Ordo Templi Orientis

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Ordo Templi Orientis (O.T.O.) (‘Order of the Temple of the East’ or ‘Order of Oriental Templars’) is an international fraternal and religious organization founded at the beginning of the 20th century. English author and occultist Aleister Crowley has become the best-known member of the order.

Originally it was intended to be modelled after and associated with European Freemasonry,[1] such as Masonic Templar organizations, but under the leadership of Aleister Crowley, O.T.O. was reorganized around the Law of Thelema as its central religious principle. This Law—expressed as “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law”[2] and “Love is the law, love under will”[3]—was promulgated in 1904 with the writing of The Book of the Law.

Similar to many secret societies, O.T.O. membership is based on an initiatory system with a series of degree ceremonies that use ritual drama to establish fraternal bonds and impart spiritual and philosophical teachings.

O.T.O. also includes the Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica (EGC) or Gnostic Catholic Church, which is the ecclesiastical arm of the Order. Its central rite, which is public, is called Liber XV, or the Gnostic Mass.

History

Origins

The early history of O.T.O. is difficult to trace reliably. It originated in Germany or Austria between 1895 and 1906.[4] Its apparent founder wasCarl Kellner (probably with the German spelling Karl),[4] a wealthy Austrian industrialist, in 1895 (although nothing verifiable is known of the Order until 1904).[5]

Theodor Reuss (1855–1923) collaborated with Kellner in creating O.T.O., and succeeded him as head of O.T.O. after Kellner’s death. Under Reuss, charters were given tooccult brotherhoods in France, Denmark, Switzerland, the U.S.A. and Austria. There were nine degrees, of which the first six were Masonic.[5]

In 1902, Reuss, along with Franz Hartmann and Henry Klein, purchased the right to perform the Rite of Memphis and Mizraim of Freemasonry, the authority of which was confirmed in 1904 and again in 1905. Although these rites are considered to be irregular, they, along with the Swedenborg Rite formed the core of the newly established Order.[6]

O.T.O. and Aleister Crowley

Reuss met Aleister Crowley and in 1910 admitted him to the first three degrees of O.T.O. Only two years later, Crowley was placed in charge of Great Britain and Ireland, and was advanced to the X° (tenth degree). The appointment included the opening of the British section of O.T.O., which was called the Mysteria Mystica Maxima or the M∴M∴M∴.[5] Crowley then went to Berlin to obtain instructional manuscripts and the title of Supreme and Holy King of Ireland, Iona and all the Britains within the Sanctuary of the Gnosis.[5] Within the year, Crowley had written the Manifesto of the M∴M∴M∴ which described its basic ten-degree system with Kellner’s three degree Academia Masonicaforming the seventh, eighth and ninth degrees.

In 1913, Crowley composed the Gnostic Mass while in Moscow, which he described as being the Order’s “central ceremony of its public and private celebration”.[7] In 1914, soon after World War I broke out, he moved to the United States of America. It was around this time that Crowley decided to integrate Thelema into the O.T.O. system, and in 1915 prepared revised rituals for use in the M∴M∴M∴.

In 1917, Reuss wrote a Synopsis of Degrees of O.T.O. in which the third degree was listed as “Craft of Masonry” and listed the initiations involved as “Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft, Master Mason” and elaborated on this with “Full instruction in Craft Masonry, including the Catechism of the first three degrees, and an explanation of all the various Masonic systems”. The same document shows that the fourth degree of O.T.O. is also known as the Holy Royal Arch of Enoch. It was summarized by Reuss as the Degree of “Scotch Masonry,” equivalent to “Scotch Mason, Knight of St. Andrew, Royal Arch”, and he described it as “Full instruction in the Scottish degrees of Ancient and Accepted Masonry”.[8]

In 1919, Crowley attempted to work this Masonic-based O.T.O. in Detroit, Michigan. The result was that he was rebuffed by the Council of the Scottish rite on the basis that O.T.O. rituals were too similar to orthodox Masonry[citation needed]. He described this in a 1930 letter to Arnold Krumm-Heller:

However, when it came to the considerations of the practical details of the rituals to be worked, the general Council of the Scottish Rite could not see its way to tolerate them, on the ground that the symbolism in some places touched too nearly that of the orthodox Masonry of the Lodges.[9]

Crowley subsequently rewrote the initiation rituals of the first three degrees, and in doing so removed most of those rituals’ ties to Masonry. He did not, however, rewrite the fourth degree ritual, which remains in its form and structure related to the various Royal Arch rituals of Masonry.

Crowley wrote that Theodore Reuss suffered a stroke in the spring of 1920. In correspondence with one of Reuss’s officers, Crowley expressed doubts about Reuss’s competence to remain in office. Relations between Reuss and Crowley began to deteriorate, and the two exchanged angry letters in November 1921. Crowley informed Reuss that he was availing himself of Reuss’s abdication from office and proclaiming himself Outer Head of the Order. Reuss died on October 28, 1923 without designating a successor, though Crowley claimed in later correspondence that Reuss had designated him. Crowley biographer Lawrence Sutin, among others, casts doubt on this claim, although there is no evidence for or against it, and no other candidate stepped forward to refute Crowley by offering proof of succession. In 1925, during a tumultuous Conference of Grand Masters, Crowley was officially elected as Outer Head of the Order (or O.H.O.) by the remaining administrative heads of O.T.O.[10]

During WWII, the European branches of O.T.O. were either destroyed or driven underground. By the end of the war, the only surviving O.T.O. body was Agapé Lodge in California, although there were various initiates in different countries. Very few initiations were being performed. At this time, Karl Germer, who had been Crowley’s representative in Germany, migrated to the USA after being released from Nazi confinement. On March 14, 1942, Crowley appointed him as his successor as Outer Head of the Order,[11] and Germer filled the office after the death of Crowley in 1947.

