesmen are also bankers, media moguls, Olympic champions, Oscar winners, and physicians. There have been numerous members of Congress and, of course, a few U.S . presidents. Is it because these men were the chosen few, tapped to be the future leaders of the world? Or is it because, once a part of the society, they were inspired to take on more responsibilities in the world? We don 't know which came first-but we do know that throughout the 20th century some of the most powerful men-and , recentl y, women- in the world happened to be members of Skull & Bones. According to Franklin Foer in his article in the New Republic, during the mid-20th century, Bonesmen were in strumental in carving out our
Cold War policies and had tremendous inAuence on foreign policy decisions. Bonesmen also developed the CIA-and became some of the first leade rs of that organization as well. They became presidents of universities, where they began to transform the student population, drawing in more public school students, for example, and more Jewish people.
. IMIWlIFfmll/:a:tf :f
William Huntlngto R
and the namesake ~~:elJ. f,Q Un,der of Skull & Bones Russell trust AssOCiation Soc iety 5 corpora te body, th e
Alphonso Taft U S
, . . attorney general (1876 secretary 01 war (18 76) b -18 77), assador t o A t · (18 82) and Ru ssia (1 884,am - 1885) us ria-Hungary Will iam Howard Taft . father of U.S. president
Henry Luce, cO-founder of Tim e-L,·I E . P . e nterpri se reseOff Bush, U.S. senator, father of George H. W. Bush
Ceorge H,W. Bush, 41st U.S. president Ceorge W. Bush, 4 3rd U.S. president John F. Kerry U S .
senator, presidential candidate
Damol Coit Cilman
Johns Hopkin~ Uni::;s~;~ent :f ~niversity, of Californ ia, fo under .of th e Russell T ,an t e ,Carnegie In stitu tion, I rust Association
~ona'd Ogden Stewart, screenwriter f . film The Phila.delphia Story 0 th e Oscar-Winning RUssell Wheeler Davenport edit
founder of th e Fortun e 50~
or at Fortune magazin e,
H.J. Heinz II, heir to H J He,· C " nz omp any Alb '
SkU~~H::~::rg II, laWyer, first Jewish member of William F. Buckley J
r., ounder of Na tional Review, form er
David McCullOUgh U S hist .
AT A GLANCE + >- SECRETS: EVERYTHING is secret and members of Skull & Bones never talk about it. Ever. +>- CREST: Skull & Bones with the number 322 + >- MEETING PLACES: Deer Island, the Tomb
Orde Musgrave Coomb
" ........ofJ$kQ I & Bones
onan, tWo- ti me Puli tzer Prize
s, au th or, editor, first black member
Paul Ciamatti A d , ca emy Award-nominated Ame . ncan actor Dana M rlbank, politica l reporter for th e W. h · as mgton Post
Austan Goolsbee, sta ff director ' President Barack Obam ' E and,chl ef economist of as con omlc Recovery Advisory Board
• SECRET SOC I ETIES
Why Greek? In 1776, when John Heath, a student atthe College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, couldn't get into either of the two most popular Latin-letter clubs on campus-the F.H.C. Society (nicknamed the "Flat Hat Club") and the P.D.A. Society (nicknamed "please Don't Ask")he started his own: the phi Beta Kappa Society. He picked Greek letters instead of Latin letters because he was "the best Greek scholar at the college." phi Beta Kappa is derived from the Greek motto "philosophy is the guide of life;' and the club Heath started is generally regarded as the very first Greek fraternity.
Flat Hat Club or F.H.C. Society College of William
Mary, Williamsburg, Virginia
The original F.H.C. Society is regarded as the first known secret collegiate society in the United States. The acronym really stands for one of two secret Latin mottos: Fraternita s, HUl11anitas, et Cognitio or Fraternitas Humanitas Cognitioque. Both are versions of "Brotherhood, humaneness, and knowledge." The F.H.C. Society was begun in '750. Thomas Jefferson himself was a member. He once wrote a letter saying, "When I was a student ofWm & Mary college of[Virginia] ,
there existed a society called the F.H.C. society, confined to the number of six students only, of which I was a member, but it had no useful object, nor do I know whether it now exists." The F.H.C. Society was forced to disband during the American Revolution and the British invasion ofViTginia. It was revived in 1916 and the n again in
and it now exis ts with
and 4 professors.
Skull 8. Bones Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut Is becoming a member of the CIA contingent upon former membership in the Order of Skull & Bones at Yale? If yo u believe the conspiracy theorists and the film The Good Shepherd, it is. If yo u as k the CIA that question, however, you will get an emphatic no. Nevertheless, Skull & Bones has made a name for itself (probably the most famous collegiate secret society) through claims like that, as well as the one about Skull & Bones members being conspirators behind President John F. Kennedy's assassination.
The Noble NoZe Brotherhood Ba ylor Ulliversity, Waco, Texas Can a society still be considered "secret" if me mbers roam freely around campus, pulling pranks on unsuspecting students and school offi cials' Before you answer, consider this: What if those pranksters are in disguise, wearing Groucho Marx glasses and fake mustaches and bea rds at the time' The answer is, it absolutely [an .. .and it is! Pulling pranks while incognito at all times was and still is the case over at Baylor Unive rsity. In 1924, the Noble NoZe Brotherhood made its first appeara nce on Baylor's campus "to study the art of bridge construction," which is wha t it says on its Facebook page. But it also adds, "Somewhere something went aw ry... " With a name that was created around the joke that one member's nose was so big you could form a society around it, the NoZe Brothers' main activities include publishing a satirical campus news paper called Th e Rope, managing a humor blog, and pull ing pranks. All whi le in disguise, of course. The group's website is thenoZe.org, and its Facebook page (The Noble Noze Brotherhood) and YouTube page (Noble Noze Brotherhood) currently have a combined 10,000 visitors.
FAMOUS COLLEGiATE SECRET SIi~ CI~ET~IESL-::::;:;;;;;~~.ii~ Turtle Mound Society Beloit College, WI Sic Sic ea.w lin g Green State Univers ity, OH Sphinx, Casque and Gauntlet Dartm outh Coll ege, NH Burning Spear Society Florid a Stat e Unive rsity sity W ashington , D.C. Âˇ The Stewards Georgetow n U IlIve r ,
Stickas Texas A&M'Unive rsity The Machine University of Alab ama Coffin and Keys University of Nevada Society of Innocents University of Nebraska Loyal Knights'of Old Trusty University of Oklahoma THE SPHINX
S EC RET SOC I ET I ES
Flight of Shadows University of Alaska, Anchorage There is just one secret society at the Uni versity of Alaska Anchorage, which can be either a good thing or a bad thing when an organization is trying to re main secretive. Founded early in the 21st century (as compared with the centuriesÂˇold other secret societies), Flight of Shadows not only sotlllds mysterious, but it is the oldest and most prestigious secret society in the northernmost region of the coun try. Members, both men and women, are called Shadowmen. Selection into the Shadowmen is highly secretive. Distinguished ath letes and presidents of student organizations are rumored to have made it into Flight of Shadows. What's most intriguing is that membership in the society is secret until graduation. At that time, members reveal themselves by appearing at the graduation ceremony wearing on their chest a gold pin in the shape of a spade, with the letter "S" marking them as Shadowmen. It's unclear what their purpose as a society is, but the Âˇ Spades: as they are also called, are best known for their presence at UANs homecoming every yea r, officially welcoming alumni back to campus.
Seven Society University of Virginia, Charlottesville With 10 "known" secret societies at the University of Virginia, there's a little something for everyone, in case you were hoping to join one. But before you take your pick, yo u should know the nature of these societies va ries from philanthropic to downright disgusting. These groups include the the Mystic Order of Eli Banana, which began in 1878 and is famous for its Easter parade; the Z SOCiety, whose logo-a large letter Z-can be found painted permanently on the north steps of the campus rotunda; the P.U.M.P.K.I.N. Society, a secret service-oriented group that rewa rds contributors
to the univerSity; and the seemingly seamy Rotunda Peers, whose only rumored purpose is to urinate (it's probably pronounced "Pee-ers," not "Peers") on th e ca mpus rotunda
at night. Hmmmm.
However, the most secretive of the groups at UV A is the Seven Society, which is said to have formed around 1905 when a group of eight men agreed to meet for a card game but only seven showed up. Nothing is known about the Seven Society since members' identities are kept hidden until death. Only then, at their funeral, are tl,ey revealed as members when a wreath of black magnolias shaped like a seven is supposedly placed on their grave. According to the website Zencollegelife.com, "To let tl,e university know a fonner member has died, the bell tower at the chapel on campus chimes every seven seconds at seven past the hour, striking tl,e seventh dissonant chord."
Comell University, Ithaca, New York If you've ever been to the campus towe r at Cornell University in Ithaca , New York, you may have noticed that the top Aoor of the tower is off-limits. Except, of course, if you are a member of the Quill and Dagger secret society and you are headed to a topÂˇsecret society meeting.
Quill and Dagger, founded in 1893, was the first Ivy League club to admit women. Members are chosen based
their character and
reputation of service on campus. Though the names of new members are published in the school newspaper every semester-not very secreti ve- nothing else about the club is ever revealed.
Eucleian Society NelV York University, NelV York City Started in 1832, th e Eucleian Society takes secrecy to a new level: Mee tings are recorded in a written coded language that only membe rs understand. The society a lso keeps the names of its members sa fely guarded. It is considered a "literary" society that holds publici2ed literary events with guest lecturers (like Edgar Allen Poe in , 845). It publishes two magazines and has always been cons idered a progress ive voice on
campus, often s peakin g out in favor of civil and human rights as well as satiri zing current news events in New Yo rk.
Cridiron Secret Society University of Georgia, Atltens The Unive rsity of Georgia boasts a socie ty started in 1908; being asked to join is re portedly "the highest honor a male student ma y receive on the Univers ity of Georgia ca mpus." Alumni of the Gridiron Secret Society include prominent business and political leaders, such as Preside nt Jimmy Carter and Attorney Ge neral Griffin Bell, and every governor of Georgia since the 1930s. Possibly lin ked to Yale 's Skull & Bones, the Gridiron Secret Society is so closely guarded that not only its me mbership but also its purpose is a secret.
Cadaver Society Washington a>ld Lee University, Lexington, Virginia The members of the Cadaver Society are mostly pre.med students, though their membership is kept completely secret. Members appear only after dark, dressed in black capes and hoods to conceal who they are. What isn 't hidden, however, are the marks they leave around campusa letter C with a skull inside-when pulling a prank or sending a message. The Cadavers , as they are called, do good for the school as well, most notably donating money to build a new stadium and fitn ess center on campus.
Order of Cimghoul University oj North CaroLina, ChapeL HiLL There are quite a few legendary secret societies at UNC in Chapel Hill , all with unique, mysterious beginnings. At the campus library you can browse through the societies' archives for a rich secret society history lesson, beginning with the records of the Order ofGimghouL Sounding like something out of a Harry Potter novel, the Order of Gimghoul was founded in 1889 and centers around the legend of Peter Dromgoole, a student at UNC who mysteriously disappeared from campus in 1833. The society's founders originally called themselves the Order of Dromgoole but later changed the name in keeping with "m idnight and graves and weirdness," as stated in the archives. The order upholds the "Dromgoole legend and the ideals of Arthurian knighthood and chivalry," and it is said to be social in nature with no suspicious agenda. In the r890s, the Gimghouls built an actual castle off campus as their lodge, called the Hippol Castle. Legend has it that the society chooses members from the UNC student body and they become members for life, returning to campus during certain times of the year to meet secretl y at the castle.
Order of the Corgon's Head University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Infinity University of Nortlt Carolina, Chapel Hill Another UNC secret society is named In finity_ In 2011, the school received two donations from Infinity, each in the amount of $888.88, with the digit 8 derived from the symbol for infinity (an 8 lying on its side). Other than that, nothing eise is known about the club.
Aiso quite Potter-esque is UNC's Order of the Gorgon's Head, founded in 1896, with officers' names like Princeps, Quaestor, and Scriptor. This order's purpose is to promote friend ship, goodwill , and social fellowship among members.
FOR THE SISTERS While some collegiate sec ret socie ties accept women as members or consist of wome n only, there are no fraternities that allow women to join. And why would th ey, when there are plenty of excellent so rorities women can join? Sororities are run exac tly like fraternities on campus, with rus hin g, pledging, hazing, a nd secret initiations. Sororitie s have Greek-lettered names as we ll and are a visib le presence on campuses a ll over the country_ Ea rly sororities were actually call ed fraternities because the wo rd "sororityn had not yet been introduced to th e English language. Like brothers in a fraternity, so rority sisters are all about sisterhood and bonding, and they are expected to support eac h other both academically and socially. Keeping up grade point averages is a must for all soro rity mem bers, too, so tutoring by upperclassme n to help their younger sisters perform well in school is commonp lace. 50 is "mentaring, " where Bi g Si sters c hoose Little Sisters to guide and mentor in a sisterhood support system.
