The Real Stories Behind 8 Secret Societies

Secret societies capture the public's imagination.
Secret societies capture the public's imagination. / Hulton Archive/Getty Images

From their clandestine meeting houses to shadowy initiation rituals, it’s easy to see why secret societies have captured the imaginations of those of us on the outside.

The largest and least-secret secret society of them all, the Freemasons, is said to trace its origins to an actual guild founded in the Middle Ages that supported (no surprise here) masons.

Masons at work
Masons at work / Hulton Archive/GettyImages

Stoneworkers had a tendency to travel for their jobs, so they were often more worldly than others in their hometowns. Over time, when the masons gathered, they talked more about government and world events than they did their actual trade. Eventually, they began accepting members who weren’t even in the profession, which also served the purpose of boosting its coffers with a wave of new membership dues. Masons are a fraternity, so it’s male only, but women who are relatives of a Mason can join the affiliate Order of the Eastern Star.

The list of famous Freemasons includes George Washington, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Harry Houdini, Winston Churchill, Count Basie, Medgar Evers, Davy Crockett, Buzz Aldrin, Oscar Wilde, Charles Lindbergh, and Thurgood Marshall. There are so many important Masons that it’s easy to see why there are conspiracy theories about Masons controlling the world from behind closed doors.

Check out the full video to learn more about this interesting group, and about other secret societies from the Illuminati to the Bullingdon Club.

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