Secret society

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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 [1] 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.

Contents

[edit] List of secret societies

[edit] International organizations

While not self-styled as secret societies, these groups are often discussed in that context.

[edit] Fraternal organizations

[edit] Rosicrucian

[edit] Religious

[edit] Other

[edit] Criminal organizations

[edit] Historical secret societies

[edit] Revolutionary organizations

[edit] Alleged secret societies

Either the existence of these, or their status, is subject to significant doubt. See also Secret societies in popular culture

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  • 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.

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[edit] External links

et:Salaühing eo:Sekreta societo fr:Société secrète nl:Lijst van geheime genootschappen ja:秘密結社 pt:Sociedades secretas ru:Тайные общества sv:Ordenssällskap zh:秘密結社

Secret society

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