TH E RU L ES OF T H E OR ICINAL RO S ICRUCIAN ORD ER
The group can consist of no more than eight men-each a doctor and a bachelor ' "
Each member promises under oath to heal the sick without payment ' "
Each member swears to maintain a secret fellowship ' "
Each member must find a replacement for himself before he dies ' "
THE LEGEND O F THE ROSE c.. CROSS : REAL OR NOT?
The legend of the Rose and Cross movement (Ros icrucianism) began in Germany in th e 1300S during the lifetime of its found er, Christian Rosenkreuz (Rosen kreuz ~ rose cross). But it wasn't unti l 300 years later that he became a lege nd throughout Europe. The question remains, however: Did Christian Rosenkreuz ever even exist? Much of the worl d becam e fascinated with Rosicrucianism almost from the moment they first read about it in a trio of ma nifes tos pu blished anonymously in Germany in the 1600s. The writings told the story of a secre t society started by Rosenkreuza fraternity composed of learned m en-who possessed a secret know ledge that, once revealed, would chan ge the wo rl d forever. The writings were said to have been written by Rosenkreuz himself before he di ed, but when hi s authorship was later exposed as a lie, the legend of Rosicruciani sm grew eve n dee per. As the story goes, Christian Rosenkreuz was born in the late 1300S and raised as a monk. He later became a doctor and often traveled to the Middle East, hea li ng th e sick and searching for a higher level of spiritual and mys tical know ledge. In the Middle East he li ved and studied with T urkish, Arab, and Persian sages, who purportedly bestowed upon h im all "the greatest secrets of nature and life." When Rosenkreu z was fina ll y ready to share th ese secrets with others, he returned to Europe wi th a dream in his head of form ing a brotherhood of men based on all he had learned. Unfortunately, many Europeans couldn 't grasp the level of Rose nkreuz 's knowledge and inte llect. So he decided to share his know ledge secretly, reserv ing "the greatest secrets of nature and life" for those he deem ed worthy. Back in Germany, Rosenkreuz managed to find a sma ll group of li ke- m inded monks and he created what th e manifestos later called the "Rosicrucian Order," appointi ng himself as head of the order. Rosenkreuz's u ltimate goal, the stories goes, was to pool together all
~odeve~ ,b6g ;n t o underst and th e ROSicrucian r er, It s esse ntia l t o know these
used t erm s:
Rosicrucianism: th e b elief in a . f . secre t SOCie ty . ounded In late ~edieva l Germ any by Christian Rosen~re~z. ROSic ru c ia ns claim t o POssess es otenc Wisdom handed dow n f . " rom anCien t tim es, ThIS wisdom, once explain ed by a membe~, of th e Roya l Historical Society in London as concealed f rom t he average m . , 'g h ' an, prOVIdes ;nhsl ~ l,ntO nature. th e physical unive rse and e SPIritual re alm ," Esotericism: th e study of hidd k and ' en now /edge , m yste,nolls beliefs. us ually understood by Ju st a select f ew and only aft , .. , er years of Introspection an d study, Mysticism: th e 'sPiritual beliefs and ideas of people Wh o c laim to have achi eved in sight into myst ery that goes beyond ordina ry hum know ledge, an
OCcult: literally "knowledge of the hidde " !t Usua lly relat es to a soc iety or group cl:;mIng to use, or having kn owledge o f. secret or sup ern atura l powers,
~h~ Age of Enlightenment: a p eriod in early
t - ce t1tury Europe wh en many thinkers tried '"'\. to c;P a~e society b ased on reason and scienc~ r,ath er th an tradition , faith. a nd religion Chnstl an Rosenkreuz's th e . . on es and practices ~ere, rev~aled at th e beginning of thi s excit ing Ime In history,
SE C R ET S O C I ETI ES
the great. mystical. spiritual . and scientific knowledge of these men and transcribe it into one universal philosophy of life to ul ti mately present to the world. Over time. Rosenkreuz's little group of learned men grew to eight members. Together. they traveled the wo rld every yearkeeping the identity of their smaLl fraternity hidden-healing the sick and gaining more knowledge. When their missions were com plete. they would return to their headquarters. called the Sancti Spiritus (House of the Holy Spirit). in Germany. In 1484. Rosenkreuz died at the unbelievable age of 106. but the Rosicrucian Order lived on. His disciples buried their leader in a secret location somewhere in the Sancti Spiritus. All his "greatest secrets" were buried with him.
THE ROS IC RU C IAN CREATI ON r..J
Rosicrucianism blends aspects of
science. rel igion . alchemy. and magic with philosophies from Egyptian mysticism. Jewish kabbalism . and Christian teachings.
Flash-fo rward '20 years. to ,604_ The Rosicrucian Order had grown to 36 members. all of whom learned about Rosenkreuz and his great secrets. The order was stiLI kept hidden from the public. and the brotherhood's original purpose of healing and spiritual journey lived on. Then. one day. construction was begun to expand the Sancti Spiritus. It was said that one of the Rosicrucian Order brothers hit a nail into a wall and cracked a hole in the plas ter. Rosenkreuz's perfectly preserved body was rumored to have been discovered behind that wall. in a chamber the former leader had erected himself to be a storage house of knowledge. His secrets were uncovered. too. and for the Rosicrucian Order. the manifestos say. it was the dawning of a new age.
THE MANIFESTOS Ten years after the discovery of h is body. the tale of Rosenkreuz and his secret brotherhood was exposed in a series of three pamphlets. or manifestos. They were supposedly written by Rosenkreuz himself before h is death in 1484 and hidden among all hi s secret know ledge in the chamber_ These secre t ma nifestos were publi shed in Germany over the course of two years. and the story was so sensational. Rosicrucianism became all the rage throughout Europe. The first manifesto. known as Farna. revealed to the public the very existence of the secret fraternity founded by Rosenkreuz after his enlightening journeys to the Middle East. The second manifesto. Confessio. was also published in 1614. COl1fossio expanded on the message of Fama. adding that this secret order of Rosicrucians had discovered a new. enli ghtened path to a refo rmed world. Finally. in 1616. a third manifesto was published. This installment lent itself to many different interpretations. It was fuLl of
SECRET SOC I ETIES
fantasy and symbolism. It was also clear that it had not been written by Christian Rosenkreuz. It was widely believed that the real author of this manifesto-and possibly all three-was the work of one man, a Lutheran minister named Johann Valentin Andreae. According to Christopher Hodapp and Alice Von Kannon, coauthors of Conspiracy Theories and Secret Societies for DÂŁlmmies, Johann Valentin Andreae, with all good intentions, had written the pamph lets in the hope of creating a new movement that would "reform social life through new learning" and begin a new search for "the secrets to Life, the Universe, and Everything."
I MADE IT ALL UP Even after Andreae confessed to having made up the stories about Rosenkreuz and his lost texts, people didn't care. They had found a philosophy to embrace, and they clamored to learn everything they could about the great Christian Rosenkreuz, his Rosicrucian Order, and the "great secrets" of nature and life. Andreae had succeeded in garnering interest in a secret society that didn't exist, but nobody minded that small detail. In their enthusiasm, people started their own Rosicrucian societies. Rosicrucianism blossomed, despite being an enigma, and the uncertainty only added to the mystery surrounding it in the first place. The idea of a secret society of enlightened men-alchemists
and sages who were preparing to transform the artistic, scientific, religious, political, and intellectual landscape-was compelling enough for society to buy in, even though the details about Rosicrucianism remained ambiguous. It isn't surprising, then, that people all over the world quickly started Rosicrucian societies of their own.
IN GOOD COM PAN Y During the 1960s, as part of a hoax claiming the existence of a medieva l secret society called the Priory of Sion) , a set of documents called the Dossiers Secrets was discovered in France. One of the documents allegedly included a list of ÂˇGrand Masters of the Priory of Sion : and Andreae was listed as the 17th Grand Master! A lso on the list: Leonardo da Vinci . Isaac Newton, and Victor Hugo. r...J
Throughout history, much of Rosicrucianism remained unclear, but the movement has survived nonetheless and continues, to this day, to thrive and gain followers.
MOVING TO AMERICA The largest Rosicrucian society in America, the Ancient and Mystical Orde r Rosae Crucis (AMORC) , wa s organized in 1915. Today, AMORC lists on its website (AMORC.org) more than 1,200 lodges worldwide, spanning most of the 50 states and places like Bermuda, Guya na, British Columbia, and Trinidad and Tobago. The website proclaims to support members from a variety of cultural and religious backgrounds by providing, mostly through an online correspondence course, a foundation that ties together all the different aspects of metaphysical study. Anyone can download from the site a copy of AM ORes publication Mastery of Life, which promises to guide seekers through a more focused attunement with life and heighten their spiritual awareness.
SECRET SOC IETIES
IN NEED OF A ROSICRUCIAN RETREAT? Rosicrucian Park in San Jose, California, was the brainchild of H. Spencer Lewis in 1927. The retreat, situated in an area th at was once farm land , now covers an e ntire city block and attracts thousands of visitors from all over the world each yea r. The park is the perfect place for peaceful introspection as it "offers a mysterious and beautiful combination of Egyptian and Moorish architecture set among broad lawns, rose gardens, statuary, and sparkling fountains," according to its web brochure. This"peacefu l environme nt, along with th e spiritual essence of wh at Ro sicrucian
Nostradamus (Eerily) Gets It Right Fifty years before the term "Rosicrucian" even existed, astrologer and famed "predictor" Nostradamus wrote: "a new sect of Philosophers shall rise, Despising death, gold, honors and riches, They shall be near the mountains of Germany, They shall have abundance of others to support and follow them." Christopher MCintosh, author of The Enduring Mystery of the Rose and Cross, points out that Nostradamus's prediction is "strikingly accurate" as it relates to the Rosicrucian brotherhood's rise in Germany in the early part of the 17th century. Like the "philosophers" in Nostradamus's prediction, Ros icrucians "shunned worldly satisfactions in favor of spiritual ones and [were] said to have conquered death through the elixir of life:' Furthermore, and again just li ke the "philosophers" Nostradamus wrote about, Rosicrucians had many supporters and followers all over the world.
SE CRET SOC I ETIES
Park represents . creates a sere ne and harmonious ambiance sensed
by its many visitors." CAN 'T GETTO SAN JOSE? The Council of Solace is a group of people
(at Rosicrucian Park and throughout the world) who meditate daily on behalf of others. Their goal is to bring cosmic help to those in need. They achieve this "by putting certain s piritual energies into motion and directing them in accordance with mystical law and natural principles." This "meta physical aid," they explain, is then "directed to individuals who petition the Council of Solace with hea lth , domestic, economic, or other problems ." Pe titioning th e
council, they say, is as simple as logging onto its website and fillin g out an electronic petition.
ROSE AND CROSS The symbol associated with Rosicrucianism has always been a cross with a rose in the center. There are a few interpretations of its symbolism, but the exp lanation below is the most popularly believed. The which has always been a symbol of spiritual growth, is taken from the Latin phrase sub rosa , which means "done 'in secret" and comes from the idea that secret societies in ancient Rome would
meet under a hanging rose , The cross is a symbol of both life and death. It also symbolizes the universe, quartered into the four alchemical elem ents of earth. air, fire, and water. To alchemists, mystics, and spiritualists, the cross represents immortality.
FIRST MASTER'S CROSS This rosy cross was brought to America by the first group of Rosicrucians to settle here in 1694. It was presented to â€˘ Dr. H. Spencer Lewis by Mrs. May Banks-Stacy. a member of the English lodge that sponsored the first group's emigration to America.
SEC R ET S O C IETIE S
Early in the days of colonial America, a group ofpowelful men formed a secret society called the Sons of Liberty. These men were leaders in the community, and many went on to hold positions ofpolitical power. They included Samuel Adams, Paul Revere, JohnAdams , and even the infamous traitor, BenedictAmold. The organization was formed during a time ofgreat unrest in the British-owned colonies. The British had just passed the Stamp Act, and a rebellion ensued. Some say this marked the beginning of the American Revolution. And the spark that fanned the flames of rebellion was ignited by this seemingly insignificant new tax.
alilt the STAMP•
Patrick Henry, a member of the Son s of Liberty, was considered a radical politician. He also served as the governor of Virginia twice.
Tho Sons of Liberty were a patriotic group of Americans fighting for freedom from the tyranny of England and unfair taxes.
Benjamin Rush was the surgeon general for the Continental Army and also signed the Declaration of Independence.
The Stamp Act, Imposed by the British Parliament, required American citizens to pay taxes on every piece of printed paper they used.
John Lamb was one of the original members of the Sons of Liberty.
The patriotism exhibited by the Sons of Liberty was wriHen into a famous poem called "Paul Revere's Ride" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. SEC RET S O C IETI ES
UNFAIR TAXES Though the colonists stiU felt loyal to their home country, they were beginning to feel frustrated by its lack of support. Resources and revenue were all heading in one direction-back to England. Many colonists were angered by Great Britain's exploitation. Led by Samuel Adams, they formed the Sons of Liberty, a secret society in which they could discuss matters of rebell ion and plot to overthrow the British government. They soon discovered they had allies throughout the colonies. So the Sons of Liberty organized groups of men to protest British taxes across the board. And they organized big. "No taxation without representation!" became a common cry of the Sons of Liberty in the s treets.
