In House of Cards Chapter 60, Frank Underwood introduces us to a bizarre club known as the Crow of Elysium, where some of the most powerful men in the world gather in the woods wearing crow masks. So is this an actual club, or was it invented for the show?
The Crow of Elysium is fictional, but it’s based on a real thing that’s just as bizarre as what we see on screen. The club is clearly a reference to the Bohemian Club, an actual all-man club consisting of many people of power, including some former U.S. presidents. They meet in a campground in Monte Rio, California for two weeks every July.
While Frank Underwood’s club uses a crow as their mascot, the mascot of the Bohemian Club is an owl. Members gather before a 30-foot tall own statue made out of concrete, and for a while, the voice of club member Walter Cronkite was used to make it sound like the owl was talking. This same effect occurs in the House of Cards episode, as members gather before a large crow.
Every year, members of the Bohemian club perform what they refer to as the “Cremation of Care” ceremony, a theater production by club members, for club members.
The Club’s patron saint is John of Nepomuk, who was killed rather than revealing secrets of the queen. This is meant to represent the club’s desire to keep what goes on at their ceremonies a secret, although we know as much as we do because a number of people have infiltrated the club over the years.
As in the House of Cards episode, it’s true that a lot of powerful people meet at the Bohemian Club, and they often discuss highly important issues. For instance, a planning meeting for the Manhattan Project took place at the Bohemian Club one year, according to The Washington Post. This is referenced in House of Cards, with it being said that members of the Crow of Elysium planned the Manhattan Project.
In general, though, club members are encouraged not to talk business, with their motto being “Weaving Spiders Come Not Here.” In other words, networking is discouraged. That seems to also be the case with the Crow of Elysium, as when Frank Underwood tries to talk politics, Mark Usher stops him, saying, “Ah, buzzing beez, buzzing bees,” apparently referencing the club’s variation on the “weaving spiders” phrase.
Some famous Bohemian Club members include George H. W. Bush, Clint Eastwood, Newt Gingrich, William Randolph Hearst, Herbert Hoover, Henry Kissinger, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and Theodore Roosevelt.