Bohemian Grove

Bohemian Grove

Bohemian Grove is a convert|2700|acre|km2|0|abbr=on|lk=on|adj=on campground located at 20601 Bohemian Avenue, in Monte Rio, California, belonging to a private San Francisco-based men's art club known as the Bohemian Club. In mid-July each year, Bohemian Grove hosts a three-week encampment of some of the most powerful men in the world.Philip Weiss, [ Masters of the Universe Go to Camp: Inside the Bohemian Grove] . "Spy Magazine", November 1989]


The Bohemian Club's all-male membership includes artists, particularly musicians, as well as many prominent business leaders, government officials (including many current and former U.S. presidents), and senior media executives.Wallace Turner. "At the Bohemian Club, men join, women serve", "The New York Times", 12 January 1981] [ [ Inside Bohemian Grove] from [ Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting] ] As a measure of the club's exclusivity, it is reported the waiting list for membership is from 15 to 20 years, though a fast track, three-year membership process is possible, but two current members must sponsor the prospective member. An initiation fee of $25,000 as of 2006 is required in addition to yearly membership dues. Elected members are allowed to prorate the initiation fee into equal annual payments until they reach the age of 45.

Members may invite guests to the Grove although those guests are subject to a screening procedure. A guest's first glimpse of the Grove is typically during the "Spring Jinks", in June, preceding the main July encampment. Bohemian club members can schedule private day-use events at the Grove any time it isn't being used for Club-wide purposes, and are allowed at these times to bring spouses, family and friends, though female and minor guests must be off the property by 9 or 10 p.m.

After 40 years of membership the men earn "Old Guard" status, giving them reserved seating at the Grove's daily talks, as well as other .

The Grove motto is "Weaving Spiders Come Not Here", which implies that outside concerns and business deals are to be left outside. When gathered in groups, Bohemians usually adhere to the injunction, though discussion of business often occurs between pairs of members. Important political and business deals have been developed at the Grove. [ OC Weekly. August 31, 2006. Nick Schou. "Bohemian Grove Exposes Itself!"] ] The Grove is particularly famous for a Manhattan Project planning meeting that took place there in September 1942, which subsequently led to the atomic bomb. Those attending this meeting, apart from Ernest Lawrence and military officials, included the president of Harvard and representatives of Standard Oil and General Electric. Grove members take particular pride in this event and often relate the story to new attendees.Peter Martin Phillips, [ A Relative Advantage: Sociology of the San Francisco Bohemian Club] , 1994.]


Bohemian Grove was established shortly after the founding of the Bohemian Club in 1872. For several years, the members of the Club camped together at various locations, including the present Muir Woods, Samuel P. Taylor State Park, and a separate redwood grove near Duncans Mills, down the Russian River from the current location. Regular July encampments similar to those held today began in 1899.

The first parcel of the grove was purchased from Melvin Cyrus Meeker who developed a successful logging operation in the area. Gradually over the next decades, members of the Club purchased land surrounding the original location to the perimeter of the basin in which it resides.

Not long after the Club's establishment by newspaper journalists, it was commandeered by prominent San Francisco-based businessmen, who provided the financial resources necessary to acquire further land and facilities at the Grove. They still retained the "bohemians" however — the artists and musicians — who continued to entertain international members and guests.

Past attendees

The Bohemian Club is a private club; only active members of the Club (known as "Bohos") and their guests may visit the Grove. These guests have been known to include politicians and notable figures from countries outside the US. Particularly during the midsummer encampment, the number of guests is strictly limited due to the small size of the facilities. Nevertheless, up to 2,900 members and guests have been reported as attending some of the annual encampments.


The main encampment area consists of 160 acres of old-growth redwood trees over 1,000 years old, with some trees exceeding 300 feet in height. [ [ SF Gate. "Bohemian Club's logging plan raises plenty of sawdust." Jane Kay, Chronicle Environment Writer. Thursday, July 12, 2007. Retrieved September 16, 2008] ]

The primary activities taking place at the Grove are varied and expansive entertainment, such as an elaborate Grove Play (once known as "High Jinks") and musical comedies ("Low Jinks") — where female roles are played by men in drag — produced by the members and associate members of the Club. Thus, the majority of common facilities are entertainment venues, interspersed among the giant redwoods.


