Throughout history, there have been dozens of elite groups that few are aware of. No matter the purpose, there’s always something inherently sinister about secret societies. Though most are formed with political or religious goals in mind, some have other purposes in mind.
Order: by date.
10. The Knights Templar
Early in the 12th century, the Knights Templar were formed and the members took a vow to protect pilgrims traveling through the Holy Land to safety. The organization grew as more joined. Pop culture has deemed the group the start for other groups. But the members of the Knights Templar were eventually tortured, then executed. The society was disbanded shortly after.
9. The Hashshashin
The Hashshashin, or the Nizari, were a band of Muslim assassins that operated in the Middle East area throughout the 13th century. The group was made up of Shia Muslims who left a larger sect and teamed up in order to found a utopian Shi’ite state. They were known for making sure to minimize civilian casualties in their attacks, as well as using stealth to terrify their targets. The group often left knives and other weapons in plain sight of their enemies with horrifying and eerie notes attached to them. Eventually, the Mongols destroyed the group.
8. The Rosicrucians
In the fourteenth century, the Rosicrucians were founded by Christian Rosenkruetz and were accused of using occult practices to start a global transformation. During Rosenkreutz’s lifetime, the group had no more than eight members, each a sworn bachelor and a medical physician. The group follows the doctrine “built on esoteric truths of the ancient past”, which, “concealed from the average man, provide insight into nature, the physical universe, and the spiritual realm”.
7. The Great Masonic Lodge (Freemasons)
The Great Masonic Lodge was created in 1717 when four groups of lodges formed together. The three basic degrees of Freemasonry include the Apprentice, the Fellowcraft, and the Master Mason, based on the medieval craft guilds. Nine of the men who signed the Declaration of Independence, including Benjamin Franklin and John Hancock, were Freemasons. Two of America’s earliest presidents, George Washington and James Monroe, were also Freemasons. Freemasons conduct their meeting in a ritualized style, including references to architectural symbols, like the compass and the square. They also refer to God as “The Great Architect of the Universe”.
6. The Illuminati
The Illuminati is one of the most famous of the secret societies, founded in 1776. Originally, the group had a membership of five and made up of freethinkers as an offshoot of the Enlightenment. It also seemed to have modeled from the Freemasons. Illuminati members swore into secrecy and pledged obedience to those above them. They are often alleged to conspire to control world affairs in order to establish a New World Order. In today’s pop culture, the Illuminati are believed to be in hiding and pulling strings of power in movies, TV shows, music, comic books, video games, music videos, and novels. The sign of the Illuminati is most commonly seen as the triangle, and many people believe that the pyramid on the one dollar bill is a symbol of the group.
5. The Order of the Skull and Bones
The Order of the Skull and Bones is a Yale University society, known originally as the Brotherhood of Death. Formed in 1832, the society was founded after a dispute between Yale debating societies over that season’s Phi Beta Kappa awards. The meeting place of the society is known as the “Tomb”, pairing eerily with the name. Only a select few are inducted into the society, and both Bush presidents were part of the society while studying at Yale. The rituals of the Skull and Bones have been kept secret since the formation, and the group is surrounded by conspiracy theories, the most popular being that the CIA was built on members from the group. The CIA later denied this.
4. The Knights of the Golden Circle (KGC)
The Knights of the Golden Circle, or KGC, was a secret pro-slavery group in the United States in the mid-nineteenth century. Their objective was to annex a golden circle of area in Mexico, northern South America, Central America, and Cuba for inclusion in the United States as slave states. They hoped to increase the number of slave states in the United States. People living in the North who sympathized with the South were often accused of being part of the Knights of the Golden Circle and were imprisoned.
3. The Ordo Templi Orientis
The Ordo Templi Orientis (OTO) is an international fraternal organization founded sometime between 1895 and 1906. Originally, it was intended to be modeled after the European Freemasonry, but was reorganized around the Law of Thelema, which is used as the central religious principle. The Law of Thelema is “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law. Love is the law, love under will”. Like other organizations, membership is based on an initiatory system with a series of degree rites.
2. The Black Hand
Formed in 1912, the Black Hand was started in Serbia by anti-imperialist political revolutionaries. It was modeled off the Narodna Adbrona, a group that wanted to unite all of the Slavic people of Europe in one country. The group disseminated anti-Austrian propaganda following the separation of Serbia from the monarchy of Austria-Hungary, despite being annexed some years earlier. The purpose of the group was to start war between the two countries, which would give them the opportunity to free their country and bring together the different Slavic nations as a whole.
1. The Bilderberg Group
One of the most recent groups to be formed is the Bilderberg Group, which was founded in 1954. The group is a private conference of political leaders and experts in finance, academia, and the media. The majority of members come from Europe, while the rest come from North America. One third of the members are involved in politics and government, while the rest are involved in other fields. The first meeting ever held discussed a streak of anti-Americanism that had been spreading through Europe after World War II, but has since morphed into general topics, such as the fate of the world and the interaction between certain cultures. The meetings held after were agreed to be held in absolute secrecy.
Throughout history, there have been dozens of secret societies, each with their own purpose and their own way of thinking. They have each left a mark on history and some have been the basis for others.