The title is a favorite quote of mine from a game I love, Marc Ecko’s “Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure”. I loved that quote so much I would always say it in my mind whenever I hear crazy conspiracy theories, especially when they involve secret societies such as The Illuminati, Freemasons or other members-only clubs that people believe are bent on New World Order, devil-worshipping and other notions that don’t ever seem to get old.
Now, for those who don’t know and are luckier than me in regards to having their ears stuffed about it, here’s a rundown of a few secret societies that people often talk about, as defined by the Watkins’ Dictionary of Magic (I love this book):
Illuminati: A term used by occultists from the late fifteenth century onwards to describe spiritual adepts who had received mystical insights or “illumination” from a transcendent source. The Order of the Illuminati was founded by Adam Weishaupt, a Bavarian law professor, in 1776, but this was hardly esoteric in any mystical sense and based most of its “secrets” on the work of Voltaire and the French Encyclopedists. Weishaupt and another enthusiast, Baron Adolf Knigge. later adapted the order’s teachings in order to infiltrate Freemasonry. A decree in Bavaria in 1784 banned all secret societies – including Freemasonry – and the order declined. However, it was revived around the turn of the 20th century by the occultists Leopold Engel and Theodor Reuss. In recent times the idea of a secret brotherhood of adepts or Illuminati has been popularized by fantasy occult writer Robert Anton Wilson and New Age spokesman Stuart Wilde.
Freemasonry (or Masonry): This international institution now has the nature of a benevolent, friendly society, but was originally an esoteric organization. It still has elaborate secret rites and ceremonies and a code of morals, and requires that its members believe in “the Great Architect of the Universe”. Freemasonry may be descended, directly or indirectly, from a guild of stonemasons that existed in fourteenth-century England; but modern Masonry dates from the establishment of the Grand Lodge of London (1717). Freemasonry later spread to the United States and Europe. At times, in some countries, Freemasonry has been suppressed by the state. Traditionally, it has aroused the hostility of the Roman Catholic Church, but in recent years this antagonism has subsided.
Rosicrucians: The name used by many occult groups who have claimed inspiration from a figure called Christian Rosenkreuz or Rosencreutz. The origin of the Rosicrucians (who take their name from Rosenkreuz, which mean “Rose Cross” or “Rosy Cross” dates from the publication c. 1614-1616 of three books purporting to emanate from an occult order, the Brotherhood of the Rosy Cross (Fraternitas Rosae Crucis) – it is likely, however, that all three were written by Johann Valentin Andreae. The first of these publications, Fama Fraternitatis, described how a certain Christian Rosenkreuz met the “Wise Men of Damcar”, and subsequently translated the mystical book Liber M. into Latin. The second, Confessio Fraternitatis R.C. provided more details about Christian Rosenkreuz and invited members of the public to join the order. The third, Chymische Hochzeit Christiani Rosenkreuz (The Chymical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreuz) was a Hermetic allegory in which the central figure witnesses a royal marriage and later discovers the king’s “secret books of wisdom”. The Rosicrucian myth has been a strong influence on several mystical groups, including the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn (who incorporated Rosicrucian elements into the initiations of their second order, the Ordo Rosae Rubeae et Aureae Crucis). Similiarily, Franz Hartman started a Rosicrucian order in Germany; and Sar Josephin Peladan ran a fashionable Rosicrucian salon in Paris. Competing Rosicrucian orders of questionable authenticity now market the esoteric wisdom of Christian Rosenkreuz in the United States.
I have learned in my experience that just like the over-skeptical and over-analytical, there’s no arguing with a conspiracy theorist who believes the world is a puppet at the complete and total whim of a few old men in a secret club that conjures the devil and do all sorts of crazy things no normal person would do, all in the name of world domination…white Persian cat, maniacal cackle and black high-back executive chair not included.