THE BOSTON TEA PARTY It was the Sons of Liberty who organized the famo us protest known as the Boston Tea Party. They had a secret code to announce that it was time to begin the Tea Party. One night, Samuel Adams entered the building where the Sons of Liberty met. He shouted, "This meeting can do nothing more to save the country!" That was the signal it was time for the Sons of Liberty to storm the docks at Griffin's Wharf and dump the tea cargoes of three British ships into the sea, leaving no chance for the British to profit from the export.
THE SONS OF LIBERTY TODAY Today, the name "Sons of Liberty" has been adopted by various m ilitant groups who claim to be protec tors of the inten tions of the country's original Founders. But they are small s pli nter organizations, certainly not elite secret societies like the Sons of Liberty, who changed the course of history and created the United States of America. Those patriots are long gone, their purpose having been well served.
SEC RET SOC I ETIES
Benedict Arnold Benedict Arno ld is famous for his betraya l of the American Revolut ionary Army. But before he became a traitor he was a heroic member of the Sons of Li berty. And he was a hero dur in g t he American Revo[utionary War. That's r ight. Benedict Arno[d was a wa r hero. He was a successful bus inessman who joined the Sons of Liberty early in the Revo[ution. As a co lonel during t he war, he led men into battle against the powerfur British army, los ing a leg during the famous Batt[e of Saratoga in 1777. This battle is considered a turning point in t he war since it inspired the French to join t he American side, leadi ng, ultimately, to an American victory. Benedict was one ofthe first officers to sign the Oath of A[[egiance. But after that battle, Arno[d became bitter. He began to believe that perhaps the resources intended to fig ht t he war and bui ld a nation were being misused, and he believed that he could benefit financially if he were to side with the British. So he held secret meetings and took direction not from the American generals but from the British loyal ists. Despite his treasonous leanings, he somehow managed to co nvince George Washington to give him t he post as leader of West Point. Un beknownst to Washi ngton, Arno[d planned to sell West Point to the British. He eventually was caught and declared a t ra itor. He had lost everythi ng-h is wife, his honor, and his place inAmerican history as a war hero. He [eft America and went with a new wife to Eng[and, whe re he died in 1801.
Th e Sons of Liberty commonly met und er an elm tree In the cen t er of Boston . T he
ermetic Order OF THE
he Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn is an occult group that started in England in the late 19th century. The members practice magic and witchcraft. Some say it was the inspiration for Wicca and Thelema, both current magical practices. The order was founded by three men, all of whom were Freemasons and Rosicrucians. The term "Hermetic" comes from Hermes, one of the
gods in the Greek pantheon. The Herm is also the name of a stone pillar that was, according to Greek mythology, used by the Greeks to communicate with their gods.
MEMBERS People who join the Golden Dawn tend to be looking for a deep mystical connection. They are interested in witchcraft and religious symbolism. In order to join, one must go through a ritual of initiation. Women and men are both permitted to join.
SECRET SOC I ET IE S
THE THREE ORDERS There are three orders of the Golden Dawn. The first teaches philosophy. Through this first order members learn about astrology (the supposed impact of the stars and planets on people's daily lives) and tarot (using a deck of cards for mystical divination ). The second order brings in magic, astral travel (where the spirit leaves the body and travels into space), and alchemy (transforming matter). The third order-that of the "secret chiefs"-indudes highly skilled members who manage and direct the activities of the lower-level orders, with whom they communicate nonverbally. Not much is known about the secret chiefs-except that they are very powerful and wield influence over many.
CIPHER MANUSCRIPTS The order is informed by the Cipher Manuscripts. These manuscripts contain
60 books that include everything
members could ever need to know about magic rituals. They are used in the initiation rites for the Golden Dawn. The contents of the manuscripts re Rect the four alchemical elements of earth, air, water, and fire.
It is through these occult rituals that members of the
Golden Dawn learn about magic and symbolism and can ultimately become practitioners. The origin of the manuscripts remains a m ys tery. Some say they were originall y given by a Mason named Kenn eth MacKenz ie to a London coroner, William Wynn Westcott,
in ,809, Westcott is said to have tran slated the manuscripts from German and then used them as a basis for the founding of the Golden Dawn. Others say Westcott wrote the manuscripts himself.
RITUALS + >- EQUIN OX RITUAL This ritual is performed within 48 hours of the equinox, which is considered a time of strong energy exchange between the sun and the earth. Members stand and chant and "receive" the energy. +>- THE RITE OF THE QUABALLATIC CRO SS Using a dagger, the participant conducts a sequence of poses and recites certain wo rds .
+>- RITU AL OF THE PENTAGRAM Participants move their arms, legs , and torso into various pos ition s that represent a pe ntagram.
+ >- RITUAL OF THE HEXAGRAM Similar to the Pentagram , except that participants move in the shape of a hexagram.
SECRET SOC I ETI ES
From its less-than-humble beginnings at the start of the 40th century. the Ordo Templi Orientis (OTO) was a secret society with more controversy than secrets.
Ordo Templi Orientis T
he OTO, which still exists today, boasts nearly 3,000
members in 60 countries. It claims to "represent
the surfacing of the divergent streams of esoteric wisdom
and knowledge, which were originally divided and driven underground by political and religious intolerance during the dark ages." OTO has been influenced by the Freemasonic, Rosicrucian, and Illuminist movements, as well as by the crusading Knights Templ.r of the Middle Ages.
OTO FOREFAT HERS At the turn of the 20th century, spiritual and mystical movements were sprouting up all over Germany. A wealthy chemist by the name of Carl Kellner became interested in a branch of Freemasonry called the Rite ofMemphis路Mizraim. Kellner had dreams of building the Rite of MemphisMizraim into the largest Masonic branch in the world. Members of the Memphis-Mizraim branch of Freemasons practiced mysticism-secret rituals designed to allow humans to ascend to a higher state of consciousness, ascend to an astral plane. or even commune with a Supreme Being.
The problem was that most Freemasons did not recognize the Rite of Memphis路Mizraim as a legitimate Freemason order. In fact, they encouraged all Masons to distance themselves from th e Memphis-Mizraim, believing
the group was nothing more than a bunch of con artists looking to make money on new initiates.
Kellner didn't care. He embraced the Memphis-Mizraim anyway and continued to develop it further, even talking of one day bringing women into the fold-something that was strictly forbidden in the Masonic world. In 1880, Kellner met a like路 minded Bavarian named Theodore Reuss. Reuss, who also favored unorthodox
Masonic groups, had just come through a few failed attempts at starting his own esoteric orders linked to the Illuminati throughout Europe. Kellner and Reuss both had visions of creating a "college" or institution as a way to bring all esoteric philosoph ies they practiced together under one roof. The Academia Masonica, established in 1904, created a new set of degrees, or leve ls, differen t from th e traditional
Freemason degrees. Kellner and Reuss welcomed other splinter Freemason groups to join their lodge and renamed their group the Ordo Templi Orientis. The general philosophy of the group was a belief in "new age" esoteric practices as a way of rea lizing one's true identity.
However, the Memphis-Mizraim never gained acceptance from more mainstream Freemason groups. Kellner's death in 1905 seemed to foretell the end of Ordo Templi Orientis-that is, until Reuss met an Englishman named Aleister Crowley.
THE " WICKED EST MAN IN THE WORLD " Called ti,e "most influential figure in the occult world of the 20th century," Aleister Crowley fancied himself a prophet who was called on to educate the people of the world and usher them into a new period of enlightenment. In fact, he was unconventional, highly unethical, and more than a little self路serving. A self-proclaimed occultist, Crowley's practice encouraged sexual deviance, drug use, and black magic. Although he was actually an accomplished man-a prolific author, chess master, and mountain climber-the press dubbed him the "Wickedest Man in the World" for his
AN INSIDE PEEK INTO THE oTo Nearly all Th elemites keep a record of th eir personal pract ices in some t hing th ey ca ll a " M agical Diary." M a ny also pray t o the su n f o ur ti mes a day in order to focu s th eir m ind s on th e center o f the solar syst em. Th elemites often t ake mystical n ames th ey call " magical motto es" fo r themselves as a s ig n o f co mmitm ent. Na mes are usuall y Latin bu t can be taken f rom Heb rew or ancien t mysticism, t oo. Some magical m ottoes a re "Apostalus Lucis" (apostl e of light) , "Yod " (simpl e, small, or humble), and "Pax Ego" (p eace w ith myself). Th elem it es c ustom arily g reet o n e a n ot her w ith t h e phrase, "Do w hat thou wi lt sha ll be t he w ho le of th e L awn (th e ext ende d ve rse of Th e L aw of Th elema), t o w h ich th e c ustom a ry response is "L ove is th e law, love un der w ill." Oth er tim es, Th elemites w ill use numero logy, making st at ements like "93," w hi c h signifies both " wiW and " lov e" in Thelema.
THE LAw OF THELEMA The Law of The/ema_"Do What thou Wilt"_ is the ethical anll moral COile founll in CrOWley'S Thelema Scripture. CrOWley fUrther eXP/ainell it as "True Will," the Ultimate SPiritUal core Of each person. The OTO webSite (OTO-US4.0 ) fUrther rg eXPlains, "This Law is not to be interpretell as a license to inllulge paSSing Whim, but rather as the manllate to one's True Will anll accOmplish it: others to 110 the same in their own
UqiqUe Ways. "
I~ ____ - - = WHY JOIN THE oTo?
many scandalous exploits with women and men. Allegedly, he also parti cipated in rituals of human sacrifice. Before m eetin g Theodore Reuss, Crowley had been pari of another secret society, the Herm etic Order of the Golden Daw n. During that time , he claimed to have been contacted by his Holy Guardi an Angel. He also claimed to ha ve received writin gs known as "The Book of the Law" from a div ine so urce whil e he was in Egypt in 19 04- Based on thi s book, Crowley developed a new religion called Thelem a. Reuss was an easy convert to Thelem a. He immediately encouraged Crowley to step in , take the helm , and reorganize the OTO arou nd the Law of Thelema-" Do what thou wilt"-which became the motto for the OTO. When Reuss had a stroke in '9zo, Crowley proclaim ed himself the new Frater Superior (head) of the Order of Oriental Tem plars. In 19 14, after World War I broke out, Crowley brought OTO to the United Stales, hopin g to receive approval and associa tion with the Freemasons in America. But his reception was less than welcoming; as in Europe, the Freemasons in the United States distanced tilemselves from tile OTO. Crowley's reputation had preceded him , and the Ameri can Masonic orders were not about to acknowledge his weird, new practi ces as having anything to do witi, Freem asonry. It was n'l lo ng uefo re tales of Cru wley's unsavury practices began to circulale. By the end of World Wa r II, Crowley's Ordo Templi Orientis was fin ished.
RESURRECTION La te in ' 969 , the OTO was resurrected by a stu dent of Crowley's nam ed Grady McMurtry, who claim ed to have letters permi ttin g him to rev ive th e order as its new leader. Much of the sensationalism surroundin g Crowley has since faded, and today, under its current leader, William Breeze, the Ordo Templi Orientis is Aourishi ng.
Today's OTO is only slightl y di fferent f ro m th e order as it was in 1918. It's still a sec ret soc iety, meanin g membership in th e OTO is p rivat e, kept co nf id en t ial f ro m th e public and f rom the bulk o f oth er m em be rs. Onl y offi cers in th e OTO a re give n inform ati o n a bout m em bers, a nd th at 's on a n ee d- to-k now bas is. M e m be rs w ho want t o attend an even t mu st first co nfirm th eir membership st atu s by submitting a requ est to th e offi cers of th eir loca l lodge. A s was Crowley and Reu ss 's goal in th e earl y 1900s, th e m a in goal of th e OTO r emain s to creat e, maintain, a nd promot e a stru c tured soc iet y of me n a nd w om en wi thin t he country w ho a re united by th eir accepta nce o f th e Law of Th e lem a. Th ey ac hieve thi s goal through ce re moni a l initiati o n a nd sacramen t al ritual, by pl edges of fi delity, coope rati o n , a n d mut ual aid, and by ce rtai n commo n id ea ls. L ead ers in th e OTO d escribe th ese id ea ls as " indiv idua l libert y ; se lf-d isciplin e; se lf - kn owledge; universal broth e rhoo d; and oppos itio n to t y ranny, super st ition , an d oppression ." OTO ho pef uls mu st b e over th e age of 18 . Th ey m u st a lso su b mit th eir appli cati o n t o t h e o rder acco mp anied by t wo r ec omm en dations from two spo nsors w ho are alrea dy m e mb e rs . Th e st ru cture of th e OTO, li ke Free mas onry, is based o n a se ri es of st ages , or d eg rees. Th e ri t ual s fo r each o f th ese d egr ees a r e d es igne d t o t ea ch pro specti ve m emb ers the " prof o und myst eries of nature" and to h elp th em d iscover th ei r tru e id en t ity. Th e initiat io n rit ual invo lves a ph ys ica l ce rem o ny le d by a c harte r m embe r, bu t , to m aintain th e OTO 's inten se sec r ecy, it is unknown outs id e of th e o rgani zat ion . Th e OTO operat es loca l bod ies th roughout th e world ; most membe rs participat e d irectly in one or more of them. Most local bodies o ffer cl asses o n "M agic k ," using the old En gli sh spellin g of "magic" as Crowley did, so as not to confu se th e t o p ic w ith magic t r icks , ritu al, Ka bbalah (J ewish mysti c ism), a nd oth er t o p ics of int erest to practi cing Th elem it es. Co mmon local acti viti es in clud e pe rfo rm an ce of group ri tua ls, publicati o n of a newsletter o r journal, and cooperative activ iti es w ith oth er local a lternati ve - re ligiou s groups.
