From the very beginning of recorded history humanity has believed there were secrets, and that there are those among us whose privilege it is to know and protect those secrets. Call them Witch doctors, Shamans, Priests, They are the keepers of secrets and that which is hidden, even if it is they who are hiding it in the first place. It would seem so much a part of human psychology that it occurs in every culture forming religions, cabals, fraternities and sororities, or any sort of group which restricts membership and often employs ritual for the purposes of gaining entry to membership. Then even within these group there are those who hold themselves above the others and hierarchies of secrets are formed, and further rituals of initiation.
We here post stories of alien contact, mysterious creatures, and things believed hidden or undiscovered. One frequent recurring element to the stories we bring you is the idea that there are those who already know what it is we are trying to uncover or debunk. Who are these people that are “in the know?” Typically it is government that is attributed with this hidden knowledge, and agenda of secrecy. Governments, to remain effective, require a certain sort of continuity while at the same time appearing to be answerable to the will of the people they serve. So it is natural there are those who believe that there are powers behind the government, in fact even unilaterally behind all governments.
If there are grand unrevealed secrets to be known, they are known in some of these halls, and by some of these people.
Who are these people?
The Pyramid, an illuminati symbol
A movement of freethinkers that were the most radical offshoot of The Enlightenment — whose followers were given the name Illuminati (but who called themselves “Perfectibilists”) — was founded on May 1, 1776 in Ingolstadt (Upper Bavaria), by Jesuit-taught Adam Weishaupt. This group is now known as the Bavarian Illuminati. While it was not legally allowed to operate, many influential intellectuals and progressive politicians counted themselves as members. Even though there were some known Freemasons in the membership, it was not considered to be endorsed by Masonry. The fact that the Illuminati did not require a belief in a supreme being made them particularly popular amongst atheists. This, and the fact that most members were humanists, is the reason for the widespread belief that the Illuminati wants to overthrow organized religion.
Internal panic over the succession of a new leader, and government attempts to outlaw the group saw to it collapsing entirely in the late 1700s. Despite this, conspiracy theorists such as David Icke and Was Penre, have argued that the Bavarian Illuminati survived, possibly to this day, though very little reliable evidence can be found to support the idea that Weishaupt’s group survived into the 19th century. It has even been suggested that the Skull and Bones club is an American branch of the Illuminati.
Many people believe that the Illuminati is still operating and managing the main actions of the governments of the world. It is believed that they wish to create a One World Government based on humanist and atheist principles.
Only two US Presidents are listed as members of The Illuminati, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson. Both founding fathers and both highly influential in the process of creating our government as it is today.
Skull and Bones
Members of the Skull and Bones (George Bush is left of the clock) 
The Order of Skull and Bones, a Yale University society, was originally known as the Brotherhood of Death. It is one of the oldest student secret societies in the United States. It was founded in 1832 and membership is open to an elite few. The society uses masonic inspired rituals to this day. Members meet every Thursday and Sunday of each week in a building they call the “Tomb”.
According to Judy Schiff, Chief Archivist at the Yale University Library, the names of the members were not kept secret until the 1970s, but the rituals always have been. Both of the Bush presidents were members of the society while studying at Yale, and a number of other members have gone on to great fame and fortune.
The society is surrounded by conspiracy theories; the most popular of which is probably the idea that the CIA was built on members from the group. The CIA released a statement in 2007 (coinciding with the popularity of the film The Good Shepherd) in which it denied that the group was an incubator for the CIA. You can read that document here.
Skull and Bones has developed a reputation with some as having a membership that is heavily tilted towards the “Power Elite”. Regarding the qualifications for membership, Lanny Davis, writing in the 1968 Yale yearbook, wrote:
And from Wikipedia
If the society had a good year, this is what the “ideal” group will consist of: a football captain; a Chairman of the Yale Daily News; a conspicuous radical; a Whiffenpoof; a swimming captain; a notorious drunk with a 94 average; a film-maker; a political columnist; a religious group leader; a Chairman of the Lit; a foreigner; a ladies’ man with two motorcycles; an ex-service man; a negro, if there are enough to go around; a guy nobody else in the group had heard of, ever … “
US Presidents who were members of or affiliated in some way with the Skull and Bones are; Rutherford B. Hayes, William H. Taft, Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover, John F. Kennedy, Both Bush Presidents and Bill Clinton. Of 44 men to hold the office, nearly one in five have been members of this society. Further listing of members reveals a constant flow of politicians, ambassadors, and brokers in both finance and political power and can be found here
The Grand Masonic Lodge was created in 1717 when four small groups of lodges joined together. Membership levels were initially first and second degree, but in the 1750s this was expanded to create the third degree which caused a split in the group. When a person reaches the third degree, they are called a Master Mason.
Masons conduct their regular meetings in a ritualized style. This includes many references to architectural symbols such as the compass and square. They refer to God as “The Great Architect of the Universe”. The three degrees of Masonry are:
1: Entered Apprentice, this makes you a basic member of the group.
