Part one:The early history of the secret orders

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What is it about the topic of Secret Societies that captures the imagination of so many people?

Is it the mysterious nature of the initiate process? Is it the idea that a select few anonymous people can hold enough power to, quite literally, change the world? Is it the esoteric beliefs and the promise of enlightenment? Or is it that deep down, everyone has some part of them that wants to be a part of something special and desires for there to be more to life than meets the eye?

Whatever the reason, this is not a new phenomenon. In fact secret societies, and our fascination with them, have existed in one form or another, since the dawn of civilization.

These clandestine organizations, cloaked in secrecy and bound by oaths, in service to a “higher power”, have unmistakably left their mark. Fueling speculation and inspiring both admiration and fear.

The allure of secret societies lies in their very obscurity. They offer a glimpse into a world beyond the ordinary, a realm where whispers of hidden knowledge and promises of empowerment dance in the shadows.

Whether they inspire awe or apprehension, their enduring presence testifies to the human yearning for a sense of belonging, a connection to something greater than ourselves. What seems to have started with the pursuit of answers to some of the of the fundamental mysteries of life and death has shifted and changed over the ions.

Today there is no facet of the human condition that has gone untouched by the reach of these top secret sects, orders, and political conspirators.

As far as our fascination with them goes, it comes from our own curiosity. Needing to know why did they feel the need to be secretive? What is the story? What were they afraid of?
For better or for worse, just about every single aspect of life on earth is the result of choices made, and actions taken, by small groups of people.

Secret societies, with their hidden, exclusive, and mysterious practices, are ripe for speculation, and are fodder for conspiracy theories. And while, it’s true, there are billions of people who couldn’t care less about what is going on behind the scenes, there are a few who are so captivated by the mystery that they have made it their life’s work to unveil the murky shroud around them.

After spending just a few moments of looking into it just how much our past, present and future is, always has been, and always will be, controlled by these secret societies, we begin to realize that not everything we have been lead to believe… is true.

In this article we are going to take a quick look at a handful of the more well known secret societies. And take a quick peek at some that maybe brand new to you.
This will bring us all the way to the current era in our human story.

There is so much to Secret Societies, and so this is merely a guide to some of the many fascinating groups and belief systems that are hidden from direct view.

*When researching this article I couldn’t help but feel like I was starting to see something that has always been there, but I didn’t understand it. Similar to when we first found out about the importance of the Sun and how it effects everything the light touches. So too was the realization regarding just how important Secret Societies have been to our story, on every level.

The Mystery Cults of Ancient Egypt:

Our voyage begins in the mists of antiquity.Ancient Egypt, with its complex rituals, reverence for hidden knowledge, and powerful architecture birthed the Mystery schools.

In all actuality the existence of secret societies have been documented going back even further than the Egyptians, but it is their writings and cultural beliefs that we see their overwhelming influence and get a clear understanding of how they, the Mystery Schools, came about.

So in this way, the Egyptians are the OG’s when if comes to Secret Societies, most notably the Cults of Isis and Osiris. It was the priesthood who guarded the mysteries of the afterlife and the secrets of the cosmos.

Many of their studies and experiments would later be identified Alchemy, Chemistry, Astrology and Astronomy, Medicine, and Mathematics. It was these mystery schools that created the model for what would later become foundations of higher learning.

These groups promised initiates (members who participated in initiation rituals) access to divine secrets of life, vitality, and a profound understanding of the greater mysteries of life. Going so far as to lay claim to holding secret knowledge about immortality.

The teachings of the Mystery Schools would be passed on generation after generation, for thousands of years. As time moved forward the Egyptians interacted and mixed with other cultures from all around the known world. These beliefs and customs began to spread, as did word of their mystical and magical ways.

One example of this is the story of Atlantis from Plato’s Timaeus and Critias (360 BCE), In these two dialogues we learn that Plato first hears the story of Atlantis from his own grandfather. Who had learned of it from the Athenian statesman Solon, who was given the information directly from an Egyptian priest, who said it had happened 9,000 years before that.

We can begin to see how the teachings of the Mystery Schools would have changed as new cultures were introduced and began practicing them.

A world of influence:

The Grand Lodge in Egypt, The Osiriaca, had Schools and Lodges throughout the ancient world, was a hub of higher learning, with intellectual leadership from all over the world participating in the practices and rites of their Egyptian teachers.

Such schools have been referred to as private or philosophic mysteries, and their founders were initiates of the Egyptian Mysteries. The Eleusinians, promised enlightenment and spiritual rebirth to those who were a part of their sacred rituals. For centuries the Greeks participated in an annual ceremony that would guide the practitioners along the path, according to the myth told in the Homeric , Hymn to Demeter.

While it’s the Greeks, specifically the Athenians, who are know to have participated in this rite, it started as a Minoan tradition, with their annual ceremonies and rites directly borrowed from the Egyptians and Manoans.

