By Sam Rockwell



My dear comrades, good morning! They meet at night, in places mysterious. Their hooded followers, barely lit by torches, leave hear a cloud of satanic laughter while that they decide the fate of the world. They are… SECRET SOCIETIES! No but seriously, do you believe it to this folklore? Today, we will not do conspiracy, it's not the kind of the house. No, we're going to make history because if he there are no strings to pull nor gigantic global conspiracy, secret societies have a historical reality and were able to have their importance. Let's lift the secret on the discreet Freemasons, the mysterious Illuminati’s, the crazy people of the Ku Klux Klan, the obscure "Skull and Bones", the esoteric of the Rosicrucian’s and those who took a little more light thanks to the video game, the sect of the Assassins. A beautiful program guaranteed without secrets!

Freemasons We start with the heavy question of secret societies since we attributed to the Freemasons a major role in many historic turning points.

Representing a secret political power, they would be responsible for all the evils of the earth. Historically first, Freemasonry as we know it today, is rather recent since it does not appear than in the early 18th century in England. Its roots are however older since the English version of the word "freemason has been attested since the 14th century. The word then designates a very qualified mason which goes freely from one site to another. Yeah it's like port Salute, it's marked on it.

The artisans of the time, organized in corporations, couldn't move them as they wanted. Close to construction sites, "free masons" generally install a foyer, called "lodge" and meet there to discuss, exchange techniques and all the learning useful to their profession of builder. Over time, these lodges would have gradually welcomed others people, not working in construction and would especially have become places of debate more or less philosophical.

These groups, based on solidarity and mutual assistance, accept more and more people but you have to be chosen by one of the members to enter. In 1717, 4 lodges decide to merge into a "Great London Lodge”. It is the birth of modern freemasonry. Subsequently, lodges are created in all the others cities of England, France, Europe and even from America. By their power of attraction and a fashion effect, they bring together cultivated elites of the "Age of Enlightenment" To name just a few, Voltaire, Casanova, the Marquis de La Fayette, Benjamin Franklin, Mozart or George Washington… were all freemasons! Many revolutionaries French are also Freemasons and conspiracy theories have been able to claim as soon 1797 that the French Revolution was on their initiative, forgetting in passing that she had beheaded the organization figuratively and literally – very many brothers being of nobility…. In the 19th century, Freemasonry never stops to develop on all continents but is divided into many branches that calls "obedience’s". It provides laboratory of ideas where thanks to secrecy discussions, bold themes can be considered freely. The role of the organization is often mentioned in the establishment of secularism in France.

We are far from the religious thing so but despite all the ceremonies seem very mysterious for those who are not initiated into Freemasonry because symbols are everywhere. Myself if I'm lucky in my old life of film a masonic lodge for a report and I must admit, it was a bit mystical.

We find there the symbols related to architecture obviously like the square, the compass, plumb line or God called "The Great Architect of the Universe "but in masonic temples, rituals borrow everywhere: in the Bible, in alchemy, to Egyptian Antiquity and even to Templars! The members, called brothers, use secret signs to recognize themselves. Freemasonry is actually a society intact in which we climb different grades as it rises moral and its masonic experience… First apprentice then companion and finally master! Freemasons, they like them role playing what. Besides this document which dates from 1876, it is neither more nor less than a master mason's certificate.

For a so-called secret society, that already does a lot of information that I'm giving it to you right? We can ask a question at once: is it all known on Freemasonry? Not entirely. Two secrets must always be kept.

What was said during the meetings first. The Mason must not repeat anything in order to allow complete freedom of speech and opinion during the debates. Then he must absolutely keep the secrecy of his membership in the order. Anyone can declare that it belongs to Freemasonry, and it's quite common besides, but nobody is allowed to reveal the name of a brother or sister. Yes because there are also female lodges. And this is something that has evolved over time because before, you shouldn't even confess to your family, to his relatives and even to his spouse whom was in Freemasonry. Still hot to say “I'm going to get the bread”, come back 4 hours later and try to do pass a “no but there was a queue” without being spotted.

