The Society and TheBoanthropic: An In-Depth Recap of Summer 2017

The following is a comprehensive timeline of events related to the saga of the Society and TheBoanthropic, including in-depth profiles on all key individuals and factions presented as they entered the narrative. For a more concise summary of the essentials for those looking to catch up quickly, click here. For all the latest Haunting coverage of the Society and TheBoanthropic including announcements for upcoming events, please click here.

Grateful thanks to the many Pilgrims whose photos and experiences are vital in the telling of this story, including Julie R, Cristen B, Cara M, John L, Kevin H, Eva A, Kevin G, Carl W, Meghan S, and Taylor W.

 

THE SOCIETY

The Society is the chosen name of a community of likeminded spiritualists who live together on The Mountain, an as of yet undisclosed location high up in the hills outside of Los Angeles. The Society first began decades ago under the guidance of a mysterious leader known as The Founder. They believe in helping people reach a state of Oneness and “orgiastic bliss;” maintaining a conscious awareness of your body from moment to moment, celebrating indulgence and sensation. The Society revels in the sexual, the tactile, the moments when you are most aware of and attuned to the experience of being inside your own body. Its members are kind and friendly but behave with an unembarrassed bluntness that might be disorienting for the uninitiated. Most Society members live up on The Mountain full time, rarely if ever venturing down or interacting with people outside of their community. Their life on The Mountain is self-sustaining, growing their own food and living according to the tenets set down by The Founder. As such, many are naïve to certain social constructs that we take for granted. While they articulate a warmness and love for all people they encounter, as a group they are wary of any outsiders visiting them on The Mountain and historically keep to themselves. Their access to technology on the Mountain is limited, but they do maintain an Instagram account that members take shifts maintaining. Only very recently have they ventured down in an official capacity with some regularity.

 

They are aware of the misguided belief some hold that they are actually a construct related to immersive theatre, and while it bothered them to be misunderstood in this way at first they now embrace the confusion as a way to disarm potential inductees. Society members can be identified by their all-white clothing, a white string that they tie to their wrists, and a symbol written on their hand that they must continuously reapply. The Society is structured through a numerical hierarchy, with members attaining a certain level through a series of trials and challenges of a physical and/or introspective nature. The most up to date information suggests that there may be as many as ten thousand or more attainable levels within the Society. They have recently created a Facebook page to better engage with interested parties.

 

TAD SHAFER

The chief spokesperson for The Society and their primary link to the outside world, referred to by the group under the official job title of “Prudent Necessary.” Tad first became involved with The Society through his wife Kari, who had been a member for several years prior, during his search for a new part-time job. Tad himself is not a member of the Society, but instead a full-time resident of Los Angeles and involved in the city’s theatre community. His contacts in this area are one of the many ways that he has been able to help facilitate the Society’s growing presence down the Mountain. When Tad was first hired the group had not ventured down in several years and were searching for a new opportunity to engage with people outside of their circle. In 2015 Tad organized an immersive theatre event called Kiss of Death where a series of short pieces were presented in succession and invited Kari and another member of the Society, Eric Andrew Hoff, to occupy a slot in the lineup as an opportunity for recruitment. The experiment went well, though Kiss of Death would be the last time a member of the Society would descend from the Mountain as a representative of the group until the events of June 7th 2017. His wife Kari splits her time between living up on the Mountain and in the home that she shares with Tad. There is no tension stemming from their union in the eyes of the Society, marriage between a member and a relative outsider is not forbidden. Though Shafer admits that while he now has no desire to, the idea is that eventually he will join in earnest.

 

For now Tad comes and goes as he pleases, visiting the Mountain regularly and enjoying a congenial relationship with those who live there, including the Founder, who he meets with on a constant basis. His role as community liaison extends to social media, representing the Society at times through their Instagram account as well as posts on his personal Facebook page. Tad maintains a healthy sense of humor when discussing the more “woo woo” (his words) aspects of the Society’s beliefs and practices, playing the role of the relatable skeptic in a way that charms and disarms. He is, however, deeply protective of the Society when he sees evidence of anyone speaking out against them; especially anything related to the propagation of the Boanthropic. “They’re here to help. Their coming down is a selfless desire more than anything. ‘The time is now, we have to reach them while they’re still reachable. The whole earth will become a circle of oneness.’ I don’t buy it, but whatever.”

