Making Sense of the Non-Census [Update]

There’s something strange in our neighborhood. The Black Rock City Census has morphed beyond a mildly useful planning tool, into a full-scale weapon of social engineering.

The big question is, WHY?

This week I went on the UnSpun show to discuss some of the High Weirdness of this year’s Census.

The Census dates back to the land of Babylon, home of the tower of Babel. The first one we know about was conducted by Nimrod.

The census is older than the Chinese, Egyptian, Greek and Roman civilisations, dating back to the Babylonians in 4000 BC who used a census as an essential guide to how much food they needed to find for each member of the population. Evidence suggests that they noted census records on clay tiles – an example is held by the British Museum….

The Romans conducted censuses every five years, calling upon every man and his family to return to his place of birth to be counted in order to keep track of the population. Historians believe that it was started by the Roman king Servius Tullius in the 6th century BC, when the number of arms-bearing citizens was counted at 80,000. The census played a crucial role in the administration of the peoples of an expanding Roman Empire, and was used to determine taxes. It provided a register of citizens and their property from which their duties and privileges could be listed.

[Source]

The Daily Telegraph tells us what the point of all this was:

IN Babylon in about 3800BC a team of men headed out to tally up the numbers of men, women, children, livestock, slaves, butter, milk, honey and vegetables in the kingdom. The primary reason was to figure out how much food was needed to feed the population, but the figures also gave an idea of how many men were available for military service and how much they could be taxed without starving them.

[Source]

Maximization of taxation. Well, the Burning Man Census has always asked “how much money do you make” – and ticket prices have gone up accordingly. The decision to split ticket prices into “pay more if you can afford it” and “Early Bird discount” tiers was made after the first Black Rock City Census, in 2001. The prices have been steadily climbing ever since.

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As Burning Man grew, so did the questions in the Census (here’s the 2015 results, 32 pages). At first, it was the usual stuff – where do you live, how much do you make. Later questions seemed strange given Burning Man’s principle of Radical Inclusion: are you religious, are you LGBT – what difference does that make? Surely if you can be accepted without prejudice anywhere, it’s Burning Man. Why bother asking? It’s 2016, we’re well into the 21st century, do people even care about this stuff any more?

Well, people at BMorg certainly seem to. Things have been taken to a new level this year, and it is obvious that the so-called “Census” is not being used to gather information to make the party better for Burners.

This year’s Census takes 30-45 minutes to complete. It is mostly multi-choice answers, but with “conditional” choices – if you choose some options, then hidden questions are revealed to you. For example, if you say you live in Canada, a box pops up asking for your Zip Code. If you say you are eligible to vote in the US, you get a string of questions about which elections you voted in and what your party is.

Straight away, this makes the data in this sample completely different from any paper Census done on-Playa. Why not just ask all Burners the same simple questions? Surely that would give more useful information?

The main Census is being conducted by Dr Dominic Beaulieu-Prévost, Playa name “Hunter”. He is a Professor of Sexology at the University of Quebec in Montreal (UQAM) – about as far from Black Rock City as you can get and still be on the North American continent. One section has additional questions from the “Burning Geeks”. When you get to the end, it asks you if you would like to help the Burning Geeks out further. If you say YES, you are taken to another survey, this one conducted by Oxford University, Maid Marian’s alma mater.

Scientists on the other side of the world are also studying Burners. For what purpose?

The questions themselves give an indication that this is not at all about a Live Entertainment event, a week long arts festival, or even an experimental city. This is about Social Engineering and psychological profiling.

The surveys claim to be anonymous, but you should be aware that they at least have your IP address. If you have ever posted anything at EPlaya or the BJ, created a Burner Profile, or sent an email to the Org (perhaps to sign up for Jack Rabbit Speaks) this information could be used to identify you. They may also be able to get your email address, computer name or phone number from browser cookies. The Oxford survey specifically asks for your email address at the end, and although it says “the information you provide is completely confidential” there is no actual definition of what that means, or who the information gets shared with. It appears to be people from multiple Universities around the world who have signed their confidentiality agreement.

I’m not going to go through all the questions of both Censuses, a 90-minute odyssey. I will just highlight a few questions that we will specifically talk about here, for non-profit educational purposes.

Take the Census here – you can see all the questions without submitting it.

[Update 10/2/16 6:21pm] In the interests of readibility, I have moved the question analysis to the end of the post]


 

What is Being Collected?

The way these questions are worded and the use of terms either entirely made up, or used by a mere fraction of society, seems designed to skew the Census results. Those who can be bothered going all the way through to the end, writing at length about what The Principles mean to them, become the new demographic face of Burning Man.

If they are not gathering useful information that accurately represents the population, then what, exactly, are They gathering? And for whom?

We should assume that the data includes an IP address. Even if the Quebec and Oxford surveys are not specifically linked with a cookie or token, this information is enough to connect the two submissions. From the IP address they can find out where you are, sometimes with frightening accuracy. Anyone who gets this data – which surely must include BMorg – knows this:

  • your email address
  • camp address
  • the initials of 20 of your friends
  • how close you are to those friends
  • your annual income
  • how many people in your household, and their income
  • your race, and how you feel about it
  • your religion
  • your sexuality – a great deal about it, unless like 97.7% of the US population you are heterosexual
  • if you swing
  • how many countries you have been to
  • what languages you speak
  • how you make moral judgements
  • how you make decisions
  • what effects you emotionally

Although I am not an expert on statistics, I have read a book or two about history. I feel confident saying that there has never been any Census in the last 6000+ years that has gathered such information on its citizens.

How does Black Rock City get better if I am a Two-Spirit Genderqueer who hides my feelings when I’m hostile? Shouldn’t Radical Inclusion mean these things are irrelevant to someone’s participation? This so-called Census makes it seem that these, and having a “transformational experience” that alters your personality, are in fact very important at Burning Man. If they’re not important to you, don’t go.

Who Gets This Information?

I think it would be safe to assume that in addition to the two main Universities, the Burning Man Project gets the data from these two quizzes. In fact, the fine print to the official (Quebec) Census says the Burning Man Project uses this data in planning the event and interacting with authorities from the Federal government and the State of Nevada. The data is individually numbered and coded, shared with “research assistants and collaborators” who have signed a confidentiality agreement, and kept indefinitely.

One section of the survey is by the “Burning Nerds”. This group of academics who study Burning Man was formed in 2010 at Ashram Galactica, the camp of Burning Man Project board member Mercedes Martinez and her husband, former Project director Chris Weitz (whose dad was in the OSS, precursor to the CIA). They’re still operating out of Ashram Galactica, this year’s events were:

  • Sex on the Playa!  (Tuesday, Aug. 30, 1:30 – 2:30 p.m.) – The psychology and data sets of sex, sexual communities, and sexual risk at Burning Man.
  • Transformative Experiences! (Wednesday, August 31st, 1:00. – 2:00 p.m.) – The Psychology and Philosophy of transformative experiences at Burning Man.
  • Diversity on the Playa! (Thursday, September 1st, 2:00 – 3:00 p.m.) – Hear the latest in quantitative data and qualitative analysis from the Census team about diversity in Black Rock City.
  • Data Release Party! (Friday, September 2, 2:30 -3:30 p.m.)  – Be the first to hear about the results of BRC Census’ 2016 Random Sampling, and ask questions.

[Source]

Despite the workshop commentary, there were no questions about sexual risk in the 2016 Census.

So does anyone in the Burning Nerds get to see the raw data? Or are there only a certain few? Who decides? What about the Org? Can the IT people access the databases? Larry Harvey? Bear Kittay? What about students at the California Institute for Integral Studies doing the 3-unit course “Art and Survival: Radical Creation at Burning Man” – are they part of the Burning Nerds?

Earlier this year the Burning Nerds gave their first report about The Transformation Project:

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Note the distortion in the presentation of this data: “I did not have a transformational experience” is not even shown on this chart.

The BJ post accompanying this chart revealed the identity of just some of the players behind this:

Molly Crockett is an Associate Professor of Experimental Psychology at the University of Oxford studying the psychology and neurobiology of altruism and morality. Find out more at her lab website.

S. Megan Heller (playa name: Countess) is a psychological anthropologist studying adult play and transformation at Burning Man, and particularly the role of play in healthy adult development and mental well being. She is a researcher working at the UCLA Center for Health Services and Society. Find out more at her website.

Kateri McRae (playa name: Variance) is an affective scientist who is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Denver. She studies emotion regulation and other emotion cognition interactions using self-report, psychophysiology and functional neuroimaging. Find out more at her lab website.

Daniel Yudkin is a doctoral candidate in Social Psychology at New York University and a jazz musician. He is fascinated by all topics related to human behavior, including how people compare themselves to others, explore new spaces, and make moral decisions. Find out more at his website.

Annayah Prosser is the Lab Manager for the Crockett Lab at the University of Oxford, and a third year undergraduate student studying Psychology at the University of Bath.

Alek Chakroff is an experimental psychologist studying moral judgment and behavior using methods from social psychology, behavioral economics, and cognitive neuroscience. See more at his research website.

UCLA, Oxford, Bath, NYU, UNC Chapel Hill, Notre Dame and the Universities of Denver and Quebec might seem like quite a few groups around the world with a keen interest in Burners. Our 2012 story on the Burning Nerds adds Stanford, Johns Hopkins, Essex, Florida, Victoria, and Royal Roads to the list of Universities behind the Black Rock Census.

