Shaft, Unicorns, and Morning Gloryville

Shaft the Unicorn. Image: Vice

Shaft the Unicorn. Image: Vice

We keep hearing from BMOrg’s spokespeople how the dusty desert rave is making the world a better place and transforming lives around the planet. It’s good to see some evidence of this happening. First we had Jared Leto bringing Burning Man to SOHO:

Image: New York Magazine

Image: New York Magazine

Now VICE brings us a documentary about Shaft, who was inspired by going to Burning Man events to self-identify as a unicorn.

When a charismatic former alcoholic named Shaft had his life changed by Burning Man, he realized that he actually identifies as a unicorn. No longer able to face the monotony of work and life in the real world, he decided to form a polyamorous and hedonistic movement with other like-minded unicorns.

Donning glittery horns and galloping through London’s streets, Shaft’s unicorns set about trying to create a free-love utopia.

But as the unicorn revolution begins to clash with the realities of life and love, some of the “glampede” became disillusioned, and Shaft’s reasons for starting this whole thing came into question.

Is this the hedonistic, free love revolution we were promised in the 60s? Or is it as fake as the unicorn horns they wear, a desperate and clever ploy by Shaft to escape his own inner loneliness by starting a cult?

It’s one of the funniest things I’ve seen in a while.

The girl’s art around 7:30 is priceless.

Shaft says “it’s the Burning world that I got all my ideas in life from”. He means his ideas about polyamory, partying, and magical transpecies identification. He also says “I’m a massive drug addict”, with Ketamine bed parties being his particular preferred indulgence.

So here’s one way to measure the impact of Burner culture on the world. Count unicorn horns, wherever you go.

Meanwhile, Laser Unicorns brings us this surprise hit:

Founded On Fire Magick

Fest300 has just published a lengthy interview with Burning Man Founder Crimson Rose. Are they the new Voices of Burning Man?

The article is very interesting and I encourage you to read it in its entirety at Fest300. I want to highlight in particular the occult and marketing aspects of this. The emphasis is ours:

Every year, hundreds of accomplished fire performers throughout the world wipe sweat from their brows, cross their fingers and submit an audition reel for the experience of a lifetime. If accepted, these “conclaves” are granted exclusive access to the Holy of Holies at the godfather of transformational festivals: the Great Circle at Burning Man . They’ll be among the select few taking part in a ritualized fire dance as a gift to all the fest’s participants, and as tribute to the epic burning of “the Man.”

Out of all the myriad forms of artistic expression found at festivals today, many are grandiose achievements by incredible men. But the hearty warmth, nurturing, and acceptance that pervade these places are divinely feminine. Perhaps the archetype who best captures this quality is Crimson Rose , the fire performance community’s celebrated heroine and a founding board member at Burning Man.

Often hailed as “the godmother of fire arts” (she was the first-ever fire dancer on the playa), Crimson reviews conclave auditions with a panel of legends to select the crème de la crème for the ceremony. Year after year, fire performers strive just to be a part of her continued legacy by pouring their souls into their Burning Man performances so the tradition is passed with grace on to the next generation.

To learn more about this sacred art, we caught up with Crimson Rose, who graciously took some time with us to talk about the origins of fire performance, the history of fire dance at Burning Man and the future of man’s first invention in the festival community.

Before joining the Burning Man community in her current role, Crimson was a fine art model and dancer for 27 years. In the 80s, a good friend passed along the art of fire dancing. Coming from a background in theater and dance she took to it quickly and fostered an intimate relationship with flames.

And when they say “intimate relationship” in this puff piece glowing tribute, they’re not kidding:

“…to me, that was really the journey of magic that I discovered not only within myself, but in fire dance itself.”

In those days, everybody danced but nobody danced with fire. What Burners now enjoy out on the esplanade is an evolution of many ancient dancing-based traditions – which only became more tribal once flames were introduced. “I don’t do poi and I don’t do staff,” she said. “My dancing is really handling torches and a bowl of fire, dipping them into the fire and laying that on my body.

