Learn more about Secret society
A secret society is an organization that requires its members to conceal certain activities—such as rites of initiation—from outsiders. Members may be required to conceal or deny their membership, and are often sworn to hold the society's secrets by an oath. The term "secret society" is often used to describe fraternal organizations (e.g. Freemasonry) that may have secret ceremonies, but is also commonly applied to organizations ranging from the common and innocuous (collegiate fraternities) to mythical organizations described in conspiracy theories as immensely powerful, with self-serving financial or political agendas, global reach, and sometimes satanic beliefs.
Like the most successful forgeries, it is conceivable that the most effective secret societies are unknown beyond their adherents.
Historically, secret societies are often the subject of suspicion and speculation from non-members; and as such have aroused nervousness from outsiders since the time of the ancient Greeks, when meetings were held "sub rosa" (Latin, "under the rose") to signify the secrecy and silence of the Hellenistic god Harpocrates.
For this reason, secret societies are illegal in several countries. In the European Union, Poland has made the ban of secret political parties and political organizations a part of its constitution. Article 13 of the Constitution of the Republic of Poland states:
- Political parties and other organizations whose programmes are based upon totalitarian methods and the modes of activity of nazism, fascism and communism, as well as those whose programmes or activities sanction racial or national hatred, the application of violence for the purpose of obtaining power or to influence the State policy, or provide for the secrecy of their own structure or membership, shall be prohibited.
Some secret organizations exploit secrecy as a means to further political or criminal agendas, including such historical examples as the Know Nothing party in the United States, and the Mafia, respectively.
Many student societies established on university campuses  have been considered secret societies. Some collegiate secret societies are the Flat Hat Club (1750) and Phi Beta Kappa (1776), both founded at William & Mary. The most famous member of the FHC was Thomas Jefferson, the third President of the United States. In correspondence, Jefferson noted that the Flat Hat Club served "no useful object." The most famous collegiate secret society is the Skull and Bones (1832) at Yale University. See List of collegiate secret societies.
 List of secret societies
 International organizations
While not self-styled as secret societies, these groups are often discussed in that context.
- Bilderberg Group
- Club of Rome
- Council on Foreign Relations
- Neurocam International
- Rhodes-Milner Round Table Groups
- Royal Institute of International Affairs (also known as Chatham House)
- Trilateral Commission
- Wu Xing Hui
 Fraternal organizations
- AMORC (Ancient Mystical Order Rosae Crucis)
- Confraternity of the Rose Cross
- Order Militia Crucifera Evangelica
- Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia (SRIA)
- Compagnie du Saint-Sacrement
- Order of the Solar Temple
- Ordo Templi Orientis
- Knights of Columbus
- Bohemian Club
- Seven Sages
- P.E.O. Sisterhood
- The Veiled Prophet Organization in St. Louis, Missouri. 
 Criminal organizations
- Al Qaeda
- Ku Klux Klan
- Mafia (also known as "Cosa Nostra")
- Sacra Corona Unita
 Historical secret societies
- Beati paoli
- Knights of the Golden Circle
- Molly Maguires
- Sigma Phi Society
- Society of the Elect
- Thule Society
- Skull and Bones
- Quill and Dagger
 Revolutionary organizations
- Black Hand
- Communist League (US)
- Fenian Brotherhood
- Logia Lautaro
- Mau Mau
- Muslim Brotherhood
- Omega Agency
- Righteous Harmony Society
- Sons of Liberty
- Vihan Veljet
- White Rose Society
 Alleged secret societies
Either the existence of these, or their status, is subject to significant doubt. See also Secret societies in popular culture
 See also
- Secret societies in popular culture
- List of Japanese nationalist movements and parties
- Secret societies in Singapore
- Heckethorn, Charles William (1997). The secret societies of all ages and countries, embracing the mysteries of ancient India, China, Japan, Egypt, Mexico, Peru, Greece, and Scandinavia, the Cabbalists, early Christians, heretics, Assassins, Thugs, Templars, the Vehm and Inquisition, mystics, Rosicrucians, Illuminati, Freemasons, Skopzi, Camorristi, Carbonari, nihilists, and other sects. Kessinger Publishing. ISBN 1-56459-296-0.
- Whalen, William Joseph (1966). Handbook of secret organizations. Milwaukee: Bruce Pub. Co.. LCCN 66-026658.
- Axelrod, Alan (1997). The international encyclopedia of secret societies and fraternal orders. New York: Facts on File. ISBN 0-8160-2307-7.
- Roberts, J. M. (John Morris) (1972). The mythology of the secret societies. New York: Scribner. ISBN 0-684-12904-3.
- Robbins, Alexandra (2004). Pledged: the secret life of sororities. New York: Hyperion. ISBN 0-7868-8859-8.