And this is just a fraction of the academic studies related to Burning Man:

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There’s more detail about academics on the official web site.

We have been going down this path for a while. In 2013, “Psypost” brought us a story about how the University of Denver studied 16,227 Burners over 4 years:

I think the most striking thing that this study demonstrates is that emotion regulation can change due to sociocultural context far more quickly than previously reported,” Kateri McRae of the University of Denver, the lead author, told PsyPost. “Most previous research focuses on culture as defined by long-standing shared values and norms (and compare groups like those living on mainland China to those living in the U.S.), and the fact that we see similar changes when people attend an event for a week is very cool.”

“To me, that indicates that how we regulate our emotions in accordance with social norms is a very dynamic process. Another way to think about it is that ‘culture’ might be something that is much more local and changeable than we previously thought…

So the paradox of Burning Man is that people are more open, less inhibited when expressing their emotions, but also more thoughtful in terms of reframing, reconsidering or reevaluating their emotions (which is what reappraisal entails).

Read the full paper from the Journal of Frontiers in Psychology.

Hello! Earth to Academics! THESE PEOPLE ARE ON DRUGS. If you do not disclose or even consider that then your study is completely worthless scientifically.

“All these young people took Molly at a rave. Then they reported feeling more positive, with a heightened sense of emotion. Therefore, that was caused by the rave”

picard-got-to-be-kidding

 

And speaking of Molly…meet Dr Molly Crockett, who received a grant from the Templeton Foundation to study Burning Man.

Would love to see what this gal looks like in her Playawear – if she’s even a Burner, that is. This is not just some Oxford undergraduate working on a quirky thesis, she has a whole lab named after her and a team of assistants.

Follow The Money

One of the maxims in shadow history research is “follow the money”. So who’s paying for all this? And how much?

The Templeton Foundation has awarded Dr. Molly Crockett a two-year grant to investigate the topic ‘Transformative Prosocial Experiences’.
The project is associated with The Experience Project (the-experience-project.org), a $4.8 million, three-year initiative at the University of Notre Dame and the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. The project explores the nature and philosophical implications of lived experiences that transform our epistemic perspectives.  Here is a decsription of the proposed research:

Can people become more generous, cooperative and kind through transformative experiences? If so, how can people pursue and achieve these experiences? This research will study in detail a natural setting commonly associated with prosocial transformation: the Burning Man festival. The project will combine qualitative and quantitative approaches to examine the psychological mechanisms of prosocial transformations, how individuals’ expectations for transformation influence prosocial outcomes, and how people decide whether to pursue prosocial transformation. Finally, the new research will investigate what situational features are sufficient for inducing transformative prosocial experiences. Past research on prosociality suggests three key factors that may contribute to prosocial transformation: a moneyless economy; prosocial goals; and a festive atmosphere. The research team will perform a comparative analysis of events that share some, but not all, features of Burning Man, to isolate those that contribute most to transformative prosocial experiences. In doing so, this work will provide practical advice for those who desire prosocial transformation.

[Source]

The beneficiary of this research is not the participants themselves, but “those who desire prosocial transformation”…in other words, Social Engineers – and the oligarchs who employ them. That’s who wants to spend $4.8 million to figure this stuff out. Dr Crockett’s earlier studies in “experimental” psychology at Cambridge were funded by a scholarship from Bill Gates.

anglo-american-establishmentProfessor Carroll Quigley, who taught politics to Rhodes Scholar Bill Clinton at Georgetown University, described how Oxford and Cambridge are used by British Intelligence for recruitment and propaganda in his book The Anglo-American Establishment.

In May this year, it was disclosed in the BJ that the 2015 Census was funded by the Templeton Foundation. The Institute for Study of Globalization and Covert Politics talks about Templeton’s ties to occult base Esalen in their article on Grass Roots Organizations, the New Left and the Liberal CIA. In his 1983 autobiography Timothy Leary said “the liberal CIA is the best mafia you can deal with”.

John Templeton Jr was the CEO of Franklin Templeton Investments, who camp with the CIA at Bohemian Grove’s most exclusive camp Mandalay, which even has its own cable car:

Mandalay    This camp is only accessible with a written permission. It is the most exclusive bunk site in the encampment and sits on a hill with a tiny cable car that carries visitors up to the compound. Many members of this camp have personal assistants with them.
Lot’s of government, Bank of America, Amoco, ChevronTexaco, Bechtel, Wackenhut, Du Pont, Rothschild Investment Trust Capital Partners plc., UBS Warburg LLC, Dillon Read & Co., German Steel Trust, Thyssen Krupp, the J.P. Morgan network, Merrill Lynch, Lehman Brothers, Export-Import bank, Wells Fargo, Seafirst Bank, Manhattan Institute, the CIA, General Electric, RAND Corporation, Firestone, American Telephone and Telegraph, Atlantic Richfield Company, Johnson & Johnson, Walt Disney Company, Weyerhaeuser, Union Pacific Corp., Gannett Corp., PG&E. Corp., MITRE, McKesson Corp., ConAgra Inc., HCA Healthcare Corp., Franklin Templeton Investments which includes Fiduciary Trust, ICF Kaiser Consulting Group, Kissinger Associates, Carlyle Group, TRW Inc., Space Technology Laboratories (STL), IBM, Ford Motor Company, News Corp, BskyB (Rothschild and Murdoch governed), Daily Telegraph plc., the Economist, Caltech, Stanford University (heavily funded by Bechtel), Order of the Bath, Order of the British Empire, Order of Malta, Ditchley, Bilderberg, Council on Foreign Relations, Business Roundtable, Business Council, Committee Economic Development, Council on International Economic Policy, Trilateral Commission, Atlantic Institute for International Affairs, Pilgrims Society, 1001 Club, Le Cercle. French socialist prime minister.

[Source]

That’s your New World Order right there, folks.

John Templeton, Jr was president of the Templeton Foundation, which was founded by he and his father in 2008. They also endowed Templeton College at Oxford. John Jr passed away in 2015; he had been working for the CIA since 1962, according to his autobiography:

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Census? Or Psych Profile?

A Census is an exercise in statistics. Historically, the sample has been the entire population.

These two questionnaires are more what I would describe as “psychological profiling”. The profile created as a result of either of these surveys is extremely detailed; put both together and They may know you better than you know yourself.

There are certain psychological profiles that could be obtained from answering this strange spectrum of questions that could be very useful to certain agencies. What type of agencies? That would be speculation, but I note that if there is any involvement or interest in this data beyond the University of Quebec and Oxford,  that is being kept secret.

Timothy Leary was hailed as a hero at Burning Man last year, with Queen of Burning Man Susan Sarandon promoting Ugg boots and taking sacrament and leading an occult procession to a temple burn.

Timothy Leary at the Human Be-In, Golden Gate Park SF 1967. Image: pophistorydig

Timothy Leary at the Human Be-In, Golden Gate Park SF 1967. Image: pophistorydig

Before he was a kaftan-wearing, Playboy-posing Presidential candidate, Leary was a student at the prestigious West Point military academy and a Sergeant in the Army – he won four medals in World War 2. After he finished his degree via correspondence school, he got a PhD in clinical psychology from UC Berkeley. While working as a research psychologist at the Kaiser Foundation in Oakland, he wrote “The Leary”, which got him a promotion to Harvard and gained him the attention of Aldous Huxley. Huxley and Dr Humphry Osmond recruited Leary to be one of the main promoters for the CIA’s MKULTRA project, though they feared this ex-military guy in a suit was too straight for the job.

There were 44 Universities and colleges involved in MKULTRA experiments, most of them unwittingly. So far there are at least 33 that we know of doing research on Burning Man – and at least a dozen of those Universities appear on both lists.

What was “The Leary”?

It was a psychological profiling test, used in the entrance exams for the CIA.

So Timothy Leary, who created a psychological profiling test for the CIA, is hailed as a hero at Burning Man – the same year that a research foundation created by a long-time CIA agent gives a multi-million dollar grant to do psychological profiling tests on Burners? Things that make you go hmmmm….

Better add one more to the Coincidence Meter!

 

Can you pass the Acid Test?

 

ticket 1998

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danger ranger tweet self service cult wash your own brain


[Update 10/12/16 7:50am]

A 1963 statement by the CIA’s Inspector General shows what the real point of Personality Testing was and how it fit into “operations”:

The [Clandestine Services] case officer is first and foremost, perhaps, a practitioner of the art of assessing and exploiting human personality and motivations for ulterior purposes. The ingredients of advanced skill in this art are highly individualistic in nature, including such qualities as perceptiveness and imagination. [The PAS] seeks to enhance the case officer’s skill by bringing the methods and disciplines of psychology to bear…. The prime objectives are control, exploitation, or neutralization. These objectives are innately anti-ethical rather than therapeutic in their intent.

THE SEARCH FOR THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE by John Marks

[Source]

The Personality Assessment System (PAS) was developed by CIA psychiatrist John Gittinger.


 

Queerstion Time

The whole thing begins with what may be a Freudian slip:

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Burning Many 2016? Is this what is in their minds – many Burning Mans around the world? Or are they thinking about Burning the many deplorables who don’t pass Radical Inclusion 2.0, like frat bros and EDM fans?