Sometimes called fleshing, this technique has been passed down through tribal civilizations for generations. It’s sensual and intimate, and sparks a very special rapport with fire, both for the viewer and the performer.

Righty-ho. Nothing too occult about that is there, worshipping fire so intimately that you want it laying on your body, “sensually”. Perfectly normal behavior, everyone does it, Marge Simpson‘ll be into next.

When we asked about her first-ever dance, she said, “I discovered things about myself because I felt like the fire was a sort of essence of all life. Although, it really is more a phenomena in some sense because there’s a magic to it…That magic, for a lot of fire performers, is the hottest part of the flame…“It was also as if the fire was sort of leading me on its own journey. Sort of provoking me to bring it to life.””

Burning Man Darren Keith Processional

In this photo by Darren Keith, note the Devil Horns on all the keepers of the sacred flame, who stride like giants above us in their Procession to The Man

Without question, this person believes that this is a magick ritual she is performing, in the much larger magick ritual of Burning Man. She was recruited into the Organization Project in 1990 – 7 years before Harry Potter came out – specifically to perform this magickal role.

The Man looked a little different back in 1986

The Man looked a little different back in the early days

We asked how she got involved with this desert social experiment in the first place. She thought for a bit, and took us back to a time before that first dance, to an email and a phone call with the man often accredited with launching Burning Man, Larry Harvey himself. “In 1990, I had a conversation with Larry Harvey and he talked about a thing they were doing. He had sent me a video of what they did the year before. It was really dark. It was a lot of fire and I couldn’t figure out what the hell they were doing.”

…she said to herself sarcastically. “I’m gonna be really cool because I don’t know what the hell these people are doing. They started pulling and a man raised up, and something clicked in me.” Crimson explained. “I didn’t know what it was. But I knew that I had to go to the desert.” Footage from the prior year continued to beckon her to visit. Seeing a man in the film breath the fire that ignited the effigy was enough to inspire the trip.

Igniting the effigy, from the magickal cauldron called El Diabla. Inside the pentagram and the 0.666% circle.

“I always felt like I was sort of a freak. You know, that I never fit in. Not with my family. Not with the school. And all of a sudden I felt like I was among my family in the desert.”

Yep, that’s the marketing pitch. Play to the social element, give the reason why all the freaks should buy tickets to this transformational festival. They don’t have to look beautiful and glamorous and cool like the people at other festivals. But maybe once they spend $400 and brainwash themselves at the self-service cult, they will walk away feeling Burnier-Than-Those People.

Back to the occult bits:

At the center of her magnetic attraction this new subculture was this effigy, over which Crimson grew protective. In one of her first encounters with it, “one of the very first things I did is I had these 16-foot-wide silk wings that I wore as I climbed the Man.” People were astonished to look up and see what looked like a fairy climbing to the top of the figure’s shoulder. “I felt like that at that point, I was the protector for the Man. If the man was going to be released we had to do it in the best way that we could, so that year I got a chance to actually help set him on fire.” For the first time, the magic of dance kicked off the legendary ceremony.

Dance, magic dance.

We must all worship the fire. Like Druids.

Despite an urge to push the envelope every year, rules now exist with a sort of informal reverence for the Great Circle. The fire is hallowed and respected

…Fire dancing at Burning Man spawned greater mysticism and creative energy, along with an appreciation for the accompanying rituals and traditions from which fire dancing came.

The flame that Burns the man is lit in a magickal cauldron named El Diabla. Image: Dust to Ashes/Flickr

The flame that Burns the man is lit in a magickal cauldron named El Diabla. Image: Dust to Ashes/Flickr

Image: Blip.TV documentary on Helco

Image: Blip.TV documentary on Helco

“Spawning greater mysticism” is presented here as a positive. Is this black magick, or white magick? It happens at night in a pentagram with people wearing devil horns and a fire lit from a cauldron named El Diabla; the corporation they started around it chose to launch with Helco parties where they got a lawyer to draw up contracts for people to sell their souls to the Devil. It seems pretty obvious to me which side we’re talking about, but your mileage may vary.

