6 Strange Secret Societies You Probably Didn't Know About
The closest I have ever gotten to membership in a secret society was in high school, when I was tapped to join the National Honors Society. NHS is not secret at all, but it still had a level of weird coolness, like being pulled out of class to be tapped ("Suck it, Mr. Echelberger! Wait, you're the teacher in charge of our NHS chapter? Uh...sorry."), eating food in the school library ("It's not even close to lunch, but heck, I'll eat!"), wearing a hat made specifically for you by current members ("Thanks, Amanda, for the giant sparkly pink hat with wings. Definitely not helping the untrue allegations of homosexuality!" I still have the hat somewhere, though), and having a special rope to wear at graduation ("You're dang right I get the rope! Way to forget me and the other senior inductees at the graduation awards ceremony, Mr. Echelberger!").
In lieu of being able to join a secret society in college, thanks to my decision not to attend college, I've decided to look at some of the more interesting college secret societies. You, my gorgeous reader, may notice the absence of Skull & Bones, but that's because there is a ton of information about that particular secret society out there, and that's no fun. My standards are weird, I know.
Much like the rest of the world. I mean, the metric system? Come on, that's just stupid.
6. The NoZe Brotherhood
This fraternity calls Baylor University home, and was founded in 1924. Brotherhood members refer to other members as "NoZe Brothers", while other students are "Infidels" (except non-members who have banged members; they're "Fortunates"), and former members are "Exiles", which makes them sound like either a prestigious society or a tribe in the jungle.
Originally known as The Nose Brotherhood, the club enjoys pranks, satire, and other mischief. At first, membership was not secret, as the club was on the Baylor administration's good side, but after pranks had gone too far (something about arson on a bridge), the society was getting close to the university... well, burning bridges with them. The Nose Brotherhood jumped off the radar, adopting disguises, changing the spelling of "Nose", and basically going underground. From what I've read, their newspaper, The Rope has always continued to provide Baylor students with satire and absurdity, throughout the society's tumultuous past. Oh, and the name comes from the proclamation that a club could be formed around the apparently large nose of one Leonard Shoaf. Just to let you know.
They continue to honor him to this day. Wait, is "honor" the right word?
The brotherhood has a safe, affectionately called "The Snot Locker", in their house holding handkerchiefs from every member ever. It is treated with reverence, and it holds a handkerchief from Leonard Shoaf in a display case that is only brought out on special occasions. Special occasions include the yearly Neti pot exchange (celebrated on June 12, Shoaf's birthday), or to celebrate a member's marriage. The way a "Fortunate" knows they are with a NoZe brother is if the brother uses exclusively his nose to perform oral sex, which makes things more than a little awkward for gay NoZe brothers. The ex-lovers of members are called "Mouth-breathers", the scum of the Earth according to the society. To call a brother a mouth-breather is tantamount to insulting the intelligence of his whole family.
5. The IMP Society
Founded in 1913, the IMP Society is the result of a renaming and revival of the Hot Feet Society, which was banned after a particularly crazy (for 1908) prank. To give some contextless context, in order to become eligible to be "king" of the Hot Feet Society, one was required to chug without interruption a gallon of beer. As the IMP Society, the club has been more involved with the University of Virginia than their predecessors. Philanthropy, awards, and community service are now hallmarks of the club, rather than the outdoor keggers thrown by Hot Feet. Not that IMP society has lost their fun side; the name stands for "Incarnate Memories Prevail" for a reason! The now co-ed society is known for bonfires, pranking a rival society, and running around in horned hoods while carrying fake pitchforks.
One might say they're classy as Hell. One might hope one doesn't go to Hell for puns.
Around the house, IMP members are called chimps, and they have all kissed a poster of Jane Goodall as part of initiation since the 1980s. There is an official count of kegs emptied at IMP parties and gatherings from its inception. It's nearing 75,000 as of this publication. The most recent development in the society is inclusion of more and more Spanish-speaking members. When Spanish-speaking members go to tap a new Spanish-speaking inductee, they drag a foot while approaching, signifying the language commonality and pointing to a sub-society knows as El Imps.
4. Mace & Chain
After waiting for too long and not being tapped for any of the other societies at Yale on Tap Day/Night 1957, Thornton Marshall dressed up in appropriate garb and began tapping people into his own secret society, Mace & Chain. The club shut down twice over the years, but finally got their own "tomb" (actually a house, but to Yale, it's a tomb and it makes them an official Yale secret society) in 2001. Only seven other secret societies (including Skull & Bones) have "tombs" at Yale. The club was formed to bring students from varied backgrounds to discuss issues and ideas, and the bylaws were written so that the clubs' purpose outside of such discussion would be decided on from year to year. That makes it very difficult to write about them since they change annually.
