Secret Societies

Secret Society

Secret societies are difficult to write about since they are, afterall, secret. Many things that are known are repeated in the literature–not that a lot of that exists since it is often secret also.  Having said that, it is amazing the amount of literature that is available about secret societies. The first three books about Secret Societies that I checked out contained much of the same information.  Here are the first three books I perused:

Secret Societies Sylvia Brown

 

Secret Societies A History Arkon Daraul

 

The Hidden World of Secret Societies Behind Closed Doors LIFE

Many secret societies began in secret because of beliefs that differed from the mainstream culture. Had certain groups stated publicly what they believed, the members would have likely been killed by their king or other leaders. Being secretive was about self preservation. This was particularly true of groups with occultic connections. Not all secret societies had occultic connections. For example early Christians were considered a dangerous sect by both the Jews and the Romans. This forced many churches literally underground. Many secret societies have origins dating back to ancient Egypt and some claim to date back much further.

In Secret Societies: and How They Affect Our Lives Today, Sylvia Browne divides these groups into the broad categories of political societies, religious societies, and the dark side of secrecy. Browne also says that secret societies have the following in common:

The Oath of Secrecy: Sometimes under penalty of death or excommunication, members not only pledge to keep all the secrets within the society, but often vow to give away money or other personal possessions.

The Oath Against Division: Members promise not to deviate from the group’s teachings or start their own organization based upon the one to which they’ve given the oath. They also vow to always work for the betterment of the society and not for themselves.

The Oath of Absolute Obedience: Members pledge to absolutely obey the rules and order of the society. They must also pay homage to their headmaster or founder and often (but not always) follow the laws of the land.

The Oath of Honesty: Members swear that they’ll never tell a lie about anyone in the society or about the organization, and they promise to live within the group with honesty and forthrightness.

The Oath of Support: Members vow to give support – morally, spiritually, or even financially – to the society. This can even extend to reporting insidious conduct that would bring harm to associates.

(pp 6-7)

In Secret Societies A History, Arkon Daraul discusses numerous secret societies from all over the world. The author attempts to explore the beginnings of each group. The author also points out that many of these groups are suspicious of others. According to Daraul some Arabs are suspicious of Jews who they consider to be a suspicious and dangerous secret society bent on taking over the world. The author also believes that Freemasons and Catholics eye each other with similar suspicions. In short, it’s about perspective.

The Hidden World of Secret Societies: An Illustrated History of the Most Mysterious Organizations published by Life Books is a fascinating adult picture book with interesting comments on several known secret societies.

The best known secret societies are: The Illuminati, The Freemasons, The Bohemian Grove, The Opus Dei, The Ku Klux Klan, The Black Hand, The Knights Templar, The Bilderberg Group, The Anunnaki, and Anonymous. For a brief description of each of these groups, follow this link:  Ten Secret Societies.

In Sacred Secrets: Freemasonry, the Bible, and the Christian Faith by Mike Neville the author attempts to explain many of the Freemasonry practices and rituals. Being Christian myself, I was rather fascinated with this book. The little that I know about Freemasonry is not compatible with my beliefs. There are some professing Christians who are also Freemasons and I’ve always wondered how they reconciled the two belief systems. In addition I’ve always wondered about the Freemasons and the Bible.

Sacred Secrets

Of all the groups that I read about, Freemasons are probably the least secretive group. A Freemason is allowed to tell anyone that he is a Freemason. In addition, a Freemason may tell you what degree Mason he is and may even tell you about some lodge meetings. Of the known Freemasons that I’ve met, most appear to be good people. One thing I have learned though is that in Freemasonry nothing seems to be what it appears to be. I am not insinuating that all Freemasons are bad people. I mean quite the opposite, actually. I think very good people get involved in Freemasonry and perhaps not all of them are fully aware of hidden agendas which may not be revealed unless they go further into the organization. I base this idea on the fact that I have known of Freemasons who tried to get out of the organization and met with or feared a lot of oppression and even violence.

Bearing in mind that I’m writing about a secretive group I can not guarantee 100% accuracy in my information. However, from many things I’ve read and watched in documentaries, You Tube, etc. I’ve attempted to assimilate information for this post.

Freemasonry dates back at least to ancient Egypt and some think that it even predates that time period, possibly to creation. Some believe that the aprons worn by Masons are symbolic of a fig leaf worn by Adam after he (and his wife, Eve) ate forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden. Indeed, Freemasons may talk about the Tree of Life and The Knowledge of Good and Evil. Some gather from this that there is “secret (and/or evil) knowledge” which may or may not have connections to the occult.

