The Palladian Order of Skull and Bones - a revealing look inside the University of Arkansas' oldest secret society.

Palladian Order - The Men of Skull and Bones

Setting the Record Straight

An Insider's Look at the Palladian Order of Skull and Bones

"The Palladian Rite" or "The Palladian Order of Skull and Bones", known intimately among its members as "The Order" or "Bones", does exist on the University of Arkansas campus. The Order has founding roots in Freemasonry. Bones, a self-styled "society with secrets", remains one of the most secretive and most enduring of student tap societies at the University.

Why a Secret Society at the University of Arkansas?

Secretive organizations have existed at many institutions of higher learning. Legend states that the Palladian Rite was founded on May 1, 1876 under the direction of prominent 33rd-Degree Scottish Rite Freemason General Albert Pike.

Accuracy of this allegation has never been confirmed or denied, but exists as part of the rich legend and culture within Skull and Bones.

We are taught that Bones was created to cultivate like-minded students for later service within the higher degrees of Freemasonry, that Pike loved Fayetteville and was an early supporter of the college.

"Washington #1", the first Masonic lodge in Arkansas, is located in Fayetteville.

*The Supreme Council of the Scottish Rite, southern jurisdiction, (governing body over the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry) doesn't seem to be a directly affiliated with any activities of the Order.

Assorted Facts About the Order

Many people seem concerned that the Palladian Order of Skull and Bones is something like the movie "The Skulls", which was almost purely fiction and based on an old Masonic "cousin-society" - The Skull and Bones of Yale University. Furthermore, people often inquire about gifts of money, cars, or sexual favors during initiation. Sorry... no cash, cars, or prostitutes. No secret espionage or one-world order.

Purely hollywood fluff, but wasn't that movie fun to watch?

Even at Yale, the very most a graduating member receives is a small financial endowment and a grandfather clock on his wedding day.

The Yale faction of Skull and Bones was founded in 1832 by William Russell and is based on the Masonic student organizations Russell witnessed in Europe. Once considered to be the gentleman's track to success and political prestige, the Freemasons of the seventeenth century were indeed powerful. It was in this genre that Russell created a secretive society- hoping to restore to Yale the intrigue of secretive societies lost once Phi Beta Kappa became public.

In fact, almost all secretice student socities in existence have direct roots to Freemasonry. Even fraternities have roots in Masonry: The motto of Sigma Chi, "In hoc Signo Vinces", is taken from Knights Templar Masonry. The men of Sigma Chi are good men, some of the most powerful and promising men on campus.


The rights, light, and benefits that comes with affiliation within Skull and Bones are very much secretive. Bonesmen extend an uncommon preference toward one another throughout life.

The Palladian Order of Skull and Bones is a secretive tap society, founded on May 1, 1876 at the University of Arkansas. On the second Thursday of April, a certain number of Junior-year students are selected for candidacy and are extended an invitation for affiliation on "Tap Day". This invitation consists of a small booklet with a skull and crossbones pledge pin therein, as well as information regarding the first gathering. Initiation soon follows, and the members serve out their senior class year as active "Bonesmen".

The Men of the Palladian Rite, the "Order of Bonesmen", do not hold secret orgies, galling ceremonies or profane worship. Nothing nefarious, insidious, or generally unappealing occurs near or within the working of the Bonesmen. Quite the contrary.

Unlike the fine men of "Skull and Key Society", whose strong membership is primarily from certain powerful Greek-letter fraternities with long histories on campus,
Bonesmen are selected from both fraternity and non-fraternity men. Our appreciation and loyalties for the men of these strong houses run deeply. Brothers under the skin, we do not forget our own.

Indeed, since we have never competed with fraternities for members we have long enjoyed a symbiotic relationship therewith. May the brethren of the University continue to prosper and succeed!

The Palldian Rite recognizes no specific sister society; however, Bones has annually admitted a select few female students into privileged affiliation. Often, these "sisters" have gone on to very successful careers. The Rite does not select sisters
neccesarily on the basis of sorority status, but by their level of ambition and like-mindedness. Once admitted and duly received, the sister is protected for life.

Bonesmen are not permitted to acknowledge membership if asked by a non-initiate, but are not required to leave the room at the mention of "skull and bones".

You can only determine a Bonesman by his pledge pin, which he must always wear from the first day of class until Initiation Night (fall semester). Whether naked or clad, barefoot or shod, a neophyte must always have his pledge pin on or about him. The pins are returned to the Order during the Initiation, where a mark or impression is lastingly laid upon the candidates. Pins may be lost or stolen, but the mark of Skull and Bones remains with the Initiate for life.

