Day 520: Bohemian Grove – Where It All Goes Down

originally published June 3, 2013

Chances are, you have probably sat across the table from someone who has tried to point out all the little goings-on on a dollar bill, tying it to the Illuminati, the Freemasons, Fox News, or Menudo – one of those secret organizations that is most likely controlling every snippet of political and economic activity in the free world. I think everyone has either spent time with a conspiracy theorist such as this, or else they are one themselves. 

But behind every wacko, paranoia-induced idea (like the one about how the Mexican government is controlling our spending habits through hypnotic chemicals inside Doritos Cool Ranch seasoning) there may be a sliver of evidentiary truth. While I won’t pull the threads of the Illuminati conspiracy, I am rather intrigued by the bits I can sift through regarding Bohemian Grove

This little hunk of forest just outside Monte Rio, California, may not be the little pocket of the planet where all the big life-altering decisions are made… or maybe it is. 

Perhaps the craziest thing about the Bohemian Club, the men’s club that owns the little chunk of forest known as Bohemian Grove, is that it was founded under the pretext of appreciation of the arts. In April of 1872, a group of like-minded journalists created the club as a way to get together and share their mutual enjoyment of music, theatre, and so on. It wasn’t until 1878, when founding member Henry Edwards (actor and entomologist, so a double-threat) announced he was leaving for New York that the Club decided to throw its first big party in the woods. The festivities became an annual thing. 

Before long, the club full of arts-loving journalists was gradually usurped by San Francisco-area business folk. The artsy core was maintained, but with more guys in suits calling the shots, the club’s facilities (including that forest land) grew bigger and better. Also, a handful of impressively prominent men started showing up, particularly for the annual two-week ‘retreat’. 

Only Bohemian Club members and their guests are allowed to visit the Grove. The list of notables who have either dropped in or signed on as members reads like a conspiracy theorist’s wet dream. Every Republican president since the 20’s, and even a few from the other side of the aisle have spent some time there. CEOs of large corporations, heads of banks, big-time military contractors… not necessarily those you would naturally associate with the arts. 

The facility is broken into various ‘camps’, wherein members with similar back-stories can be grouped together to network, or – if your wont is to believe the worst – to scheme and collude. You’ve got the Hill Billies, comprised of big business (often Texas business), banking, politics and the media. Their numbers include Donald Rumsfeld, Walter Cronkite and George H.W. Bush. The Cave Man group, (think-tanks, oil companies and such) includes Kenneth Starr, the guy who tried to bring down Clinton, former Attorney General Ed Meese, and Herbert Hoover. 

It all sounds very Bohemian. 

On the first night of each retreat, members perform the Cremation of Care ceremony as a good-luck totem to launch the festivities. This could simply be an elaborate opening-ceremonies display, complete with pyrotechnics and a fire-show beneath the 40-foot owl statue beside the lake. Or it might be something more. 

In the summer of 2000, conspiracy theory-lover Alex Jones brought a hidden camera into the Grove and recorded the ceremony. He believed the owl statue to represent Moloch, the Ammonite god associated with child sacrifices. The ceremony itself (according to Jones) is a Canaanite, Luciferian, Babylon mystery religion ceremony. 

Could it be? Is it possible that all these powerful men are grouping together to worship Satan? 

The club’s motto, “Weaving Spiders Come Not Here”, is taken from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and refers to the club’s unofficial policy that business is not to be discussed at the Grove. This is more a suggestion than a rule, really. In September of 1942, a group of elites, including the president of Harvard and some highly-placed execs for Standard Oil and General Electric, met at the Grove to discuss the Manhattan Project. This is seen as one of the pivotal meetings that would lead to the development of the nuclear bomb. 

So maybe it’s true. Maybe all these powerful men really are gathering together to determine our collective fate once a year. Anyone who knows for certain isn’t talking. Richard Nixon – who was also a member – claimed the most satisfying speech of his career was delivered at the Grove in July of 1967. No one heard the speech, apart from the powerful men in attendance, but Nixon felt this was the moment that led to his presidency. This tells me it was the moment he earned enough powerful supporters who felt their interests would be sufficiently met with Dick Nixon in the White House. 

If it’s all about who you know, then Bohemian Grove is the place to get to know them. 

Naturally there are people who have dug a lot deeper than I into the goings-on at Bohemian Grove. And what they’ve found has irked them enough to launch protests. First there was the issue about women. A handful of women have been members, but none since 1928. In 1978 the club got into trouble for their lack of female employees. Judge Robert Kendall (who may have been made a member after this) ruled in favor of the club, stating that because of the lack of bathroom facilities, the male members freely urinate anywhere they please. This is their right. Female employees on the premises would take away that right. 

The California Supreme Court wasn’t convinced, and the Grove now employs women. The women have to leave the grounds by sundown, of course. The guys must have their free time to go wangs-akimbo. 

A guy named Chris Jones worked at the Grove, and freely lent his story to conspiracist Alex Jones’ (no relation) documentary about the place, all of which can be seen on Youtube. Believe me, there is some unsettling stuff in this documentary. 

How much you want to believe the goings-on at Bohemian Grove will influence the course of the Western World is up to you. Bill Clinton laughed it off as a Republican place where the rich go and “stand naked against Redwood trees.” Even Nixon himself, in one of his taped conversations called it “the most faggy goddamn thing you could ever imagine.” He then went on to say, “…that San Francisco crowd that goes in there; it’s just terrible! I mean, I won’t shake hands with anybody from San Francisco.” 

While I won’t make the leap to say that Bohemian Grove is the nexus of all political planning and forethought in our part of the world, I’m sure more than a few big decisions and convenient friendships have been forged beneath those Redwood branches. Maybe someday I’ll be deemed useful enough to score an invite. 

I’ll bring the Doritos. 

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