The Thule Society
Walter Nauhaus was German soldier who was discharged from the military after sustaining injuries on the Western Front during The First World War. After returning to Germany, Nauhaus formed The Thule Society with Rudolf von Sebottendorff, an aristocrat who shared his fascination with the occult. The order was named after a mythical Aryan homeland and blended Satanic rituals with anti-Semitic and ultranationalist ideas. Ultimately, the order was dissolved after Nauhaus was executed for conspiring against the Bavarian government. Sebottendorff later bragged that the order served as inspiration for the Nazi party, but historians have shredded the plausibility of this claim.
Bohemian Grove is a vast, exclusive campground in California that belongs to a secretive organisation known as the Bohemian Club. Each year, the Club holds an event in the Grove which sees some of the world’s most influential men gather for over two weeks. The area is guarded by highly sophisticated security systems, and gaining entry to the event without invitation is impossible. Despite this, some information has leaked out – including this photo, which allegedly depicts an effigy of a Canaanite deity being ritualistically burned. The mysterious nature of the Bohemian Club has spawned dozens of conspiracies, including that the Manhattan Project was conceived during one of the Club’s annual meets.
The Bildeberg Group
The first meeting of the Bildeberg Group took place in 1954 and brought together leaders from Europe and North America, with the aim of soothing tensions that had been brewing since the end of The Second World War. Since then, the meeting has taken place every year with the ostensible goal of furthering world peace, although the contents of discussion are never disclosed to the public. Naturally, this has resulted in a lot of crackpot conspiracy theories, with many accusing the group of plotting to form a single, global government. One notable proponent of this theory is former Cuban president Fidel Castro.
Knights of the Golden Circle
The goal of the Knights of the Golden Circle – a secret society founded in 1854 by George W. L. Bickley – was to create a new country in which slavery would be legal. This country was supposed to consist of the Southern United States, as well as a ‘golden circle’ of Mexican territories and a number of Caribbean islands. The organisation was active throughout the American Civil War, at one point plotting to capture Abraham Lincoln. There are numerous conspiracy theories that the Knights of the Golden Circle went underground after the North won the war, and are still working from the shadows to break up the United States and achieve their goals.
Everyone’s favourite shadowy organisation, the Illuminati is implicated in just about every conspiracy theory known to man. The group has become such a meme that many people are surprised to learn it did actually exist. The group was founded in 18th-century Bavaria to further enlightenment principles oppose and religious influence, and it attracted many notable figures including Ferdinand of Brunswick and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. The organisation was eventually suppressed by the Bavarian government, but conspiracy theorists maintain that the group survived and achieved world domination, lurking in the shadows and exerting influence over all human affairs.
The Hashashin were so accomplished at murder that the word ‘assassin’ is literally derived from the name of their group. Operating in Persia and Syria between the 11th and 13th centuries, the Hashashin was a guild of adept killers who carried out hits on high-profile targets to further their own political and religious agenda, although they occasionally also worked for hire. The group’s methods were governed by a strict doctrine, and members generally utilised deception and disguise to get close to their marks before slaying them with daggers – sometimes in broad daylight. The Hashashin developed such a feared reputation that they were often able to achieve their goals through threats alone, but by the end of the 13th century the group had disintegrated due to infighting.
The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn
When people think of secret societies, they tend to associate them with arcane rituals and occult practices. Whilst the truth is often more pedestrian than that, when it comes to The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, it’s spot on. The group was founded in 19th century London by three Freemasons, and the Order’s guiding documents are known as the Cipher Manuscripts – a series of how-to guides for mysterious, occult rituals. Members of the Order – which was notable for accepting women as well as men – worked to gain a divine connection with the “Holy Guardian Angel”, and at one point the group boasted hundreds of prominent members. The Order fell apart after the turn of the century, but is credited with influencing the modern Wicca movement.
Between 2012 and 2014, a mysterious organisation known as Cicada 3301 posted three sets of puzzles online, each of which required extensive knowledge of data security, cryptography, and steganography to solve. The first puzzle was cracked by a man named Marcus Wanner, who revealed that – after being interrogated about his positions on information freedom and censorship – he was invited to a private forum with other members of the organisation and instructed to devise ways to further the group’s ideals. Wanner was eventually deemed unsuitable and removed from this forum, and – despite the fact that others have almost certainly solved the puzzles – no one else has ever come forward.
