Ritual at a burn?

topic posted Thu, July 22, 2010 - 7:28 AM by  jenny
I was incredibly put off by all the "We must pray" and ritual aspects of the burn. Burns are supposed to be all-encompassing, secular events so why is it ok to use the main burn to portray actual rituals and ritualistic concepts? I mean I don't mind if people want to have a camp that has all these ideas, or if they want to do it by themselves in a group at the burn (NOT via microphone) but to incorporate them into something that everyone is attending is out of line in my opinion. Anyone have any thoughts?
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North Carolina
  • Re: Ritual at a burn?

    Thu, July 22, 2010 - 7:40 AM
    I'm not quite sure what to say about this. Every year is super spiritual for me this year was of no exception if anything it was the most spiritual one for me so far. As far as the way this world is going maybe you should be praying. As far as rituals it is up to each person if they involve themselves in it. Its just like a naked person. If you don't want to talk to them there are 1400+ other people. So I guess what I'm saying is that yes this might have offended you but Transformus is not about you, its not about me, its about all of us. As far as about it going out over a mic. When the spirit catches you it catches you.
    • Re: Ritual at a burn?

      Thu, July 22, 2010 - 10:03 AM
      Well that's exactly my point- I have no problem with people doing what they want- so long as it isn't repeated over and over and over on the loudspeakers saying "We must pray. We must pray." It wasn't an option wether or not to be involved the way it was presented. I don't want to pray and it's not up to anyone to tell me I should. If it's about all of us- maybe it should consider that all of us don't want to hear that. This is my 13th burn, and the only one I've ever been to that took it upon themselves to assume people wanted to be involved in their spiritual rituals.
  • Re: Ritual at a burn?

    Thu, July 22, 2010 - 10:48 AM
    Was that what they were saying? From where I was I couldn't hear what was going on over the loud speakers very well.

    And on a similar note, I'm sure that someone out there who was praying was a little put off by my choosing to heckle the burn with the megaphone....and I'm sure that others expected no less of me. Either way, just like anything else at a burn, you can take it however you want. Just because someone is saying that we must do something, does not mean that any of us actually must listen and follow. And the act of praying itself is a fairly non-secular idea in my opinion as the act of asking or wishing for something happens across many cultures. It would have been another thing if someone was up on that mic singing hail marys. I don't think there was a lot of planning that went into what was going to be sung on stage for that...I think they meant it to be fairly improve and as such I would dare say that whoever was singing that was doing it out of their own self-expression. Musta been how they felt.

    I also don't think it's possible to have something be all encompassing and totally secular at the same time. To be truely all encompassing would be to include pieces of ever spiritual and and secular thing. So while I do agree that none of us should be forced to participate in a specific religious practice while at the burn....or ever really....I would also propose that it would difficult to impossible to completely remove all religious/spiritual/ritualistic elements from the burn. The burn itself is its own ritual. And realistically it also gets to be a touchy subject because it is a burn and we're not here to censor what people are doing (within safety reasoning). It remains up to us to use or self-reliance to decide whether we agree or disagree with other's expressions. And when we disagree, it's good to have a nice conversation about it just like this one.
  • Re: Ritual at a burn?

    Thu, July 22, 2010 - 10:49 AM
    Oh yeah, and I'm sure that there are a lot of us that don't want to hear me talking about how to use the port a potties over the megaphone....but that's not going to stop me anytime soon. :)
    • Re: Ritual at a burn?

      Thu, July 22, 2010 - 11:03 AM
      I understand what you're saying, I just think that 'summoning' the spirits of the elements and chanting 'we must pray' transforms something everyone can be a part of into an exclusionary event. It's why I don't go to the full moon parties. You're not on the megaphone telling people what to do spiritually- I just think that should be left up to the person to decide what they want it to be. It's tough to draw the line- but projecting it over an entire crowd turns something you thought would be a normal burn into a ritual that by attending you are a part of. I think there are avenues for expressing yourself radically without effecting everyone. I'd never have a problem with someone running around screaming "We must pray" but I do have a problem with someone using their words to try and define an event and actions for everyone. You can take it or leave it of course, but you shouldn't have to leave the burn.
  • Re: Ritual at a burn?

