These lodges played a key role in the division and later corruption of the Legions under Horus' command that directly led to the outbreak of the Horus Heresy.
Some six solar decades prior to the events of the Horus Heresy, the XVI Legion, already called the Luna Wolves, in collaboration with the XVII Legion, then known as the Imperial Heralds but later renamed the Word Bearers, had undertaken the Imperial Compliance of the Feral World of Davin, codified as Sixty-Three Eight (63-8).
A feral place, Davin had been controlled by a remarkable warrior caste, whose savage nobility had won the respect of the Astartes sent to pacify their raging and bloody feuds. The Davinite warriors had ruled their world through a complex structure of Warrior Lodges, which were quasi-religious societies that had venerated various local predators as totem animals. By cultural osmosis, the lodge practices were quietly absorbed, emulated and modified by the XVI and XVII Legions to match their own internal Legion cultures.
Throughout history warriors had always sought the brotherhood of their kind. The Warrior Lodges supposedly sought to promote fellowship across the hierarchies of command in a Space Marine Legion, irrespective of rank or position. These lodges were intended to serve as a kind of internal bond, a ribwork of loyalty that operated, as it were, perpendicular to the Legion's official chain of command.
Imperial scholars now believe that the influence of the Primarch Lorgar and his Word Bearers played a key role in the proliferation of the lodges amongst the various Legions who took up the practice, spreading like a slow contagion and eventually becoming the source of the cancer that grew at the heart of the Imperium's finest warriors.
Officially, there were no warrior lodges, or any other kind of fraternities, within the Legiones Astartes. It was common knowledge that the Emperor frowned on such institutions, claiming they were dangerously close to cults, and only a step away from the illegal cult, the Lectitio Divinitatus, that supported the notion of the Emperor as the one, true God of Mankind.
The Emperor openly and publicly refuted His alleged divinity and banned religious worship in His empire, and demanded that his subjects accept the "Imperial Truth"-- that science, reason and logic alone presented the tools required to create a better human future.
There were many of those amongst the Space Marine Legions, especially those Astartes of Terran origin, who were openly opposed to the practise of the lodges, for to them it felt wrong, if nothing else, in that their practises were deliberately kept secret from other members of the Legion and were thus a form of deceit, since they knew the Emperor who have greatly disapproved of the custom.
Many of those Space Marine officers within the Legions who disapproved of such clandestine activities let it be known to those Astartes that served under their command that they should have nothing to do with these lodges.
In the final days of the Great Crusade, during a battle against Chaos-spawned undead on Davin's moon, whose Planetary Governor, Eugen Temba, had been corrupted by the forces of the Chaos God Nurgle, Horus was poisoned by a xenos blade dedicated to Nurgle known as a Kinebrach Anathame. The blade had been stolen from the human civilisation of the Interex by the Word Bearers' First Chaplain Erebus after Horus and the Luna Wolves of the 63rd Expeditionary Fleet had made a disastrous first contact with them.
In the course of that battle against Temba, the potent living metal of the Chaos blade wielded by the plague-infused monstrosity left Horus with a bleeding, toxic wound in his shoulder that his Legion's Apothecaries could not heal despite all the advanced technology available to them.
Seeing his chance to further the nefarious designs of the Ruinous Powers, Erebus next persuaded the Luna Wolves' Warrior Lodge to allow a group of Davinite shamans -- Chaos Cultists all -- located on the surface of Davin at the Temple of the Serpent Lodge to heal him. The Luna Wolves, besides themselves with grief and the fear that their beloved Primarch would die, agreed to the suggestion, despite its direct violation of the creeds of the Imperial Truth.
It was on Davin that things began to turn, where the momentum that led to the corruption of Horus and his Luna Wolves came to a head, planting the seeds of the monstrous betrayal that was to come. Horus fell and then he rose, healed by the arcane powers of the Davinite witches after he agreed within the Warp to betray his father the Emperor in return for mastery over the galaxy, as delivered to him through service to Chaos.
From the day of Horus' resurrection on, he took the good and open nature of Luna Wolves' Warrior Lodge and turned it slowly to meet his own ends, using it as the instrument of corruption to determine which of his Astartes would join him in rebellion -- and which would have to be eliminated before the betrayal could be consummated. Within the Warrior Lodges of the Luna Wolves and the other Legions targetted by Horus to join his cause, dark shadows grew over the hearts of warriors who had once been devoted and loyal to the Imperium's highest ideals.
After Horus' "miraculous" resurrection, the proliferation of these warrior lodges quickly spread amongst the other Legions, especially those that maintained close bonds with the XVI Legion and eventually turned Traitor. Though these warrior lodges had venerated no god or occult principle, the ritual and secret elements of the warrior lodges did not fit with the ruthless rationality of the Imperial Truth and were soon turned to the purposes of those who sought to spread the worship of the entities of the Warp through the Legions.
Frowned upon but tolerated, the lodges persisted and flourished even in the years before Horus' corruption. They had survived in part because many of the officers within the Legions saw them as relatively harmless, and in part because they did promote fellowship within and between Legions. It was a fatal misjudgement that would have dire consequences for all Mankind.
