Uncovering Mysterious Sites, Symbols, and Societies
The doors of some of the world's best-hidden places and most secretive organizations have now been thrown wide open! Some of the names are familiar: Area 51, Yale's Skull and Bones, Opus Dei, the Esalen Institute. Others are more obscure, hidden by fate or purposeful deception, such as the Mount Weather Emergency Operations Center, the super-secure facility where Vice President Dick Cheney was secreted after the 9/11 attacks, and Germany's Wewelsburg Castle, which was intended to become the mythological centerpiece of the Nazi Regime. Readers can take an unprecedented look deep inside the off-the-map military installations and shadowy organizations that operate in the murkiest corners of our world.
May 24, 2013
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August 18, 2012
In the event you missed it, last year Warsaw was the host of the 48th Baltic Nations Kommers, a gathering of Europe’s gallant young members of the colour-wearing fraternity bodies (“corporations”) of Central and Baltic Europe (the attractive website is still live). The patron was His Excellency Count Bronisław Komorowski, President of Poland.
An excellent book on the Polish Baltic Fraternities before 1918 was published for the meeting, in Polish, German, English, Latvian and Estonian.
Chivalry is clearly not dead in old Europe.
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March 4, 2012
As amateurs of heraldry know, here’s something about putting words into Greek, Latin or French that renders them, well, somehow more interesting or inspiring than something in the usual vernacular. Societies, clubs and fraternities of all kinds have been doing this for centuries.
Can anyone identify where the following openly-used mottoes come from, translated into English from their club, fraternity or other society arms or symbol?
“The cause is hidden, the results well known”
“Friends from the heart, forever”
“One man is no man”
“Friendship, the sweetest influence”
“Equal to the stars in endurance”
“Upon us has fallen a great friendship”
“We shall grow old together”
“While we live, let us live”
“I go on forever”
– Stephen Klimczuk
Secret Places, Hidden Sanctuaries | March 4, 2012 | 2 Comments »
February 25, 2012
600 year-old St Andrews University is a place with rich tradition to go with its academic excellence and Anglo-Scottish international flair. However, in recent days, it has become a place of Clubland intrigue: it appears the venerable all-male Kate Kennedy Club will now split into two entities: an official university-recognized coed Kate Kennedy Fellowship and a continuing gentlemen’s Kate Kennedy Club as a purely private body. Ah, but who gets control of the important Kate Kennedy Trust?
St Andrews (along with Oxford) is already the site where Zeta Psi Fraternity of North America has established a chapter, and Delta Kappa Epsilon Fraternity is rumored to be considering similar beachhead plans. Will masculine camaraderie live on in this fabled university town, but under different auspices? Then again, perhaps the style of Germany’s and Central Europe’s “corps” (not all duel, by the way) might suit St Andreans well, eyeglass (er, monocle), cap, sash and all?
(With reporting from St Andrews’ parent Stephen Klimczuk)
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January 26, 2012
How about the fourth alternative offered?
Secret Places, Hidden Sanctuaries | January 26, 2012 | 2 Comments »
December 26, 2011
Yes, it has been far too long since our last update. So please pour yourself a generous glass of something bubbly, don a dinner jacket or white tie, fire up a good recording of Die Fledermaus, and get ready for New Year’s Eve (Sylvester for our European friends!), Curated Secrets-style…
Mysteries behind mysteries: the Copial Cipher (above, and detail at bottom) is finally cracked
The initiation rites detailed in the decoded manuscript display a strange fascination with eyeballs and spectacles. At one point in the ceremonies, initiates undergo an “operation” involving the plucking of an eyebrow. Neophytes are meant to be frightened, and are told “prepare yourself to die.” Some passages display an Illuminist-like political slant. Modes of recognition are taught: if a member asks how “Hans” is, the other responds by mentioning a name that begins with the second letter of the first name (eg, “He is with Anton”).
If by chance you meet an Oculist, be very afraid.
“Whom to call for a hidden stairway–or a personal crypt”
Going to Lloyd’s of London to insure against the unthinkable
Terminal 5 hideaway
The greatest Ghost Town ever built
Gallic conspiracy theories
Secret Places, Hidden Sanctuaries | December 26, 2011 | 1 Comment »
August 11, 2011
Our Dan Brown-tinged era has put a kind of “full-employment act” in place for spinners of Templar myths. Some of these entrepreneurs cater to the desire for escapism and fantasy (which, given the state of the world at the moment, is perhaps understandable). Much of it is less benign, from the dozens of murders and suicides connected with the so-called Order of the Solar Temple in the 1990s, to the ruthless Caballeros Templarios drug gang in Mexico that split off from the equally fearsome La Familia cartel. The latter has produced a 22-page “Templar code” for its criminal members, including a pledge not to use or sell narcotics on Mexican territory. How chivalrous.