    Thu, July 22, 2010 - 12:47 PM
    Burning an effigy is a ritual.
    Moving in a circle around a burning effigy is a ritual.
    Radical self-expression applies to everyone. Including the person singing. Including the person heckling.
    I have no problem with it. I thought it was a beautiful burn.
  • Re: Ritual at a burn?

    Fri, July 23, 2010 - 10:28 AM
    Burns are supposed to be all-encompassing, secular events?

    Sorry, but I didn't get that memo. Do you know who sent it out?
    Looked at the ten principles again, but couldn't find it.

    I was at the burn, but never heard anybody say "we must pray".
    Even if I did hear it, I would take it as an expression of the thoughts of the person saying it,
    not as a command for me to do something. I just wanted to watch that dragon car have it's
    way with the woodpile. For me, the burn is not a spiritual event at all. But for some people it is,
    and I am OK with that.

  • Re: Ritual at a burn?

    Fri, July 23, 2010 - 12:10 PM
    burning an effigy IS a ritual, pure and simple. and i appreciated the consciousness and awareness that the performance reflected.

    my first burn was in '96, when i experienced mostly fucked up people chanting "burn the fucker burn the fucker burn the fucker" -- which i guess is another kind of ritual, but one i'm not down with and that really freaked me out. over the many burns i've been to since, i've sometimes drummed inside the circle, and sometimes stayed far away in my camp, but never did i feel any real connection or sense of focus like i did last week.

    this was my first transformus, and i was with rhythm paradise, and we drummed for both burns, so i was on stage drumming saturday night and right next to sugarkane, who was the singer and performer who did the piece about calling in the water, the air, the earth and the fire. i thought the whole thing was totally on the mark, and felt that the vocals were a very small part of the whole thing.

    burns are tribal. tribes have rituals. burning effigies is a ritual of burner events. there's just no escaping that.

    • Re: Ritual at a burn?

      Fri, July 23, 2010 - 3:33 PM
      Burning an effigy IS a ritual, as is the running around the fire, the drumming, etc. It's just never been a ritual in my experience that involved spirituality in such a strong way. All ritual doesn't have to be spiritual or religious, and I haven't seen a burn 'ritual' like this before. This is what I wanted- other people's opinions on what they thought of it. Come to think of it- I can't remember an effigy burn that was ever accompanied by any actual words- only drums, conclave and such- which might be why it shocked me. I think too that sitting up on the hill all that could really be heard clearly was the voice. I just think it's crappy being made to feel like you don't belong on the burn field because it's turned into a spiritual event. How far does radical expression go? If someone was on stage invoking Satan or singing about good Christian values would everyone have flowed with it the same? It didn't go that far I'm just wondering if that would be ok if that was how that person chose to radically express themselves.
      • Re: Ritual at a burn?

        Fri, July 23, 2010 - 5:11 PM
        No one can make you feel crappy without your permission. You have more power than that.

        Those megaphones at 5 am get to me but I don't expect the burn to ban their expression. There are many things about the burn that make me feel uncomfortable. I don't allow them be the totality of my experience. I choose to take responsibility for my response and for taking care of myself. Sometimes that means I disagree -- openly. Either way, it is up to me, as an individual, to set and enforce boundaries that serve and protect me. That has been one of the things I've learned from this whole radical self-expression thing. And, yeah, sometimes it means I have to get creative.

        I hear that you think there should be a limit on radical self-expression. You are allowed to express yourself that way. So where do you stop with censorhip? Where does it end? And who gets to choose? Where do we post the rules? And who enforces them?

        As for the Satan/Christian question, people can come up with "what if's" all day long. Those are distractions, though, from what actually happened. I think we should stick to the facts and not get off on the tangent of possibilities that did not happen. A million things "could have happened". But they didn't.