S EC RET S OC I ET I ES
.. --: _. _ _ ._ .. .,. ...-- .......~/
GOLDEN CIRCLE The Lying Leader Even before General Bickley's no-show at the Rio Grande for the Knights' invasion of Mexico, he was already known in many circles as a liar. In fact, his office wa ll was lined with forged medical certificates . Bickley clai med to have had medical training and to have stud ied in England, Scotland, and France, but historians say there's no evidence he ever studied medici ne... or ever even went to Europe. After he fa iled to show up as promised to lead the Knights into Mexico, a group of Knights in Louisiana publicly attacked him, calling him a liar, a coward, and an inept leader. Bickley responded by calli ng a general convent ion ofthe Knights in May 1860. The convention confirmed Bickley as leader.
On the eve of the Civil War, it wasn't difficult to find organizations in the North that sympathized with the plight of the South: a desire to secede from the Union and an emphatic demand to own slaves. Some of these Northern sympathizers formed their own clubs in the hopes ofle nding a hand lo lheir brelhren in lhe South. The Copperheads were the most infamous of these clubs, named for the large copper penny on their lapel badges. The Copperheads effectively acted as a front for those who participated in a slew of destructive and deadly activities in the North. The most notorious group connected with the Copperheads was the Knights of the Golden Circle. Founded in 1854 by Virginia-born doctor, editor, and adventurer General George W. L. Bickley, the Knights were a fraternal organization structured like any other. New inductees had initiations, ripe with rituals, regalia, and symbols. They swore oaths and pledged allegiance to their order. Unlike other societies, however, the Knights of the Golden Circle had a sinister purpose: to invade and overthrow the government of Mexico and turn it into a southern slave state. The Knights also envisioned an empire that would include the takeover of Cuba, centering on Havana. From Havana, the Knights would appropriate territory northward, including Maryland, Kentucky, Missouri, and aU the southern states, plus parts of Kansas and most of Texas, Mexico, Central America, South America, and all the West Ind ies. Ultimately their empire would encompass land some 2-400 m iles in diameter, hence the name Golden Circle. In this dream , the new Southern Empire would produce most of the world's cotton, sugar, tobacco, rice, and coffee and have the mili tary and financial strength to hold onto slavery in the South despite constan t attacks by northern aboli tionists .
STRUCTURE O F THE KN IGHT S
SECRET CASTLES Within a short time, Bickley organized 32 "castles" (local chapters) in various cities, including Houston , Ga lveston, Aus tin , San
Antonio, Marshall, Je fferson, and La Grange. Man y prominent Texans reportedly joined the Knights, and it was rumored Bickley even persuaded Texas governor Sam Hous ton to join. Though Houston had an interest in annexing Mexico to the United States, it was widely known he wo uld never accept that the Knights were anti-Union, so eventually his participation wavered. Castles were formed in three orders. Those with a military assignment (most of the members) were called Knights of the Iron Hand. Those with a financial calling were Knights of the True Faith, and those with political skills (the leaders) were Knights of the Columbian Star. Castles could be found in both the North and the South and were rumored to have 60,000 members in Missouri alone. In addition to membership in the southern states, the Knights also had a strong
r...J Like most sec ret societies. the Knights of the Gold en Circle had elaborate rituals lade n wi th codes. sign s, and passwords. and a n intricate structure for military and governing ope rations .
Knights were grouped into three divisions:
Military; Comme rcial and Financial; and
Political. The Military division was further divided into two classes-the Foreign Guard, men who wished to participate hand s-on in
Mexico, and the Home Guard , men who wou ld support military efforts from home.
presence in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Iowa.
INVASION ATTEMPTS In
the Knights of the Golden CircIe assembled in Texas and
Louisiana to begin their invasion of Mexico. One eyewitness, a
postmaster, said, "The officers, according to rank, were to get larger amounts ofland and a greater number of slaves." He added some of the more optimistic in the Knights' army were already learning Spanish. The plans, however, were poorly executed. Some 16,000 Knights are believed to have reached the Rio Grande, lining the shores to wait for Bickley's arrival before moving into Mexico. Bickley never showed.
' l' l l1~
1Iea4 or tho Knis h'" of the Golden Cirelo.
SECRET SOC I ETIES
BELIEVE IT. aRNOT. A "treasure hunting community," no doubt with their eyes on th e buri ed fortune , di scovered the following article in th e Iowa Cedar Valley Times from Augu st 1961. It bears mentioning not because it reveals the location of the trea sure (which, unfortunately, it does not) but beca use it exposes the best-kept secrets of th e Knights of the Golden Circle: detail ed description s of th eir secret signs, passwo rds, and hand signa ls.
The Captain of the gathering .tates. "I will nOW . 35swords and token give you the signs. grlps. P •
of the fir5t De(/ree of the K.G.C. This de(/ree ~. a name. which I may now give
(Knight of the Iron Hand):' f th 0 der is thw made: The first great sign
I ..... '"
e r touching and re5ting on top
Hand> open. pau.~ of the head: fingers pointing upward>.
this is' open hand> touching
The answer t o · elbows close shoulder where epaulets are worn. to the side. These are battle-field signs and are not to be
used in ordinarY circumstances. The common sign of recognition is right r lip under nose. fore. Fmger drawn acrOSS u ppe
as if rubbing. The Answer to this is; with fore· rmger and
thumb of left hand take hold of left ear. To gain admission to a Working Castle. or f y KGC. give one distinct rap at the room 0 an . the door. The Sentinel on duty will then ~ . . k t and demand the countersign. which 15 WlC e tle door SOLDIERS. always lettered except at cas . You will then pass the centre (center) of the
room and give
the trUe .ign of the K.G.C.: left _
hand on the heart, right hand raISed. This be recognized by a 00""; from the Captam .
SECRET SOC I ETIES
It wasn't until six months later-during a second attempted invasion of Mexico-that Bickley finaLly arrived, but he arrived alone, claiming his troops and his shipment of weapons had gone missing. The upcoming presidential election , the secession movement across the lower South, and the Civil War that foLlowed soon after in ,861 all contributed to a waning of interest and confidence in the plans of the Knights of the Golden Circle. As the Civil War began, the Knights drifted apart, mainly because the Confederate army needed them as soldiers. They tried to reorganize without Bickley two years later in ,863 as the Order of the American Knights and then again in 1864 as the Order of the Sons of Liberty, but ultimately the fraternal order faded into obscurity. Victory by the Union in the Civil War had thwarted their goals.
THE SECRET TREASURY OF THE CONFEDERACY? Though Bickley was arrested as a Confederate spy in Indiana in 1863 and died in Virginia in 1867, his story and the legend of the Knights of the Golden Circle did not die with him. Just before the Civil War ended, a rumor circulated that the Knights had secretly carried off the entire treasury of the Confederacy, believed to be between $z million and $5 million. The money was supposedly hidden in Canada and then brought back to the United States as soon as the war ended. The gold and silver coins were supposedly buried all around the country in preparation for a new Southern uprising. To this day, there have been numerous claims to the secret buried treasure, hidden in mysterious places all across the South. Many people believe this fortune, marked "CSA" for the Confederate States of America, is still waiting to be discovered, buried in long. fo rgotten mineshafts, sunken shipwrecks, fake gravesites, and the swamps of the Everglades.
t t t t Did the Knights Templar really protect the Holy Grail? Yes, say some. The Knights Templar were an elite group of holy warriors who fought dUTing the Crusades (T095-T~9T). The Crusaders '
mission was to protect Europe from the infringement of Islam and to promote Christianity throughout the world.
he name of this order is derived from the word "temple," as in the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, which is said to be the site of King Solomon's Temple. It's also one of the most holy Muslim sites and is, to this day, disputed territory. The Knights Templar, the most famous heroes of the Crusades, were indeed knights in shining armor. They wore white man tles with a big red cross upon their chests. The red represen ted the blood of the Christian martyrs. The Templars dressed in chain mailwhich looks something like a loosely kn it sweater, with thread made of iron over a coat of hardened leather-and they were generall y wellÂˇmannered and kind to all.
The Holy Grail was one of the most important symbols of
RULES OF THE KNIGHTS TEMPLAR +> Kni ghts took their mea ls in silence.
Christianity at the time.
+> They were never to surrender un less their Rag had fallen. By the time a fl ag fe ll, the enemy was close enough to touch it. Therefore, there was no chance to win the battle so at that point, surrender made sense.
+> During a secret, solemn ini tiation, the knights would vow their allegiance to the Order of the Knights Templar and give up all their wo rldl y possessions. +>- They also took vows of chastity. +> Married men could join, but they were not allowed to wea r
the white mantle. They took a vow of chastity during their time as a Knight.
SEC RET SOC I ET I ES
YOU THINK YOU CAN BECOME A K NIGHT?
Most knights were from wealthy families and began training as early as the age of 7. A young boy, called a page, would be sent to another lord's castle where he would learn to strum a harp and sing and play chess. In wa rm weather, he was taught to hunt with a bow and arrow. He also had man y chores, such as taking care of the horses. He learned fencing and horsemanship. At the age of '4, the young page became a squire, who was assigned to a knight as his apprentice. I-Ie acted as the knight's
personal assistant and also took care of the knight's horses, which included at least two cargo horses, one fighting horse, and one "relief" horse for long journeys. When a page became a squire, his real military training began. He learned to aim and shoot a bow and arrow. He prac ticed wearin g extra-heavy armor so regular armor would not feel so heavy. His uniform included chain mail, leather pants and jacket, a helmet, and a shield that bore the image of his family crest. A family crest was a pich"e that represented a family's histo ry and sometimes included an image of the land they owned. If a squire made it through the training, he undertook a nightlong vigil on the night before his 21 st birthday. He would take a ritual bath, hear mass, and then eat a fin al breakfast with his famil y. Then , in a glorious ceremony, the squire would kneel down and be hit with the blunt edge of a sword, thereby being dubbed a kni ght. The ideal image of a knight entailed more than just being a war hero and fighting in battle. Knights were expected to be good human beings as well-generous, kind, helpful, and chivalrous, which included being respectful to women. The Knights Templar were but one group of knights. They were the best and brightest, and the most devout Christians. You could not train to become a Kni ght Templar. You were invited, and if invited you inevitably said yes.
THE HOLY GRAIL Tales of the Hol y Grail figure prominently in stories of Kin g Arthur and the Kni ghts of the Round Table. The Grail has been featured in film s like Tile Da Vinci Code and Monty Python and tile Holy Gra il. In reali ty, we are not sure if the Grail even exists. But legend has it the Holy Grail is a symbol of Christiani ty that holds holy powers. The Holy Grail is said to be a chalice, or vessel, used by Christ at the Last Supper. Depending on which legend you believe, it holds the blood Christ shed at the Crucifixion or ancient documents that describe his life . Many legend s and stories have been written about the Grail, starting in the 11th century. Some are based in fiction and myth , some on a physical object that is rumored to exist.
SECRET SOC I ET I ES
WHERE IS THE HOLY GRAIL TODAY? According to legend, the Knights Templar discovered the Holy Grail during their Crusades. In the [3th century, King Philip IV of France feared Ule Knights Templar were conspiring to unseat him. He did not trust their loyalty. He Ulerefore ordered his soldiers to arrest and kill all the Knights Templar. The Knights Templar, lea rning of th eir pending fate and fearing the king would obtain and des troy the Holy Grail, hid it. Some say they took it to Scotland , where it remains hidden to this day, buried beneath Rosslyn Chapel. Others say the Kni ghts took the Grail to Spain. And some say it is buried beneath the Louvre, the famous art museum in Pari s. The Knights Tem plar officially dis banded in '307, so it is unlikely we will ever know the true location of the Hol y Grail.
MODERN-DAY KNIGHTS TEMPLAR Although the original Kni ghts Te mplar were dis ba nded in the
there is a modern-day version, the Grand
Commandery of Knights Templar, which, according to its website knightstemplar.gckt.org, "takes its inspiration from the highest ideals of the medieval Order of Kni ghts Templar and promotes chivalry, honour, integrity, humility, courtesy, wi sdom & charity." Based in England, these mode rn-da y hero es are police officers, physicians, teachers, researchers, arm y office rs, and other othe rwi se "ordinary" citizens who feel called to contribute to humanity in a pos itive way . The ir sta ted objectives are
as follows: -<+
Fraternity, Friendship, Spirituality, Meditation, Charity, & Chivalry. Providing humanitarian relief to the poor, sick and needy. To aid the development of s piritual understanding and meditation techniques.
