Secret societies like the Illuminati and the Freemasons always seem to get the limelight. However, a good number of lesser-known groups have their own strange stories to tell that make them just as interesting as their more famous counterparts.
10 The Order Of Chaeronea
The Battle of Chaeronea in 338 B.C. saw the defeat of the Sacred Band Of Thebes, an elite ancient Greek fighting unit consisting of 150 soldiers and their male lovers. Years later, in 1899, Chaeronea lent its name to a slightly related but very different group—the Order of Chaeronea, an English political organization for gay men.
Cecil Ives founded the group as a means to communicate without fear of persecution. He patterned the order like a true secret society, devising ceremonies and passwords for its members. He also devised a strict set of rules, which kept members from using the society for sexual meet-ups.
Many prominent gay intellectuals joined—Oscar Wilde was reportedly a member. The organization soon spread around the world, enabling Ives to promote gay rights through books and numerous lectures. The order became a modern precursor to 20th-century rights organizations. After Ives’s death, the movement faltered, gaining steam again during the 1990s, especially in the US, and inspiringseveral offshoots.
9 The Knights Of The Apocalypse
This group formed in 1693 to protect the Catholic Church against the supposed coming of the Antichrist. Members were noted for their peculiar habits, such as bringing swords to work and wearing clothing with an elaborately drawn star on the breast.
The society’s strange behavior could be blamed on the founder himself, a merchant’s son by the name of Agostino Gabrino. A certifiably insane man, Gabrino was known to have disrupted two church masses by waving a sword and proclaiming he was the “King Of Glory.” At his group’s founding, he declared himself a “Monarch of the Holy Trinity” and devised a bizarre set of rules for his knights, which included the practice of polygamy and exclusive marriage to virgins.
A year after the group began, one knight betrayed its existence to the Inquisition. The order was disbanded, and its knights were thrown into prison.
8 The Order Of The Occult Hand
This group had just one goal. Its members inserted one particular phrase—”it was as if an occult hand had“—into newspapers and other publications.
The group had its beginnings when Joseph Flanders, a reporter for the Charlotte News, innocently used the phrase in a report. His friends liked the wording so much that they conspired to copy it as often as possible. Pretty soon, other reporters and journalists from all over the world began using the phrase in their own stories.
The conspiracy was undone in 2004, when James Fanega, a reporter for the Chicago Tribune, managed to track down the perpetrators and list the publications they had infiltrated. However, the group bounced back in 2006 when leader Paul Greenberg and the chief members announced that they had picked a new phrase to carry on the tradition. So far, no one has succeeded in finding out the new phrase, which Greenberg claims has already appeared in many major outlets.