When Christian media first got wind of Burning Man, they accused it of being the latest fad in Satanism.
They still do that … apparently Satan’s had a slow decade … but now there are so many articles with the premise of “my time at Burning Man as a Christian” that it’s practically its own genre – and many of these articles posit that Burning Man is something the Church can learn from, and that there is a place for the Cross at the Man.
Which begs a question I’ve been wondering for a while: When exactly did a Cacophony sponsored trip to the desert to build art and shoot guns transform into a major spiritual pilgrimage for the Western world?
Whether or not it’s appropriate to think of Burning Man in those terms, there’s no question that many people do. The number of camps offering morning yoga has increased alarmingly in just the last few years. A number of people talk about Burning Man as though it were an alternative to mainstream religion – as, for example, this recent Huffington Post blog suggesting that because Burning Man fits Joseph Campell’s criteria for a religion it’s ready to hit the big leagues. And as a Volunteer Coordinator for Burning Man, I receive hundreds of volunteer applications every year that say something like this: Read more »
A few weeks ago Charlie Smith, who is based in Atlanta, came to California to do a little fundraising, have a workshop to teach a little welding and other skills while building community and working on his 2012 Burning Man Honorarium Installation,“Timing is Everything – The 24×7 Time-Star”. We stopped by to take a few photos since we have know Charlie for years, and MonkeyBoy got to weld a little and I sat down and did a little filing.
We had a great time. Charlie’s cousin, Mary Gilbert, lives in San Francisco and helped put the weekend together. Read more »
It is so hard to explain how The Playa can change your life. For me, a huge part of it was finding a community of people who would support and encourage my creative impulses. In a world of voices that say, “pfffft” and roll their eyes at anything outside the norm, it can be downright transformative to be told, “YES! Be You… and do it LOUD.”
As we prepare for another magical year in the dust, thank you in advance for singing your heartsong, and encouraging me to sing mine.
Last year I hosted a talk about this topic in the middle of a Tuesday duststorm on the Playa:
**NOTE: I AM NOT AN OFFICIAL REPRESENTATIVE OF BURNING MAN. I am merely a Participant with a passion for the event, people, and principles of Burning Man. Half-baked ideas & views expressed aren’t necessarily those of the Burning Man organization.” **
Quinn (aka Ghost Dancer) is Burning Man’s Nevada Properties Manager, which includes the year-round oversight of Burning Man’s Ranch (our staging and production facility), located north of the event site. Apropos of this year’s Art Theme, Fertility 2.0, we’d like to share this wonderful piece he wrote:
"Free!" Photograph by Betty Emirzian, 2009
Beyond judgments and dogma, Burning Man is at its core simply a stage of opportunity for people of all the world’s cultures to come together for a single week of the year to explore, exchange and express ourselves without the shackles of fear within an arena free of judgment, free of repression, free of self denial in an open free environment which supports and encourages that very intention.
For 7 short days; some 50,000 human beings join together in peaceful self expression, passionate self exploration and joyful giving of themselves to their fellow man without expectation of return or personal gain. This organic stage of opportunity for potential enlightened self experience is unique in the world and it happens but for a single week right here in our small sleepy little town of Gerlach.
Long ago the Constitution of the United States was drafted, many wars have been fought and many lives tragically sacrificed to protect your unalienable Right to Life, Liberty, the Pursuit of Happiness and the Right to “freely express yourself” while doing no harm to others. Yet there are many who would deny you these Rights or who simply choose to live life in a self-imposed prison of conditioned fear while sitting brain dead in front of the Television vegetating on what Paris Hilton’s wearing today.
Not the Burner…
These human beings of ecstatic spirit and a lust for creative living who discover and attend the Burning Man event are not content to just sit and watch TV nor passively accept whatever soulless doctrine is currently being spoon fed by the media. No my friends, Burners are in my observation the Peaceful Warriors of today’s potential humanity who are inspired by confronting the lifeless face of the mundane, and who burn within to awaken and live life to the fullest with an open fearless heart passionately driven to create and explore meaningful and lasting relationships with their fellow man in harmony with the natural world which supports us all.