What is it about the Templar myth that seems to beguile both the general public as well as those who are unhinged or engaged in nefarious activities? With the horrific bombing and shootings in Norway on July 22nd, that question has taken on greater urgency — though the world’s media are having difficulty making sense of it.
Perhaps you’ve seen the photos above and below: confessed murderer Anders Behring Breivik in his self-designed “Templar” military uniform, with the flair of a third-world generalissimo (NB the uniform appears to be based on that of the US Marine Corps); and in full evening dress as a Master Mason of the Norwegian Order of Freemasons. The curiosities in these pictures include an Idi Amin-like jumble of self-awarded medals on the former, and the odd presence of a pen in his breast pocket on the latter — sort of like an old-fashioned primary schoolmaster. Perhaps one commentator is right: the man has above-average intelligence but below-average sanity, his mind awash with a hodge-podge of influences.
Admittedly, it’s not easy to make sense of Breivik: a bogus Templar; until recently a genuine Freemason (he was expelled immediately by that fraternity following his capture); a member of the Church of Norway who advocated reunion with Rome; an agnostic (as he himself has written); a self-proclaimed defender of European civilization against Islamism; a child of privilege who proudly states (accurately or not) that he was the most notable hip-hopper and graffiti artist of his teenage generation in Oslo… Not to mention his rambling blogs about the threat of pollution from venereal disease (rather Dr. Strangelovian?), combined with his stated plan to treat himself to the ministrations of a prostitute prior to his attack. The reputable Atlantic has written “Whatever the case, he may be the only Freemason, Rome-leaning, Protestant fundamentalist in the world.” That not entirely correct statement shows how far we still have to go in coming to grips with all this.
Secret Places, Hidden Sanctuaries | August 11, 2011 | 3 Comments »
June 6, 2011
Your humble curators have found that it’s possible to travel to the year 2041. Sort of. In the bowels of the Harvard University archives is one sealed copy of the bicentennial history of the fabled Porcellian Club, with strict instructions that it is not to be opened until 2041 — a year when most or all of those whose names and stories appear in it will be dead. However, as enterprising sleuths, we have been able to see the book: and it’s charming. Anecdotes abound from the Long Room at 1324 Massachusetts Avenue, as does the witty ode composed in 1948 by literary maven and man about town George Plimpton. Interestingly, the membership includes some with a definite Central European flair, including financiers (the late) Michael von Clemm and Stanislas Yassukovich (Jasiukowicz), and several generations of Colloredo-Mannsfelds.
As the preface puts it, “The Club flourishes, not as a relic of the past, but as a living band of Brothers which grows each year as it accepts within its fold new members drawn from the ranks of Harvard College. It is one of the unique features of the Club that it can initiate young men from all places and backgrounds and mold them quickly into Porcellians appreciative of its rich history and ready to enhance its glory in the future…” (The “brothers” bit makes it seem more of a fraternity that we expected, and less of a private club.)
Anyway, look for the book sometime in early 2041…
The Immortalization Commission
Speaking of books, perhaps you’ve also seen London School of Economics professor John Gray’s new book, “The Immortalization Commission: Science and the Strange Quest to Cheat Death”
Make mine a Truth Serum, stirred not shaken
If all this is too rich a concoction for you, we might recommend a cooling drink at San Francisco’s retro, speakeasy-style Wilson & Wilson Private Detective Agency bar. Ask for a Truth Serum.
Secret Places, Hidden Sanctuaries | June 6, 2011 | 1 Comment »
April 13, 2011
We are pleased to report that your humble curators are still alive and well, even if not blogging frequently. We realize we are overdue for an update, especially since the recent successful launch of the Italian edition of Secret Places. The original cover design is shown above, which some suggested looked like an entrance to a nefarious den of ill repute. Thanks entirely to some stupendous media coverage in Italy, the book is selling briskly from Rome to Milan and Naples and beyond.
Bilderberg secretariat launches its official website
Full-employment act for purveyors of oddities
Only in America?
Awaiting the Apocalypse underground, but with the latest appliances
Secret Places, Hidden Sanctuaries | April 13, 2011 | 1 Comment »