There are also sleeping quarters, or "camps" scattered throughout the grove, of which it is reported there were a total of 118 as of 2007. These camps, which are frequently patrilineal, are the principal means through which high-level business and political contacts and friendships are formed.

The pre-eminent camps are: [ [ Louis E. Gelwicks. "The Camps: Facts, Artifacts and Fantasies" 1979] ] [ [ Institute for the Study of Globalization and Covert Politics. Bohemian Grove. Incomplete camps list.] ]

*Hill Billies (Big Business/Banking/Politics/Universities/Media);
*Mandalay (Big Business/Defense Contractors/Politics/U.S. Presidents);
*Cave Man (Think Tanks/Oil Companies/Banking/Defense Contractors/Universities/Media);
*Stowaway (Rockefeller Family Members/Oil Companies/Banking/Think Tanks);
*Uplifters (Corporate Executives/Big Business);
*Owls Nest (U.S. Presidents/Military/Defense Contractors);
*Hideaway (Foundations/Military/Defense Contractors);
*Isle of Aves (Military/Defense Contractors);
*Lost Angels (Banking/Defense Contractors/Media);
*Silverado squatters (Big Business/Defense Contractors);
*Sempervirens (Californian-based Corporations);
*Hillside (Military — Joint Chiefs of Staff)

Entertainment venues and gathering spots

* "Grove Stage" — it is an amphitheater with seating for 2,000 used primarily for the Grove Play production, on the last Friday of the midsummer encampment. The stage extends up the hillside, and is also home to the second largest outdoor pipe organ in the world.
* "Field Circle" — a bowl-shaped amphitheater used for the mid-encampment "Low Jinks" musical comedy, for "Spring Jinks" in early June and for a variety of other performances.
* "Campfire Circle" — has a campfire pit in the middle of the circle, surrounded by carved redwood log benches. Used for smaller performances in a more intimate setting.
* "Museum Stage" — a semi-outdoor venue with a covered stage. Lectures and small ensemble performances.
* "Dining Circle" — seating approximately 1,500 diners simultaneously.
* "Club House" — built in 1903, a multi-purpose dining, drinking and entertainment building; the site of the Manhattan Project planning meeting held in 1942.
* "The Owl Shrine and the Lake" — an artificial lake in the middle of the grove, used for the noon-time concerts and also the venue of the "Cremation of Care", that takes place on the first Saturday of the encampment. It is also the location of the 12:30 p.m. daily "Lakeside Talks." These significant informal talks (many on public policy issues) have been given over the years by entertainers, professors, astronauts, business leaders, cabinet officers, CIA directors, future presidents and former presidents;Domhoff, G. William, "The Bohemian Grove and Other Retreats: A study in ruling class cohesiveness", Harper and Row, 1974.] these have been the subject of ongoing controversy, as the transcripts of these talks are rarely released to the public (though have been known to be used for such mundane purposes as reading for the lecturer's graduate students).

Camp Valets

Camp valets are responsible for the operation of the individual camps. The "head" valets are akin to a general manager's position at a resort, club, restaurant, or hotel. Service staff include female workers whose presence at the Grove is limited to daylight hours and to central areas close to the main gate. Male workers may be housed at the Grove within the boundaries of the camp to which they are assigned or in peripheral service areas. High-status workers stay in small private quarters but most workers are housed in rustic bunkhouses.

Symbolism and rituals

Since the founding of the club, the Bohemian Grove's mascot has been an owl, symbolizing knowledge. A statue of an owl stands at the head of the lake in the Grove and, since 1929, has served as the backdrop of the yearly "Cremation of Care" ceremony.

The Club's patron saint is John of Nepomuk, who legend says suffered death at the hands of a Bohemian monarch rather than disclose the confessional secrets of the queen. A large wood carving of St. John in cleric robes with his index finger over his lips stands at the shore of the lake in the Grove, symbolizing the secrecy kept by the Grove's attendees throughout its long history.