Faced with this discretion, we accuse Freemasonry of everything and its opposite: to be anti-Catholic or anti-protestant, devil friendly or too submissive to God, communist or capitalist, subject to Jews or anti-Semite, etc. The truth is that there are as many branches in Freemasonry that there are in “conventional” society. On the political chessboard, there are lodges on the left wing and lodges on the right wing for example.

In any case, from the start of the Freemason movement, it is rather badly perceived by the church, they will even go as far as being excommunicated! The first condemnation by the pope falls in 1738 and it was not removed until 1983! Freemasons are also persecuted by totalitarian regimes. In the USSR, we considers the organization to be of bourgeois origins, the Nazis, they forbid it in 1935 while Franco in Spain went as far judge long-dead freemasons!

Today, Freemasons are fewer and fewer. In the years 70, there were about 7 million then that today they are only between 2 and 3 million worldwide, 2/3 of which in the USA. And keep in mind that this is an estimate because giving an exact number is complicated between all the obedience’s which do not communicate not all of their staff. And there's 22 of them only in France ... If we had to summarize in a few words what became of Freemasonry we could Summarize it like this: between a philosophical club, an initiatory order, a united community and fraternal, a political lobby or a network influential people. In fact, a little bit of it at the same time and above all a more discreet society that secret in the end. On the other hand, the Freemasons have especially much inspired the next secret society that we are going to approach, the illuminati! And for now, we will develop a little less the other secret societies because they often organize themselves on the same scheme! Illuminati

The Illuminati take their name from Latin and refers to the "illuminated". Not in the sense of crazy guys but rather of "those who know".

Like the Freemasons whose they draw inspiration from a lot, it's a group of free thinkers created in 1776 in Bavaria by an old Jesuit. These intellectuals (including the philosopher Goethe) want to change things by broadcasting the ideas of the Enlightenment and in particular by bringing more equality. At its peak, the order "Illuminati" could count up to 1,500 members identified, divided into 13 grades.

Yes, they also like the games of role ... Should see on the side of world of Warcraft if there are no Freemason guilds illuminati’s. To meet, it must be more discreet than 50 types with a torch in a Parisian cellar ... In short, 1500 members is a great success for a secret society whose success begins to worry the Bavarian authorities then thereafter, the other German states.

Freemasons also look askance at them especially because the "Illuminati" are not the last to infiltrate the lodges existing masonic. In Bavaria, the prince Bavarian voter wary of them he consider them to be conspirators and revolutionaries in power. He decides therefore to brutally ban them on March 2, 1785. All the "Illuminati" are prosecuted even persecuted. The surprise is total.

Almost all then cease their actions and even for some, publicly denounce the old organization. Goethe declares thus in 1786, the year following the ban: "Let all the secret associations are eradicated; no matter what will result!" Some "Illuminati’s" write to Benjamin Franklin, who was freemason like we said, to ask him if they can take refuge in the United States. We don't know his answer but that's enough to some conspirators to imagine that the group settled there, influencing the construction of the country and still today, American politics. Without sinking into these delusions, it is incontestable historically that German elites may have been seduced through these ambitious social reform projects worn by the "Illuminati". And so quite likely, we find former members in the patriotic clubs that are created in central Europe to support the Revolution French. It is most certainly the only historical influence that this society secret ephemeral (9 years old only) exercise. But she was able to give ideas good novelists like Dan Brown considers that the Da Vinci Code is good ... it is not me to judge that ... Ku Klux Klan

The Ku Klux Klan is born from a defeat, that of the southern states of the United States during

American Civil War. December 24, 1865, six veterans of the Confederate army who are very bored, decide to ride an association to refuse equality with former black slaves. The name is voluntarily mysterious: "Ku Klux" would come from the Greek kuklos indicating a circle and "Klan ", Designates the clan of Scotland (the founders being of Scottish origin). To maintain the mystery, they hide with sheets, they use to cover their horses who are also masked and spread fear in the black populations they come across. But the idea takes hold in the countryside of the South and in 1867 the founders think it's time to structure the organization.

