People Reveal their Personal Accounts with Infamous Secret Societies
People Reveal their Personal Accounts with Infamous Secret Societies

People Reveal their Personal Accounts with Infamous Secret Societies

Alli - September 29, 2021

People Reveal their Personal Accounts with Infamous Secret Societies
Saint Josemaria circa 1937 to 1945. Wikimedia.

Opus Dei – A Religious Society that Ruthlessly Controls its Members

Unlike the previous secret organizations, this organization has very shallow roots that only date back to 1928. Opus Dei was formed by Josemaria Escriva, a Spanish Catholic priest and later saint. His goal was to create an institution that proved that all people could be called to holy works and that everyone could ingratiate sanctity into their everyday lives. In essence, everyone should be as saintly as possible, all the time. Noble stuff, for sure. When Opus Dei was approved as a part of the Catholic Church in 1950, many compared it openly to Masonry and protested the secretive nature of Opus Dei’s operations while others pointed out the closeness of Father Escriva to the fascist regime of General Franco in his native Spain.

On the Opus Dei website, you can find the teachings of Josemaria Escriva. A couple of excerpts in his own words will enlighten many to how dedicated he was to this message: “Christ’s kingdom is not just a figure of speech. Christ is alive; he lives as a man, with the same body he took when he became man, when he rose after his end, the glorified body which subsists in the person of the Word together with his human heart. Christ, true God and true man, lives and reigns. He is the Lord of the universe. Everything that lives is kept in existence only through him. (Christ is Passing By, 180)… The kingdom of heaven has been subjected to violence and the violent are taking it by storm (Matthew 11:12).” This violence is not directed against others. It is a violence used to fight your own weaknesses and miseries, a fortitude which prevents you from camouflaging your own infidelities, a boldness to own up to the faith even when the environment is hostile. (Christ is Passing By, 82).”

People Reveal their Personal Accounts with Infamous Secret Societies
Hollywood remade the idea of the Opus Dei society in the Da Vinci Code. Wikimedia.

A Non-Member Caught in the Middle of Opus Dei Control

The global controversy surrounding came from the publication of The Da Vinci Code. While the controversial aspects of Opus Dei depicted in the book and later film had always been there, the subsequent publicity was far from wanted by the organization. Members do not openly declare themselves to be members of Opus Dei and indeed, are not allowed to reveal membership unless allowed to do so by a superior. The conditions in which many members live have come under scrutiny too: some 20% live in closed residential centers that are heavily regimented in lifestyle. And as we will see in this witness account, contact with the outside world is censored. Critics claim that those who enter the residential centers may well do so of their own free will, but once inside, they are discouraged from contacting family members and friends in the outside world and thus may not be able to leave as and when they want to.

“I wasn’t a member, but lived in their women’s hostel in London in 1986 when I left home and went there at 17. I had been very religious, and was interested in this Catholic hostel (as it was sold to me). However, the good friend that I made there and I soon realised how hypocritical the members were. They were only friendly to us at the beginning when they thought that they could convert us, and my friend worked out that they also saw that we were not going to bring in a lot of money so weren’t worth the effort. I moved out after several months but had the strange feeling of having to look over my shoulder all the time. Even as a non member, and with such a brief encounter of them, I realised what it would be like to enter and leave a cult. Most unsettling.”

People Reveal their Personal Accounts with Infamous Secret Societies
“The Tomb” is where Skull and Bones members meet. Wikimedia.

Skull & Bones – Yale’s Sinister Secret Society (Part 1)

While the members are not secret, the Skull & Bones activities certainly are. On the surface, the Skulls & Bones might just be a silly game played by spoiled students at one of the world’s most prestigious universities, Yale, but look a little deeper and you had found an alumni that certainly suggests something a little more sinister. Turns out, there have been three US Presidents who have been members of the Skull & Bones organization. William Howard Taft and both President Bushes as well as several secretaries of Defense have boasted membership. And when multiple political leaders are groomed under the shadows of a secret society, it tends to raise red flags.

Skull & Bones originated in 1832 and was founded by William Huntington Russell (who was also a founder of the Republican Party) and Alphonso Taft. Yes, that’s right. Father of William Howard Taft, himself. They scurried along barely noticed until the 1870s when a former Yale student wrote of it in his autobiography. The rituals of the society that are known somewhat cryptic: they use Yale’s “Tap Day” to invite a select group of 15 men and women whom they suspect will be notables in later life or on campus to become members. Once invited, the inductees are taken to The Tomb, as the meeting place of the Skull & Bones is known.

People Reveal their Personal Accounts with Infamous Secret Societies
Members of Skull and Bones. Wikimedia.