Then we get to the introduction, disclaimers, and fine print.

screenshot-2016-09-29-17-27-11 It starts off by asking you if you have already done a Census online this year. This opens the door to double counting, if participants did a Census on the Playa. Towards the end, they provide a list of other ways they collect data from Burners:

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It seems that they were out promoting the Census very hard this year, trying to get everyone except DPW and the Early Entry passes – that is, the actual Burners who create Black Rock City. Burning Man employees get paid to answer these questions, which seems like a conflict of interest.

Question 1 suggests that perhaps you can fill this out as many times as you want, thus skewing the results to your own particular demographic.screenshot-2016-09-29-17-28-07

Straight away, we are into some problems. “What is your current gender?” is a separate question from “What sex was assigned to you at birth”. They are separating “sex” and “gender” as concepts, and suggesting that gender is something you can change on a whim, like a hat. Who is this that is “assigning sex at birth” to people? Professional sexologists? It sounds very transhumanist, very Brave New World.

Then – “do you consider yourself to be any of the following – check all that apply”. First of all, I don’t even know what half these things mean. What is “Two-Spirit”? The “B” in LGBT wasn’t enough?

What possible use does this information have to the people rulers of Black Rock City?

The next part of the above is “check all the years you attended the Burning Man event”. I have been to 12 Burns, 11 at Black Rock City. Do Regionals no longer count as Burns now? Or are attendees at Regionals also going to be invited to fill out these surveys? What does Baker Beach have to do with the Black Rock City census?

I note that the choices specifically exclude the earlier Wicker Man events on Ocean Beach, the Baker Beach burns described by Brian Doherty (and now denied by Mary Grauberger), and the Sausalito “Bealzabub” burns since 1979.

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Later, they get to even more questions about sexuality. It’s not enough to know if you’re Two-Spirit or Genderqueer, they need to really get to the bottom of this.

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Heterosexual or straight? WTF is the difference? Who are pansexuals screwing, that isn’t covered in Bisexual? Animals? Disgusting, but there’s nothing else I can think of that this could mean.

If you say you have a partner, then they immediately want to know if you swing. “Yes, No, It’s Complicated” wasn’t enough to cover it; they wanted to add “Somewhat” as well. So 3 of the 4 possible responses are positive indicators – this is biased, not neutral.

Next, spirituality:

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Confusing again. What’s the difference between “Agnostic” and “I don’t know”? Or between “religious” and “deist?”

What relevance does religion have under Radical Inclusion? And who came up with the idea that Flying Spaghetti Monster is a more important religion than Muslim or Hindu – which between them have 2.6 billion followers? This seems like a subtle hint to people of those faiths that they are less than welcome.

9378_-_pastafariano_al_presidio_anticlericale_milano_2_june_2012_-_foto_di_giovanni_dallorto

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They ask survey participants (who don’t have to have been to Burning Man) how Burners get their Burning Man information.

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I would love to know the totals for this question. If it’s favorable to us, it’s highly unlikely it will be shared.

You will note that “web sites” beyond the official ones are not an option, even though there is more information about Burning Man here at burners.me than anybody’s Twitter account. We just get lumped together as “Social media, Facebook, Twitter NOT managed by Burning Man”.

This is ironic, given that after Burners.Me (235,055 Likes), the next largest Burner Facebook groups all seem to have been co-opted by BMorg. BurnTheMan (82,126 ) and The Official Unofficial Burning Man Group (10,442) were infiltrated at the admin level. Groups like Pink Hearted (1,618) and Burn After Reading Magazine (3,160) have been fully assimilated by the org, and even the formerly independent Dr Yes at Burn.Life (5,614) was seduced by BMorg to get naked at the Flysalen VIP this year. Meanwhile the second largest independent Burner page Dancetronauts (98,687) have lost about 20% of their Likes and slipped back to third after a co-ordinated hate campaign. They have now been eclipsed for the #2 spot by Robot Heart (107,749). Robot Heart’s Loic La Meur was all over the Burning Man Global Leadership Conference this year, and interviewed Larry Harvey on stage in Paris in 2013. These are just camp pages, though, not sources for Burning Man news.

Then we get some bizarre questions about the Ten Principles. Pick the three you use most frequently in your every day life, and the three you find hardest – and then describe why they’re so important. You can see that only really, really dedicated Burners are going to bother to complete the survey past this point. It seemed like online multi-choice, not an exam with essays. screenshot-2016-09-29-18-10-46 screenshot-2016-09-29-18-14-05

I thought these were the “Ten Principles of Burning Man”, not the “Ten Principles to Live Your Everyday Life By”. Burning Man’s web site admits that the Principles were set up in such a way that they often actively contradict each other.

Most Burners I know – and trust me, I know a lot – couldn’t even name all ten principles, let alone be trying to live their life by them. I mean what are we, monks? We have to live in the commercial world without doing anything to make money, and give as many gifts as we can? WHY? Because we burn a wooden sculpture once a year?

What’s happened to “Burning Man is the new American holiday?” If we have to return to the default world and live by the Principles of the cult, that sounds like real life, not a holiday.

wired 1996

Then we get a rather strange scenario. How would you give $100 away, if you were BMorg? This reminds me of Stewart Brand’s “Demise Party” that created the Homebrew Comptuer Club at SLAC – see Rolling Stone’s The Last Twelve Hours of the Whole Earth Catalog. I note that “fly staff around the world to attend decompressions, regionals, TED talks and other festivals” is not one of the options, even though more of each Burners’ $100 $400 goes to that than the other categories.

screenshot-2016-09-29-18-18-22 The next set of leading questions relate to minors at Burning Man. This is in Part 2, from the Mistress of Communications

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It would be quite easy to ask “are you concerned about pedophiles at Burning Man?” – a question that many would say “yes” to, whether they had children or not. Instead, the questions seem carefully structured to bring about a desired result – like Cass Sunstein’s choice architecture. Before you are even asked if it’s safe for children, you have to acknowledge that there are families there and that people bring their kids. You are not asked for a reasoned opinion about this, merely your feeling.

If you say it is unsafe, another question appears. The dangers are “Physical Dangers” and “Psychological Dangers” – not sexual dangers, and not dangers with the police. To me this seems dangerously accommodating of the philosophy expressed by Allen Ginsberg, Temporary Autonomous Zone creator Hakim Bey, and their fellow NAMBLA members that teenage children are asking for sex and it does them good to learn about it from adults. “There’s no physical harm! There’s no psychological harm, it’s love!” Whatever dude, it’s against the law and against all standards of human decency. Burners need to distance themselves and their event from this practice, emphatically.

The issue is framed here purely about the children, and not the adults. This despite the fact that there are at least 20 Burners for every child attending. Most Burners with children do not bring them; most Burners do not have children.

The main issues for 95% of Burners are being held hostage trying to leave for hours and fed false information about an Amber Alert that was actually just a naughty 17 year old, and cops running underage stings on camps handing out free booze. If Burning Man, an event where there is a vast amount of alcohol that is all free, was a 21+ event all these problems would instantly disappear. BMorg refuses to consider that, it is just so important to them for teens to attend their event – even though it takes place during the first week of high school, so for most teens to attend they have to be truant.

Nobody should have to show ID at Burning Man. That is even more of a Default World thing than money. The majority of Burners suffer for children to be at Burning Man, and so does our international reputation. It’s a matter of when, not if, something really bad happens – a man was caught trying to kidnap a 10 year old boy this year.

If ever there was any event in the world that should be adults-only, it’s Burning Man. And if anything proves that, it’s this survey. Young children do not need to be exposed to Two Spirit Gender Queer Pansexuals. Who cares if Larry had two kids there at his first one, that’s irrelevant in 2016. Today Burning Man is internationally renowned for free drugs, free drinks, free sex, and an orgy dome. That’s not my opinion: it’s on The Simpsons. Why would any parent expose children to this? Not to mention lung-damaging dust that possibly may be contaminated from decades of life as a Navy bombing range.

At one end of the spectrum is the nuclear family, Mom and Dad and the kids all living in one dwelling, the Judeo-Christian values that built the USA and most of the world. This survey does not seem to have been created with them in mind. At the other end of this spectrum are the Satanists, Aleister Crowley and do what thou wilt, his disciple Kinsey‘s sexual experiments on children being funded by the Rockefeller Foundation to destroy the building blocks of society. These are the Social Engineers, the Cultural Marixsts.

The next question about placement narrows down your profile. They ask you what street you were on, then once you answer another question pops up for the radial address. By this point they’ve also asked you if your camp was connected to the power grid or its own generator and if there was any renewable energy.

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Then they ask you if you were a “placed camp” or not. If you weren’t placed by BMorg, why did you camp where you did?

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Whatever the truth, I recommend not checking yes to “access to all night parties”…just in case this psychological profile is ever connected to your Burner profile. Never mind that Burning Man itself is an all night party, and much less happens there during the day, since it is summertime in the desert…

Then the Burning Nerds come back, for Part 3. They really want to know about your sex life too:

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Once again, these terms are undefined. What is the difference between a “swinger” and “polyamorous”? If you are happily in love in a monogamous relationship, you can’t indicate being a “Love Addict” without signalling that you could be a Sex Addict. Even the people I know who probably are sex addicts don’t go around describing themselves as such. Addiction is a psychological disorder. Love is not.

And, of course, what does any of this have to do with Burning Man? Is it a swingers’ party?