Promoting historical research associated with the 12th to
'4th century Knights Templar. To encourage the noble ideals of Chivalry and to promote Nobility through deeds of Charity & Honour.
KNIGHTS TEMPLAR AND FRIDAY THE 13TH It is well known Kin g Philip IV had man y Kni ghts Tem plar arrested on Frida y, the '3th of October, '307. Becau se this was seen as an affront to the purity of Christianity, Phi lip was perceived as being agai nst the Christians. Thus, '3 becam e an unlucky number for Christians from that time forward.
SEC RET SOC I ETIES
E Clampus Vitus
Carnation-Painted Eyebrows Society
Not sure if they would categorize themselves as a "historical drinking society" or a "drinking historical society," E Clampus Virus members are sure they like to be referred to as "Clampers," ECV was founded in 1848 during the California gold rush. As the story goes, when members of other fraternal organizations headed West to find gold and their fortunes. they couldn't find suitable lodges to join during their lengthy stays away from home. The Freemasons and the Odd Fellows (founded in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1819), already situated out West at this time , didn't want this hardscrabble group of men invading their societies. So the hardscrabble men started their own. The exalted ruler of the Clampers was a mock stern official known as the Noble Grand Humbug. He was assisted by the Clamps Petri x, The Clamps Matrix, the Royal Platrix, the Grand Gyascutis, and the Grand Iscutis. All Clampers have titles of some sort, and all were and are held in equal indignity by their fellows. Their mascot was a decorated billygoat, and their banner was a hoop skirt, to which they attached the words, "This Is the Flag We Fight Under." Pranks and practical jokes were plentiful, played on members and nonmembers alike. Soon the "lodge of parody" caught on in other mining camps, and within a few years other ECV chapters had sprung up throughout California's gold country. The ritual greeting between Clampers, according to E Clampus Vitus historian Carll. Wheat , was the " raising of both hands to the ears, with thumbs against ears and fingers
It sounds like a makeup society or a women's auxi liary, but
extended." (Go ahead ... try it.) Everything about E Clampus Vitus is in jest, a philosophy embodied in the Clamper mono, Credo Quia Absurdium-take nothing seriously unless it is absurd. And the name E Clampus Vitus? It's L atin gibberish.
in fact the Carnation-Painted Eyebrows Society was one of The deadliesT and mosT feared secreT societies of flrstcentury China. During a Time of raging anarchy in China, secret groups of bandits created havoc throughout the country. The members of one group that rose to power were named for the manner in which they painted their faces before going inTo banle. It was the perfect intimidation tactic, but it ultimately backfired just as they came close to seizing the throne. The emperor 's troops outsmarted them by painting their faces in the same way.
The Order of the Peacock Angel The Order of the Peacock Angel was once described by author Daraul (a pseudonym) in his 1961 book Secret Societies Yesterday and Today. He spoke of an order he discovered in the upper-class suburbs of London that held its meetings in halkas, or lodges. The meetings were boisterously rich with ecstatic, whirling dances set to the beat of a drum-all in front of an 8-foot-tall stone statue of a peacock. Daraul ex plained in his book that the society is believed to have originated in Iraq among the Kurdish tribes and modeled after the whirling dervishes. The members came to Britain in 1913 and used rituals based on Kabbalah (Jewish mysticism) and sacred numbers, apparently meant to enlighten members seeking their true path in li fe .
The Vril Society
Worshippers of the Onion
There is no proof the Vril Society really existed. though many insist it did. Either way, its legend makes one interesting story, albeit a very confusing one to follow. The Vril Society began as a science fiction story, written in 1870 by best-selling author Edward Bulwer-Lytton. Titled The Power of the Coming Race, the book described underground, superhuman, angel-like creatures and a mysterious force known as "Vril " that gave them limitless power. These people
That's right: they worshipped the onion. If you 're still reading, the go by their French name-Les Adorateurs de l'Oignon-and were inspired by the writings of Fran~ois Thomas, who poetically glorified the onion as a perfect symbol of "conservation of energy. " This all began in 1929 after Fran~ois had an epiphany in a vegetable stand in Paris. He insisted on being called Brother Thomas and went out to recruit disciples to follow him as he pursued his vision and what it meant. According to Brother Thomas. the magic of the onion is that if it is planted in rich earth, it will grow. Even if the stem breaks, it still manages to germinate and grow again. Of this "phenomenon," he wrote : "Prevented from having children , it becomes a child again itself...Thus, year by year, the onion is renewed in a body better than that which it had the year before. It strives for perfection and will always live." Amen.
(called Vril-ya) had the ability to control this energy source with their minds. The Vril-ya were supposedly descendants of Atlantis who escaped the destruction of the legendary city. The book was a huge success. In 1935, German rocket scientist and science fiction author Willy Ley fled Nazi Germany. He came to the United States and wrote an article that spoke of a group called Wahrheitsgesellschaft (Society for Truth) that w as searching for the real existence of Vril. Almost 30 years later. in 1960, a second book about Vril was written by Jacques Bergier and Louis Pauwels. Morning of Magicians posited a secret club called the Vril Society that had been the beginnings of the Thule Society and the Nazi Party and, like the Wahrheitsgesellschaft, was now searching for the real existence of the Vril-ya. Believers came out of the woodwork , insisting the Vril Society had found the Vril-ya and helped the Nazis build a Vril -powered flying saucer-the V-7-in 1945. At the end of the war, the Vril-ya (as legend goes) packed up and left Germany, taking their flying saucers to a secret underground base in Antarctica . Other believers tell us the Vril-ya and their advanced technology helped the Nazis land on the moon in 1942, where they built an underground base that still exists today. You can't make this stuff up. Oh, wait. Apparently, you can .
THE BLACK HAND
Several organizations call themselves the Black Hand .
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CENTRAL INTELLICENCE ACENCY
CIA AT AGLANCE According to the CIA website, "The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is responsible for providing intelligence on a wide range of national security issues to senior U.S . policymakers." That is quite a broad statement. What does it really mean? It means the CIA conducts covert operations all around the world with the goal of protecting U.S. citizens and our interests abroad. The CIA tries to root out America's enemies before they can harm us. Sometimes, this means CIA agents get their hands a bit "dirty."
WHO RUNS THE CIA?
BECOMING AN AGENT
Officially, the president of the United States is the only person who can assign the CIA to carry out its missions. Usually, the National Security Council will make a recommendation to the president that some foreign policy issue needs attention. Theoretically, the Congressional Oversight Committee is also involved in supervising the activities of the CIA. But as you will read below, many CIA agents have gone rogue over the yearssometimes with devastating results.
Would you like to become a CIA agent? College graduates are preferred, with high school grade point averages of 3.0 or better. You apply via the CIA website. If you meet the minimum educational requirements, you go through numerous tests, including background checks and psychological evaluations. And though some people get to become spies and save the world Bond-style, many CIA employees sit in a cubicle, analYZing data and solving problems remotely.
Is CIA work all James Bond-.ss~ ty~le~_____ action-packed adventures? r Not really. Much of what the CIA does is behind closed doors, researching the nation 's enemies, planning strategies, and keeping tabs (or spying) on those organizations of questionable character.
CIA BUILDING IN VIRGINIA
THE OSS President Franklin Roosevelt created the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) during World War II . A vast network of spies with thousands of agents operating around the world, the OSS was the precursor to the CIA. It was active between [94 [ and [945. There were 24,000 people working for the OSS at its peak, and a few of them went on to become quite famous in
FAMOUS NA M ES OF THE 055 <"-' Moe Berg was a major league baseball player for the White Sox when he was recruited by the 055. <"-'
Julia Child became The French Chef after h er stint at the 055.
r..J Miles Copeland is the father of drummer Stu art Copeland, so we guess you cou ld say he was the first member of the "Police ,"
Arthur Goldberg became a Supreme Court justice after the war .
Arthur Schlesinger Jr . became a historian and author.
r..J Sterling Hayden was an actor who left his career beh ind to serve anonymously as "John Hamilton" during the war .
SECRET SOC I ETIES
FAMOUS CIA AGENTS Aldrich Ames (1957-1994) Ames was a CIA counterintelligence officer. He became a double agent when greed got the best of him and he sold 25 names of covert operatives to the Soviets. He was suspected of being a double agent when his supervisors became aware he had purchased a new Jaguar and a house that, in roday's doliar, is valued at $800,000-not something his $60,000 annual CIA salary would support.
George H.W. Bush (1976-1977) George Herbert Walker Bush, who later became the 41st president of the United States, was head of the CIA for one year, under President Gerald Ford and then Jimmy Carter. He was brought in by Ford to investigate questionable and possibly illegal activities by the CIA. Under his watch, the CIA's morale is said to have been restored.
William Casey (1981-1987) As former head of the CIA. Casey was implicated in the Iran-Contra scandal (1979-1986). during which the United States covertly sold arms to Iran in order to fund the Nicaraguan Contras and in exchange for the release of American hostages in Iran.
Tony Mendez (1965-1990) Tony Mendez was a CIA technical operations officer who was known for his expertise in creating disguises. He is now famous for infiltrating Iran during the hostage crisis (1979). He organized the rescue of six diplomats by posing as a film producer who was scouting locations with his "crew." The story was declassified and in 2012 made into the Hollywood blockbuster Argo.
Harold James Nicholson (1980-1997) Nicholson. a former deputy chief, is said to have been the highest-ranking CIA officer to be convicted of espionage. He sold secrets, including lists of active CIA agents, to the Russians throughout his time at the CIA.
David Petraeus (2011-2012) Petraeus is a four-star general who was known as the architect of the military surge during the Iraq war. He was later named the head of the CIA but had to step down from his post in 2012 because of an illicit affair. GEORGE H.W. BUSH
Valerie Plame (1985-2002) Plame was working in clandestine operations when her identity was revealed by a journalist who was unhappy with her husband, Joseph Wilson, who made controversial statements during the time leading up to the Iraq war of 2003. With her face plastered on the covers of national and international news publications, Plame's identity was no longer a secret and she had to quit the agency. Lucky for her, Hollywood came calling and so did a multimillion-dollar book and film deal.
Theodore Shackley Jr. (1953-1979) One of the most decorated CIA officers, Theodore Shackley Jr. was a major CIA p layer during the Cuban missile crisis (1962) and the Bay of Pigs incident (1961) . He was also instrumental in bringing down the democratic Allende government in Chile (1972) and placing dictator Augusto Pinochet at the helm. He ultimately served as deputy director of the CIA under then-chief George H.W. Bush (19761977). After retiring, Shackley was accused of negotiating the Iran-Contra deal (1979- 1986) during which the United States covertly sold arms to Iran in order to fund the Nicaraguan Contras and in exchange for the release of American hostages in Iran.
Edwin P. Wilson (1956-1971)
SEC RET SO C I ETIE S
Wi lson was another CIA agent gone rogue . He set up front companies and managed arms traffic around the world in order to catch the bad guys. Eventually, greed took over and he was convicted of selling 20 tons of p lastic explosives and a slew of guns to the Libyans.
ll'f!..P SE:Clf~l' INFAMOUS CIA OPERATIONS
BAY OF PIGS
ACOUSTIC KITTY (1961-1967) . At the he ight of the Co ld War, a group of cats were trained as spies over a period of several years. Finally, a microphone was embedded in the ear of a cat, with an antenna in its tail. The first cat was sent to spy on the Soviets at a Russian embassy but was hit by a car on the way. The project was scrapped after the CIAspent $15 mil lion with no secrets to show for it. BAY OF PIGS (1961). With soldiers trained by the CIA, an unsuccessful rebellion against Cuban leader Fidel Castro took place in the Bay of Pigs, off the coast of Cuba. IRAN-CONTRA (1979-1986). As American hostages waited out rescue in Iran in 1979, who knew that the CIA might be covertly negotiating for their release by selling arms to that country? Senio r officials in the Reagan administration were selling arms to Iran and then, continuing to operate in secret, using the profits to fund the Nicaraguan Contras, a rebel group fighting against the Nicaraguan Sandinistas, the political group in power at the time.
OPERATION MIDNIGHT CLIMAX
OPERATION GOLD (1955-1956) . During the Cold War, the MIS, a department of British
military intelligence, and the CIA jointly attempted to tap into Soviet phone lines they discovered in a tunnel on the border of West Berlin. One of their own double agents exposed the plan to the KGB, who "caught" them in the act. Apparently, there were no secrets revealed to the two agencies, as the KGB was onto the plan from the beginning. OPERATION MIDNIGHT CLIMAX (1953-1974). The CIA gave the drug LSD to people in
New York and San Francisco to see if it could use such drugs against enemies as a form of mind control. CIAagents would bring young men and women into a "safehouse;' give them LSD, and then watch them through a two-way mi rror. The participants were told they were part of an experimental drug study, but they were not warned about the potential hallucinogenic effects of LSD. The operation was stopped in 1974 when a New York Times article exposed the activities. CI
OPERATION MDCKINGBIRD (1948-1976). During the Cold War, CIA operatives infiltrated
the media and were encouraged to plant and write stories that favored U.S. foreign policy interests at the time. The plan is said to have been highly successfu l, influencing more than 25 daily newspapers, as well as Hollywood. Animal Farm is one example of a film that was funded in secret by the CIA. George H.W. Bush finally stopped the controversial operation during his tenure at the CIA. OPERATION OVERTHROW (1973). The U.S. leadership was fearful the government of PROJECT PIGEON
democratically elected Chilean president Salvador Allende was pro-commu ni st. The CIA was instrumental in funding and orchestrating the overthrow of Allende, replacing him with the dictator Augusto Pinochet. PROJECT PIGEON (1944). During World War II , behav ioral psychologist B. F. Skinner was
tapped to get some of his trained pigeons to drop bombs on the Germans. A pigeon was installed inside a missile that contained a screen. The pigeon would peck at the screen in just the right spot to keep the missile's navigation system on target. No pigeons were ever actually used in combat, and the project was scrapped afte r one year.