Skull & Bones – Yale’s Sinister Secret Society (Part 2)

The society releases the names of the new invitees every year – but what takes place within the four walls of The Tomb and on the society’s private retreat, Deer Island, is to this day shrouded in secrecy. Members are required to take on society pseudonyms, usually taken from antiquity and classical literature, and use a complex numerical code by which clocks are set to 5 minutes ahead of the real-time and special importance is placed on the number 322. The origins of this are unclear, though speculation holds that it is something to do with Greek antiquity or an original founding chapter of the organization that existed before the Yale group was created, possibly in Germany.

According to some sources, members are assigned nicknames. “Long Devil” is assigned to the tallest member; “Boaz” goes to any member who is a varsity football captain. Many of the chosen names are drawn from literature (“Hamlet,” “Uncle Remus”), from religion and from myth. The banker Lewis Lapham passed on his name, “Sancho Panza,” to the political adviser Tex McCrary. Averell Harriman was “Thor,” Henry Luce was “Baal,” McGeorge Bundy was “Odin.” George H. W. Bush was “Magog,” a name reserved for a member considered to have the most intimate experience. George W. Bush, unable to decide, was temporarily called “Temporary,” and the name was never changed.

People Reveal their Personal Accounts with Infamous Secret Societies
This undated photo provided by Christie’s shows the 1872 ballot box belonging to Yale’s secretive Skull and Bones society that is being offered for sale at Christie’s New York City auction house. The ballot box, in the form of a skull and cross bones, is being sold on Jan. 22 for an estimated $10,000 to $20,000. AP Photo/Christie’s.

This Alleged Skull & Bones Member (Bonesman) Opened up a Q&A (Part 1)

In an interesting twist and parting from its usually secretive character, one alleged Bonesman came forward to offer an opportunity for people to ask them pressing questions about the secret society. The initial post said: “By Request — I am a member of Skull and Bones. AMAA. Things I will not answer are anything that compromises my own identity. A lot of my fellow Bonesmen take the secrecy of the organization very very seriously. Lucky for you guys, I like Reddit more than I like Bones.” He then opened it up to questions, here are some interesting ones:

“Q: Does Bones offer any financial support to members during or post their tenure at Yale? A: Bonesmen get cash when they graduate. It’s not enough to make you rich; it’s more like a sizeable parting gift.

Q: How did Alexandra Robbins’s book affect your society? It seemed all a bit of a joke to me that people took it so seriously. A: Bonesmen, especially old ones, seem to love the secrecy and mystique of Skull and Bones. I think it’s pretty stupid.

People Reveal their Personal Accounts with Infamous Secret Societies
Screen grab from documentary on Skull and Bones. Amazon.

This Alleged Skull & Bones Member (Bonesman) Opened up a Q&A (Part 2)

Q: Whats the point of the club and what does it do? A: Bones is really all about helping other bonesmen. There isn’t a lot more to it than that.

Q: I know with other organizations (friend was in Scroll and Key) that the rolodex is the most powerful element; however, did you find the actual society meetings (debates, rituals, etc.) to be enriching? She often spoke of them as a kind of stepping stone of sorts – much as a modern finishing school. A: The society meetings are a cool element. You are “tapped” ie: informed and given a chance to accept or reject an offer. Some people (like Joe Lieberman, to give a famous example), have declined. There aren’t (that many) hard feelings about declining a tap. As I said above, they really force you to bond with your fellow taps in very short order.

Q: Has someone ever befriended, hired, or otherwise affiliated themselves with you in hope of benefiting from your membership? A: All the time. But it’s pretty easy to tell when people start sucking up to you right after the Rumpus publishes your name.”

People Reveal their Personal Accounts with Infamous Secret Societies
The tomb house for Scroll and Key. Wikimedia.

More Yale Secret Societies

Fans of Leigh Bardugo’s “Ninth House” may have already recognized the name Skull & Bones. But this isn’t the only Yale secret society – and you can find multiple real Yale secret societies in her paranormal thriller. The Scroll and Key Society is another secret society, founded in 1842 at Yale University. It is one of the oldest Yale secret societies and reputedly the wealthiest.The society is one of the reputed “Big Three” societies at Yale, along with Skull and Bones and Wolf’s Head. Each spring, the society admits fifteen rising seniors to participate in its activities and carry on its traditions.

Its notable alumni include CNN news anchor and columnist Fareed Zakaria and “Dateline NBC” news anchor Stone Phillips. While Skull & Bones tends to be the more infamous of the Yale societies, that doesn’t mean that Scroll and Key doesn’t have its secrets. However, these secret societies are good at keeping their secrets. So we will have to trust that the next “member” is just that. They claim to be a part of the “tomb-owning” elite at Yale. Of course, that could mean they could be a part of a few secret societies on campus.

People Reveal their Personal Accounts with Infamous Secret Societies
Yale University. Yale.

A Yale Secret Society Member Spills About Traditions

“Our week usually consists of an informal dinner on Sundays where it was just our current delegation (term for the current group/cohort). Afterwards we’d either have a bio or just hangout (movies, movies, TV, drinking, laser tag, mixer with another landed society). Thursday nights are very different. We dress formally and have dinner with a small group of adults who are either members or honorary members. Honorary members are usually faculty members. We also usually have an invited speaker who is prominent in his or her field.

