Sunday, September 06, 2009

Burning Man - The Temple

Being at the temple at any point during the week had a very different feel than the rest of the locations there. The basic idea was that people would write messages to deceased friends and family or to people that they missed that were not at burning man. Then when they burnt the temple it was supposed to send the message to that person. This led to a lot of shrines of photos and personal effects being tied to the temple along with many messages. A lot of people would be overcome with grief and just be crying next to what they had wrote. Reading so many messages of people being missed had the same effect on me. It felt like I was at a wake for hundreds of people. It was also the first time I have been to a wake where someone would walk by in varying degrees of dress, however it fell right in line with people walking around offering strangers hugs. I was surprised by how many messages related to either suicide, drug overdose, or just referred to a bad decision. Other messages were funny, or political (there was a whole debate scrawled on one wall about not writing negative messages about George Bush on the temple.)

For some reason I woke up earlier than usual Sunday morning so I decided to go to the temple to watch the sun rise. Everyone was quiet and I am guessing most people had been up most of the night. It seemed like everyone was moving in slow motion.

That evening the ceremony was much different than burning the man. There was no laser pointers, no cheering, no fire dancers and jugglers, and no fireworks. a procession went around the temple then a fire was started in the middle. Everyone was silent as it burned except for a few people chanting far off. There was a kite shaped like the ghost of the man that flew over the temple, I guess to signify that he had been freed. This time instead of a party it was more of a 3 story camp fire to stare into.

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