Freemasons use a King James Bible in their rituals. Masons do not accept the inerrancy of the Bible nor do they think it is a reliable historical document. Of the rituals I’ve come across there are 18 that any Mason may choose to complete. There are also 4 special titles or degrees which only Christians can pursue. Each ritual is associated with Bible stories, characters, or the most important building to a Mason, Solomon’s Temple.

Indeed the buildings that the Freemasons meet in seem to be modeled after Solomon’s Temple in dimension and arrangement of the interior. Though the more modern verbiage seems to be to call their buildings a “lodge” most were built being called a Temple. One can still hear some of the buildings being called Masonic Temples.

This is the Masonic Temple (or Lodge) in Rochester, Indiana.

Masonic Temple Rochester

The front entrance of this building calls itself a “Masonic Lodge.” However on concrete slabs embedded in the building, it is called a “Masonic Temple.”

Masonic Things 009

Masonic Things 011

Since we are talking about the actual buildings, here is one last image of the building in Rochester, Indiana.  Note that where windows should be, they are bricked up. All Masonic Temples, or lodges, either do not have windows or they are completely covered. No outside light is allowed inside the building with the possible exception of near the front door(s) where there may be a small vestibule. However, in the building proper there will be no outside light. Masonic Things 012

As far as I can tell there are three titles or degrees made up of various rituals (all associated with the Bible). Within each title or degree is a course of study. All Masons enter the Craft as Third Degree (Craft) Masons. As a Third Degree Mason a member, or brother, may choose to do nothing else and remain a Third Degree Mason or he may choose to further his study and move up in the organization.

Within each title or degree are 33 (a significant number) steps with 33 being the highest number to be achieved. Therefore it is possible to be a 33rd Degree Mason in one degree but not another. High status in one degree does not transfer to other degrees. If a Mason would want to be a 33rd degree across the board he would have to complete all of the necessary study for each title or degree.

Additionally there appear to be some blood curdling oaths taken with many (if not all) of the degrees. These oaths are mostly secret but basically seem to be the Mason saying, “May all of  <these terrible things> happen to me if I break my oath or reveal secrets” (highly and liberally paraphrased).

Structure of Masonry

Being Christian is not a prerequisite for being a Mason. Most modern day Masons are not Christian. Not long after the King James Bible was printed on the printing press it was adopted by the Masons for ritualistic use. Up until the 11th century Freemasonry was more “Christianized.” In the 11th century the Masons attempted to “deChristianize” in order to attract a broader range of people. The word “God” was changed to “Supreme Being” among other similar such changes. To become a Mason one has to believe in a Supreme Being of some sort. This appears to be a central idea since Freemasons will often refer to the “Grand Architect of the Universe.”  Masons are builders and their logo shows the tools of the trade, or Craft.  The lodge, or temple,  will feature an open King James Bible with a compass and a builder’s square laid on top of it.

plumblodgebible

Approximately 2 years ago, a Masonic Bible was donated to the Fulton County Public Library.

Masonic Bible Donation

It is in a display case in the Indiana Room. It is currently opened to a two page illustration of David and Goliath. Masonic Bible 2

Underneath it is Masonic literature that speaks of shaping the world.

Masonic David and Goliath

Because Masons were craftsmen and free to wander around seeking work  it wasn’t long until the word “free” became associated with “mason” and “masonry” giving us the compound words “Freemason” and “Freemasonry.”

freemasonswiki

In the image above, we see the all seeing eye, a compass, a builder’s square, and the letter G. The letter G seems to be somewhat of a mystery. Some think it refers to the Grand Architect of the Universe. It may or may not be a reference to God or the “Sun god.” In Freemasonry, there is a lot of talk about the sun and the moon. The sun is the “greater light” to rule the day and the moon is the “lesser light” to rule the night.  This wording is taken directly from the book of Genesis. In a lot of Masonic art you will see the G on an image of the sun or a sun disc so it could also be marking the “Greater light.” There is also speculation (and I tend to agree with this) that the letter G changes meanings for the various degrees the Mason has completed. Whatever the meaning of the letter G, it is often seen in artwork associated with Freemasonry.

washington_freemason

The artwork above is loaded with meaningful Masonic imagery. Nothing is unimportant. Unfortunately one blog post won’t allow me to comment on this painting in depth. Imagery seen here is repeated in multiple architectural sites throughout the world. Many of our government buildings in the US are loaded with Masonic imagery.

