The Paranoid’s Field Guide to Secret Societies

The following is an article from Uncle John's Unstoppable Bathroom Reader.

Secret societies actually do exist. In fact, there are dozens of them, from the Freemasons to the Ku Klux Klan. But are they really responsible for the world’s ills, as some people believe? Probably not, but on the other hand, you never know…


Who They Are: The group was founded in 1776 by Adam Weishaupt, a Jesuit priest, in Bavaria. His mission: to advance the 18th-century ideals of revolution, social reform, and rational thought (the name mean “The Enlightened Ones” in Latin). Weishaupt and his cronies were fiercely opposed by the monarchs of Europe and by the Catholic Church, which is why they had to meet and communicate in secret. German author Johann Goethe was a member. In the United States, both Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson were accused of being members and denied it, but both wrote favorably about Weishaupt and his efforts.

What They’re Blamed For: The group has been associated with more conspiracy theories than any other. Considered the silent evil behind such bugaboos as One World Government and the New World Order, the Illuminati have been blamed for starting the French and Russian revolutions, as well as both World Wars, and almost every global conflict in between. They are said to use bribery, blackmail, and murder to infiltrate every level of power in society -business, banking, and government- to achieve their ultimate goal: world domination.


The Bilderberg Hotel. (Image credit: Michiel1972)

Who They Are: Founded in 1952 by Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands, the Bilderberg Group (named after the hotel in Oosterbeck, Holland, where the first meeting was held) was founded to promote cooperation and understanding between Western Europe and North America. To that end, leaders from both regions are invited to meet every year for off-the-record discussions on current issues. The list of attendees has included presidents (every one from Eisenhower to Clinton), British prime ministers (Lord Home, Lord Callaghan, Sir Edward Heath, Margaret Thatcher), captains of industry like Fiat’s Giovanni Agnelli, and financiers like David Rockefeller.* Invitees are members of the power elite in their countries, mostly rich and male. Meetings are closed. No resolutions are passed, no votes are taken, and no public statements are ever made.

* [Ed. note: this list is only current through 2003.]

What They’re Blamed For: The fact that so many of the world's most powerful players refuse to disclose anything about the group’s meetings strikes many outsiders as downright subversive. What are they doing? The group has been accused of hand picking Western leaders to be their puppets, pointing to circumstantial evidence like the fact that Bill Clinton was invited to a attend a meeting before he became president, as was Britain’s Tony Blair before he became prime minister. Consipracy buffs have even accused the Bilderbergers of masterminding the global AIDS epidemic as a way of controlling world population to the benefit of the European/American elite.


Jimmy Carter hosting a meeting of the Trilateral Commission in 1978.

Who They Are: Founded in 1973 by David Rockefeller and former National Security Council chief Zbigniew Brzezinski, this organization is composed of 350 prominent private citizens (none currently hold government positions) from Europe, North America, and Japan (the trilateral global power triangle). Like the Bilderberg Group, their stated goal is to discuss global issues and to promote understanding and cooperation. Unlike other groups, this one is more visible: it publishes reports, and members are identified. It’s also more diverse, with women and ethnic groups represented. However, membership is by invitation only, usually on the recommendation of serving members, making it one of the most exclusive clubs in the world. There are no representatives from developing nations.

What They’re Blamed For: Many conspiracy theorist view the Trilateral Commission as the “sunny” face of the evil machinations of international bankers and business moguls who are working to make the world their own little oyster, with one financial system, one defense system, one government, and one religion -that they will control. Again, all members are major players in business and government. Americans of note include Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, Henry Kissinger, and George Bush (the elder), former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, former Speaker of the House Tom Foley, and former U.S. Trade Representative Carla Hills, to name a few. Since there is considerable crossover between the Trilateral Commission and the Bilderberg Group, the commission is thought by some to be under the control of the Illuminati. That it is completely private, with no direct role in government (read “no accountability”), only adds fuel to the fire of suspicious minds.