        I hear that you were uncomfortable and shocked. I am sorry you felt those feelings. I'm glad you're sharing your feelings now and I hope it helps you to process them. In my experience, every burn has a lot of processing afterward. That's where a lot of our growth happens. Perhaps consider chalking this experience up to something that meant a lot to others who were there, and certainly to the singer who gave it to us as a gift, and see if you can practice tolerance -- as a gift to your fellow Mysterians. I know that I loved it and felt moved by it even though I am a secular person. I also enjoy certain gospel groups, even if I don't agree with their message. I am still able to bask in the beauty of their joy, of their expressions. Perhaps re-framing it would help you feel better about this experience. I hope so.
        • Re: Ritual at a burn?

          Fri, July 23, 2010 - 6:18 PM
          Whoa now.. I never said I think it should be limited, I just questioned what happened during the actual organized burn.... A million things could have happened- I'm questioning what happened and I've heard answers that sum up to 'people can radically express themselves any way they choose'- so I'm wondering if they chose to express something less conventional (as I am seeing spirituality is conventional at Tfus) would it be accepted and unquestioned as self-expression? As for the actual burn- it wasn't spontaneous- there were corresponding video/sound/actions and though the words varied between elements and chanting and such it was organized. It wasn't an open mic.

          This didn't ruin my burn- it rubbed me the wrong way at the main event of the weekend. It didn't define me and I know how to make a burn work for me and I did. I just question why the event turned spiritual. This was not the totality of my event- but rather than being a highlight it wasn't this year.

          By practicing tolerance do you mean I shouldn't have an open opinion on this by saying I didn't like it? Stifle my opinion to appease the Mysterians who have a different opinion? I didn't rush the stage or try and interrupt or even heckle her, or try to ruin it for others- and now as a gift to other Mysterians I shouldn't say I didn't like it? I'm not intolerant of spiritual people, or any views anyone wants to express. I am merely- in my own opinions- questioning why spirituality became something broadcast over the main burn. I would have the same opinion that it should be left to the individual no matter what was said- I don't think it's up to a handful of people to try and set the mood of the event. This wasn't just a theme at the main burn. There are spiritual things/camps all over Mysteria where I can pass those up and walk along, the main burn shouldn't be something you stay at or leave.

          This is getting blown out of proportion to say that I think self-expression should be limited and that all Mysteria is to me is a place promoting spirituality and exclusivity. This isn't my point.

          Again, this is my opinion that I am expressing (apparently radically?). I'm happy other people were into it and my opinion shouldn't ruin or damper theirs. I wasn't into it. I was looking for feedback and I got it. Next year I'll just bring headphones.
          • Re: Ritual at a burn?

            Fri, July 23, 2010 - 9:28 PM
            "By practicing tolerance do you mean I shouldn't have an open opinion on this by saying I didn't like it?" No, I don't mean that at all. I'm glad you're having your say now, and processing your experience now. I just mean, sometimes we can step back and choose to observe a thing, see it for it's own qualities, even if it is something that is not our thing. And sometimes aspects of it we can even come to appreciate. By tolerance, I meant individually recognizing when something has a charge for us. Choosing to examine that. Deciding to frame it in a way that makes us feel good instead of bad, a way that empowers us or others. Sometimes there is a service in giving others what they need. And yet I also know that serving others costs the server.

            I recognize that religious and spiritual practices have a charge for a lot of people. They do for me too. I was raised baptist. Then I did a 180 from those beliefs. Yet now, I am finding I can appreciate some aspects. Like prayer. Or meditation. Or centering. Or creating intention. Or whatever you want to call it. So I liked in that moment of fire, a reminder that I could do one of those things. But I can see how it would tie a knot in a belly too. It would have for me not very long ago. So I just want to say to you, I get it. It's especially traumatic to get that charge at a vulnerable time, like a burn, when your senses are heightened and we've allowed ourselves to be vulnerable and feel safe. And when something comes into that space that feels charged, it has extra punch. I am sorry that happened. I send you cyber hugs. (You know, I think some hugs can be prayers too. I never thought of that before.)

            I hope you can bear with us southern burners,. Apparently we are a bit more sumpin sumpin than I realized. I don't know how to characterize it. Feel free to think, "Those goofy southern burners. Bless their hearts." (Oh wait, that's a blessing. Damn! Wait. Damn. Damn is ALSO a religious term. Weird. Okay, this is actually kinda funny.)

