Secret societies are typically groups whose rituals and activities are hidden away from non-members. Since the time of the crusades, hundreds of secret societies have been formed from different parts of the world to serve diverse political, social and religious purposes. Here is a list of the 25 biggest secret societies to ever exist as well as a glimpse at the conspiracy theories associated with them. While some of them are believed to be fictitious or have already been dissolved, traces of their existence or their legend remain apparent even until today.
Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn
Also known as the Golden Dawn this was a “magical order” active in Great Britain during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, which practiced theurgy and spiritual development. It has been one of the largest single influences on 20th-century Western occultism.
Foresters Friendly Society is a British friendly society which was formed in 1834 as the Ancient Order of Foresters. Although not as secret or mysterious as some of the others on this list its nearly 70,000 strong membership deserves some mention. As far as purpose is concerned, as with most friendly societies, it primarily seeks to provide insurance policies to its members.
“Illuminati” typically refers to various organizations claiming to have unsubstantiated links to the original (and very real) Bavarian Illuminati or similar secret societies. It is said that the Illuminati is one of the secret organizations that rule the world by masterminding events and planting agents in government and corporations to establish a New World Order and gain further political power and influence. Central to some of the most widely known and elaborate conspiracy theories, the secret society Illuminati have been depicted as lurking in the shadows and pulling the strings and levers of power in dozens of novels, movies, television shows, comics, video games, and music videos.
Knights of Columbus
The Knights of Columbus is the largest network of Catholic men and their families throughout the world. Founded in 1882, most of the rituals of this organization are modeled after those of the Masonic Lodge. Today it has over 11,000 councils all over the globe and boasts of the insurance policies that it provides for its members.
Knights of Pythias
The Knights of Pythias was the first fraternal organization to receive a charter under an act of the United States Congress. It was founded by Justus H. Rathbone, who was inspired by a play by the Irish poet John Banim about the legend of Damon and Pythias. A member must be at least 18 years of age. He cannot be a professional gambler or involved with illegal drugs or alcohol and he must have a belief in a Supreme Being.