This next question is not surprising – though, again, undefined:

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But then it starts to get even more bizarre:

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Are the suggestogens working? Does attending Burning Man make you more gullible?

Are you ready for the hive mind?

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Seriously? What is this data going to be used for? “On average” – what does that even mean? Their Venn diagrams do not describe any of my relationships with other human beings. And why is it even necessary to state “human beings”? Are there other types of beings doing this Census?

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Hypothetical situations? In a Census?

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The Joker? Is this Burning Man, or Bat Man? “What character are you playing at Burning Man” – seriously? You will note that “being myself” is not an option. So much for one of the Ten Principles being “Radical Self-Expression”.

It’s not enough to say what your preferred character is. You then have to describe in detail the activities that you indulge in while pretending to be someone else:

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And then they ask:

Do you often feel drawn to playing one of these characters in your life (regardless of the struggle, cost, challenges, or unpleasantness involved in being that person)? Check the best answer.

Unpleasantness? Why would anyone at an entertainment festival choose to play an unpleasant character? If I tell a story in San Francisco, am I playing the character of a story-teller because my self-expression is somehow restricted?

Why didn’t your friends and family go to Burning Man?

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“Too many white people”? In what world is that not racism? “Too many men” is acceptable, but not “too many women”? Talk about sexist man-hating bigotry. And why isn’t there “not enough electronic music” as an option?

If you choose an option, it asks you how many of your friends and family think that way:     screenshot-2016-09-29-18-32-31 Then, when you’re done, the Burning Nerds want to hear from you – even if you’ve never been to Burning Man! What sort of Census includes people who are not there? These curious Burning Nerds are at Oxford University. screenshot-2016-09-29-18-33-24

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The screen fade is a little hypnotic. These academic “scientists” get away with things we never could in the corporate world. For example their statement “there are no risks associated with this study”. At the very least, there is a risk that the data could get hacked or leaked. There is also the risk that security settings on your computer reveal more information to the server than just the questions you’re answering.

They want some identifying information, although instead they lie to you that what you are providing is “completely” anonymous. In fact it is partially anonymous.

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It doesn’t take long for the Burning Nerds to start asking some very strange and highly personal questions:screenshot-2016-09-29-18-39-19

It goes on and on like this.

Both Oxford and Quebec seem to have an obsession with lowly-paid workers. It seems weird when just a ticket and vehicle pass to Burning Man is $500, let alone providing for yourself and gifts to others for 8 days. How do people earning less than $50k a year afford to go? Why study these people, when Burning Man 2.0 is being marketed with Billionaire’s Row? What difference does it make to Burning Man if someone earns $15,000 per year or $17,000?

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Oxford also asks the exact same questions about voting. Aside from this being a waste of everyone’s time, how is US voting relevant in any way to Canada and England?

They also have the same weird Venn diagram thing. It is interesting that the Burning Nerds don’t seem to be able to collaborate with each other.

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Now it gets really complicated. You need a degree from Oxford just to complete the frikking Census.

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Enter the initials of your friends, and how close you are to them? Hey, why don’t I just give you my Facebook login while we’re at it! Sorry Burners, but Oxford University is not telling you the truth. The initials of your closest friends is definitely not entirely anonymous information. Especially at Burning Man, where Burners have to create profiles. The more you write in the essay sections of these tests, the easier you become to identify.

unpleasent truths

It’s not just how close you are to them; it’s how much time you are prepared to spend doing favors for them.

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WTF does this have to do with Burning Man?

Are you good or bad? Could you do evil, if the ends justified the means? Oxford University wants to know.screenshot-2016-09-29-19-08-48

Oxford asks a lot about children too. There are questions about giving children money, candy, and teddy bears. Then there’s this:

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I’m sure the pedophiles think it’s very important for children to have independence, curiosity, self-reliance, and a desire to disobey and disrespect their elders. It’s hard to see how this relates to the stated mission of the Burning Man Project, or an Oxford University study on transformational festivals.

[Update 10/3/16 10:30pm] The Washington Post says these are the exact questions used to identify Trump voters by the London School of Economics and the University of Massachusetts (Amherst). I guess it’s not enough to know if Burners are Republican, and who they voted for in the previous 4 U.S. elections…Oxford and BMorg need to know if they’re deplorables too.

Oxford at least acknowledges that some of the people taking their survey may have been on drugs. But what happens in the comedown?

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Are you the type of person who hides their feelings? Maybe while playing Batman?

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If you manage to wade your way through all of that, you may be eligible for a generous prize!

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We just want your email for the raffle prize!”. We have an expression for such statements in Australia: “pig’s arse”. Which translates as a sarcastic “sure you do”.

The raffle itself is also bizarre; the benefit for giving your email address and time is ten raffle tickets to win a $50 Amazon gift card. You can keep them for yourself or gift them.

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A nice way to measure your “greed coefficient”.

What Is Right With Burning Man? Part 2: A Shaman’s Perspective

Part II of a guest post by Ayahuasca. Read Part 1 here. Happy New Year, Burners!


 

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

This mirror, designed by Ember, lights the flame in El Diabla that eventually burns The Man from the sun's rays

This lens, designed by Ember, lights the flame in El Diabla that eventually burns The Man from the sun’s rays

Burning Man begins with one of the founders using the power of the sun shining through a crystal to light the first flame that stays lit all week until the burning of the temple. If that doesn’t tell you there’s something special about Burning Man nothing will. Shamanism has been around for thousands of years and is deeply rooted and revered in many cultures. Most of the time the Shaman (man or woman) acts as the priest, doctor, therapist, lawyer, peacemaker, and more for communities. They are healers in the community and have learned to connect to spiritual worlds within themselves of which we all have access. I have heard it said before that a Shaman is a person who can teach you to view the world from a totally new perspective; a healer that can see to your true nature, that wants to heal you, that wants you to remove the masks you build up within yourself to cope with a dark and painful world.

I was born with a curiosity to know myself deeply. I have been referred to as an empath, indigo child, healer, shaman, wanderer, intuitive, and a few others. To put it simply I have always been drawn to self-reflection and understanding myself. I feel things extremely deeply; pain and suffering is difficult to witness for people like me. This natural journey has produced many so called ‘spiritual’ experiences. From experiencing satori ‘a moment of clarity’ or deep epiphanies, to witnessing a satori in another human, to becoming one with all things many times in deep meditation and feeling a deep connection with spirit, god, and the universe. To put it even simpler, I constantly look within for the answer. I look for trust and guidance from spirit and my inner knowing rather than what my mind or society thinks I should do. To be honest, it’s not easy. It can be a very lonely path to walk but being among my brothers and sisters at Burning Man knowing I am not the only one, creates deep healing within me as well. There are powerful healers all across the world and a high concentration of them at the Burn doing amazing work. When I walk through the gates and the first person says, “welcome home” I couldn’t be more grateful. This is home and this is where we are all going.

There was a time in our societies where the Shaman or Spiritual Worker was common. Every culture in history had them and they were an integral part of the society. Today, modern science has pushed aside generations of spiritual wisdom. Science and healthcare are extremely important and should be utilized, however we have completely forgotten the other side of the spectrum and have turned pharmaceuticals into a dangerous for profit entity rather than merging the two worlds together. Thankfully the knowledge is still here and holistic practitioners, energy workers, yogis and even Shamans are keeping the teachings alive. These people have mastered their minds and bodies through different disciplines such as yoga, meditation, earnest seeking, energy work, and more. Many of us are able to clear our minds and tune into the vortex deeply at any moment. As I allow the energy to pulse through me I can easily drop into powerful altered states instantly. The depth of this state happens infrequently in the default world and instantaneously on the playa. I’m absolutely using ‘the force’. To someone who has never practiced the art of looking within and clearing their mind, this may seem a little fantastic and I can assure you it is nothing special, although sometimes it is righteously special! I could go into stories about supernatural experiences but I don’t want you to think that is the purpose of the practice. The purpose of the practice is to connect with yourself, to trust yourself, to have a deep connection that no one can take away from you.

The most telling and profound proof of the vortex discussed in part one http://www.mattbelair.com/burningman1/ is the witnessing of transformations all over the playa. It is extremely common for people to have deep healings of past trauma, crying, a deeper connection to source or spirit, awakenings or satori, spiritual experiences and an evaluation of ones life. We begin to realize and understand the truth that we are all one and mask after mask, layer after layer falls away as we are open to experience and witness our true selves. Participants have the option to go to countless workshops on self-development, yoga, meditation, consciousness, and more. Not to mention the powerful healers who work tirelessly to give healings all day. These are the places I call home at Burning Man; Shaman Dome, Sacred Spaces, Red Lightning, Camp Contact, Honeysuckle Hood, Anahasana Village and many more. These places dedicate their time, love, energy, and healing all week and is a huge part of what makes Burning Man so special.