Bonesmen do not have to wear red ties on Thursdays, but on that day each are required to wear their skull and bones pin on the inside of their shirt, covered by the outer shirt lapel...further disguised by a necktie.
This is done to keep the pins - and the Order - closer to the heart than any other.

"Bones" gets its name from a significant symbol within the Order - the biblical rib which was offered up by Adam. Each man receives a bone, upon which is deliniated his secret name. This bone is placed in the bonepile at the start of regular, stated meetings.

Bones may, at its discretion, admit one faculty each year into the Order.

Bonesmen are fiercely loyal, extending privileges and nepotistic, preferential treatment to fellow members "over any other", be it in college or in the professional world. Moreso than any fraternity, the bonesmen remember their oaths of preferentiality.

Bonesmen are taught certain identifying signs by which they may recognize a fellow Bonesman, especially if he be in distress and in need of assistance. As with Freemasons, members of the Palladian Rite are sworn to immediately come to the relief and assistance of a fellow bonesman when certain signs and words are given demonstrating distress or need. A Bonesman cannot refuse to comply with such an appeal if he can comply without injury to himself or his business.

Refusal to comply with a genuine call of distress is ill-advised.

Bones is not a religious organization, nor is it a religion - Bones has always taken good men regardless of their professed faith. Bones is not Freemasonry, although the ceremony Initiation closely resembles it.

Roughly speaking, the Order meets to discuss socioeconomic and geopolitical issues - submitting a report each year to the Club of Rome and other policy think-tanks.

"Bones" requires their members to wear certain identifying things on particular days of the week, which is a reminder of one great and good person.

The Order, although one of the oldest organizations near campus, as a rule has never solicited nor received monies from the University. Conversely, each member is required to name the University in his will. A Bonesman loves his Alma Mater with unyielding devotion and promises to donate throughout life.

Although there are no fees for belonging to the Skull and Bones, the Order requests that all members make an annual contribution to the University "when he may do so without material injury to himself or to those who have prior claim upon him...".

How the Order Selects its Members

Without saying much - which would even more seriously violate the obligation of secrecy - let's say that Bones takes its members based on a prescribed and carefully monitored selection process. No more than 3 members each year may be associated with a Greek Fraternity. No fewer than 3 members must be either pre-law, pre-med, or business majors. Bones prefers members to be active in the leadership of student organizations, often even student government. Bones compels loyalty from its members above all other.

Junior-year men who are interested in being considered for membership may make themselves known by appearing on the "old stone steps of Old Main" at precisely 7:55 p.m. on the first Thursday of October. They shall be dressed in suit and tie, and will bring with them an official receipt from the University showing that they have made a financial donation of no less than $100 to the University of Arkansas.

In addition to this receipt each man must present his full contact information, declared major, and reasons for seeking affiliation. After a time of consideration the society will contact their selections for further interrogatories. (Again, Tap Day isn't until the second Thursday in April.)

While the act of donating to the University cannot guarantee a tap position, the society has long held such benevolence in the highest esteem. Those who benefit the University receive the light of the Order.

Skull and Bones...Good or Bad?

You've lived your life so far without knowledge of Bones; what would be so different, now? Bones is just Bones, nothing more. Unusual traditions, like swearing to name the University in their wills, makes Bones a rather "shoe" anachronism. Frankly, the meetings are dry and stuffy at times. No alchol or intoxicants are ever allowed within an assembly of Bonesmen. A Bonesman must hold an open-minded position regarding geopolitical socioeconomics and the pervading ramifications of American foreign more than ever as we see the world embracing the Light of Reason..

Tradition is important within Bones; however, a few of the members
have expressed an interest in changing the age-old doctrine of admitting only men. Personally, we feel the time is long overdue for admitting worthy female students equally into the rights, light, and benefits of this ancient and preferential society - not merely relegating them to "sister" status. While the Patriarchs are not amused by this marked break from tradition, things change.

For many, Bones has remained but a whisper; most have no knowledge of it whatsoever. The occassional rumor from fraternities, the whimsical allegations of sleepless conspiracy theorists, even benign imitations inspired by Bacchus - where the Skull and Key resides....these have long been the only sources of alleged information into the enduring tap society.
If someone is offered a tap, they have been evaluated for their student involvement, ambition, willingness to receive a tap, and those strengths he (or she) will bring to the Order. If they accept, let them accept for the right reasons. If they reject, it is our sincere hope that they first understand that which they refuse.

"Deus Meumque Lux"

Perhaps you will be one of the lucky few who are asked the words: "Skull and Bones...will you receive?"