It Started in SF as a Jazz Group and Now it’s a Religion

An epic performance from Sammy Davis, Jr from the 1969 movie Sweet Charity looks very much like a precursor to Burning Man. He is a preacher, singing about his new church which is sweeping the nation. It contains so many elements that make it look familiar to Burners – art cars, furry sleeveless vests, indulgent principles, a satire on Judeo/Christian religion, acid culture, weed, Pied Piper…is that the Merry Prankster’s FURTHR bus lurking in the shadows? Hit the floor and crawl to Daddy!

At the time he made this, Sammy Davis Jr was in his prime. He was a member of the “Rat Pack” with Shirley Maclaine, Marilyn Monroe, Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra. They were also known as the “Clan” (presumably with a C not a K) or “The Summit”.

In addition, Sammy Davis, Jr just happened to be a celebrity superstar promoter of the Church of Satan – doing for Anton LaVey what Tom Cruise and John Travolta do today for the Church of Scientology. Blonde bombshell actress Jayne Mansfield, the Paris Hilton or Kim Kardashian of her day, was another star Satanist.

Jayne Mansfield takes the "sacrament" from Anton LaVey

Jayne Mansfield takes the “sacrament” from Anton LaVey

Michael Aquino, Sammy Davis Jr, Anton Lavey. Image: VICE

Michael Aquino, Sammy Davis Jr, Anton Lavey. Image: VICE

Sammy starred in this 1973 TV series. Image: VICE

Sammy made a pilot in SF for this 1973 TV series. It was the plot of “It’s a Wonderful Life” in reverse. Image: VICE


As we explored in Shadow History Part 3 – Satan’s Birthday Party, there is almost no philosophical separation between scientism, satanism,  and the values of Burning Man. In Part 4 – Occult Rituals of the Cult we show how Burning Man’s own origins are from San Francisco’s occult scene, a nude beach about a block from the Church of Satan HQ, next to the Presidio Psyop Base (Part 2). Right after Burning Man moved to the desert, the Psyop HQ moved down to Moffett Field, home of Google, Yahoo, Lockheed Martin, NASA Ames, the Singularity University, and many other spooky proponents of transhumanism. The World Wide Web then sprang up around it and became the core of Silicon Valley, as we explored in Part 1 – The Shadow History of Silicon Valley.

Larry Harvey called Burning Man “a compelling physical analog for cyberspace”, in a 1997 Macworld “Digital Be-in” talk.


Dancing and Metamorphosis

Another video surfaced this week, which I posted on our Facebook Page. Apparently Walt Disney and Salvador Dali teamed up in 1945 to create a trippy surrealist desert adventure called “Destino”, based on a Mexican folk song.

Once again, we see similarities to Burning Man. Desert, mountains in the distance, cracked playa, bicycles, art cars…we have a lot of themes converging here. Humans merging with gods to create hybrid species; dancing through the wheel of time; dancing and metamorphosis, leading to love. It is dripping with occult symbolism, pyramids, all seeing eyes and so on.

Although Disney and Dalí did collaborate, most of this video was created much later. Still, it looks like Disney and Dalí imagined Burning Man in World War 2…yet another link into the vast occult empire which is Disney Corporation.

Once upon a time the Micky Mouse creator, Walt Disney, worked with the world’s most famous surrealist, Salvador Dali.
Dali was approached by Disney himself in 1945 to propose a collaborative film. Entitled “Destino”, the picture would be based upon a Mexican folk song of the same name, with the music played to accompany a sequence of Dali-designed animation. Destino is a fabled romance between Chronos, the personification of time, and a young mortal woman. The scenes blend a series of surreal paintings of Dali with dancing and metamorphosis
Walt Disney’s Destino was produced by Dali and John Hench (the Disney artist who did the storyboards) for 8 months between 1945 and 1946. Hench was described as a “ghostly figure” who knew better than Dali the secrets of the Disney film. For some time, the project remained a secret. 
But the film was eventually shelved due to WWII-era financial problems at Disney’s company. Dalí described the film as “a magical display of the problem of life in the labyrinth of time” and Disney said it was “a simple story about a young girl in search of true love.”
However, some 54 years later, the development of Fantasia’s long-awaited sequel, Fantasia 2000, inspired Disney’s nephew, Roy, to finally revive the project. A team of French animators were brought on board to produce the six-minute film on the basis of Dali’s notes and storyboards. In 2003, his musical vision was released at long last


World War 2 ended when Germany surrendered in May 1945 and the Japanese surrendered in August 1945. They were making the “notes and storyboards” for 8 months into 1946, which shows that the war had ended before this project even began.