At the courthouse in Rochester, Indiana there is an embedded concrete slab placed there by the Freemasons. You can make out the date 1895 at the top in a triangle. (Triangles have significance to Freemasons.) Underneath is a slab with Masonic information. The information on the slab is legible if you were actually standing there, but the photo isn’t great since I was aiming the camera way above my head. It was difficult for me to get everything in view. Due to the lighting I couldn’t see where I was aiming. I did however want to make sure I got the 1895 date shown.

Masonic Things 006

Exactly 100 years later, the Freemasons left a centennial and rededication cube. (Cubes are also very important to Freemasons.) It is located at the same corner as the original stone slab. This stone is engraved on three (another significant number) sides.

Masonic Things 002

Masonic Things 001

Masonic Things 003

Look around any building or organization pertaining to government and you will find evidence of Freemason involvement. Many things I read suggested that the ultimate goal of Freemasonry is to control the world through government and commerce. Some have even suggested that Freemasonry will lead to the One World Order predicted in the book of Revelation.

Several US Presidents and other political and religious figures are associated with Freemasonry and were sworn in on Masonic Bibles.  Some of the Presidents are pictured below.

Freemason Presidents

Freemasonry has influenced almost every area of life. There are ciphers which the brothers learn to decode messages at times. Some “messages” are encoded in architecture, music, art, literature, money, etc. Geometry and numerology is of extreme importance to the craft. Since one blog post won’t allow me to go in to all of this about “hidden knowledge,” I will encourage those interested to follow my link (you will need to scroll down for the video) about secrets in plain site for an in depth explanation. The You Tube presentation is very long and about the first third of it is laying ground work important to understanding symbolism for the rest of the presentation. Secrets in Plain Site. If you stick with it, you will uncover some very little known information. This presentation will cover topics I can’t fit in in one post.

In the DVD series, Cities of the Underworld secret societies are sometimes discussed. Among them in season one are the Christians, Cult of the Dead, Freemasons, and Mithraism. If you have an interest in preserved ancient history, this is must see viewing. If you are a Christian, you will absolutely want to watch this episode (Secret Pagan Underground) in which the first ever Christian monastery, Christian school, and Christian cathedral like structure has just been discovered. You will also learn the extent that Christians went to to protect themselves (and thus the Gospel). Also, if you are interested in the Freemasons you will want to watch the episode specifically about them. Information is revealed linking Freemasons to the Underground Railroad among other things. I found both episodes fascinating.

cities of the underworld

Is there a Masonic Lodge near where you live? Have you noticed Masonic symbols in public (particularly governmental) buildings? Where you aware that the Christian underground world was so extensive?

Addendum to Secret Societies:

N.G. Secret Societies 1

Although I had no way of knowing this would happen, almost the same day that Secret Societies posted on Dewey Hop, National Geographic released a special edition paperback book about Secret Societies. I have skimmed through this book (and intend to read it) but wanted to let everyone know that if you are interested in this topic, you really should take a look at this book. It has many different secret societies in it and has several pages in it about the Freemasons.

Also at the same time the library added this DVD which you may want to check out.

Knights Templar

 

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Prisons

Prison

No Criminology section of a library would be complete without also taking a look at prisons designed to keep  bad guys (or bad girls) off the streets.  Prisons have varying levels of security depending on the nature of crimes committed. Most of us are aware that our penal system is flawed.  In Orange Is the New Black by Piper Kerman,  the author comments on her experiences and observations during her year of incarceration in a women’s prison.

Orange_Is_the_New_Black_book_cover

Kerman comments on the system being punitive and not rehabilitative. There is a sort of economy system and culture within the walls of the prison, neither of which do anything to prepare offenders to reenter society and thus contributes to the recidivism rate. Often relatives such as sisters or mothers / daughters spend much of their lives in and out of prison. The author comments on the generational aspects of incarcerated families. It’s what they know.

Although this isn’t typically the type of book I would just pick up and read, I did find it interesting to read about what a woman’s prison is like from an insider’s perspective. Also interesting is the way in which Kerman describes her fellow inmates as people just trying to maintain some human dignity in the face of an uncaring and punitive system. One thing the author makes crystal clear is the need for more rehabilitative and educational programming on the inside.

There is a DVD series Orange is the New Black.

DVD Orange is the New Black

This series was originally created in 2013 and streamed by Netflix users and is now available to the public as a DVD series with several seasons.