Order of Ghimgoul
The University of North Carolina is home to the Order of Ghimgoul, a secret society named after a student who mysteriously vanished. Membership to the Order is on an invite only basis, and both students and faculty are alleged to belong to the organisation. The group’s headquarters is the suitably creepy Hippol Castle, and the few photos that have leaked from behind the castle’s walls have been rife with Satanic Iconography. The Order of Ghimgoul claims to have no clandestine agenda, which is an odd thing to have to specify, and the organisation arouses intense suspicion in those with a conspiratorial bent.
The Righteous and Harmonious Fists
Founded in the 19th century, the Righteous and Harmonious Fists was a secret organisation comprising Chinese peasants and farmers who were tired of foreign interference following the Sino-Japanese War. The group practised martial arts and callisthenics, which they believed made them literally bulletproof, and in 1899 they instigated the Boxer Rebellion. The uprising started when the Fists began targeting Christian missionaries, but eventually they expanded their targets to include any foreigners in China. The order was eventually destroyed by a coalition of eight nations, including Britain and Russia, but not before severely destabilising the reigning Qing Dynasty.
The Black Hand
There are countless conspiracies about secret societies influencing world events, but The Black Hand is one group that actually did alter the course of history, and dramatically so. Founded in 1911 by Serbian military officers, the group referred to itself as ‘Unification or Death’ and operated with the aim of unifying all Southern Slavs into a single, great Slavic state. The Black Hand wholeheartedly embraced the use of violence, and was involved in a string of terrorist attacks and murders throughout the early 20th century. On June 28, 1914, members of The Black Hand facilitated the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, setting off a chain reaction that sparked The First World War.
The Freemasons’ origins can be traced to a guild of stonemasons that formed at the end of the 13th century. The organisation is governed by strict rules, including that a volume of religious scripture must be open in every Masonic lodge, every member must believe in a supreme being, and admittance of women is strictly prohibited. Many historical figures have belonged to the Freemasons – including 13 of the 39 signatories of the American Constitution – resulting in much suspicion that the secretive organisation has had a hand in shaping world events. One of the more widespread conspiracy theories involving the organisation is that Winston Churchill – who was a member – sacrificed the lives of hundreds of thousands of soldiers during WWII at the Freemason’s behest.
The Cadaver Society
The Cadaver Society continues the proud tradition of secret collegiate societies with a morbid name, which was probably considered the height of edginess back in the day. Little is known about the organisation, but its members allegedly roam the campus at night dressed in black robes and skeleton masks, marking the walls with the society’s sign: a skull and the letter C. Unsurprisingly for a group this veiled in secrecy, there are many conspiracy theories about the Cadaver Society having direct links to the Illuminati.
The Leopard Society
The Leopard Society operates throughout Central and West Africa and has been blamed for hundreds of grizzly murders across the 19th and 20th centuries. Members of the group adorn themselves with leopard skins and use metal claws to butcher their victims before allegedly consuming them. Some have claimed that the cult’s members believe that killing and eating men will endow them with supernatural abilities, whilst others believe the murders are linked to territorial disputes. In the 1940s, 77 members of the society were apprehended by Nigerian police and executed for their involvement in more than 200 killings.
The Bullingdon Club
The Bullingdon Club is an exclusive society for wealthy and influential students attending Oxford University. The Club has attracted a great deal of controversy in recent years due to revelations about its members’ despicable behaviour, such as burning money in front of the homeless and trashing restaurants – not to mention a particularly grotesque incident allegedly involving former Prime Minister David Cameron and a pig’s head. Adding fuel to the fire is the fact that many powerful politicians have at one point belonged to the organisation, resulting in many conspiracies about corruption in British politics.
The Cult of Mithras
The Mithraic Mysteries was a secret society that rose to prominence in the Roman Empire during the 1st century AD. Most of the organisation’s members were Roman soldiers, and the group was devoted to serving an Indian-Persian deity known as Mithras. The cult’s devotees believed that Mithras – who is often depicted in the act of slaying a bull – was their saviour, and secretly gathered in caves to ritualistically slaughter animals and conduct ceremonies. In order to gain admittance to the Mithraic Mysteries, applicants had to pass seven initiation rituals, many of which involved carrying out sacrifices.
