Dan Brown’s new bestseller, The Lost Symbol, inspired Perdeby to take a look at what you need to do to establish your own secret society and get a piece of the mystical action.

JACO JORDAAN

So why is it that only badly developed fictional characters get to learn fun facts about art and the meaning of life while being pursued by a psychotic megalomaniac with daddy issues? Isn’t it about time that you got a chance to discover these Ancient Mysteries for yourself? Dan Brown’s new bestseller, The Lost Symbol, inspired Perdeby to take a look at what you need to do to establish your own secret society and get a piece of the mystical action.

Build a brand

If you want people to take your society seriously, you have to choose the right name. It is doubtful whether the Illuminati would have achieved the same mythical allure if they had stuck with their original name, The Order of Bees. Then you need a good motto. It doesn’t really matter what it says, as long as it is in Latin. For example: Modo fac (Just do it) or Re vera, cara mea, mea nil refert (Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn). Now, if you can make it an anagram, you might even grab the attention of one or two popular writers.

The next step is to make your mark. Or, more precisely, have made it. Look for some arcane symbols and coded messages hidden in plain sight on famous buildings and artworks, and claim them. The Voortrekker Monument is just begging for a visit from Robert Langdon, and with enough determination, you can surely uncover hidden symbolism in Pierneef’s rocky mountains. Resist the temptation to create a Facebook group for your society (not very secretive), but a Wikipedia page will make it official.

Boast a rich history

Relax; it’s easier than you think. Although Freemasonry originated in England in the 17th century, over time they “rediscovered” their ties with the builders of medieval cathedrals, Egyptian pyramids and King Solomon’s temple. If you dig deep enough, you might find the roots of your organisation among Khoisan cave painters, Zulu warriors or a family of aliens vacationing in the Karoo. Of course, the upper ranks of your society will heavily guard the evidence of these links from the uninitiated.

For added clout, you need impressive alumni. Isaac Newton is a good place to start. The man has been associated with so many esoteric activities that it is surprising he even found the time to come up with calculus and the laws of gravity. Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci are also solid choices. Or why not be patriotic and involve Jan van Riebeeck or Saartjie Baardman?

Be exclusive

It’s no fun being a secret society if anyone can join. An age-old trick is calling yourself a “fraternity” – thereby immediately excluding half the population. Some organisations such as the Ku Klux Klan and the proudly South African Ossewabrandwag, Afrikaner Broederbond and Boeremag have shown that you need not limit yourself to women, you can institutionalise your hatred for Catholics, Jews, Blacks or whomever you like (here at Perdeby we are leaning towards Jonas Brothers fans and people who can’t differentiate between they’re and their).

But remember: you do not want your society to be evil, just misunderstood. A benign way of attaining exclusivity is by making charity one of your core principles. This means that only those who are able to donate millions through your organisation can apply. You don’t want riffraff off the street defiling your temple of Universalist values.

Do protest too much

Deny everything, especially things you have not been accused of. And be cryptic: admit that you do have secrets, but assure people that those secrets have nothing to do with ancient wisdom or world domination. State categorically that you are not affiliated with other clandestine organisations such as The Bilderberg Group, The Bohemian Grove or The Order of Skull and Bones, you do not plan to participate in the New World Order and you are not harbouring the Antichrist. Then answer any follow-up questions with “no comment”.

And voilà, there you have your own little société secrète. All you need now is some ceremonial robes and to practise your secret handshake. Shalom.