why secret societies will be with us for a long time

Secret and occult societies make easy targets for conspiracy theorists. But there's a good reason why so many seem to exist at any given point, and it has nothing to do with world conquest.

After looking at some of the recent posts around here, I’m thinking that I need to get back to this blog’s roots. Less modern day tech, more AI, aliens, and outlandish conspiracy theory reviews. And lucky for me, Wired has feature story about a manuscript created by the Occulists, a rather obscure spin-off of the Freemasons in Germany sometime in the late 1700s, and this story is a perfect starting point to talk about secret societies in general. You see, the reason why the past is littered with secret societies of one sort or another is thanks to the prying eye of churches and monarchs who liked to keep very strict control over the populace to ensure their power. Want to experiment with obscure religious ideas? Burn heretic! Want to discuss a different from of ruling over a population? Off with your head traitor! Back in those days there was a very real and very powerful ruling class which was also very paranoid, and because it made the law, it could do the sort of things that even the most politically connected plutocrats today can’t even imagine. And so, to keep their traditions alive but also secret, the Occulists wrote a book we had to decrypt with a powerful computer and experimental purpose-built linguistic software.

Today’s secret societies supposedly in charge of the world’s most powerful governments could make your life very uncomfortable. Examples given by conspiracy theories include tracking your every transaction, spying on your social media use, blacklisting you from certain jobs, detaining you at customs, threatening you with legal actions, smearing you in the press, and maybe even making your murder look like an accident as a warning to your friends. Unpleasant, true, but you probably noticed the absence of things such as making your death a public spectacle, torture that would leave you disfigured for the rest of your life, being burnt alive, beheading with a rusty axe that might not do the job with just one whack, or if you’re really lucky or happen to be a very famous aristocrat, exile. That’s the fate awaiting those who were discovered to be members of secret societies because any group outside of the mainstream was immediately assumed to be evil and a threat to the powers in charge. The Occulists were no different since they seemed to have been associated with Freemasonry, carrying a lot of baggage with their history.

While calling yourself a Freemason in public now summons conspiracy theorists to speculate if you have a role in creating the latest new banking crisis or war for your personal gain or at the order of your masters, when the Occulists gathered to perform their versions of Masonic rituals, you would’ve been deemed a Satan worshipping sodomite on a mission to undermine the power and sacred authority of the church and the king or queen. In reality, you would’ve met to indulge in banned plays, reading literature deemed unfit for the general populace, and talk about new, potentially blasphemous ideas in relative privacy and comfort, just letting your mind roam. If you were in the Hellfire Club, you may enjoy some casual sex on the side and call it a good night of fun and entertainment. If you were in the OTO, you would’ve performed rituals that you felt could connect you to the mysteries of the past. There would be nothing all that sinister about what you did, but the Alex Jones’ of the day would be calling for your head in much the same way they do now on the web, radio, and their occasional stints on TV shows.

It’s little wonder that well-connected, wealthy, and powerful people want to join exclusive groups like the Builderbergs or have prominent roles in Masonic lodges. They want to be able to share opinions without public scruitiny, talk about things they wouldn’t ordinarily discuss, and find out who they should really meet if they want to advance their careers or projects. At a certain point, people who have high level positions, are surrounded by aides and assistants, and bombarded with pleas for their time, advice, and help, need an easy way to figure out who’s really important, to put it bluntly. Joining exclusive clubs or going to exclusive parties gives them an easy way to boost their profiles or see who’s on the up and up. Secretive organizations like Skull and Bones and the aforementioned Bilderberg Group seem to be all about networking and getting to know ambitious and promising people on a first name basis. They’re basically the hushed versions of the country club. It’s not exactly the sanctuary for rebellious freethinkers to indulge in experiment after experiment and find like-minded friends it used to be in the 1700s, but it still carries similar overtones and provides an escape from the spotlight for those who feel they need it.

Of course for those more paranoid than most of us, if something takes place in secret, it must be evil or at least nefarious, otherwise it would be made public. People like Alex Jones, Glenn Beck, and Jim Marrs make a living hypocritically arguing that if all the societies they suspect of running the world behind closed doors have nothing to hide, they should be holding all their meetings in public while lamenting intrusive government surveillance as an invasion of their right to privacy, forgetting how quickly and easily the media savages people for simply speaking their minds on a regular basis even if they’re just discussing a hypothetical situation. I’ve lost track of how many times something I wrote sarcastically or just explored in a post was assumed to be my opinion on the matter, or how many times something I said was taken out of context and twisted into things I never said or implied. But I’m just a blogger and a techie. The stakes for me to bluntly speak my mind aren’t all that high. For the head of a major bank or a powerful politician, they’re huge; one of their gaffes or snarky comments can quickly become international news.

And so it seems that secret societies are a necessary construct to let us speak our minds and vet our ideas in the company of those also not too shy to share their experience. In the words of Oscar Wilde, if we give a man a mask, he’ll tell us the truth. These secret and occult groups are masks for men and women to tell what they think is the truth to each other. Although when such groups become too exclusive and too cut off, there’s always the danger of creating something a lot more sinister than a forum to throw out and discuss ideas: an echo chamber where not truth but groupthink shapes the members’ thoughts and actions. Conspiracy theories shouldn’t worry that secret societies gather to talk about taking over the world, they should be worried that they start publishing tome after tome, arguing about their way of thought being the only acceptable or reasonable way to consider world events, lobbying politicians with ideas that obviously received little to no intellectual challenge. But the level of debate is up to each secret society to enforce and which this may be a bizarre proposition, we should accept the secret societies as a release valve for their members and innocent of instituting a New World Order until proven otherwise…

# oddities // conspiracy / history / occult / occultism

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