The Skull and Bones Society
Another secret society with ties to the upper echelons of government, the Skull and Bones Society was founded at Yale University in 1832. Considering the group alternates between referring to itself as ‘Order 322’ and ‘The Brotherhood of Death’, and boasts at least three presidents amongst its alumni (both Bushes and Taft), it’s not all that surprising that this secret society is at the heart of a lot of conspiracy theories. Two of the most persistent rumours are that the Skull and Bones Society is an offshoot of the Illuminati, and that the CIA is directly controlled by the group. The alleged fact that many members of the team who designed the first atom bomb belonged to the society has also raised some eyebrows.
The Order of Nine Angels
Secret societies and devil worship are a match made in – well, definitely, not heaven, but the point is they complement each other perfectly, and shadowy organisations devoted to Satan are a mainstay in horror fiction. One of the most notable real-world examples is the Order of Nine Angels, a shadowy organisation in Britain that is proudly Satanic. Members of the Order seek to attain personal excellence by pledging allegiance to the forces of Hell, and the organisation’s manifesto enthusiastically recommends human sacrifice. The Order of Nine Angels came to the public’s attention in the 90s, when the organisation’s support for Neo-Nazi and ultranationalist ideas was revealed.
The Seven Society
A collegiate secret society with a flair for the dramatic, The Seven Society was founded sometime around the turn of the 19th century at the University of Virginia. The group is intensely secretive, and membership is only revealed after a member’s death, by way of a banner at their funeral. The society’s activities are equally mysterious, but the group is known for making large donations to the University that spawned it. These donations are usually delivered through suitably outlandish means, such as a skydiver carrying a large ‘7’ flag and a cheque for $14,777.77. It’s possible to contact the group directly, by leaving a letter at a statue of Thomas Jefferson in the university’s rotunda.
The Quill and Dagger Society
Universities tend to be hotspots for secret societies. The Quill and Dagger Society was founded at Cornell University on May 28, 1893, with the intention of recruiting candidates who displayed “leadership, character, and dedication to service”. Unfortunately, the organisation also valued another, uglier trait: racism. In the 90s, the Quill and Dagger Society earned an unpleasant reputation for expelling members who had signed petitions advocating minority rights. These days the society has rehabilitated its image and dropped the veil of secrecy, even maintaining a social media presence – which is definitely unusual behaviour for a ‘secret’ organisation.
The Tiandihui and Hong Mun
During the reign of the Qing Dynasty in 18th century China, a secret society known as Tiandihui (Society of the Heaven and Earth) was founded by spiritual leaders in the Fujian Province. Forced into hiding, the group operated in the shadows, forming a resistance movement against the country’s rulers and resorting to armed robbery to finance their enterprises. Inspired by the Tiandihui, other secret societies were formed across China, including the Hong Mun. After the collapse of the Qing Dynasty, the Hong Mun – purposeless after the loss of their foe – turned to criminal undertakings, eventually becoming Triad, one of the largest criminal syndicates in the world.
The Eucleian Society is an intensely secretive organisation that selects its members from New York University Students. The society’s records are exclusively recorded using cryptic symbols that only members understand, meaning little is known about the organisation’s machinations. In 2000, the Eucleian Society broadcast a recorded message through all of NYU’s classrooms simultaneously, stating, “fellow Classmates, truth is something you find outside of the classroom, outside of the walls of this university, and only from the professor in front of you insofar as he can serve as an experienced guide. We’re not here to preach. We’re here to simply say, NYU has its secrets too. This is your friendly wake-up call. Regards, The Eucleian Society”.
Ordo Templi Orientis
Ordo Templi Orientis – which is Latin for Order of the Temple of the East – was an occult organisation founded at the beginning of the 20th century. The group, which modelled itself on the Freemasons, was led by British occultist Aleister Crowley. Initiation into the Order involves undergoing complex mystical rituals, and once members are part of the organisation they devote themselves to “the celebration of Liber XV, the Gnostic Mass”, and seek to unlock their inherent divinity. After Crowley’s death, the group split into four chapters who all claim to be the true heirs to the Order’s legacy.
The Rosicrucian Order
Built on “esoteric truths of the ancient past” the Rosicrucian Order was formed in 17th century to investigate the true nature of reality. The organisation has published a number of manifestos that claim to reveal truths unavailable to “the average man”, covering a number of topics including “nature, the physical universe, and the spiritual realm”. The Rosicrucian Order still exists, and its members devote themselves to unravelling the metaphysical mysteries that govern the universe.
