Sure, we've all heard of the Masons. But it wasn't till I started paging through theThe International Encyclopedia of Secret Societies(1), that I realized how many mysterious associations had sprung up over time. The author of the encyclopedia, Alan Axelrod, points out that the majority of these groups share two features: secrecy and initiation (usually some type of ritual). Here is a sampling of some lesser known groups listed in his book:
- Alliance of Transylvanian Saxons(2)-- Contrary to their name, there is nothing vampiric about this fraternal organization which seeks to preserve Saxon culture.
- Atlantis(3)-- A French group founded in 1926 with the goal of rediscovering the lost traditions of the fabled Atlantis.
- Khlysty-- An extinct 17th Russian sect that practiced self-flagellation as part of their worship.
- Ben Hur Life Association-- Once headquartered in a spectacular building in Crawfordsville, Indiana, this group, founded in 1894, based its rituals on a book of fiction, the novel Ben Hur by Lew Wallace.
- International Brotherhood of Old Bastards-- I.B.O.B. is said to have gotten its start in 1813 to give members "the opportunity to prove you're a real bastard." Headed by the "Supreme Archbastard," details about this group seem to be a blend of fact and fiction.