Who They Are: This society was founded at Yale University in 1833. Only 15 senior-year students are admitted annually; they meet twice a week in a grim, windowless building called the Tombs. Unlike most campus fraternities, Skull & Bones appears to focus on positioning its members for success after college. But no one knows for sure, because members are sworn to total secrecy for life. The names of past and current members include many of America’s power elite: both George Bushes, William Howard Taft, as well as the descendants of such famous American families as the Pillsburys, Weyerhausers, Rockefellers, Vanderbilts, and Whitneys.

What They’re Blamed For: What’s wrong with a little good ol’ boy networking? Nothing, perhaps, but Skull & Bones members have also been accused of practicing satanic rites within the walls of the Tombs. Initiation reportedly requires pledges to lie down in coffins, confess sordid details of their sex lives, and endure painful torture so that he may “die to the world, to be born again into the Order.” Like the Illuminati, the Order (as it’s called by its members) supposedly works to creates a world controlled and ruled by the elite -members of Skull & Bones.


Who They Are: Founded in 1872 by five San Francisco Examiner newsmen as a social boozing club, the Bohemian Grove has been called “one of the world’s most prestigious summer camps” by Newsweek. Prospective members may wait up to 15 years to get in and then have to pony up a $2,500 membership fee. The Grove itself is a 2,700-acre retreat set deep in a California redwood forest. Members’ privacy is zealously guarded: no strangers are allowed near the site, and reporters are expressly forbidden entry. The Bohemian Grove motto is from Shakespeare: “Weaving spiders come not here,” a reminder that all deal making is to be left at the gates. The members relax and entertain each other by putting on plays, lecturing on subjects of the day, and wining and dining lavishly.

Bohemian Grove gathering photographed by Jack London circa 1911-1916.

So why does anyone care about the Bohemian Grove? Well, the membership is a virtual Who’s Who of the most powerful people (mostly Republican) in American government and business. Members past and present include Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Karl Rove, George W. Bush, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Henry Kissinger, Caspar Weinberger, Stephen Bechtel, Joseph Coors, Alexander Haig, Ronald Reagan, and hundreds more. Critic claim there is no way men tike that (no women are allowed) can hang out together and not make back-room deals.

What They’re Blamed For: Conspiracy theorists claim that the Manhattan Project was set up at the Grove and that the decision to make Eisenhower the Republican presidential candidate for 1952 was hammered out between drinks on the lawn.

Darker charges have been made against the Grove as well. Members are purported to practice some odd rituals, such as wearing red hoods and marching in procession like ancient druids, chanting hymns to the Great Owl. Members say it’s all in good fun, but outsiders wonder at the cult-like overtones. Outrageous rumors were rampant in the 1980s: sacrificial murders, drunken revels, even pedophilia, sodomy, kidnapping, and rape. Of course, none of this has ever been proven, but as limousines and private jets swoop into this secret enclave in the woods, the “big boys’ continue to party and the rest of the world remains in the dark about just exactly what goes on.  


The article above was reprinted with permission from Uncle John's Unstoppable Bathroom Reader.

Since 1988, the Bathroom Reader Institute had published a series of popular books containing irresistible bits of trivia and obscure yet fascinating facts. If you like Neatorama, you'll love the Bathroom Reader Institute's books - go ahead and check 'em out!

Newest 3
Newest 3 Comments

....closed to public? perhaps membership, but not the gathering.
all wait staff, among many other employees, come from the surrounding communities of Rio Nido, Russian River and other Sonoma County cities
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
"Meetings are closed. No resolutions are passed, no votes are taken, and no public statements are ever made" - If meetings are closed, how can you print that no votes are taken? or that any decisions are made that affect not only you, your future and your families and friends but also every one elses? You are asking me to stretch my imagination to the point of believing that all these multiple yearly meetings in different parts of the world and the huge expense to put them on are just to... to... what? hang out and discuss how to help you & me? jajaja
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Login to comment.
Email This Post to a Friend
"The Paranoid’s Field Guide to Secret Societies"

Separate multiple emails with a comma. Limit 5.


Success! Your email has been sent!

close window

This website uses cookies.

This website uses cookies to improve user experience. By using this website you consent to all cookies in accordance with our Privacy Policy.

I agree
Learn More