SECRET SOC I ETIES
n GROVE BOHEMIAN BEG INNINGS Looking to join the Bohem ian Grove' You had better get on the waiting list now, since it's at least 33 years long. The membership of this exclusive fraterna l organization-sometimes re ferred to as an AIiÂˇStar Boy
avant-garde artists, musicians, actors, and writers. However,
the "starving artists" who joined the group were broke and couldn 't keep the club running financially. The club leaders therefore made the decision to admit wealthier members , too, whether they were creative types or not.
Scout troop--includes the likes of Rona ld Reagan , George Over time. however, the rich guys were the ones who W. Bush, Colin Powell, Henry Kissinger, Newt Gingrich , stayed, soon outnumbering the starving artists . Financial William F. Buckley Jr. , Clint Eastwood, and Jimmy Buffett. titans and powerful politiCians were happy to join a It started as a small group of artists in ,872. It blossomed club that took them away from the pressures of the real into a full-Aedged society six years later, interestingly world, and they enjoyed the entertainment the remaining enough, at a dinner party. group of friendly actors and artists provided. The .<-lors An actor from San Francisco (and founding member and artists, on the other hand, were especially happy of the Bohemian Club, as it was originally called) named to welcome these men who were able to provide solid Henry" Harry" Edwards announced to his friends he was financial backing for the Bohemian Club. Since the dub's moving to New York City to further hi s acting career. On bylaws back then insisted a certain number of members June 29, 1878, a huge se nd-off party wa s planned by his be artists and writers, the likes of Mark Twain and Jack friends-mostly other bohemian types, including actors, London were also recruited. Twain, who wa s a journalist writers, artists, and journalists. They gathered in the in the earl y 19005, is rumored to have worked for months redwood forest in Marin County, California penning Elizabethan poems and suggestive fishing songs (present-day Samuel P. Taylor to be acted out and sung by State Park) , for a big bash in fellow thespians for the purpose CA MP T EST IMO NIAL Edwards's honor. Th e club of e ntertaining grove members. "If I were to choose the speech that gave members celebrated until the me the most pleasure and satisfaction The Bohemian Club was and wee hours, ultimately camping in my political career, it would be my still is a private club; only active out in the woods on top of Lakeside Speech at the Bohemian members (known as Bohos or Crave in July 1967. Because this speech redwood needles in the glow of G rovers) and their guests may traditionally was off the record it received Japanese lantern s_ The party no publicity at the time. But In many visit the grove. There is a strict was such an enormous success important ways it marked the first "no women" policy at the grove, it was repeated the followin g milestone on my road to the presidency." although women may attend ~ President Rich ard Ni xon , M emoirs (I978) summer, even without Edwards. events at the City Club building in and has become the club's San Francisco. During "summer yea rly encampment. camp," the number of guests is strictly limited due to the By 1882, the Bohemian Club had grown so large, small size of the facilities . But even so, up to 2,900 members the group spread out to Sonoma County, too, down the and guests have been reported to attend these annual Russian River from the current location. In downtown
San Francisco they rented a building called the City Club, and in 1899 they purchased the land where their annual campground party was held. This land became known as the Bohem ian Grove.
The club continued to grow. By the 19005, the organization had turned into a private men's club of journalists. Hoping to take on broader cultural interests, the members tried to recruit a more diverse bohemian crowd of
SUMMER CAMP OF THE STRANGE AND POWERFUL The annual summer encampment of th e Bohemian Grove has grown into a two-week summer camp experience for
the rich and powerful. Over the years, suspicion has grown as to their carryings-on. Journalists have tried to infiltrate
Principal campers and regu lar campe 5 ar split up by Industry and status. According to a t:Hsselitation titled "A Relative Advantc,ge: Sociology of the San Fran"cisco Bohemian Club," wrinen ~'P.eter Martin Ph'llips, certain camps are reserved for distinguished members. For exa"]!>le, George W. Bush and his guest wou ld stay at Mandalay Camp wi';Iile at t he grove!
CABIN INDUSTRY Hill Billies Big business/banking/politics/universities/media/ Texas business Mandalay Big business/defense contractors/politics/U,S, presidents Cave Man Think tanks/oil companies/banking/defense contractors/ universities/media Sfowaway Rockefeller family members/oil companies/banking/ think tanks
Uplifters Owl's Nest Hideaway Isle of Aves Lost Angels Silverado • Squaners Sempervirens Hillside Idlewild
Corporate e~ecutives/big business U.S. presidents/military/defense contractors FoundationsJmilitary/dcfen se contractors Military/defense contractors Banking/defense contractors/media Big business/defense contractors California-based corporations
Military-Joint Chiefs of Staff California-based corporations
the camp-some successfully-to record what happens there, but in the end, only a few tidbits have managed to slip out. For instance, one time a magazine reporter managed to get inside the compound. He was able to interview a few members and take photos and videos of the goings-on there-but his publisher, being a Bohem ian Grove member himself, nixed the project! The grove itself is a massive compound likened to a rural Disneyland. Today, some 1,500 members attend. Cabins, dining areas, and more than 100 campsites with names like Mandalay, Woof, and Pink Onion are spread out across the grounds. For 16 days members like George W. Bush, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and CEOs of major corporations can relax at Bohem ian Grove without interruption from family, the press, a board of directors, or paparazzi. They can drink, fish, socialize, or just reconnect with the great outdoors. One of the highlights of the two-week retreat is the Cremation of Care ceremony. The Cremation of Care was first conducted in the Bohemian Grove in 1881 as an outlet for the group's pent·up high spirits, though in 1913 it was moved to the first night of camp to become "an exorcising of the Demon to ensure the success of the ensuing two weeks."
The ceremony takes place in front of the Owl Shrine, a 40-foot-tall hollow owl statue with built-in audio equipment that "speaks" to the audience in a voice that sounds remarkably like that of the late news anchor and journalist Walter Cronkite. Cronkite was a Grover, so it's likely the owl's voice is that of Cronkite_ Music and pyrotechnics accompany the pagan.like ritual, which symbolizes letting go of all the small worries in life. Senior members dressed in robes chant while an effigy is set on fire at the feet of the owl. Another highligh t of camp-the Grove Play-takes place on the last weekend of encampment. The Grove Play dates back to 1902, when the Bohemian Club was made up almost entirely of actors. The play is a large·scale musical theatrical production, written and composed by club members and involving some 300 people, including chorus, cast, stage crew, and orchestra. In 1975, an observer estimated that staging the Grove Play cost between $20,000 and $30,000, an amount equivalent to about 5130,000 today. Nothing in published reports about the Bohemian Grove meetings has implied anything sinister about the organization. One yea r, a journalist from Spy magazine secretly taped the Cremation of Care and managed to smuggle the video out and release a documentary, Dark Secrets: Inside Bohemian Grove, that illustrated the benign nature of the club's activities. During the rest of their stay at the camp, members and their guests are treated to lechlres, plays, music, cigars, and alcohol. The annual lineup of speakers includes some of the world's most powerful and popular lecturers, such as President George H.W. Bush in 1995 and President Richard Nixon in 1967. In 2009, the governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger, took the grove's podium, as did media mogul Rupert Murdoch (who spoke about the future of news) and former secretaries of state George Shultz and James Baker (who discussed international relations and terrorism ).
SECRET SOCIETIES SYMBOLS Fraternal organizations are heavy on the use of symbols. Among the most popular are symbols used by the Freemasons in Europe, the Odd Fellows, the Knights of Pythias, and the Order of Skull & Bones. Another popular symbol is the All-Seeing Eye of God (also called the Eye of Provide nce), whic h has been used by many societies, beginning wi th the ancient Egyptians' worsh.i p of the sun god. Buddhism, Hinduism, and early Christia nity also used the eye as a symbol of God's presence, and the Uni ted States currently uses the ALI-Seeing Eye on the dollar bill. More symbols are used in secret society logos. The Masonic logo features a square and compass, two important tools of stonemasonry,
which symbolize man and God, res pectively. Other symbols used by secret societies can be found almost everywhere: money, corporate logos, governmental seals, movies, houses of worship, architecture, and many other as pects of our daily lives, though much of their Sign ificance and meaning is lost on us. Even the Denver International
Airport is allegedly ridden with symbols believed by conspiracy theorists to represent some sort of secret Naz i occult wo rshi p.
COMMON INTERPRETATIONS OF SYMBOLS ASSOCIATED WITH SECRET FRATERNAL ORDERS ASHLAR (a cut stone used in masonry) enlightened hum anity BEEHIVE th e lodge BROKEN COLUMNS th e u ntimely d eath of a wo r ker or leade r BUNDLE OF STICKS unity CORN, WINE, AND OIL (f ro m t he Old Testa ment) sp ir itual an d intell ectual well- being
CORNERSTONE protec ti on (s ince co rn erstones suppo rt th e found ation of a building)
GOAT Pan, th e god of sheph erd s; ridi cu le HEART IN PALM OF HAND charity, giving f ro m th e heart HANDS JOINED fri end ship, th e bon ds of broth erhood LABYRINTH the twists and tu rns of life LEVEL equ ality of lod ge brot hers LINKS (CHAIN) (i n Odd Fellows sy mboli sm, linked with th e letters F , L , and T ) fri endship, love, and truth
OBELISK power, ph allu s, and rege neration PENTAGRAM the fi ve points of fel lows hip PYRAMID et ernity ROPE co ntrol w hen tied arou nd an ini tiate's body; th e ti es of broth erhood
SERPENT healin g and kn ow ledge STEPS (THREE STEPS) three st ages of life: life, death, a nd imm ortality 86
SECRE T S OC I ET I ES
CORN OIL . OliVE OIL. AND WINE One ritual of the Masons required members to carry bottles of corn oil . w ine. and olive oil to remind them to "nourish the needy. refresh the destitute. and POur the oil of joy in the hearts of the afflicted ." ""
The Rebekahs The Rebekahs haven't changed much since their introduction in 1851. As explained on their official website (ioof.orglrebekahs.html), "Members must be 16-18 years or older, believe in a Supreme Being, Creator and Preserver of the Universe and be faithful to their Country. Rebekahs exhibi; the true principles of odd Fellowship which are FriendshIp, Love, and Truth and in this day and age are extended to rendering service to our communities-SERVICE IS OUR GOAL." The Rebekahs are Involved in numerous charitable efforts and humanitarian endeavors, such as scholarships, student loans and grants, nursing homes for the elderly, family and youth summer camps, and annual donations to charities.
Black G-Strings and Pearls The Trust.of th.e Pearl is a women's secret society at the UniversIty of Georgia that was founded when the first sororities were chartered there in the early 1900s. It is a secret group for sorority women. only and considered the highest honor a sorority woman can attain at UGA. The Trust of the Pearl inducts just five new members each spring, though little is known about the society's purpose or agenda. What known is that Pearl members wear black G-strings and a pearl necklace when gathering In public.
THOSE RED HATS She knew she had made it when she was parodied on The Simpsons. When Sue Ellen Cooper, a former commercial artist from Fullerton, Georgia, started the Red Hat Society 12 years ago, she never, ever, In her wildest dreams, imagined it would grow so big! . The Red Hat Society started simply, when Sue Ellen (the society's Queen Mother) was visiting a friend and imp.ulsively bought a bright red fedora at a thrift shop. "For no other reason than that it was cheap and ...quite dashing," she says. A year or so later, Cooper came across a poem, "Warning," by Jenny Joseph. which depicts an old woman in purple clothing with a red hat. Sue Ellen instantly related to the poem and its author. Feeling sentimental, she decided to buy her friend Linda Murphy a vintage red hat for her birthday and p~esent it to her with a copy of the poem . As the legend goes, Linda loved the gift so much that Sue Ellen gave the same gift to another friend, then another, then another... One day, the women joked that they had become a sort of "Red Hat Society." So they made a date to go out for tea in full regalia, which, on a whim , now included a purple dress (mentioned in the poem) to go with the red hat. After their successful tea, the Red Hat Society began to grow: Each woman brought another friend into the fold and they soon totaled 18. And because 18 women "don't fit well around a tea table ," they encouraged their friends to start new chapters. Today, Red Hat Societies are in all 50 states and 30 countries! With a serious web presence (redhatsociety.com) , they boast 80,000 members worldwide and admit they "cling to each other like family." They hold a multitude of sponsored events each year in "fabulous" locations, with thousands of women in attendance wearing full signature regalia. Their mission, quite simply, is to support and encourage women globally "in their pursuit of fun, friendship, freedom, fulfillment, and fitness." They do this by organizing fitness walks, friendship teas, and conventi9ns that more than a thousand women may attend.
