Thanks to a certain Mr. Dan Brown, most of us are now aware of secret societies such as ‘The Illuminati’, ‘Opus Dei’ and ‘The FreeMasons Secret Society’, yet not all secret societies have had such public exposure. Too many secret societies, both old and new, are still shrouded under cloaks of secrecy, in such an effective manner that people can only speculate what happens when they meet.
Of course, since the whole point of secret societies is confidentiality, the fact that not much is known about the following twelve hardly comes as a shock. Then again, just the fact that not much is known about these does not mean that they aren’t prominent enough. You’d be surprised to know about the reach of some of these, not to mention the very gall of what some of these have been getting up to.
12 The Nine Nanas
Definitely the coolest revelation of the last decade was the ‘coming out in the open’ of the West Tennessee based secret society of nine extraordinary women, a society named ‘The Nine Nanas’. The 9 ladies in question nailed the art of keeping secrets when they started doing little good deeds in the neighborhood, like baking and distributing anonymous pound cakes and paying off small utility bills, etc. for the poor and needy in and around their locality.
The baking operation, where it all started, involved getting together at 4 a.m and baking hundreds of small pound cakes, which would then anonymously be delivered to the neighborhood needy by UPS. The philanthropic sisterhood achieved the greatest feat of all when their operations were kept secret even from their husbands for 30 odd years. Though the 9 Nanas are no longer the ‘secret’ angels they used to be, having had their cover blown a few years ago, they still continue their good deeds and have incorporated new members in the form of their children!
11 The Bilderberg Group
This is probably the secret society with the most sinister conspiracy theories attached to it (because of its powerful membership list) especially when it comes to world politics and economic growth. Daniel Estulin, who had been studying the secret workings of the Bilderberg group for over 14 years, published a book outlining his findings in 2005, thus making the general public aware of the formerly strictly secret organization.
The secret group had their first meeting in Oosterbeek, Netherlands at the Bilderberg Hotel, thus deriving their name from it. Those in attendance were the elite from the political, financial and influential domains of America, Canada and Europe. The idea seemed to have been to create a ‘shadow world government’ where views, opinions and policies could be discussed without public knowledge. For over 5 decades, no meeting agendas nor any discussions were made public and membership was strictly by the steering committee’s invitation. Members were sworn to secrecy and were made to attend all meetings strictly alone! Despite the fact that the society’s existence is no longer a secret, its agenda and meetings still are!
10 The Bald Knobbers
Missouri’s Bald Knobbers was a secret society formed with the “good intentions” of acting as a vigilante organization in times of utmost social breakdown, but good intentions seldom pay off when the method to madness lies in violence, blood and gore. After the Civil War ended, society spiraled into anarchy, where gruesome murders, lawlessness, immensely high taxes and an economic breakdown that made life unlivable. It was then that Nathaniel N. Kinney, together with 12 of the Missouri county’s leaders, formed the secret society named The Bald Knobbers.
Despite the violence of their actions, which involved wearing pillowcases over their heads and killing off people that had violated the law or one of their brethren, the society grew in numbers very rapidly. Their modus operandi involved identifying criminals, tying them to a tree and whipping them. They were also known to beat up those who were critical of their methods and sometimes even hanging them to death. Members were sworn to secrecy and new recruits were inducted into their ways of correcting lawlessness. Of course, this kind of violence had to be short-lived and the Bald Knobbers reached the end of their line, in 1899.
9 Society Of The Horseman’s Word
One of Scotland’s most definitive secret societies, ‘The Society of The Horseman’s Word’ was initially thought to be a society of blacksmiths and ploughmen, who used magic spells to gain power of control over their horses. Many books and subsequent research however, suggested that the society was actually formed of skilled horsemen who passed on their trade secrets, herbal knowledge and horse training know-how from man to man, within the society. The society was strictly ‘men only’ and involved an initiation ritual wherein ancient chants containing a magical phrase that bonded man and horse were recanted by the new member.
Most rituals, as one can imagine, were held in the barn and the preferred time slot was midnight. Generations of horse related knowledge was passed down in their secret meeting with an oath to keep it within the Horseman circle. The last recorded meeting of this secret club was in September 1936, but the practice of initiation and passing down of knowledge continued as far ahead as 1961, when the last recorded member, Mr. Billy Rennie, was initiated into its folds.
8 Cicada 3301
Nobody actually knows what the Cicada 3301 actually is, except for the fact that it seems to be a secret society of geniuses! For the last few years, the Cicada 3301 has been releasing recruitment advertisements across the net in a manner that is far from regular. In order to gain access into the organization (or even to find out what it is for that matter), smart people across the world are asked to crack a number of complex puzzles and codes, not just hidden in messages across the Internet, but also visible physically at locations over the world!
Since only the smartest people can get through the long chain of clues, theorists claim that the Cicada 3001 could be an organization of hackers, or it could even be a CIA recruitment campaign, an elaborate prank, a dangerous organization with the ‘nefarious motives’ of achieving Nietzschen Übermenschor, or even a progressive scientific organization that wishes to do something good. The fact that the world’s best code breakers and cryptographers are hooked on solving these clues, tells us just how elaborate the organizer’s knowledge of number theory, Victorian occult, philosophy, cyberpunk literature, Mayan numerology and even classical music is!
