Today is another secret hand signal (like old Ficus)... this time a handshake of recognition amongst the Freemasons. I don't think I'm giving away anything TOO über-secret, here, since the source of my image below is almost 150 years old, and it is often derided by Masons who talk about its many errors.
Suffice to say, the "Lion's Paw" is taught to the new Mason at a climactic point in their final initiation ceremony, and it involves death, resurrection, and bonds of brotherhood that are meant to extend beyond the grave. In some versions, it also involves some grisly imagery of flesh tearing away from the bone. When introducing it, they often mention the biblical Lion of the Tribe of Judah, which is often identified with Jesus by Christians.
It reminds me of one of the most memorable scenes from the third of C. S. Lewis' Narnia books. Poor annoying Eustace -- the Steve Urkel of this book -- was turned into a dragon because of his bad behavior. But God-Lion Aslan knew that the only way to fix him was to remove that pesky dragon skin...
But just as I was going to put my feet into the water I looked down and saw that they were all hard and rough and wrinkled and scaly just as they had been before. Oh, that's all right said I, it only means I had another smaller suit on underneath the first one, and I'll have to get out of it too. So I scratched and tore again and this underskin peeled off beautifully and out I stepped and left it lying beside the other one and went down to the well for my bathe.That did the trick for Eustace's inner character, too... but yikes!
Well, exactly the same thing happened again. And I thought to myself, oh dear, how ever many skins have I got to take off? For I was longing to bathe my leg. So I scratched away for the third time and got off a third skin, just like the two others, and stepped out of it. But as soon as I looked at myself in the water I knew it had been no good.
Then the lion said - but I don't know if it spoke - "You will have to let me undress you." I was afraid of his claws, I can tell you, but I was pretty nearly desperate now. So I just lay flat down on my back and let him do it.
The very first tear he made was so deep that I thought it had gone right into my heart. And when he began pulling the skin off, it hurt worse than anything I've ever felt. The only thing that made me able to bear it was just the pleasure of feeling the stuff peel off.
This whole "secret handshake" thing also got me thinking about secret societies in RPGs. They're usually encountered for highly skilled members of certain elite classes (assassins, monks, thieves, etc), but what about the Average Joe? Suppose that there is a secret order of plain, zero-level folks... but with JUST a bit of magic contained in that arcane handshake. The performance of the handshake allows one order-member to temporarily transfer one or more of his hit points to his fellow. When you've got only 1d4 hp, a brotha can really help out a brotha with just a very minor gesture like this! The recipient's gain will dissipate in 24 hours, but the giver's loss will need to be healed as if any other type of damage had been done. If someone gets help from multiple people and gets a full HD of hit points, that's also equivalent to a "life energy level" when encountering level-draining undead.