Famous Secret Societies

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That a secret can be famous sounds like a paradoxical statement. Similarly is the impact on first hearing about famous secret societies. It is said that a secret is kept only between two, though it can be kept between three provided that the third one is a dead person. People sharing common values, customs, and objectives get together to form a group commonly known as a society. In case their functions and activities are kept secret to non-members for whatever reason, the groups are termed as ‘secret societies.’ However, they exclude the agencies, even if they have some secret objectives, on account of their public presence like the intelligence agencies. The secret societies have invariably something weird about their objectives requiring secrecy. Sometimes the objectives may be very noble, but they are kept secret for fear of the failure in their achievement in case of disclosure. Some secret societies emerge as mushroom growth and die quickly. There are the others which are formed after years of deliberations among members of common interest and, having been once formed, sustain and persist for long periods. A few even make history. Secret societies usually keep the right of denial of membership.

1. The Order of Skull and Bones

The Order of Skull and Bones
The Order of Skull and Bones (logo)

The Order of Skull and Bones is the oldest society at Yale University. It was co-founded by William Huntington Russel and Alphonso Toft. The emblem of the society is a skull with crossbones and ‘322’ appearing below the skull and bones. The society owns an island called Deer Island extending over 40 acres and located at the St. Lawrence River in upstate New York. Some people think that the society has a secret agenda of global domination. Only 15 members out of 200 potential candidates are given membership through an annual ritual known as tapping. The society has its own specific way of initiation and naming of the members. George W. Bush was invited to select his own name and nothing specific came to his mind so he was named Temporary. Since he never had anything against it, Temporary became his permanent name on the list of the society. Notable members of the society include: William Howard Taft, former President George H. W. Bush, his son George W. Bush, Potter Stewart, James Jesus Angleton, Henry Stimson, John Kerry, and Harold Stanley.

2. Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn

Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn
Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn

Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn was founded by William Robert Woodman, William Wyn Westcott, and Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers. All of them were Freemasons. The Golden Dawn comprised three orders. The first order taught philosophy, the second order taught proper magic, and the third order belonged to highly skilled secret chiefs who supervised the activities of the two lower orders. The mid-1890s were the peak years. Its notable members were actress Florence Farr, Maud Gonne, William Butler Yeats, Arthur Machen, and Evelyn Underhill.

3. Freemasons


Freemasons belong to a fraternal organization which originated at the end of the 16th century. Its membership exceeds 6 million. It comprises many governing bodies known as lodges including the Grand Lodge of Scotland, the Grand Lodge of Ireland, and the United Grand Lodge of England. There are  also many branches attached to them. Many Muslim countries do not allow the establishment of freemasonry in their jurisdiction as they consider that it works in the interests of Zionism. The Freemasons are bound to keep the secret of the fraternity. Many great people have been its members and they include: Plato, Socrates, George Washington, Winston Churchill, Goethe, Theodore Roosevelt, Al Gore, Henry Ford, Pundit Moti Lal Nehru, Harry Truman, Mozart, and many others.

4. Hashshashin


‘Hashshashin’ literally means ‘users of hash, marijuana.’ The English word ‘assassin’ is derived from ‘Hashishin’ because they were the people who were first made addicts and later used to kill anyone in exchange for a cup of hashish. They comprised the Nizari or Shia Muslim tribe headed by Hassan-i-Sabbah who made a paradise on Earth to reward his followers. Ibni Batuta and Marco Polo mentioned the group in their travelogues. It is said that they were utilized by King Richard the Lionheart as contract killers. Since they were lesser in number compared with the opponent Sunni sect, they resorted to guerilla warfare and made forts on mountains.

