Secret quasi-religious organizations--with links

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A list of quasi religious organizations


List of Secret Organizations - An Historical Perspective

(with links)

Catholic Knights - Catholic Knights of America is a fraternal benefit society for Catholics.

Druids - This is the United Ancient Order of Druids. It was founded in London in 1781. Pure paganism, they are founded on reason and sound morality. They imply that their religion is older and superior to Christianity. The greatest of all Druid teachers was Merlin. His Seven Precepts are considered the moral way to live a life: (1) Labor diligently to acquire knowledge for it is power; (2) When in authority decide reasonably, for thine authority may cease; (3) Bear with fortitude the ills of life, remembering that no mortal sorrow is perpetual; (4) Love virtue-for it bringeth peace; (5) Abhor vice-for it bringeth evil upon it; (6) Obey those in authority in all just things, that virtue may be exalted; and (7) Cultivate the social virtues, so shalt thou be beloved by all men.

Elks (Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks) - The Elks would probably never have existed if the New York state legislature did not pass a law in 1866 which closed all the saloons on Sunday.  A group of sociable actors met on Sundays in their "drinking society" which they called the Jolly Cork.  They later changed their name.   The order was founded on February 16, 1868.  There is some Masonic influence.   The BPOE used to be limited to white male citizens of the U.S. who believe in the existence of God.

Foresters - Over the years, the Foresters had split into several branches:  The Independent Order of Foresters, Catholic Order of Foresters, and Ancient Order of Foresters.  The Ancient Order of Foresters claims to have begun in 1798, but historical records show its beginning as 1813.  For its secret ritual, the Foresters used the legends of Robin Hood, Friar Tuck, Little John, and the Merrie Men.

Freemasonry - Freemasonry is the largest international secret society. Legendary Masonry goes back to the building of King Solomon's temple when Hiram Abiff, a mason, is said to have chosen death rather than reveal the secret Masonic word. The realistic beginnings of modern Freemasonry can be found in the crafts of working masons in medieval times. They adapted a system of signs and passwords which served the purpose of a union card. Twelve American Presidents have been Freemasons: Washington, Jackson, Monroe, Polk, A. Johnson, Garfield, McKinley, T. Roosevelt, Taft, Harding, F.D.R., and Truman.  Others believed to be, or have been Freemasons:  Ben Franklin, Charles Lindbergh, John Pershing, Robert J. Dole, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Mark Twain, and Cy Young.

Grotto - This is the Mystic Order of Veiled Prophets of the Enchanted Realm. Master Masons may join this organization. It imitates the Shrine. The ritual is supposedly founded on a very ancient Persian manuscript that was discovered in a secret vault in one of the sacred temples of Teheran, the City of Mystery.

Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn - This order formed in England at the end of the 19th century. Members believed it was possible to control the forces of nature with magic. Yeats, the poet, and Aleister Crowley were members. Crowley supposedly accomplished the ability to become invisible. Israel Regardie was one of the most important figures in the Golden Dawn. He published many of the rituals and magical material. It is the synthesis of mythical and magical ideas that were adapted from numerous sources such as: Fama Fraternitatis, Egyptian Book of the Dead, Cornelius Agrippa, Tycho Brahe, and John Dee. It was conceived to be composed of three degrees, each of which corresponds to an entire order. The First Degree and Order is the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. The Second Degree and Order is the Ordo Rosae Rubeae et Aureae Crucis. Aleister Crowley was an early adept in the Second Degree. The Third is the Ordo Argentei Astri.

Hibernians (Ancient Order of Hibernians) - The AOH was organized in the United States on May 4, 1836 in New York City.  The founding of the AOH has been placed as early as 1565 in Ireland.  However, the latter date has not been substantiated.  The AOH has been a Catholic organization which provides benefits (e.g., relief, burial, sick) to their members.  John F. Kennedy became a member in 1947.

Illuminati - The Illuminati was first seen in the 15th century by occultists proclaiming to have wisdom from a higher source. Illuminati means, "Intellectually inspired." The secret society became strong in 18th century Germany. It adopted many different grades of Freemasonry. It claimed to be a blend of philanthropy and mysticism. Goethe was a member of the Bavarian Illuminati. They placed the fear of Masons and Jews within the extreme right wing political camps. Conspiracies were spun about the forces of order, bureaucracy, and repression. People soon realized that espionage was their main focus, then the French Revolution arrived and changed the country. The only people who mention the Illuminati anymore is the John Birch Society.

