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What is the Bohemian Grove?

The Bohemian Grove is an exclusive Californian retreat where the elite gather annually, shrouded in secrecy. This enclave hosts powerful figures who discuss global affairs amidst ancient redwoods, sparking intrigue and conspiracy theories. Its privacy fuels speculation about the decisions shaped there. What truly happens behind those guarded gates? Join us as we explore the mysteries of this clandestine conclave.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

The Bohemian Grove is an exclusive private campsite located near the Russian River in Monte Rio, California. The Grove is probably most well known for its annual summer encampment, which includes a massive gathering of the rich and powerful in America. Goings-on at the Bohemian Grove are shrouded in secrecy, despite penetration by several journalists and documentary film makers. The mystery surrounding the annual summer encampment has attracted a great deal of attention to Bohemian Grove, along with large amounts of speculation.

The 2,700 acre (11 kilometers square) site belongs officially to the Bohemian Club, an exclusive private men's club which was founded in San Francisco in the late 1800s. The club was initially founded by journalists, but it was quickly penetrated by San Francisco's elite, who wanted to find a site to use for occasional escapes in addition to the central club in San Francisco. Members started buying up land near the Russian River, and the first summer gathering occurred in 1899, by invitation only.

The owl is the symbol of Bohemian Grove.
The owl is the symbol of Bohemian Grove.

People who wish to enter the Bohemian Club must be sponsored by two or more existing members. They also have to pay a hefty initiation fee, along with annual dues. Members of the club who keep their membership in good standing for over 40 years are known as the “Old Guard,” and they are entitled to certain privileges which are not extended to other members of the club. Arguably, one of the biggest privileges of all is an invitation to Bohemian Grove, located at 20601 Bohemian Ave in rural Sonoma County.

Membership in the Bohemian Club is not a guarantee for an invitation to the summer events. There are two separate summer camps, one in June which is generally only attended by Californians, and one in July which includes members from all over. At these camps there are an assortment of performances, speeches, and insider rituals including the “Cremation of Care” ceremony, in which attendees symbolically vanish the cares of the world.

The symbol of Bohemian Grove is an owl, and a giant statue of an owl stands guard at the camp. The camp's motto is “weaving spiders come not here,” a reference to the convention of leaving the issues of the outside world, including business deals, outside. In fact, as one would imagine at a gathering of America's elite, including several former Presidents, a great deal of business and politicking goes on at Bohemian Grove.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Bohemian Grove?

The Bohemian Grove is a private 2,700-acre retreat in the redwood forest of Monte Rio, California, owned by the Bohemian Club, which is a private club with a membership comprising influential artists, musicians, businessmen, and government officials. Every summer, the club hosts a two-week, male-only encampment where members and guests gather for leisure, networking, and various ceremonies, the most famous being the "Cremation of Care" ritual.

Who are the members of the Bohemian Club, and can anyone join?

Membership in the Bohemian Club is by invitation only and is typically drawn from the elite of business, politics, and the arts. Notable members have included U.S. presidents, corporate leaders, and prominent artists. The club maintains a secretive profile, and joining requires sponsorship from current members, adherence to the club's traditions, and the ability to pay the substantial fees associated with membership.

What happens at the Bohemian Grove gatherings?

At Bohemian Grove gatherings, members participate in a variety of activities including musical performances, theatrical events, lectures, and outdoor pursuits like hiking and fishing. The "Cremation of Care" ceremony, which symbolizes the shedding of worldly concerns, is a notable event. Discussions on public policy and business also occur, but the club emphasizes that these gatherings are social in nature and not platforms for official business deals or policy decisions.

Why is the Bohemian Grove controversial?

The Bohemian Grove has been a subject of controversy due to its exclusivity, secrecy, and the perception that it is a place where the powerful can collude away from public scrutiny. Critics argue that the lack of transparency and the potential for off-the-record policy discussions raise concerns about elitism and undemocratic influence. Additionally, the male-only policy of the encampment has been criticized for perpetuating gender discrimination.

Has any significant policy ever been shaped at the Bohemian Grove?

While the Bohemian Club states that no official policy is made at the Grove, there have been instances where discussions among members have influenced subsequent decisions or events. For example, it is rumored that the Manhattan Project was conceived at the Grove in 1942. However, due to the private nature of the gatherings, it is difficult to confirm the extent to which policies have been shaped there.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a UnitedStatesNow researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Learn more...
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a UnitedStatesNow researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Learn more...

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Discussion Comments

anon336057

So using correct grammar is the way to go? One might think, if that is the primary prerequisite, that this club is not very exclusive.

anon260671

I worked for the Bohemian Club for over 30 years. What do you need to know about the Bohemian Grove?

anon133350

In response to anon47092, the first step you should take is to start using correct grammar and capitalization. You may have great talents, but you need to present yourself well first. Incorrect grammar will not get you far in this world.

anon47092

i am interested with the bohemian grove society. i want to enter this society. i want to create my big future. i believe in myself. i have great talents.

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    • The owl is the symbol of Bohemian Grove.
      By: hitman1234
      The owl is the symbol of Bohemian Grove.