I’m a witch but I find this all incredibly ridiculous, just as ridiculous as I think of those who believe all witches are wicked souls bent on destroying and deceiving others regardless of circumstance. (Erm…I know quite a few people like that and nary of them are witches, but a notable amount are Christians and that attitude really goes on overdrive when they find out you’re not). Lemme let you in on a secret (not a society, too much micro-management)…I live across the street from the Hiram Grand Lodge O.T.O., a Freemasonry. Next door to that is a synagogue (that was bought and now owned by Hiram Grand Lodge) and I’m completely surrounded by churches, including the very first Black church in America, Bethel A.M.E.. Annnnnnd down the street, I believe, is a few more churches and a mosque. Pretty lively Black neighborhood, wouldn’t you say? The men and women who go to the Lodge are always sharply dressed in suits and dresses or always throwing bashes and parties. I have yet to see or hear any demonic laughter or ominous thunderclaps during any of the time I have lived in this neighborhood. In addition, I have friends who are Freemasons or have Freemasons in the family to the point of generational tradition. I don’t perceive being part of a secret society as much different or any greater threat than a normal, well-known, hard-to-get-into club.
I hear so much talk about Illuminati this, the Freemasons that and it usually revolves around Hollywood. I generally never agree with Kanye West on anything at all but he was right when he asked who was the Illuminati and why does everyone think all celebrities have a membership in response to accusations made about West’s relation to the occult group because of the broadly metaphorical production of his short film “Runaway”. West is, almost unsurprisingly, another celebrity who a bunch of crazy theorists believes he partakes with the Illuminati simply because he’s popular, knows it, flaunts it and clearly doesn’t mind it. I have heard these same accusations for Jay-Z, Beyonce Knowles, Lady Gaga and even utterances of Janelle Monae (you could probably believe I was only quiet upon hearing such “news” for I wasn’t sure whether to bawl in laughter or simply stare confused and perplexed. The most esoteric Wondaland could possibly get is me and I’m not even part of the group, just friends with a few.) While I do believe the music industry itself is quite evil but celebrities taking part in secret societies simply because they’re popular or have a few out-there and abstract music videos? That’s senseless. They’re creative and will pull out all stops to express it…and have a killer promotion & marketing team backing them up. Nothing unusual about that except for their manner of creative expression – which is in an incredibly appropriate field: the fine arts.
Since I peruse the same metaphysical shops, hang out at the same sites and simply am a Black Pagan columnist, I get to run into these wack and fragmented theories fairly frequently. Where the devil falls into this, I simply do not know but I must admit, anything occult does garner images of evil, bloody goat heads, fire and scary stuff. People do fear what they don’t understand, after all. Good thing I’m here and with an Ask Black Witch submission form. When I do hear these wacked out theories, I often tell them to my Freemason friends to see their reactions. They may roll their eyes, laugh or just give a look that communicates, “They said that?” They wonder how people come to these conclusions and will even joke, “Wait, so that means Jay-Z works for me too…Then how come I still can’t get into his concerts or the tickets are too high? Ain’t I suppose to have a special pass or somethin’? He does work for me after all!” The findings that people create to connect the dots are really farfetched often times and looking into the history of secret societies, the theories wouldn’t 100% work because, quite frankly…they don’t make a lic of sense.
Do I believe in secret societies? Well, yes, especially since I practically live across the street from one but I’ve never seen them as the spooky secret society that everyone else sees them as. They’re just another organization to me. But if they were bent on world domination, Persian kitty, nice swivel chair, controlled thunderclaps and all, maybe that’s what they would want you to think. Hmm…
And speaking of spooky, thank you everyone for attending the first ever Black Witch vcast on Halloween! It was a lot of fun, although I was fairly nervous since this was my first video anything but I enjoyed myself. I was very happy to see so many viewers and chatters. Sadly for those who weren’t there, the hour long broadcasting was not recorded due to my derpiness but I did stay an extra fifteen minutes and recorded that. There will be more vcasts such as that but at the very least twice a year for the Black Witch anniversary on June 9th and on Halloween/Samhain.
And speaking of Wondaland, remember Nastassia Davis, the Wondaland photographer with the lovely pictures that I featured on The Arts? She’s going to be selling some of those prints so if there was a particular picture that you adored, it can be yours! Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. And don’t forget to peruse her site, nastassiadavis.com, for ideas of what prints to ask for!