5.  The Knights of the Golden Circle

The Knights of the Golden Circle
The Knights of the Golden Circle

The Knights of the Golden Circle (KGS) was founded by five persons at the call of Gn. George Bickley at Lexington, Kentucky on July 4, 1854. George Bickley was a doctor and editor who lived in Cincinnati. The group aimed at colonizing Mexico and the West Indies. The KGS was pro slavery and wanted to establish slave states. Its notable members were said to include:  Buckner Stith Morris, Lambdin P. Milligan, John Wilkes Booth, Jesse James, and Sam Houston. KGS reorganized in 1863 under the name Order of American Knights and later changed to the Order of the Sons of Liberty in 1864.

6. The Thule Society

The Thule Society
The Thule Society

Thule was a mythical land in northern Europe mentioned by the Roman poet, Virgil. The Thule Society was a secret society founded in 1917. It was a racist organization, and every new member was required to sign a blood declaration of faith reading ‘The signer hereby swears to the best of his knowledge and belief that no Jewish or colored blood flows in either his or in his wife’s veins, and that among their ancestors are no members of the colored races.’ It was sponsored by the Deutsche Arbeter Partei (DAP) which was a forerunner of the Nazi party after being reorganized by Hitler. Its notable members were: Rudolf Hess, Arthur Rosenberg, and Adolf Hitler.

7. The Illuminati

The Illuminati
Adam Weishaupt

The Illuminati was a secret society founded on May 1, 1776 in Ingilstadt, Bavaria. Its initial members who were freethinkers included: Jesuit-taught Adam Weishaupt and three other members. The society was modeled after Freemasons and had the malevolent ulterior objective of global domination. Many members were influential intellectuals like: Ferdinand of Brunswick, Xavier von Zwack, Johan Wolfgang von Goethe, Johan Gottfried Herder, and the ruling dukes Gotha and Weimar. It is considered that the society aims at global domination through implementation of the New World Order.

8.  The Rosicrucians

The Rosicrucians
The Rosicrucians

The Rosicrucians are derived from the Rosy Cross founded by Christian Rosenkreuz in 1600 by a few German Protestants. Its doctrine was kept secret from the common folk and provided insights into nature, the physical universe, and the spiritual world. Shortly after being formed, the society published three documents which soon became very popular and gained very wide readership. The doctrine was associated with Protestantism and Lutheranism. The Rosicrucians created great excitement in Europe after the publication of their 17th century manifesto declaring the presence of a secret fraternity of alchemists and sages who aimed at transforming the arts, science, religion, and political scenario of Europe.

9. Knight’s Templar

Knight's Templar
Knight’s Templar

Knight’s Templar, variously known as Poor Fellow Soldiers of Christ, and of the Temple of Solomon, the Order of the Temple, Order Du Templeor, or simply Templars, was one of the famous western Christian orders. It was recognized by the Catholic Church, and initially its objective was to protect the pilgrims traveling to Jerusalem. The Templars wore white robes and a red cross. They were associated with the Crusades. In 1307, many members were arrested in France. Pressurized by King Phillip, Pope Clement disbanded the order in 1312. After being tortured and extracting false confessions, many members were burnt on stakes.

10. The Priory of Sion

 The Priory of Sion
The Priory of Sion

The Priory of Sion was founded in by Pierre Plantard in France in the year 1956. Some people believe that it is a much older secret society. Publication of Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown generated great interest in The Priory of Sion.  The Holy Blood and The Holy Grail are well-known books. And according to them, the myth is that The Priory of Sion was founded in AD 1099, and its members were great masters like Leonardo da Vinci and Isaac Newton. The order was considered the direct descendant of Jesus Christ. Authors of these books suggested that The Priory of Sion aimed at founding a Holy European Empire which would be a new hyperpower to create a new, peaceful, and prosperous world.


Togetherness, secrecy, and unity of purpose are the essentials of secret societies. Nobility or notoriety of the purpose determines the nature of a secret society. Membership in such societies is an index and fairly indicative of their nature and stature. Unlike transparency, secrecy helps preserve the original content just like a colored glass bottle prevents direct exposure to sunlight and keeps its contents safe.

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