Back To The Burn..
Connect The Earth. Rise From The Flames. Cleansed By Water. Touch The Universe.
Wow! Once again Burning Man blew my mind.
Months of preparation, a whirlwind week in the desert, decompression in Lake Tahoe and Mexico after.
Now back home to Sydney, boldly traversing the landing strip into everyday life. The ‘default world’ as many Burners call it. For me it is the reality where I can put into practice some of the magic that I have learnt in Black Rock City.
This was my second time embarking on the Burning Man adventure, having popped my Playa cherry two years ago and writing an article about it called Feel The Burn for The Collective magazine. Now a Burning Man rookie, ex-Virgin fumbling in for another embrace after my first intimate encounter.
2015 was one of the dustiest, stormiest and coldest at night Burns ever. Emotions were running high, the extreme conditions bringing out the polar elements of hot and cold, positive and negative, high and low.
The theme of this year’s festival was Carnival of Mirrors, and it was certainly that. A roller coaster of revelations. Holding up a giant looking glass in this oasis of exuberance where you are showcased the rawest reflection of yourself.
My first Burning Man had awoken me to its awesome crucible of creation, catalysing my own artistic rebirth. This time I experienced moments of utmost joy and sadness, the light and dark of the desert illuminating my most positive and negative personas.
Chewed up, spat out, broken down and built back up again. Burning Man’s gift to me this year was to help acknowledge the good and bad; start to build a new paradigm. Cast off what I no longer need to carry and nurture that which will help to carry me higher. Like the Man, I burned in its caldron and thankfully rose up from the ashes. Facing up to my fears and encouraged to realise my desires.
I was fortunate enough to be part of the Celtic Chaos theme camp, right on the Esplanade. A family of amazingly friendly and welcoming people from around the world. A castle they built out of the desert as its centre piece, where you can enter at any time of day or night and be guaranteed a sea of legendary smiling faces, a dancefloor throbbing with banging tunes. Able to give and receive so much love.
One of my ultimate highlights was witnessing my friends Louise and Craig getting married in a dust storm outside the front of the Castle. Reading out letters they had written to each other after meeting there two years previous but never sent. A Burning Man celebrant conducted their wedding ceremony before our joyful crowd.
The highs of hitching rides on art cars, booming across the dusty landscape. Burning Man sun sets and run rises are the best. An orchestra of music and light. Dancing, skipping, and cycling from one spectacle to another. Laughing and sharing magical moments with friends old and new. This egalitarian world of gifting, where the Playa and its inhabitants provide all. You need not travel too far before being gifted a drink or tasty morsel by some passing stranger with whom you now share your new home. Flying across the desert at night towards artworks burning in the distance. Spanking workshops, farting tents, yoga classes, everything the mind can boggle and more is there for you to participate in.
For me the lows of my losing the keys to the RV ignition early on in the week and the upset this caused my traveling buddies and me. The trauma that I had perhaps tarnished rather than enhanced their experience. Almost being exiled into the desert. Spending hours searching and with the much appreciated help of a good friend finally finding a locksmith in Black Rock City to help save the day. On the last night, tired, weary and still reeling from the fall out, over indulging in everything and lying freezing for hours on the desert floor. Melting like a grain of sand into the dust. Staring up at the universe, for the first time since being a child, crying for my mum and begging for salvation.
This year Burning Man gave me moments of agony and ecstasy. I needed to experience both in order to learn. To take the stones that were thrown and build a new temple for me to heal and grow in.
I’d upset my friends for whom I cared dearly by getting too smashed. It made me realise that it was finally time to heed the words of two of the lovely friends I was camping with, who said I was such a better person when sober and not wrecked. A need to awaken myself from the veil of drunken unconsciousness I am so used to shrouding myself in.
After Burning Man, we travelled to Reno, then Lake Tahoe and down to Tulum in Mexico. It was here that I had the most profound spiritual experience I have ever had. It served to reset me after the Burn and bring sense to the kaleidoscope of light and dark inside me.
Some friends and I went to visit an Aztec Shaman, at his home in the jungle, where we took part in a Temazcalli cleansing ceremony. A sweat lodge, igloo made from branches and cloth. With a hearth at its centre representing an umbilical cord, the small tent-like construction is a mother’s womb from where you are reborn as you lie naked on the bare earth of its floor. Dario, our Shaman and his helper Ricardo filled the dug out with white hot volcanic rocks on which they burned an array of white sage and medicinal herbs. For four hours we sweated in the Temazcal, through the ceremony which celebrated the duality of male and female energies connecting with the four elements of the cosmos, fire, water and earth.
Staring up at the ceiling of the lodge, meditating, chanting and hallucinating with the heat. I saw the night sky and was taken back to my last night at the Burn. I was able to transmit back the love to grandmother universe, which it had given me in my hour of need and to set things right within myself. To recognise and acknowledge the duality in all of us through the Shaman’s mantra; ‘Ometoetl’. At the end I set my intension to be the best version of me that I can be. To channel my positive energy to help others and myself, to live a life of love and peace. A mantra I keep reminding myself of now in times of stress.
I have recently taken up an interest in astrology and had my Birth Chart compiled by astrologer Helen Hope. I am Scorpio with Gemini rising and she advised prone to the pull of both positive and negative energies. We arrived at Burning Man on the Pisces full moon, an emotionally super charged La Luna and coincidentally took part in the Temazcal on the night of the Virgo solar eclipse, which fittingly is known as a time for rebirth.
Upon returning to Sydney, I was lucky to be able to join my friend Rachael Moore who runs Camp Bang Bang in Burning Man, as she led her Rainbow Tribe in Bondi through a Blood Moon activation. This provided the final turn of the page for this chapter of my month long Burning Man experience. This Aries full moon is time to recognise and unearth one’s shadow side and to offer it forgiveness, rather than chastisement. So that it can be integrated into the whole, positive and negative.
So, as this last super moon eclipse of the year took place. In my mind I went back to the Burn and found the naughty boy inside me who through lack of mindfulness had lost the keys and caused so much upset. I gave him a cuddle and welcomed him back in from the cold desert night. Accepting. Letting go of self-doubt and criticism. So that together, good and bad we can start a new story and use these experiences to manifest our dreams for life into reality. Painting the picture of our legacy using all of the colours available to us and move forward embracing Burning Man’s gift of encouraging magical personal transformation.