Sunday, October 9, 2016

Burning Man 2016: Photos and Stories, Part 3 (of 3) The Best of them ALL!!!

The temple was fairly glorious this year, in the style of a pagoda, designed by master temple builder, David Best, who always infuses his creations with a mix of eastern and western symbols and architecture, but always leaning towards the East. This year's was no exception, with its central spire hanging down, nearly grazing the spire jutting up from the stupa, the central altar, table or platform. As usual, Burning Man's participants fill the walls with writings, drawings, art, photos, small to large shrines, and every manner of mishmosh to signify their deep feelings to be released. All of it that's made to burn, is burned up in the final Temple fire on Sunday night.

I made it out to the Temple on Friday, after spending some time at the Man and surrounding Guilds.  I'd heard that the Temple this year was made from mostly (like 80%?) recycled wood, mostly from shipping palettes. The use of repurposed wood was a condition of the temple builder's son contributing to the construction.

Inside, I found my spot, which called to me with its offer of space and comfort. Sitting, I meditated for awhile, eyes open, just taking in the breathtaking beauty around me. The structure was amazing, and all around me were the beautiful members of my community of souls, all deep in their rituals: meditating, crying, leaving their remembrances. Without having any particular focus for my feelings, I just let the tears pour out me as they naturally would, my mind more or less a blank, just reacting to what I was seeing and experiencing. The deep and dramatic emotions released in this place just resonate around the cathedral ceiling, swirling around all occupants, a palpable force. It's hard to be in here and not be affected by it, not be swept along in the current of outpouring emotional energy.

After a time, having gotten my release, I was ready to move on.

As I wander outside, checking out the other structures on the temple's "grounds", a mighty vortex is whipped up in the distance.

The Lighthouse.
Of all the large art installations on playa this year, this was the grand-daddy, the big prize-winner, if there were such a thing. Massive, extensive, gorgeous, and no doubt one of the happenin' spots on the playa this year. I didn't go up inside it, as I eschew lines at Burning Man (unless it's for food). But, I got some good shots of the outside, and some of the art inside the towers. I also missed the burning of this structure, but I hear it was spectacular.

But speaking of burns, I did manage to catch the tail-end of the Temple Burn, and the subsequent swarming around the bonfire which is annual tradition. It's always a scene at the Man and Temple burns, with everyone doing their thing around, and in relation to, this absolutely huge and intensely hot fire.  One guy was using a space blanket over his face to get close enough to the fire to roast marshmallows, which went into s'mores which he was passing out.  Drummers and other musicians practiced their art. Dancers danced. All, pretty much, were wearing their finest playa outfits, except the many who had shucked theirs off, to cavort nude around the fire.

I became one of these, feeling as free and safe as I have ever felt with no clothes on. The raging fire was cleansing; I could use it to get as hot as I could possibly stand to get, and then cool myself off by stepping out of the circle, into the desert wind.  I knew the trick of keeping low to avoid the most intense heat of the fire. I laid down and scooted as close as I could get. This was a spectacle for some people. Those who did not know better must have thought I was broiling in the intense heat which they could hardly approach. But near the ground, it was cool, and the heat rose off the fire, for the most part missing my prone body.

I also did my manic dance around a smaller portion of the fire, building up from a slow interpretive dance, to my Happy Dance of Ultimate Joy(TM), and of course, as always, and without fail, my chicken dance, or "cock dance", if you will: flapping the wings, bobbing the head, and perhaps a crow or two.  A little while after my dance, a friendly gent approached me and told me that his lady had experienced emotional release from watching me dance. She had come to the temple burn with a recent tragedy to mourn and try to get release from.  As it was, she didn't get it, and was not feeling any better, even somewhat worse, until her boyfriend pointed out to her my carefree happy-dance. This made her laugh, broke the tension, and picked up her mood.  She seemed light-hearted in talking to me. They were both gushing with gratitude for my expression, giving me the endearing title of "chicken-man". I told them that's why I do it: primarily to express my own joy, but also to connect with the joy of others, which may be buried deep within.

My picture of the nudity is fairly discrete, I believe.

And then it was over. When the party ends, it really ends. Everyone gets the heck out of town.

The Teepee and tower to the left in the picture are the Tuna Guys, where I enjoyed a bite of undercooked tuna and a swig of Whiskey, Monday night, post-burn. One of the hold-out camps. 

My kinfolk getting the gear up on the roof for the trip home. Uncle Mike holding up Gerflash, while Nostrildamus facilitates.

At least it's now a straight path to the restrooms.

Inside the Porto, an exhortation taken from the bible, to not throw trash and other detritus in there.

Sticker of the Tuna Guys theme camp.

Zendo is a great organization, spearheading much needed harm-reduction efforts based on common sense, at Burning Man and other festivals.

Home, unloaded, and looking a bit weathered. Mostly dusty, but omigod, was I glad to be home!

After the first round of cleanup. Still much recovering to do, but feeling pretty slick.

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