Secret Societies That Became Famous: Courtesy Mystery Novels: Are They For Real?

By Hitee Singh

Yes, my fellow I-don’t-believe-in-conspiracy-theories, secret societies are a thing. The world, THIS world is secretively ruled by these secret societies, pulling strings from the shadows. Many of these secret societies boast of notable alumni like George Washington, George W. Bush, George H.W and many other powerful people. There is a reason why the existence of these societies is a well-kept secret.

Here are some secret societies which became famous after being written about in these best sellers.

1. Freemasonry in The Lost Symbol

Freemasonry consists of local fraternities of stonemasons. Since the end of the fourteenth century, they have regulated the qualifications of stonemasons. They offer three degree of masonry- Apprentice, Journeyman and Master Mason. They use the stonemason’s manual tools as symbols. Anyone interested can join the local Lodge by proving his/her suitability.

The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown is the third in Robert Langdon series preceded by The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons. We see Robert Langdon’s mentor, a freemason named Peter being kidnapped by a fellow freemason, who blackmails Robert into finding the Mason’s Pyramid and the Lost Word.


2. Priory of Sion in The Da Vinci Code

The Prieuré de Sion, translated from French as Priory of Sion is a fraternal organization founded and dissolved in France in 1956. Now it is nothing more than a hoax. Many conspiracy theorists still believe that Priory of Sion is a cabal that veils a subversive secret. This myth has been repeatedly debunked by journalists and scholars as one of the great hoaxes of the 20th century.


The Da Vinci Code, published in 2003, created a new level of interest in Priory of Sion. Robert Langdon becomes involved in a battle between Priory of Sion and the Roman Catholic Church over the possibility of Jesus Christ having been married to Mary Magdalene. Priory of Sion initiates its members to restore feminist theology for a complete understanding of early Christianity which was suppressed by the Catholic Church.


3. Illuminati in Foucault’s Pendulum

Illuminati is a secret society founded in the 18th century. Its aim was to remove the hold of religion over public life, prevent abuse of state power and oppose superstitions. Theorists believe that Illuminati is responsible for orchestrating a variety of historical events like ‘The Battle of Waterloo’, assassination of John F. Kennedy. It is also believed that they perform satanic rituals and plan to hasten the era of a totalitarian world government.


Umberto Eco’s (May he rest in peace!) Foucault’s Pendulum mentions many secret societies as the protagonists of the story create their own conspiracy theory and things start to get out of hand when other conspiracy theorists start taking it seriously.


4. Thugee in Confessions of a Thug

Thugee were founded before the 14th century in South Asia and especially in India. It was an organised gang of robbers and murderers. They would join travellers and befriend them and then kill them by strangulating them, afterwards robbing them and bury their bodies. They trace their origin to the battle of Kali against Raktabija and consider themselves to be children of Kali, created by her sweat.


Confessions of a Thug by Philip Meadows Taylor is based on the Thugee cult. The protagonist is based on a real thug, the author was acquainted with. The story became so popular that Hindi word ‘thug’ entered into the English language.


5. Society of the Cincinnati in The 14th Colony

The Society of the Cincinnati was founded in 1783 to preserve the ideals and fellowship of officers who served in the Continental Army.


In the 14th Colony written by Steve Berry, an ex-KGB agent, Zorin is aided by a shocking secret hidden in the archives of the Society of Cincinnati-as Zorin plans to use it to exploit the political chaos in America to the fullest.


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