 

Wednesday, June 7th

On the night of the 2017 Hollywood Fringe Festival’s opening night party, Tad Shafer and six members of The Society crashed the event as an opportunity for community engagement and recruitment. They began by approaching people while they waited in line to enter and eventually made their way inside. The goal of this night was to give the Fringe-goers a taste of the group’s ethos by leading them through the first five “levels” of their indoctrination. These levels were reached through a series of simple challenges conducted by the Society members. These included lighthearted fare like being blindfolded and led around the room, more personal requests like writing down details related to the participant’s sexual history, or more abstract prompts like listing their top fourteen death fantasies. At the end of each trial Tad Shafer dutifully reviewed the participant’s work and approved their ascension. Throughout the night he could be seen rushing around the bar from one station to the next, collecting the papers and placing them in his briefcase and marking and banding the new initiates with their own strings and symbols. Thinking this was some kind of immersive theatre event, people quickly began to pick up on what the group was doing and soon lines began to form. Shafer became increasingly stressed throughout the evening due to the behavior of two of the six Society members who attended the event.

 

One, Eric Andrew Hoff, had left the bar without alerting anyone and was conspicuously absent for most of the night, leaving Tad to pick up much of the slack. Another member named Mary was also causing issues. Tad began to notice Fringe-goers lingering for an unusual amount of time when they reached Mary, causing delays. She was seen hugging them, whispering to them, and when they left they appeared disturbed. Tad was annoyed at this, worrying that Mary was somehow alienating these people and thereby jeopardizing his reputation within the fringe theatre community. Unbeknownst to him, however, Mary was engaging in something far more intriguing. As participants met Mary, she would hold them close and implored them to leave the building they were in and immediately go to a different bar down the street called Three Clubs. Once there she suggested that they “seek out the Black Rose,” but would not elaborate further. As the curious began to leave she bade them farewell, proffering another all together more enigmatic request:

“Save the Moonchild.”

 

 

Participants intrepid enough to follow her instructions found a familiar face waiting for them. Sitting at the bar in Three Clubs was Eric, the truant Society member. Resting on the bar next to him was a coat and on that coat was pinned a very particular broach: a black rose. Those who noted this sign and engaged with Eric were given a slip of paper folded tightly around a penny. Written on the paper was the message “GO TO WHERE IT’S HALF TIL NOON AT THIS MAN’S SEC. OF STATE.” On the other side of the paper was text written in another hand, showing that these slips had clearly been ripped from a full sheet of paper that had been written on completely by someone else, with phrases like “our small trio” and “orgiastic sex” drawing the eye. History buffs (or people with smart phones) deduced that the note was directing them to 1130 Seward Street, just a ten minute walk from the bar.

 

 

Waiting there, inexplicably, was a box of large, old floppy discs with a strange insignia written on the sleeves. Those who followed the clue pocketed the discs, their night over but their adventure just begun. After a long night of processing, Tad Shafer took his briefcase full of papers on which the secrets of the newest members of the Society were scrawled and rounded the corner in search of a quiet drink. Tad entered Three Clubs and was surprised to find his friend Eric. As they sat at the bar and talked, Tad knew nothing of the tangent Eric and Mary had sent the Fringe-goers on, nor did he know that something all around them, from Los Angeles to Montauk and high into the heavens, had awoken.

 

Tuesday, June 13th

All throughout the week following the night of the Fringe’s opening party, Eva Anderson, one of the Fringe-goers who had encountered the Society, was having strange feelings. Ever since she had hugged Mary that night she felt this sort of static energy, an electricity following her, buzzing in her ears, giving her headaches. On Tuesday morning, while in her car, she claimed to have gotten a shock when adjusting her radio. Immediately following this, Eva believed she heard Mary’s voice calling to her faintly under the normal sounds of the radio station she was tuned to. “Today, today, today I’ll find you,” was Mary’s message, repeated three times.

 

 

Later that day Eva experienced another strange occurrence when her next door neighbor delivered an envelope addressed to her that he claimed to have found in the waste bin attached to the shredder in his home office. Inside the envelope was a strange message written in many different handwritings:

“Believe me. Believe me. The enemy is poisoning memory. The one thing I need to break out. To be free. To evolve into higher being. Re. Birth. Sacrifice my life to save a child. During the Society Mary whispered something. Shared our breath and realized the illusion first accepted. She let go of the drowning mind. Now I grow my next island. I write strong beautiful Eva Anderson. I need you to go out alone where Mary is kept.”

