The Bizarre 18th-Century Secret High-Society Cult About ... Pugs?
Inherently sly and sinister, secret societies are, by nature, risky things to be a part of. So if you are going to risk your job, home, and maybe even your life to be part of such a club, it better have a cool name with a cool mascot. Like the Society of the Serpent. Or the House of the Raven. Or, in the case of one 18th century sect, the secret Order of the Who’s a Precious Pup Yes You Are Yes You Are.
You’d think that Catholicism and Freemasonry would get along like an atheist’s house on fire. They both love to wear fancy robes, suppress women, and hide their treehouse club-nature behind excessive symbolism. But little over a century after its well-crafted foundation, Freemasons were banned from the Catholic Church by Pope Clement XI under punishment of excommunication. But one group of German Freemasons, led by the Archbishop of Cologne, figured out a loophole. They would just create their own secret society. With para-Freemasonic ideals. And pugs.
This led to the creation of the secret Order of the Pug (Mops-Orden in German). Why name yourself after the canine equivalent of a flattened penny? Because pugs were fashionable in the 18th century and, more importantly, were seen as undyingly loyal and unflappable. (Except, of course, for their many skin flaps). And the Freemason Order of the Pug really went all-in with the short-pawed symbolism. Initiates to the order had to wear a dog collar and scratch the front gate in order to be let into the secret meeting room. Once inside, they would be blindfolded, barked at by the big dog members, and forced to kiss the anus of the chapter’s mascot pug -- only afterward revealed to be a porcelain doll.
Aside from symbolic dog-sphincter Frenching, the order also deviated from regular Freemasonry by allowing women to join. In fact, the order was ruled over by both a Grand Master and Grand Mistress, the original boss bitch, who alternated between being in charge. Sadly, for all its dogged progressiveness, the Order of the Pug was short-lived. In 1748, only seven years after its foundation, the secret society hit a wall (which is how pugs get their iconic look) when a book titled The Order of the Freemasons Betrayed and the Secret of the Pugs Uncovered exposed them. And while their loophole did save its members from excommunication, the Order of the Pug was officially banned in 1748 in all of Europe. Though some claim that the pugnacious Pugs lived on for much longer, with traces of their order having been dragged across the carpet of Freemason history until as late as the early 20th century.
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Top Image: Public Domain