Sons of Liberty
The Sons of Liberty was a secret organisation formed in 1765 for the express purpose of resisting taxes imposed on colonialists by the British government. The clandestine organization took very few records, meaning the extent of its activities remains shrouded in mystery, but it was known to be active throughout the 13 American Colonies and played a role in the American Revolution, often resorting to violence to achieve its objectives. The Sons of Liberty was founded by Samuel Adams and included many notable figures from early American history, including Hercules Mulligan and William Williams.
The prestigious Dartmouth College is rife with secret societies, with an estimated 32% of students belonging to one. By far the most prestigious is the Sphinx Society, an all-male organisation that recruits 24 of the best and brightest students each year. Members of the secret society are known as ‘The Krewe’, and are granted access to the school’s Egyptian tomb. It is rumoured that the Sphinx Society also has a network of underground tunnels at their disposal and an exclusive underground swimming pool referred to as ‘Cleopatra’s Pool’. In 1989, 12 members of the organisation were caught stealing $12,000 worth of art from the university.
The Ku Klux Klan, commonly referred to as the KKK, is a white supremacist organisation that blends fundamentalist Christianity, a cult-like hierarchical system, and vicious racism. The KKK was formed in the aftermath of the American Civil War by a group of Confederate soldiers led by Nathan Bedford Forest. The Klan has a blood-soaked history, and the group is directly responsible for many lynchings and terrorist attacks, often targeting civil rights activists. Membership of the KKK is legal in the USA, and the group still boasts thousands of members.
The Independent Order of Odd Fellows
Before his ascent to the throne, England’s George IV was a member of the Freemasons. When his request for a friend of his to be admitted to the organisation was denied, George decided to leave and start his own secret society, which he named the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. The future king intended the Order to rival the Freemasons, and, whilst it never attained the same level of membership, it has counted some notable figures amongst its ranks, including Henry Rathbone, allegedly. The Order is still in existence today, and its members strive to embody the virtues of love and brotherhood. The organisation keeps real skeletons in its lodges, to remind devotees of their mortality.
The Knights of Pythias
Whilst many secret societies seem to be harbouring nefarious intentions, there are some that are incontrovertibly benevolent. The Knights of Pythias definitely fall into this category. The organisation was founded in 1964 by Justin H. Rathbone, who was inspired by a play about the legend of Damon and Pythias. At the heart of the order are the principles of loyalty, honour, and friendship, and the 50,000 or so members of the group endeavour to act in accordance with these virtues in everything they do.
International Order of St. Hubertus
The International Order of St. Hubertus came to public attention after it was discovered that Supreme Court judge Antonin Scalia had been a member. The society was formed in 1695 by Count Anton von Sporck, with the intention of gathering “the noblest hunters of the 17th century”. The society was briefly dissolved by Hitler after it denied entry to Herman Goehring, but it reformed after WWII and expanded, opening the American chapter of which Scalia was a member. As well as organising hunting expeditions, the Order also arranges glamorous, masked balls.
Described as an “Afro-Cuban version of Freemasonry”, Abakuá is a secret society that spread when fraternal groups from the Cross River region of southeastern Nigeria and southwestern Cameroon emigrated to Cuba. Initiation involves a complex ritual featuring elaborate costumes and sacred items, and the organisation is steeped in superstitious mysticism, with claims that Abakuá members can learn how to transform themselves into leopards to stalk their enemies. The organisation has continued to spread, with Abakuá lodges found in most places with a strong Cuban immigrant presence, including Florida.
The NoZe Brotherhood
The NoZe Brotherhood is a secret society comprised of students at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. Despite now being one of the most prestigious societies at Baylor, the Brotherhood was originally founded as a joke. In 1918, friends of freshman Leonard Shoaf remarked that his nose was of “such great length and breadth of nostril” that they could literally “form a club around it”. So, they did. These days, members of the club mark its heritage by wearing fake noses, and the organisation is known for its fondness of pranks, particularly at the expense of the Baylor University Chamber of Commerce.
The Koyōsha secret society was founded in the 18th century by Hiraoka Kotarō, an ex-Samurai who had grown incredibly wealthy by purchasing mines throughout Asia. The organisation – which consisted of other former Samurai – worked to return Japan to its old feudal system in which the Samurai class had enjoyed unique legal and financial privileges. Koyōsha members were involved in numerous violent uprisings against the fledgling Meiji government, culminating in the Satsuma Rebellion of 1877. After the rebellion was crushed, the society renamed itself Gen’yōsha and adopted a new set of goals, aligning itself with pro-democracy organisations and pushing for a national parliament.