 

This was followed by a set of coordinates, a date, and a time. Subsequent to this letter being posted online, it was pointed out that the many handwritings are actually exact matches for letters and words lifted from the many writing samples collected by Tad Shafer and the Society on the night of June 7th from the new initiates. Not cut up and pasted from the many papers to create a new message; somehow the many writing styles were perfectly copied. Shafer has come out as saying that all of the original papers from that night were and still are in a locked filing cabinet on the Mountain and that there is no way they could have been removed. While he also discounts any kind of supernatural explanation, such as the handwritings being copied and “apparated” onto the new note by some sort of force, he has no more plausible explanation to offer.

Meanwhile, a new Instagram account called “theboanthropic” had appeared, showing the same strange symbols that were written on the floppy disc sleeves graffitied in various outdoor locations, as well as a picture of 1130 Seward with the caption “The static won’t return.” Still later in the day they posted a note saying “Drink the Black Rose Tomorrow” and then a drawing of three playing card clubs. The community made plans to convene at the familiar locale after Eva had completed her mysterious evening drive the following night.

 

Wednesday, June 14th

At 6:30pm Eva began her drive up into the mountains towards the coordinates she had been given. After an hour of driving she arrived, exited her car, and began exploring the area while recording the search with her phone. After climbing up a small incline, Eva came across a young woman dressed all in white hiding behind a bush. It was Mary, clearly scared. She quickly handed Eva a small box of playing cards. “What do you want me to do?” Eva asked. “Run,” Mary pleaded, “Run!” As Eva began to back away, a man’s voice could be heard on the other side of the hill calling for Mary. At the last moment before Eva returned to her car she saw a man dressed all in black who appeared to have a beard sliding down the hill towards Mary with great urgency. It should be noted here that Tad Shafer has since watched the video and maintains that while the girl looks like Mary, it couldn’t possibly be her because he had been up on the Mountain that night for an event and Mary had been in the same room as him the whole time. He does not go so far as to accuse Eva of faking the video, but does suggest that she seems unbalanced after her many claims. Tad points out that the Society is a reclusive group, and that anything that suggests that anyone can simply drive up to the Mountain and reach someone like Mary would be a worrisome development. “The more that it’s known that she’s accessible, the more restrictions have to be put on her. We would have to sequester her more and more.” Regardless, Eva made her way back down the Mountain towards Three Clubs where her fellow participants were waiting.

 

 

As they each ordered a Black Rose, the participants found that the  drink came with something extra: a small scroll. One side was covered with a variety of rune-like symbols, while the other side had a single set of coordinates. Many of these coordinates lead to locations throughout Los Angeles, and the participants, intrigued, began the search without knowing exactly what they would find.

 

 

Within twenty-four hours participants had tracked down many of these locations, each of them home to a discreet piece of graffiti comprised of three parts: a consistent marker symbol that had become closely associated as the insignia of The Boanthropic through the posts they had made on Instagram, a single symbol like the ones from the back of the scrolls, and a single English language letter/number/punctuation mark. It was quickly realized that what they were hunting for were keys to decoding the language of the Boanthropic, whoever they were. During this hunt the participants found that the Boanthropic were open to direct communication, answering questions through their Instagram in poetic language and riddles when the coordinates alone were not enough to spot the cypher graffiti. Throughout the night and into the next day people scoured Los Angeles and began to piece together a cypher in order to translate a message the Boanthropic had sent. However, this quest would be momentarily put on hold as the Pilgrims (as the Boanthropic called them) received new instructions.

 

Thursday, June 15th

The Instagram account of The Boanthropic posted a series of cryptic pictures/directions that led a group of roughly a dozen Pilgrims to a campground in the mountains called Horse Flats. The box Eva Anderson had received from Mary in fact contained only one playing card: a three of clubs. Also inside was a cassette tape, and the instructions that Eva upload the audio to Soundcloud as a soundtrack for the Pilgrims’ drive into the mountains that night. The recording was an hour long, comprised mostly of static and fragments of old audio samplings, but with some scattered mentions of Mary and the Moonchild peppered in throughout. Once in the mountains, guided by the insignia of The Boanthropic, the Pilgrims found a campfire, a picnic table covered in white paper with messages written in the rune-like language of The Boanthropic, several small oranges, and bottles of water.

 

 

The Pilgrims, already armed with an incomplete cypher, manage to decode the messages written on the table. The smoke from the campfire stung the Pilgrims’ eyes as they struggled to complete the message. They were directed to arrange themselves in order of birth, from youngest to oldest, and as the Pilgrims set about rearranging themselves, a lone figure holding a candle began to approach from the hills.

