From the Illuminati to the Freemasons, and the Knights Templar to the Knights of Malta, historical secret societies have long been the stuff of world-domination rumors. But what are the best secret societies to join? That really depends on what you’re looking for from your clandestine organization. As for how to join a secret society and make money, you’ll have to figure that one out for yourself.
Did the Knights Templar really join an occult society? Were the Sons of Liberty actually behind the Boston Tea Party? And what about how to become Illuminati? These secret societies from history have been alleged to pull the world’s strings from behind the scenes, from the mysterious Flat Hat Club to the violent Molly Maguires.
What Is It: The Freemasons date all the way back to 1390, with roots in medieval stonemason’s guilds. And multiple Founding Fathers were members, with George Washington swearing his oath of office on the Bible of the St. John’s Masonic Lodge No. 1 of New York.
- George Washington
- Benjamin Franklin
- Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
- J. Edgar Hoover
Why You Should Infiltrate: Over one third of US Presidents have been Masons, so that gives you pretty good odds for becoming powerful. But do the Masons control the world? Mason historian Robert Cooper says, “If we’re a secret society, how do you know about us?” Unless that’s what they want us to think…
What Is It: The Knights Templar, a crusader organization, dates back to 1118, but in the early 1300s, members were arrested and tortured in France on charges of devil worship. Dozens were burned at the stake for treason.
- Hugh de Payens
- Odo de St. Amand
- Philippe de Milly
- A ton of other medieval French knights
Why You Should Infiltrate: According to historians, the Knights Templar vanished 700 years ago, after being accused of spitting on the cross and committing homosexual acts. But did they really vanish? Conspiracy theories claim that the Knights Templar guard the Holy Grail, the Ark of the Covenant, and other religious artifacts.
Knights Of Malta
What Is It: Dating back to 1085, the Knights of Malta started as a group of monks who cared for patients at a Jerusalem hospital. The organization transitioned into a military order to defend crusaders. Unlike other secret societies, the Knights of Malta had their own island – Malta. Holy Roman Emperor Charles V gifted them the island of Malta in 1530, and Napoleon took it away in 1798.
- Alexander III of Russia
- Charles I of Austria
- Konrad Adenauer
Why You Should Infiltrate: So they’re actually more a humanitarian religious order than a secret society, but the Knights of Malta battled the Barbary pirates, fought off Suleiman the Magnificent, and tried to kill Hitler, which is pretty cool.
Sons Of Liberty
What Is It: They met at night under the Liberty Tree in Boston. The Sons of Liberty, dating back to 1765, were a secret society that resisted British rule over the American colonies. In a single night of rioting against a British loyalist, they caused £2,200 worth of damage.
- Samuel Adams
- Paul Revere
- Benedict Arnold
Why You Should Infiltrate: Most secret societies can’t claim responsibility for a revolution (okay, maybe the Illuminati). The Sons of Liberty carried out the Boston Tea Party in 1773, which became a catalyst for the American Revolution.
What Is It: This shadowy secret society was originally created by a German professor in 1776, and its goal was to oppose the Roman Catholic church’s power over science and philosophy. One of its many precepts that flew against religious teaching: the belief that suicide was okay. Members of the Bavarian Illumanti (as it was called) were suppressed by the Bavarian government and seemingly vanished in less than a decade. Its creator died in exile.
- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (alleged)
- Ferdinand of Brunswick
Why You Should Infiltrate: That bland founding story has to be a cover for some major world-domination stuff. After all, Kanye West, Beyoncé, and Kim Kardashian have all been rumored to be secret members. Dan Brown wouldn’t lie to us, right?
The Independent Order Of Odd Fellows
What Is It: The Independent Order of Odd Fellows started for people who were too lazy for the long initiation process to become Freemasons. The future George IV reportedly founded the secret club in 1810 when an impatient relative was refused Freemason membership; however, some of the Odd Fellows own records date their origins to around 587 BCE and exiled Israelites in Babylon. Needless to say, it became one of the most popular secret clubs for British politicians.
- George IV
- Winston Churchill
- Stanley Baldwin
Why You Should Infiltrate: In 1834, six members of the outlawed Odd Fellows society were sent to an Australian penal colony for their membership. If it’s worth a life sentence, it must be pretty cool.