The next book I came to in my read through of the Fulton County Public Library  is The Punishment Imperative by Todd R. Clear and Natasha A. Frost.

The Punishment Imperative

This book basically echoes Piper Kerman’s ideas that our penal system is in need of some major and rehabilitative changes. Where Kerman’s book reads easily and delivers ideas in an engaging and entertaining fashion, this book reads like a college term paper and throws a lot of facts at the reader without necessarily engaging the reader. The thesis of the book is located on p.16 and reads:

This book is about an American idea that took root in the 1970’s, rose to dominate discourse and practice through the 1980’s and 1990’s and has, as we enter the second decade of the new century, shows distinct signs of having run its course.

The rest of the paragraph goes on to explain that the authors regard our current penal system as a “grand social experiment in punishment.” The rest of the book discusses the consequences of our current system and attempts to explain the high rate of recidivism.

Perhaps of more interest to me was the next book Prison Profiles by Mary Knochel, Ph.D. and Rafael Ramirez, J.D.  These authors are fellow Hoosiers writing about different types of incarceration in my home state of Indiana.

Prison Profiles

I found this book highly informative and interesting. This book follows fictional characters through the Indiana Department of Corrections (DOC) beginning from the time they arrive in the sally-port of the DOC. All of the characters are actually composites of  male inmates with actual details of their crimes and incarcerations. One character, Clarence Speakman, is totally fictional but is used to describe the role a Classification Specialist within the Department of Corrections. Classification Specialists are the only DOC employees who actually interact with both prisoners and paperwork. All other employees of the DOC deal only with prisoners or paperwork.

The men arriving in the sally-port are all wearing jeans and T-shirts. Each has a brown paper bag containing personal possessions. They are all in full restraints which consist of handcuffs, leg shackles, and waist chains. The list of prisoners on the transport is compared to the abstract of judgement which is paperwork that confirms that these prisoners are supposed to be arriving at the Reception and Diagnostic Center.Once confirmation has occurred, the men are allowed to exit the transport. Once the men enter the building their paper bags are collected by an officer who begins to catalog each bag’s contents and label who the items belong to. At this time, the officer also decides what is contraband and must be mailed to a relative and what the prisoner is allowed to keep. Shortly after the prisoners arrival, a second van arrives which contains boxes of paperwork. The prisoner’s “packet” of paperwork will follow each man throughout his stay in the DOC. From this moment onward, the goal at the Reception and Diagnostic Center is to decide where and how each prisoner will do time.  This procedure is called the classification process and takes anywhere from 30-45 days to complete. Once the classification process begins the prisoners are considered to officially be in the custody of the DOC.  Although there are more than 20 prisons for men in Indiana, every man begins his journey through the system at the Reception and Diagnostic Center in Plainfield, Indiana. The only exception to going to the Reception and Diagnostic Center is if an inmate has been sentenced to death. In that case, he is taken directly to death row (also called x-row)  at the Indiana State Prison.

Reception and Diagnostic Center Reception and Diagnostic Center 2

 

 

 

 

Every man entering the Indiana DOC does so naked with fellow new arrivals. They are taken to a “strip area” and told to strip.  After stripping they are then strip searched and showered. At this point each man is given a towel to wrap around himself while he waits for his turn to be “de-loused.”  The men work in pairs and spray each other with a fumigant before finally being issued prison clothing. At the Reception and Diagnostic center inmates wear tan t-shirts, undewear, blue scrub pants, socks, and sandals.

The next step is a quick medical evaluation by a nurse where standard vitals are gathered: height, weight, and blood pressure. Inmates are questioned about medications in an effort to avoid missing scheduled dosages of any prescribed meds they may take. Those inmates who are in good health will be seen by a doctor within 48 hours. Inmates with more serious issues will be seen sooner than 48 hours.

After their medical intake, inmates are sent to an inmate barber. The new arrivals have 2 style choices: above the collar and above the ears or a burr.  With haircuts done, it’s on to fingerprinting and being photographed for the official prison ID. At this point, inmates are given back their paper bags with any possessions they are allowed to keep during their incarceration. Any items deemed to be contraband will be mailed to the inmate’s relatives. If an inmate has $30 or more in his prison account, the inmate will have to pay the postage to mail the item(s) to relatives. If the inmate does not have $30 in his account, the DOC will pay this expense.

