Origins to English Freemasonry

The Origins and Links of English Freemasonry – Part 3

There are a host of organisations basing themselves on Freemasonry, but it is also true that some started life at a similar time and are quite simply quasi-Masonic organisations, or those that adopt Masonic-like ritual.

Skull and Bones


We are all aware of The Orange Order (Orangemen) and ‘The Buffs’ (The Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes) but what about, for example, Skull and Bones? Once known as The Brotherhood of Death, it began at Yale University when a group of men established an organization for the purpose of drug smuggling.

Indeed, many American and European fortunes were built on the China opium trade. Skull and Bones still exists today, although I’m not suggesting it’s still involved in drug smuggling, it has evolved into more of an organization dedicated to the success of its members after leaving the college world. 

The shape of that success can only be left to speculation. Skull and Bones has been described as the most secretive organization in the world. The saying ‘Presidents are not elected by ballot; they are selected by blood’, was penned by them.  

Some of the world’s most famous and powerful men have been linked to Skull and Bones – and given the title ‘bonesmen’ – including:

  • Chief Justice William Howard Taft (d. 1930, a founder’s son)

former USA Presidents (and father and son)

  • George H. W. Bush (d. 2018)
  • George W. Bush,

others including

  • Senator John Kerry,
  • Harold Stanley (d. 1963, founder of Morgan Stanley),
  • Frederick W. Smith (founder of Fedex),
  • Artemus Gates (d. 1976, President of New York Trust Company, Union Pacific, TIME and Boeing).


The logo of the Skull and Bones consists of a skull and crossbones, along with the number 322. According to one theory, 322 symbolises the year the society was founded (1832) and indicates that it is the second chapter of a German secret society, supposedly the Bavarian Illuminati. It more likely records the date of Demosthenes’ death.
IMAGE LINKED:  wikimedia Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

Chapter 322, as Skull and Bones is known, exists only on the Yale Campus; the Order is not just another fraternal society with passwords and handgrips common to most campuses.

Chapter 322 is a secret society whose members are sworn to silence; it has rules and ceremonial rites. It is not at all happy with prying, probing citizens – known among initiates as ‘outsiders’ or ‘vandals’.

Its members always deny membership (or are supposed to). There are hundreds of autobiographical listings used by the FBI for background checks of all people in government or administration positions, however, there are only half a dozen who cited an affiliation with Skull and Bones – the rest were silent.

The Order is said to be unbelievably powerful.


The Illuminati

From Das verbesserte System der Illuminaten. This is the original insignia of the Bavarian Illuminati. It pictures the owl of Minerva – symbolising wisdom – on top of an opened book. This version of the owl comes from an early pamphlet, printed around 1788.
IMAGE LINKED:  wikimedia Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

Let’s move away for a moment and look at the The Illuminati. Some of you may have heard my paper on the Illuminati and how they infiltrated German Freemasonry in the late 1700s.

There are some interesting parallels – the Illuminati have Masonic-like lodges with similar ritual, and this is how they infiltrated German Freemasonry. Mystics within the Illuminati have always believed that by meditation, people can achieve a higher state of consciousness, a oneness with God, and with the entire universe.

But they have also warned of the ‘left hand path’, to a dangerous partial enlightenment by people seeking the paranormal abilities attained in this state; abilities that can be used to obtain temporal wealth and power. 

It is widely considered that the Illuminati were responsible for the French Revolution. They sought the destruction of all existing order and the complete remaking of society under their control. 

Of course the Illuminati died out when it was outlawed in the 1800s, didn’t it? Winston Churchill himself warned of the dangers of the Illuminati in 1920. I started writing my paper ‘The Enemy and The Craft’, while I was working at Sky TV. 

I often worked overnights when little was happening, so I used the time for research. I received a call at work from a senior Sky News Producer who asked what my interest was in the Illuminati.

I told him I was writing a paper on German Freemasonry. His reply was ‘I’m advising you to drop it’.

It was only later that I realised someone in the IT Department must have reported it to him. So, why the interest from IT? And why report it to a News Producer who was unknown to me?

I continued my research and had my access to the internet withdrawn, my shift pattern altered to permanent days and my buying power removed.

I deleted the entire file – having first saved it to a memory stick, and everything reverted back to normal.  Obviously, I must believe the Illuminati still exists.

I also believe there is a link to Skull and Bones, or Chapter 322. Some of the most powerful men in the World are ‘bonesmen’, and you really wouldn’t want to consider how many of the European Parliament, and indeed the House of Lords, went to Yale. Conspiracy theories abound!

Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes (RAOB)

Lapel badge for the Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes (RAOB) with Latin motto and English maxim
IMAGE LINKED:  wikimedia Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

The Order has a Rule Book, Manual of Instruction and Ceremony Lectures issued and revised by their Grand Lodge of England based in Harrogate.

The ‘lodge’ description for branch organisation and headquarters was adopted in imitation of Freemasonry but RAOB is completely open in its objectives, activities and ritual.

The RAOB was begun in the Harp Tavern, opposite the Drury Lane Theatre by the artist Joseph Lisle and comedian William Sinnett, along with stage hands and other theatre technicians, in August 1822.

It drew its then name of The Buffaloes from a popular Music Hall song of the time ‘We’ll Chase the Buffalo’.

This first meeting is historically the Phoenix Lodge No.1. As members toured the country with various shows, lodges were opened in other towns.

During the nineteenth century, the Order spread throughout the British Commonwealth and indeed the world.

The Order’s honorifics of ‘Royal’, when it did not have Royal patronage nor a Royal charter, and ‘antediluvian’, when in fact its foundations are of historical record, or that it is an ‘Order’ although it had no standing nor recognition from any house of nobility, are meant to add mock solemnity to its fellowship status and have no more authenticity than its having anything to do with the buffalo.

The Seditious, and Riotous Assembly Acts of the late nineteenth century affected the gatherings of clubs throughout Britain.

To overcome this issue and show the Buffaloes were not subversive to the interest of the state, the Order described itself as the ‘Loyal Order of Buffaloes’, the word ‘loyal’ was often mispronounced as ‘Royal’, and soon stuck.

However, the Royal Warrant Act required any organisation using the ‘Royal’ prefix to register with the Lord Chamberlain’s Office and to desist from using the title if permission was not granted.

Since the Buffaloes had been using the title from the 1840s, the Lord Chamberlain agreed that no objection would be raised on continued use of the title on the grounds of long usage, provided no act by the Order arose that would disgrace its use.

The addition of ‘Antediluvian’ (meaning before the time of the flood in the Bible) occurred in the 1850s.

The RAOB continues its work in the local community, helping those its members promise to assist in times of difficulty or need.

Lodges throughout the United Kingdom and the rest of the world raise money for charities and charitable causes.

Membership is open to all males over the age of 18 who are willing to declare that they are ‘true and loyal supporters of the British Crown and Constitution’.

Discussion of politics or religion is strictly forbidden at gatherings, as is gambling, although I believe they can freely drink beer during their meetings!

The Loyal Order of the Moose

The Loyal Order of the Moose is a fraternal and service organization founded in 1888, with nearly one million men in roughly 2,400 Lodges, in all 50 US States and four Canadian provinces as well as Bermuda; along with its female auxiliary, Women of the Moose with more than 400,000 members in roughly 1,600 Chapters in the same areas and the Loyal Order of Moose in Britain.

These organizations make up the Moose International. It is headquartered in Mooseheart, Illinois.

The Moose have a ritual, secret passwords, ceremonies and codes of conduct.

An important ritual for the Moose is the 9 O’ Clock Ceremony. At nine o’clock, all Moose are directed to face toward Mooseheart with bowed heads and folded arms and repeat a silent prayer.

There are also the ten ‘thou shalts’. These begin with ‘Thou shalt believe in God and worship Him as thy conscience dictates. Thou shalt be tolerant to let others worship each in his own way’. Other thou shalts pertain to patriotism, service to fellowmen, protection of the weak, avoidance of slander to a brother Moose, love of the LOM, faithfulness and humility.

James Davis drew up the ritual for the Order. It is relatively short, usually taking less than forty minutes.

The governor of the lodge asks the Sergeant-at-Arms to administer the Moose Obligation. After candidates are asked if they believe in a Supreme Being, and if they are willing to assume the Obligation they take the oath with their left hand on their heart and their right hand raised.

Among other things, this obligation pledges the candidate not to ‘communicate or disclose or give any information – concerning anything – I may hereafter hear, see or experience in this lodge or in any other Lodge’.

At this point the lodge performs the Nine O’ Clock Ceremony, and then the lodge chaplain or prelate explains the ten ‘thou shalts’.

Next the governor grasps the hands of the candidates while the members sing ‘Blest Be the Tie that Binds’.

Finally, the governor administers the second part of the obligation, the candidates promise to support Mooseheart, Moosehaven, help fellow Moose, settle disputes within the Order and not to join any unauthorized Moose organizations.

The prelate offers another prayer at the altar, and all then join in singing ‘Friendship We Now Extend’.

There are many, many other Orders:  The Hermetic Order of The Golden Dawn, The Shriners (although they are an offshoot of Freemasonry predominantly in the States), the list goes on and on.