Also, I feel like if I write too much, I'll be attacked with one of these.
Members denigrate the owning of mace spray canisters, bur pepper spray is totally fine. It's one many idiosyncrasies that has been carried over from year to year, along with the rules pertaining to dinner meetings. If discussions are held over dinner, the table must have at least one watermelon, up to 5 salt shakers, and a pair of frozen pig's feet on it. Lately, Red Rover has become a common activity at Mace & Chain gatherings, leading to confusion by non-members who try to join in the fun.
3. Cadaver Society
Based at a college I've never heard of, Washington And Lee University, in Lexington, Virginia, the Cadavers will be forcing me to keep this entry short. Not that they have any power over me, but that their membership, structure, and most activities are secret. According to the Washington And Lee Dictionary, the group appears after dark, prank people, and leave their symbol around campus. The society also apparently has given money for various school ventures, and has established a scholarship for incoming freshmen. The most interesting thing about this particular club is the widespread rumor that they have a tunnel network across the campus. Since 1957, this society has existed under the ninth oldest college campus in America and no one knows who any of the members are.
We do know that they have friendzoned the university though.
Cadaver initiation includes a screening of Frankenstein while in a kiddie pool of cherry Jell-O, as a play on the Cadaver name, of course. Initiates are also told to compose a letter to add to the collection of fake letters between Thomas Jefferson and Martha Washington. This collection is poorly hidden in the tunnel system, along with forged copies of the U.S. Constitution, the Magna Carta, and Portugal's Declaration of Independence, in case a National Treasure-esque search held there. Also, members in medical majors leave their symbol on the inside of the lungs of actual cadavers they work on in the lab, and while professors have spotted these, they respect the institution and do not out the student as a Cadaver.
2. Mystical Seven (The Missouri University Edition)
Sharing a name with an unrelated society at Wesleyan University must be embarrassing, but I have no idea. No one knows, because these societies keep everything to themselves. Founded in 1907, this society doesn't say what they do. They are known to select 7 outstanding juniors for initiation, and for the Peace Pipe ceremony. When Oklahoma University plays MU, a nearly 200 year old peace pipe is smoked by members of the Mystical Seven and OU's PE-ET society at half-time. Whichever team wins the basketball game (it was football, until the conferences were switched up), their society takes the pipe home. The clearest indication of their purpose is found in an old yearbook: "A fraternity which does advance the interests of the University. A worthy organization of seven who could tell its object but won't; its goal is often discussed by those who think they know--but don't." It's no longer a fraternity, being co-ed since 1920.
She just found out the true purpose.
The Mystical Seven are given access to the Mystical Kitchen, located in the society's house. A private chef prepares gourmet meals daily, and members may not share any food with non-members. Initiates are expected to write a comparative essay on subjects decided on by current members. The initiate with the worst essay must endure being slathered in mayonnaise or ketchup and rolled down a freshly mowed hill. That seems to point to a youthful, fun side, but when the society meets, they knock on the door to the meeting room eight times in an attempt to be funny, so really they're already to the Dad joke stage of humor.
1. Quill And Dagger
The oldest on this list, the Quill And Dagger Society was founded in 1898 on the campus of Cornell University. In 1925, the club gave the university an undisclosed amount of money to help build the War Memorial on the West Campus, and in return, the school gave them exclusive use of the top two floors of the tower. The names of members are no secret, but their activities are. The qualifications to be considered for tapping include showing character, leadership and service, and the club had a presence in Congress every year from 1913 to 1984. Members have also been World Bank presidents, Olympic medalists, members of Presidential cabinets, and chairmen of large oil corporations.
That tower has held more potential for greatness than your father's ever did.
Activities include tickle fights and fencing matches, but they tickle each other with daggers and fence with peacock feathers. Those activities have raised some eyebrows, especially the dagger tickling, but one activity, namely puking from the topmost level of the tower onto dogs being walked by nonmembers, has led to several investigations of the club. No one has ever been punished, and the practice stopped in the 1930s. One section of the society's bylaws, added in the 1980s, outlines some very specific rules about musical instruments. Playing the oboe is grounds for immediate dismissal from the society, but mastering the banjo will result in an elevation to the highest levels of leadership.
JamishT resides in Kansas City, and makes up stuff about secret societies in the last paragraph of each entry. Follow him on Twitter for awful awful pickup lines, live tweets of random shows, and his thoughts when he remembers he has a Twitter.
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