I'm not in any secret societies, but since there's been time for others to answer, I'll throw in some thoughts.
Originally posted by theBLESSINGofVISION
Where is the virtue / wisdom / charity in being involved in an institution that:
1.) Hoards information.
Most secret societies don't with-hold information, not in the normal sense anyways (from what I can see anyway). Take, for example, the Carbonari.
Their secret information was that they were radical anti-monarchists. Thats not really information. Masonry claims to be a science of a sort, and
while that coudl be seen as hiding information, really, what is there information? Their initation plays? But anyone can get that, all they have to
do is join. Technically one could say that their 'only' secret is their modes of recognition (handshakes, watchwords, etc), but I suspect that those
modes of recognition are also part of the knowledge they claim to impart. The Knights of Pythias, Elks, etc, are in the same situation. They claim to
make people better men, they do it in private and don't want people, say, recording their methods, rites, lectures, etc, and publically distributing
them. Also, most of these groups, the knowledge isn't possible to impart publically, because the 'knowledge' is gained through the enactment of the
But what is wrong with this?
Groups like OTO and Rosicurianism and these numerous Thelemic movements out there, they have, perhaps, more of a claim at offering "information" in
the way we usually think of it. However, I don't think that they keep anything truly important secret, by this I mean, we can say that any religion
is more or less secret, but they do tend to say 'ours is the way to salvation'. These more religious secret societies say the same thing, more or
less. Their information beyond that, the details of it, is secret, and this is because the secret of the information, the way it works
through revelation, usually sets of revelations. You can't just tell the public all at once everything in every rosicurian rite and ritual, because
its meaningless then, its only through going through the progression, and having to actively seek these things, that they function, that the
information is imparted.
'Reveal' it publically, and you just have words and charts and sketches, not the actual information.
So, again, I am not a member of any of these groups, I don't know precisely how their information works, but this is my understanding of how it
that, then yes, there is great virtue in keeping it 'secret'. Presenting it publically does nothing, even, perhaps, destroys
that information for that person.
2.) Operates in a clandestine / underhanded manor.
Was it virtuous for Brutus and Cassius to conpsire in the dark of night to kill Caesar? Were the Sons of Liberty virtuous? Was there virtue in the
rebellious action of the Boston 'Tea Party'?
3.) Intitutes a division in humanity on earth --> creates yet another elite / peasant dynamic in society.
For masonry, the elite are the ones that made the group, it didn't create any more barriers, and it at times worked to reduce those barriers. In the
US, masonry switched from the gentlemanly british sort into a more revolutionary populist sort.
Althought, in sierra leon, for example, it re-inforced
the divisions between descendants of freed non-native slaves and natives. On the other
hand, those descendants of freedmen distinguished themselves by being far more educated and apt at running the sierra leonean government, so there
again, bit of a conundrum.
With the KofP and KofC, there isn't an elite created. If some old italian guy was walking around all puffed up in an admirals suit, thinking he's
better than everyone else because of it, he'd be a fool, no one is going to give him authority because of membership in the group.
Where elitism becomes very important is the Bohemian Club, and the various other similar Elite Social Clubs. These things strongly re-inforce the
existing social elite's status and network them.
But the Bohemian Club isn't really a 'secret society' in the same way that masonry or OTO is. Remove the Bohemian Club, and instead of networking
in california, they'll do it on their yachts.
4.) Directly (perhaps indirectly) takes the role of judge of a man's ability to achieve enlightenment, wisdom, and right knowledge.
If one posesses this englightenment and can impart it, then of course they have to make decisions about who to try to impart it to. Jesus, for
example, had 12 Apostles, not a million. Besides, these groups, it doesn't take much to join any of them really. I don't know if they have real
knowledge. But knowledge is something you have to go out and get and work for. If a person can't be bothered to join one of these groups, then how
is the group really at fault for that person not getting knowledge?
Also, for what its worth, I've seen masons and rosicurians and thelemites come to this board and try, really try, to impart what they beleive is the
wisdom that their group claims to offer. You might not get the watchword for the sublime prince or the mix of acts that you have to do in a thelemic
rite from them, but they are allways willing to talk to people about what their group beleives, how it goes about it, what it has to offer, and, hell,
even how to join.