Job's Daughters - Teenage girls who are related to Master Masons can apply for membership in Job's Daughters.  Mrs. Ethel T. W. Mick was the founder.  The emblems of the Order are the white dove, urn of incense, lilies of the valley, and horn of plenty.

Knights of the Golden Eagle - Founded by John E. Burbage of Baltimore, Maryland in 1873.  There were three degrees: Pilgrim, Knight, and Crusader.  Combination of secret society and religious movement (Evangelical Protestant).  The order offered sick and funeral benefits.  The individual who shot President McKinley was supposedly a member of the Cleveland Lodge.   

Knights of Columbus - This is the world's largest organization of Catholic men and their families. It was founded in 1882. They looked to the Masonic Lodge for its model. They use passwords, signs, and grips. They take pride in providing insurance policies to members. There are currently about 11,000 councils internationally.

Knights of Malta - Introduced into the U.S.A. in 1870.   This order welcomed all Protestants and were aggressively anti-Catholic.  The Knights of Malta is not the same as the Order of Knights of Malta which forms one of the degrees of the York rite of Freemasonry.

Knights of Pythias - The Order of Knights of Pythias was founded in 1864. They claim to promote friendship among men and to help relieve people's suffering. It bases its rituals on the story of Damon and Pythias. It borrowed elements from the Masons and Red Men. Today there are about 2000 lodges in the USA and Canada. President Franklin D. Roosevelt was initiated into the Knights of Pythias in 1936 in a special ceremony in the diplomatic reception room of the white house.

Knights Templar - Originally, these people were members of a religious military order founded by the Crusaders in Jerusalem about 1118. Also known as The Order of the Poor Knights of the Temple of Solomon. They wore a white tunic with a red cross on the front (sounds familiar). They were not allowed any association with women and were also Roman Catholic. Some believe that the Templars, at one time, possessed the Shroud of Turin. In 1314, the Master of the Temple of Solomon (Jacques de Molay) was executed. Some feel that the Templars disbanded at this time while others believe they went to Scotland and began the first of the Ancient Scottish Rite of Masons. Today they are a part of the Masonic order. The Knights Templar is equal to the 32nd degree Mason and gives them the opportunity to join the Ancient Arabic Order of Nobles of the Mystic Shrine.

Ku Klux Klan - The society was organized at Pulaski, Giles County, Tennessee, in June, 1866. It was originally designed as a diversion for young men, to help relieve the dulness immediately following the Civil War. It had been reported that the decision for a name occurred during the society's second meeting. The founder's wished to use the name "Kukloi" from the Greek word kuklos, meaning a band or circle. Someone else in the group suggested Ku Klux, and Klan was added to complete the alliteration.

Modern Woodmen of America - Joseph Root began the Modern Woodmen around 1883.  It was primarily an insurance society with certain lodge features.  Root had been associated with the Masons, Knights of Pythias, Odd Fellows, and others.  His intentions of this new order was to bring together Jews and Gentiles, Catholics and Protestants, and agnostics and atheists.

Moose (Loyal Order of Moose) - The Moose Lodge was founded in 1888.  Around the beginning of the 20th century, the Moose found themselves in a membership slump.  The order was in dire straights until James J. Davis began working for the Moose and enrolling thousands of new members.  He was responsible for pulling the Moose out of a major membership slump.  The Moose Lodge was responsible for providing sick benefits and a small death benefit to its members.   There was even a city for dependents of deceased Moose and for the aged called Mooseheart, which was in Illinois.  Mooseheart is still in existance.

National Ancient Order of Hibernians - The Ancient Order of Hibernians was organized on May 4, 1836 in New York City.  However, its founding has been placed as early as 1565 in Ireland.  In 16th century Ireland, the Catholic priest was a hunted man.  To protect the priesthood and preserve the practice of their religion, certain Irishmen formed themselves into groups of Ribbonmen, the forerunners of the Hibernians.  Members were required to be of Irish birth or descent.  They had their secrecy and passwords.  JFK joined the Order in 1947.

National Grange (Order of the Patrons of Husbandry) - The founder of the Grange, Oliver Hudson Kelley, was asked by President Andrew Johnson to tour the South to see what steps could be taken to rehabilitate the war devastated rural areas. Kelley, a Freemason himself, proposed that a new secret society dedicated to the advancement of rural life would help serve this purpose. The Order was founded in Fredonia, New York, in 1867. The Masonic fraternity was its model, but it was open to both men and women. From the beginning, meetings of the Granges were not only ritualistic but educational. In some respects, the Grange resembles a typical secret society.

