Bohemian Grove: Cremation of Care

Last Updated: April 21, 2017

Alex Jones's Cremation of Care footage
From Dark Secrets: Inside Bohemian Grove

The Cremation of Care ceremony or play which Bohemian Grove stages on the first night of its annual encampment, has been described by conspiracy theorists as some sort of dark occult working.

Curious, I was able to find a transcription of the play online.

Photograph: Owl of Minerva

Owl of Minerva
Photo Credit: Marie-Lan Nguyen

I really like Bohemian Grove's Cremation of Care play. I think Alex Jones, his undeniable credibility notwithstanding, has got this all wrong. I think anyone who reads Moloch or Minerva worship into this are a little touched. If you're really fixated on pinning this on an ancient god, Minerva, Athena's owl, is the better choice than Moloch, who is a Canaanite god associated with child sacrifice. In the play, the owl is a heroic figure, liberating the particpants from Care.

Nothing is sacrificed to the owl. Nothing is sacrified to Care, either.

So, the ceremony...

OK, here's the thing about the Cremation of Care, right. If you were to set up an open-air Tiki Bar right next to the stage there, next to the owl and fire and shit, right next to the stage...'d be doing serious business.

If Cremation of Care were produced as a film it would be:

Photograph: American International Pictures logo

AIP Logo - 1962
Photo Credit: Unknown

To sum it up, therefore, and to save the time of those who have heard about Boheman Grove but cannot allocate time to actually read about it:

Photograph: Bohemian Lodge 'Weaving Spiders Come Not Here' plaque

Don't be a bunch of Worky Workersons.
Photo Credit: Unknown

  1. Welcome, Hobbits, to our forest glen. By which I mean, this here grove in California.
  2. "Weaving spiders come not here." That is to say, no business in "lodge."
  3. We're going to kill "Care." Care is specifically and explicitly described here, because they invited guys like Richard Nixon who were not what you'd call esoterically inclined. The voice of Care is eerie and menacing the people in the grove; i.e. the audience. It is a bogey man (in other words, this entity, "Care," the bad guy, is NOT THE OWL.) Care seems to refer to concerns about business, money, and career, here. Stuff that happens at the office.
  4. So. Care:


    Fools! Fools! Fools!
    When will ye learn that me ye cannot slay?
    Year after year ye burn me in this Grove, lifting your silly shouts of triumph to the stars.
    But when again ye turn your feet toward the market-place, am I not waiting for you, as of old?
    Fools! Fools! Fools!

    To dream ye conquer Care!

    [The High Priest has come down to the lake’s edge and stands gazing up at the ghostly tree from which the voice of Care has come.]

    In short, the bad guy is waiting for you in the marketplace: at your business. Or, to put it in less dramatic terms, "This drunken weekend will end and you'll sober up and be all worried about your money. You can't kill me; every year you burn me and every year I come back after this weekend, rising from the dead."
  5. The owl is the Owl of Bohemia (i.e., not Moloch, nor Minerva, nor the even Owl of Minerva), mascot of The Bohemian Club. He is presented here as a large forest creature that can rock Care's world. It's the spirit of the forest and the club, and it's going to stand up to Care so really rich and influential guys can party themselves into a stupor without daydreaming about money and influence and politicking.

    A keg stand would not be inappropriate at this point. Or a beer funnel.
  6. The "priest" responds:

    Nay, thou mocking spirit, it is not all a dream.
    We know thou waitest for us when this our sylvan holiday shall end.
    And we shall meet and fight thee as of old,
    and some of us prevail against thee,
    and some thou shalt destroy.
    But this, too, we know: year after year, within this happy Grove,
    our fellowship has banned thee for a space, and thy malevolence
    that would pursue us here has lost its power beneath these friendly trees.
    So shall we burn thee once again this night and in the flames
    that eat thine effigy we’ll read the sign:
    Midsummer set us free!

    Or, basically, "Yeah we know you're always back there after we all go home and sober up, but we can be free of you for a weekend."

    I think this is pretty badass, but again, this is a fairly explicit play. The greatest thing ever is that there are people who think *I'm* deluded for just taking it at face value. The way people wig-out about this play really helps you understand why people are all angry and confused about Freemasonry.
  7. Care - again, the bad guy here - answers in this booming, malevolent voice:

    So shall ye burn me once again! Ho, Ho,
    Not with these flames which hither ye have brought.
    From regions where I reign!
    Ye priests and fools!
    I spit upon your fire!

    [Explosions at the Pyre. The torches are instantly extinguished. No light save from the lamp. Care’s laughter fills the darkness. The High Priest kneels and lifts his arm to the shrine.]

    WHOA DUDE! Care is all like, "Whatever, you can't kill me with weak pyrotechnics." CARE WINS!
  8. BUT WAIT! The High Priest asks for the Owl of Bohemia's counsel:

    O thou, great symbol of all mortal wisdom, Owl of Bohemia, we do beseech thee,
    Grant us thy counsel!

    "The Bohemian Grove that I attend from time to is the most
    faggy goddamned thing you could ever imagine..." - Richard M. Nixon

  9. The Owl of Bohemia answers:

    No fire, if it be kindled from the world
    Where Care is nourished on the hates of men
    Shall drive him from this Grove.
    One flame alone
    Must light this pyre: the pure eternal flame
    That burns within the Lamp of Fellowship
    Upon the altar of Bohemia.

    [High Priest rises and ascends to Lamp of Fellowship]

    So, "The lamp of fellowship," i.e, that which bonds the members together, is the only kind of fire that can defeat Care. This is probably nothing stronger than any symbolic concept Ralph Kramden and Ed Norton dealt with in the International Order of Friendly Sons of the Raccoons. (woo woo woo)
  10. At this point some straight-up AD&D shit goes down. The "priest" uses the Lamp of Fellowship to send up flames kindled from within the sanctity of the Grove. This is like, we're talking maybe, 2d20 damage, save for Breath Weapon. The "priest" incants:

    Well should we know our living flame
    Of Fellowship can sear
    The grasping claws of Care,
    Throttle his impious screams
    And send his cowering carcass
    From this Grove.
    Begone, detested Care, begone!
    Once more we banish thee!
    Let the all potent spirit of this lamp
    By its cleansing and ambient fire
    Encircle the mystic scene
    Hail Fellowship; begone Dull Care!
    Once again Midsummer sets us free!
  11. SHAZAM! and the play now proceeds into pyrotechnic spectacle as Care goes up in flames.
  12. As this point, I believe, they continue drinking, which is where all of this business started to begin with.

When I was a kid, I participated in a similar ceremony at Camp Hugh Beaver in the Poconos. I was, maybe, 9 years old.

Boy scouts, all of this, for very connected people.

All jesting aside, I really do like the play. I encourage you to read the script if you have the time.

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