MONEY BURNING MAN AT FESTIVAL 23

Jonathan Harris
Aug 23, 2016 · 23 min read
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All Hail, The Staff ! Photo by Dan Sumption

It’s been exactly a month since the Money Burning Ritual at Festival 23 — the celebration of Discordian counterculture that took place in Greno Woods, Sheffield, UK. A dozen people burned around £230 between them, with another fifty actively participating.

I’m the guy in the bowler hat in the center of the picture. I’m unable put into words how it felt, so I’ll leave the picture (above) and video (below) to speak for me. The meaning of ritual inheres within the doing of it. Any attempt to extract or isolate that meaning will always fall short. So rather than focus too much on the ritual, instead I’ll first present a few ideas about money and its ritualized sacrifice, and then tell the story of how we came to be there, burning money, in a field near Sheffield at 23.00 on Saturday 23rd July 2016.

1.23 min video by Adam Baker

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All Hail, The Staff !

Why Burn Money?

I gave a talk before the ritual. I wanted to get across the idea that money burning can be a potent and meaningful sacrificial ritual, if we choose to make it so. I didn’t go into much depth because we were all keen to do the ritual, rather than listen to me talk about it.

  1. Related to 1., is the idea that currency was born of ritual sacrifice. Two theories about it are that money evolved from votive offerings or from spits used to distribute the meat of sacrificed animals. Ritual sacrifice was the focal point for a group’s social, psychological, and sexual relations, and so economic ideas that conceive of money as a ‘social relation’ (as opposed to it being ‘a thing’ or representation of ‘a thing’) build directly upon these sacrificial foundations. What I try to get across within the ritual itself, is that by making a sacrament of currency we are returning money to it’s source.
  2. The final and possibly the most important point is about the ritual as an act of pure forgiving. I hope that all those who participated — whether or not they burned — experienced this as engendered within the ritual. Money burning is equivalent to pure forgiving because it is ‘giving without receiving’. Pure forgiveness requires that we forgive the unforgivable. And it’s this contradiction or ‘impossibility’ that money burning approaches.

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How do a group of people actually end up deciding to burn money at a festival on a Saturday night?

The short answer is that The Staff [All Hail, The Staff] is manifesting itself in the world of its own being.


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Prunella Gee as Eris in 1977

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Killing Joke. (LR — Youth, Jaz Coleman, Geordie, Paul Ferguson)
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3.43 min Theatrical Promotional Video for The Cosmic Trigger Play by Daisy Campbell
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The short answer about ‘The Staff manifesting itself….’ Wtf?

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All Hail, The Staff !

So what happened in the six months between Jan 23rd and July 23rd? Why did people participate?

So now, having introduced you to The Staff [All Hail, The Staff] I’m going to involve magic and myth-creation more directly into my explanation of events. It’s a way of thinking and being that increasingly informs my actions around money burning, and how I live my life, too. I should warn you, though. Having read this far, your exposure to money burning invocation propaganda has already exceeded normal safety limits. If you choose to carry on, you put yourself at critical risk of invocation.

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The Memorial Gates to Crossbones Graveyard courtesy of John Crow

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The Money Flame — A currency collage of £230 measuring 230mm x 230mm
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HILLARY BILLARY (left) DOLLAR DONALD (right) by Mark Wagner (These are NOT the pieces in the magazine)
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A 17 min film of F23 compiled from mobile phone footage by Adam Baker


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