A History of Secret Societies

Front Cover
Citadel Press, 1961 - Humor - 256 pages
"Secret societies have existed throughout history. In many ways they are microcosms of ordinary public society. Nevertheless, an air of menace clings to many famous but shadowy societies. Yet secret societies have often held spiritual goals. Christianity itself was in its earliest days a secret society in Rome, and was considered by the authorities from the start to be a dangerous innovation. The same was true of Islam. Some Arab groups today consider the Jews a dangerous secret society dedicated to the overwhelming of the world. Some Europeans, as well as some Druses and Yezidis in Iraq and Syria, think the same of the Arabs. Some Freemasons and Catholic groups hold identically suspicious views of each other. And many secret societies, dangerous or not, have been persecuted over the ages. Believing that social right and wrong should be the evaluator of secret societies brings us into difficulties. In Borneo, initiates of the hunting societies considered it meritorious to hunt heads. In many parts of the world, initiation into clan life (and consequent status) involves undergoing trials which can result in the death or madness of the candidate. Secret societies can never be totally repressed. The human desire to be one of the elect is something which no power has been able to reduce, let alone overcome. Whether this is a good or a bad thing depends entirely upon one's point of view, and ones commitments at the time of judging the question. This book does not pretend to be an exhaustive account: none such has ever written nor ever will be written. But in these pages will be shown some of the characteristic forms which secret societies and cults have taken--successfully and otherwise. The secret organizations dealt with in this book had been chosen in such a way as to illustrate the widest variety of their forms, rituals and beliefs. Much of the material has been obtained at first hand and is published for the first time."--Dust jacket.
 

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User Review  - krisiti - LibraryThing

More a study of religion than societies, I think; most were really more what I would call mystery cults. And not terribly secret, most of them I found the Sufi and the followers of the Peacock Angel ... Read full review

Contents

Foreword
9
The Old Man of the Mountains
13
The Latter Days of the Assassins
28
The Rise of the Knights Templar
39
The Fall of the Knights Templar
50
The Path of the Sufi
62
The Secret Rites of Mithra
75
The Gnostics
81
The Decided Ones of Jupiter the Thunderer
135
The Order of the Peacock Angel
141
The Masters of the Himalayas
156
The Secrets of the Witches
163
The Cult of the Black Mother
179
The Rosicrucians
191
The Holy Vehm
202
Devotees of the Guardian Angel
212

The Castrators of Russia
87
The CharcoalBurners
100
Holy Warriors of Spain III
111
The Cults of the Ancient Mysteries
117
False Cults and Societies
124
The High Priesthood of Thebes
129
The Illuminated Ones
220
Tongs of Terror
233
Primitive Initiation Societies
246
Index
253
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