The dark side of Boho Grove

When it comes to tinfoil-hat conspiracy theories, all roads lead to a spread in California where some of the world’s leading powermongers convene

For two weeks in late July, some of the wealthiest, most powerful men in the world were holed up in the dusky redwoods 30 miles west of Santa Rosa, consuming copious amount of alcohol, dressing up in women’s clothing for amateur theatrical productions and generally making total idiots out of themselves during the 125th annual midsummer gathering of the San Francisco-based Bohemian Club.

The club insists that the retreat, held on a 2,700-acre, privately held spread called the Bohemian Grove, which is situated on the south bank of the Russian River just outside the small town of Monte Rio, is simply a means for its 2,500 or so members, culled from the uppermost reaches of society, to blow off the vast quantities of steam that come with the territory.

But others aren’t so certain.

It’s an intensely secretive affair, and no media are allowed in. While no one outside the grove knows for sure who is attending this year’s affair, past participants have included both George Bushes, Ronald Reagan, Henry Kissinger, Caspar Weinberger, James Baker, Dick Cheney, Malcolm Forbes, Stephen Bechtel and a host of prominent CEOs and business leaders, most of them conservative, many of them from California, 99 percent of them white men.

The presence of so many powerful men meeting in secret has led some critics of the Bohos, as they are known, to speculate that more is going on here than a simple two-week romp in the woods. Some of the critics claim that important public-policy decisions are being made here in secret. Others point to the gathering’s bizarre opening ceremony, in which a mock human sacrifice occurs, as evidence of occult activity. Still others say that the two-week sojourn merely provides cover for the rich and powerful to change back into their original form, a shape-shifting reptilian species that came from another planet thousands of years ago.

But while the charges of these various critics differ wildly, they have one thing in common. They all seem to agree that the men who meet here deep in the woods are involved in a vast conspiracy that has but one aim: global domination.

Mary Moore, a longtime Sonoma County activist who founded the Bohemian Grove Action Network, which has organized demonstrations outside the grove since 1980, is one of the Bohos’ more rational critics. The network’s Web site, at, contains a complete listing of all the public-policy speeches that have been given by major figures over the years, including Dick Cheney’s 1991 speech, “Defense Problems of the 21st Century.” Moore, a staunch leftist, is adamant that the annual retreat has to do with more than just fun and games.

“When powerful people work together, they become even more powerful,” she states on the Web site. “The Grove membership is wealthy, and becoming more so, while the middle class is steadily becoming poorer. This close-knit group determines whether prices rise or fall (by their control of the banking system, money supply and markets), and they make money whichever way markets fluctuate.”

True enough, although it’s a safe bet that more than a few attendees at this year’s gathering have been watching their stock portfolios go down in flames. Moore’s claims do dovetail nicely with those from the opposite end of the political spectrum, like Austin, Texas-based talk radio host Alex Jones.

Jones, who spearheaded the volunteer effort to rebuild the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, is an ardent critic of black helicopters, the U.S. government and the New World Order. Two summers ago, Jones and a British documentary filmmaker crashed the Bohemian’s party, sneaking in with a video camera and filming the infamous Cremation of Care ceremony that opens each year’s gathering. The video, Dark Secrets of the Bohemian Grove, can be purchased through Jones’ Web site,

The video depicts a group of hooded figures gathered around a 40-foot-tall stone statue of an owl surrounded by water. Think of the orgy scene from Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut as it might be produced by high school drama students, and you’ve got a pretty good picture. A small boat rows up to the hooded men and deposits a package, supposedly a human child in effigy, which the Bohos have dubbed “Dull Care.” The effigy is place on the altar before the owl and set ablaze, thereby symbolically relieving the Bohos of all their cares and worries for the next two weeks. On his Web site, Jones notes: “This is like something out of a Hollywood movie, where teenagers are out camping in the wilderness and come over a hill and witness some devil cult in black and red garb sacrificing some poor soul on a bloody altar.”

Jones compares the ritual to the ancient Canaanite worship of the owl idol Molech, in which humans were sacrificed in a similar manner.

“Whether it was an effigy or real, we do not know,” Jones says.

After watching the tape and listening to a steady diet of conspiracy-laden radio, former Marine Richard McCaslin of Austin, Texas, decided to break into the grove last January in order to prevent any more children from being sacrificed. Calling himself the Phantom Patriot, McCaslin broke in at night and managed to set fire to one of the buildings on the premises before being arrested. He was recently sentenced to 11 years in prison.

“If my neighbor was worshipping a 40-foot stone owl and burned children on a fire, I wouldn’t let that neighbor walk my dog or baby-sit my children,” McCaslin said in a newspaper article. “Instead these people are baby-sitting the big red button. This is some sick stuff.”

It gets worse. According to David Icke, a British conspiracy theorist, the members of the Bohemian Club are actually a reptilian species from another planet who came to earth thousands of years ago and covertly began taking over the planet, using their shape-shifting abilities to hide their true identities. Conjoining this idea with the more established theory that the secret society known as the Illuminati has been controlling world events since at least the 18th century, Icke postulates that both candidates from the 2000 U.S. presidential election, Al Gore and George W. Bush, belong to the Illuminati/reptilian bloodline.

A former journalist, Icke has written several books, and a sampling of his material can be found at, where he advises those who find all of this hard to believe to watch movies like They Live, The Arrival and the television series V (you remember, the one with the lizard people from outer space who take over the earth), which “tell the story of what is REALLY going on.”

What’s really going on in the Bohemian Grove? Outsiders may never know for certain. Mary Moore is quick to debunk conspiracy theorists like Jones and Icke. It was at the Bohemian Grove, after all, where scientists first conceived of the Manhattan Project in 1942, and Richard Nixon talked Ronald Reagan out of running for president in 1968. Important decisions that affect all of us are made at the grove, and people like Moore worry that tinfoil-hat theorists will detract from that fact.

But in the final analysis, the claims of the Bohemian Grove Action Network aren’t that much different. Everyone seems to be in agreement that a group of rich and powerful men are conspiring to control the world. Whether they’re just your average run-of-the-mill corrupt politicians and business leaders, a bloodthirsty cult of baby killers or a reptilian species from another planet, the end result is the same.

The rest of us, of course, are totally screwed.