In Nashville, Tennessee, they acquire of principles and an organization chart with humming titles largely inspired by the myth of King Arthur. The leader of the order, the "Great Wizard" is General Nathan Bedford Forrest, who served in the military Confederate and was enriched in the sale of slaves. Besides there is a small reference to this Forrest in the movie Forrest Gump, where he says his mom named him Forrest in reference to this cool guy that was Nathan Bedford Forrest. Well, his mom told him says that the Forrest part of his personality, it's to remind him that sometimes we do all of the things that ultimately did strictly no sense ... phew! But good at the same time it's not to give a moral lesson to my kid I’m going to go call him Adolph ... Everyone does as they want ... Klan members are persuaded to do part of the "invisible empire" with as a mission to maintain supremacy of the white race in the southern United States.

For that, we hunt for blacks but also to their accomplices, the partisans of equality like the officials of the North. And it's the whole palette of violence who goes there: insults, threats, intimidation, harassment, humiliation, arson and of course murder. Worried about this violence, the political powers put pressure on the organization pushing General Forrest to dissolve it in 1869.

Anyway, in the southern states, power (political, economic, media) is in the 1870s in the hands of whites. With the segregation laws passed at from this period, the Klan, victorious on ideas, becomes useless. He disappears so a first time. In 1906, a book by Thomas Dixon appeared, The Man of the Clan which is adapted in film in 1915 under the title "Birth of a Nation”. The film knows a very big success and won many support, including that of the American president at the time, Woodrow Wilson.

When I was a kid I wanted to be paleontologist for almost 10 years after having seen Jurassic Park. Here we see that a film managed to revive a movement like the Ku Klux Klan. Like what you should not underestimate the power of cinema. The Klan is therefore reborn in this dynamic and widens its fights: always against black people but also against immigration, Catholics, Communists, Jews and as long as to do, homosexuals. In 1922, the new "Imperial Sorcerer", a Texas dentist named Evans transforms the Klan as a real business: you have to take your subscription, take out insurance KKK and even buy from the organization, his official costume, including a hood. From then, the Klan becomes a real public success especially in small towns and American countryside. 10,000 members in 1920, the Ku Klux Klan reached 5 million in 1925! It’s absolutely huge and even I before working on this episode I never suspected absolutely not that there had been at one time given as many members in the Ku Klux Klan.

The actions of the Ku Klux Klan animate a little weekend evenings with kindling of crosses, parades, masks, initiations and even barbecues between members. It's in sort of a brotherhood of racists where we recognize each other among members of the Klan by signs and codes. In a bar in south of the United States, to find a friend member of the Klan, just ask "Do you know a Mr. Ayak over here? “ Ayak means," Are you a klansman? ", That is to say:" Are you a Klan man? “You have to imagine that in the 1920s, in some villages, almost the entire white population belongs at the Klan or is sympathetic. Imagine the horror for black populations residing there.

In the event of violence or murder on one of them there is rarely an investigation because the local policeman is a member himself of the Klan… These millions of members are also very influential especially in the south where the Klan allegedly elected several governors and senators. But if the power of this secret society seems limitless, it's not all made true. Since several American states, hostile to the Ku Klux Klan, finally do pass laws prohibiting the wearing of masks outside of holidays like Mardi Gras and oblige the Klan to publish the list of its members. And being an anonymous racist is pretty good but claiming to be racist in the eyes of all, it goes less and less! It is therefore the inexorable decline of the organization.

After 1945, the Ku Klux Klan is no longer that the shadow of itself and this despite violence again in the years 60-70 with fires in churches, houses and even murders. It keeps dividing creating as many more small structures more local and especially more and more insignificant. Today it is estimated that there are barely 10,000 members who gather around of sub-groups inciting to supremacy white. It's still too much but it's really less than 5 million!

We stay in the United States with the next secret society, Skull and Bones! Here, we probably talk about the most secret of all these organizations. Its members have the total ban on mentioning it. I stop you right away, it has nothing to do neither with the Fight club nor with the pirates! But rather with a brotherhood American university students to be more precise, one of the most prestigious of the country. This group would have been founded by a certain William Huntington Russell in December 1832, on the model of a German secret society, the country being at the time quite specialized in genre and Russell having studied there for a year. He calls it "Skull and bones", also called "Chapter 322" or "The brotherhood of the death".