Understanding Burning Man Phenomena and Expressions

Have you ever considered that you create your reality? Have you ever considered you have the ability to create any reality you want? Have you ever considered that you are infinitely powerful? Any Burner you meet will talk about and fully embrace the concept of ‘Playa Magic’ but what is playa magic? The short version is:

Playa Magic = The Law of Attraction

You will find countless stories of Burners who will SWEAR that playa magic is real . .  . because it is! Whether it was the time that you were hungry and a hot dog vendor appeared out of nowhere or you needed some comfort and a cuddle puddle and kind soul offered a hug, or you were thinking, ‘man I need a ride and some great music’ and a few minutes later the perfect art car rolls by and you jump in! It is the human condition and limited perception that consistently brushes this off as coincidence. However, another powerful by-product of the BMV (burning man vortex) is that these lessons run deep, you cannot continue to look away from the majesty and intelligence of the universe and brush it off as coincidence. The playa provides! Since I am a Law of Attraction coach, taught by the great Michael J. Losier, and have studied countless metaphysical fields, the laws of the universe are easy to witness on the Playa. The reality is that participants are sending a request into the universe for what they need BUT because the playa vibrates at a much higher frequency your request comes at a faster rate. That coupled with the fact that your doubt (the thing that prevents your desires) is very low causes you to be much more open to receive. This is exactly how the law of attraction works in the default world except there is a longer delay and more faith is required. With the longer delay we have much more time to sabotage our desires with our doubts, unconscious and observed signals being sent out by our minds, bodies and hearts at every second. The law of attraction has one job and one job only and that is to match vibration. Most of us are good at asking but very few are good at receiving. For example how often are you present? How often do you sit in silence? How much mental energy is wasted on stress, going places, fear, anxiety? How much of your mental power is focused on presence, wonder, excitement, gratitude, joy, curiosity? This is a deep lesson with a simple answer; focus your thoughts, feelings, and actions toward that which feels good to YOU and so it shall BE. Obviously the universe is going to throw you curve balls – you were never in control in the first place.

Zen Lessons

If offered the chance would you jump at the opportunity to learn from one of greatest Zen masters of all time? The universe is the greatest teacher of all and we have been conditioned to ignore its constant communication with us. The incredibly powerful art is also a massive healer on the playa that most people miss. It is also another big piece of the healing energy. Participants are getting deep timeless Zen and spiritual teachings without even knowing it. One of the biggest lessons is on impermanence. In some Zen or Buddhism sects they will spend weeks creating elaborate and extraordinary art only to allow it be complete for 24 hours before racking their art and starting again. This is to demonstrate impermanence and offer a deep lesson in attachment.

I witnessed as some people broke down with the burning of the Lotus temple. The fact that it was a lotus alone has huge meaning. The lotus is a very sacred symbol in Zen teachings and is often referred to in order to teach about the layers of the mind and unfolding of the self to ones true nature. Not only did the artist build a breathtaking sculpture with deep spiritual roots, about 15,000 of us watched it burn to the ground. The amount of hours, love, and commitment to build such a structure must have been extraordinary, nonetheless all the time and effort gone in a matter of minutes. We all learned a deep lesson on impermanence. These lessons are burrowing deep into the participants subconscious without them being aware of it. Think of it this way, if a child is learning that an element is hot and slightly burns their hand by touching it they will probably learn that lesson. However if the element is on high and the child touches it and suffers severe burns they’ll learn the lesson even deeper and have even more respect for the power it produces. The same applies for spiritual teachings and the reason why in Zen they often refer to layers or levels of understanding. The spiritual symbol of the lotus, coupled with the magnitude and beauty of the piece of art allowed for a deep lesson in impermanence.

The flower of life is the most sacred symbol in the universe. It is the pattern in which all life is created and is another example of how the art and environment is affecting everyone at Burning Man. The flower of life is all over the world and has been around for centuries including being etched into the main pillar of the temple of Osiris in Egypt. Here is a brief summary from an ancient civilizations website;

flower-of-life-egupt1

“The temple was a subterranean complex dedicated to Osiris, the god of the Afterlife, symbolizing death and regeneration. The northern wall of the Seti Temple was decorated with scenes from the ‘Book of Gates’. The afterlife and resurrection. The once-underground chambers are the most ancient of all the ancient Egyptian ruins. The Flower of Life symbol is carved with laser-like accuracy on huge granite blocks in the temple walls and we are not able to replicate this today.”

 Usually it is drawn in two dimensions and this year Swiss engineers fabricated a brilliant and mathematically perfect reconstruction of a 3D version of the flower of life, or as most people referred to it as, “are you talking about the ball?” The flower of life is a mathematical masterpiece and the foundation of all Sacred Geometry. Not only was the ball amazing in 3D they were able to use a light show to create and express the infinite dimensions of the pattern with a light show, which broke down the flower of life into more and more dimensions vividly showing the power, magic, beauty and awe of the pattern. Most people missed the significance. Nevertheless, this timeless knowledge was affecting them.

Enlightenment Is Nothing Special

In a few moments time you’ll know what enlightenment is. After that you’ll be disappointed. There is an old Zen saying that goes, “Enlightenment is nothing special.” And another that says, “Before enlightenment chop wood carry water, after enlightenment chop wood carry water.” I can recall reading books on enlightenment and Zen teachings at the age of 16 and looking at it like static on a television. Why all these riddles? What the hell are you saying? I have experienced and understood enlightenment deeply through mediation and for prolonged periods in Ayahuasca ceremonies. It is something that is so painfully simple it hurts. Enlightenment is the simple realization that YOU are the creator. The world is not happening to YOU, YOU are happening to IT. Unsatisfied? I thought so but spend time chewing on that nugget and I promise you’ll grow, YOU ARE THE CREATOR! In order to wake up you must want to, you must earnestly seek. I had the honour and privilege to witness my first Satori ever on the playa with a beautiful soul. As we conversed about the meaning of life and the universe, all of a sudden I witnessed him have a deep moment of clarity, a powerful insight! We both began to laugh hysterically because we both knew what had happened. Over the coming days we spoke again and he confirmed he had woken up, things were different and it’s nothing special. With awakening you must still walk the human path, still confused, still searching except you have a deep knowing that no one can take away from you unless you let them. You are the creator. You are infinitely powerful. The world is not happening to you, you are happening to it. When you master your mind you can master your reality and state of being! Enlightenment is not a change into something better or more it is the realization of who you already ARE. Enlightenment is the process of letting go of everything that you think you are, that drives you mindlessly so you can act from your true nature and be FREE as you were intended.

“Do not follow the ideas of others, but learn to listen to the voice within yourself”

Zen Master Dogen

Re-entry: A Transition From Love to Fear

When you arrive at Burning Man they say welcome home. You quickly feel the love and acceptance from everyone. You witness genuine kindness, receive a thick book of workshops from spirituality, sexuality, art and everything in between. You are free to express who you truly ARE. After an experience of what I see as a 7 day Ayahuasca ceremony you must leave the Playa and re-enter the ‘default’ world. There is genuine concern from almost all participants because for most the default world is painful, dark, stressful, and makes no darn sense. A society where you’re taught to fear and protect yourself. You are literally stepping down in vibrational frequency from LOVE into FEAR, and it’s a real challenge.

Although I am blessed in the default world the transition is a strong challenge. I am able to raise my energy to astronomical heights on the playa on command and the feeling of joy, acceptance, love and my connection to spirit lessened because I do not have the BMV to tap into. Hence my communication and connection with source is greatly heightened and it’s a long way down back into the 3rd density. It is our job as humans, Burners, and people of this planet to carry and hold the light. To lead by example and as Ghandi said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” That no matter what happens externally you will choose to show LOVE. Life is not perfect and when you learn to master your perspective, mind, and emotions, your reality will transform. Change always starts from within. Learn to master your mind and body, become an alchemist, and find peace and harmony within. Do not depend on the external to bring you happiness, rather radiate peace and joy and harmony within and like a ball of ferocious light let it be seen; in a smile, in forgiveness, in compassion. Trust the creator/universe/spirit/nature to bring you what you need. Ask for awakening, learning, growth, kindness and compassion. This is what a soul needs; don’t be fooled by false gold. Find infinity within.

There is only one choice that you need to make now and from every moment forward. There is no trying. You are going to choose between the two most powerful frequencies in the universe, which are FEAR and LOVE. They are polar opposites and also the most powerful. Society does everything in its power to force fear down your throat. Pay attention to where you look because you will always find what you are looking for. If we as individuals can begin to choose love for ourselves and love for our fellow man we can shift this planet. Burning Man is an example of what is possible. This world will never be perfect, however if you can find harmony within yourself, you will find harmony in your environment and that love will radiate from you and affect others. Einstein believed this so it must be true! Keep it simple, follow your heart, connect with yourself deeply and try not be an a-hole 😉

If you enjoyed these articles please share on your Facebook and Twitter, spread some love :)

All my love!

-Ayahuasca

 

Entheogens and Etymology

BurningMan_Thorn

Set, and Setting

Over the weekend we brought you a story: “What’s In My Baggie?”, which mentioned cutting-edge designer drugs that were being handed out at the festival.

As well as “what’s in your baggie”, you should be aware of “who’s really dosing you”…and the power of rhetoric and suggestion to influence impressionable young minds.

Jan Irvin of Gnostic Media has published an article exposing how the origins of the psychedelic movement are different from what most of the people taking hallucinogenic drugs believe:

gnostic mediaEntheogens: What’s In A Name?

