Embrace went up yesterday in a ceremony rich with transhumanist symbolism. Humanity got to witness fire start in their eyes, explode into their brains, then blow a hole through the top of their heads before the two figures – man, woman, trans, whatever Alpha and Omega symbolized to you – were gone completely in about 20 minutes. More than a quarter of a million dollars, 170,000 lbs of timber, just incinerated. Sacrificed, in the name of Big Art.
Today’s a new day. The big one. The ceremony is scheduled to begin at 8, with a ritual procession. Then, at 8:45 Fire Conclave will present a spellbinding performance of twirling fire, hot dancers, and thumping primal drums. At 9:15, the Man burns.
The video feed this year is being brought to us in mobile HD by the Desert Wizards of Mars. Yes, really.
The whole concept of Burning Man is modelled on Ancient Babylonian Magick called the Rites of Eleusis. Using a combination of magic mushrooms and LSD, which was synthesized from a bread fungus, the wealthy elites of olden times were able to control the entire population of their cities. This stuff has worked for thousands of years, and Burning Man is the latest and greatest incantation and incarnation of it.
Don’t believe me? Read below for some of Larry Harvey’s writing about all of this.
From CEO Maid Marian’s public profile:
Her first love and escape from work is her two sweet-tempered kitties, and her second is her level 80 fire-specced Blood Elf Mage.
Familiars and avatars. Fire and blood are the elements of her Mage.
The producer of this bewitching event loves cats. Her art car is a cat.
This Skull and Bones tree has been on display all week in front of First Camp:
It spends the rest of the year at their work ranch, next to a giant occult mask.
Here the Magickal Symbols are today, all wheeled out and symbolically presented for the world on the HD UStream feed. This is what we get to see before darkness falls and the warm-up starts.
The camera pulls back just wide enough to get all 3 symbols in. The Control Tower to the right, much loved last year, has been all gussied up this year. People are climbing in it and looking out from the platform at the top. It looks like a Shake Weight with a rapier stuck on the end, but it also looks like a magic wand.
The symbols have been displayed, the ritual can commence, the ceremonies can begin.
Remember, good people. Harmony is stronger. Black magic thrives on chaos, it loves to breed discord and mistrust. White magic is unity, truth, love. Connection to source, Universal Infinite Love is our power. We don’t need no magic ritual connection to artificially intelligent False Idols in a re-creation of ancient rites of death, rebirth, and control.
“By the power of your fellowship…Dull Care is SLAIN!” – from the Bohemian Grove Cremation of Care ceremonial effigy burn. The crowd cheers “Murder! Murder! Bring fire!”
In the Year 2000, Internet counter-culture personality Alex Jones, who broadcasts his show Infowars.com with the tag line “if you are receiving this transmission, you ARE the resistance” – crashed Bohemian Grove. After doing some on-site reconnaissance, he decided to just walk through the gates and bluff his way past any security. In conjunction with UK filmmaker Jon Ronson, he got some never before seen footage of the Bohemian Grove’s Cremation of Care ceremony.
His associate was quite disturbed after the experience. “When you’re in the patriot movement, you hear rumors about stuff like this going around. You don’t know whether it is true, well it is. I saw it.”
Jones broke it down in his usual succinct manner: “you’ve got death on this black boat bringing a pallet with a papier mache person, they take it over and they burn it for some idol, some Owl god, it looks more like a demon, it’s got horns up there and they just call it an Owl… We’re not supposed to worship Jesus or anything…it’s worship the Owl God”.
Robed lamplighters conduct a ceremony, leading up to the lighting of the effigy. It is the high point of the Bohemian Grove’s midsummer encampment, occuring half way between its “Low Jinks” opening and “Hi Jinks” afterparty. Jinx is a word from witchcraft, a jinx is a spell. To “jinx” something is normally interpreted to mean to put a curse on it that will make it radiate bad luck. A fundamental principle of magic that is agreed upon by both sides, light and dark, is karma – if you curse something, you curse yourself. That is why white magicians say prayers and cast positive spells – the only consequence of their goodwill is more luck and happiness and goodwill in their own lives. White magic leans more toward the acquisition of wisdom and a general feeling of faith and trust in the universe. The Black form is concerned more with the acquisition of power and is reflective of a basic faith in oneself. Black magicians revel in pain, and torment, and suffering. In evil. That is why their occult rituals always happen in secret, and why they organize themselves in secret societies, often quite literally under ground in caves.
Everything is permitted, and nothing is true, said the Magicians of Chaos.
The lamplighters are commanded, “Bring fire! “
The Owl Moloch responds, in a voice recorded for the event by famous broadcaster Walter Cronkite:
Fools! Fools! Fools!
When will ye learn..
That me ye cannot slay?
Year after year ye burn me in this Grove
Lifting your puny shouts of triumph to the stars
But when again ye turn your faces to the marketplace
Do ye not find me waiting as of old?
Fools. Fools. Fools to dream ye conquer Care
Year after year within this happy grove. Our fellowshiop bans thee for a space,. So shall we burn thee once again this night,
And with the flames that eat thine effigy, we shall read the sign
Midsummer sets us free!
Ye shall burn me once again? Laughter
Not with these flames
Begone dull care. Fire shall have its will of thee!
Once again, mid summer sets us free!
Midsummer is the ancient Druidic term for the Summer Solstice, the same Pagan and astrological event that Burning Man was started to celebrate.
The use of wording is interesting. “Fellowship” has Masonic overtones, and brings to mind Lord of the Rings, a book most certainly based on knowledge of the inner workings of The Man, the secret society networks of the Round Table groups. Larry Harvey’s father was a Freemason, and his brother was in their DeMolay youth lodge.
“Ban” means to cast out, to forbid; but there is another sense of the word. “bann”, like Banner, is a flag that would be used on the battlefield by Celtic soldiers of the Robert the Bruce Braveheart type.
“The banns” is a term for a proclamation of an alliance, a partnership such as marriage. It is seen as a celebration in Pagan culture.
a notice read out on three successive Sundays in a parish church, announcing an intended marriage and giving the opportunity for objections
“Care”, the effigy of Molech, their god of wisdom and blood sacrifice, calls out three times that they are FOOLS. No-one objects. This is the bann, between the Grovers and The Man. Their effigy, their giant statute.
So “our fellowship banns thee for a space” is saying “our fraternity is proclaiming our partnership with you for this event, we will be joined together in this celebration”. When they burn Care, they are becoming one with it.
When you burn The Man, you don’t become one with it, anymore than burning an Owl at Bohemian Grove removes care from the world – or from these participants. It’s an excuse for a party, but it’s also a mass ceremonial ritual, symbolizing The Man as being between the people suffering physically in the dust, and The Gods, towering above them with the power of shock and awe. We look up to it on a pedestal, with a fire so hot capturing all our energies, that if we get too close to it we could burn. The power to kill, and we are powerless against that. The only thing we can do is respect its power, and be humbled by how great The Man is. Before everyone goes back to their lives, working for The Man. Obeying all the rules of The Man.
Why can they burn Care at the Grove? Because they are the owners of The Man. The ones building the hives to control us like to go to Burning Man. Bohemian Grove is for the owners of the hives like Google and Facebook and Apple that we’re all glued into – and the ancient bloodline families that own them. Many Grovers also attend Burning Man, and have from very early on in the event’s history.
The conceptual structure of the Burning Man is ritual. Rather than “Dull Care”, their idol is called “The Man”. When they burn the Man at Burning Man, they are celebrating their freedom and independence. Free to be who they want to be and do what they want, without the expectations and pressures and responsibilities of “The Default World”. In fact, The Man is reprogramming their minds with lessons and impressions that it wants them to return to the Default World with, and spread out to those around them.
At Bohemian Grove, when they burn Care, the captains of industry and government and academia and the arts, the Generals of The Man, can forget about their responsibilities and just party for a bit. This occult ritual goes back to the Cult of Dionysus, also known as Bacchus. The Dionysian mysteries combined ritual, costume, repetition of phrases, rhythmic beats and music, smoke, lighting effects, fire, intoxication, hallucination. The whole society were expected to participate in the Mysteries at some point, even slaves. Over time, as religious oppression pushed the so-called “Pagan” religions underground into secret societies, the selection of candidates to indoctrinate became more strategic. Over time, the ancient orders became more exclusive and powerful. Their focus on being male-only removed them from the need to deal with issues of primogeniture – hereditary title. A Man would be chosen based on the judgement of other men. The Society would hold the wealth and continue the man’s power after he died, because by replacing a Man’s place within the secret society, replacing his larger position in the outside world became a fait accompli.
At Burning Man, when they burn The Man, the elements are all the same as Bohemian Grove, because they are the same as the Dionysian Mysteries. Fire and darkness. Lamplighters, costumes, masks, symbols, robes, ritual. Rhythms, dancing, lights, drugs…an entrancing and intoxicating spectacle. The feeling of being part of something exclusive and special, not available to “regular” people in the outside world. At Bohemian Grove, The Man gets to burn Care, then party without it; at Burning Man, We The Burners get to burn The Man: for one night, anyway.