Not all secret societies were created with
good intentions like providing life and
Lepke Buchalter was the only major Mafi a boss ever to be put to death by electric shock. A Jewish mobster born in New York City. Buchalter was never part of the Cosa Nostra. Yet he reigned over a malevolent business that engaged in gruesome acts of murder. Buchalter was in charge of an underground society called Murder. Incorporated, or MI. MI existed throughout the '93 0S and
health insurance to their membership and taking care of members 'loved ones. More than a handful of them have been founded on the basis of hate and greed.
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as a murder-far-hire bus iness comprised of assassins, or hit
men, ready and available to take anyone out for the right price. MI's beginnings are one of the best-kept secrets in secret society history, though experts believe the organization was most likely created by Bugsy Siegel and Meyer Lansky, two Jewish mobsters who were close personal friends of Italian mobster Lucky Luciano. Buchalter and his partner, Albert ''The Executioner" Anastasia, took control of MI when Siegel and Lansky moved to California in the late '93os. Brooklyn's Midnight Rose candy store became home base for the operation. Lepke Buchalter was one of the most powerful Jewish gangsters. His specialty was labor racketeering, earnin g huge amounts of money from ex ploiting la bor unions. The FBI claims the number of murders Buchalter committed or ordered is staggering, with an alleged 100 known dead attributed to the gangster. During his reign, Buchalter was targeted by Thomas Downey. one of the nation's most successful mob-busting federal attorneys and a future governo r of New York. Downey convicted Buchalter of murdering a candy store owner named Joe Rosen. whom he had driven out of business. Rose n had sworn revenge and eventuall y ratted him out to Downey. Lepke Buchalter was executed on March 4, '944, in the electric chair at Sing Sing Correctional Facility in Ossining. New York.
SEC RET SOC IET I ES
KU KLUX KLAN The Ku Klux Klan is, and always has been, a secret society motivated by cold, hard hatred. After the Civil War, th e Klan bega n a reign of terrorism that spanned 50 years and saw two resurrections. The Klan engineered and participated in som e of the most horrific and brutal hate crimes ever committed in the history of the United States of Ameri ca. BIRTH OF EVIL The Klan has appeared and disappeared a few times in American history , with each renewed appearance more sinister than the last. It was first formed in 1866 and led by "Grand Wizard"
General Nathan Bedford Forrest, to disrupt Reconstruction policies put in place after th e Civil War. Through violence and intimidation , the Kl an terrorized black people and any whites who supported their liberty. The Klan was obliterated in 187 ' by President Ul ysses S. NATHAN BEDFORD Grant, who was committed to putting an end to FORREST its uncontrolled violence in the South. The Klan appeared again in 1914 after the release of the controversial silent film by D.W. Griffith, Birtl, ofa Nation, based on the novel The Clansman, by Thomas Dixon Jr. In the film , Griffith set out to express racist views that were popular at that time. The movie portrayed African American men (played by white actors in blackface) as unin telligent and sexuall y aggressive toward white women, and Klan smen as Am erican heroes. The film was a huge success and is said to have inspired the second ris ing of the Klan movement. SECOND TIME AROUND This new Kl an hated black Americans but had a deeper hatred for Jews and Catholics. Members burned crosses, held m eetings and rallies, spread hate speech, and engaged in acts of violence against many minority groups and th eir supporters. The uniform that has become so fami liar toda y was ini tiated at this time, tak ing inspiration from Griffi th's fi lm . Pointed hats similar to those worn by the executioners in th e Spanish Inquis ition, and white robes symbolizing purity and the white race, began to take hold in the minds of the public. In the 1920S, membership in the Klan was estimated betwee n 4 and 5 million. Then along ca me David Curtiss Stephenso n. An American politician and fanner coaJ worker in Indiana, Stephenson was an early recruiter for the Ku Klux Kl an and became a force in the Evanston, Illinois , Kl an after bringing in more than 5>400 m embers. Thanks to th is success, he was appOinted "Grand Dragon" of the Klan in 1923.
It stands to reason that the leader of such a racist organization
would be evil , but Stephenson was beyond evil. He was a monster. Stephenson was appointed as recruiter fo r seven states in add ition to Indiana. Membership soared in those areas, but nothing li ke the explosion of mem bership in Indiana , wh ich grew to 250,000 . Stephenson was a power junkie with nea rl y all Indiana politician s in hi s pocket, as well as every m in ister and big bu siness owner. Since he received a portion of the me mbership fees, he grew wea lthi e r, too. In keeping with hi s narcissistic perso nality, he began to abuse his powe r and wea lth , most noti cea bly with women. A known woma nize r, Stephenson often took things too fa r, raping women who rejected his advances and becoming violent whe n he didn' t get his way. Naturall y, it was onl y a matter of time before Stephe nson lost control of h im self completely. In 1925, Stephenson drugged, brutally raped, and ki dn apped an Indiana Statehouse secreta ry named Madge Oberholtzer after she made it clear she was n' t interested in him romantica lly. Oberholtze r di ed from an infection ca used by multipl e bite wounds from Stephenson. (The doctor who testifi ed durin g Stephenson's trial sa id Stephenson had bitten Obe rho ltze r so man y times she looked li ke sh e'd been "ch ewed by a canniba l. ") Stephenson was sentenced to life in prison-and the Klan in the Midwest died out as a result. After the Stephenson scandal, by 1930 Klan membership around the country had plummeted to between 2,000 and 3,000. The Great Depression followed and the dwindling Klan wen t underground. When it appeared again in the 1960s, the Klansmen were more violent than ever. RECE NT TIME S In the 1960s, the Klan was the dri ving force behind beatings, church bombings in black neighborhoods, drive-by shooti ngs, and assassination s. It was also responsible for the infamous murders in 1964 of three civil rights workers- James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner-who had traveled from the North to Mississippi to register African Americans to vo te. Klansmen ran the three off the road, then beat and shot them to death, finally burying them on a Mississippi farm. Today, there are upwa rd of 150 sm all gro ups that cl aim to be part of the Klan, m ost of them in the South. That number continues to ri se, and some estimates put membership between 3,000 and 5,000. The more recogniza ble chapters are known as the Imperial Klan s of America a nd the America n Kni ghts of the KKK. These racist groups, which continue to preach that "mi xing" with other races is the "work of Sa tan ," ha ve spawned hundreds of other white supremaci st hate grou ps, including the neo-Nazi skinheads .
The exact origin of the name " Ku Klux Klan" is hazy, but it is believed to come from the Creek word kuklos, meaning "circle." The word " Klan " was later added for its alliterative sound . f'J
DAVID CURTISS STEPHENSON
KNIGHTS or MARY Plli\G.Ml The Knights of Mary Phagan were a division of the Klan. Mary Phagan. a 13-year-old girl who worked in an Atlanta pencil factory, was raped and murdered in 1913. Although the evidence was flimsy, the factory owner-a Jewish man named Leo Frank-was tried and convicted. Later. evidence emerged proving Frank's innocence and he was released from jail. A group calling itself The Knights of Mary Phagan hunted Frank down and lynched him.
SECRET S OC I ETIES
THE THULE SOCIETY The website of the Thule Society states, "It is a common misconception to this day, that Thule Gesellschaft (The Thule Society) had anything at all to do with NAZI Germany." The Thulists claim they also "suffered at the hands of NAZI oppression with the rest of all Europeans during that sad era in history," adding, "it's just a matter of pure recorded historical fact." The Thulists, making every attempt to distance themselves from an unsavory association with Nazis. maintain their version of history, even insisting their current membership is diverse, comprised of many different races and religions. In fact, their bylaws (as listed on their website) include these two rules: You must not harbor any prejudice against any other races. You must not be a supporter of Nazism or Adolf Hitler. History, however, tells a different story. A THULE SOCI ET Y IN S IDER TEL LS A LL
Historical facts point to the original Thule Society as the catalyst for the Nazi Party, despite what is currently stated on the Thule Society website. Rudolph Hess, a deputy of Hitler, was a full-
fledged member. along with other prominent Nazi sympathizers. The main focus of the original Thule Society was the members' claims concerning their authentic membership in the Aryan race. In 1917. people who wanted to join the "Germanic Order" (which became the Thule Society in 1918) had to sign a special "blood declaration of faith" confirming their lineage.
Rudolf Freiherr von Sebottendorff (or von Sebottendor~, a fonner Freemason in Germany. was an important figure in a German secret society called the Thule Society, an occultist group established in 1918 in Munich. The Thule Society was originally created as a "German study group" headed by Walter Nauhaus. Nauhaus and Sebottendorff met and became associates. Sebottendorff was the society's top recruiter. Although there is no direct evidence Adolf Hitler was a "member" of the Thule Society, Sebottendorff claimed that is only because of a technicality. At the time, military personnel were not permitted to join societies and usually got around that rule by calling themselves "guests" instead of "members." There is plenty of evidence that Hitler, along with several other Nazi Party leaders, was a "guest" of the Thule Society. After the war, Sebottendorff asserted that Hitler took on a leadership role in the society as well: "Thule people were to whom Hitler first came, and it was Thule people who joined him in the beginning." Finally, Sebottendorff claimed it was Hitler who eventually turned the Thule Society into the National Socialist German Workers Party (the Nazi Party). And we all know how that turned out.
OTHER EVIL BROTHERHOODS THE S ICA RII
The SicarLi were Jewish assass ins-an extremist splinter group of the Jewish Zealots in 70 C.E. before the destruction of Jerusalem. The Zealots were an aggressive political party whose concern for the national and religiOUS life of the Jewish people pitted them against even Jews who sought peace and conciliation with the Roman authorities. The name "Sicarii" (from the Latin word for "dagger")
means "men who wield a dagger." Their mission was to expel the
Romans from Judaea. The Sicarii concealed daggers, which they used to slaughter their enemies. It is believed that a band of Sicarii was most likely behind the final drama atop Masada in 74 C.E. , leading Jewish rebels in mass suicide rather than surrendering to the Roman army. In an account
written in the Talmud, the Zealots destroyed the food supply in Jerusalem so the Jews would be forced to fi ght against the Roman siege instead of negotiating peace. Sicarii leaders escaped the Roman onslaught in Jerusalem , settling in an abandoned fortress on the mountain of Masada. There they continued to resist the Romans until 73 C.E., when it became apparent they could not defeat the mighty Roman army. Rather than surrender, the Sicarii led the Jews of Masada to fling themselves off the mountain in suicide. T H E TH UGS
The Thugs were a secret sect of criminal assassins in India. Legend dates them to the 13th century, although their existence is first recorded in a passage written by Muslim historian Ziau-d din Barni in 1356. They terrorized travelers for hundreds of years until the 1830s, when they were eradicated by the British. Thag means "thief' in Hindi_ Thug is derived from tlJag and means your basic low-life criminal. Thugs killed for one thing only: money. They scoured the roads of India for centuries, murdering travelers and stealing their belongings. T H E N IN JAS
The ninjas were trained assassins in Japan who learned to expertly blend in with their surroundings until it was the moment to strike. The original ninjas were first recorded in the mid-1400S and trained in the Iga Province and in the village of Koga-entire Japanese villages dedicated to training. Ninjas carried a black bag with them at all times_ Inside, you might find: +~ +~ +~
a climbing rope and grappling hook a hinged saw a small black box for medicines, first aid supplies-or poisons for victims
ninja stars (pointed metal projectiles) tetslI bishi (objects with sharp points that were tossed to land sharp side up and stop a purs uer)
Ninjas also carried with them: +~ +~
Katana (often known as a Samurai sword) KlIsarigama (a chain with a heavy ba ll on one end and a sharp sickle on the other) explosives, like black powder
HISTORY In the tumultuous, unstable Sengok u period (15th-17th centuries) in Japan, mercenaries and spies for hire became active. It is from their ninja clans that much of our knowledge of the
SECRET SOC IETIES
ninja is drawn. After the unification of Japan circa faded into obscurity.