In the late 41st Millennium, ten thousand standard years after the end of the Heresy, the formation of secret brotherhoods amongst self-appointed "elite" soldiers was still regarded as a warning sign of corruption by Chaos.
Commissar Ciaphas Cain made a point of lecturing his students at the Schola Progenium about it, to make it possible for them to identify, and hopefully head off, the potential development of Traitor Guard units.
Warrior Lodge Organisation
From what little is known to modern Imperial scholars, behind closed doors the members of a lodge put aside the divisions of rank and honour. No rank existed between members aside from the ranks and divisions of the lodge itself. It was quite possible for a senior Space Marine captain to be greeted as an equal by a warrior under his command. Likewise it was equally possible for a sergeant to be the Lodge Master, one of his acolytes a company captain and a neophyte to be a senior Lodge Commander.
Such subversion of the order of rank and military discipline was possible because the lodges bound themselves with ritual and secrecy. The meeting places of a lodge were secret chambers entered by only one door. That door was guarded, and only those bearing the words and symbols of membership could pass within.
Members recognised each other by the use of artefacts (such as lodge coins), marks, gestures and code phrases. Symbolism and ritual significance surrounded initiation into a lodge. In some of the Legions' warrior lodges, the prospective initiate was blindfolded, only seeing again once the ceremony was complete.
In other lodges he would drink a cup of blood, a cup of water, and a cup of soured wine. Some had labyrinthine levels of rank to ascend; others confined themselves to a basic few.
For example, within the Emperor's Children Legion, the Brotherhood of the Phoenix was a more exclusive warrior lodge than those found within any of the other Legions. When the Emperor's Children had fought alongside the Luna Wolves early after the rediscovery of their Primarch Fulgrim, they had formed great bonds of friendship with the warriors of Horus, and in the times between the fighting, a few loose tongues amonst the warriors of the XVI Legion had spoken to their brothers in the III Legion of the existence of their warrior lodge.
The Luna Wolves' lodge was, in theory, open to any warrior who desired to be a member, an informal place of lively debate where rank held no sway and an Astartes could speak his mind freely without fear of reprisals.
Eventually a few Astartes from the Emperor's Children were permitted to attend one such meeting, a pleasant evening of honourable camaraderie under the titular leadership of the Lodge Master Serghar Targost. Some enjoyed the meeting, despite the clandestine nature and theatrics of it, but some remained uncomfortable with the informality and mingling of the ranks.
In the traditionally hierarchical Emperor's Children Legion, only warriors of officer rank could join the similar confraternity which was soon created within the III Legion, and which also would eventually be used as the conduit by which Fulgrim and the other members of the Emperor's Children who were corrupted by Slaanesh would seize control of the Legion and rid themselves of their Imperial Loyalists during the Istvaan III Atrocity.
Known Warrior Lodges
- Quiet Order - The Quiet Order was the warrior lodge founded within the Sons of Horus Legion to corrupt them towards the service of Chaos. Before the Warmaster Horus revealed his treachery at the Istvaan III Atrocity, where he culled the Loyalist elements of the Legions under his command, the lodge had met only as often as campaign necessity allowed. It had been an indulgence permitted by Horus, encouraged even, but always subservient to the demands of war. Following the massacre at Istvaan III, the lodge met more regularly as the Sons of Horus learned more of the secret arts of service to the Ruinous Powers from Erebus of the Word Bearers Legion.
- Brotherhood of the Phoenix - The Brotherhood of the Phoenix was a confraternity that existed within the Emperor's Children Legion and unlike other Warrior Lodges, was strictly composed of only the III Legion's senior officers.
- Dodekatheon - The Dodekatheon was the mason's order of the Iron Warriors Legion which had been gathering aboard Iron Warriors starships even before their Primarch Perturabo had been reunited with his gene-sons. It was a meeting place of builders and warriors, where new structural designs were unveiled, past battles refought and new theorems of war given voice. Every warrior of the IV Legion was welcome, but in practice only those of rank had the opportunity to attend any of the lodge meetings.
- Seven Pillared Lodge - The Seven Pillared Lodge was the Warrior Lodge founded within the Death Guard Legion to corrupt them towards the service of Chaos from within.
- Horus Heresy: Collected Visions (Art Book), pg. 54
- Imperial Armour - The Horus Heresy - Book One: Betrayal, pg. 78
- Horus Rising (Novel) by Dan Abnett, pp. 208-209, 214-215, 239, 241-248, 266
- Angel Exterminatus (Novel) by Graham McNeill, pp. 120-124, 133-134, 139
- Flight of the Eisenstein (Novel) by James Swallow, pp. 54, 61-62, 65, 86-89, 105, 147, 154, 157, 185, 222, 225, 234, 276, 320
- Fulgrim (Novel) by Graham McNeill, pp. 58-61, 63-64, 66, 188
- The Primarchs (Anthology) edited by Christian Dunn, "The Reflection Crack'd" (Short Story) by Graham McNeill, pp. 11, 30
- Vengeful Spirit (Novel) by Graham McNeill, pp. 64-67
- Cain's Last Stand in Ciaphas Cain: Defender of the Imperium (Omnibus Novel) by Sandy Mitchell, pg. 563