A secret society is a club or an organization whose activities, events, and inner functioning are concealed from non-members. The society may or may not attempt to conceal its existence. The term usually excludes covert groups, such as intelligence agencies or guerrilla insurgencies, that hide their activities and memberships but maintain a public presence.
The exact qualifications for labeling a group a secret society are disputed, but definitions generally rely on the degree to which the organization insists on secrecy, and might involve the retention and transmission of secret knowledge, the denial of membership or knowledge.
A purported ‘family tree of secret societies’ has been proposed, although it may not be comprehensive. David V. Barrett, author of Secret Societies: From the Ancient and Arcane to the Modern and Clandestine, uses slightly different terms to define what does and does not qualify as a secret society. He defines it as any group that possesses the following characteristics:
•It has “carefully graded and progressed teachings”
•Teachings are “available only to selected individuals”
•Teachings lead to “hidden (and ‘unique’) truths”
Barrett goes on to say that “a further characteristic common to most of them is the practice of rituals which non-members are not permitted to observe, or even to know the existence of.” Barrett’s definition would rule out many organizations called secret societies; graded teaching
Because some secret societies have political aims, they are illegal in several countries. Poland, for example, has included a ban on secret political parties and political organizations in its constitution.
Because of the targeting of revolutionary activists, some groups have formed secret & anonymous societies to take leadership while minimizing the risk of harassment.
Many student societies established on university campuses in the United States have been considered secret societies. Perhaps one of the most famous secret collegiate societies is Skull and Bones at Yale University.
The influence of undergraduate secret societies at colleges such as has been publicly acknowledged, if anonymously and circumspectly, since the 19th century.
British Universities, too, have a long history of secret societies or quasi-secret societies, such as The Pitt Club at Cambridge University, Bullingdon Club at Oxford University,
One of the best known British secret societies is the Cambridge Apostles, founded as an essay and debating society in 1820. Notable examples in Canada include Episkopon at the University of Toronto’s Trinity College, and the Society of Thoth at the University of British Columbia.
The Illuminati (plural of Latin illuminatus, “enlightened”) is a name given to several groups, both real and fictitious. Historically, the name usually refers to the Bavarian Illuminati, an Enlightenment-era secret society founded on May 1, 1776. The society’s goals were to oppose superstition, obscurantism, religious influence over public life and abuses of state power.
“The order of the day,” they wrote in their general statutes, “is to put an end to the machinations of the purveyors of injustice, to control them without dominating them.” The Illuminati—along with Freemasonry and other secret societies—were outlawed through edict, by the Bavarian ruler, Charles Theodore, with the encouragement of the Roman Catholic Church, in 1784, 1785, 1787 and 1790.
In the several years following, the group was
In subsequent use, “Illuminati” refers to various organisations which claim or are purported to have links to the original Bavarian Illuminati or similar secret societies, though these links are unsubstantiated.
They are often alleged to conspire to control world affairs, by masterminding events and planting agents in government and corporations, in order to gain political power and influence and to establish a New World Order. Central to some of the
Adam Weishaupt (1748–1830) was a professor of Canon Law and practical philosophy at the University of Ingolstadt. He was the only non-clerical professor at an institution run by Jesuits, whose order had been dissolved in 1773. The Jesuits of Ingolstadt, however, still retained the purse strings and some power at the University, which they continued to regard as their own. Constant attempts were made to frustrate and discredit non-clerical staff, especially when course material contained anything they regarded as liberal or Protestant.
Finding Freemasonry to be expensive, and not open to his ideas, he founded his own society which was to have a gradal system based on Freemasonry, but his own agenda. His original name for the new order was Bund der Perfektibilisten, or Covenant of Perfectibility (Perfectibilists), later changing it because it sounded too strange. On 1 May 1776 Weishaupt and four students formed the Perfectibilists, taking the Owl of Minerva as their symbol.
ATTEMPTS AT EXPANSION
Knigge’s recruitment from German Freemasonry was far from random. He targeted the masters and wardens, the men who ran the lodges, and were often able to place the entire lodge at the disposal of the Illuminati. In Aachen, Baron de Witte, master of Constancy lodge, caused every member to join the order. In this way, the order expanded rapidly in central and southern Germany, and obtained a foothold in Austria.
Moving into the Spring of In Munich, the first half of 1782 saw huge changes in the government of Lodge Theodore. In February, Weishaupt had offered to split the lodge, with the Illuminati going their own way and the chapter taking any remaining traditionalists into their own continuation of Theodore. At this point, the chapter unexpectedly capitulated, and the Illuminati had complete control of lodge and chapter.
In June, both lodge and chapter sent letters severing relations with Royal York, citing their own faithfulness in paying for their recognition, and Royal York’s failure to provide any instruction into the higher grades. Their neglect of Costanza, failure to defend
Convent of Wilhelmsbad