O.T.O. after Crowley

After Crowley’s death Germer attempted to keep O.T.O. running, with questionable success. Crowley had granted a charter to run an O.T.O. Camp in England to Gerald Gardner, and Germer acknowledged Gardner as the O.T.O.’s main representative in Europe. The two men met in 1948 in New York to discuss plans, but Gardner’s continuing ill health led to Germer replacing him with Frederic Mellinger in 1951. Also in 1951 Germer granted a charter to run an O.T.O. Camp in England to Kenneth Grant, who had briefly served as Crowley’s secretary during the 1940s. Grant was to be expelled and his charter revoked in 1955 however, and from that time onwards the O.T.O.’s representative in the U.K. was a IX° member, Noel Fitzgerald.[12]

Germer died in 1962 without naming a successor. It was not until 1969 that Grady McMurtry invoked emergency authorization from Crowley and became the Frater Superior of O.T.O. McMurtry did not claim the title of Outer Head of the Order, stating in 1974 that “There is at present no Outer Head of the Order for Aleister Crowley’s Ordo Templi Orientis. The Outer Head of the Order is an international office (see p. 201, The Blue Equinox) and Aleister Crowley’s Ordo Templi Orientis is not at this time established organizationally to fulfill the requirements of its Constitution in this respect.”[13] He began performing initiations in 1970. O.T.O. was incorporated under the laws of the State of California on March 26, 1979. The corporation attained federal tax exemption as a religious entity under IRS Code 501(c)3 in 1982. Grady McMurtry died in 1985, having successfully saved O.T.O. from possible extinction.

McMurtry requested that members of the Sovereign Sanctuary of the Gnosis (i.e. the members of the Ninth Degree) elect the next Caliph, which they did in 1985. William Breezewas elected,[14] taking the name Hymenaeus Beta. In the Fall 1995 issue of The Magical Link, he is designated “Hymenaeus Beta X°”; in the Fall 1997 issue of The Magical Link, he is designated “Hymenaeus Beta XI°”; by May 2005, he is designated “O.H.O. Hymenaeus Beta XII°” on the O.T.O. website.[15]

In 1996, Sabazius X° was appointed as National Grand Master General (G.M.G.) for the U.S. Grand Lodge. In 2005, Frater Hyperion X° was appointed the National G.M.G. of the newly formed UK Grand Lodge. Frater Shiva X° was appointed the G.M.G. of Australia Grand Lodge in 2006.

Philosophy of O.T.O.

O.T.O. was described by Crowley as the “first of the great Old Æon orders to accept The Book of the Law“. O.T.O. originally borrowed ritual material from irregular Masonic organizations,[8] and although some related symbolism and language remains in use, the context has changed to Thelema and its tenets.

The Order offers esoteric instruction through dramatic ritual, guidance in a system of illuminated ethics, and fellowship among aspirants to the Great Work of realizing the divine in the human.[16]

O.T.O. has two core areas of ritual activity: initiation into the Mysteries, and the celebration of Liber XV, the Gnostic Mass. In addition, the Order organizes lectures, classes, social events, theatrical productions and artistic exhibitions, publishes books and journals, and provides instruction in Hermetic science, yoga, and magick.

Crowley wrote in his Confessions:

… the O.T.O. is in possession of one supreme secret. The whole of its system [is] directed towards communicating to its members, by progressively plain hints, this all-important instruction.[citation needed]

Of the first set of initiations, he wrote:

… the main objects of the instruction [are] two. It [is] firstly necessary to explain the universe and the relations of human life therewith.

Secondly, to instruct every man [and woman] how best to adapt his [or her] life to the cosmos and to develop his faculties to the utmost advantage. I accordingly constructed a series of rituals, Minerval, Man, Magician, Master-Magician, Perfect Magician and Perfect Initiate, which should illustrate the course of human life in its largest philosophical aspect.[citation needed]

The initiation rituals after the V° (fifth degree) are such that:

the candidate is instructed in the value of discretion, loyalty, independence, truthfulness, courage, self-control, indifference to circumstance, impartiality, scepticism, and other virtues, and at the same time assisted him to discover for himself the nature of [the supreme] secret, the proper object of its employment and the best means for insuring success for its use[17]:701

Of the entire system of O.T.O., Crowley wrote in Confessions:

It offers a rational basis for universal brotherhood and for universal religion. It puts forward a scientific statement which is a summary of all that is at present known about the universe by means of a simple, yet sublime symbolism, artistically arranged. It also enables each man to discover for himself his personal destiny, indicates the moral and intellectual qualities which he requires in order to fulfil it freely, and finally puts in his hands an unimaginably powerful weapon which he may use to develop in himself every faculty which he may need in his work.[17]:703

Initiation and teachings

Lamen of Ordo Templi Orientis

Membership in O.T.O. is based upon a system of initiation ceremonies (or degrees) which use ritual drama to establish fraternal bonds between members as well as impart spiritual and philosophical teachings.

The degrees also serve an organizational function, in that certain degrees must be attained before taking on various forms of service in the Order (e.g. taking the degree of K.E.W. is a requirement for ordination as a priest or priestess in Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica).

There are thirteen numbered degrees and twelve un-numbered degrees which are divided into three grades or “triads”—the Hermit, the Lover, and the Man of Earth.

Admittance to each degree of O.T.O. involves an initiation and the swearing of an oath which O.T.O claims is similar to those used in Freemasonry.[18][19]

Advancement through the Man of Earth triad requires sponsorship from ranking members. Advancement into the degree of the Knight of the East and West and beyond requires one to be invited by ranking members.