The suggestion that Crimson Rose invented incorporating  fire dancing in sacred rituals at Burning Man in 1991 is ridiculous, as anyone who has been to a South Pacific island could tell you.  

Back to the sales pitch:

One of the great joys of Burning Man is that it provides a space for us to go and learn about one another and ourselves through such rituals. Those who travel to the playa often report feeling more distant from what is familiar. Many, like Crimson Rose, find deeper connection. This will be her 24th Burn on the playa, and she told me, “Every time I go I feel I’m coming back to a place I’ve always been. You know, it sort of reminds me of home.” [Source: Fest300]


Image: Geek Times

Even in the sales pitch there are quite strong occult and psychological elements.

I’m not sure how things could be made more clear to you, people. This is one of the Founders of Burning Man laying out for you specifically what goes on, what she was recruited into the organization to add to their Project.

An occult black magick ritual ceremony of fire dance. It’s more than just a rave in the desert…


We have published quite a few articles on the spiritual and occult side of Burning Man in the past. We have a lot of new readers now who probably have never seen some of our earlier work, I would encourage you to check these out: and think for yourself.


 The Magickal Symbols Are Displayed, The Occult Ritual Can Commence

Brainwashing: the New Billionaire Obsession

Creating God in the Digital Age

Satanists With Guns


Magic On A Grand Scale


Seeking Divine Truth at Burning Man

Finding Jesus at Burning Man – a Christian perspective

“Theater in a Crowded Fire” – Spirituality, Burning Man, and the Apocalypse – Neo-Paganism

Hidden Dangers of the Rainbow – Paganism, Wicca, Druids, Lucifer

Ghost Trancing on Sacred Lands – Native American

Burner Principles vs the 10 Native American Commandments – Native American

Burner Fundamentalism – Burning Man’s own religion

Looking for the Next Evolutionary Step – Buddhism and consciousness



The Secret of Getting A Burning Man Ticket

2014 happiness by the Universe alvin gaela

Happiness by the Universe

Alvin Gaela was one of about 3000 people who showed up on the Facebook Group asking if anyone had a spare ticket, despite their express rule forbidding that. This was no problem for Alvin:

I’m just wondering if I can get some advice. I tried at every sale and had no luck so now I’ve flown in from Australia because I’m determined to finally make it this year. I’ve been treating this ticket hunt thing like a full-time job for the past week and I was wondering what my options would be, going forward.

I don’t have some sad story to shill. I’m just some dude who met a group of traveling burners 2 years ago and they changed how I looked at life. I owe part of my current state of happiness to them and I promised them that I’d see them there some day. They’ve planned their camp for me to be there and have frantically been searching for a ticket for me but now they’ve left to set up.

So I’ve decided that it isn’t a question of if I’m going, but when. Assuming I don’t find a ticket in time, how likely is it that some will pop up after it starts? I want to go, but can’t afford a $1000 ticket to show up late. Or should I just head to reno, and just actively search for tickets there?

I’m so close and it would be a shame if this just wasn’t the year, so I’m not ready to accept that until it’s actually too late.

Either way, have a wicked burn and thanks for any input.

On August 23rd, when he posted this, Burning Man had been sold out all year, and was just about to open. There were thousands of disappointed Burners, who had been waiting patiently in the STEP queue. Thousands more were disappointed when the OMG lottery was over in a few minutes, despite thousands more tickets mysteriously being added. Stubhub had stopped selling tickets, perhaps because their system wouldn’t accept sales so close to the event’s start time. The last ones I saw go were $1700 each. They went, being replaced with $1900 pair. And then even they weren’t available.

Alvin’s post raised some skeptical eyebrows.

Me: “There’s a sold out event and I want to go. What can I do?”

a) don’t go.
b) buy a ticket (you might have to pay more because it is sold out).
c) sneak in.

“but I don’t like those options! Isn’t there a way someone can just gift me a ticket because I am a total random from an alien country? Maybe I will go and beg on the street with a cardboard sign, and someone who paid for a ticket will think it’s better to give it to me than sell it for $1000”

If you were dumb enough to get a flight from Australia to Burning Man without a ticket, just pay the $600 stupid tax and buy one.