“After dinner the adults leave, the delegation usually does the usual college hangout things. We only wear black robes and white masks around tap (the process/time when we pick a new delegation from the junior class). We do have meetings in the secret society where things gets done, these more serious meetings usually occur in a special/sacred room. I wouldn’t say we control anyone’s future but our own. We encourage each other in our endeavors and learn to rely on other people who have been members. This usually leads to interesting, useful connections when it comes to career moves.”

People Reveal their Personal Accounts with Infamous Secret Societies
An Illuminati Symbol. Complex

The Illuminati – The Big One

No reputable people have come forward with a personal account, but we can’t exclude this one.

One secret society that has maintained its power into the modern-day – if you believe it exists to start with – is the Illuminati. Like so many of our clandestine organizations, the Illuminati charts itself back to the 18th century, when the likes of the Freemasons, the Rosicrucians and the Carbonari were also finding their feet. They began life as an order of rationalists in a conservatively Christian society – Bavaria, in their case – that wanted to negate the influence of religion in public life and curb the power of the authoritarian German order. Naturally, this sort of behavior did not endear them to the ruling class of the time and necessitated that movement towards a secretive organizational structure.

Nevertheless, the Bavarian Illuminati persisted and grew, forming a network of political liberals and reformers that spread out from their home base in Ingolstadt, Bavaria across southern Germany. They had degrees like Masons, pseudonyms to maintain secrecy and a sophisticated system of spying on each other that was designed to keep everyone honest and deter police informers. The original grouping in Bavaria clashed with the Freemasons, from whom they regularly stole members, and the Rosicrucians, whom they considered not to be revolutionary enough in their zeal for a rational, technocratic society. Eventually, the anti-monarchical nature of the Illuminati caught up with them and in 1785, all secret societies were banned by Duke Karl Theodor of Bavaria and their membership fizzled out.

People Reveal their Personal Accounts with Infamous Secret Societies
A Popular Symbol of the Illuminati

The Illuminati – The Big One

What marks out the Illuminati is not so much their origins, but where they (supposedly) are today. Despite going into abeyance in the last 18th century, many considered that the Illuminati were merely dormant rather than gone. They were blamed in some royalist quarters for the French Revolution – they certainly did share goals of Robespierre and Lafayette – and generally became to go-to bogeyman for all conservative fears. The appeal of a secret society on which all the ills of the world could be blamed has not diminished over the years, and arguably the myth of the Illuminati is now more powerful than the real group ever was.

Their goals – technocratic world government by the rational, rich and smart – could not have been better constructed for the modern-day conspiracy nut. The fears of the Illuminati began to manifest themselves in the aftermath of the 1848 Revolutions in Europe, which had largely won the goals of the original secret society, and only grew as the organization itself ceased to be. Right-wing conspiracy theorists have long pointed to an unseen hand and in both the United States and in Europe, writers pointed to the Illuminati as a cabal of (often Jewish) bankers and moneymen who controlled finance and thus the world. Of course, there was very little to the rumors, which were often virulently anti-semitic in their origin and goals, but nothing fuels a conspiracy theory like its adherents being told that they’re miles wrong – and so it persists to this day.


Where did we find this stuff? Here are our sources:

Contributions made by D.G. Hewitt

NYTimes – The Secret World of Opus Dei

History Channel – 7 Things You May Not Know About Freemasons

Business Insider – 14 US Presidents Who Were Members Of One Of The Most Mysterious And Powerful Secret Societies In History

The Atlantic – What It’s Like to Join the Freemasons

News Week – Shadows in The Shadows: The Rosicrucians, A Fake Secret Society, Had A Real Impact on The World

The National Archives – The Templars’ ‘Curse’ On the King of France

The Connexion – The Knights Templar – A Christian Military Force Crushed by A French King

America Magazine – Opus Dei in the United States

World History Encyclopedia – The Assassins

Encyclopedia Britannica – Gavrilo Princip

Smithsonian Magazine – The Origin of the Tale that Gavrilo Princip Was Eating a Sandwich When He Assassinated Franz Ferdinand

The Guardian – Gavrilo Princip: Hero or Villain?

ThoughtCo – The Black Hand: Serbian Terrorists Spark WWI

History Extra – Why Europe’s Great Year of Revolution In 1848 Failed

BBC – The Birthplace of The Illuminati

Spy Scape – Secrets of The Illuminati: The Top-Secret Society with Plans to Rule the World

The Week – Who Are the Illuminati – And What Do They Control?

BBC News – Just Who Exactly Is Going to The Bilderberg Meeting?

New England Historical Society – Skull and Bones, or 7 Fast Facts About Yale’s Secret Society

The Washington Post – A Look Inside Yale’s Secret Societies — And Why They May No Longer Matter

Courant – Yale’s Secret Societies Go Bump in The Tap Night