The ultimate goal of initiation in O.T.O. is “to instruct the individual by allegory and symbol in the profound mysteries of Nature, and thereby to assist each to discover his or her own true Identity”.[18]

The entire system is as follows:

  • The Man of Earth Triad
    • 0°—Minerval
    • I°—Man & Brother
    • II°—Magician
    • III°—Master Magician
    • IV°—Perfect Magician & Companion of the Holy Royal Arch of Enoch
    • P.I.—Perfect Initiate, or Prince of Jerusalem
  • Outside all Triads
    • Knight of the East & West
  • The Lover Triad
    • V°—
      • Sovereign Prince Rose-Croix, and Knight of the Pelican & Eagle
      • Knight of the Red Eagle, and Member of the Senate of Knight Hermetic Philosophers
    • VI°—
      • Illustrious Knight (Templar) of the Order of Kadosch, and Companion of the Holy Graal
      • Grand Inquisitor Commander, and Member of the Grand Tribunal
      • Prince of the Royal Secret
    • VII°—
      • Theoreticus, and Very Illustrious Sovereign Grand Inspector General
      • Magus of Light, and Bishop of Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica
      • Grandmaster of Light, and Inspector of Rites & Degrees
  • The Hermit Triad
    • VIII°—
      • Perfect Pontiff of the Illuminati
      • Epopt of the Illuminati
    • IX°—Initiate of the Sanctuary of the Gnosis
    • X°—Rex Summus Sanctissimus
    • XI°—Initiate of the Eleventh Degree (This degree is technical, and has no relation to the general plan of the Order)
    • XII°—Frater Superior, and Outer Head of the Order

Sex Magic

The degrees of the Hermit Triad are of sexual nature. In the VIII° degree, the initiate is taught masturbation magical practices, in the IX° degree magical techniques related to vaginal intercourse, and in the XI° a form of sex magic involving anal intercourse.[20]

Structure

The governing bodies of O.T.O. include:

  1. International Headquarters
    • Presided over by the Outer Head of the Order XII° (O.H.O.—also known as Frater Superior)
    • Supreme Council
    • Revolutionaries
  2. The Sovereign Sanctuary of the Gnosis of the IX°
  3. The Secret Areopagus of the Illuminati of the VIII°
  4. The Grand Tribunal of the VI°
  5. The National Grand Lodge
    • Presided over by the National Grand Master
    • Executive Council
  6. The Supreme Grand Council
  7. The Electoral College

International

  1. The International Headquarters is the body that governs O.T.O. worldwide. As a ruling body, it is known as the International Supreme Council, which consists of theOuter Head of the Order (O.H.O.—also known as Frater Superior), the Secretary General, and the Treasurer General.
  2. The Sovereign Sanctuary of the Gnosis consists of members who have reached the IX°. Their prime duty is to study and to practice the theurgy and thaumaturgy of the degree, consisting of the Supreme Secret of the Order. However, as a ruling body, they have the authority to
    • ratify and overturn the rulings of the Areopagus
    • act as representatives of the O.H.O. and National Grand Masters when need arises
    • fill the office of Revolutionary
    • vote within the Secret Areopagus
    • have some powers over the installation and removal of the O.H.O. and National Grand Masters
  3. The Secret Areopagus of the Illuminati is a philosophical Governing Body composed of those who have reached the VIII°. It has the authority to reverse the decisions of the Grand Tribunal.
  4. The Grand Tribunal is composed of members of the degree of Grand Inquisitor Commander (a sub-degree of the VI°). Their primary duty is to hear and arbitrate disputes and complaints not resolved at the level of Chapters and Lodges.

National

  1. At the national level, the highest body is the Grand Lodge, which is ruled by the National Grand Master. Within the Grand Lodge is an Executive Council, which consists of the Board of Directors, who are the National Grand Master, the Grand Secretary General, and the Grand Treasurer General.
  2. The Supreme Grand Council consists of members of the VII° appointed by the National Grand Master X°. They are charged with:
    • the government of the whole of the Lovers Triad
    • Hearing and deciding appeals of the decisions of the Electoral College
    • Hearing reports of the Sovereign Grand Inspectors General VII° as to the affairs of the Initiate members of the Lovers Triad
  3. The Electoral College consists of eleven members of the V° and is the first of the governing bodies. Its primary duty is to oversee the affairs of the Man of Earth Triad.

O.T.O. has a federally recognized tax-exempt status in the USA under IRS section 501c(3). It also has California charitable corporation status.

Current Grand Lodges

The US Grand Lodge is the governing body of O.T.O. in the United States of America. The U.S. National Grand Master is Frater Sabazius X°, who was appointed in 1996.

According to its website, the Mission Statement of U.S.G.L. is as follows:

Ordo Templi Orientis U.S.A. is the U.S. Grand Lodge (National Section) of Ordo Templi Orientis, a hierarchical, religious membership organization. Our mission is to effect and promote the doctrines and practices of the philosophical and religious system known as Thelema, with particular emphasis on cultivating the ideals of individual liberty, self-discipline, self-knowledge, and universal brotherhood. To this end, we conduct sacramental and initiatory rites, offer guidance and instruction to our members, organize social events, and engage in educational and community service activities at locations throughout the United States.[21]

As of Feb 28, 2014 US Grand Lodge had 1,508 members in 62 local bodies.

The UK Grand Lodge is the governing body of O.T.O. in the United Kingdom. The UK National Grand Master is Frater Hyperion X°, who was appointed in 2005 (93 years after the last Grand Master for the UK, Aleister Crowley, was elevated to that office).

The Australian Grand Lodge is the governing body of O.T.O. in Australia and its territories, chartered in April 2006. The A.G.L. National Grand Master is Frater Shiva X°.

The Croatian Grand Lodge is the governing body of O.T.O. in Croatia and its territories, chartered in May 2014. The C.G.L. National Grand Master is Frater Abrasax X°.

The Italian Grand Lodge is the governing body of O.T.O. in Italy and its territories, chartered in May 2014. The I.G.L. National Grand Master is Frater Phanes X°.

The Gnostic Catholic Church

The Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica, or Gnostic Catholic Church, is the ecclesiastical arm of O.T.O. Its central activity is the celebration of Liber XV, The Gnostic Mass. In recent years, other rites have been written and approved for use within the church. These include Baptism, Confirmation (into the Laity), and Ordination (for Deacons, Priests & Priestesses, and Bishops), and Last Rites. There are also several “unofficial” rituals that are celebrated within the context of E.G.C., including Weddings, Visitation and Administration of the Virtues to the Sick, Exorcism, and Rites for Life and Greater Feasts.