A lot of work has gone into this 58-page document, which is worth reading in its entirety. For those who don’t have time for that, let me try to extract the most relevant parts for Burners:

Today there are many names for drug substances that we commonly refer to as “hallucinogens,” “psychedelics,” “psychoactives,” or “entheogens,” et al. But it hasn’t always been that way. The study of the history and etymology of the words for these fascinating substances takes us, surprisingly, right into the heart of military intelligence, and what became the CIA’s infamous MKULTRA mind control program, and reveals how the names themselves were used in marketing these substances to the public, and especially to the youth and countercultures

…‘Set and setting’ is the key component to suggestibility with these substances, and through studying the etymology and history of these words we saw ‘neologisms’ – or new words, psychedelic and entheogen, that were used for marketing purposes and to “seed” the idea of the type of experience one should have while under their influence: If you told them it mimicked psychosis, it mimicked psychosis. If you told them it was mind manifesting, they had a mind‐expanding experience. And if you told them it was a religious experience, well, they just might have a religious experience.

…directly targeting youth to encourage their drug use and destructive behavior: “if you want to bring about mutations in a species, work with the young.”   

What is beginning to become apparent is that a destruction of the self is being sold as a method of so-called “spiritual progress” and “enlightenment” by people who are…social/public relations experts.

And contrary to common understanding, we saw the prohibition of drugs as a tool of drug use enticement and control for rebellious youth to consume these substances

…we saw the targeting of: “artists, writers, poets, jazz musicians, elegant courtesans,  painters, rich bohemians…That’s how everything of culture and beauty and philosophic freedom  has been passed on.”
So it appears that Huxley’s idea of beauty means the degradation of society.  You destroy one part (the masses) to elevate the other (the elite) – which does not seem able to elevate itself on its own. 

…how could creating hippies be a CIA tactic and how would such a tactic affect them?  
If we consider that by having people “navel gaze” and focus on psychedelics as mind expansion, as opposed to real solutions to problems like social stratification, dumbing us down, and the like, then it distracts them from focusing on these real problems as the source of all of society’s ills, and more importantly, taking action to change them

Read the entire paper here. A long read but worth it;  meticulously researched and cogently argued.

What a “set and setting” is provided, by this self-service cult in the desert, worshipping The Man.

can you pass the acid test“What we do literally is we take peoples’ sense of reality, and we break it apart. Burning Man is a transformation engine. It has hardware and it has software. You can adjust it and tweak it, and we’ve done that. We take people out to this vast, dry place – nowhere, very harsh conditions – and it strips away their luggage. The things that they had brought with them, the idea of who they thought they were. And it puts them in a community setting where they have to connect with each other. It puts them in this place where anything is possible. In doing so, it breaks the old reality, and it enables them to realize that you can create your own reality, you can do anything.”

Danger Ranger, Burning Man founder

“We’re a self-service cult. You wash your own brain”

Larry Harvey, Burning Man founder.

Even when The Man is burned to a cinder, he is re-born anew: an indestructible symbol of organizing our society.

We keep getting told “Burning Man is more than just a festival”. But exactly what it is, then, is never really defined. It’s up to each Burner to get out of it what they want. For many, Gifting is its own reward. An environment free from commercial transactions was a big drawcard, used to enlist an army of volunteer workers who’ve been used to create a highly lucrative brand. Lately, some seem to see TTITD as ripe for a greater level of commercial exploitation – and see those who’ve labored with love to make it what it is as standing in the way of what it could be. From the statements of the founders, changing people’s personalities and using Burning Man to change the world seem to be the major priority, more so than loyalty to their citizens or even profits for themselves.

For further consideration, I also highly recommend Jan’s excellent paper with Joe Atwill: Manufacturing the Deadhead: A Product of Social Engineering

BMOrg have said repeatedly that they consider themselves to be social engineers. Many Burners are Deadheads, and vice versa.

I give the CIA a total credit for sponsoring and initiating the entire consciousness‐movement counterculture events of the 1960s… the CIA funded and supported and encouraged hundreds of young psychologists to experiment with this drug. The fallout from that was that the young psychiatrists started taking it themselves discovering that it was an intelligence enhancing, intelligence raising experience.

~ Timothy Leary

 

image: APictureOfIt

image: APictureOfIt

Of course, the drug dose does not produce the transcendent experience. It merely acts as a chemical key — it opens the mind, frees the nervous system of its ordinary patterns and structures. The nature of the experience depends almost entirely on set and setting. Set denotes the preparation of the individual, including his personality structure and his mood at the time. Setting is physical — the weather, the room’s atmosphere; social — feelings of persons present towards one another; and cultural — prevailing views as to what is real. It is for this reason that manuals or guide‐books are necessary. Their purpose is to enable a person to understand the new realities of the expanded consciousness, to serve as road maps for new interior territories which modern science has made accessible.

—Timothy Leary, Ralph Metzner, Richard Alpert: The
Psychedelic Experience: A Manual Based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead

what the Russians have done is to stimulate the native peoples to undertake a native revival while they themselves admire the resulting dance festivals and other exhibitions of native culture, literature, poetry, music and so on…The system gets overweighed until some compensatory machinery is developed and then the revival of native arts, literature, etc., becomes a weapon for use against the  white man…

The findings of this experiment support very strongly the conclusion that it is very important to foster spectatorship among the superiors and exhibitionism among the inferiors

– Gregory Bateson

 

Some related stories from Burners.Me:

Brainwashing – the New Billionaire Obsession

Creating God in the Digital Age

Soma Showcases Burner Culture on the Embarcadero

Set

A Temple of Set

Seeking Divine Truth at Burning Man

“Even if you are in a minority of one, the Truth is still the Truth” – Ghandi

Welcome to another one of those long posts, that half my friends tell me I shouldn’t do because they can’t be fucked reading all the way to the end. Well skip it if you want, Ritalin kids! You might find the Happy Saturday video a bit more your speed. The rest of you, burn one down, kick back and contemplate my musings…

Many Burners tell me that to them, Burning Man is more than just a dance party. It’s not just a rave in the desert, where nudity is permissible and you have to bring your own drinks.

Robot Heart, photo by Peter Ruprecht

And I agree with them. See, I love to dance, I love electronic music, I’m pretty comfortable with nudity, and the more lasers and bass the better. It’s all part of radical self-expression and radical inclusion. It means, like it or not, you have to have ravers there at your party too…and since EDC eats Burning Man for breakfast, I’m hardly in a minority with this viewpoint. Hippies will love to read 5 Things an EDM Diva can learn from Burning Man, recently posted in OC Weekly. The ravers are coming there, all the way from Newport Beach, dude! And they’re learning our culture, and stuff. The hippies perhaps have a bit more time to slag me off on this blog than the (usually silent, rarely verbose) ravers. They’re too busy recovering from the weekend (or still on it).

You give me my right to enjoy my doof (even if there’s no psytrance) – and I will give you your right to enjoy the yoga, the sitar singalongs, the ultramarathons, the art, the free cuisine, the waterboarding at Camp Guantanamo, or whatever else it is about Burning Man that floats your boat. Just like San Francisco, there’s something in our city for everyone.

Do I see a deeper side of Burning Man? Hell, yes! Not only do I see those sides, but I explore them, in depth, in this blog. This is post #333#, which means we’ve been producing more than one post a day since we started in February this year. If you find an aspect of Burning Man that you feel Burners.Me *hasn’t* covered yet, please let us know, we’ll see if we can fill in the blanks. Naturally we default to writing about the parts of Burner culture that are most interesting to us.

One big aspect of Burning Man, for many participants, is spirituality.

Just look at us; everything is backwards; everything is upside down. Doctors destroy health, lawyers destroy justice, universities destroy knowledge, governments destroy freedom, the major media destroy information, and religions destroy spirituality” – Michael Ellner.

Some of our previous posts on this topic:

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

Exploring the Other (Part III – the Sacrifice of a Ritual) – we speculate on the Occult Symbology behind “Fertility 2.0”, the ticket crisis, changing of the guard at Burning Man, and the intersection between Burners and the Occupy movement

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

I understand why some people dismiss me when I say “Burning Man is the world’s best party”. Because they don’t value that aspect, and value others more highly, they think that by making such a statement I am somehow undervaluing the other aspects. But I’m not. It’s great that Burning Man means a lot of special things to a lot of special people.

So what about when I say “Burning Man is the world’s biggest occult ritual“? Outside of organized religion, who have a couple of thousand years head start on their parties.

This year word has it a lot of people left our party early, whether through disappointment or boredom, or not being prepared for the dust despite as many warnings as the Burner community could get to them. But still, estimates are around 40,000 people were still there for the annual ritual of the Man Burning. We also had spin-off occult rituals in the burning of a 50-ft tall high Anubis the Jackal (Egyptian death cult symbolism), the Temple of Juno (Graeco-Roman pantheon) and Burn Wall Street (directing the pent-up rage of the Occupy Movement and the Tea Party into a voodoo Kolossos-effigy burn).

Did all this fire magic work? Did it achieve anything? Well, some folks out there certainly believe so.

The alert went out on Christwire, courtesy of Reverend Clyde Higgins, that Burning Man caused 70 earthquakes in California AND a Category 1 Hurricane on the East Coast.