It promises a nice atmosphere far away pong beers and wet panties contests that we see in American fraternities at the movie theater!

Each year, 15 students last year of study are approached by club members. Obviously, the students the most promising are chosen: the most powerful or the brightest, academically or sportingly. Long remained a club for male, society accepted women drop by drop from 1991.

One of the reasons was mainly to avoid trials that would shed too much light on the organization. For initiation, we find decorum usual. The future members, called "knights "Must follow all kinds of initiation rites one of which is to tell all of their sexual or other experiences to kiss a skull and worship the number "322". This secret society is particularly rich. The Russell Trust Association, which is its trade name, has an estimated heritage multi-million dollar including one private island on the Canadian border.

Many legends circulate on "Skull and Bones ". It is said that 6 "bonesmen "Including the grandfather of George W. Bush, stole in 1917 the chief's bones Indian Geronimo to store them in the club house. It is discussed among historians but in doubt, the great grandson of the Apache chief sues the university in 2009. Without success since the procedure was discontinued in 2010.

Like all student brotherhoods, "Skull and Bones" only exists in one goal: to place its members in important positions so that they help each other than each other. And it works pretty well since the famous "bonesmen" are very numerous. Among them, the two presidents Bush, George Senior and George W. Bush, Henry Luce the founder of Time magazine, the former Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry and more generally senators, judges, bankers, athletes, artists and ... responsible of the CIA. Impressive but also quite banal since we find the same type of fraternity in other prestigious universities like the "Fly" club at Harvard for example. In any case, there are few investigations on "Skull and Bones" and information reliable are quite rare. So bah ... you now know about as much as we can find out!


Just as mysterious, the secret society of the Rosicrucian appears in broad daylight with the publication in 1614-1615 of two manifestos anonymous in Germany. The first, entitled Fama Fraternitatis, is very ambitious: he is called "Universal and general reform of the whole world "! Addressed to managers political and religious he wants to change the world in a utopian way and include inside of the book, another text appearing in the form of an initiatory novel, the Rosicrucian movement. It would have been founded by a 14th century knight, called Christian Rosenkreutz (hence the name Rosicrucian) who would have lived 106 years after traveling in the East where he would have met sages and founded a new spirituality. We would have rediscovered his tomb in 1604 in which we would have found a little guest book including his teaching. In 1615, a second text then a third the following year, complete the Rosicrucian bible.

You hear it, I use the conditional when I present these stories, because precisely, for historians, all of these texts are largely legendary.

Christian Rosenkreutz did not exist and the movement would have started with young people Lutherans in the early 17th century who would have liked a more radical reform still that Protestant reform. It was a utopia aimed at creating a universal religion reconciling man, science and nature. All with a good dose of alchemy, of esotericism and Renaissance principles. This type of utopia is also not isolated and there are others in Europe at the time.

The mysterious and prophetic dimensions of these texts will interest many scholars of the time, resulting in many controversies first in the Germanic world then across Europe. Some see it as a revelation, others only pure witchcraft. Rosicrucian orders are created from from the 17th century and give their origins distant, going back to Greek philosophers and even to ancient Egypt! Ties are done naturally with Freemasonry, who considers the Rosicrucians as one of their inspirations. Currently, many movements and esoteric associations claim of this tradition, the background of philosophical thought, intellectual and spiritual Rosicrucian being in the public domain. In fact, it has become a bit of software free from esoteric society!


For the last part of this show,

I suggest we come back together on a secret society / sect you know surely from afar thanks to the Assassin's saga Creed, that of the Assassins! To understand it a little better, you have to go back to the conflict between the two main branches of Islam: Sunnis and Shiites. During the wars that oppose them from the end of the 7th century (and still now by the way), the Shiites are beaten.

However, they remain in some areas and develop their own culture and clergy. But the arrival of the Seljuk Turks from the 1050s, changes the situation.

