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on 5 July 2008
Whatever particular sect, group, cult, society or club you are interested in, this book has the information you are looking for. With 10,000 years worth of history covering everything from Atlantis to the modern day Freemasons through to the more obscure and little known sects, it certainly has the scoop on everything you'll ever want to know about Secret Societies and mysterious cults throughout the ages.
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on 18 December 2015
If you think all the world is in the throes of a Masonic-Jewish cabal of the llluminati (with reptoid aliens at the very apex of the shadow hierarchy and, I suppose, cosmic food chain), this is probably not a book for you. For starters, author John Michael Greer is a Grand Archdruid, a Scottish Freemason and a firm believer in the reality of climate change. This would make him an unreliable source of pretty much anything as far as conspiracy buffs are concerned.

If, on the other hand, you want a relatively down-to-earth look at Freemasons, Odd Fellows, Skull & Bones, the Illuminati (the real ones) and a host of other lesser known “secret” frats and lodges, this may be just what you've been looking for. Apart from various Masonic, Quasi-Masonic and Masonic-inspired societies, the encyclopedia also contain information about occult brotherhoods (such as the elusive Rosicrucians), rejected knowledge claims (Atlantis, anyone?) and political seditionists (Decembrists and Carbonari, to mention just a few). Greer has also included an entry on the Ancient Order of Druids in America (AODA), a small group headed by…Greer himself.

The point of the book seems to be to demystify secret societies, show their diversity, and discuss aspects of their symbolism and esoteric teachings (if such exist). Another purpose is to deny the wilder conspiracy claims, for instance about the Illuminati, the Scottish Rite or Bohemian Grove. However, Greer isn't opposed to all “rejected knowledge” claims – he can't be, since his very own esoteric curriculum (found in another book by the same author, called “Celtic Golden Dawn”) deals with Druid symbolism, ritual magic, sacred geometry and divination. Skeptics may be taken aback by Greer's support to the Anti-Stratfordians or soft spots for non-Viking pre-Columbian contacts with the New World. Nor is Greer particularly “objective”, in contrast to modern encyclopedias which try to sound dispassionate. His sympathies and antipathies do show here and now, as when he “disses” Traditionalism as a Theosophy mimic.

That being said, I nevertheless consider this encyclopedia a comprehensive treatment of the subject (I read it cover to cover) and a good counterpoint to more sensationalist books on Masons, conspiracies and/or the occult.
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on 14 February 2010
The Author knows his subject and points out those groups that are genuine and those that are not. this is a valuable book for all those who are interested in the subject.
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on 18 December 2015
If you want to know what Masons have under their aprons, if OTO really practice sex magic (and how you can contribute to the ensuing melee), or how the Illuminati pulled off the Moon landing hoax, this is – I'm afraid – not the book for you. Rather, this is a relatively serious encyclopedia of (mostly Western) secret societies of all kinds: fraternal orders, conspiratorial political groups and esoteric “sects” and “cults”. The distinction isn't always clear cut. The grand mama of all secret societies, the Freemasons, has inspired groups of very different kinds!

If you're familiar with conspiracy theory, you will recognize many of the entries, but perhaps be surprised reading about the real background of the Illuminati, the Skull & Bones or Bohemian Grove. The author, John Michael Greer (who, curiously for a seeming skeptic, is an initiated member of several secret orders and an operative magician) has also included entries on “hidden history” and other “rejected knowledge” claims. Many of these are also fairly widespread, such as speculations about the lost world of Atlantis or the existence of aliens (from outer space). Other topics are more obscure. How many have heard of Rainbow City, a Martian city under the ice of Antarctica, made up of huge plastic blocs, and locked in combat with reptilian beings from Venus? While the author doesn't believe *this* outlandish scenario, he does suggest that Shakespeare may not have written his plays, or that somebody else than Vikings may have reached the New World before Columbus…

All in all, a good – but not always very objective! – reference work for your book shelf, if you're interested in esoterica or matters Masonic, and don't mind a somewhat more skeptical look than usual on the matter.
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on 21 January 2017
Really not as good as it could have been.

It has some false information relating to societies backgrounds, foundlings and roles and I'm not sure if the author has deliberately done this, but several real secret societies have been deliberately left out. For instance, the Taigerm (Might have spelt it wrong) which is a Scottish secret society that practices sacrifices of felines. It's rather well know, yet doesn't appear in the book. The author also conveniently left out many Jewish and religious secret societies that are known to exist and are well documented.

One wonders if he has a bias or is just being paid not to talk about them.

Book is also not well made. By the time I got to page 250, several pages had FALLEN OUT. I own over 75 books and am very careful with them. Never had one rip, tear or deliberate instance of damage. But the paper for this book seems loosely glued to the spine, so be VERY VERY careful when turning the pages unless you want them to come loose.
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on 27 January 2010
This book does cover many topics, however if your looking for actual symbols and there explanation then this isn't for you.
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on 25 April 2013
Wow amazing content! Everything you will ever need to know about secret societies, I never realised there were so many of them!
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on 13 December 2014
its ok nothing special,im sure there is better out there.
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on 3 September 2009
It is like a dictionnary without depth on it. All explanations are really superficial. I would not recommand this book.
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