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“From the same grave”: what are the “Skull and Bones”, the most secret student fraternity members hiding

"From the same grave": what are the "Skull and Bones", the most secret student fraternity members hiding 1

Skull and Bones is one of the oldest secret student organizations, founded at Yale University in 1832. According to one version, Its creator, senior student William Russell, brought the idea from Germany, where he studied for some time. According to another, namely the Yale Daily News, it was his response to another prestigious student club, Phi Beta Kappa, who did not accept him as an adherent. 

In any case, the initiative was a success. In 1833, William Russell, along with the future US President William Howard Taft and thirteen other closest associates, opened the “Grave” doors of their first and permanent residence to the first members of society, people from the Anglo-Saxon nobility of the Protestant persuasion.

Every year the order accepts only 15 new members, no more, no less. According to journalist and Yale alumnus Alexandra Robbins, Skull and Bones is considered one of the smallest student organizations:

“if only 15 new adepts are recruited each year, then no more than 800 members of society live in one era.”

But that doesn’t make Skull and Bones unimportant. 800 people are enough to “rule the world”, if all of them occupy important leadership positions and are always ready to contribute to the growth of their “brothers”. It is no coincidence that they say that US is ruled by the “Skull and Bones”: in the office of former US President George W. Bush, including himself, there were six members of this order. In turn, there are no accidents among them either – they are all born leaders. One of the main conditions for admission to the order is leadership in one’s own campus. It is not for nothing that Skull and Bones is called the cradle of the American elite, and its members are the arbiters of the fate of mankind.

The interest of the public in the “Skull and Bones” is fueled by the vow of silence of its members, among whom there are no former ones. Everything related to the order is tightly classified. Its adherents are forbidden to give out any information under fear.

The most interesting thing is that for almost two centuries of the existence of the order, no one violated the rules, at least it was not made public. George W. Bush wrote in his autobiography:

“In my senior year, I joined the Skull and Bones Society. It’s so secret that I can’t say anything more about it.”

But forbidden fruit is sweet, especially if it is always in sight – the Skulls and Bones residence is located right in the middle of the campus of Yale University, the largest in America. Echoes of their initiation rite are heard annually in the spring by the residents of nearby hostels. The book by Alexandra Robbins presents the story of Yale University graduate journalist Rosenbaum, who describes the terrible screams coming from the “Grave” during the initiation ritual.

Speaking of rituals, there are many rumors about the terrible sadistic rites and orgies performed by its members. In general, the very name and emblem of the society, which depicts a skull with crossbones with the mysterious number 322, does not imply any positive associations and corresponds to the sinister reputation and the building of the order – a three-story mansion of a gloomy appearance in the “Greco-Egyptian” style with narrow slits instead of windows. Therefore, there are no less rumors about the interior decoration than about the Order itself.

Rumor has it that in addition to the medieval decor, in the style of which the interiors of the “Grave” (as members of the order call their residence) are made – with hunting trophies, mannequins in armor and other military relics, the residence is decorated with skeletons of famous historical figures. Among them, for example, the remains of Madame de Pompadour, the mistress of Louis XV of Bourbon, who died in 1764; the skull of the famous leader of the North American Apache tribe, Geronimo, allegedly dug up by a newcomer, Prescott Bush, who presented it as a gift to his older brothers. 

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But this is all, of course, only rumors. At least none of the “barbarians” (as members of society call the uninitiated) knows about it. In fact, it’s amazing how the order manages to maintain secrecy, being in the center of the US student environment – in the middle of Yale’s old campus “New Heaven”.

Little more is known about the rite of passage, which is described as reminiscent of the mythical Witches’ Sabbath of the Middle Ages. Allegedly, in order to become an adherent of the order, at least in the past, one had to strip naked at night in front of all members of society, then lie down in a sarcophagus and tell everyone present about their sexual experience, fantasies and perversions, in every detail. Thus, the new converts became “hostages” of the silence of their new associates. Then there was a group beating and intimidation of the newcomer.

A similar ritual was filmed by the aforementioned Rosenbaum in 2001. The quality of the video is not brilliant, the only thing that can be seen on it is people in Halloween costumes who scream loudly and wave their arms at a person lying in a coffin. According to Alexandra Robbins, who managed to find out some details from the most talkative members of society, the figures of the Devil, Don Quixote and the Pope are present in the ritual. With screams and beatings, the newcomer is led to the “knight without fear and reproach” and the initiate is put on his knees, after which Don Quixote blesses him with the words:

“By the power given to me by our order, I proclaim you a knight of Eulogia” (in honor of the Greek goddess of eloquence).

Despite their strange and old-fashioned rites, the Skull and Bones have an influence to be reckoned with. As Alexandra Robbins writes, this is a kind of incubator for the American elite. From there came many key figures in US history – senators, secretaries of state, attorneys general, chiefs of intelligence services, chairmen of the Supreme Court, directors of major transnational companies and banks. Three American presidents have been members of the society, and the order’s connection with the Bush family is almost genetic. Representatives of three generations in a row became its adherents: Bush-grandfather (1917), Bush-father (1948) and Bush-son (1967), their relatives joined them: James Smith, Jonathan James and George Derek.

The US press repeatedly taunted that all three generations of Bushes came from the same “Grave”. That’s where John Kerry came from. Once upon a time, the public even demanded that Bush Jr. and Kerry renounce ties with the Order, considering it incompatible with their high position, but neither one nor the other reacted to the demands in any way and flatly refused to talk about Skull and Bones.

Belonging to one secret order of many influential people in America inadvertently suggests a worldwide conspiracy and puppeteers who decide the fate of the world. Thus, economist Anthony Sutton, who devoted 15 years to studying the mechanisms of the Grave, stated in his book America’s Secret Establishment: An Introduction to the Order of Skull & Bones that 16 main surnames – the “patriarchs” of the Order, which make up its ideological and financial, make the weather in American politics, economics and on the ideological front. According to him, they have no analogues in the world in terms of the degree of influence.


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