As the gate opens and the people join together to spontaneously create Black Rock City, each and every ongoing moment is a completely unique creative expression unlike the moment before or after it, each person is more clearly seen and accepted for who they truly are through the process of contributing their individual perspective while simultaneously giving birth to more and more beauty and art inspiring deeper and deeper self reflection for both the individual and the collective experience. Basically it’s freedom of expression giving birth to greater levels of freedom of expression and mutual respect as a result, for 7 days and nights.
At least that’s how I see it.
You may call me a dreamer, I hope some day you’ll join me…
Photo by Javichu el jefe (creative commons license)
This isn’t about Burning Man.
I tend to get depressed around the holidays. Last year, I sent the following message to the Media Mecca email list, in the hope that if someone else was getting depressed around the holidays, it would help. It was well received.
So now I’m putting it here, to strike back at a season that demands we smile when our hearts might be breaking. I hope it’s helpful.
“Happy holidays,” you say? “Merry Christmas?” “Have a great New Year?”
You couldn’t be more wrong.
You couldn’t be more wrong if you used creationism as an excuse to deny global warming. You couldn’t be more wrong if you said the Bush tax cuts would help acai berries cure cancer. You couldn’t be more wrong if you said the War in Iraq is filled with hot single girls just waiting for your call.
Lies. All of them. Lies.
This month’s holidays are not festive, whatever the propaganda machine at the Mall of America tells you. Don’t listen to CBS! Do not believe the internet.
Believe your eyes. Believe your soul. This is the darkest time of the year.
Literally and figuratively, the darkest time of the year.
I am going to speak up, now, on behalf of those of for whom “holiday” is synonymous with “blues.” Read more »
I was saddened to read on the Tuna Guys Facebook Page:
long time burner, Captain Jim Peterson of Tuna Guys is lost at sea. On 12/12 his boat capsized. The 2 other deck hands were rescued and they will be OK. The search for Capt. Jim has been suspended by the Coast Guard. A memorial fund has been established to help his family. Those of you who wish to donate can do so here.
Few people embodied the Burning Man spirit to me like Captain Jim & The Tuna Guys. I met him my first year on the playa (1998) and have made a point to connect every year since. The only meat I’ve eaten since going vegetarian was tuna caught by Jim & his crew. I am grateful to have been so blessed by his gifts and spirit.
I recorded a tribute to Jim during my weekly podcast.
Recorded live during Hug Nation, Dec. 13, 2011. **NOTE: I AM NOT AN OFFICIAL REPRESENTATIVE OF BURNING MAN. I am merely a Participant with a passion for the event, people, and principles of Burning Man. Half-baked ideas & views expressed aren’t necessarily those of the Burning Man organization.” **
Tales From The Playa are dreams and memories of events that took place at Burning Man, as told by its participants.
He had the best burn ever
The playa was rough and even with my flashlight it was too dark to see the bumps in front of my wheels. Every jolt was a surprise, and instead of relaxing into the ride it made me stare at the ground even harder, as though I could pierce the darkness by concentrating.
That’s how I almost missed the flaming altar, and the cluster of people around it. I nearly biked right into them. They were whispering to each other and nearly missed me too: one of a million near collisions that happen at Burning Man every day, averted at the last minute as I veered off to the east and hit my breaks, coming to a bumpy stop.
I turned and shone my flashlight on their backs. There were maybe seven people huddled around an altar with a small flame, and behind them were three large towers. Maybe climbable. Either they’d appeared out of nowhere, or I had.
I love the deep playa. I love it when something appears there, like a dream. I was going deeper tonight. All the way in. But first … I wanted to see what I’d nearly knocked over, concentrating on the darkness so much I’d missed the light. Read more »
Really? At Burning Man, is this even possible? A group of artists building Otic Oasis seem to think so.
3D render of Gregg Fleishman's design for Otic Oasis
Our experimental city provides us many things, but a huge gap in the structure of our temporary home are places for silence. It is rather funny isn’t it. Our city sits in the Black Rock Desert, a 400 square mile expanse of quite literately nothingness and during the week of the festival you’d be hard pressed to find a space of silence.
Otic Oasis is not your usually variety of “death to sound camps” grumpy harrumphing “Burning Man was better back in the day” project. Instead the reason I’m compelled by this project is its understanding of the need for both sound and silence. The creators behind Otic are calling for balance, creating a project that supports and expands the diversity of our city. They see that both environments are needed; the frenetic energy of the art, fire, people and music; and the silent spaces for reflection, grounding and pause. Read more »