Order of the Star Spangled Banner
Formed in New York in 1949, the Order of the Star Spangled banner was a highly secretive organisation devoted to inhibiting immigration to the United States. The Order – which was founded by Charles B. Allen – was especially opposed to Catholic immigration, as it believed all Catholics were under the direct command of the Pope. Initiation to the Order involved proving one’s Protestant credentials and swearing an oath of total obedience. Members typically responded to any inquiries from the press by responding that they “knew nothing”, leading the group to eventually morph into the Know Nothings, a nativist political movement that ran candidates under the American Party ticket.
Membership to the Nyau secret society is accessible only to the Chewa, an ethnic group of Bantu peoples from Central and Southern Africa. Both genders are permitted to join, but the organisation has different initiation rituals and roles for men and women. The society is notable for its unique religious beliefs, and for its complex rituals in which prominent men in the organisation don feathered masks and perform dances. During these ceremonies it is taken as fact that the performers have become spirits of the dead and may act with impunity, and dancers have taken advantage of this to kill rivals on numerous occasions.
Founded in County Armagh in 18th century Ireland, the Defenders were a secret Catholic agrarian society that was formed to defend its members against the Protestant Peep o’ Day Boys. The organisation rapidly grew in membership, and by 1790 it was an oath-bound fraternal society operating a number of lodges throughout Ireland. The Defenders allied themselves with the United Irishmen during the doomed Irish Rebellion of 1798, losing many members during the fighting. By the 19th century, the organisation had rebranded as the Ribbonmen and devoted itself to furthering the interests of impoverished Catholics across Ireland.
5 Hertford Street
Described as “London’s most secretive club”, 5 Hertford Street is a private members club owned by British business magnate Robin Birley. There have been reports that Meghan Markle and Prince Harry first met at the club, and it is known to be regularly attended by celebrities and influential politicians. Birley – whose brother disappeared in mysterious circumstances – has been described as “a committed Leaver”, and in the run-up to Brexit the club was regularly used for secretive meetings by prominent members of the Leave campaign.
Order of the New Templars
The Order of the New Templars was a fascist German secret society founded in 1900 by Jörg Lanz von Liebenfels and modelled on the Knights of the Templar. Liebenfels had been trained by the Order of Cistercians – a breakaway group of Catholic monks – and he mimicked their hierarchical structure when he formed the Order of the New Templars. Members of the organisation followed strict security protocols, never knowing each other’s real names, and worked to oppose the liberalisation of society. Unsurprisingly, the group was one of the first to support the Nazi Party during its ascent to power.
Raven’s Claw Society
Raven’s Claw is a secret society at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. The organisation is highly secretive and only consists of seven members at a time, with new members chosen by the previous seven upon their departure from the group. Criteria for selection has never been disclosed, but is presumed to involve strength of character and leadership qualities. Raven’s Claw members – who are referred to as ‘Claws’ – are open about their membership, wearing white caps around campus to signify that they belong to the society. However, the organisation’s traditions and goals have been kept strictly secret, inevitably inspiring conspiracy theories.
Ancient Order of Freesmiths
The origins of the Ancient Order of Freesmiths is murky, but it was founded at some point during the Middle Ages by European Christian bladesmiths who wanted to form a union to protect themselves from the influence of guilds, which they viewed as pagan. The Order’s stated aim is “elevating the mind to achieve its maximum potential”, and it is extremely secretive, refusing any interviews or incursions by the media. Little is known about the organisation’s membership or traditions, but it is known to operate in countries throughout the world. The Freesmiths are often compared to the Freemasons, however, unlike the latter, membership is open to both men and women.
Propaganda Due – self-stylised as P2 – was an Italian Masonic lodge that splintered from the Grand Orient of Italy and became a secret criminal organisation in 1976. The organisation was founded on extreme rightwing ideology and considered itself the sworn enemy of ‘Leftism,’ ordering multiple assassination to further its political agenda. At the height of its power, P2 counted many influential figures amongst its membership, including journalists, industrialist, and politicians – most notably former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, whose name was discovered on a leaked list of the organisation’s members.