Rose Cross Lamen of The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn
IMAGE LINKED:  wikimedia Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

One final point, I mentioned the Hermetic Order of The Golden Dawn.

Alistair Crowley was a prominent (and controversial) member, who was described as the ‘wickedest man in the world’.

Many of you will have heard of rock legend Eddie and the Hot Rods. They had a huge hit called ‘Do Anything You Wanna Do’; they took the title from the Crowleyan code of ‘Do What Thou Wilt‘.

Unfortunately, using those words and putting Crowley’s picture on the record cover, replete with a pair of Micky Mouse ears, angered Crowley’s followers [in particular Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin, a Crowley ‘apostle [*].

Soon after it was reported that Page had put a curse on the Hot Rods – the band and those associated with the record cover subsequently experienced a run of ‘bad luck’.

Aleister Crowley – the ‘wickedest man in the world’.
Originally published in The Equinox volume 1, issue 10 (1913)
IMAGE LINKED:  wikimedia Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

So there you have it – we’ve looked at our links with the past, some links with the present and possibly even the future, and some pretenders along the way. 

With regards to quasi-Masonic organisations, I’m in the process of researching a paper on that subject alone – if I disappear you’ll know what happened!

EDITOR’S NOTE: *  You can read the story about Jimmy Page’s ‘curse’ on the Hot Rods here:


List of Skull and Bones Members: see a list here


The Loyal Order of the Moose Handbook:  see here  (pdf file)

Article by: Barry Stedman


Barry was initiated into Freemasonry in Tudor Lodge 6947 UGLE, and was Master in 1995 and served as Master in other craft lodges and PZ in HRA.  He is also a member of the Essex Provincial Oration team (based in England).  

Barry works in TV and shot a video with Jim Davidson OBE ,Chelsea Lodge 3098, promoting for the RMBI Prince Edward, Duke of Kent Court at Stisted (Essex, England).

Further Reading

America’s Secret Establishment:
An Introduction to the Order of Skull & Bones


For 170 years they have met in secret. Their initiates become presidents, senators, judges, cabinet secretaries, and spooks.

They are the titans of finance and industry and have now installed a third member as U.S. President George W. Bush.

This intriguing behind-the-scenes look documents Yale’s secretive society, the Order of the Skull & Bones, and its prominent members, numbering among them Tafts, Rockefellers, Pillsburys, and Bushes.

Far from being a campus fraternity, the society is more concerned with the success of its members in the post-collegiate world.

Included are a verified membership list, rare reprints of original Order materials revealing the interlocking power centers dominated by Bonesmen, and a peek inside the Tomb, their 140-year-old private clubhouse.



The Secret School of Wisdom:
The Authentic Ritual
and Doctrines of the Illuminati


For more than two hundred years, the world has held a prejudiced view of the Illuminati.

Much has been claimed for and against the Order – its name synonymous with secrecy, intrigue, and mystery in the modern context, despite a poverty of concrete evidence in the English language.

Little has been said about the factual structure and development through its life cycle.

The Secret School of Wisdom – The Authentic Rituals and Doctrines of the Illuminati, is a ground-breaking text. It marks the first time that a comprehensive ritual book for the society has been re-assembled.

Every degree, its instruction and associated texts, has been included and assembled in chronological order of progression.

The reader will be guided along the same path as many of Germany’s most enlightened men, as they did in the years immediately prior to the French Revolution.

They will ascend from one level of knowledge to the next. Much of this material has never been published, let alone translated into English.

Supplemental texts are included to gain further historical insight into the Order. The documents have been checked for accuracy with the original archival texts, and carefully translated into English.

The Secret School of Wisdom – The Authentic Rituals and Doctrines of the Illuminati is a pioneering text, a full working manual of the Order, and an astounding insight into the world’s most intriguing secret society.


* The first book in history to publish the complete rituals of the Illuminati

* The doctrine of the Illuminati in their very own words

* The regalia and jewels of the Order completely revealed for the first time

* The development of the rituals and teachings of the Order

* The secret goals of the Order to reform society – exposed in detail

* The rituals that went on to become part of modern day Freemasonry The secret signs, grips and passwords of the Illuminati revealed.



Full Series:

August 2020

Origins and Links to English Freemasonry – Part 3

Quasi-Masonic societies – are the highly secretive Skull and Bones the real Illuminati?  …read more

July 2020

Origins and Links to English Freemasonry – Part 2

The Regius MS & Deciphering the Oldest Charges  …read more

June 2020

Origins and Links to English Freemasonry – Part 1

Unexpected links between the Freemasonry of today with the original Operative builders.  …read more

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