There is only one remotely similar event to Bohemian Grove and Burning Man in the US, the Pagan ritual burn called Zozobra. It started shortly after Bohemian Grove. The idol they burn is called Anxiety rather than Care. Almost all the other pagan effigy burns in the country are related to Burning Man as regional events, or spun out from Burning Man’s networks. It is only Burning Man and Bohemian Grove that share so closely the concepts of theme camps, alternate names, a ban on commerce, emphasis on theater and lectures, ritualizing of the effigy burn, and extreme decadence.
Both events were modeled on, and inspired by, the Rites of Eleusis. Gordon Wasson was Vice President of Public Relations for JP Morgan. In the official story, he “discovered” magic mushrooms, and got them on the cover of Life magazine through a chance meeting at the Century Club, the East coast version of Bohemian Grove. In the less widely publicized version, which comes with FOIA-requests and other evidence, Wasson’s expeditions were financed by the CIA’s MKULTRA program. Wasson wrote a book with Albert Hoffman, the “inventor” of LSD, called The Road to Eleusis: Unveiling the Secret of the Mysteries.
Thomas Hardy wrote in The Cutting Edge Magazine:
“Burning Man offers a no-holds-barred “Woodstock” style festival where neo-pagans, wiccans, transvestite entertainers, curiosity seekers, and old hippies can go to trance, perform rituals, burn sacrifices to deities, fornicate, and otherwise ‘express’ themselves freely.”
Brian Doherty is a historian who has studied Burning Man for a long time, and wrote a book on it, “This is Burning Man”. Writing in Reason magazine in 2000, he said:
“To many long-time attendees, the festival has turned away from its promise as what underground social theorist Hakim Bey calls a “temporary autonomous zone”-a place where a chosen few could create a new, free social order outside the purview of dominant authority… The agencies that sign off on Burning Man’s permits have come to see the festival more as an opportunity than as a problem and have thus forged a relatively easygoing relationship with the openly danger- and drug-filled event.
…To Harvey, Burning Man is more than just a party. But he’s vague about exactly what it represents. Harvey talks a lot about the meaning of the event – the word sacred comes up often-and he once wrote an article in the neo-mystic magazine Gnosis in which he compared Burning Man to Rome’s ancient mystery religions. But it’s hard to be sure what he wants to come out of the event. In fact, he’s proud that the event’s central symbol-the Man-is enigmatic. “We never say what the Man means,” he points out. “He’s just there to provide a unified focus for the community. It could become a wonderfully coercive tool politically-like, ‘The Man doesn’t like that, the Man says …… We could make The Man The Man, right? But he stands beyond the social circle, like a god or the prospect of war, something that unifies everyone.”
The mystery religions are linked to the Cult of Dionysus, and can be traced back to the even more ancient rituals of Mithras. Bacchanalian revelry outdoors is a big part of it.
The path of paganism goes back to the same theology that the ruling elites have been following, worshipping, in secret rituals for centuries. “Man is God” is the occult belief behind the New Age movement, Paganism, Luciferianism and Satanism. The Church of Satan was founded in San Francisco, next to the Presidio Military Base – just like Burning Man. Satanists do not worship the Devil as a separate being that gives them orders. Rather, They themselves are the God. Satanism is the true essence of the Mystery Religion, the religion of no religion. There’s nothing at its core, just an Abyss. An empty void of nothingness, in which nothing is real and everything is one. Similarly, Pagans and Burners do not directly worship the devil as their Lord and savior. “The greatest trick the devil ever played was convincing us he doesn’t exist”, says Kaiser Soze in the movie The Usual Suspects. That is the Devil’s goal, to make man believe that neither god nor the devil exist. The core belief of the New Age, that you will find to be widely held at Burning Man, is Self is God. The belief that Man is God transforms people into a vehicle by which They can drive humans into perpetual conflict under the guise of “saving the world”.
In 2014 Burning Man published a “book club” cultural discussion series on their official blog. The entire basis of the series was “The Death of God”.
If Burning Man is more than just a party, like Larry says, then what is it exactly? What experiments are going on, socially and spiritually, within this pentagon-shaped petri dish?
In the summer of 1995, as the tenth effigy burn was approaching, Larry Harvey reflected on the rituals in the magazine Gnosis. He published the story under the name of Darrel van Rhey, but later admitted on his own web site that he wrote the article. In the past Burning Man have always denied having any awareness of the movie “The Wicker Man”, but that is not the same as denying any awareness of Druids and their rituals. This article clearly exposes that not only were the founders aware of the occult, it is a fundamental element in this fire magic event which takes place inside a Pentagon, with a .666% circle touching the edges of the pentagram within it.
