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The Millennium Group is a fictional secret society and "criminal investigative consulting firm" featured in the television series Millennium. The Group is primarily made up of members from law enforcement and religious backgrounds, and grew out of a Christian sect which was eventually co-opted by elements within the FBI.
In common with many organizations featured in conspiracy fiction, the Group claims to be in possession of a substantial body of secret knowledge - hoarding it until such time as they think it would be opportune to disclose to the public. Through the years they have tried to find the hidden motivations and agendas driving critical events in our history, looking for moments when human and inhuman intelligences have crossed paths, studying whatever clues they can find, and attempting to piece together the future. They are trying to find the appropriate branch of the future to take, the branch which will shift control from these inhuman elements and into their own hands. These objectives have forced them to ignore conventional ethics in exchange for ensuring the survival of mankind. Some junior members of the organization are unaware of its true agenda, having not yet been initiated into full membership.
The Group is led by the Elder, who acts as a kind of spiritual leader. The symbol for the Group is the ouroboros, an image depicting a snake devouring its own tail. Time, continuity, infinity, completion, the repetition of history, and the self-sufficiency of nature can all be seen within the circular symbol. Perhaps the key meaning of the symbol is that every end is also a new beginning.
The Millennium Group was formed around AD 100 by a group of Christians attempting to avoid persecution. They formed the Group to defend the world against the forces of Satan. However, Group members began to turn on each other when the Hand of Saint Sebastian was discovered in the year AD 998. It was believed that whoever took possession of the Hand would have the power to destroy the Devil and win the battle between good and evil destined to take place at the end of the Millennium. Many Group members wanted the Hand; some were even willing to betray and kill each other for it. Despite the fact that this infighting was eventually resolved, conflicting views and beliefs within the Group would come back to haunt the organization centuries later.
Throughout its history, the Millennium Group had access to scientific knowledge banned or withheld from the world at large by those in power. Examples include the work of Copernicus, Galileo, and the German physicists. This enabled the Group to leap generations ahead of mainstream scientific research. It also divided the organization into two factions: the Roosters (theologians who believe in an apocalyptic event foretold in the Bible) and the Owls (their secular counterparts). Both factions share the same basic belief - that the world is coming to an end - but each has its own views regarding the source of the apocalypse.
In the 1940s, with the world on the verge of nuclear Armageddon, the two top officers of the FBI, J. Edgar Hoover, and Clyde Tolson, decided there needed to be an independent group within the Bureau that could go above the law. A group that could do what traditional government and law enforcement couldn't. To this end, Hoover (who was already a member of the Millennium Group), Tolson, and their assistant Lily Unser decided to create their own Group. Hoover adopted the ouroboros insignia for his new organization, claiming the symbol had been discovered from a scientist named Kekulé.
Hoover and Tolson soon began recruiting members for their Group straight from the FBI. Eventually Hoover's group merged with the descendants of the original Millennium Group to form a larger, more diverse organization made up of theologians, former law enforcement personnel and scientists.
In modern times, the Millennium Group appears at first glance to be a private law enforcement consulting firm made up mostly of former FBI agents.
The phrase "This is who we are" is often uttered by Group members to one another. The phrase is a code, symbolic of the ourobouros, that sets members of the Group apart from ordinary citizens. "This is who we are" represents those on the inside of the circle, the gifted ones who know the dangers of the Millennium; "this is who they are" refers to those on the outside, oblivious to the greater struggle.
The imagery of owl and rooster is interesting because these birds are emblematic of different periods of the day. The owl is nocturnal, the rooster diurnal.
In recent times, a small "Representative Board" has been formed where Owls and Roosters can both sit and appeal their ideas to the Elder.
One wise man is chosen to be the spiritual leader of the Group. This chosen one is dubbed the "Old Man". The Old Man has a number of tasks which include (but are not limited to) initiating candidates, providing moral guidance, making predictions, and providing any high priority consultation. The Old Man commands the utmost respect of all Group members, and his word is prime over all others.
The Elder is essentially the leader of the Group. The Elder makes decisions, approves the acceptance of candidates, gives orders, and is the head of the Representative Board. All Group actions must have the Elder's approval. The Elder may consult the Old Man at his discretion.
The Inquisitor is the judge of a candidate's merit. He is the chairman of a review board that reviews the candidate's progress and achievements.
Patrons are special Group members who are assigned to recruit consultants to the Group, then guide and educate them in the ways of the Group when the consultant is accepted as a candidate. Some Group members spend many years as a Patron.
After being introduced to the Group by a Patron, one can begin to work for the Group as a consultant. Consultants have limited access to the Group's resources and know nothing of the Group's origin, although they are led to believe that they have full access and knowledge.
After an unspecified period of time, and once they have proven themselves "worthy", the consultant will become a candidate for full membership in the Group. At this phase, the candidate's Patron will gradually and carefully reveal the Group's origin and wider purpose. Candidates will be given higher access to the Group's resources, and will eventually be sent to meet the Old Man. Then, he/she will go through unspecified "tests" of their ability to determine what "evil" is, as well as election sessions in which a small handful of Group members will interview the candidate and assess his or her loyalty to the Group. If the candidate passes these tests and has the Old Man's approval, the candidate will then be accepted as a full member and all the Group's resources and secrets will become available to them.