Many of these secret societies, especially if they do have something to hide, use the technique of disinformation. Sometimes what we hear or read about a particular secret society may not necessarily be true, so we may be hearing a fabrication that hides certain information or activity that they wish no one else to ascertain.
In his book The Element Encyclopedia of Secret Societies, John Michael Greer informs, “One of the basic methods of concealment used by secret societies is disinformation, the deliberate spreading of false information. Simple concealment is rarely enough to keep a secret safe, since the absence of information arouses curiosity. By inventing a false ‘secret’ and putting it into circulation, though, and the secret is doubly protected; those who think they know a secret rarely keep trying to find out, and those who believe they have secret knowledge often become emotionally attached to that belief, and cling to the disinformation they have received even in the face of contrary evidence.”
This being the case, it makes you wonder exactly what is it some of these secret societies are hiding. Is it conspiratorial deep dark secrets? Plans for a New World Order? Or are these secrets in place for their own protection and security? Most likely they feel what they have is nobody else’s business but their own, which is only sensible.
Usually it involves protection from outsiders, to protect their own members, so it could be anywhere from the alteration of recognition signs and secret handshakes or passwords, to falsified documents and embellished histories of the various secret schools. In other words, if an infiltrator who pretends to be a member gives the wrong password or handshake, the true member immediately knows this person is actually an outsider. Sometimes copies of the religious rituals were radically altered in case they got into the wrong hands, whereas the original books of rituals were kept secret and hidden by the adepts of that particular group.
Nevertheless, going back a couple hundred years and even thousands of years, the usual reason for concealment and secrecy was to keep their esoteric teachings and rituals hidden, otherwise the mainstream religions or churches or governments of the times would accuse their beliefs and practices as heretical and satanic in nature, and vile persecution would ensue. In the Dark Ages, the Inquisition of the Roman Catholic Church was notorious in persecuting and even torturing heretics, especially the early Gnostics whose beliefs were quite contrary to the Church’s doctrine.
Although nowadays, criticism of these mystery groups still persists, it is not as severe as it was in the past. However these secret societies continue to keep secrets, mainly because they don’t want to “cast pearls before swine.” They feel the world is not ready for the ancient wisdom of the ages to be released. They feel that the unenlightened masses have little understanding or even desire to understand what they could offer. On the other hand, there are some progressive groups that believe it is time the higher teachings should be revealed.
Currently it seems like a lot of these large groups that have been around a few hundred years, such as the Freemasons and the Rosicrucians and other groups, feel they must maintain a particular historical pretension, which conceals the reality that they are not as old as they seem.
In his book, John Michael Greer also says, “Secret societies have good reason to look older, larger, and more powerful than they are, since this helps attract and retain members. Disinformation plays a central role in this process.” Later the author says, “Secret societies, like many other organizations, benefit from making themselves look larger and more important than they actually are, and claims of a glorious history are one proven way to do this. The manufacture of origin stories combines with the equally common practice of retrospective recruitment to provide secret societies with a borrowed history more glamorous than their actual origins.” And finally he says, “Such considerations have made it easy for some recently founded secret societies to claim roots reaching back hundreds or even thousands of years.”
Doesn’t this kind of pretentious practice seem dishonest? When new members find out the group’s history is a total fabrication, won’t they question the group they just joined? You would think most people who joined a popular mystical group that holds the “ancient wisdom teachings” would be upset when they discover it has succumbed to creating false histories that supposedly go back thousands of years. Prime examples of this practice are such schools as Freemasonry and various of the Rosicrucian schools, especially the AMORC (Ancient Mystical Order Rosae Crucis, actually founded in 1925) of which I was once a member.
Such practices may clearly seem ignoble, especially if it is simply for the purpose of recruiting members, which sounds like something a lot of the fundamentalist Christian groups do in their proselytization campaigns when they endeavor to convert people to their church if they want to avoid going to hell. Perhaps these popular secret societies are not as honorable and perfect as they presume themselves to be.
There’s nothing wrong with having a humbler attitude, to state that your group hasn’t been around very long, and perhaps its members are few, but at least they are sincerely seeking the truth, or if they have found it, they will freely give to others. Because, after all, the truth will set you free. And when certain groups hold onto truth, hide it, keep it secret from the masses, and keep it to themselves, they’re not doing themselves any good and they’re not helping to set anyone else free. They’re standing at the gate and not letting others in.
In conclusion, be careful if you’re seeking esoteric teachings or ancient wisdom from some of these popular secret societies or mystery schools. They may or may not have something worthwhile, but you have to learn to discern where the truth lies. Often these groups get caught up in the politics of their elaborate hierarchies, and many of the high-standing members or leaders become arrogant and self-important. I know this from firsthand experience. Some people choose to become a solitary seeker, to seek the truth for themselves, to contemplate and meditate the nature of reality and truth in their own way, whether it’s in the privacy of their prayer closet, out in the middle of the beauty of nature, perhaps in some church or temple, or wherever. But if a seeker is under the influence of a large religious group with many heavy-handed strictures and rules, this might not make his quest that easy. On the other hand, some individuals feel the need for a support structure to assist them in their inward journey. They prefer to go with the flow of the whole flock in their mystical quest, and that’s perfectly fine if it satisfies them. Ultimately, it’s up each person to decide which way to go, the path of a groupie, or the path of a solitary.
But then there’s a third classification: the debunker, the one that only wants to judge and ridicule and condemn these mystical groups and secret societies, proclaiming false accusations about them. They also circulate a lot of disinformation, if not outright lies.
Last word: Instead of blindly accepting anything that comes along, learn to discern the truth. Meditation is the key.
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The Element Encyclopedia of Secret Societies by John Michael Greer