One of the many secret societies who have been tabbed as the hidden puppet masters behind the New World Order, the Shickshinny Knights of Malta – also known as the American Grand Priory of the Sovereign Order of St John of Jerusalem, Knights of Malta – are headquartered in the modest town of Shickshinny, Pennsylvania, in Luzerne County, an area settled largely by German and Russian immigrants. The order, incorporated in 1956, was created in the mid-1950s by Charles Pichel and a few associates, and provided with a colorful origin story in the usual secret society manner. See New World Order; origin stories.

According to Pichel’s account, the Shickshinny Knights are descended from the original Knights of Malta. When Napoleon seized the island of Malta and dispossessed the Knights of their last territorial base, a handful of knights took refuge at the court of Tsar Alexander I of Russia, where they became members of his personal honor guard but preserved a Priory of the Knights of Malta in secret. Some of their descendants emigrated from Russia to Pennsylvania and brought the knightly traditions of their forefathers with them; in 1908, the Order’s Grand Priory in America was founded. By this process, the heritage of the original Knights Hospitallers made its way to Luzerne County. Not least among the ironies of the Shickshinny Knights is the close parallel between these stories and the “family tradition” origin legends of many modern Wiccan groups. See Wicca.

Despite their lurid reputation in certain conspiracy theories dealing with the New World Order, the Shickshinny Knights are among the smaller conservative secret societies in twenty-first-century America. Its membership has included a number of retired generals from the Second World War era, including Charles Willoughby, former chief of intelligence for General Douglas MacArthur, but very few figures with significant power or wealth. It does apparently have significant connections with other extreme right-wing groups in America and Europe – one of its members, for example, was an editor for the John Birch Society magazine American Opinion. See John Birch Society


The Element Encyclopedia of Secret Societies : the ultimate a-z of ancient mysteries, lost civilizations and forgotten wisdom written by John Michael Greer – © John Michael Greer 2006


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