Holy twisters, batman, that’s quite some power! I mean, I know the bass on Robot Heart is pretty bad ass, and there probably are more than enough subwoofers in total at Burning Man to create a few earthquakes, however it would be hard to get them all playing the same note at the exact same time. Perhaps the FM transmission from the Disorient Art Car Armada could be used to test this? Not that I would really want to make an earthquake or anything. But, as the song says, I’m totally addicted to bass. More so than Jesus, Buddha, Krishna, Karma Sutra, Nihil, or whoever your one is that you like. Enjoy some classic beats from the Puretones while you read the Reverend’s true story:

File:BurningMan-picture.jpg

Image Credit:  Wikipedia – Burning Man, 2012

Heathen children utter the written lyrics from post-modern Satan-worship bands the The Atheist Phish, Snoop Lion and DJ Kalafi, until sweat drips down their brow and they summon The Burning Man himself, Satan. 

Every year, pagan anarchists gather in the Black Rock Desert area of nothern Nevada to do the unthinkable.  Equipped with ancient knowledge passed down from the times of Vlad Tepes, The Church of the Devil’s modern followers mix ancient, dark rites with modern electronica music, lurid drugs and wanton carnality, calling the festival The Burning Man.  At the end of their ceremonies, beyond the hazy musk of unwed baby creation and armpits devoid deodarant, smolders a tall, imposing figure.  It is Satan, called to Earth to celebrate ‘his chosen birthday’ if the festival has met his approval.  And since 1989, is has.

Historians report that the reemergence of the Burning Man cult started in Malibu, California, during the summer of 1989.  Several friends from Brentwood were diving off the coast and came across a decrepit old chest that had stone-engraved tablets within.  The tablets were written in ancient Romanian, with close inspection of the artifacts revealing human bone fragments were likely done to do the engraving.

After getting the tablets translated, the friends performed the rituals as demanded — playing songs by Chris DeBurgh and Sinead O’Connor while doing flesh touching ritual with each other – – and to their shock, Satan appeared before them and applauded.  Several of the friends thought perhaps it was all the copious amounts of drugs the ritual demanded to be consumed, but a VHS tape confirmed the impossible:  written on their tablets were instructions on how to call Satan to Earth, on the scientific day of his birth:  the Summer Solstice.


Evil Satan drums and keeps cadence. When not summoning Satan, it is not uncommon for parishioners of unholy ceremonies to dress the part and welcome their Dark Lord to party with them. Here we see the Red Hot Chili Pepper’s David Grohl causing the crowd’s heart to beat to the foottaps of Satan at Burning Man 2011. David Grohl personally caused the real Satan to appear only 4 hours later.

It’s estimated that by week’s end, over 70,000 people will descend into the depths of this madness at Black Rock Desert and allow themselves to be taken over by all the demonic ritual that takes place. The event is equally dangerous for men and women, girls and boys. All in attendance have a key, evil role to play in summoning the Burning Man, Satan.

Men: Married men are required to throw their wedding bands into a giant smeltering pot, so that their symbols of vows can be melted down and reformed into false idols that resemble Emmy awards. After ‘throwing off the shackles of marriage’, married men are allowed to join up with single men in Viagral lines, where they are given handfuls of the medicine along with potently addictive mind altering drugs like Cannabis.

Women: Women at Burning Man are not allowed to wear clothing. If you have a girlfriend or daughter who is just ‘spending a fun weekend at with friends’, congratulations, you’ve got a Satanic harlot in your life. After she is pumped full of Quaaludes and Uncle Tweety’s liquid Flipper LSD, her mind will be just a pliable, loose and willing as her body. She won’t remember a thing and remember, every single man has permastiff within his pants. Add the thrusting, bumping beats of all the musicians in attendance and the women’s timing method will be just right for a Satanic explosion of illicit impregnation and disease propogation.

It’s estimated that after Burning Man, STD rates for America suddenly jump by 9% and unplanned pregnancy by 24%.

Children: Children whose parents are rotten enough to bring them to Burning Man are forced into hard labor. Cleaning the spots of sin, fetching water for the bands and purportedly, but not confirmed, one must be thrown into Satan’s burning arms when he appears.

With all this evil taking place in the Nevada desert, it’s no wonder God is so angry that he’s giving us clear signs that we should be intervening and making this festival come to an end.

To the West, where Burning Man was first created, God has repeatedly banged his hands on his desk and caused 70 earthquakes in one day. To the East, God has postponed the GOP convention because there are more pressing matters. God has grabbed our attention with Hurricane Isaac and letting us know he has the power to ‘drench out’ any Burning Man, no matter the size.

Tropical Storm Isaac is seen in this August 26, 2012 NASA handout satellite image as it approaches the Florida Keys. (Reuters)

Taking place in the mysterious Black Rock Desert of Las Vegas, Burning Man is considered one of the greatest mysteries of modern times.  Hurricane Isaac is proof that God can drown any Burning Man, including Satan himself.

A Category One – not so bad. God warning us of his displeasure – perhaps we didn’t take enough notice when Satan appeared to applaud Chris DeBurgh and Sinead O’Connor?

Did Burners really cause Hurricane Isaac, as a lesson from God for our sins? I doubt it. He would have taken care of Las Vegas long ago, if he was really that upset by all the shenanigans going on in Nevada. If I were omnipotent, I would find a better way for Burners to get the message. Like, the Call of Cthulhu

I was at Burning Man that other time, when Burners exited Exodus and hit the Default World to find that Hurricane Katrina had just about wiped out New Orleans. The haters will be pleased to know that it wasn’t a
surprise to me because I had CNN out there. Following Reverend Clyde’s knowledge, we must have done some really bad things at that 2005 Burn for God to want to punish us so much more severely that time.

This “warning from the Gods” comes at the same time that a couple of quite scholarly papers about Burning Man and Spirituality have been published. Both are from a Christian perspective, one is quite anti-Burning Man and the other is more supportive.

First, cult analyst (means: he writes about cults) Steve Matthews has written a long essay about Burning Man over at The Worldview Center. What is the Worldview Center?

We are a group of experts on a variety of worldviews and who are all concerned about one thing – TRUTH.  In a postmodern age where pluralists and relativists are teaching our generation that there are many truths and that opposing truth claims can both be correct at the same time, we proclaim that truth is narrow, absolute, and exclusive by definition.

 Our website is a continuing work in progress where we will host cutting-edge content in the form of articles, videos, printable resources, and downloadable audio.  Our vision is huge and such an undertaking is vast, but our team is working hard to bring you everything you need to learn about and evaluate today’s worldviews, world religions, the occult, and cults and new religious movements.

I’m sure Burners who read that far will enjoy the neutral perspective TWC brings to the topic of Burning Man. Steve starts by name dropping some celebrity Burners:

Sting (solo artist formerly of the band The Police), Adam Lambert (American Idol runner-up), Perry Farrell (founder of the annual Lollapalooza music festival and vocalist for band Jane’s Addiction), Joan Baez, Michael Franti, Todd Rungren (solo artist and member of band Utopia), actors Robin Williams, Rosario Dawson and Amy Smart, as well as a number of others.  Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin are said to be such enthusiastic “burners” that they reportedly chose Eric Schmidt to become the CEO of Google based on his involvement in Burning Man[i].  Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon

Then he starts baring his fangs and getting stuck into us. First, he challenges the generally accepted creation myth. What is truth, what is fiction, and what is blurred beyond all recognition by decades of Playa sand?

A study of the true origins of Burning Man show that the official story of its beginnings are nothing more than a mere creation myth.  Executive Director Larry Harvey is generally portrayed as the sole creative mind behind Burning Man, but history shows that he was influenced by a number of people and groups most of whom he has never given credit or whom he has completely written out of the history of the movement.

 The influence of the Cacophony Society has already been noted, but a summary of some of the other sources are:


Burning art on Baker Beach           –     San Francisco artist Mary Grauberger

Burning a human figure                  –     The Golden Bough book & The Wicker Man movie
Moving the event to the Playa      –    The Cacophony Society
Zone Trips                                           –    The Cacophonists & author Hakim Bey
The “Leave No Trace” principle       –    The Suicide Club (forerunner to Cacophony)
Temporary Community                    –    William Benzin & Desert Siteworks
Art exhibits                                         –    William Benzin & Desert Siteworks

Furthermore, according to Michael “Flash” Hopkins the very foundations of the Burning Man movement are based upon a lie.  Hopkins worked with Harvey, lived with him as a roommate, and helped to build the first Man.  According to Hopkins,

“Larry and Jerry and I built the first one…It’s not a man, it’s a woman and her name is Patricia.  And Larry was upset that she wasn’t letting him see his child…He was really upset with it, so he decided to build an effigy of Pat and burn her, and we decided it wouldn’t be good to do it out in front of her house.  We decided it would be better if we brought it down to the beach and did it down at the beach.  So we burned her, because Mary Grauberger at the time was down there doing this sort of witchy-poo kind of rituals down there, sort of a Wicker Man style spring thing there, and so we decided to bring it down there and burn it down there.  And it’s never been a man, it’s always been a woman.  And you can just look at the shape of it and you’ll notice that it’s has, like, really shapely hips.  It’s always been a secret joke with us, because it’s never been a man, it was always a woman.  But, you know, we realized though that if we ever said it was a Burning Woman…you’d never have any women out there…they’d think that we were just, you know, he-man women haters.  And so by calling it Burning Man, I mean, girls were definitely into that.  They were, like…“Oh yeah, burn the Man!”  As long as the Man isn’t named, you know, Matthew or something, you know, it’s like…“Hey, I don’t care who it is, burn him!”…It was a kind of a funny way to do it… calling it a Burning Man…It was much more sociably acceptable, especially in San Francisco.  So, it was kind of a joke, and it was a joke to begin with…In one respect it wasn’t the sacredness of it all, or the spiritualness of it all…We weren’t on a journey to the sacred, he was just a little upset with Patricia and decided that he should, you know, burn her and this would get it out of his soul or whatever…another way of venting his anger, so we built Patricia…in my mother in law’s basement, and took it out to the beach and burnt it where Mary was burning her stuff…It didn’t even look like the Wicker Man.  Mary was building something that looked like the Wicker Man, but we built something that looked like Pat. ”

According to Hopkins who continues to be friends with Harvey’s ex-wife Pat, Larry has allegedly made her sign a paper promising that she would not speak about this to the media.