            And you are right that you did not suggest censorship. I followed that road when I was trying to think, "What's the alternative?" That was me and if I suggested it was you, I apologize.

            I am glad you brought this up. You were probably not the only person who had some form of that experience. It's good to talk about it.
      • Re: Ritual at a burn?

        Sat, July 24, 2010 - 3:53 PM
        another thought -- when we find ourselves reacting to something, it's often a chance to examine our beliefs and if we may have some kind of automatic responses that we aren't even aware of. i keep coming back to your complaint and perception that someone saying "pray for..." is asserting a spiritual practice of some sort on you. but pray has many meanings, and most central is the idea of intentional thought. again, i don't recall the lyrics specifically, but i think it was something like "pray for the earth" -- so perhaps it's worth pondering a bit about why someone calling out an intention to pray for the earth would create a sense of resistance. to me, it added a great deal of meaning to the burn.

        ii wasn't there, but was told that sugar kane also sang last year, though the drummers were not on the stage with her. this year, the drums were on the stage with microphones so the sound would balance out the vocals and could be heard more clearly. i'm not sure if you've been to burning man or not, but it's not really even possible to have any coordinated sound there. when i was with the drummers on the playa, they tried to get hundreds of us all playing the same rhythm, making us practice endlessly beforehand, but it never happened that way because we couldn't even hear the other drum collectives.

        i was rather delighted that at transformus, the "effigy" (which i put in quotes because what was there this year bore no resemblance at all to a man) and burn platform is small, which meant that as it burned, people could run around the fire in circles. that doesn't happen on the playa.

        and being a long-time citizen of black rock city, i often found myself thinking "it isn't supposed to be like that" and "that's not how it's done" -- and then i had the chance to remind myself that how it was was exactly perfect and how it was meant to be, even if it was unfamiliar or different than before.
      • Unsu...

        07 Burn

        Tue, July 27, 2010 - 10:04 AM
        Just for reference, I was the co-creator of the Dixie Belle Effigy in 2007. The musical group that led/performed during the burn was an internationally comprised group called Kundalini Express.

        I personally had no idea who was playing what, and I wanted something heavy like Rammstein's "Fire", but am very glad I didn't get what I wanted. Kundalini Express is sort of an east meets west mix with drums, sitars etc. with chanting/singing sanskrit mantras. The first song was a mantra for Release and the second song involved a mantra for Universal Love. It was perfect, beautiful, inspiring, and I have never seen so many people fall to their knees, or hug their neighbor, all the while crying joyfully. So just for the record, the T'fus 07 burn was accompanied by spiritually inspired words/music, although if you didnt know who was doing what, you would not have had any idea what the words were or meant. That year was a deeply spiritual effigy burn for me and I think for alot of people. Those 2 songs, esp. the one recorded that night with the fire crackling in the background, still takes me someplace special inside.

        This year, the burn was more entertaining than "spiritual" to me. I have been to alot of burns and I just wasn't touched in that way this time. I cheered on the dragon and the fire and screamed with my brethren, but I wasn't feeling it because I did not have blood/sweat/tears in that effigy. Now, two feet away from me, this year's effigy lead, BearDog, was on his knees, bowing, praying, crying, kissing the earth, worshipping, I dunno exactly what, but very obviously having a deeply, intensely spiritual experience. I have been to every T'fus, and I think this year my heart wasn't in it, not in that excited oh my god I can't wait sort of way, more of -I'm expected to be there, do this, etc. and so it was just ok for me, while my campmates are still screaming-"best burn ever!" Anyways, that's my opinion.
  • Re: Ritual at a burn?

    Sat, July 24, 2010 - 6:58 AM
    Wow I actually felt like this years effigy burn was a bit less ritualistic than usual. I've always felt like the effigy burn and even more so the temple burn as OUR ritual. Rituals that celebrate life, love, light, and community. I've never felt them to me secular by any means just everyone praying to what ever they're called to pray to. I've always felt the majik coming from the hill and how these ritual brings all of our life forces into one flow that reaches out into the unknown so they universe can feel our passion. I of course would be completely turned off if the effigy was specific to and culture or religion but i've always felt like the effigy burns at tfus always encompasses and includes all.
    • Re: Ritual at a burn?