Nation of Islam, a religious and socio-political organization founded in the U.S. in 1930 by Wallace Fard Muhammad (1893-1934). His disciple Elijah Muhammad (1897-1075) founded the Nation of Islam, whose declared aim is the spiritual, mental, social, and economic conditions of Black men and women in America and the rest of the world.  Currently headed by Louis Farrakhan who is blatantly racist and anti-Semitic, their headquarters is in Chicago.  They are essential Moslem Sunni in faith with various added twists. Among their teachings:  are that aliens will come to earth in a mother plane or wheel and make their followers rulers of the world; God has come to earth in the human form of Elijah Muhammad; that Caucasians are white devils; and that the negro slaves in the U.S. were Muslim, and Elijah Muhammad didn’t die but was taken up in a “huge wheel-like plane.”--jk.   

Odd Fellows - This is the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. The first recorded Lodge of Odd Fellows began in England in 1745. Historically, this organization was started to help fellow members find employment when out of work. They were known as the poor man's Masonry. The initiate must believe in the Supreme Being.

Order of Owls - This order was founded in 1904 by John W. Talbot in South Bend, Indiana.  Their main purpose was "To assist each other in business, to help each other in obtaining employment, to assist the widows and orphans of our brothers, to give mutual aid to our brothers in any way that they may need, and assemble for mutual pleasure and entertainment."  The Owls did not have any religiousness.  Their local lodge was called a "nest" and they have the usual secret ritual, grips, and passwords.  Their national headquarters was in Hartford, Connecticut.

P.E.O. Sisterhood - There is an unusual degree of secrecy regarding the P.E.O., their name, and rituals.  It is not for certain, but their initials are thought to stand for Protect Each Other.  The P.E.O. Sisterhood is considered a woman's secret society with its main purposes as social and educational.  It was was founded in 1869 in Iowa.  

Red Men (Improved Order of Red Men) - This order claimed to be the oldest secret society of purely American origin.  However, it was actually founded in Baltimore, Maryland in 1834.  A Society of Red Men was founded in 1813, but the Improved Order of Red Men sought to distance itself from the Society of Red Men due to its known love of the "fire water."  Indian nomenclature was established in the Improved Order.   Local tribes met in wigwams and initiated palefaces into their secrets upon payment of wampum.  The Improved order was modeled after the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and used the legend of Hiram Abiff (of Masonic legend) - which became its third degree.

Rosicrucians-The Rosicrucians state that their order began in 14th century Europe. It was during this time that Christian Rosencreuz, after traveling in Asia and Africa, attained many secrets. Rosencreuz was credited for starting the organization (Rose Croix or Rosie Cross). The Rosicrucians remained extremely secretive until the 17th century when two books were published: Fama Fraternitatus laudabilis Ordinis Rosaecrusis (The Report of the Laudable Fraternity of Rosicrucians) and Confessio Fraternitatis (The Confession of the Fraternity). Sir Francis Bacon is considered to be Imperator of the Rosicrucians during the late 16th and early 17 century. Sir Isaac Newton is also said to have been a Rosicrucian. The Rosicrucians are devoted to the pursuit of esoteric wisdom. They combine elements of Egyptian Hermeticism, Gnosticism, Jewish Cabalism, and other occult beliefs and practices. There is the Rosicrucian Fellowship and AMORC (Ancient Mystical Order Rosae Crucis).

Shrine-The Ancient Arabic Order of Nobles of the Mystic Shrine limits membership to Masons who have achieved the 32nd degree of the Scottish rite or the Knights Templar of the York rite but is not associated with Freemasonry. The shrine was invented as a fun drinking society in 1870. Later, the Shriners decided to install a humanitarian aspect to their organization. In 1920, it was proposed that they would establish a hospital to care for crippled children. Shriners are also recognized for wearing the red fez.

United Order of the Golden Cross- The order was founded by Dr. J. H. Morgan in New England in 1876. It consisted of men and women who agreed to abstain from alcoholic beverages. It was organized by Freemasons who wanted to form an economical and safe method of providing life insurance to its members. Its strength lied in New England but was also located in New York, District of Columbia, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Indiana. It claimed to be one (if not the first) of the societies to admit women on an equal rank as men.

Woodmen (Modern Woodmen of America) - This order was founded in 1883.  The chief symbols were the beetle, ax, and wedge.  Local lodges were called Camps and members were known as Neighbors.



The more irrational of our species have a propensity to form religious and quasi-religious associations.  Above is a listing of the principle ones in our country.