"Cremation of Care"

The "Cremation of Care" ceremony was devised in 1893 by a member named Joseph D. Redding, a lawyer from New York. It was originally scheduled to follow the serious "High Jinks" dramatic performance (later known as the Grove Play) on the first weekend of the summer encampment, and served as a catharsis for pent-up high spirits. In 1913, the ceremony was separated from the Grove Play and moved to the first night to become "an exorcising of the Demon to ensure the success of the ensuing two weeks". The Grove Play was moved to the last weekend of the encampment.cite book |title=Theatre West: Image and Impact |last=Ogden |first=Dunbar H. |coauthors=Douglas McDermott, Robert Károly Sarlós |year=1990 |publisher=Rodopi |isbn=9051831250 |pages=36 |url= ]

The ceremony involves the poling of a small boat across a lake containing an effigy of Care (called "Dull Care"). Dark, hooded figures receive from the ferryman the effigy which is placed on an altar and at the end of the ceremony, is set on fire. This "cremation" symbolizes that members are banishing the "dull cares" of conscience.

The ceremony takes place in front of a 45-foot (14 m) high hollow owl statue made of concrete over expanded metal framing and steel supports. The moss- and lichen-covered statue simulates a natural rock formation, yet holds electrical and audio equipment within it. During the ceremony, a recording of the voice of Walter Cronkite, a member of the Bohemian Club, is used as the voice of The Owl. Music and pyrotechnics accompany the ritual for dramatic effect.

Protests and controversies

With its combination of wealth and power, Bohemian Grove's secrecy has been a target for protest for many years. The Bohemian Grove Action Network of Occidental, California organizes protests and has aided journalists who wish to penetrate the secrecy surrounding the encampment. Over the years, individuals have infiltrated the Grove then later published video and claimed accounts of the activities at Bohemian Grove.

On July 15, 2000, Austin, Texas-based filmmaker Alex Jones and his cameraman, Mike Hanson, infiltrated the Grove and successfully made it out with documented evidence. With a hidden camera, Jones and Hanson were able to film the "Cremation of Care" ceremony. The footage was the centerpiece of Jones' documentary, "Dark Secrets: Inside Bohemian Grove". Jones claimed that the "Cremation of Care" is an "ancient Canaanite, Luciferian, Babylon mystery religion ceremony," and that the owl statue is Moloch, although ancient descriptions of Moloch suggest a human figure with the head of a bull rather than an owl. [ [ "Moloch"] ] [ [ Molech, Moloch - International Standard Bible Encyclopedia] ] The Grove and Jones' investigation were covered by Jon Ronson in Channel 4's four-part documentary, "Secret Rulers of the World". Ronson documented his view of the ritual in his book, "", writing that it was a startling, immature, and bizarre way for world leaders to spend their summer vacations, but that he did not see evidence of covert Satanism. According to his description of the account it was nothing more than a fraternity-esque ritual, and the only reason one could see it as Satanic was if one was looking for Satanism in it to begin with.

Also filmed for "The Order of Death" was Jones' return to the entrance of the Bohemian Grove in 2005 where he filmed a protest organized by the Bohemian Grove Action Network that took place at the Grove's entrance on Bohemian Highway, only to discover a majority of the protesters engaging in an "occult counter-ritual", supposedly a counter-ritual against the "Cremation of Care".

Actor/writer Harry Shearer ("This is Spinal Tap", "Saturday Night Live", "The Simpsons"), who has attended at least one Bohemian Club event, wrote and directed "The Teddy Bears' Picnic", a parody of alleged Bohemian Grove conspiracies.


Though no woman has ever been given full membership in the Bohemian Club, there have been a small number of female honorary members, including Ina Coolbrith (who served as librarian for the Club), Elizabeth Crocker Bowers and Sara Jane Lippincott. Such honorary members and other women guests have been allowed into the Bohemian "City Club" building and as daytime guests of the Grove, but not to the upper floors of the City Club nor as guests to the main summer encampment at the Grove. Annual "Ladies' Jinks" were held at the Club especially for spouses and invited guests.