      Sat, July 24, 2010 - 7:30 AM
      The First People believe that any place where two bodies of running water meet is a sacred place. That happens in several places on the Deerfield's property.

      I heard some interesting news. This year the owners of Deerfields finally got the property re-zoned as agricultural for tax purposes. This is a big deal for them because it means their taxes are going to drop significantly and one of the reasons they had events on the property was to help pay the property taxes. So they've decided to stop doing big events on the property. Except for Transformus. We are the only big event there this year and also for the foreseeable future. It speaks well of us that we are the only big group of folks they want to have back.
      • Re: Ritual at a burn?

        Sat, July 24, 2010 - 3:55 PM
        re: The First People -- some drummers tell of the experience of being in deep drumming grooves and hearing voices around them singing. it has never happened to me before, until late the night of the burn, when i returned to the circle for a while, and amid the drums came voices of native american chants. it was amazing, and i really sensed them there with us.

        and i'm so glad that deerfields is going to continue to host transformus. that place rocks!
  • BD
    offline 12

    Re: Ritual at a burn?

    Mon, July 26, 2010 - 11:09 AM
    I'm sorry that you were offended, but I assure you it was never our intent to force any world view on anyone else, nor was it to exclude anyones perspective, but to be fully inclusive of all including those of us for which Fire IS a Highly Spiritual thing. As has been stated throughout this thread., Take what you will and leave the rest. As for ritual at the burn, well what can I say, I am a High Priest of Luna, And I Always Only Ever Burn for the goddess. I did not call for ritual, but when others did I encouraged it. I do not expect everyone in any community to share a world view. Thank you for being a part of Mysteria, it doesn't exist without all of us.

    Peace, Love & Light,
    Effigy Team Lead 2010
  • Unsu...

    Don't take things personally

    Tue, July 27, 2010 - 9:13 AM
    For several years different music groups have been invited to play and/or lead the drummers collective during the main burn at Transformus. In the early years all the drummers just showed up and played, but lets just say it doesn't go as well without leadership.

    This year that honor went to the singer/musician Sugar Kayne and a group called The Love Drums. What you heard was Sugar Kayne singing a new song that she wrote called "Pray". I couldn't hear the lyrics myself, but I am assuming "We must pray" is probably part of the chorus or something. Personally I liked the first thing they played for the fire conclave, and I didn't like the second song because it was too slow for me and my fire. But I realize the musicians were just expressing themselves and gifting their talent and energy to the burn, and it wasn't about me or what I wanted/expected.

    Transformus, with its mountain environment and proximity to Asheville, has always had a high percentage of participants who consider themselves spiritual and who have interwoven both rituals and ritual concepts into the event since its inception in 2004. Whether or not these rituals are intended or perceived as secular or spiritual is subjective and depends on the mind of the participant.

    The bottom line is- there is no line aside from the rules set by the event org, the land owners and the law. Aside from honoring the 10 principles, there is no such thing as what a burn "should be". There is only your own expectations and participation clashing or coalescing with what the community collectively creates.
    • Re: Don't take things personally

      Tue, July 27, 2010 - 11:56 AM
      everything anyone does is ritual to some point. I wouldn't get to caught up in the language. I am not a Christian, Pagan, Shaman or Witch; Buddhist, Hindu, Jew or Grey one. I am all of these. Pray means many different things to different people but it also means the same thing.

      I like the whole event; the nights and days. Looking forward to next year.
  • Re: Ritual at a burn?

    Tue, July 27, 2010 - 6:41 PM
    Just for the record, they weren't chanting "we must pray". I was on stage with the drummers on burn night. I actually can't remember what the exact words were, but it was something like "burn it down". (Sorry i can't remember it exactly. I have it on video somewhere though where you can hear it. One of the typical chants you hear at every burn.)

    Also, i thought it was cool that she called the elements, and i didn't really connect it to be a spiritual thing. Elements are elements. *shrugs* And damn, it's a burn, so ending it on "we welcome: fire!" and having the fire spinners come in just plain made sense. It's a burn, we like fire. ;)

    But if there was anyone chanting "we must pray", it wasn't coming from the main stage. (Just to make sure that night, i looked to see what they were saying via lip reading. Noooo "we must pray". Sheesh.)