Ordo Templi Orientis
What Is It: If you like the Freemasons and the Illuminati but want a secret society with more permissive views on sex, the Ordo Templi Orientis might be for you. Co-founder Theodor Reuss was both a Mason and a member of the Illuminati when he created OTO in 1906, but the society was largely shaped by Aleister Crowley, who molded OTO around his sexually free religious beliefs.
- Aleister Crowley
- Theodor Reuss
Why You Should Infiltrate: Crowley practiced “sex magick” and added lots of spicy sex rituals to the OTO hierarchy. If that sounds appealing, OTO might be for you.
Flat Hat Club
What Is It: Founded in 1750 at William & Mary College, the Flat Hat Club was the nation’s first secret society. Thomas Jefferson was a member during his time at the college, and the name is either a secret Latin code or a reference to those mortarboard hats people wear to graduation.
- Thomas Jefferson
Why You Should Infiltrate: The Flat Hat Club met at Raleigh Tavern, and its main business seems to have been drinking. Thomas Jefferson himself said that the society “served no useful object” – reason enough to infiltrate.
International Order Of St. Hubertus
What Is It: Dating back to 1695, the International Order of Saint Hubertus brought together the greatest aristocratic hunters of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Count Anton von Sporck founded the society, but its real claim to fame didn’t come until the 20th century. The order made headlines in 2016 when it was rumored that Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was meeting with the secret society members when he died.
- Count Anton von Sporck
- Antonin Scalia
Why You Should Infiltrate: In 1938, the order refused to accept Nazis as members, enraging Adolf Hilter and Herman Goering. The former banned the society, while the latter executed the organization’s Grand Prior.
The Improved Benevolent And Protective Order Of Elks Of The World
What Is It: You may have heard of the Elks. Well this secret society is even better. When black folks were banned from the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks of the World in 1899, they simply created their own “improved” version, which they called the Improved Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks of the World.
- According to a 1907 newspaper article, “it is one of the most thriving secret societies among Afro-Americans.”
Why You Should Infiltrate: In the 1960s, the Improved Elks held concerts featuring Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye, and Eartha Kitt. It also actively opposed school segregation in the early 20th century.
The Ancient Order Of The Foresters
What Is It: The Ancient Order of the Foresters was founded in 1834 as a quasi-health insurance society. It has nothing to do with forests or trees.
- Foresters Fred (their mascot)
Why You Should Infiltrate: If you think you might get sick and be unable to work, this society wants to give you money. The club was a form of insurance, but you had to pass a physical to join. But again, no trees. It’s more about “walking through the forests of life.”
What Is It: The Molly Maguires date back to 1840, when they were formed in Ireland to fight against terrible working conditions. In the 1870s, the organization murdered 24 mine foremen and supervisors in the United States, and they terrorized more with “coffin notes,” which threatened death.
- 20 members were sentenced to hang in 1877
Why You Should Infiltrate: It took a Pinkerton Detective Agency mole to take down the Molly Maguires, who got their name because members wore women’s clothing as a disguise.
Great Enlightened Society Of Oculists
What Is It: The Great Enlightened Society of Oculists was so secret that no one cracked their clandestine code for 250 years. The group dates back to at least 1764, and it devoted itself to secret ways of seeing knowledge. And they also performed eye surgery.
- Literally a bunch of 18th-century eye doctors
Why You Should Infiltrate: The initiation ritual starts with trying to read a blank page and ends with an amulet-wearing master ripping out your eyebrow hairs. Seriously, that’s what was in the coded manuscript. Plus, if they kept their manuscript’s contents a secret for almost 300 years, they’re obviously really good at being secret.
The Knights Of Pythias
What Is It: A secret society for government bureaucrats, the Knights of Pythias dates back to 1864, when Justus H. Rathbone decided it was time to spread some “brotherly love.” All of its founding members worked for the government.
- Justus H. Rathbone
Why You Should Infiltrate: If you’ve ever heard of Justus H. Rathbone before, this just might be the secret society for you.
Updated 2018 Feb 14
(For the source of this, and many other equally peculiar articles, please visit: https://www.ranker.com/list/best-historical-secret-societies-to-join/genevieve-carlton/)