2: Fellow Craft, this is an intermediate degree in which you are meant to develop further knowledge of Masonry.
3: Master Mason, this degree is necessary for participating in most masonic activities. Some rites (such as the Scottish rite) list up to 33 degrees of membership.
Masons use signs and handshakes to gain admission to their meetings, as well as to identify themselves to other people who may be Masons. The signs and handshakes often differ from one jurisdiction to another and are often changed or updated. This protects the group from people finding out how to gain admission under false pretenses. Masons also wear stylized clothing based upon the clothing worn by stone masons from the middle ages. The most well known of these is the apron.
In order to become a Mason, you must generally be recommended by a current mason. In some cases you must be recommended three times before you can join. You have to be at least 18 years old and of sound mind. Many religions frown upon membership of the Masons, and the Roman Catholic Church forbids Catholics to join under pain of excommunication.
Claims exist in Masonic history to having roots in the construction of Solomon’s Temple, and a current desire to see that structure recreated is said to be a sign of the Apocalypse. But then what isn’t these days? Masonic symbology pervades our culture from currency to entertainment.
US Presidents that were or are Masons are too numerous to take up your space with here but include such notables as George Washington, Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan, and the elder George Bush. Some twenty in all. Nearly half of the men to hold the office.
The Bohemian Club
The Bohemian Club is a private gentlemen’s club located at 624 Taylor Street, San Francisco, California. Founded in 1872 from a regular meeting of journalists, artists and musicians, it soon began to accept businessmen and entrepreneurs as permanent members, as well as offering temporary membership to university presidents and military commanders who were serving in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Today, the club has a diverse membership of many local and global leaders, ranging from artists and musicians to businessmen.
A number of past membership lists are in public domain, but modern club membership lists are private. Some prominent figures have been given honorary membership, such as Richard Nixon and William Randolph Hearst. Members have included some U.S. presidents (usually before they are elected to office), many cabinet officials, and CEOs of large corporations, including major financial institutions. Major military contractors, oil companies, banks (including the Federal Reserve), utilities, and national media have high-ranking officials as club members or guests. Many members are, or have been, on the board of directors of several of these corporations; however, artists and lovers of art are among the most active members. The club’s bylaws require ten percent of the membership be accomplished artists of all types (composers, musicians, singers, actors, lighting artists, painters, authors, etc.). Artistic members are admitted after passing a stringent audition demonstrating their talent.
With its combination of wealth and power, Bohemian Grove’s secrecy has been a target for protest for many years. The Bohemian Grove Action Network of Occidental, California organizes protests and has aided journalists who wish to penetrate the secrecy surrounding the encampment. Over the years, individuals have infiltrated the Grove then later published video and claimed accounts of the activities at Bohemian Grove.
US Presidents who have been members of The Bohemian Club are Herbert Hoover, Dwight Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, and both the elder and younger Bush. While that is not so many, the society is relatively young and this represents nearly a third of men to hold the office since its founding.
The Trilateral Commission
The Trilateral Commission is a non-governmental, non-partisan discussion group founded by David Rockefeller in July 1973, to foster closer cooperation among the United States, Europe and Japan.
On the right, a number of prominent thinkers and politicians have criticized the Trilateral Commission as encroaching on national sovereignty. In his book With No Apologies, former conservative Republican Senator Barry Goldwater lambasted the discussion group by suggesting it was “a skillful, coordinated effort to seize control and consolidate the four centers of power: political, monetary, intellectual, and ecclesiastical…[in] the creation of a worldwide economic power superior to the political governments of the nation-states involved.” On the left, linguist Noam Chomsky argues that a report issued by the Commission called The Crisis of Democracy which proposes solutions for the “excess of democracy” in the 1960s, embodies “the ideology of the liberal wing of the state capitalist ruling elite”. Chomsky also argues that the group had an undue influence in the administration of Jimmy Carter.
While the Trilateral Commission is only one of many similar think tanks on the right and left, many notable conspiracy theorists believe the organization to be a central plotter of a world government or synarchy. As documented by journalist Jonathan Kay, 9/11 conspiracy theorist Luke Rudkowski gained notoriety in April 2007 by interrupting a lecture by former Trilateral Commission director Zbigniew Brzezinski and accusing the organization and a few others of having orchestrated the attacks of September 11th to initiate a new world order. Conservative and right-wing groups such as the John Birch Society and conspiracy theorists such as Alex Jones also regularly tout this idea.
Since its founding in 1973, only Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton are listed as having been members of the Trilateral Commission. Practically unique among these groups, the Trilateral Commission openly names its members. For a list, you can go Here
The Bilderberg Group
A Bilderberg Meeting
This group is slightly different from the others in that it does not have an official membership. It is the name given to a group of highly influential people who meet ever year in secrecy (and usually with strong military and government sponsored security). The topics discussed are kept secret. The structure of the meetings is that of a conference – usually held in five star hotels around the world. Attendance at the meeting is strictly by invitation only. The first meeting took place in 1954 at the Hotel Bilderberg in the Netherlands.