O.T.O. bodies

At the Man of Earth level, there are three levels of Local Body, which are Camps, Oases, and Lodges.

  1. Camps tend to be the smallest and are not required to perform initiations. They are encouraged to celebrate the Gnostic Mass.
  2. Oases must be capable of initiating through the III° and are required to perform the Gnostic Mass six times yearly.
  3. Lodges are expected to celebrate the Gnostic Mass on a regular basis, work towards establishing a permanent temple, and have the ability to initiate through IV°/P.I.
  4. Chapters of Rose Croix are bodies established by members of the Lover Grade. A Chapter is headed by a Most Wise Sovereign. They are generally charged with arranging social activities, such as plays, banquets, and dances. They also work to promote harmony among the members by tact and friendliness.
  5. Guilds are groups recognized by O.T.O. International designed to promote a profession, trade, science or craft. Subject to approval by the Areopagus, they make their own regulations and coordinate their own efforts. There are currently three Guilds: the Psychology Guild, the Translators’ Guild, and the Information Technology Guild.
  6. The term Sanctuary is sometimes used to indicate a group of initiates organized for E.G.C. activities. This designation currently reflects no formal chartering process or official standing within the Order.

Questions of legitimacy

Several competing factions have claimed to be legitimate heirs to Aleister Crowley. Both before and after McMurtry revived O.T.O. in California, others came forward with various claims of succession.

Although Karl Germer expelled Kenneth Grant from O.T.O. in 1955, Grant went on to claim himself Outer Head of Ordo Templi Orientis in a series of influential books.[23] His organization has recently changed its name to the Typhonian Order and no longer claims to represent O.T.O.

Hermann Metzger, another claimant, had been initiated into O.T.O. under Germer in Germany in the 1950s, and headed the Swiss branch of the Order. After Germer’s death he attempted to proclaim himself head of O.T.O. However, his claims were ignored by everyone outside of his country and he never pressed the issue. He died in 1990.

Marcelo Ramos Motta (1931–1987), a third claimant, was never initiated into O.T.O. at all,[24] but claimed on the basis that Germer’s wife, Sasha, told him that Karl’s last words stated that Motta was “the follower.” He sued for ownership of Crowley’s copyrights, which were denied to him by the U.S. District Court in Maine. Motta died in 1987, although various small groups calling themselves Society O.T.O. (S.O.T.O.) continue to exist and claim authority from him.

Court cases

O.T.O. as revived by McMurtry has won two court cases regarding its legitimacy as the continuation of the O.T.O. of Aleister Crowley:

  • 1976: the Superior Court in Calaveras County, California recognizes Grady McMurtry as the authorized representative of O.T.O.
  • 1985: in the 9th Federal District Court in San Francisco, McMurtry is found to be the legitimate head of O.T.O. within the United States, and that O.T.O. under McMurtry is the continuation of the O.T.O. of Aleister Crowley, and the exclusive owner of the names, trademarks, copyrights and other assets of O.T.O. This decision is appealed to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and upheld. The Supreme Court declined to hear a final appeal. After the case, the US O.T.O. purchased the Crowley copyrights from the official receiver, even though the US court decision declared that they were the rightful owners.

The following case is also significant in the Order’s history, though it does not have as much bearing on the issue of legitimacy:

  • 2002: The United Kingdom High Court, in Ordo Templi Orientis v. John Symonds, Anthony Naylor and Mandrake Press, finds that O.T.O. as revived by McMurtry is the sole owner of the copyrights for all of the works of Aleister Crowley. In its particulars of claim, O.T.O. had pled two mutually exclusive routes to ownership of the copyrights:
    • (a) through Crowley’s will as the named beneficiary O.T.O., a route to title that had been affirmed in U.S. Federal Court but had never been tested under English law, and
    • (b) the “bankruptcy route”, on which theory O.T.O. acquired title to the copyrights from 1991 from the UK Crown Official Receiver in Bankruptcy.
The Chancery Master agreed that these two routes were largely mutually exclusive; if Crowley’s copyrights were not an asset in his undischarged bankruptcy, then O.T.O. bought nothing, and could only claim through the will, under which the copyrights would have to pass; but if the rights were an asset in bankruptcy, then Crowley had lacked any power to make O.T.O. a bequest of them in his will. The court examined the bankruptcy aspect first, finding that O.T.O. acquired good title.

The copyrights were thus Crown property between 1935 and 1991, making dozens of books—even many of O.T.O.’s own editions—unauthorized. Had the “will route” been tried, it would have given O.T.O. an opportunity to gain recognition in UK court as the legitimate continuation of Crowley’s O.T.O., since that is a precondition to being found the rightful beneficiary of his will. Thus, the issue of the organization’s legitimacy did arise at trial, since it was pled into court, but it was not ruled upon. While there is no way to know whether, had it been tested, it would have been confirmed or denied, O.T.O. made thorough legal preparations for this aspect of their case as detailed in their “Particulars of Claim”. However it would be misleading to cite this case as affirming the organization’s historical legitimacy, since that issue went untried.

In Australia in 2005, O.T.O. began a defamation case against the site GaiaGuys for material put up on their website that directly accused O.T.O., particularly in Australia, of participating in acts of child abuse and sacrifice. The court found in favour of O.T.O.[25]

Criticisms

In February 2006, a long-time high-ranking member and occult author, T. Allen Greenfield, called for the resignation of upper management and stepped down from all managerial duties in protest. He went on to write a detailed analysis of “the failure of the O.T.O.” and the “culture of fear” which he says currently exists within O.T.O. which is included as the last chapter and Epilogue of his book The Roots of Modern Magick.[26] Although he is no longer a member of O.T.O. he continues to be a critic of the current Frater Superior of the Order, Hymenaeus Beta.