Burning Man Festival: a Life-Enhancing, Post Christendom “Middle Way” by John Morehead

He doesn’t quite go so far (yet) as to name Burning Man as a Pagan festival, but he doesn’t think it’s very friendly towards monotheism:

Burning Man spirituality although generally Eastern and pantheistic, is very diverse and tolerant of just about anything but monotheism and Christianity.

I’d be interested to know if there are many Muslims there. I’ve certainly never heard a muezzin.

It’s not a cult, but there are lots of cult-like behaviors going on there:

While many of the events and workshops are centered around a very outrageous and extreme sexual deviancy, many deal with spiritual topics.  Favorite spiritual themes among these workshops tend to be yoga, tantra, shamanism, and meditation.  Examples of workshops from the 2011 lineup included:

On Attaining Buddhahood in this Lifetime.  The potential for Buddhahood exists within everyone.  Come join us for a discussion about a Buddhist practice that opens this door for all persons .

Losing My Religion.  Religious dogma can serve to uplift and inspire or separate and control.  This ritual will help you to strip away the confining, controlling aspects .

Atheist/Agnostic Soiree at Uli Babas.  We invite all hedonists, heretics, infidels and cosmically confused to a holy communion of His Noodly Body and savory blood of blended herbs .

Channeling Voices from Other Dimensions.  Hear, feel, experience other dimensions, learn to channel from different sources.  Contact spirits for healings .

Analyzing the events and workshops and the spirituality associated with the Temple, we find the spirituality of Burning Man generally to be cultic, occultic, hedonistic, or steeped in Eastern mysticism.

Before he said Burning Man was Eastern and polytheistic, now to Matthews that means OK, let’s face it, actually they are really Pagans…

Not all burners would identify themselves as being Pagans (even though huge numbers of Pagans and Neopagan Wiccans do attend), but the spirituality of Burning Man tends to be that of a general Paganism (as opposed to the more specific Pagan traditions of Neopaganism, Shamanism, or Druidism).  Paganism is pantheistic (and usually polytheistic) and is about the worship of nature.  The divine is often expressed as feminine and Pagans concern themselves with the seasons, fertility, and relating with the interconnectedness of all living things within nature.  God is not over and apart from creation, but is to be identified with nature itself.

It’s going to be hard to argue that Burners aren’t concerned with Fertility or polytheism, given what just happened.

In conclusion, Burners are doomed to hell…

and therefore bash-able (gotta love that Christian charity – “turn the other cheek…so I can spank it!”):

Burning Man is certainly not for everyone, and especially not for children.  Apart from the difficulty and unpleasantness of surviving in the desert for a week without easy access to electricity, water, telephones, the Internet, and other comforts, the “radical self-expression” on the playa leads to a lot of nudity, profanity, sacrilege, irreverence, partying, drugs, alcohol, perversion, deviancy, and other things which will offend all but the most desensitized moral relativist.  Black Rock City is clearly the most pagan (in the common sense of the word) place on Earth.  There are rapes, fights, cars and tents broken into, drug overdoses, occultism, sexual promiscuity and reckless living.

Overkill Girl, 2010 – photo by Tomas Loewy

…and that’s just at Overkill! LOL just kidding…mostly…  😉

Anyway, luckily, and perhaps inevitably with an essay like this, there is one way, ONLY one way, to discover truth.

Only the God of the Bible as one who is both immanent and transcendent can satisfactorily explain the role of the Divine in our world and in our lives.  A transcendent deity can answer how He can be over all creation and able to judge all moral actions which occur within cultures and individuals.  He is separate from mankind as the Creator, and is providential and sovereign over that creation.  His immanence and transcendence allow Him to hear our cries and then intervene in our lives.  His immanence allows Him to be involved in the affairs of men.  The God who is described in the Bible is clearly the most rational explanation of the Divine, as the one which best fits the facts in both our experience and in our minds.

Clearly! I’m reminded of the stand-up comedian’s joke (warning: vulgar!), “if God’s so fucking smart, how come he can’t teach his people how to make money”.

John Morehead has written an essay in response, published at Religion Dispatches, entitled Burning Man: Fear of an Alternative Pagan Social Order.

the gathering in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert is considered by many to be a deviant event, and a harbinger of spiritual and societal decay

Love it! That’s one extra reason to go, on top of the raves. But, hate to break it to you, “harbinger” means “someone who brings a warning” – we don’t need a warning that society is decaying, we’re in the middle of the worst Depression this country has ever experienced.

Matthews also portrays Burning Man participants as marginalized individuals with “countercultural leanings,” including “adherents of the New Age and Paganism, along with scores of partiers, nudists, and those who like to ‘get high.’” The presence of this kind of reveler can’t be denied, but Matthews’ stereotype neglects the depth of the festival’s demographics. This includes not just those outside the cultural mainstream, but also a number of professionals connected to the social movement called the Cultural Creatives, discussed by Paul Ray and Sherry Ruth Anderson, which includes “writers, artists, musicians, psychotherapists, environmentalists, feminists, alternative health care providers, and other professionals.

Pros? Feminists? That’s the least of our worries at Burning Man. Whatever our religion might be. What about frat boys and Jersey Shores? That’s the real threat to the culture.

Morehead critiques Matthews further:

Matthews draws upon an evangelical counter-cult methodology that views most spiritual alternatives as heretical and deviant. Douglas Cowan has described this apologetic framework as a form of reality construction and boundary maintenance. The use of this approach often leads to a misunderstanding of a given religion (usually various new religious movements) and we see a good example of these failings in Matthews’ interpretations of Burning Man spirituality—as well as his representation of Paganism. This includes his confused distinction between various forms of Paganism, and his faulty critique of Paganism, claiming that it “denies the dignity of man,” “leads to hedonism and self-indulgence,” and “ignores the problem of evil,” to name a few.

This methodology is called on this blog, “Burner than thou”. For example, “I’m more of a Burner than you because you’re a raver”, or “you’re not a real Burner because you stay in an RV”, or “you’re not a real Burner because you typed ‘steampunk goggles’ into the Internet and bought those from a web site, you didn’t travel back in time to the 1800’s and personally enlist a team of Dwarvish craftsmen to create them from recycled components as a gift”.

Morehead feels that Christianity has much in common with Burning Man, and much to learn from it:

early Christianity—a movement that arose as a counterculture in the desert long ago, was viewed by the dominant culture as deviant, and engaged in a variety of bizarre beliefs and rituals—might learn from another desert counterculture.

…Christianity in America has much to learn from Burning Man, including the need to rediscover its own countercultural origins and the practice of speaking truth to power, concepts of self and community in postmodernity, the significance of play as a possible “signal of transcendence,” the importance of festivals with their rituals of inversion and the critique of society, and utopian considerations.

Peggy Fletcher Stack, writing in the Salt Lake City Tribune, published an article titled “The Church of Burning Man”, which backs up Morehead like a wingwoman.

Many see Burning Man as a drug-filled haze of hedonism — long on self-expression and exhibitionism, short on morals and restraint. Some Christian pastors have condemned it as a “tool of Satan.”

Indeed, satanic revelry may be the appeal for some devotees, but others go there looking for their better natures. Either way, the gathering has tapped into a need and continues to swell.

Either way? I’m pointing out some of the occult, ritualistic elements of Burning Man, as well as it’s broad spiritual appeal to people of any or no religion. But even I’m not going so far as to postulate that there are devotees going there for Satanic revelry. Wicca yes, but even that is in a tiny minority – at least in terms of conscious practice.
Morehead shares the opinion of Burning Man’s founders, that it is not a Pagan event.

it is certainly a mistake to characterize Burning Man and its adherents in general as Pagan. The festival invokes a multiplicity of spiritual perspectives—including the New Spirituality and Paganism—but it is by no means a Pagan event. 

Although that statement is hard to refute, it doesn’t directly address the occult ritual elements of the event – the major elements, being the Burn, the Layout, and the date. We’re all entranced participants in someone else’s giant occult rituals. So, why not bring your own? Take your power back, cast your magic with love and light. Seek the divine in whatever way connects you to it. Experiment with new pathways, substances, movements, paradigms. The main point of Burning Man to me is throwing all negativity out, Burning it, getting rid of it. Coming out the other side covered in dust, barely functioning, but cleansed and better than ever.

Does all the arguing about “whose God is right”, really get us any closer to the truth – or a good Burn? Burning Man has taught me to embrace everyone, no matter how freaky they might be, or how strange I find their behavior. “Radical Inclusion” could be the greatest Divine Truth of all – we are all God’s creatures, or the Universe’s, or we all came from nothing and will return there. Believe what you want, let me believe what I want, and let’s party!