What's The Thrill With Secret Societies


What is it about secret societies that sets our minds ablaze? Why do we, as readers, love to dive into the mysteries of some hidden culture or organization that exists within, around, and beneath our own? Whether it’s real-life entities like the Freemasons or Bilderbergers, or fictional creations like the League of Assassins, there’s something wonderful and enchanting about secrets which exist right beneath our very noses, true mysteries that can be solved, even by “normal” people.
Secret societies have been a popular staple of fiction for decades, and continue to be so, featuring prominently across every genre. Let’s take a look at what makes them so fascinating, and why they will always be an element worth exploring through the pages of our favorite stories.
A Secret Known to Few
There’s something wonderfully exciting about discovering a secret hidden in plain sight. We, as human beings, experience a rush when we uncover something previously concealed—or something concealed from the rest of the world. When we are let in on "the secret", brought “into the fold” with a peek “beneath the hood”, there is a feeling of exclusivity, as if we are special for knowing what few others do.
Secret societies are the perfect target for that desire for exclusivity. We know they exist, but only a handful of people know the secrets they are concealing. They tantalize us with the promise that we, too, might be able to see behind the curtain and learn the knowledge hidden from everyone else.
A Newer, “Better” Pack to Join
Humans are very much cooperative creatures. We gravitate towards a “pack”, towards law and order and a society where rules offer us safety. Our cultures thrive because they attract people who share customs, beliefs, and practices with us.
We are always looking for new “packs” to join, new groups into which we can assimilate. In many ways, people who belong to many different packs often feel like their place in society is assured, so they are less concerned about being outcast or rejected—becoming vulnerable to predators.
This evolutionary mindset has seeped into our society. When we see a pack we are not a part of, we feel an urge to become part of it. When those packs are comprised of an exclusive, select few, that subconscious desire becomes almost compelling. We want to join that newer, “better” pack, which makes that pack all the more exciting for us to think about or imagine ourselves a part of.

Read the entire article in the September 2021 issue of InD'Tale magazine.

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