What is it all about?
The Nevada desert in the middle of nowhere is a dried up river bed that is where Burning Man begins…
Burning man is about freedom. Freedom of artistic expression that is radical in nature. Let me go back. It’s the middle of no where. About 2 hours off the grid. No, stores, no homes beyond Gerlack. There is nothing. For Burning Man to exist people start on August 1, to begin the building of the city and erecting the art projects. By the third day of the event 50,000 people will have helped complete the city. You must bring in everything you will need, food, water, clothes, lights, and trash bags to take everything out. The experience is about Radical self-reliance, radical self-expression and radical participation, because it is a radical experience! A place where artist can express themselves without judgment. That means artistically, physically, sexually and emotionally. (Because kids are present sex is contained in private areas, not allowed out in the open.) My first year a woman told me she always hated her breast and after going to burning man and seeing so many different shapes and sizes (at the critical tits parade) that she for the first time enjoyed her own breast.
That is what we miss in society. Non-judgmental, unconditional love and acceptance for the human race let alone the human body. You didn’t come out of your womb with clothes on and you didn’t come out thinking gee my body is bad, I need to cover it. Some person taught you how to see yourself based only on their life’s experiences and what they were taught. Burning Man takes you beyond that limit.
My first year at Burning Man I didn’t know what it was, what it was about or where it was located. I left Santa Cruz, CA heading home to Sacramento at the time which is three hours away. I get a phone call when I was hitting Fairfield and my friend April, who I just left in Santa Cruz hours before says, “Do you want to go to Burning Man?” I asked what it was and her answer “a place where you can let your freak flag fly.” I said “OK.” Then I asked when is it and there was a long pause…”April, when is it?” “Um,” comes her reply, “now!” “OK, where is it?” trying to get any info I could. She said “Nevada” and explained I’d have to turn around go back to Santa Cruz, pick her up, drive to Nevada even though I didn’t know where we were going and do it all on faith, because we didn’t have tickets either. It was an adventure I didn’t question. I said let’s do it and it was done. I turned around picked up my friend 3 hours away from home and from Burning Man and then set course for Black Rock City, Nevada.
In Reno I bought one bottle of water, a banana and sushi. Then I asked for directions while the annoying birdie in my ear (my friend) kept saying “That isn’t enough water we are going into the desert.” I figured, we are going to be there a few hours and go home. What is she talking about?
We arrived. How we got the ticket will forever remain a secret. But it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life…
We pull in and I immediately get out to stretch. I’d been up for over 24+ hours and happy to have “landed.” In mid-stretch I freak out! I see two guys talking no one else around. I turn to my friend to ask “Is he naked!” She sarcastically told me to go look (she obviously knew more about this strange place than I did.) On my tiptoes I get closer trying not to be seen or heard. I took a closer to find when he turned around everything was hanging out! I mean everything. My mouth fell open. I have to be in the Twilight Zone! Is this legal? Is this an orgy? Where did my friend bring me? Where am I? Where is aunt Em, Toto? I had a feeling I wasn’t in Kansas anymore.
It was the end of the week early morning and we trekked along. Finding the street signs weren’t up. We were lost and didn’t have a clue as to what we were doing. We made our way to center camp. I painted on the canvas along with other people, we walked around. Nothing to spectacular was happening. I was a little bored and tired. Wondering around I had gotten lost twice. At one point during the night a guy was peeing in the pitch darkness and my friend pulled me just before I walked through his stream of pee! It wasn’t a good experience. That night I was getting ready to drive home with no sleep up for 36 hours. My friend says, “You just need sleep. Give it a chance.” I pulled off, tired, angry and then I just stopped the car, turned on the heat and slept.
The next morning I found myself at center camp again sitting next to a lesbian couple. She asked about how my experience was going and I told her the truth. “Burning Man is what you make it,” she says to me. “If you need something it will find you. Just be open. If you have relationship issues you’ll be confronted with it so it can heal, whatever you need it’s out here.” That was a profound moment for me.
I’m in control? I am in control of the experience? It is what I make it? For the first time I had permission. To do what, I didn’t know, but it change my perspective. Mentally I was free.
Not knowing we weren’t allowed to drive once in the gate and parked, we drove everywhere. At one point this guy was literally washing his rear end. In mid-shower we asked him for directions and he stopped to tell us he didn’t know, but good luck and we kept trekking as my friend is yelling at me for pulling up to him on her side! I laughed! People stoop the car to give us hugs through the window, people handed us water and told us to park the car and walk to the temple. We did and got lost and people handed us more water. Making it back to HeeBeeGeeBee Healers Camp, we asked how to get a massage. It was the end of the event so we could no longer schedule a massage, but why let that stop you? A woman at the camp yelled out to about 40 half naked people lying on the ground “Hey, can anyone massage my friend Belinda here?” Talk about embarrassing! Why was this happening to me? My friend looked at me and ran in the other direction off to do her own thing. This guy with big beautiful eyes waved me over and we talked about what I needed. He massaged my back and he said it would be much easier to massage my back if the shirt was off, but it was up to me if I wanted to take it off. I looked around, bravely started to unbutton my blouse and off it came. It was the first time in my life I remembered feeling physically free.