What were the “secrets of the film” which Hench knew, but Dalí didn’t? Surely Dalí was the big name in this collaboration?

The work of painter Salvador Dali was to prepare a six-minute sequence combining animation with live dancers and special effects for a movie in the same format of “Fantasia.” The characters are fighting against time, the giant sundial that emerges from the great stone face of Jupiter and that determines the fate of all human novels. Dalí and Hench were creating a new animation technique, the cinematic equivalent of Dali’s “paranoid critique”…inspired by the work of Freud on the subconscious and the inclusion of hidden and double images.
The plot of the film was described by Dalí as “A magical display of the problem of life in the labyrinth of time.”
Walt Disney said it was “A simple story about a young girl in search of true love.”


Seems like all the usual stuff, mass media mind control, as above/so below, hidden images, black magick, the subconscious and the soul…

Dalí’s technique is more formally known as the Paranoid Critical Transformation Method, and is one of his biggest claims to fame.

Of all the Surrealists and their achievements, there is one that stands out above all the others. The Paranoiac Critical method was a sensibility, or way of perceiving reality that was developed by Salvador Dalí. It was defined by Dalí himself as “irrational knowledge” based on a “delirium of interpretation”. More simply put, it was a process by which the artist found new and unique ways to view the world around him. It is the ability of the artist or the viewer to perceive multiple images within the same configuration. The concept can be compared to Max Ernst’s frottage or Leonardo da Vinci’s scribbling and drawings. As a matter of fact, all of us have practiced the Paranoid Critical Method when gazing at stucco on a wall, or clouds in the sky, and seeing different shapes and visages therein. Dalí elevated this uniquely human characteristic into his own art form. 

Dalí, though not a true paranoid, was able to simulate a paranoid state, without the use of drugs, and upon his return to ‘normal perspective’ he would paint what he saw and envisioned therein.

Dalí was able to create what he called “hand painted dream photographs” which were physical, painted representations of the hallucinations and images he would see while in his paranoid state. Although he certainly had his own load of mental problems to bear, it can be said that Dalí’s delusions and paranoid hallucinations did not totally dominate his mind, as he was able to convey them to canvas. 
Image: Wikipedia

Image: Wikipedia

Being a painter of miraculous skill, he was capable of reproducing his myriad fantasies and hallucinations as visual illusions on canvas.

It is in this context that one of Dalí’s most famous statements takes on a whole new meaning and understanding.
“The only difference between myself and a madman, is that I am not mad!”
In Dalí’s own words, taken from his Conquest of the Irrational:
“My whole ambition in the pictorial domain is to materialize the images of my concrete irrationality with the most imperialist fury of precision…”
He then goes on to say:
“Paranoiac-critical activity organizes and objectivizes in an exclusivist manner the limitless and unknown possibilities of the systematic association of subjective and objective ‘significance’ in the irrational…”
“ makes the world of delirium pass onto the plane of reality” 


Dalí was hallucinating, but without drugs. This is certainly possible – the psychiatric justification for the development of LSD and other suggestogens was to “mimic psychosis”. The name “psycheto-mimetics” was discarded as not marketable by Humprhey Osmond and Marshall McLuhan – the Madison Avenue PR guru who also came up with Timothy Leary’s famous “Tune In. Turn On. Drop Out” tagline (though Leary also claimed he came up with it in the shower after meeting McLuhan)

It’s also quite possible that Dalí was tripping on something and just didn’t promote it in media interviews.

Here’s the video set to Pink Floyd’s classic “Time” from Dark Side of the Moon:


Transformation and the Projects

The word “Transformation” sure seems to come up a lot in looking at this Presidio/Esalen/Disney/Stanford/Burning Man cluster. This week I discovered that Dr Michael Aquino’s MindWar concept was heavily influenced by Esalen’s Transformation Project think tank.

Burning Man director Chip Conley, whose ambition is to leverage massive amounts of exclusive Burning Man content to make Fest300 the Expedia of festivals, is a trustee of the Esalen Institute. Burning Man holds their corporate retreats there, and it appears to be the model for their Fly Ranch philosophy center plans. Esalen is the occult research base of DARPA. Aquino says they had better stuff than even the CIA or DIA:


Whose project was this in 1996, before Helco?

Whose project was this in 1996, before Helco?


Of course, there are other occult pop-culture influences on Burning Man, which we have covered over the years.

