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Bohemian Grove is a 2700 acre (11 kmē) campground located in Sonoma County, California belonging to a San Francisco men's fine arts club known as the Bohemian Club, founded in 1872.
The club is built on four pillars: music, literature, drama and arts, and the club attracts fine artists, both well known and unknown, as well as those who appreciate them, some of whom are prominent business leaders and government officials (notably several U.S. presidents).
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The club holds a 2-week long "encampment" during the month of July, where members and guests gather to share their passion and appreciations for arts.
Dozens of concerts, some scheduled and many
impromptu are held at the grove's amphitheatres and at "camps" every
day, and two original plays, a musical comedy and a drama usually
based on historical events are presented each year. There is also an
on-going art exhibit, and lectures and talks in a wide range of
topics from music history to current political affairs are held.
A forty-foot concrete owl stands at the head of the lake in the Grove and since 1929 has served as the site of the yearly Cremation of Care Ceremony.
The club's motto, "Weaving Spiders Come Not Here"
taken from A Midsummer Night's Dream, Act 2, Scene 2, signifies that
the club and the grove are not for conducting business, but are for
exchanging friendship and free sharing of common passion, summarized
in the term, "the Bohemian Spirit."
The Cremation of Care was devised in 1893 by a member named Joseph D. Redding, a lawyer in New York. The New York Times described the show in a June 25, 1899 article:
The ceremony is still played out every year, and is meant "to set
aside the nagging and often unworthy preoccupations which inhibit
openness and warm sympathy for human affairs generally and for works
of artistic and moral creativity in particular".
Many of the notable participants have been politically conservative, leading conspiracy theorists to speculate that the club is actually being used as a meeting place to secretly determine important public policies.
However, the majority of the members and guests who are targets of
such attacks meet only over the middle weekend of the encampment,
and the club largely remains a haven for artists and art lovers.