The original meeting was initiated by several people. Polish emigre and political adviser, Joseph Retinger, concerned about the growth of anti-Americanism in Western Europe, proposed an international conference at which leaders from European countries and the United States would be brought together with the aim of promoting understanding between the cultures of The United States of America and Western Europe.
Although the agenda and list of participants are openly available to the public, it is not clear that such details are disclosed by the group itself. Also, the contents of the meetings are kept secret and attendees pledge not to divulge what was discussed. The group’s stated justification for secrecy is that it enables people to speak freely without the need to carefully consider how every word might be interpreted by the mass media.
Needless to say, this group is constantly surrounded by controversy and conspiracy theories.
Founded in 1932, only Bill Clinton has been a member of the Bilderberg Group.
As testimony not only to the power that the written word can have over us, but also of the desire ingrained in people to believe which leads to so many of the stories we bring you here, this next group does not actually exists outside of fiction.
The Priory of Sion
Logo of the Priori of Sion
After the publication of the Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown, a great deal of interest in the Priory of Sion has been created. Unfortunately for those hoping to find and join the Priory, it is, in fact, fictional. It was a hoax created in 1956 by a pretender to the French Throne, Pierre Plantard. Letters in existence dating from the 1960s written by Plantard, de Cherisey and de Sède to each other confirm that the three were engaging in an out-and-out confidence trick, describing schemes on how to combat criticisms of their various allegations and how they would make up new allegations to try to keep the whole thing going. Despite this, many people still continue to believe that the Priory exists and functions to this day.
The authors of the well known book, The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail, misled by the hoax, stated:
1. The Priory of Sion has a long history starting in AD 1099, and had illustrious Grand Masters including Isaac Newton and Leonardo da Vinci.
2. The order protects certain royal claimants because they believe them to be the literal descendants of Jesus and his alleged wife Mary Magdalene or, at the very least, of king David.
3. The priory seeks the founding of a “Holy European Empire” that would become the next hyperpower and usher in a new world order of peace and prosperity.
Quite possibly leading many to believe in the secret society listed above, because they both appear in Dan Brown’s book,The Davinci Code, the following does in fact exist.
Ordination of Opus Dei Priests
Opus Dei is an organization of the Catholic Church that emphasizes the Catholic belief that everyone is called to holiness and that ordinary life is a path to sanctity. The celibate numeraries and numerary assistants live in special centers, while associates are celibate members living in their private homes. The order was founded in Spain in 1928 by Roman Catholic priest Josemaría Escrivá with the approval of Pope Pius XII.
When Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code was published, it claimed that Opus Dei was a secret organization within the Church whose aim was to defeat the Priory of Sion and those who seek to uncover the “truth” about Christianity and the alleged royal bloodline of Christ. Outside of the book, there has been a great deal of controversy over Opus Dei because of the strictness of its religious structure.
The Catholic Church forbids secret societies and membership in them, and Opus Dei investigators have frequently debunked claims that this organization is acting in secrecy to further a sinister agenda.
Because no list of Secret Societies is complete without its own wacko fringe element, and there is just too much silliness surrounding Scientology, I decided to include Aleister Crowley instead
Ordo Templis Orientis
Crowley with OTO Instruments
The OTO (Order of the Temples of the East) is an organization that was originally modeled on Masonry but, under the leadership of the self-styled “Great Beast” Aleister Crowley, it took on the principles of his religious system called Thelema. Thelema is based around a single law: “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law, love is the law, love under the will” . Membership is based upon degrees of initiation and highly stylized rituals are used. The OTO currently claims over 3,000 members worldwide.
Crowley created a “Mass” for the OTO which is called the Gnostic Mass. Of the “Mass”, Crowley wrote:
“I resolved that my Ritual should celebrate the sublimity of the operation of universal forces without introducing disputable metaphysical theories. I would neither make nor imply any statement about nature which would not be endorsed by the most materialistic man of science. On the surface this may sound difficult; but in practice I found it perfectly simple to combine the most rigidly rational conceptions of phenomena with the most exalted and enthusiastic celebration of their sublimity.”
The ritual is very stylized and uses virgin priestesses, children, and priests. Many Ancient Egyptian God’s are invoked, as well as the Devil, and at one point the priestess performs a naked ritual.
While Alistair Crowley’s group is not particularly affiliated with any political agendas or broader conspiracies I include them here only because of their affiliation to the paranormal in general, or at least the trappings of witchcraft and their particular version of Satanism.
I chose US Presidents, to simplify the research while illustrating how these societies enter into the halls of power, and to further illustrate the crossovers of membership. To continue in that vein, Presidents with no secret society affiliations are James Madison, John Quicy Adams (not to be confused with his father John Adams) William Harrison, John Tyler, Ulysses Grant, Chester Arthur, Grover Cleveland, and finally Barack Obama. Eight out of forty four. Should we decide from this fact that these groups do not yet have a complete shock hold on our governments? Or that they are at times better at hiding their tracks than others? Or simply that we read too much into mundane coincidences?
Much of the information posted here comes from Listverse and appears in no particular order9 comments