Graveyard Shift Creepy Stories and Theories About Bohemian Grove  

Jen Lennon
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Every summer, the world’s most elite and powerful men meet in the woods north of San Francisco. They don’t talk about work. Instead, they perform Druid-like rituals, burning coffin effigies in reverence to the large redwoods that surround their camp. Nixon, Bush, Ford, Reagan, Rumsfeld, Kissinger, Rockefeller—all of these men have been members of the super-secretive Bohemian Club. And this isn’t some conspiracy theory: the Bohemian Club is very, very real. And so is their annual retreat at their private camp, Bohemian Grove. Here are some shocking Bohemian Grove stories—some documented, some rumored—that might just make you start believing in conspiracies.

Some background information - the Bohemian Club was founded in 1872 by reporters who wanted to build a community in which they could appreciate the arts. Artists and musicians were welcome, and, over time, the club relaxed its rules: anyone who appreciated the arts could join, even non-creatives. This opened the floodgates, because if there’s one thing rich people who fancy themselves sophisticates love, it’s private clubs.

Soon, the club was overrun by the wealthy elite, the artists and journalists were pushed to the margins. As per club rules, at least ten percent of members must be artists, but realistically, only the most famous artists are allowed in. And, oh yeah: no women allowed.

One thing is very clear about Bohemian Grove: they don’t like outsiders. In 2008, a Vanity Fair reporter who infiltrated the camp was arrested for trespassing. It took an hour for members and security to suss out the fact that he didn’t belong. Impressive, since there were a few hundred men at the camp. You wouldn’t think it’d be too hard to blend into a crowd, right? But not this crowd. This crowd can tell who belongs and who doesn’t.

Despite the closed ranks, a few people have snuck into the club, and their testimonies give Bohemian Grove theories credence. Yet even those who got into the Bohemian Club weren't able to stay long enough to really integrate and figure out exactly what's happening in those woods. Until that happens, we’re left to speculate about a Bohemian Grove conspiracy. This list will take you through some theories about this exclusive camp. Get ready to put on your tinfoil hats.

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They Perform Druidic Rituals


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Video: YouTube

In 2000, Texas-based filmmaker Alex Jones snuck into Bohemian Grove with a video camera and filmed a very weird ritual: the Cremation of the Care. Members burnt a coffin in front of a 40-foot-tall owl, which they claim is a way of respecting the forest. The ritual involved elaborate costumes and torches, and the footage is undeniably creepy. 

In an extensive piece on the Bohemian Club, journalist Mark Evans writes, "Peter Weiss, writing in Spy Magazine, November 1989, states, 'Bohemian Club literature . . . boosts that the Cremation of Care ceremony derives from Druid rites, medieval Christian liturgy, the Book of Common Prayer, Shakespearean drama, and nineteenth-century American lodge rites.' Is this the straight goods, or is it PR sugar coating of a darker sacrificial rite, terrifying even on a symbolic level?"

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Was a Child Murdered There in 1984?


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Video: YouTube

Mark Evans writes of a man named Paul Bonacci, who claims he saw a snuff film of a child being killed among some large trees.

To quote Evans, “John DeCamp's book, The Franklin Cover-Up, includes Paul Bonacci's testimony about a snuff film of a child being murdered on July 26, 1984 in California in ‘an area that had big trees.’ At a meeting in Santa Rosa, DeCamp told a group that he had edited out Bonacci's references to an enormous, moss-covered owl and men in hooded red robes because he not know [sic] then about the owl at the Grove and thought it ‘too far fetched for people to believe.’

In the fall of 1992, Paul Bonacci was shown a black and white photo of the moss-covered owl at the Grove and quickly identified it as the site of the July 1984 snuff film described in DeCamp's book. Although this testimony has been available to law enforcement officials since mid-October 1992, no official investigation has been made.”

Moloch, indeed. 

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Weaving Spiders Come Not Here


Weaving Spiders Come Not Here is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list Creepy Stories and Theories About Bohemian Grove
Photo: vaXzine/via Flickr/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Bohemian Grove’s motto is “Weaving Spiders Come Not Here,” meaning talk of business is discouraged during the two-week retreat. Apparently, however, according to Dirk Mathison, a reporter from People who snuck inside the camp in 1991, there are speeches galore. 

According to a report published by New York-based media criticism organization Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) detailing Mathison's time at the Grove, “He witnessed a speech - ‘Smart Weapons’ - by former Navy Secretary John Lehman, who stated that the Pentagon estimates that 200,000 Iraqis were killed by the U.S. and its allies during the Gulf War. Other featured speakers included Defense Secretary Richard Cheney on ‘Major Defense Problems of the 21st Century,’ former Health, Education and Welfare Secretary Joseph Califano on ‘America's Health Revolution -- Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Pays,’ and former Attorney General Elliott Richardson on ‘Defining the New World Order.’"

Mathison was caught when executives from Time Warner, People’s parent company, recognized him. He submitted an account of what he witnessed to his editors, and his story was scheduled to be published, then mysteriously pulled. Mathison was never given a reason why.

The lack of media coverage on, and access to, the Bohemian Grove hardly seems like an accident. According to Alex Jones's documentary on the Grove, "Time Warner is not the only media corporation with Bohemian connections. The list of Fourth Estate bigwigs who have been members or guests is extensive: Franklin Murphy, the former CEO of the Times Mirror corporation; William Randolph Hearst, Jr.; Jack Howard and Charles Scripps of the Scripps-Howard newspaper chain; Tom Johnson, president of CNN and former publisher of the Los Angeles Times.”

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The 40-Foot-Tall Owl May Symbolize Moloch


The 40-Foot-Tall Owl May Symbo... is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list Creepy Stories and Theories About Bohemian Grove
Photo: Illustrator Unknown/Public Domain

Moloch is an ancient Canaanite god associated with child sacrifice, who appears in the form of a massive bull with a human torso. In his video recording on the Cremation of Care ceremony, Alex Jones often refers to the giant owl as Moloch. But why?

In the ‘90s, Mark Evans wrote an article in which he compared worship of the owl to that of Moloch. Though the ceremony performed at Bohemian Grove and those performed in deference to Moloch differ in key ways, similarities between the two are striking. Both involve massive effigies of animal-gods and a sacrifice by fire. 

In ancient times, children were sacrificed to Moloch so parents could gain the favor of the god. Some posit Moloch symbolized the terrifying power of nature, and the sacrifice of the child, the ultimate sacrifice, showed the lengths to which power-hungry people will go to rid themselves of powerlessness.