The Wicker Man (1973)

The Twilight Zone – The Burning Man

The Legend of Billy Jean starring Peter Coyote (Pat Benatar’s Invincible was the theme song)

Pink Floyd: Wish You Were Here

“The Burning Man”, by Storm Thorgeson (1976)

"Burning Man", by Storm Thorgeson



BMOrg Plots World Domination at Hippie HQ

The latest VOBM features a revealing piece about Burning Man’s relationship with the Esalen Institute, “the high church of the religion of no religion”.

The links between Esalen and Burning Man run deep. PR gal Megan Miller has been attending the cult luxury yoga hotel since the age of 3. For the last ten years, BMOrg have taken most of their team there to an exotic luxury locale to debrief, after Black Rock City is wrapped up. And during the year many BMOrg employees, allies and associates regularly attend events at the facility – which even has an “Aldous Huxley Room”.



From SFist:

The stunning 120-acre retreat is an intentional community devoted to meditation, yoga, organic food, and spirituality and was established by Michael Murphy and Dick Price. The two were introduced in San Francisco by a Stanford religion professor with whom they had both studied. Murphy, who had traveled to an ashram in India, held family property at Big Sur, previously a health spa with natrual hot springs that employed Hunter Thompson and was frequented by Henry Miller. Price had continued his studies in psychology at Harvard before joining the air force. Living in San Francisco, he experienced a psychotic episode and spent time at a mental hospital before returning to the City. Their combined experiences soon took off, as their experiment gained traction with the counter-cultural movement.

Esalen still exists as a California 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation, and weekend workshops there start at $1,750, covering subjects from mindfulness to permaculture and ecological sustainability.

[Source: SFist]

So what do they get up to at the base? Do any of them drop LSD?

The two entities have much in common — the adversity, the freedom, the challenge to the status quo, the suspicion of strangers, even the absence of a guiding monotheism.

[Source: VOBM]

Adversity? In Big Sur – really? Have you seen photos of this place? Does he mean that cellphone reception is patchy and Internet can be slow? Or does he mean getting up at sunrise to do yoga after a big night?

Image: Esalen Institute via SFist

Image: Esalen Institute via SFist

They both provide stages for transformation, without dictating the outcome of that transformation, Esalen on a personal level, Burning Man on a more overtly societal scale.

If Burning Man is overtly transforming society, I’d like to see some evidence of that. Do they mean the art car in Zappo’s lobby?

“So what can we expect from this meeting of the minds,” Goodell asked from the audience as the two men spun their yarns. “Can we discuss our plans for world domination?”

Harvey said that, like Archimedes, they both might be looking for a lever long enough to move the world. Murphy was coy, maybe a bit embarrassed, and blurted: “We’re flirting!”

The people at the summit tackled many big topics: What is Burning Man culture? What is Burning Man art? What does Decommodification really mean? How can the organization foster new affiliations? How can they deal more effectively with political affairs, government relations and law enforcement? How can they facilitate fundraising? Why isn’t Burning Man more diverse? How will the 2016 theme (“DaVinci’s Workshop”) spark conversations about money?

For the record, many of the discussions were passionate and strong. The 2016 theme, especially, provoked divergent views. “The thing is,” Harvey said at one point, “is that we’re taking on the money thing directly. That’s good. That’s what we should be doing.”

The summiteers also could pursue more personal development. They could be guided on a Hero’s Journey. They could seek their North Star. They could take part in any number of movement and meditation exercises in the very early mornings. They could “co-learn” with Esalen staff about sustainability, or go on hikes to hidden hot springs.

Through it all, the participants seemed to get the intention of the outing: They were being asked to work on integrating the interior with the exterior, to be mindful, and as the organization continued to expand, there was a need, and an expectation, to look within, maybe now more than ever.

“This is my worlds colliding,” CameraGirl was saying as she made her way back to the lodge from a session on Personal Transformation. “It’s been a dream forever … (and) it’s never seemed more critical.”

Harvey and Murphy were getting at it during their face-to-face in the tent, too: Murphy went off on a tangent about the art of Norman Rockwell, about how beautiful it was and how deeply it was appreciated, but also how it only captured “things that people know.” On the other hand, he said, “We like to open our hearts and minds to the unknown, (to) find the courage to acknowledge that you are not in control.”

