By their name, secret societies inspire curiosity, fascination and have captured the imagination of the public for centuries. Many of these societies are thought to be ancient, mysterious gatherings of powerful men who get together and tip the balance of world power in their favor. Although these societies still exist, the advent of the Internet has made real secrets much harder to keep.These organizations, which have developed their own rituals and require membership oaths, exist for numerous reasons and have popped up over the centuries. Not just anyone can be a member of these groups. Many restrict admittance based on gender, religion, or occupation. Some seek power for their members, while others are dedicated to charity. Whatever their purpose, these organizations are thought to have significant influence on the outside world, largely because of the powerful people known to be members. Here are the top 5 secret societies in the world:
The Freemasons are the long lasting secret society still in existence. It was formed by the union of several smaller societies, the first lodge was founded in London in 1717, but at that time rumors about the existence of the Masons had been circulating for over a century. They are synonymous with secret handshakes, bizarre rituals and a hierarchy in which members move up through various levels as they gain experience and respect within the society.
Most modern secret societies take their cue from the Freemasons by incorporating handshakes, code words, private rituals and complex chains of command. The most recognizable symbol of the Freemasons is “The Square and Compasses.”
2. Skull and Bone Society
Originally called Eulogian Club, the Skull and Bone at Yale University was founded by William H Russel in 1832. Russel was inspired by an occult society he had visited in Germany. His co-founder was Alphonso Taft, Secretary of War under President Grant and father of the 27th President of the United State, William Howard Taft.
The society boasts of many prominent individuals as members including heads of states (at least 3 presidents), captains of industry and heads of covert agencies. They meet twice a week for rituals that are purported to closely follow Masonic rites, but many claim the organization is really nothing more than a glorified college fraternity. The symbol of Skull and Bone is a skull with two cross bones.
Its first meeting was held in 1954 at Hotel de Bilderberg in the Netherlands from which the organization got its name. Convened by Prince Bernhard of Netherlands, the meeting was a gathering of powerful politicians from North America and Europe with the aim of fostering a warmer relationship between the two continents among fears of growing anti-Americanism in Europe. Bilderberg high profile attendees and previous guests have included- Bill Clinton, Margaret Thatcher, Angela Markel, Tony Blair and Henry Kissinger.
They have continued to meet every year, but the content of their talks has remained a zealously guarded secret. Journalists are barred from reporting on it and meeting minutes are not released. Every year, about 120-140 people are invited, with about two-thirds coming from Europe and one-third from North America. The Washington Post reports that while backgrounds in government and politics are the most common, attendees from fields like academia, finance and media have also been included.
Bilderberg is not technically a secret society, since their existence and membership are not in question, but many conspiracy theorists worry about the influence and reach of their annual meetings.
This sect originated in the 18th century in Germany and after they broke away from the Freemasons, they have since become a prime focus for conspiracy theorists, many of whom credit Illuminati agendas for every conceivable disaster, mystery, and economic downturn. In point of fact, there is no evidence that the Illuminati still exist, but that only seems to add to their mystique.
5. Ku Klux Klan
The Ku Klux Klan was founded by Confederate Army officer Nathan Bedford Forrest. Its first branch was founded as a social club in Pulaski, Tennessee, in 1865. The club became a vehicle for white southern resistance to the Republican Party’s Reconstruction- era policies aimed at establishing political and economic equality for Black Americans. Its members waged an underground campaign of intimidation and violence directed at white and Black Republican leaders.
After dying out in the 1870s, it was reborn during the Prohibition era and had another resurgence after World War II in its opposition to civil rights. Though its power is greatly diminished, the KKK remains a formidable hate group in the United States. Well known members of this society are Robert Byrd, David Duke, Hugo Black.