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Inside Skull & Bones, The Elite "Openly Secret" Society With Highly Influential Members

Updated September 30, 2019 116.6k views12 items
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Every year, 15 Yale University seniors are tapped to enter the ranks of Skull and Bones, one of the most mysterious secret societies on the planet. Skull and Bones, as Esquire writer Ron Rosenbaum puts it, is “devoted to converting the idle progeny of the ruling class into morally serious leaders of the establishment.” Skull and Bones dates back to 1832 when William H. Russell, a student at Yale co-created it after returning from Germany. Inspired by the country's occult secret societies, the club began as a faux-occult group that worshipped Eulogia, a fake goddess of eloquence, but they would quickly become one of the few secret societies that run the world.

The amount of famous Skull and Bones members is staggering, and if you go take a look at any brand names in your kitchen like Kellogg or Pillsbury you’ll be looking at the names of some of the oldest families within their ranks. There’s no doubt a myriad of Skull and Bones secrets: what follows are just a few.

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  • If You're Initiated Into Skull & Bones You're Going To Be Important

    What comes first, the destiny of greatness or initiation into Skull & Bones? For many people it seems that being inducted into this secret society provides a green light for the rest of your life. It doesn't hurt that the society is tapping members from Yale, one of the most prestigious universities in America, and rather than choose people at random they lean heavily on legacies (people whose parents were members).

    There have been multiple presidents inducted into Skull and Bones: William Howard Taft, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush, as well as many CIA officials, Fortune 500 CEOS, and Henry Luce, the founder of Time magazine. It's no secret that members of Skull and Bones not only go on to be important, they go on to shape the world. 

  • The Tomb Is A Foreboding HQ

    A semi-occult, secretive brotherhood like Skull and Bones needs a semi-occult, secretive lair where they can hold their initiation ceremonies and all night salons. In the early 19th century, Skull and Bones rented out various on-campus halls where they would hold late night discussions. But in 1856, they finally constructed "The Tomb," a windowless, brownstone where Bonesmen would meet privately every Thursday and Sunday. No one knows exactly what's inside the The Tomb but there have been a few expeditions inside by curious outsiders. 

    In 1876 a group calling itself "The Order of File and Claw" - named so because of what they used to break into The Tomb - wrote a pamphlet about what they found inside. Rooms outfitted with black and red velvet, pentagrams on the walls, and photos of an alternate society in Germany. A few years later another group broke in and found a gruesome scene:

    "On the west wall, hung among other pictures, an old engraving representing an open burial vault, in which, on a stone slab, rest four human skulls, grouped about a fools cap and bells, an open book, several mathematical instruments, a beggar's scrip, and a royal crown."

    That's pretty goth for a group of rich kids. 

  • Conspiracy Theories Surround Skull & Bones And Are Even Dispersed By The Club

    Outside of the rumors that persist about the secret society, many people believe that because due to the amount of members who are a part of the government who are inside Skull and Bones that the members dictate a plan for the world from inside The Tomb. The biggest conspiracy theory that the Bonesmen have helped pull off was the assassination of JFK. Much of the proof of this theory relies on the fact that in 1963 George H.W. Bush was the president of the Zapata Offshore oil company, a job that saw him going back and forth between Texas and Miami on a regular basis. He allegedly used his time in Miami to recruit Cuban nationals who would be happy to assassinate the president. 

    Many conspiracy theorists believe that the Skull & Bones was created as a way to build a modern Illuminati that would serve as a way for the 1% to meet in secret and plan out a dystopia lorded over by Yale alumni. The craziest thing that Skull and Bones supposedly did was put the Manhattan Project into motion. 

  • New Names For Everyone - But Most Get No Say In What Their Name Will Be

    When new members officially join Skull and Bones they take on a new name that their fellow Bonesmen will know them as for the rest of their lives. Some Bonesmen pass down their nicknames to younger recruits, like Lewis Lapham (Harper's magazine) did with his nickname "Sancho Panza," when he passed it to Tex McCrary, a PR specialist. Bonesmen who were the most sexually active received the nickname "Magog," and anyone who was a varsity football captain was known as "Boaz."

    Some Bonesmen are allowed to choose their own nicknames. Allegedly, George W. Bush was one of these lucky devils but because he couldn't think of anything his fellow Bonesmen referred to him as "Temporary" and the name stuck.