Special Report

The World's Most Powerful Secret Societies

21. The United Ancient Order of Druids
> Founded: 1781
> Mission: Pursue individual spiritual paths
> Well-known members: Winston Churchill

The modern-day druids emerged from the druid revival of the late 18th century. Today’s druids do not claim to be direct descendants of the Celtic-era druids in Great Britain 2,000 years ago. Druids are encouraged to pursue their own spiritual paths in a personal way rather than a dogmatic approach. Membership is open to all men and women and there is a prescribed initiation process.

Source: OlekStock / Getty Images

22. United Order of the Golden Cross
> Founded: 1876
> Mission: Getting life insurance safely and economically
> Well-known members: N/A

The United Order of the Golden Cross aimed to get life insurance for all of its members as easily and inexpensively as possible. Dating back to the 19th century, the order was founded in England but has strong roots across the U.S. Its members have to give up drinking alcohol in order to join the group.

Source: Public Domain / Compton Litho Company / Wikimedia Commons

23. Veiled Prophet Organization
> Founded: 1878
> Mission: Celebrating St. Louis, Missouri
> Well-known members: St. Louis Police Commissioner John G. Priest, Monsanto Vice President Tom K. Smith

Following the Civil War, a Confederate soldier named Charles Slayback convinced local leaders in St. Louis to organize a secret society called the Veiled Prophet Organization. The group started the myth of the Veiled Prophet of Khorassan and organized a festival in his honor. It’s believed the celebration was meant to reinforce social structures and intimidate striking railroad workers in 1877. Members elected as the honorary Veiled Prophet of the year are typically kept secret and only two prophets have ever been made public.

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