They are Sunnis who intend to do well return all Muslims from the Middle East to Sunnism. In Iran, a center of resistance is developing Shiite from the 1090s. At its head, Hassan Sabbah. He converted to Ismailism, a branch of Shiism and took control of a fortress in Persia, Alamut (which means "the eagle's nest"), located a hundred kilometers to the northwest from Tehran, in the Alborz massif. Nicknamed "the old man of the mountains, Hassan Sabbah founded his sect there and formed fighters destined to fight first against the Sunni Abassids then against the Seljuk Turks. The movement that we calls the Nizârites (or Nizâriens), is very structured, efficient and its members observe total discipline and obedience. We could also compare it in his organization to the Templars.

Who also unleash the passions around of a whole bunch of legendary stories

I suggest you see my episode on Arville, the oldest Templar commandery in France and the one on the Templar trial to know more.

On this digression, let's go back to the assassins!

A branch of the movement is established in Syria in the 12th century. If he has good fighters,

Hassan Sabbah is however aware of the inequality of forces. Far from being mad, rather than to bet on pitched battles, he prefers develop targeted assassinations of leaders Sunnis. His elite soldiers are the fedayeen ("those who sacrifice themselves"), a fairly revolutionary mode of action for the time. The method is always the same : the fighter discreetly infiltrates close of his target then stabs him in public, in broad daylight, preferably in front of a mosque and at prayer time, so that there are a maximum of witnesses. And all that before being killed himself in the process.

Yes, it doesn't end exactly like in video games unless you're bad.

Among the most well-known murders are all the same the sultan and the vizier of Baghdad, which leads to a war of succession in the empire. We can also cite the governor of Mosul, the emir of Aleppo and his son. Some Crusader Christians also like Conrad de Montferrat, king of Jerusalem or Raymond II of Tripoli but most of the dead stay Sunni. Compared to the game, we are far from the hecatomb of Templars that we think it was. Sometimes assassins are understanding too and through paranoia or political interest, they blame murders that have little with them. At the same time, the legends being numerous for the order of the assassins, this kind of story often goes like a legitimate thesis among others. They even say that some, acting for the king of France Philippe Auguste, would have considered to execute Richard the Lionheart in Chinon in 1195!

All the victims are personality’s politicians, never civilians. The Nizarites impress each time with their fanaticism and their dedication to their leader. They fail however on certain targets like Saladin who avoided their daggers.

Quiet in their mountain fortresses, assassins resist all attacks carried out against them. Sometimes by actions diplomatic, using divisions Muslims to their advantage but also by accepting, when necessary, to pay tribute to the Hospital Crusaders. Their end comes in the 13th century with new conquerors, the Mongols led by Genghis Khan. In 1256, they besieged the fortress of Maimun-Diz, obliging the master of the order to surrender and abandon those most of its fortresses, including Alamut. Its walls are shaved and its library, one of the richest in the East and containing the archives of the sect, goes up in smoke.

Most of the assassins are executed and their last stronghold fell in 1270. Some survivors go into exile in Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.

One last thing remains to be explained. From where did their name come from "assassins"?

It is said that to get motivated in combat, they would be drugged with hashish from where their name. Assassins from Hashichiyin: "Intoxicated with hashish". The "old man of the mountain "would have created an artificial paradise in its citadel, with a false garden and a harem of slaves to motivate its troops and show them what was offered to them after their sacrifice and death. The visit being made in the smoke of the hashish….

We will not lie, hashish is not the drug that I chose to induce to violence. A little bit of Bob Marley or Doc Gyneco in addition and they might be not entered in the legend. In any case, this origin of the derived name hashish would likely come from a error in etymology. Eastern sources do not mention it at all. On the other hand, Marco Polo who will pass in the region 15 years after the murderers disappeared, reports this legend. But he didn't known the sect and is content to peddle legends about it. It contributes by anyway largely to feed the myth, taken over in the 19th century by an orientalist Austrian, Joseph von Hammer-Purgstall, then in the 20th century, by a Slovenian author Vladimir Bartol in his novel Alamut published in 1938, and finally, in the 2000s by the series Assassin's Creed video game. In the latter case, the secret society was a little less secret therefore, but that remained in my opinion in the theme given the legends surrounding the assassins and all the secrets that we lend them.

Thank you all for reading this article where we debunked some misconceptions and thanks to James Genêt for preparing the show.

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