Why do secret societies have such an appeal? What do they believe, and where do their beliefs come from? Freemasonry, Rosicrucian and Neo-Templar organisations, the various offshoots of the Golden Dawn and the OTO do any of them have any genuine claim to be the true successors to historical movements? Does it matter if they make up their own histories, as well as their myths and rituals?
What are the connections, if any, between John Dee, the Royal Society, Aleister Crowley and Wicca? And does the Priory of Sion, star of The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail and a certain third-rate thriller, actually exist?
Can David Barrett possibly answer all these questions and more in just an hour? Probably not, but he'll have a damn good try.
David V Barrett is the author of, amongst others, The New Believers: A Survey of Sects, "Cults" & Alternative Religions, A Brief History of Secret Societies, and the forthcoming Atlas of Secret Societies. He is a frequent contributor to Fortean Times magazine, and has written for many other newspapers and magazines, mainly on esoteric religion and history.