Fraternal / sorority Orders around the world

Social or general fraternities and sororities, in the North American fraternity system, are those that do not promote a particular profession (as professional fraternities are) or discipline (such as service fraternities and sororities). Instead, their primary purposes are often stated as the development of character, literary or leadership ability, or a more simple social purpose. Some organizations in this list have a specific major listed as a traditional emphasis. These organizations are social organizations which cater to students in those majors. Other organizations listed have a traditional emphasis in a specific religion or ethnic background. Despite this emphasis, most organizations have non-discrimination membership policies.

Fraternity is usually understood to mean a social organization composed only of men, and sorority one of women, although many women’s organizations also refer to themselves as fraternities. For the purposes of this article, national also includes international organizations, and local refers to organizations that are composed of only one chapter. This list is not exhaustive and does not include local organizations that do not have Wikipedia articles.

International

Australia

Fraternities or lodges were an important part of Australian society in the 19th and the first half of the 20th century. They were gradually replaced by “service clubs“, such asLions, Apex, Rotary, etc. By the end of the 20th century, all the fraternities had been wound up[clarification needed] except for the Freemasons and a few lodges of the Buffaloes. The reasons for their decline probably have something to do with generational change and bemusement at the secretive rites that all fraternities had, as the service clubs that succeeded them did fairly similar charitable work.

No general history has been written, but some of the many lodges that operated in the state of Victoria were:

  • Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes,
  • Druids,
  • Foresters,
  • Freemasons,
  • Odd Fellows ,

Of course in those sectarian times there had to be two different lodges for those of Irish descent:

Canada

Europe

South Africa

United States

Organization Symbol Founded Affiliation Traditional Emphasis
Acacia (Chapters) AKAKIA 1904 NIC Masonic (Masonic membership no longer required)[1]
Adelphikos Αδελφικοσ 1913 Local, Grove City College Christian
Alpha Beta Chi ΑΒΧ 1941 CIPFI Puerto Rican
Alpha Chi Alpha ΑΧΑ 1919 Local, Dartmouth College Traditional
Alpha Chi Rho (Chapters) ΑΧΡ 1895 NIC Traditional
Alpha Delta ΑΔ 1847 Local, Dartmouth College Traditional
Alpha Delta Gamma (Chapters) ΑΔΓ 1924 NIC Jesuit
Alpha Delta Phi (Chapters) ΑΔΦ 1832 NIC Originally a secret literary society, now traditional
Alpha Epsilon Pi (Chapters) ΑΕΠ 1913 NIC Jewish
Alpha Gamma Omega ΑΓΩ 1927 Unaffiliated Christian
Alpha Gamma Rho (Chapters) ΑΓΡ 1904 NIC Agricultural
Alpha Iota Omicron ΑΙΟ 1998 Unaffiliated South Asian[2]
Alpha Kappa Lambda (Chapters) ΑΚΛ 1914 NIC Traditional
Alpha Phi Alpha ΑΦΑ 1906 NIC, NPHC African-American
Alpha Phi Delta ΑΦΔ 1914 NIC Italian-American
Alpha Sigma Phi (Chapters) ΑΣΦ 1845 NIC Originally secret sophomore society, now traditional
Alpha Tau Omega (Chapters) ΑΤΩ 1865 NIC Founded on Christian principles, now traditional
Beta Chi Theta (Chapters) ΒΧΘ 1999 NIC, NAPA South Asian
Beta Epsilon Gamma Gamma Alpha Rho Sigma ΒΕΓΓΑΡΣ 1923 Local, Loyola University New Orleans Jesuit
Beta Kappa Gamma ΒΚΓ 1999 Unaffiliated Asian[3]
Beta Sigma Psi (Chapters) ΒΣΨ 1925 NIC Lutheran[4]
Beta Theta Pi (Chapters) ΒΘΠ 1839 NIC Traditional[5]
Beta Upsilon Chi ΒΥΧ 1985 Unaffiliated Christian
Bones Gate BG 1901 Local, Dartmouth College Traditional
Chi Gamma Epsilon ΧΓΕ 1905 (1987) Local, Dartmouth College Traditional
Chi Heorot ΧH 1897 Local, Dartmouth College Traditional
Chi Phi (Chapters) ΧΦ 1824 NIC Traditional
Chi Psi (Chapters) ΧΨ 1841 NIC Traditional
Delphic of Gamma Sigma Tau ΓΣΤ 1871 NMGC Multicultural
Delta Chi (Chapters) ΔΧ 1890 NIC Originally a law fraternity, now traditional
Delta Epsilon Psi ΔΕΨ 1998 NIC South Asian
Delta Gamma Iota ΔΓΙ 1965 Unaffiliated national Traditional[6]
Delta Kappa Epsilon (Chapters) ΔΚΕ 1844 NIC Originally secret society, traditional
Delta Lambda Phi ΔΛΦ 1986 NIC Gay, bisexual, progressive
Delta Rho Upsilon ΔΡΥ 1929 Local/Traditional
Delta Omega Epsilon ΔΩΕ 1985 Unaffiliated national Traditional[7]
Delta Phi (Chapters) ΔΦ 1827 NIC Originally secret society, traditional
Delta Sigma Phi (Chapters) ΔΣΦ 1899 NIC Traditional/Social
Delta Tau Delta (Chapters) ΔΤΔ 1858 NIC Originally literary society, traditional
Delta Theta Sigma ΔΘΣ 1906 Unaffiliated National Agricultural[8]
Delta Upsilon (Chapters) ΔΥ 1834 NIC Traditional
Epsilon Sigma Rho ΕΣΡ 1986 Unaffiliated national Multicultural[9]
FarmHouse (Chapters) FH 1905 NIC Agricultural
Gamma Omega Delta ΓΩΔ 1989 Unaffiliated national Multicultural[10]
Gamma Zeta Alpha (Chapters) ΓΖΑ 1987 NALFO Latino[11]
Iota Nu Delta ΙΝΔ 1994 NIC South Asian
Iota Phi Theta ΙΦΘ 1963 NIC, NPHC African-American
Kappa Alpha Order (Chapters) ΚΑ 1865 NIC Traditional/Social
Kappa Alpha Society (Chapters) ΚΑ 1825 NIC Originally literary society, traditional/social
Kappa Alpha Psi (Chapters) ΚΑΨ 1911 NIC, NPHC African-American
Kappa Delta Phi (Chapters) ΚΔΦ 1900 NIC Traditional
Kappa Delta Rho (Chapters) ΚΔΡ 1905 NIC Traditional
Kappa Kappa Kappa ΚΚΚ 1842 Local, Dartmouth College Traditional
Kappa Sigma (Chapters) ΚΣ 1869 Unaffiliated national Traditional[12]
Kappa Upsilon Chi ΚΥΧ 1993 Unaffiliated Christian[13]
Lambda Alpha Upsilon (Chapters) ΛΑΥ 1985 NALFO Latino
Lambda Chi Alpha (Chapters) ΛΧΑ 1909 NIC Traditional
Lambda Iota Society ΛΙ 1836 Local, University of Vermont Originally secret literary society, Traditional
Lambda Phi Epsilon (Chapters) ΛΦΕ 1981 NIC, NAPA Asian
Lambda Sigma Upsilon (Chapters) ΛΣΥ 1979 NALFO, NIC Latino
Lambda Theta Phi (Chapters) ΛΘΦ 1975 NALFO, NIC Latino
Lambda Upsilon Lambda (Chapters) ΛΥΛ 1982 NALFO Latino
Men of God 1999 UCCFS Christian[14]
Nu Alpha Kappa (Chapters) ΝΑΚ 1988 NIC Latino
Nu Sigma Beta ΝΣΒ 1937 CIPFI Puerto Rican
Omega Delta Phi (Chapters) ΩΔΦ 1987 NIC Latino
Omega Psi Phi (Chapters) ΩΨΦ 1911 NPHC African-American
Phi Beta Sigma (Chapters) ΦΒΣ 1914 NIC, NPHC African-American
Phi Delta Alpha ΦΔΑ 1884 Local, Dartmouth College Traditional
Phi Delta Gamma ΦΔΓ 1942 CIPFI Puerto Rican
Phi Delta Psi ΦΔΨ 1977 Unaffiliated national African-American[15]
Phi Delta Theta (Chapters) ΦΔΘ 1848 NIC Originally nonsectarian, Traditional
Phi Epsilon Chi ΦEX 1943 CIPFI Puerto Rican
Phi Eta Kappa ΦΗΚ 1906 Local, University of Maine Traditional
Phi Eta Mu ΦΗΜ 1923 CIPFI Puerto Rican
Phi Gamma Delta (Chapters) FIJI 1848 NIC Traditional
Phi Iota Alpha (Chapters) ΦΙΑ 1931 NIC Latino
Phi Kappa Pi ΦΚΠ 1913 Unaffiliated, Canadian national Traditional[16]
Phi Kappa Psi (Chapters) ΦΚΨ 1852 NIC Originally service, traditional
Phi Kappa Sigma (Chapters) ΦΚΣ 1850 NIC Originally secret order, traditional
Phi Kappa Tau (Chapters) ΦΚΤ 1906 NIC Traditional
Phi Kappa Theta (Chapters) ΦΚΘ 1889 NIC Catholic
Phi Lambda Chi (Chapters) ΦΛΧ 1925 NIC Traditional
Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia ΦΜΑ 1898 NIMC Music
Phi Mu Delta (Chapters) ΦΜΔ 1918 NIC Originally Commons Club, traditional
Phi Rho Eta ΦΡΗ 1994 Unaffiliated national African-American[17]
Phi Sigma Alpha (Chapters) ΦΣΑ 1928 CIPFI Puerto Rican/Hispanic
Phi Sigma Chi ΦΣΧ 1996 NMGC Multicultural[18]
Phi Sigma Gamma ΦΣΓ 1915-1916 Unaffiliated national Osteopathic Medicine
Phi Sigma Kappa (Chapters) ΦΣΚ 1873 NIC Traditional
Phi Sigma Nu ΦΣΝ 1996 Unaffiliated national Native American
Phi Sigma Phi ΦΣΦ 1988 NIC Traditional[19]
Pi Alpha Phi (Chapters) ΠΑΦ 1929 NAPA Asian
Pi Delta Psi (Chapters) ΠΔΨ 1994 NAPA Asian
Pi Kappa Alpha ΠΚΑ 1868 NIC Traditional
Pi Kappa Phi (Chapters) ΠΚΦ 1904 NIC Traditional
Pi Lambda Phi (Chapters) ΠΛΦ 1895 NIC Traditional
Psi Sigma Phi (Chapters) ΨΣΦ 1990 NMGC Multicultural
Psi Upsilon (Chapters) ΨΥ 1833 NIC Traditional
Seal and Serpent 1905 Local, Cornell University Traditional
Sigma Alpha Epsilon (Chapters) ΣΑΕ 1856 NIC Traditional
Sigma Alpha Mu (Chapters) ΣΑΜ 1909 NIC Jewish
Sigma Beta Rho ΣΒΡ 1996 NIC, NAPA South Asian/Multicultural
Sigma Chi (Chapters) ΣΧ 1855 NIC Originally literary society, traditional
Sigma Delta Alpha ΣΔΑ 1992 Unaffiliated National Latino
Sigma Lambda Beta (Chapters) ΣΛΒ 1986 NIC Latino
Sigma Nu (Chapters) ΣΝ 1869 NIC Originally anti-hazing, traditional
Sigma Phi Delta (Chapters) ΣΦΔ 1924 NIC Engineering
Sigma Phi Epsilon (Chapters) ΣΦΕ 1901 NIC Traditional
Sigma Phi Society ΣΦ 1827 NIC Originally secret society, traditional
Sigma Pi (Chapters) ΣΠ 1897 NIC Originally literary society, traditional
Sigma Tau Gamma (Chapters) ΣΤΓ 1920 NIC Originally literary society, traditional
Sigma Thêta Pi ΣΘΠ 2003 Unaffiliated national Francophone Greek
Tau Delta Phi ΤΔΦ 1910 NIC Jewish Social
Tau Epsilon Phi (Chapters) ΤΕΦ 1910 NIC Jewish Social
Tau Kappa Epsilon (Chapters) ΤΚΕ 1899 NIC Traditional
Theta Chi (Chapters) ΘΧ 1856 NIC Traditional/Social
Theta Delta Chi (Chapters) ΘΔΧ 1847 NIC Originally secret society, traditional/Social
Theta Gamma ΘΓ 1912 Unaffiliated national Traditional
Theta Xi (Chapters) ΘΞ 1864 NIC Engineering, social
Triangle Fraternity (Chapters) TriangleDeltaT.png 1907 NIC Engineering, architecture, and Science
Trojan Knights 1921 Local, University of Southern California Traditional
Zeta Beta Tau (Chapters) ΖΒΤ 1898 NIC Originally Jewish, traditional (no religious affiliation)
Zeta Phi Rho ΖΦΡ 1995 Unaffiliated national Multicultural
Zeta Psi (Chapters) ΖΨ 1847 NIC Traditional/social

