Sunday, November 4, 2012

Back from Burning Man 2012 and Beyond

Back from Burning Man 2012 and Beyond

I'm back from the strangest temporary city of parties.  My ninth time attending this event, I feel that I'm a seasoned veteran, having gained knowledge and skills to survive in this wasteland and thrive in the lush community.

I hardly know where to begin to tell my stories of this magical world. 

The highlight of my trip this year was my Saturday night activities during the climactic Man Burn.  This event, though the nominal peak of the event, is well-known to be more of an anti-climax, with the more memorable experiences occurring before or after the actual burn.

I stayed in camp this year and watched the man burn from my camp which was perfectly positioned in the 7:30 portal, so as to afford a good view of the fire and of the crowd convening to see it.  I was told two days prior that we would be leaving Sunday afternoon, so I had only this one chance to dose myself with psilocybe cubensis mushrooms.  Even knowing I would probably miss being at the burn in person if I did this, I knew this was a major purpose of my trip, so I was mentally committed to this endeavor.  I munched down the few small handfuls of crispy shrooms, which tasted rich and earthy, and needed a few swillings of water to get down. 

After packing up all my gear that I could, I had to pack up the massage table in its case and load it on the truck that would take me home.  I was a bit shaky for the last of my task, as I could feel the reality around me slipping, my control of my body loosening as the first stage of the mushroom trip came on, signaled by slight nausea, dizziness, fatigue and disorientation.

I was lucky to be done, as I was ready to collapse in my dome, with everything around me I needed for the night.  Perfectly prepared, I lay down to rest and enter the trip.  I was along for the ride now, with some trepidation but not overly worried.  Deep breaths, and a constant awareness of my body's comfort level guided me to cover myself from the evening wind.  My vision was taken up by the most vivid series of images that cannot be fully described.  They were the eternal and universal images on cave walls and psychedelic art.  The geometric patterns, angelic and demonic faces and forms, animal and insectoid beings flowing all into each other, into and out of the background pattern, like a swirling animated wallpaper. 

Some of this was anxiety-causing, as I was along for the ride, that "having taken the red pill" feeling (from the movie, The Matrix), meant I could not turn away from the sights I had arranged for myself.  Moving through a multitude of geometrical portals, the inner layers of my psyche, *the* psyche of the universe, for that is what the mushroom revealed: I am the universe, and the universe is me, or rather, "I" am what the universe is doing.  I am not my body, nor the space outside my body.  Rather, I am the interaction between my body and the universe outside of it, the connection between, and not exclusively one or the other, but necessarily both.

One recurring theme was the futility of human endeavor.  In all of human activity, there are but two choices: to act or not to act, to be or not to be.  One image was that of a man, stumbling short-sightedly forward after some trinket dangled before him by a more powerful and higher-dimensional being.  This image took many forms, embodied pretty much all of human activity, but spun back to the futility of trying.  The other image was that of meditation: doing nothing.  A turning away from the futility of activity, to a deeper sense of knowing that comes from the stillness within.  Our unconscious knowledge is much deeper and stronger than any knowledge or wisdom we can consciously acquire.  What's a hundred years' experience, compared to the long eons of biological evolution contained in our very cells?  The meditation state is purposeless: not to fill any human biological need, therefore too much of it would lead to death.

The alternative was clear: either futile activity or futile inactivity.  One or zero.  A middle path might be possible, but any action or inaction would eventually be the same: rooted in the physical world, the illusion.  What was real was the underlying eternal consciousness of the universe.  I was the underlying consciousness, what we call divine.  I could still feel my ego present, but it had been subsumed by this timeless, spaceless, everything-and-nothing feeling.

This mishmash of images, feelings, and experience came at me for about an hour, before I felt able to sit up and take in my physical surroundings.  I was still at burning man, coming up on the peak of the event, the man burn.  The street was filled with groups of revelers, lit up by EL wire, LED's, and glowsticks.  All moving steadily downstream, towards the Man.  I was still on playa, happy, and coasting on mushrooms. 

The rest of the night was communing with my fellow burners and taking care of my body's needs.

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