AG: Yeah, that’s a terrible read of the situation. I’m willing to pay if I have to and I’m not out there begging for someone to gift me a ticket.  I came here to see my friends but I also know how happy it would make them to see them in their element.

Me: There are major sound camp DJs and people who have been working on art cars for months looking for tickets right now. They are willing to pay too. This group has seen underage girls ready and willing to do naked photo shoots. So what makes you so special? Do you have any tricks that you can perform? What gifts do you have ready for the Playa?

AG: You’re making it sound like I’m saying I’m entitled to one… Which isn’t the case at all. My friend’s ticket got lost in the mail and I was going to gift her mine if I found one.

If you really want to know, though: I was planning to teach attraction psychology. A lot of people have such wonderful things to offer the world, but it often gets overlooked by unconsciously doing the wrong things before they get the chance to share it.

Anyway, I’d much rather not let this turn into a back-and-forth because that wasn’t the point of this thread. I get what you’re saying, I disagree with how you’re reading the situation (in your defence, I haven’t typed out my life story for you) but if you don’t have any better suggestions, I’m gonna continue looking for a ticket.

DG: don’t engage this dude, you’re just going to encourage him. He didn’t even bother to read the group header that says

AG: I asked for advice in the first post for a worst case scenario. The leads were just a bonus.

Me: the Law of Attraction should manifest a ticket for you any minute now

BK: I’m not supposed to tell you this cos it’s a Secret™, but have you tried visualizing what it is that you desire?

AG: The law of attraction that you’re referring to actually has nothing to do with the attraction psychology that I mentioned earlier. You might wanna try and add some more snark in your snark next time. Thanks again for everyone that had something useful to say. See you when I get there.

Me: We’re all watching with bated breath to see how your mastery of attraction psychology works out for you in this ticket quest. Personally, I think you’d have better luck using The Secret.

I can see why Alvin might have thought I was just being snarky. In fact, I’m all for magick. It happens, and it especially happens at Burning Man. It’s like they create a giant magickal field. I have noticed, though, that many Burners are against this idea. “Science doesn’t allow for magick”, they cry…obviously unaware that the word “scientist” has only been around since 1834, while the concept of powers and realms beyond the five senses exists in every single culture of humanity across time. What is time, anyway? Are space and time the same? Can Burning Man alter one’s perception of spacetime? But I digress…back to the story at hand.

By August 26, things were looking bleak. Alvin’s determination didn’t waver, even in the face of snark and discouraging facts.

So my friend leaves tomorrow and I have to decide if I’m going/where she’s dropping me off. Am I best off camping out at Reno or Gerlach? I won’t have a car so I’ll be hitching everywhere once I get off. My other option is that my other friend will loan me her van IF (and only if) I can lock down a ticket.So it’s either I stay here and try to wait for someone to release a ticket and wait for me to drive there. Or risk it at one of the towns/cities close by. I can’t forgive myself if I didn’t try until at least Friday. What would you recommend that I do?

CptSmashy: If you try to loiter in Gerlach without any kind of transportation, you run a good chance of getting arrested when the sheriff’s department tells you to hit the road.

You could feel his determination starting to falter a little bit, as information trickled in from the naysayers.

I’ve been reading up and it was only last year that it started selling out completely. And this year, I know that there’s more of a demand…so it makes me wonder if tickets will really be dropping last-minute from people realizing they can’t make it/things pop up.

I know that my chances are worse this year…but I still want to try. I just want to make sure I’m being realistic that there’s even a decent chance that I’ll find one.

By this time, I was starting to root for the guy. He sure was determined.

Well, I’m pleased to say the magick worked. On September 5, Alvin reported back:

Well, guys…I waited at will call and eventually found a ticket. Here’s my album in case anyone’s interested:…

Thanks for all the encouragement & have a great life.

At least two of us were happy for him:

BK: Well done. Glad to hear you got in, even if flying all the way from oz without a ticket was a fucking stupid idea. Sometimes we gotta do the stupid-looking thing.