[Source: VOBM]

Seeking the North Star is a military concept, that has become part of New Age management culture mumbo-jumbo. And while I see a lot of value in Campbell’s studies of common cultural archetypes, I observe that one result of contemplating “The Hero’s Journey” is to make you think that YOU are a hero yourself, just for thinking about it. We’re all heroes, we’re all on this mythological journey, and along the way we face the challenges and learn the skills necessary for a happy ending. Although this might generate warm fuzzy feelings, it does nothing to build the intestinal fortitude required to instinctively act with real heroism when the proverbial excrement hits the air conditioning.

So 50 BMOrg insiders get together to discuss our future. Then what happens? Burning Man is a do-ocracy, right? Not just a gabfest? So what gets DONE?

Well, luckily for all of us, BMOrg have announced a new team to preserve the volunteer spirit of our culture. Naturally, the team will be all made of volunteers. What will they DO? Well, Harley will attend the first four meetings. Problem solved! Burning Man saved. Of course, if volunteer culture falls apart at Burning Man, we’ll now know who to blame…(well, if they name the hand-picked members of the new team, we will). They’re also still looking for someone to raise money for the non-profit from donors, a position that seems to have been open for a while now.

This, then, is the last hope for our floundering culture. Not that our voices will be heard, or that anyone will require the Org to live by its own Principles. Not that the vast amounts of money flowing in to the sold-out and mainstream-marketed event will be redistributed in some small way to the Regional network and the artists. Not even that BMOrg will just deliver some of the things they already promised us (like transparency, or a fair contract for the artists).

Just this: that by this NPD-fuelled insider navel-gazing, deep questions and discussions about the soul and future of the event going down in hot tubs and during nature hikes, that these groups will make all the correct decisions to keep Burning Man for the Burners for the next century – and out of the hands of spectators who care nothing for our culture.

Hey, it’s working great so far, right? As BMOrg like to say “we’ve been doing it for 30 years and people have always said we’re doing it wrong. We’re still here, therefore we can’t be doing it wrong”…or something to that effect. Any problems in the culture are due to “social media trolls” or a lack of funding (please donate now).


In keeping with this year’s theme of “re-writing history in favor of the Banksters”, John Curley (who confesses to never having received a professional massage before) attempts a white-wash of the darker side of the secret base at the edge of Hearst’s kingdom (and, like so many other location settings in counter-culture history, next to a major military base).

A lot of people didn’t like, or were threatened by, what was happening, or what they thought was happening, at Esalen. Dick Nixon targeted the place for dirty tricks, like the time his henchmen tried to convince the press that Charles Manson had hatched his murderous plans for Sharon Tate while on retreat there. (For the record, Manson never stayed at Esalen.)

[Source: VOBM]

Shadow history has Manson going to Esalen to receive a briefing just 3 days before the Tate/La Blanca “Helter Skelter” murders in the Terry Melcher/Doris Day house. The “Summer of Love” and the hippie age ended abruptly, just as the Church of Satan was building momentum at the edge of the Presidio (staffed by military intelligence). The “Manson Murders” in LA happened around the same time as the infamous “Altamont” concert in SF, where Meredith Hunter was stabbed to death by the Hell’s Angels in the crowd while the Rolling Stones played Sympathy for the Devil on Their Satanic Majesties Present tour. Esalen janitor Hunter S Thompson got his big break writing about the Hell’s Angels and then infiltrating them for 2 years. George Lucas happened to be at Altamont next to the incident with a ready-to-roll movie camera, after which he got his big break to make THX 1138 – a Brave New World for the 21st century which, like it progenitor, has turned out to be presciently true; and the Star Wars series – which was heavily based on both Joseph Campbell’s “The Hero’s Journey” Esalen courseware, and actual military intelligence occult research into psy-power going on at Esalen, SRI, and the Presidio including PROJECT JEDI.

Manson even played a concert there on his last visit – he was a frequent attendee. “Oh but he never STAYED” – weasel words. Interesting that they still feel a need to distance themselves from the consequences of their mass brainwashing, and even more interesting that they partner up with Burning Man and its Propaganda Department as a channel to do that.

Esalen was started in the Sixties by Aldous Huxley and two Stanford guys with military and elite ties. Huxley died there, when his wife Laura injected him with a lethal fatal dose of LSD on November 22, 1963 – the day of the Kennedy Assassination, and also the day Narnia author C.S. Lewis died.

It has been the center of the “Human Potential Movement”, which from very early on was infiltrated by Army Intelligence (specifically Lt Col James Channon and Task Force Delta, under General Albert Stubblebine who was head of INSCOM – see The Men Who Stare At Goats for more of this story).

