Organizers of the iconic Burning Man festival have begun setting up shop with massive art installations as they prepare for tens of thousands to descend upon the Nevada desert.
“And ye shall overthrow their altars, and break their pillars, and burn their groves with fire; and ye shall hew down the graven images of their gods, and destroy the names of them out of that place. Ye shall not do so unto the LORD your God.” Deuteronomy 12:3,4 (KJV)
EDITOR’S NOTE: Every year, in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert, the world’s largest pagan religious festival known as ‘Burning Man’ is held for a week. What can you expect to find at Burning Man? You will find everything from hippies rolling in the dirt all the way up to elite tech billionaires like Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk living like kings on safari in ancient India. It is a religious festival for people who see themselves as their own god, or see no God at all. It is biblically ironic that the main theme of the fest is a, enormous wooden statue of a man burning in flames, and the people cheer wildly as the smoke of his torment ascends up forever and ever. Hmm, now where have I read that before? I think the Bible refers to them as ‘burners’, too.
Before hordes flock to the makeshift city from Sunday until September 4, Black Rock Desert has to be transformed into a ‘metropolis dedicated to community, art, self-expression and self-reliance’. Every August the barren landscape shifts to a world of art, and preparation is already underway as photos reveal large structures being constructed.
A towering temple and ‘The Man’ were seen half completed, as the works are expected to be focal points of this year’s festival theme of Radical Ritual.
According to the event’s website, dozens of art installations are expected to be constructed before the end of the weekend, some made from wire, others as patterns on the ground and some as immersive experiences.
Burning Man: The Documentary
The arts festival begins every year in late August and ends the first week of September, luring around 65,000 to 70,000 so-called ‘Burners’ from around the world to gather in the desert for a week.
Since money is practically outlawed on the site, guests are urged to barter for commodities and in the past fans have taken to social media to swap items such as crystals for festival tickets.
Every year, several ‘temples’ are built according to a theme and on the last day, they are burned down in a ritualistic ceremony. The Radical Ritual theme this year is to honor rituals that humankind has made, including the festival.
The event’s website says: ‘Burning Man is permeated with rituals. These rites speak of soulful need; the desire to belong to a place, to belong to a time, to belong to one another, and to belong to something that is greater than ourselves, even in the midst of impermanence.
‘Throughout all ages temples have been built in order to induce these feelings.’
The festival is erecting a temple commemorating the Golden Spike and participants are invited to visit the shrine and make offerings that embody what Burning Man’s culture means to them. The festival, which began in 1986 as a bonfire, takes place in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert.
The remote week-long rave – often described as ‘where Mad Max meets Woodstock’ – culminates each year with many of the statement artworks going up in flames, in a symbol of catharsis, reflection and new beginnings.
The premise of the Burning Man festival is that almost everything is created entirely by its citizens, who are active participants in the experience.
Thirty years after its first incarnation, the event is populous with tens of thousands of people attending the dried up lake where the event is held which becomes Black Rock City.
However, the festival risked relocation this year due to a pool of standing water, prompting officials in June to warn there was a possibility that the event could be moved from its location two hours north of Reno in Gerlach.
The desert basin is transformed into mud every year by the run-off of melting snow, but this past season’s high precipitation formed the lake, causing fears that the playa would be muddy and impossible to drive across.
Crowds as large as 70,000 people have descended upon the desert for the festival in previous years. It even attracts celebrities, including Paris Hilton, Katy Perry, Cara Delevingne, Karlie Kloss, Katy Perry, Shanina Shaik and Heidi Klum, among dozens of other high-profile names.
Ironically for a festival that markets itself as anti-capitalist, Burning Man it is now patronised by some of the world’s wealthiest individuals. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, Amazon boss Jeff Bezos and Google mastermind Sergey Brin have all attended the desert shenanigans in the past.
Some, like Zuckerberg, can even retreat to their own company’s dedicated camp within the site.
THE TEN PRINCIPLES OF BURNING MAN
The Bible shows us God’s Ten Commandments, so naturally in a pagan festival, you must have man-centered commandments. The ‘burners’ might be surprised to learn that the God of the Bible cares very little about climate change or planetary harmony, but cares very much about your relationship to His Son, Jesus Christ.
“But they hearkened not, nor inclined their ear to turn from their wickedness, to burn no incense unto other gods.” Jeremiah 44:5 (KJV)
- Radical Inclusion: Anyone may be a part of Burning Man. We welcome and respect the stranger. No prerequisites exist for participation in our community.
- Gifting: Burning Man is devoted to acts of gift giving. The value of a gift is unconditional. Gifting does not contemplate a return or an exchange for something of equal value.
- Decommodification: In order to preserve the spirit of gifting, our community seeks to create social environments that are unmediated by commercial sponsorships, transactions, or advertising. We stand ready to protect our culture from such exploitation. We resist the substitution of consumption for participatory experience.
- Radical Self-reliance: Burning Man encourages the individual to discover, exercise and rely on his or her inner resources.
- Radical Self-expression: Radical self-expression arises from the unique gifts of the individual. No one other than the individual or a collaborating group can determine its content. It is offered as a gift to others. In this spirit, the giver should respect the rights and liberties of the recipient.
- Communal Effort: Our community values creative cooperation and collaboration. We strive to produce, promote and protect social networks, public spaces, works of art, and methods of communication that support such interaction.
- Civic Responsibility: We value civil society. Community members who organize events should assume responsibility for public welfare and endeavor to communicate civic responsibilities to participants. They must also assume responsibility for conducting events in accordance with local, state and federal laws.
- Leaving No Trace: Our community respects the environment. We are committed to leaving no physical trace of our activities wherever we gather. We clean up after ourselves and endeavor, whenever possible, to leave such places in a better state than when we found them.
- Participation: Our community is committed to a radically participatory ethic. We believe that transformative change, whether in the individual or in society, can occur only through the medium of deeply personal participation. We achieve being through doing. Everyone is invited to work. Everyone is invited to play. We make the world real through actions that open the heart.
- Immediacy: Immediate experience is, in many ways, the most important touchstone of value in our culture. We seek to overcome barriers that stand between us and a recognition of our inner selves, the reality of those around us, participation in society, and contact with a natural world exceeding human powers. No idea can substitute for this experience. source