    That being said: Transformus burn night has always been spiritual to me. Ms. Maya (the creator of the best effigy i've seen to date at any burn!) is right, in my opinion: Kundalinii Express (and the burn) put me to sobbing tears on burn night in 2007. There was just something that made is so beautiful, with everything coming together.
    • Re: Ritual at a burn?

      Sat, July 31, 2010 - 10:31 PM
      *But if there was anyone chanting "we must pray", it wasn't coming from the main stage. (Just to make sure that night, i looked to see what they were saying via lip reading. Noooo "we must pray". Sheesh.) *

      Yes it was. The singer went into some kind of loop with it while the fire was cresting.
  • Re: Ritual at a burn?

    Wed, July 28, 2010 - 9:12 AM
    It was Sugarkane singing. I was in Area 51 Thursday night when they (Sugarkane, the guy who does the digital sound-pad thing with her, and several drummers & percussionists) ran through a trial run of "Pray" (my name for the song) whilst working out the words & arrangement. Sugarkane had a sheet of paper with the lyrics hand-written on them. The only words I specifically remember were: "Pray for the Earth. Pray to the sky." I do remember thinking for a second, "What?! Pray TO the sky? Uh, 'no.' Whatever, this is still a great song." That's pretty much the same way I felt about it on burn night when I heard the "final version."
    • Re: Ritual at a burn?

      Wed, July 28, 2010 - 9:22 AM
      My mistake, i forgot about that part. (It was beautiful, but i do agree that burn night wasn't really the place for it.)

      I still swear that the drummers were chanting something different though. ;)

      I was at the burn night planning meeting (not the rehearsal) with Sugar Kayne and all of the others, and i remember her saying that she wanted to aim for the same sort of energy that Kundalinii Express had in '07. The difference with Kundalinii was that they were chanting "Baba Nam Kevalam", which most folks didn't understand anyway (roughly translated, it meant "love is all there is"). It was the energy they created. Their song was beautiful, and their words weren't preachy.
      That was perhaps the gap between the two burn nights that wasn' quite grasped this time around.

      Just a theory. *shrugs*
      • Re: Ritual at a burn?

        Sat, July 31, 2010 - 1:11 PM
        I agree with Jenny for 2 reasons.
        1- Having a vocal soloist on a mic from the main stage can have the effect of turning a collective, group experience into a performance with a central focus. It's not something that blends in seamlessly with everything else going on. Why do I say that? You'd know by its absence. Remove one drummer or one spinner and the event is pretty much the same. Remove the vocal soloist and and an entire aspect of the experience has changed. I don't feel any one person should have such a prominent role on burn night (except maybe the fire safety lead!) One of the most beautiful things about burn night is how each fire performer and each drummer has the ability to add his/her own personal touch without any one person overshadowing another. It's artistic collaboration at its finest. With drummers coming in and out and spinners rotating around the effigy, the cyclical, minimalistic nature of the "show" allows us to sort of drift in and out and enables any moment to be an emotional highlight or respite based on each person's own emotional ebb and flow. When you add vocal phrases, it sets up small cycles of beginnings, middles and ends. It introduces expectations and anticipation for the next phrase. We are being "led" far more when listening to any music that has clear, discernible, melodic phrases. Perhaps I am more sensitive to this than others because I am a musician, but I think it's true for all of us on some level. If people find the vocal aspect to be a major draw, they could sing and chant individually or in groups and enjoy that experience without amplifying it.
        2- We are a highly verbal, linguistic society. Adding a script or words of any kind can have the effect of directing thoughts or influencing people on a far more literal level than other sounds and sights- particularly when religious or spiritual ideas are involved.

        I would like to see the burn be a more primitive, abstract kind of event. Effigy, fire performers, drummers- that's plenty. Let's move away from anything that even remotely resembles a multi-media jumbo-tron, spoon-fed performance and keep it about connecting with each other on an egalitarian level.