The “Aquarian Conspiracy” (they actually called it that!) written by Margaret Ferguson described 15 million agents of the New Age, taking positions throughout business and government as the Baby Boomers grew up, and helping to usher in a Progressive New World Order. She worked for Willis Harman. For those interested in delving down this rabbit hole further, check out The Tavistock Roots of the Aqurian Conspiracy, The Beatles and the Aquarian Conspiracy and this and this.

As we outlined in an earlier post on Constance Cumbey’s The Hidden Dangers of the Rainbow, there are some incredible parallels between the ideologies espoused by the New Age movement, and those of the Nazis. This is unsurprising if you understand the history of eugenics and propaganda, which were massively funded by tax-free foundations like Rockefeller and Carnegie at Stanford and later in Germany. They wanted to control large numbers of people mentally, electronically, chemically, and genetically.

This book is out of print, but luckily the PDF is readily available. An earlier version with 100 extra pages is much rarer.

This book is out of print, but luckily the PDF is readily available. An earlier version with 100 extra pages is much rarer.

The Human Potential Movement and the Aquarian Conspiracy were designed at SRI (Stanford Research Institute), a major Defense contractor, by its director Willis Harman (who also founded IONS, the Institute of Noetic Sciences, based in Petaluma and featuring in Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code series). They conducted a multi-year, multi-disciplinary study called “The Changing Images of Man”, funded by the Charles Kettering Foundation (Kettering developed the first missile). The research combined anthropology, computer simulations, business strategy – and maybe even channelling of interdimensional entities – to envisage a number of future scenarios. They then worked back to determine what the ideal “Man” would be to adapt to the coming new worlds. Once their desired outcome was defined, they engaged the tools at their disposal to reshape the world in their image. Burning Man is one of those tools.

Esalen and the Aquarian Conspiracy were employed to transform the self-image of Man from “Frontier Man” or “Pioneer Man” (the original American dream), to “War Hero Man” (the Democratic personality archetype engineered during World War II), to “Self Help Man” (the Nietzchean uber-mensch product of the Human Potential Movement that went from fringe thinking to mainstream over the 70s and 80s), then to “cyber punk hackers” in the 90s (used to launch the Web, the same way that hippies were used to launch the PC)…and then again to today’s “Burner/hipster” synthetic psychological archetype that is being used to bring in the Sharing Economy. A new prototype is no doubt being shaped now for the imminent Virtual Reality/Robots/Gene hacker world.

MKULTRA’s “Johnny Appleseed” of LSD Al “Captain Trips” Hubbard was a special agent advising Willis Harman at SRI.

willis harmon al hubbard letter

Shadow history researcher Jim Keith fell off a stage at Burning Man, injured his leg, then mysteriously died of a blood clot while being treated at the hospital in Reno. His book Mind Control, World Control discusses the spread of LSD and the role of OSS/CIA agent Al Hubbard:

One associate of Hubbard’s was New World Order theorist Willis Harman at the Stanford Research Institute. SRI had earlier recieved grants from the US Army to research chemical incapacitants. When visited by a representative of the underground press [Michael Rossman of the Berkeley Free Speech Movement] at SRI, Harman told the man, “There’s a war going on between your side and mine. And my side is not going to lose.”

Willis Harman hired Al Hubbard in 1968 as a “Special Investigative Agent.” From Todd Brendan Fahey’s The Original Captain Trips:

Hubbard was specifically assigned to the Alternative Futures Project, which performed future-oriented strategic planning for corporations and government agencies. Harman and Hubbard shared a goal “to provide the [LSD] experience to political and intellectual leaders around the world.” Harman acknowledges that “Al’s job was to run the special sessions for us.”


You can learn more about the links between SRI, Esalen, and the counter-culture at Red Ice: Scientists on Acid, and also in Jan Irvin’s article about Darwin, Huxley, Esalen and the Psychedelic Revolution.

How could Burning Man be used as a tool of Esalen and SRI to reshape personalities as Silicon Valley’s counter-culture designers require? We’ll let Navy robot guy Danger Ranger explain this:

It’s all about building consensus reality – while at the same time, detaching people from their previous psychological patterns, breaking their personality apart and getting them into a state of hyper-suggestibility, then surrounding them with the desired ideology. Groupthink is heavily used in this environment to reinforce the new patterning.

The epicenter of Groupthink on the West Coast is the Esalen Institute, and their greatest tool to spread it is Burning Man.

We’re saving the world! From the hot tub!

I’ll let another military intelligence guy and Esalen aficianado have the last word: