Luke 8:17 – For nothing is secret, that shall not be made manifest; neither any thing hid, that shall not be known and come abroad.
While you may have guessed this already by the name, a secret society is a group, organisation, or club that keeps its activities and internal workings hidden from those outside the membership. Secret Society, any of a wide variety of member organizations or associations which use secret initiations or other rituals, and whose members frequently adopt exclusive vows, grips (handshakes), or other signs of acceptance.
The term secret society may be used to describe any groups whose membership or existence is not known to outsiders, or which conceal some of their practices or concepts from outsiders, regardless of how open or recognized as the group. The precise qualifications to designate a group a secret society are controversial, but the definition usually depends on the extent to which an organization is committed to secrecy, and may include keeping and conveying secret knowledge, disavowing the groups membership or knowledge, creating personal bonds among the groups members, and using secret rituals or ceremonies which strengthen members ties with one another, and using secret rituals that strengthen members of the group.
Luke 12:3 – Therefore whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops.
The explicitness involved can sometimes only be applied to members of a society, since the secrecy can be so comprehensive that the very existence of certain societies is kept from outsiders; revolutionary, heretical, and similar subversive secret societies are examples. Typically, members of secret societies are bound to strict secrecy concerning all affairs of the association, either by an oath or a promise, or a pledge of honor, and usually by a threat of harsh punishment if they violate it. That is, while the customarily held grip (handshake), password, ritualized greetings in the form of questions and answers, esoteric phrases, or Secret Jargon serves many purposes of special speech, differentiating even low initiates from nonmembers, there are secrets within Secrets in a Society.
Ecclesiastes 12:14 – For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.
The secret societies formed between primitive humans were, like those between civilized men, means to keep groups united, means to entertain and instruct. Clearly, in some societies secret groups are a chief means of education and of socialization. The mystery in some groups can be the religious newfound understanding, which is protected from persecution or mockery by confining its rituals to believers eyes.
Secret societies, in the modern, technical sense, did not exist in ancient times, but various organizations did exist which bragged about esoteric doctrines known only to its members, carefully hidden from the profane. Many contemporary secret societies were particularly abundant in America, and during the late nineteenth century attracted a great many immigrants seeking companionship and guidance among men speaking the language and following their customs.
Hebrews 4:13 – Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.
By the middle of the 19th century, secret societies such as the Masons, the Oddfellows, and others had become prominent in American masculine culture, with men joining groups under an oath of office in order to interact with similar-minded men. In the years leading up to the Civil War, secret associations aimed at specific political ends, loosely modelled after familiar fraternal societies such as the Freemasons, emerged.
While The DaVinci Code author Dan Brown and his contemporaries shined a spotlight on some of the biggest secretive brotherhoods, such as the Order of Skulls and Bones, Freemasons, Rosicrucians, and Illuminati, there were other, less well-known groups with fascinating stories about their own Others. Members (most commonly men) were recruited into joining the Knights Templar, the Freemasons, the Bavarian Illuminati, the Order of Skull and Bones, and the Bilderbergs. Among numerous other brotherhoods, The Illuminati, The Carbonari, The Odd-Folk, The Knights of Pythias, The Sons of Temperance, and similar societies, the numbers of which are legion.
Romans 2:16 – In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.
Here is a glance at what we do, or do not, know of the 10 most notorious of these clandestine societies. The Order is only one of the many clandestine organizations out there today, although these secret clubs peaked in popularity during the 18th and 19th centuries, writes Noah Schachtman for Wired.
David W. Barretts definition would exclude many organizations called secret societies; grading classes is generally not a part of American university fraternities, Carbonari, or 19th-century know-nothings. Other academic societies — notably, the Skull and Bones of Yale and similar groups at other Ivy League schools — the Skull and Bones of Yale traditionally have been far more careful in their secrecy. However deep or powerful the secrets, there is always some degree of artifice involved in keeping them a secret.
1 Corinthians 4:5 – Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.
Even when those purposes are carried out with real truth, however, these are not at all the entire objects of those societies. It is equally clear that open, overt attacks upon Church or State are perfectly compatible with a secret organization.
Such groups would, of course, be labeled criminals by a dominant society, but could be understood to advocate alternative political or social structures. Spencers definition includes groups that are traditionally considered to be secret societies (Freemasons and Rosicrucians) as well as others that are not as traditionally classified, such as some organized criminal cliques (Mafia), religious groups (Orders of the Assassins and Thelema), and political movements (Bolsheviks and the Black Dragon Society). Spence also suggests the subcategory elite secret societies (consisting of people with higher incomes or who are socially powerful) and notes that secret societies often, though not universally, exhibit tendencies toward factionalism, infighting, and to allege ancestry older than can be reliably documented.
Hebrews 4:12 – For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
Spence also proposes a sub-category of Elite Secret Societies (composed of high-income or socially influential people), and notes that secret societies have a frequent if not universal tendency towards factionalism, infighting and claiming origins older than can be reliably documented. The high-profile members of Knights Templar–past guests include Bill Clinton, Margaret Thatcher, Angela Merkel, Tony Blair, and Henry Kissinger–and the groups use of Chatham House rules, which prevent members from sharing details about what really happens at meetings, lends a certain mysteriousness to the organization. In all probability, according to what Urquhart and others believe now, Smith lifted these handshakes, and several other ritual elements, from the freemasons, the popular secret society at the time, which Smith was a member.