post Burning Man festival
Greetings Magical Friends!
Abbi and I have recently returned from the Burning Man art festival in Northwestern Nevada. How can one convey, in the space of an email, the experience that is Burning Man? This year, more than 40,000 people attended, from all over the world. We drove the ten hours from Las Vegas to the playa. In Spanish, playa means beach, but there's no swimming or surfing to be found here. At one time, millions of years ago, this whole area was under water. These days, the water is long-gone for most of the year, and the ground is a fine, packed, deep layer of silica dust.
Once we got to the Burning Man entrance, we followed the burma-shave style signs. Their messages were all about the mind, the brain, the ego, the selves within. The theme for this year's Burning Man was "Psyche," and most of the art installations were related to the theme.
We spent our time exploring interesting art installations, meeting old and new friends, and making music and magic throughout the camp. We had a great time out on our bikes, zooming around from place to place, seeing all there was to see. On one of our nights, we went through the Maze located at the base of the giant neon Man who would burn. There were at least thirty rooms, little revolving cubicle doorways, unexpected dead ends... and finally, after a long search, the staircase leading up.... to an open platform, looking down on the top of the Maze -- where you could call words of encouragement or confusion to those in the Maze -- and then more stairs leading up to the Man. If you had enough people working cooperatively together, you could turn the Man to face a different direction, further confounding the people in the Maze. The Maze was only open a few nights and they had to take it down on Friday night since the Man was going to burn on Saturday amidst a huge array of fire spinners and pyrotechnics.
Light Wizard Gary Stadler, along with our webmaster Bryce Kuhlman -- with their amazing crew from Arizona, Las Vegas, San Diego and more -- set up the Inner Mind: a humungous air inflated pointy-topped dome containing a smaller inflated dome inside. The top held a huge bright light shooting out of the top (ala the Luxor in Vegas). Inside the inner dome was a huge, interactive brain made of nearly 3000 microprocessors. There were thousands of little LED lights zooming around, representing thoughts, in all different colors, which you could control...
"Passage" was the name of a large metal sculpture of a mother and child. The installation started about fifty feet away from the sculptures, with cement footprints in the playa -- and filled with fire -- representing where they had walked. Looking at them, mid-stride, we could see that water flowed down from their hands, and that the mother was passing a handful of fire to the child. The mother was probably about thirty-five feet tall, and the child was about twenty feet tall, all made out of scrap metal (bike chains, horseshoes, little horses...). The couple who created it were welding on it for the first few days, and had it completed by Friday night.
The Flaming Lotus Girls brought out their Angel of the Apocalypse: a propane-shooting, flame throwing sculpture of a gigantic bird, about fifteen feet tall, partially buried in the playa with its beak, 12 distinct wing tips, and part of its belly sticking out... the amount of flame coming out of the wing tips could be controlled just by pushing a button, and they let everyone push it!
And there was so much more. We brought out the Alchemical Fire Circle and did one all-nighter on Wednesday night. The music, the drumming, the singing, the magic, the ritual and spontaneous co-created ceremony went on through the night until well after sunrise. It's such a gift to be able to share this magic at such a special place.
Jeff's favorite quote from Burning Man is: "If you're not living on the edge, you're taking up too much room!" To see event more astounding images... check this out --
Gary sent this great graphic novel style comic book report of the Burn.
Magically, Jeff McBride