7 Skull & Bones – Yale University
For those who think that Secret Societies don’t really matter, they’d only have to look at Yale University’s selective and secretive society called "Skull and Bones", to change their opinion. Considering that this most elite of elite societies requires your SAT score or straight A’s to make you even eligible for admission and that even with those you might not make the cut of just 15 intakes per year, is not the only astounding thing. What’s really astounding is that many of its former members have gone on to live in the White House or head financial and economic institutions later on in life.
Members go through a strange initiation ritual in a windowless hall at Yale, known as ‘the tomb’. A lot of shouting and chanting is involved during the initiation and new members are made to recount their sexual history in the presence of others to foster bonding. The society aims at nurturing morals and instilling a sense of ‘return something back to society’. No wonder so many influential men seem to have come from its tomb!
6 NoZe - Baylor University
Baylor University’s NoZe brotherhood was formed from the joke that a freshman’s nose was so big that one could form a society around it! Ex students of the University claim that almost 90 percent of the campus’ liberals were inducted into this society that was meant to be a refuge for students with unorthodox, atypical opinions. The NoZe sole aim for existence was to torment the University’s administration with constant pranks and blasphemous satire in its newspaper, The Rope.
The NoZe had to repeatedly go underground after painting the University’s bridge pink and then setting it on fire. There was even a time when the University’s administration was so fed up with the organization that it was banned for being “lewd, crude, and grossly sacrilegious”. If a student’s membership of the organization was revealed in public, the University automatically and immediately expelled him.
5 Seven Society
University of Virginia’s Seven Society, now most famous for its charitable ventures, was the most secretive of secret societies. It is unsure of how the society was initially started but it is a known fact that it went public in 1905, with a white painting of the number 7 on the University’s grounds. The society has since been well known for its behind-the scenes good Samaritan deeds and financial aids to University alumni.
Membership into the secret society is an excessively secretive enterprise and nothing about it is ever revealed till the member passes away. When a member does pass away though, membership acknowledgements in the form of black magnolia wreaths shaped like the number 7 are placed on his grave. More specifically, the University's Chapel bells are run 7 times in intervals of 7 seconds to salute the dead member. No one knows where the society convenes, nor can anyone really guess on the routine agendas. If ever someone wished to contact the society though, the way to do so is by leaving a letter at the foot of the University Rotunda’s Thomas Jefferson statue.
4 The Arioi
Tahiti’s secret society Arioi, was a secret society that selected only the most beautiful and most accomplished of members. Members of the society valued the core beliefs of sexual freedom, religion (worship of the God Oro), arts and pantomime. Initiations into the society entailed a vow of childlessness since childbirth was banned in its folds. This vow resulted in the practice of infanticide, where children were either aborted or killed at birth.
The reward for membership was a future entailing eternal youth, along with sensual delights. Even though the details about this society point at decadence, all evidence actually indicates that the aim was to move towards fuller, more expressive future lives of the members. In fact, a member could retire from the society at any given point in time and live the normal life of a good family man, without the interference or even displeasure of the other members.
3 The Calves Head Club
One of the most gruesome sounding rituals belonged to the English secret society named ‘the Calves Head Club’ surfaced in the late seventeenth century. Members of this society met in secret at night and celebrated the executing of King Charles I, by symbolically beheading a calf. Everyone at these celebrations was presented with calf skulls to drink liquor out of, while celebrations in the form of chants and anthems continued around them. Essentially the objective of the society seemed to only be of enjoying the revelry and togetherness of like-minded people.
Though the whole celebratory event of this society was distasteful on the whole, what really forced these men to disband their secretive outfit in 1734, were repeated drunken brawls and riots, where drunken members were known to become blasphemous as well as seditious. Initial historians did dismiss this secret society as a work of fiction rather than reality, but though several rituals were indeed sensationalized, various evidences of the society’s existence have since been found.
2 Order Of The Bull’s Blood
The secret society, "Order of the Bull’s Blood" was initially started by a group of five friends in 1834, and even today many question on whether the society really existed or was just a hoax of the era of secret societies, still arise. Yet, this society holds the honor of being the oldest secret society at Rutgers University that may still be active. As an initiation ritual and as proof of allegiance, new members were asked to partake in ‘pranks’ that of course, were not the normal harmless kind. These soon caught the attention of newspapers and the coverage skyrocketed when the society allegedly stole a Princeton University cannon in 1875.
This secret society is still so secretive in its operations, that no one really knows how fraternity members are chosen into its fold. Not much is known about induction rituals either. There have been unconfirmed reports that famous people such as economist Milton Friedman, Vice President Garret A. Hobart and former FBI Director Louis Freeh, have all been a member of this secret society.
1 The L’ux
The most interesting of secret societies is the one named ‘The L’ux’, a clandestine secret society that works the underground networks of subterranean Paris. It is believed that the society consists mainly of hacker artists who perform in the underbelly of Paris. In August 2004, local police made the discovery of an illegally built cinema 60 feet under the streets of Paris, after they followed the mouth of a tunnel with the sign ‘No public entry’. The police encountered several deterrents along the way, namely in the form of recorded canine barks (which obviously had them on the back foot) and even suspicious bomb-like objects that turned out to be mechanisms to keep the police off their property!
Paris is still alive with this underground movement of cinema and art lovers who still remain a mystery, though. The society is now known as the one where members love doing what they are forbidden to do. They have broken into museums and staged plays within winding Parisian passageways, all the while remaining anonymous and secretive. A book that explored the workings of this society claimed that the society have over 100 members and these members are split in teams that organize events, plan ‘new experiences’ and carry out innovative ‘experiments’. Now, this seems like a cool secret society, no?