The Ionian temple at Didyma; the lodge of Euclid at Megara; the lodge of Pythagoras at Crotona; and the Orphic temple at Delphi, with the schools of Plato and Aristotle are all also extensions of the Egyptian Mystery Schools. Their philosophy had been handed down by the great Egyptian Hierophants through the Mysteries. (Ancient Mysteries C. H. Vail P. 59). In addition to the control of the mysteries, the Grand Lodge permitted an exchange of visits between the various lodges, in order to ensure the progress of the brethren in the secret science.

We are told in the Timaeus, by Plato, that seekers of mystical wisdom, as well as intellectual knowledge, visited Egypt for initiation and were told by the priests of Sais, “that you Greeks are but children” in the Secret Doctrine, but the Greeks were allowed visit, learn, and attend sacred processes, in order to promote their spiritual progress.

Correspondence between Anebo ( an Egyptian prophet) and Porphyry (a Phoenician, who studied in Athens), discusses the fraternal relations existing between the various schools or lodges in different lands. It speaks to how, when their members visited, how they were greeted and how they were to assist one another in the secret science, with the more advanced being obliged, by vow, to assist and instruction to their initiated brothers.

And while the traditions and ceremonies were altered to fit the mindset and beliefs at the time, sometimes subtly and sometimes drastically, the core structure of the teachings remained. This process of influence and adaptation continued with every new regime or leadership structure that was put in place.

We need to keep in mind that in this era of time there were many wars and political upheaval was a constant threat. Conquering armies would invade a country and after some time, they would absorb it’s culture and traditions. Only to then be conquered and absorbed by another invading army.

At times the knowledge and spiritual practice of the land would be forbidden because it challenged the beliefs and teachings of invaders. The teachers of this forbidden knowledge would be persecuted, hunted down, made examples of. All traces of the existence of that knowledge, culture, or tradition would be destroyed.

And so it was out of a need to preserve the sacred knowledge that a shared language of symbolism and references was developed. We will touch on this a bit more a in a minute.

Alexandria, and the great library:

The great library of Alexandria held potentially as many as 400,000 manuscripts and was built up over years of trade, exploration and colonization. It was seen as one of the treasures of the civilized world. It is believed that The Alexandrian Library, founded in Alexandria, Egypt, was most likely inspired by an exiled Athenian named Demetrius of Phalerun. Clearly demonstrating the connection between the Mystery Schools of Egypt, Greece, and the rest of the world.

Alexandria was known as the center of knowledge and learning the world over. It was a bright spot of optimism to those who appreciated the deeper understanding of intellectual progress. But in time Alexandria lost its way due to the purging and persecution of intellectuals, who were seen by some as heretics. Out of exile, the teachings spread out over the world, taking the process of initiation and secrecy with them.

By the time of the Romans occupation the library was fading fast. The Empire didn’t see the need for putting resources into it. Sure, they appreciated it and saw it’s value, to a certain extent, but it needed as much of its resources to be put into their military campaigns, and managing their territory.

Then in 642 AD, Alexandria was captured by the Muslim army of Amr ibn al-As and the library was sacked and burned to the ground. Several later Arabic sources describe the library’s destruction by the order of Caliph Omar. Oman having been quoted as saying, “If those books are in agreement with the Quran, we have no need of them; and if these are opposed to the Quran, destroy them.”.

And just like that a huge portion of the history of the world was swiftly erased. Can you imagine how much we could learn about the history of the ancient world if we were to find a trove of hidden books from the Alexandrian Library? All that knowledge, all that history is gone forever now.

This brings to mind the old adage that “History is written by the victors”.

600 years before the sacking of Alexandria, there was a small brotherhood of men who were driven underground and practiced sacred rites in secret, due to fear of death at the hands of the Romans. This group would continue on, in secrecy for centuries before finally growing to become one of the most dominant forces in all of human history.

You will find no better examples of how a small group of initiates can go from being persecuted to becoming they very system they are oppressed by, than the Christianity.

Ok, that was just a tease. I am going to skip over the history of Christianity, for two reasons.
1) It’s far too large of a story to tell in this article.
And 2) It’s already very well know.

I will say, however, if you are really interested in how a secret society can grow to literally rule the world, just take some time to study up on the historical side to the story of Jesus and the creation of the Christian Church. It’s all there. The blueprint. Everything you need to know on how to create a secret society for change… it’s there.

Many of the “Secret Societies” we know of today have roots connected to the orders created during the time of the Roman occupations.

Much like how a mycelium network grows underground, it thrives underground, out of view, and we never really know how big it’s network is until it bares fruit.

The wisdom keepers and teachers of the traditions quickly came to realize that what was left of their culture and knowledge had to be protected.

Using codes, symbols, scientific language, mathematics, the arts of the luminaries, and the lore of the storytellers, those were the means by which they could preserve the knowledge and keep it safe.

It is fascinating how they found a way to keep the knowledge alive. This secret language was taught to initiates of the order, thus keeping it safe. Hidden.

This is actually where to word esoteric comes in. While the word had a very broad connotations, it has come to mean “that which remains hidden. This explains why this knowledge is today know as “esoteric wisdom”.


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