Sororities and women’s fraternities[edit]

Organization Symbol Founded Affiliation Traditional emphasis
Alpha Chi Omega ΑΧΩ 1885 NPC Originally music, now Traditional
Alpha Delta Chi ΑΔΧ 1925 Unaffiliated Christian
Alpha Delta Pi ΑΔΠ 1851 NPC Originally secret society, traditional
Alpha Epsilon Phi ΑΕΦ 1909 NPC Originally Jewish, traditional
Alpha Gamma Delta (Chapters) ΑΓΔ 1904 NPC Traditional
Alpha Kappa Alpha ΑΚΑ 1908 NPHC African-American
alpha Kappa Delta Phi aΚΔΦ 1990 NAPA Asian
Alpha Nu Omega ΑΝΩ 1988 UCCFS Christian
Alpha Omicron Pi ΑΟΠ 1897 NPC Traditional
Alpha Phi ΑΦ 1872 NPC Traditional
Alpha Phi Gamma ΑΦΓ 1994 NAPA Asian
Alpha Pi Omega ΑΠΩ 1994 Unaffiliated Native American
Alpha Pi Sigma ΑΠΣ 1990 NALFO Latina[20]
Alpha Sigma Alpha (Chapters) ΑΣΑ 1901 NPC Traditional
Alpha Sigma Kappa ΑΣΚ 1989 Unaffiliated Math, architecture, engineering, and science
Alpha Sigma Omega ΑΣΩ 1997 Unaffiliated Latina and Caribbean[21]
Alpha Sigma Rho ΑΣΡ 1998 NAPA Asian[22]
Alpha Sigma Tau ΑΣΤ 1899 NPC Traditional
Alpha Xi Delta ΑΞΔ 1893 NPC Traditional
Ceres 1984 Unaffiliated Agricultural[23]
Chi Omega (Chapters) ΧΩ 1895 NPC Traditional
Chi Upsilon Sigma ΧΥΣ 1980 NALFO Latina
Delta Chi Lambda ΔΧΛ 2000 Unaffiliated National Asian[24]
Delta Delta Delta ΔΔΔ 1888 NPC Traditional
Delta Gamma ΔΓ 1873 NPC Traditional
Delta Gamma Pi ΔΓΠ 1998 Unaffiliated Multicultural[citation needed]
Delta Kappa Delta ΔΚΔ 1999 NAPA South Asian
Delta Lambda Chi ΔΛΧ 2002 Unaffiliated Asian
Delta Phi Epsilon ΔΦΕ 1917 NPC Non-sectarian
Delta Phi Lambda ΔΦΛ 1998 NAPA Asian
Delta Phi Mu ΔΦΜ 1991 Unaffiliated national Multicultural
Delta Phi Omega ΔΦΩ 1998 Unaffiliated national South Asian
Delta Psi Epsilon ΔΨΕ 1999 UCCFS Christian
Delta Sigma Chi ΔΣΧ 1996 Unaffiliated national Multicultural[25]
Delta Sigma Theta ΔΣΘ 1913 NPHC African-American
Delta Tau Lambda ΔΤΛ 1994 Unaffiliated national Latina
Delta Xi Nu ΔΞΝ 1997 Unaffiliated national Multicultural
Delta Xi Phi ΔΞΦ 1994 NMGC Multicultural
Delta Zeta ΔΖ 1902 NPC Traditional
Eta Gamma Delta ΗΓΔ 1928 CIPFI Puerto Rican
Gamma Alpha Omega ΓΑΩ 1993 NALFO Latina
Gamma Eta ΓΗ 1995 NMGC Multicultural
Gamma Phi Beta ΓΦΒ 1874 NPC Traditional
Gamma Phi Omega ΓΦΩ 1991 Unaffiliated national Latina[26]
Gamma Rho Lambda ΓΡΛ 2003 Unaffiliated national LGBTQ[27]
Kappa Alpha Theta ΚΑΘ 1870 NPC Traditional
Kappa Beta Gamma ΚΒΓ 1917 Unaffiliated national Traditional
Kappa Delta ΚΔ 1897 NPC Traditional
Kappa Delta Chi ΚΔΧ 1987 NALFO Latina
Kappa Delta Phi National Affiliated Sorority ΚΔΦ 1977 Unaffiliated Traditional
Kappa Kappa Gamma ΚΚΓ 1870 NPC Traditional
Kappa Phi Gamma ΚΦΓ 1998 Unaffiliated national South Asian
Kappa Phi Lambda ΚΦΛ 1995 NAPA Asian
Kappa Phi Chi KΦX 1991 Local, Brooklyn College Traditional
Lambda Pi Chi ΛΠΧ 1988 NALFO Latina
Lambda Pi Upsilon ΛΠΥ 1992 NALFO Latina
Lambda Psi Delta ΛΨΔ 1997 NMGC Multicultural
Lambda Sigma Gamma ΛΣΓ 1986 NMGC Multicultural
Lambda Tau Omega ΛΤΩ 1988 NMGC Multicultural
Lambda Theta Alpha ΛΘΑ 1975 NALFO Latina
Lambda Theta Nu ΛΘΝ 1986 NALFO Latina
Mu Alpha Phi ΜΑΦ 1927 CIPFI Puerto Rican
Mu Epsilon Theta ΜΕΘ 1987 Unaffiliated, national Catholic[28]
Mu Sigma Upsilon ΜΣΥ 1981 NMGC Multicultural
National Society of Pershing Angels 1962 Unaffiliated Military drill[29]
Omega Phi Beta ΏΦΒ 1989 NALFO Latina
Omega Phi Chi ΏΦΧ 1988 NMGC Multicultural
Phi Beta Chi ΦΒΧ 1978 Unaffiliated national Lutheran
Phi Mu (Chapters) ΦΜ 1852 NPC Traditional
Phi Sigma Rho ΦΣΡ 1984 Unaffiliated national Engineering
Phi Sigma Sigma (Chapters) ΦΣΣ 1913 NPC Non-sectarian
Pi Beta Phi (Chapters) ΠΒΦ 1867 NPC Originally secret, Traditional
Pi Lambda Chi ΠΛΧ 1994 Unaffiliated national Latina[30]
Sigma Alpha Epsilon Pi ΣΑΕΠ 1998 Unaffiliated national Jewish
Sigma Delta Tau ΣΔΤ 1917 NPC Non-sectarian
Sigma Gamma Rho ΣΓΡ 1922 NPHC African-American
Sigma Iota Alpha ΣΙΑ 1990 NALFO Latina
Sigma Kappa ΣΚ 1874 NPC Traditional
Sigma Lambda Alpha ΣΛΑ 1990 NALFO Latina
Sigma Lambda Gamma (Chapters) ΣΛΓ 1990 Unaffiliated national Latina
Sigma Lambda Upsilon ΣΛΥ 1987 NALFO Latina
Sigma Omega Nu ΣΩΝ 1996 Unaffiliated national Latina[31]
Sigma Omega Phi ΣΩΦ 2008 Unaffiliated national “Aggressive” lesbian[32]
Sigma Omicron Pi ΣΟΠ 1930 NAPA Asian
Sigma Phi Omega ΣΦΩ 1949 Unaffiliated national Asian
Sigma Pi Alpha ΣΠΑ 2004 Unaffiliated Chicana/Latina[33]
Sigma Psi Zeta ΣΨΖ 1994 NAPA Asian
Sigma Sigma Rho ΣΣΡ 1998 NAPA South Asian
Sigma Sigma Sigma ΣΣΣ 1898 NPC Traditional
Theta Nu Xi ΘΝΞ 1997 NMGC Multicultural
Theta Phi Alpha ΘΦΑ 1912 NPC Originally catholic, traditional
Zeta Chi Phi ΖΧΦ 2003 Unaffiliated national Multicultural
Zeta Phi Beta ΖΦΒ 1920 NPHC African-American
Zeta Sigma Chi ΖΣΧ 1991 Unofficial national Multicultural
Zeta Tau Alpha ΖΤΑ 1898 NPC Traditional