In 1979, the Bohemian Club was charged with a discrimination lawsuit by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing over its refusal to hire women employees. In January 1981, Judge Robert Kendall issued a decision supporting the practices of the Club, noting that club members at the Grove "urinate in the open without even the use of rudimentary toilet facilities" and that the presence of females would alter club members' behavior. [ [ New York Times. January 23, 1981. AP. "AROUND THE NATION; Bohemian Club Is Upheld On Refusal to Hire Women."] ] On October 17, 1981, the Department of Fair Employment and Housing countered the Kendall ruling by ordering the Club to begin recruiting and hiring women as employees. [ [ New York Times. October 17, 1981. AP. "AROUND THE NATION; Bohemian Club Ordered To Begin Hiring Women."] ] In 1986, the Bohemian Club went to the California Supreme Court over the issue, arguing that their freedom of association was being harmed; the Court found against the Club and denied a review in 1987, forcing the Club to begin hiring female workers during the summer encampment at the Grove in Monte Rio. [ [ New York Times. July 8, 1987. Katherine Bishop. "RETREAT MAY BE CLUB'S LAST WITHOUT WOMEN."] ] This ruling became quoted as a legal precedent and was discussed during the 1995-1996 floor debate surrounding California Senate Bill SB 2110 (Maddy), a proposed bill concerning whether tax-exempt organizations (including fraternal clubs) should be exempt from the Unruh Civil Rights Act. [ [ California State Senate. 1995-1996 Senate Bills. "SB 2110"] ]


Outside of the central camp area but within the 2,712 acres owned by the Bohemian Club, logging activities have been underway since 1984; approximately 11 million board feet worth of lumber were hauled out of the surrounding redwood and Douglas fir forest from 1984 to 2007, for sale to local sawmills. Stacy Martinelli, an associate biologist working with the California Department of Fish and Game, recommended single-tree logging rather than the Club's practice of group clearcutting which endangers the habitats of tree voles, murrelets and owls. Philip Rundel, UC Berkeley professor of biology, noting the Club's logging practices and the fact that redwood trees aren't very flammable, said "This is clearly a logging project, not a project to reduce fire hazard", countering the assertions of the Bohemian Club board in their application for a special logging permit in July 2007. The Bohemian Club board wished to expand their logging activities to more than 1 million board feet per year, and argued that fire abatement was their chief concern. [ [ SF Gate. "Bohemian Club's logging plan raises plenty of sawdust." Jane Kay, Chronicle Environment Writer. Thursday, July 12, 2007. Retrieved September 16, 2008] ]


*(President Bill Clinton to a heckler): "The Bohemian club! Did you say Bohemian club? That's where all those rich Republicans go up and stand naked against redwood trees right? I've never been to the Bohemian club but you oughta go. It'd be good for you. You'd get some fresh air." [ [ Clinton Bohemian Club Heckler] "Clinton makes 'naked' attack", CNN video, October 26, 2007]

*"The Bohemian Grove, that I attend from time to time — the (inaudible) and the others come there — but it is the most faggy goddamn thing that you would ever imagine. The San Francisco crowd that goes in there, it's just terrible. I can't even shake hands with anybody from San Francisco." — President Richard M. Nixon, Bohemian Club member starting in 1953. [ [ "Nixon Tape Discusses Homosexuals at Bohemian Grove"] ]

*"If I were to choose the speech that gave me the most pleasure and satisfaction in my political career, it would be my Lakeside Speech at the Bohemian Grove in July 1967. Because this speech traditionally was off the record it received no publicity at the time. But in many important ways it marked the first milestone on my road to the presidency." — President Richard Nixon again, in a more mellow mood, in his "Memoirs" (1978).

