Famous Secret Societies: Photos
Beyonce performs at the Super Bowl and makes a pyramid sign with her hands.YouTube screengrab
No matter how well a secret society tries to keep its organization under the radar, somehow signs of their existence always manage to slip out -- or at least that's what you'd be led to believe based on paranoid speculation following Beyonce's performance at the halftime show at the Super Bowl last weekend.
According to rumors cropping up mostly online, Beyond flashed the symbol of the Illuminati when she made a pyramid shape with her hands. To anyone wondering the connection between the pop singer and Illuminati, the answer is simple: There isn't one. This slight gesture, however, was evidence of a link to the secret society.
Who were the Illuminati exactly? And what other secret societies supposedly lurk in the shadows?
Does this shadowy figure give you the chills? She really shouldn't.Getty Images
The Illuminati was actually an 18th-century secret organization founded by Adam Weishaupt, who ran the group essentially like a pyramid scheme. In exchange for ever-higher fees, members would be granted access to hidden knowledge from a higher source, "which presumably could have been anything from God to extraterrestrials to voices in his head," as described by Discovery News' Ben Radford.
Although the group was defunct by the dawn of the 19th century, its secret nature has made it a subject of intrigue for some 200 years. The name still lives on though, as clever marketers know a free advertising opportunity when they see it.
In this case, an Australian fashion model shows off a design by Illuminati. Notice how shadowy she is in this photo?
The logo of the Order of the Skull and Bones.Wikimedia Commons
Perhaps most often in the news during the 2004 presidential election when both candidates, President George W. Bush and Senator John Kerry, were alums of the group, the Skull and Bones secret society at Yale is enmeshed in a massive conspiracy to dominate the globe by holding the levers of power in the United States government, particularly the Central Intelligence Agency. Or at least that's what it is to conspiracy theorists.
To the rest of the world, it's essentially just a fraternity for the privileged with a spooky mascot. They also have secret rituals, just like virtually every other Greek organization on every college campus in the United States.
A Freemasons' symbols appears on the American dollar bill.Getty Images
Given that there are roughly five to six million of them today, they have public locations on virtually every continent, and the organization has existed since arguably the 16th century, the Freemasons probably aren't doing as good a job of keeping their organization secret. For centuries, Freemasons have been subjected to attempts to suppress the organization everywhere from the United States to the Middle East and all the way to Japan.
Although the group certainly has the hallmarks of an exclusive society, complete with rituals, robes and secret handshakes, Freemasons are primarily involved in charitable works and community service. In other words, they're much less like the League of Shadows and much more like the Stonecutters than critics would have you believe.
The site of the Bilderberg Group meetings appears in this photo.Getty Images
The Bilderberg Group is composed of world leaders, dignatiries in high levels of governments throughout the world, high-powered corporate executives and more. Although the annual invitation-only meetings at the club from which the group's name is derived was established to encourage international cooperation, the fact that the event is closed to the media and the public has led conspiracy theorists to believe the meeting has a sinister agenda.
The element of privacy surrounding the conference is in fact designed to encourage attendees to speak their minds without fear of their words or ideas being taken out of context.
The Trilateral Commission logo has a pyramid shape in its center. Could there be a connection here?Wikimedia Commons
Founded in 1973, the Trilateral Commission was founded to foster communication and cooperation among North America, Europe and Asia, according to the organization's website. The group meets several times a year and occasionally releases reports on global issues ranging from energy security and climate change to nuclear proliferation and more.
Like other international groups with the similar mandate, the Trilateral Commission has long been accused by conspiracy theorists of all political extremes of having a shadowy agenda to either destory democracy and/or create a global government, depending on the politics of the paranoid.