Once the entire group of incoming prisoners has completed all of the above steps they are taken to a Count Officer to be assigned a bunk in the Admitting and Orientation Section (A&O). Elderly and sickly patients are assigned to bottom bunks but all other bunk assignments are random depending on where there is an available bed. There are a few permanent residents of this section. They are prisoners with medical conditions requiring daily dialysis. These prisoners are housed here to facilitate treatment. Permanent residents of this section have cardboard boxes for their possessions and temporary residents keep their paper bags.

Prisoners are escorted between their temporary cells and the dining hall for meals. After dinner on the arrival day inmates are required to attend an orientation class where they will be told about procedures and will be given a rule book. When finished with the orientation the prisoners are transferred to a pod where they will remain for the rest of their stay at the Reception and Diagnostic Center.

At this point the classification process begins in earnest. Inmates days will now be filled with medical, dental, and psychological examinations. If an inmate is illiterate, he will be administered an oral Beta IQ test. Only those offenders with low literacy skills have their IQ tested routinely by the RDC staff.  Some inmates may have taken an IQ test during the Pre-Sentencing Investigation (PSI). Prisoners may refuse to undergo any type of testing although most do not refuse since it gives them something to do. Once tested, certain personality profiles indicate the need for psychological interviews. All inmates who reveal tendencies toward substance abuse, sexual deviance, or violent behavior will be seen by a psychologist or psychiatrist.

immate testing

All inmates will be seen by a Classification Specialist. The Classification Specialists use a point system that will determine what an individual inmate’s security level will be and where they will be housed during the incarceration. Points are assigned based upon such things as the severity of the current offense, severity of any prior convictions, bodily injury in prior convictions, and parole violations. There are 5 Security Levels which are earned by having a score as follows:

0-9 Level One – Facilities have a defined boundary but no fences, open dorms, and minimal staff supervision.

10-17 Level Two– Facilities have single or double fences with single razor ribbon, some towers, single housing or multiple dorms, direct and indirect staff observation

18-22 Level Three-Facilities have a single fence with double razor ribbons or double fences with single razor ribbons, manned towers and/or perimeter detection devices, secure single housing and/or multiple dorms, and close staff observation

23-37 Level Four-Facilities have walls or double fences with razor ribbon, many manned towers, perimeter detection devices, and constant direct staff supervision

Level Five– No inmate in Indiana is ever sent directly to this level. This level is popularly called Super Max and is reserved for inmates who commit offenses within the prison system.

Once an inmate is scored in this way, behavioral considerations are taken into account and may change the score. For instance if the prisoner has been involved with drugs and alcohol in an illegal manner he may score another 5 points. Other things are also taken into consideration such as if there were infractions or escape attempts during a previous incarceration. The Classification Specialist may then make certain recommendations. For instance if the offense(s) are alcohol related it may be recommended that the inmate should complete a rehabilitation program before becoming eligible for work release programs. Medical needs and educational levels of each inmate are also reviewed before assigning an inmate to a particular prison.

The remainder of the book follows the six inmates through their prison assignments and describes how their environments and experiences may vary for each. Pursuit of educational programs, work and work release programs, recreational activities, and whether or not they took advantage of things like drug and alcohol rehabilitation opportunities.

In addition to all of the above things, this book also describes the history of the prison system in Indiana and comments in depth about the way in which the Indiana DOC has always stressed rehabilitation over punishment. This book is an older book and some of our current prisons were actually being built at the time it was written. Overcrowding wasn’t such an issue at the time of this book. The idea of the Reception and Diagnostic Center is to find out the needs of the inmates and then assign them to the facility best suited to deal with the need. For instance young offenders may need to complete high school. They may be sent to the Plainfield facility where there is an actual high school for the inmates. Some inmates may possess skills such as carpentry and may be sent to a facility where they will be able to work making furniture–which is then sold in the community. As much as possible all inmates will still be able to achieve educational goals and be productive members of society even behind bars. This is part of the rehabilitative mind set in Indiana. Even prisoners need to feel useful. As much as possible it is stressed that inmates can still positively contribute to society. For instance inmates can participate in the Locks of Love program.

Unfortunately prison conditions have changed. Overcrowding has many drawbacks. While prisoners may be recommended for certain facilities, placement ultimately now comes down to the luck of the draw and where there is an available bed with that inmate’s security level. Some other factors may affect a prisoner’s placement as well. For instance if there are known gang rivalries or “separatees” (a person or persons who it would be dangerous for a given inmate to be around) an inmate may be assigned to an other than first choice placement.

Do you believe prisons should be more punitive than rehabilitative? Do you know anyone currently in prison? Do you have recommendations to improve the system?