Further reading

*For a definitive look at the history of the Grove and the composition of Bohemian Club members and their social, business and political affiliations, updating Domhoff's book (below), see [ "A Relative Advantage: Sociology of the San Francisco Bohemian Club"] by Peter Martin Phillips, current Professor of Sociology at Sonoma State University in California. Phillips attended events at the Grove and conducted scores of interviews with attendees in his research.
*Domhoff, G. William, [ "The Bohemian Grove and Other Retreats: A study in ruling class cohesiveness"] , Harper and Row, 1974.
*Field, Charles K. , "The Cremation of Care", 1946, 1953
*Fletcher, Robert H., "The Annals of the Bohemian Club", Hicks-Judd, 1900
*Hanson, Mike, "Bohemian Grove: Cult Of Conspiracy", iUniverse Inc, 2004
*Hoover, Herbert, "Memoirs", Vol 2: "The Cabinet and the Presidency", Macmillan, 1952. Hoover was a prominent figure in the Grove's history and coined the phrase: "The Greatest Men's Party on Earth".
*Ickes, Harold L. , "The Secret Diary of Harold L. Ickes, Vol 1. The First Thousand Days, 1933-36." Simon and Schuster, 1953. Ickes was Secretary of the Interior during the New Deal.
*Isaacson, Walter, "Kissinger: A Biography", New York: Simon & Schuster, 1992, (updated) 2005. Contains a brief reference to his attendance at the Grove and fame for his performances in various skits.
*Maupin, Armistead, "Significant Others", Chatto and Windus, 1988. A fictionalized account of the grove, as described from the point of view of one of the major characters in this the fourth of the 'Tales from the city' series. Sympathetic and well informed, it includes an accurate description of the "Cremation of Care" ceremony. .
*McCartney, Laton, "Friends in High Places: The Bechtel Story: The Most Secret Corporation and how It Engineered the World", Ballantine Books, Updated edition,1989. For the remarkable network of links between the Californian-based and privately-owned Bechtel Corporation and members of Reagan's Cabinet, along with their Camp membership in the Grove.
*Nader, Ralph, "The Big Boys", Pantheon, 1987. Contains a chapter on high-level businessmen and the tightly-held secrecy of their Club membership.
*Nixon, Richard, "RN : The Memoirs of Richard Nixon", Grosset & Dunlap, 1978.
*Quigley, Carroll, "Tragedy And Hope: A History of the World in Our Time", G. S. G. & Associates, Incorporated, 1975. The seminal book by the history professor of Georgetown University that serves as the basis for many current conspiracy theories and studies of socio-economic elites.
*Santilli, Armand, "The Boys at Bohemian Grove", Xlibris Corporation, 2004
*Schmidt, Helmut, "Men and Powers : A Political Retrospective", Random House, 1990. He states in his memoirs that Germany had similar institutions, some of which included such rituals as "Cremation of Care", but that his favorite was the Bohemian Grove.
*Shultz, George P., "Turmoil and Triumph: Diplomacy, Power and the Victory of the American Ideal", Macmillan Publishing Company, 1993.
*van der Zee, John, "Power at Ease: Inside the Greatest Men's Party on Earth", Harcourt Brace Javonovich, 1974. The author waited tables at the Grove in the summer of 1972. The book has a comprehensive history of the Grove and an extensive bibliography.
*Warren, Earl, "The Memoirs of Chief Justice Earl Warren ", Madison Books, 2001. A frequent attendee, Warren mentions the Grove in his reminiscences.
*Watson, Thomas J. Jr., & Peter Petre, "Father, Son & Co. : My Life at IBM and Beyond", Bantam, 2000. A rare glimpse by a top IBM CEO of an insider's business perspective on the Grove.

See also

*Allen & Company Sun Valley Conference — Annual meetings held over five days in early July in Idaho between top media, communications and IT business leaders.
*Pacific-Union Club — An elite San Francisco-based club whose membership interlinks with the Bohemian Club and Grove.
*Rancheros visitadores — Annual meetings held in Santa Barbara in May.
*World Economic Forum — Annual meetings, mostly held in Davos, Switzerland
*Bilderberg Group — Annual meetings, rotated through the U.S., Canada, Europe, and Asia
*Trilateral Commission — Annual meetings, rotated through the U.S., Europe, and Asia
*The Family (club) — offshoot formed by ejected members of the Bohemian Club


External links

* [ Bohemian Grove (Institute for the Study of Globalization and Covert Politics)]
* [ Article on the Bohemian Grove by Joël van der Reijden 2005 (Institute for the Study of Globalization and Covert Politics)] Contains a detailed timeline on the history of the Club and Grove, an analysis of the possible origins of the "Cremation of Care" ritual, a list of known "Camps", and Club membership and attendees of the Grove.
* [ An Elite Alliance] March 2006, article on former NASA head and current LSU Chancellor Sean O'Keefe's participation in the Bohemian Grove.
* [ Kerry Richardson Index of Bohemian Grove Reportage] Web site of a Santa Rosa, California based photographer and researcher; contains both text and photographs of camp attendees.
* [ Masters of the Universe Go to Camp: Inside the Bohemian Grove] Spy Magazine journalist Philip Weiss infiltrated the Grove in 1989.
* [ Ralph Nader interview on the Bohemian Grove] On Sonoma County Radio Station KSRO with Pat Thurston, in July, 2005 (audio files).
* [ Old Bohemia, New Bohemia] Compares Bohemian Grove and Burning Man, Forbes Magazine.
* [ National Review. September 11, 1995. William F. Buckley, Jr. On The Right. "Newt Draws Fire".] Rebuts stories of men running around naked at the Grove.
* [ Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting Article on Bohemian Grove]

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