Shindo Renmei – which translates to “League of the Way of Emperors’ Subjects” – was a secretive organisation consisting of Japanese immigrants in Brazil during and after The Second World War. The São Paulo-based group was utterly devoted to the Japanese regime, and its members were united by their ultra-nationalist views. Initially, when news of Japan’s surrender reached Brazil, Shindo Renmei refused to believe it. However, their disbelief eventually turned into bitter rage, and the group embarked on a campaign of violence against Japanese-Brazilians who didn’t share their views. By the time the organisation’s members had been brought to justice, at least 23 people had been murdered.
Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor
The Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor was an occult organisation founded in England during the 1870s. The Brotherhood was formed by Max Théon, a Polish occultist who later moved to Algeria where he started the Cosmic Movement. Despite Théon notionally being the Brotherhood’s leader, he seems to have had little to with running the group, which drew heavily from the magico-sexual theories of Paschal Beverly Randolph in its teachings. Aleister Crowley was heavily inspired by the Brotherhood of Luxor when he formed the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, Britain’s most famous occult organisation.
Yellow Sand Society
Formed in rural China in the 19th century, the Yellow Sand Society, also known as the Yellow Way Society, was a secret organisation composed primarily of Chinese farmers. The group was heavily influenced by millenarianism – the belief in an impending fundamental transformation of society – and was involved in multiple uprisings against the Qing Empire and, later, the Republic of China. The Yellow Sand Society remained a powerful group in China well into the 20th century, but eventually was crushed after the Chinese Communist party rose to power in 1949. Membership of the organisation is now illegal, but rumours abound that the Yellow Sands remain active in the shadows.
The Crocodile Society is an extremely mysterious and disturbing West African society that operated in Liberia and Sierra Leone in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Little is known about the group’s membership – although it has been speculated that it consisted of members of the Liberian Mano tribe – but explorers who encountered the Crocodile Society recounted that the organisation ritualistically practised cannibalism. Whilst no official evidence has been provided, there are many in the region who believe that the Crocodile Society is still very much in existence.
Also known as the Cherry Blossom Society, Sakuraki was a secret society that plotted to overthrow the Japanese government in the 1930s. The organisation was composed of Japanese military officers, led by Lieutenant Colonel Kingoro Hashimoto, and it sought to establish an authoritarian regime by returning Emperor Hirorito to what they viewed as his “rightful place” at the head of a military dictatorship. The group held clandestine meetings in the dojo of Aikido founder Morihei Ueshiba. After two failed attempts to overthrow the government, many Sakuraki members drifted to even more extreme groups and the society dissolved.
Literally translating to ‘meeting place’, Tong were secret societies formed by Chinese immigrants to the United States, although they can now be found in Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom. These organisations take the form of sworn brotherhoods, with members making oaths of loyalty to each other. Tongs are highly secretive and wary of outsiders, but many have been linked to Chinese organised crime. Secret societies have formed an important part of Chinese culture since the 16th century, when the Ming dynasty – having just been overthrown by the Qing dynasty – began forming clandestine organisations to plot their return to power.
The Sande Society is a women’s-only organisation that operates across Sierra Leone, Liberia, the Ivory Coast, and Guinea. Initiation into the society occurs during childhood, and involves female genital mutilation, which – according to the organisation’s beliefs – confers fertility. Somewhat paradoxically, the Sande Society champions women’s rights in the areas in which it exists, and campaigns for greater female representation in politics. The organisation is often considered the female equivalent of the Poro society, an exclusively male organisation that operates in the same parts of Africa.
The 16′ Club
Often referred to as the College Sixteen, the 16′ Club is a secret society for distinguished male students at St David’s College, Trinity Saint David. The organisation states that its aim is “to maintain the traditions of St David’s College”, but, due to the clandestine way in which it conducts its meetings, conspiracies abound about the Club’s true nature. The initiation ceremony for new recruits is rumoured to involve the consumption of a whole chicken followed by the downing of a bottle of wine.
The Simo Society is a secretive West African society that has been described as “a masked cult”. Initiation involves a mystical ceremony featuring wooden masks and ‘fertility rituals’, which essentially consist of circumcision. Members of the group live in the forest with a ‘Simo’, a high-priest-like figure who possesses knowledge of spiritual medicine. The Simo is only allowed to be viewed by members of the society; outsiders must approach with their backs turned, and stay that way throughout the interaction. After eight years of living in the forest, members of the group are allowed to return to society, and new members are initiated.