 

 

Shrouded in black and wearing a mask, the figure seemed unable or unwilling to speak, simply grunting and breathing as it presented the Pilgrims with a long rope. The pilgrims grasped the rope, falling single file into their predetermined order. The figure in black led them up further into the hills for some time over uneven, rocky terrain until they reached an arrangement of large rocks that created a sort of natural amphitheater. The figure in black lingered just outside, indicating that the Pilgrims should continue on alone into the outcrop. It was there that the Pilgrims discovered a familiar face: Eric Andrew Hoff, the errant Society member from June 7th. Eric was surprised by the arrival of the large group in this place where he regularly came for solitude and meditation. Still, after the shock had worn off, Eric set about preparing the new arrivals for something called a “Mountain Ceremony,” assuming that their presence meant that they were Society members coming to perform the rite.

 

“So I’m assuming you’re mostly sevens and fourteens, maybe we have some sixty-fours?” Eric asked, “If you’re at a Mountain Ceremony, then you’ve come a long way.” He began to walk around the circle, rubbing an orange scented essential oil on their hands and directing them to breathe deeply. However, it did not take long for Eric to realize that something was amiss, noting that none of the Pilgrims wore the bands of string on their wrists or bore the Society’s mark on their hand; even those there who had been marked and banded on June 7th had neglected to maintain them. Eric became heated and demanded to know how the Pilgrims had found this place and why they had come.

 

Eric’s face dropped and his eyes widened upon hearing the Pilgrims explain the events of the last few days spent following the directives of the mysterious Boanthropic. Eric was clearly overwhelmed by this news, seemingly completely unaware of all that had happened. He claimed to know nothing of the cypher keys hidden throughout the city, or the coded instructions posted to Instragram (though he did admit to being aware of the account itself, though he was unsure of its veracity, saying “There is a rumor about this woman in Rhode Island, named Beverly or something, who moved to Montauk to be at the very tip of the island on the other coast and apparently she’s like in her 70’s and she’s the Instagram. It’s a rumor”), or even the campfire, messages, and oranges that had been waiting for the Pilgrims mere feet away from where he sat. He was alarmed and mystified to hear of the cloaked figure that had led Pilgrims directly to that spot, marveling at the notion that the Boanthropic had taken form. “They’re apparating?” he stammered. At first incredulous that the Pilgrims had taken such risk in traveling deep into the woods at the request of an entity they did not fully understand, Eric eventually softened, admitting that the act of devotion and faith shown was “kind of beautiful.”

 

 

Eric then repaid their confidence by taking the Pilgrims into his, lifting his shirt to reveal the now familiar symbol of the Boanthropic branded on the side of his torso. Eric explained that, far from being the Boanthropic himself, he was in fact a member of a resistance group working secretly within the Society in order to stop whatever unknown atrocities were being committed up on the Mountain. The resistance used the name and mark of the Boanthropic has their sigil, a sign of defiance against the Society. Eric revealed that within the resistance his code name was the Black Rose, harkening back to both the broach seen on the 7th and the special drink ordered at the suggestion of the Boanthropic on the 14th. However, Eric claimed he had no knowledge of the drink that bore his name, nor the scrolls that came with it when ordered. He asked what the Pilgrims knew of Mary, and Eva Anderson, who was in attendance, recounted her adventure to the Mountain the night before. Eric seemed genuinely concerned for Mary’s well-being, asking how she looked, what she was wearing, and why Eva hadn’t taken the chance to help Mary escape. It was clear that while the Pilgrims were much more aware of the recent activities of the Boanthropic, they were woefully uninformed when it came to the substance of what any of this meant. So with a deep breath, Eric began the story.

 

“I’m so deep in at this point. I mean I’m in like quadruple digits. I don’t even know… The Founder and I… It’s been… it’s just been… oh… OK. You’ll just have to trust me… I need you to just close your eyes. Calm yourself. And I need you to think about a trauma. I need you to allow yourself to go to a dark place. You might find this place in your own personal history, it might be institutional, it might be worldwide. It could be political. Whatever that dark place is, whether it’s metaphorical or emotional, or specific to your childhood, wrap your brain around the specific details of that trauma. It might feel terrible. Now recall more details. The sense memory. Your muscles twitching. Your tears flowing. The boot of oppression shoving down on your face. All the isms of life crashing down on you whether you knew it or not at the time. And let that trauma crush you deep into the earth. Your corporeal being completely consumed by this darkness as yo