According to legend, the ninja's precise, professional training methods included invisibility, walking on water, and controlling natural elements. Despite the popular folklore, actual historical accounts of the ninja are scarce. One historian believes that because the ninja were mostly recruited from the lower class, no real interest was taken in them. Instead, today's books, movies, and video games focus more on the samurai. Another historian says the ninja were trained to be secretive about their actions and existence. AL-QAEDA In the sense that the activities of al-Qaeda ("The Base") are completely clandestine and group rituals and initiations are equally covert, the fundamentali st terror group founded by the Muslim Brotherhood in 1989 that's responsible for nearly 3,000 deaths in the United States on September II , 2001 , is by all accounts a "secret society." AI-Qaeda, a global militant Islamist organization, was founded by Osama bin Laden, son of a Saudi Arabian billionaire, sometime between August 1988 and late '989. It operates as a network comprising a multinational. stateless army and a radical Sunni Muslim movement that calls for global jillad (holy war) and a strict interpretation of sharia (Islamic moral and religious law). The United Nations Security Council, NATO, the European Union, the United Kingdom, the United States, and various other countries have aJJ
designated al-Qaeda as a terrorist organization. Thanks to audio- and videotapes taken by FBI operatives over the past II years, we have had brief glimpses into the initiation ritual of this brutal hate group. Some initiations involve carrying out bombings. Others involve pledges and oaths, including a verbal pledge to be "one of Islam's soldiers on the road to jihad." AI-Qaeda has become extremely creative with its recruitment meUlOds since Ule September ll, 2001, attacks. From YouTube videos to social media to magazine classifieds, the group's use of online platforms gets its message across to impressionable young people. A recent report by the Simon Wiesenthal Center found that 30 percent of new postings from extremist groups are made on Facebook. Even
abOut : ",EYIS. OPIN'IO
when the messages are removed, the same groups post them again and
again. Terrorist recruiting videos are commonplace, and some terrorist organizations have even started their own social networking sites.
Osama bin Laden was the leader of al-Qaeda from its start in 1988 until his death on May 2, 20II, at the hands of the U.S. Army. As a result, according to senior U.S. counterterrorism officials, there's just
...,..~. _ ___ C?
one senior al-Qaeda leader left: Egyptian surgeon Ayman al-Zawahiri. The news in June 2012 that Abu Yahya al-Libi, the number-two leader of al-Qaeda, was confirmed killed in a CIA d rone strike in Pakistan is an indication that al-Qaeda could very well be on its way out. Good news, of course, but it begs the question: What sinister secret society of killers will take its place?
CONCLUSION SHHHHHHHH . .. Getting back to those "secrets. " One might wonder how well they are, in fact, kept, if we've found out so muc h already? The prac tice of hiding info rmation from certa in individuals or groups, perhaps while shari ng it with other individua ls, is at the core of the secret society. Break the core, and you break trust. If yo u can no longer be trusted, you can no longer be confided in and are of no use to a secret society. Former members of secret societies have exposed many secrets over the yea rs. Disgrun tled, tossed out, or just plain un happy with the brotherhood they've aligned with , they leave. And they take with them the secrets entrusted to them by the group. That can leave ma ny brothers a little uncom for table. For this reason, a high value is placed on secrecy and the initiation. In some orders, there is no option to leave. Yo u leaveyou die, and you take the brotherhood's secrets with you. It thus stands to reason that since we have un covered quite a lot of information about secret societies in spite of their strict rules about spilling the beans, the secret society "en tity" may just be a pipe dream . No such thing. It doesn't exist in the true meaning of the term. If it did, well ... then we wo uldn't know anythi ng, right?
MAYBE YOU KNOW?
AND IF YOU DO, CAN YOU TELL US? Some coll ege fraternities kee p their club secrets hidden so well that other students at the university have no id ea w hat the ir society names are. Such is th e case for Duk e Unive rsity students-
society outsiders - who have yet to figure out w hat group name ce rtain acro nyms sta nd for. What is know n is that four secret societi es op erate on ca mpus, and th e Old Trinity Club is on e of th em. As for C.I., L.H ., and T.S.-your guess is as good as theirs!
LET'S NOT FORGET. .. ... the other secret societies known as the Odd Fellows, the Priory of Sion, and Opus Dei, which have their own rich history in the chapter of fraternal organi zations. THE ODD FELLOWS In an interview, Adam Parfrey, author of Ritual
America, says he became a member of the Odd Fellows because his friend told hi m to. "During the 'ini tiation ritual: Parfrey ex plains, "you have to stare at a goofy skeleton in a coffin to remi nd you of yo ur few days left on earth, and so you'd better get in li ne with a society that supposedly
cares about you."
Parfrey says he we nt th rough the in itiation ceremony at an Odd Fellows lodge in Waxahatchie, Texas, but admits he has since lost interest in membersh ip and forgo tten the secret password and handshake. Not as uni ve rsally well known as the Maso ns, the Odd Fellows practice fraternal rituals sim ilar to the Mason ic rites. The Odd Fellows lodge was begun in England in 174 5 as a benevolent society
SEC RET SOC I ETIE S
by workers seeking to mitigate the negative impacts of the Industrial Revolution. The Three Chain Links and the All-Seeing Eye were their emblems, their watchwords were "friendship, love, and truth," and their motto was "Visit the Sick_ Relieve the Distressed, Bury the Dead, Educate the Orphan." The first Odd Fellows Lodge in the United States was started by a former English Odd Fellow, Thomas Wildey_ The Washington Lodge No. I, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, was chartered in [819 above the Tavern of the Seven Stars in Baltimore and was also a benevolent order. The American Odd Fellows cut ties with the English Odd Fellows shortly after, as they were uncomfortable joining a brotherhood with strong ties to the British government, which they had just fought a war against. Still, the purpose of the two orders was the same. Set up to protect and care for their members and communities at a time
when there was no welfare state, trade unions, or National Health Service, their aim to provide help to members and communities
when they need it still stands today.
It Right? After The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown was published in 2003, everyone wanted to know more about the Priory of Sion and Opus Dei, the two secret societies depicted in the book. Unfortunately, those looking to learn more about the Priory- and maybe join-were out of luck. That is because it doesn't exist. The Priory of Sion was a hoax created in 1956 by a pretender (a person falsely alleging to be in line for the throne) to the French throne, Pierre Plantard. Plantard and his friend Andre Bonhomme created a club, consisting of just the two of them and two other friends, for the purpose of supporting the building of low-cost housing and criticizing the French government. Letters dating back to the 1960s between Plantard and his friend Philippe de Cherisey (one of the other two alleged members) confirm that they made the whole thing up. In addition, Bonhomme
said in a radio interview he was tired of being harassed about the nature of the association and never wanted any publicity. In a telephone interview in 1995, he said, "We were never involved in any activities of a political nature. It was four frie nds who came together to have fun . We called ourselves the Priory of Sion because there was a mountain by the same name close by. I haven't seen Plantard in over 20 years, and Idon't know what he's up to, but he always had a great imagination:' In any event, many people still believe to this day the Priory exists. And the Opus Dei? Yes, it exists. In fact, it occupies a $42 million , 17-story headquarters OQ lexington Avenue in New York City! It .c1aims to have 85,000 membeFs.'ll 60 countries. .. In The Da Vinci Code, BC0wn claims Opus Dei was a secret organization with in the Cathol ic Church whose aim was to defeat the Priory of Sion and those who seek to uncover the "truth" about Christianity and the alleged royal bloodline of Christ.
The Catholic Church, however, forbids secret societies and membership in them. It claims it is not acting in secrecy to further a sinister agenda. Opus Dei was founded in Spain in 1928 by a Roman Catholic priest named josemaria Escriva and is based upon the return to trad it ional Catholic orthodoxy and behavior. Members fall into three categories: numeraries , who live in Opus Dei facilities and wear a spiked chai n around the thigh called a "cil ice;' take cold showers, or flage llate themselves (beat or wh ip t hemse lves, usually on the back, often drawing blood) with a knotted rope call ed "the discipline" as a bodily penance to show remorse for sin; associates, who are the same as numeraries but don't live in Opus Dei faci lities; and supernumeraries, the regular rank-and-file members who do not flagellate themselves_ Although the group performs a lot of charity work and has been praised by Pope john Paul II, critics accuse Opus Dei of being linked to fascism and antiSemitism, not to mention intolerance of less observant Catholics.
MEN IN FUNNY HATS A writer by the name of Andy Capper talks of his deep fascination with Freemasonry and s imilar secret societies.
"My relationship with Freem ason ry started the day I was born, courtesy of my grandfather. He was once a Maso n in Live rpool but eventually turned his back on the society and its activities. The mai n reason he defected was because my grand mother, as a woma n, was forbidden to know anything about what went on at the meetings." Capper recently interviewed Adam Parfrey, author of Ritual America, and was relieved to learn he wasn't the only one with a secret society obsession. "What I love most is that my grand father chose the love of his wife over drinking with cops and barristers in funny hats while they cuddled skeletons or whatever they did to prosper in their super-secret club." Both Capper and Parfrey are on a lifelong mission to uncover everything possible about secret societies. Separately, they have both come to the realization th at while they can uncover facts (and photos!) of group initiations, secret rituals, and mem bership lists, there is a lot they will never know.
A LOOK AT INITIATIONS Kevin Mackey, a secret society expert, never joined a fraternal organization li ke the Masons. However, in the Navy, he was initiated into the ranks of the Golde n Shellbacks, which is a combination of two societies: the Shell backs and the Realm of the Golden Dragon. These groups are for sailors who have crossed the equator and the international dateline, res pectively, while in the service. "You get up in the morning and put your clothes on inside out and bac kwa rd," Mackey says of the initiation routine. "You crawl along the decks on your hands and knees. At the ' royal barber: they bli ndfold yo u, drop hair shavings down your neck, and say they're cutting your hair." Mackey also reveals another initiation ritual, this one even stranger: Initiates are made to pluck a cherry with their teeth from the belly of a fat man wearing a diaper. "The belly is covered in engine grease, and the initiate's face is shoved into the grease. To get into the group, you have to do that," Mackey says. "What would be the fun of the next guy getting in, without having to do that?" Some fraternal organizations got elaborate with their initiation rituals. Long ago, a wa nna be Odd Fellow would be "hoodwinked" (blindfolded) with goggles that had blinds, which could be opened and shu t. When the blinds we re open, the initiate would see a human skeleton in a room li t only by torches. "Tha t ritual is called a Lodge of Reflection, which is strictly to teach you about the brother or sister tha t has gone before you," Dave Leltelier says. It was largely practiced by Odd Fellows and Woodmen in the Uni ted States, but also by Freemasons in Europe. Mackey says years ago he came across an old secret society casket
WHAT HAPPENS IN THE LODGE
STAYS IN THE LODGE W ith in the sac red space of th e fraternal lodge, initiates of nea rl y eve ry fratern al organization foll ow si milar secret rituals designed to lead th e in co ming broth er from t he outsi de wo rld into th e hall owe d comm unity of the broth erhood.
The Initiation • Th e in itiate is almost always blin dfolded. • Th e initi at e goes through (o r has a lready gone through) seve ra l trials or answers qu estion s put to him. • Th e in itiate is led through the lodge (or meeti ng house) by a broth er. • Th e initiate is requ ired to take an oath , promising to keep the order's secrets and support hi s broth ers. • Th e initiate is encourage d to co ntemplate hi s own morta lity as a lesson to improve his life. Enlightenment comes when the new memb er's blindfold is re moved. Depending on th e ord er, thi s event is usuall y accompanied by pomp and ci rc umstance, w ith mu sic, bright lights, singing and chanting, shouts, an d even fire. Th e use of such special effects grew with the tim es.
WORLD DOMINATION? Secret societies are often linked together with conspiracy theories . In so me cases, thi s
link is valid-secret organizations like the CIA have influenced world events from behind the scenes. But in many cases, it's all fabri cat ion. Dave Lette lier, a Freemason, agrees. "All the conspiracy theori es that we're out to con trol the world are a bunch of hogwash," he says. "Most Masonic Lodges today have a hard time repairing the roof of their Lodge or the ai r-conditioning system. This thi ng about world domination, it's so hokey. As Masons, we just laugh at that,"
with a skeleton in it at a Rea market in Canton, Texas.
Initiates also must endure what Lettelier calls "light hazing." For Odd Fellows, that meant making their recruits ride goats. , Lettelier adds that "riding the goat" has never been a practice of the Masons, but members talk and joke about it so much it came to be associated with the Masons in popular culture.
NEITHER HERE NOR THERE: INTERESTING TIDBITS ON SECRET SOCIETIES Fraternal groups were pretty powerful at one point in American society. It is said that the Freemasonry movement was so
widespread and dominant that parents could send their child alone on a crossÂˇcountry train trip and ensure the child's safety just by securing a Masonic pin to the youngster's clothing.
A Club to Call Our Own Many fraternal groups have formed solely as a result of people being excluded from other organizations. Grouping themselves by nationality, race, or religion, each functions exactly like other fraternal organizations, some with rituals, passwords, identifying handshakes and signals, and, of course, secrets. The Ancient Order of Hibernians formed in the United States in the mid-18DDs, primarily for Irish Catholics who were regarded in this country as unwanted immigrants. S'nai Brith is a Jewish-only fraternal order founded in New York in the 184Ds when no other fraternal club would allow Jews to join. The Knights of Columbus, a Catholic order, was established when the Vatican threatened to excommunicate any parishioners who joined the Masons. Prince Hall Freemasonry was founded in 1784 by African Americans kept out of the Masons, odd Fellows, Knights of Pythias, and other fraternal societies. Other African American fraternities were the Colored Knights of pythias and the Grand United Order of Odd Fellows.
The Freemasons are said to have originated collectors' swaps, where people from different cities get together to trade pins, cards, or glasses.