        I am appreciative of all the work and creative energy that goes into burn night and want to thank those involved. I hope those planning next year's burn will consider this.

        If you think I'm being unkind to Sugar or BD or anyone else, then you misinterpreted my intentions. I love TransformUs, which is why I will always speak up when I think it can be improved.


        • Re: Ritual at a burn?

          Sun, August 8, 2010 - 8:17 AM
          From the point of the view of the leadership, we were asked during the planning phase if it would be acceptable to have a ritual to encourage each participate to consider what the burn means to them (it was called at Intentionality ritual) before the effigy was burned. We agreed, with the stipulation that the ritual could not state or imply any specific meaning or intention to the burn because the point is for each person to discover their own meaning. In other words, it was not to be directive in any way. Beyond that we allowed the musicians and everyone else in the performance to express themselves freely in the ways they thought appropriate.

          I love the idea of ritual, and I personally thought this year's was effective and added to the experience for me. I can see where others could perceive it was somewhat over-the-top.

          Reading this thread, I can now see that *any* English words or phrases before or during the burn, spoken from the stage and amplified through the sound system will inevitably have some directive effect for some people.

          For next year, I'd seriously consider adding another restriction that there be no English lyrics involved in any performance during the Saturday burn night proceedings -- when that happens it's not only directive in some sense, but it encourages the perception that the burn is a stage performance with a big fire in front of it.

          The Temple burn is a different thing. I'm trying to encourage a more spiritual approach to the temple burn, and I'd love to see appropriate rituals developed to that end, so long as they aren't directive. Simple and universal spiritually-oriented words might not be inappropriate preceding the Temple burn, as long as they aren't specific to any one form of spirituality. But I wouldn't want to get into the business of reviewing and approving texts either.

          There's a fine line here and we're still groping for exactly where that line is.

          • Re: Ritual at a burn?

            Sun, August 8, 2010 - 8:43 AM
            Ah, that is one of the few things (in my opinion) that Burning Man beat out Transformus with. I loved the T'fus temple burn (and the temple itself was simply beautiful), but it kind of felt like there was too much of a party zone going on. It simply amazed me that at the Burning Man temple burn i was at, the entire thing - thousands of people there to see it - was silent (except for a group of yogis with Tibetan chimes.)
            Of course, to be fair, i left a small box of my cousin's ashes and a poem that his mother wrote in the Burning Man temple, so i had more emotion invested in that burn.

            I actually kind of agree on the non use of English words. When we don't know what they mean, i think there's more room to interpret the burn for ourselves. Find our own meaning and/or spirituality in it.
  • Re: Ritual at a burn?

    Sat, July 31, 2010 - 10:24 PM
    I understand exactly what you're saying. As over-the-top as it was this year, I successfully tuned it out. ;)

    Though most people carry specific connotations on the word, 'pray' is quite general and *not* denominational. Humans- even anti-spiritualists- pray from time to time, in spite of ourselves. We're wired that way. "Please let this happen, please don't let that happen"..."I'm not in power, so I'll appeal to whatever might be". You can eschew it as a personal philosophy, as some do eating meat or sex, but you're never gonna rid the world of it. As for *rituals*: burning an effigy is a ritual. Period. You make a great big symbol of something and destroy it with the elements- a set of ceremonial behaviors. I agree with you that the ceremony shouldn't be co-opted by any one spiritual faction (see Radical Exclusion), but for most burners the destruction of the effigy is a spiritual event, and anti-spiritualist shouldn't fairly hope to excise that aspect from the ceremony (see again- Radical Exclusion).

    Yadda etc.
    • Re: Ritual at a burn?

      Sat, August 7, 2010 - 10:07 PM
      • Re: Ritual at a burn?

        Sun, August 8, 2010 - 7:13 AM
        It doesn't seem to me that we were being channeled, intentionally or not, into a ritual with a specific purpose, such as summoning a demon or making it rain. But maybe we could agree that if someone *has* to have the mic on burn night, they shouldn't use the mic to issue commands? No matter how mild they are?

        We've accepted the presence of some commands over PA, like "don't moop" or "get out of the road", but even those could wait until the ceremony is over.

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