Me: It’s not stupid…if you’re a Master. Well done, proof the model works.


Hat’s off to Alvin, for demonstrating the power of The Secret. Or Attraction Psychology, whatever you want to call it. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Cultivate good karma and fierce determination, and never, never, never give up. Dreams can come true, and your actions and attitude and intentions can help them to.

As Calvin Coolidge said in my all-time favorite quote:

persistenace 2


I contacted Alvin and asked him if he’d share his story. I offered to publicly apologize for suggesting he pay the stupid tax, but he wouldn’t hear of it. Looking back on our dialog, I’m not so sure that I ever completely doubted him. I gave him some options, tried to give him some of the background on the current situation so he could make an informed decision, and told him we were all interested in the outcome. He chose to follow his heart over his head, and it worked out for him. Usually, such things do, and it helps to be clear about them. Set your heart on something, and the Universe will immediately present you with obstacles. With persistence and determination, you can get past any obstacle. Once the obstacle is passed, you get confronted with another obstacle. Sooner or later, the Universe runs out of obstacles to put in your way, and hey presto! Your dream comes true.


This book should be required reading in grade school

Thanks Alvin, great story, good effort, and I hope Burners can learn a lesson from your persistence,  attitude, gratitude, and most of all…humility. These are the type of once-were-Virgins we want to add to the population of our Veterans club.


By Alvin Gaela:

2014 alvin gaelaI’m a Canadian who met a group of about 6 American women (and their friends) while traveling through Thailand. I was an impressionable 21 year old who was on my first extended trip (with no plan). They didn’t know it, but through the conversations that I had with them, they changed the way that I looked at life. They talked about Burning Man quite a lot and it seemed like such a positive place…so I promised them that I’d make it some day.
Australians will get this

Australians will get this

2 years passed and after countless countries, I ended up living in Australia for a little bit. A bunch of things happened and after 7 months of living there, I decided it was time to move on again. It was about that time, so I messaged one of the girls that I became closest with. I told her that I finally want to try and make it this year, but it wouldn’t make sense to head to the other side of the world if I couldn’t work there. She lined it up and I bought a plane ticket there. Before even getting here, I tried for every single sale, but with no luck.

I finally touched down and treated ticket-hunting like a full-time job, but still with no luck. When the first group of people left to set up camp, one of them told me, “I wouldn’t hold my breath, but I know that if a ticket can be found, you’ll find it. Here’s the key to my van; take it if that’s what it takes to get you over there”. A couple of days passed and I still couldn’t find a ticket. I even came so close that this chick hit a deer and was selling her ticket down the street – unfortunately, I called a minute too late and she sold it to some guy that was willing to drive 8 hours to come pick it up.
 Finally, my last friend left for Burning man on the Wednesday and I decided to risk it. I had to get in and I wasn’t giving up until the man actually burned. Ironically, it was one of these women that taught me to stop worrying about things; the old me would never have gone into the desert with no ticket and willing to wait for the small chance that I’d find one. 
2014 alvin gaela maskWe got there and I asked around for a couple of hours. Eventually, I told my friend to go in without meI gave her all of my stuff and told her that I wouldn’t need it because I wasn’t staying outside of this gate. Eventually, I sat down beside the line at will call because I’d been on my feet all day and I needed a break. A guy got out of his car and offered to sell a ticket at face value! I was even luckier because another person that I met earlier on that day stepped down to let me have the ticket.
I hitched a ride into the city with these 2 women and the rest was history.
I could never ask the universe for a ticket as I feel like that would be asking for too much. But I did ask it to help me be patient until I found one.
Anyway, I’m happy that I got in. It was everything that I expected it to be, and more. I met some great people and got to see the old friends who changed my life while they were in their own element…so I’m grateful. They were catalysts for me becoming the traveling hippie that I am today (not in the freeloading sense, but just in how I see things)…so a big shout out goes to PermaGrin camp at 5:15 and Cinnamon
2014 canadian acculturation alivn gaela2014 barbie death camp alvin gaela2014 hippie hunger games alvin gaela
2014 camel alvin gaela