Secret gangs

3 Sinister Secret Societies You’ve Never Heard Of

Secret societies are the heart of many suspense novels, mystery movies, and conspiracy theories. Over the years, you’ve probably heard of many secret societies. Some are well-known yet still shrouded in mystery, like the Skull and Bones or the Freemasons. Others are overhyped, like the Bavarian Illuminati, or entirely fictional, like the Priory of Sion.

But there are a few secret societies that aren’t only mysterious, but they also downright sinister. The following are just three examples of some clandestine groups that operated under the shadows over the years.

The Molly Maguires

Unlike the other secret societies described here, the Molly Maguires were closer to a crime ring than an actual organization. The organization probably started in Ireland and was brought to Pennsylvania by Irish immigrants. Other societies sometimes use custom challenge coins to prove membership, but the Moly Maguires had a different method: crossdressing.

The organization’s modus operandi involved having members put on petticoats and dresses to look innocent. Wearing these feminine disguises, the Maguires would engage in petty theft, arson, and coercion.

Why Are They So Scary?

The Molly Maguires would have been nothing more than a criminal gang with the trappings of a secret organization, if not for their last crime spree. In the 1870s, the Maguires murdered more than two dozen supervisors and foremen of coal mines. This mass assassination drew the ire of the Pinkerton Detective Agency, the predecessor to the FBI. Thanks to their concerted efforts, 20 of the Maguires were caught and executed, spelling the end of the group.

The Oculists

At the end of the Cold War, researchers discovered an unusual manuscript in the East Berlin Academy. The text was 105 pages long and completely covered in a ciphered language. Research revealed that the book called the Copiale Cipher dated back to the 18th century.

For a long time, no one knew the secrets of the Cipher, until two Swedish linguists decoded it in 2011. Using revolutionary cryptographic techniques and careful application of linguistics, they discovered that the book described the initiation rites of an organization who called themselves the Oculists.

Why Are They So Scary?

First, the Oculists equated sight with knowledge, and so they developed an obsession with ophthalmology and eye surgery. The organization posed as eye surgeons to the public, and routinely accepted women into their ranks. Although a fascination with eyes and eye surgery is weird, it’s the Oculists’ second obsession that makes them sinister.

The Oculists were a secret organization within another secret organization. According to the Copiale Cipher, the Oculists had infiltrated the Freemasons. The book detailed the rituals of the Masons, which is forbidden, and the organization might have been attempting to reveal this information.

The Nyau Dancers

The Chewa of southern Africa have a rich spiritual culture and a very detailed religion. One of the cornerstones of their spirituality involves sacred dances performed during funerals, public celebrations, and anniversaries. The guardians and performers are the Nyau Dancers.

Each Dancer wears a mask and is emphatically not referred to as mortals. The Chewa believe that the Nyau brotherhood is possessed by the spirits of animals and ghosts bound to their masks. The Dancers hide their identities behind coded signs and secret passwords. Although the Nyau Dancers are an integral part of their culture, the Chewa fear them greatly.

Man with a jacketWhy Are They So Scary?

Aside from conducting initiation rituals in cemeteries, there are different Nyau that are simultaneously revered and dreaded. The Nyau Kampini are wild and might kill anyone they come across. Meanwhile, the Nyau Akakairo can savagely beat up people they encounter. The Nyau are so feared that they’re even hired as assassins because law enforcement believes that they are not men and so cannot be arrested. The Nyau exists to this day, as cultural guardians of the Chewa.

The world is made up of many layers, some more visible than others. Secret societies are just one of the hidden layers of the world, protected by mystery and shadow. Although they might be harmless, who can tell what they do in their clandestine meetings?

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