There was a woman about ten feet away, I am guesstimating she weighted in the ball park of 400 pounds or more was naked laying on the ground getting a massage and someone was playing the violin for her. It seemed to be a safe place and safe haven for all. It was a far distance from what the media portrays as real perfection and beauty. I was hooked on Burning Man from that point on. I loved the new reality. Every time I got lost I’d run into my friend. We’d share our experiences and then be off in different directions again. Her first story to me was – a woman found a phone booth in the middle of the Playa and when she pick up the phone God was on the other end. She asked God, “This is my first time here. What should I do?” God said “Follow your fears.” I have since talked to God myself at that same booth and I follow that advice every moment of my waking life. I saw men with blue bodies and orange penises, people on stilts, mega art pieces, people in love with life and open to strangers being in there space. It felt like home.
Over the course of two days we were gifted food and water without ever asking for it. I believe that was meant to be my experiences and why I didn’t being much more than the few things I did bring. We helped people we’d never met before tear down a huge dome, when it became night we used my car lights to see and kept at it. We then drove out to the temple burn and the police told us we had to park the car. I let my friend go alone in the pitch black and I sat waiting feeling like I shouldn’t go. I didn’t listen. With no shoes and no water I walked to the temple. The ashes landed in my hair. It burnt my scalp. I left wondering why I didn’t listen to myself. I stopped a kissing couple and asked if they’d seen my red car in the pitch black of the night and they asked why I didn’t have a flashlight, of course I didn’t know I’d need one when I arrived a day before. Lost I went back to the camp that we helped tear down and my friend was there looking for the car as well. Two bikers offer to go out there to find it. 30 minutes later they come back and take us to my car. I thought it was so kind and I was thankful, since we were sleeping in my car! He gifted me and I gifted him with a free psychic reading. It felt good to give. My heart was over whelmed with love.
What a huge difference a day out there made. It was life changing. Burning Man is a gifting economy. You give time, space, food, water, or gifts. No money is exchanged. It’s a beautiful way to live. I wish it could be that way on a daily bases. I was sad to leave that morning. My eyes weld up with tears at the thought of going back to the ordinary world where no one even looks at you when you walk down the street. I looked back as we drove away. My heart was still there. I was leaving a place where people really see you. Yes. Just like Avatar. “I see you.” That was in 2004. I’ve been burning ever since. This year I will make it to Burning Man’s Rites Of Passage 2011. I bought tickets early for the first time in 8 years and for the first time in 25 years BM sold out. Was this me being psychic or is it that I am meant to go?
Is burning man all about sex, drugs and raves? Well think about it. Burning man is a small city. You can find sex, drugs and rock and raves next door. At burning man it is no different. The fact is BM is about everything in life. It’s everything condensed in a small three mile radius and it’s free once in the gate. You can take yoga classes or take a night stroll in the astronomy class and then take an art class with your kids. There is a library where you can get books and read, then take them with you or give it back; a boutique of clothes and costumes. You go shopping, but you don’t pay for it – there is no price on it, like it is out here in the “default” world. Default world: the world you are living in right now reading this.
In the “default” world you avoid strangers, but at Burning Man, you have people hugging you when they cross your path. They say thank you for being here and they share with you without asking of something in return. Many of us only dream of a world like that and every year I get to live it!
The burn is many things to many people. It symbolizes a new year. You are burning the old and starting again with the new. The year after New Orleans was hit they built a temple in honor of the disaster. Some people had lost loved ones. They came back the next year to put pictures of the ones who crossed over on the temple walls. They cried shared stories and then in the end it was burned so that they could let the pain go. It was an emotional year and I couldn’t stay at the temple for very long. There was too much pain in one little place for me to handle, but for those who had lost someone it was a sanctuary.
Burning man is for those people who never want to get lost. It’s for those who want to know that every place they turn is home. That is Burning Man; it is home. Every year at the gate they welcome you home. You can sleep in someone else’s tent or camp and be welcomed with open arms. People hug you for being you, not because they know you. Yeah there is sex and what a great place to have it amongst joyous, sensual, adventurous people who are sending you love. Most of you don’t even get that at home or with your sexual partners. At burning man you don’t have to ask for that kind of respect and love it is given freely.
That is burning man to me. Ask another person, you might get another answer.
For safe, legal sex resources visit http://www.bureauoferoticdiscourse.org/ and to find out more about Burning Man, virgin burners tips and more experiences listen to Disturbed Paranormal’s podcast: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/disturbedparanormal/2009/05/20/burning-man-clothing-optional-show
(Celebrity Psychic, Paranormal Writer and Truth Seeker)
G.H.O.S.T Ghost Huntress’s On Site Team Founder
HPI Senior Lead Investigator
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