Coeducational fraternities[edit]

Coeducational fraternities permit both male and female members. Occasionally coed groups use the term frarority.

Organization Symbol Founded Affiliation Traditional emphasis
Alpha Nu Omega (Chapters) ΑΝΩ 1988 UCCFS Christian coed fraternity
Zeta Phi Zeta ΖΦΖ 2001 UCCFS Christian[34]
Alpha Delta Phi Society ΑΔΦ 1832 Unaffiliated, national Literary and traditional
Alpha Psi Lambda ΑΨΛ 1985 NALFO Latino
St. Anthony Hall (Delta Psi) ΔΨ 1847 Unaffiliated, national Literary and social
Delta Psi Alpha ΔΨΑ 1998 Unaffiliated, national Multicultural
Lambda Lambda Lambda ΛΛΛ 2006 Unaffiliated, national Traditional
Theta Delta Sigma ΘΔΣ 2001 Unaffiliated, national Multicultural
Alpha Theta ΑΘ 1920 Local, Dartmouth College Traditional
Delta Lambda Psi ΔΛΨ 2005 Local, University of California at Santa Cruz LBGTQ
Zeta Delta Xi ΖΔΞ 1852 Local, Brown University Traditional
Kappa Gamma Psi ΚΓΨ 1913 Local, Ithaca College Performing arts
Nu Alpha Phi ΝΑΦ 1994 Local, SUNY Albany Asian
Phi Tau ΦΤ 1905 Local, Dartmouth College Traditional
Psi Upsilon ΨΥ 1833 Local, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Traditional

Defunct national organizations[edit]

Organization Symbol Operated/Merged
Alpha Delta Theta ΑΔΘ 1919 – 1939, Phi Mu
Beta Phi Alpha ΒΦΑ 1919 – 1941, Delta Zeta
Delta Sigma Epsilon ΔΣΕ 1914 – 1956, Delta Zeta
Iota Alpha Pi ΙΑΠ 1903 – 1971
Kappa Phi Lambda ΚΦΛ 1862 – 1874
Lambda Omega ΛΩ 1915 – 1933, Delta Zeta
Pi Delta Kappa ΠΔΚ 1907 – 1913, Chi Omega
Pi Kappa Sigma ΠΚΣ 1894 – 1959 Sigma Kappa
Pi Lambda Sigma ΠΛΣ 1903 – 1959 Beta Phi Mu
Sigma Iota ΣΙ 1904 – 1931 Phi Iota Alpha
Phi Omega Pi ΦΩΠ 1922 – 1946 Delta Zeta
Phi Lambda Alpha ΦΛΑ 1919 – 1931 Phi Iota Alpha
Theta Kappa Nu ΘKN 1924 – 1939 Lambda Chi Alpha
Theta Upsilon ΘΥ 1921 – 1962 Delta Zeta

See also

20 Secret Organisations You May Not Know About

25 Biggest Secret Societies To Ever Exist