Although Darryl van Rhey is beleived to be a pseudonym for Larry Harvey, he interviewed Darryl in 1999 and 2000 – according to official Burning Man blog. He was photographed with him in 2004 – again, according to Burning Man, since this photo is from Danger Ranger’s Flickr. In 1995, he wrote in Gnosis magazine. If this didn’t come straight from Harvey himself using DVR as a pseudonym, then it was certainly straight from the horse’s mouth to Darryl’s pen. Rearrange the letters of “Darryl Van Rhey” and you get “ND Larry Harvey” (ND presumably stands for nom de’plume). In his 2000 Reason article, Doherty attributes Larry Harvey as the author. Erik Davis also attributes the article to Harvey.
Larry Harvey himself, writing on his own web site, claimed he was the author of the story – obviously oblivious to the other articles there where he had therefore interviewed himself:
We concentrated on the desert, instead. We no longer needed to publicize ourselves in San Francisco and could now rely on ticket revenue from the Burning Man event. The title of our performance that year was Mysterium. It was subtitled The Secret Rites of Burning Man. This was accompanied by a memorable motto: “Let’s put the cult back into culture!” It focused on the idea of fertility…I had been reading literature about the many Mystery religions of the ancient Greco-Roman world. The participatory character of these ancient religious movements intrigued me. Earlier in the year, I’d written an article for Gnosis, a San Francisco-based magazine.
The Revelation of the Method serves to make the magic more powerful. The true meaning of the event has been deliberately obscured from those who willingly participate in its rituals – which is the way of the dark wizard. Harvey tells us that this amibguity is not by accident, but rather has been very carefully calculated. A smoke screen, smoke and mirrors. A glamor.
In the following story from Gnosis Magazine 20 years ago, the emphasis is our commentary. The article is presented in its entirety, so that no-one can claim the author is being quoted out of context. On the contrary, Mr Harvey references this piece in his own writings on his company web site.
On Labor Day weekend in early September, thousands of people will converge in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert. Somewhere near the center of this awesome space – reputedly the largest flat expanse of land in North America – they will erect a giant effigy. The Burning Man, as it is called, will tower over a spontaneous community, a miniature civilization complete with clubs and cabarets, several radio stations, and a daily newspaper, The Black Rock Gazette. The masthead motto of this journal sets the tone of the ensuing weekend. “Welcome to Nowhere”, it reads, “Its name is whatever you name it. Its wealth is whatever you bring it. Next week it will be gone, but next week might as well be never. You are here now”.
Throughout the festival that follows, people indulge their whims and creative impulses. However they choose to express themselves – through costumes, dance, sculpture, or the construction of elaborate theme camps – they are encouraged to do so in an environment where distinctions like “professional” and “amateur” or “audience” and “spectator” soon become meaningless. By day the campground is a colorful community of tents and fantastic shelters with flags and banners flying in the wind. By night it is transformed into a dreamscape as artists craft light, sound, neon, and the primal element of fire into luminous spectacles.
On the final evening of the festival, participants join in a grand promenade. Dancers bearing torches lead them to the Burning Man along a pathway flanked by monumental spires. Clamor, cries, and high pitched ululations are succeeded by a hush as the four-story figure is ignited. Then a wild pandemonium ensues as lapping flames engulf the torso in a solid sheath of fire. Mounting upward, they ignite a fuse: fountains of fireworks spew out of the giant’s head. Most animate now, at the moment of his demise, he soon shudders, and the three-quarter ton figure comes crashing to the ground.
Organizers shroud the meaning of this celebration in a cloud of calculated ambiguity.
Pressed to explain their intentions, they cite a simple doctrine. “The Project never interferes with anyone’s immediate experience”. Participants are urged to create their own interpretations.
The weekend might be described as an avant-garde art festival, a ritual enactment of creation and destruction, or an exotic free-wheeling party.
Yet, to the student of religion, these rites suggest a time, a place, and a social setting that has precedents in ancient history.
Throughout the classic period of Western civilization, there existed a diverse spiritual movement that is known as mystery religion. The mystery cults, as they were called, arose within a new world order. The conquests of Alexander and the subsequent spread of Roman rule throughout the Mediterranean world had greatly expanded the scope of classical civilization. Stretching from the shores of the Atlantic to the Caspioan Sea, it occupied a vast cosmopolitan domain, teeming with commerce and hosting the ideas of many cultures . Immense allocations of men and monies had displaced entire populations. The citizenry of the empire, uprooted and heterogeneous, now congregated in large urban centers. Within this sophisticated and self-conscious milieu, huge societal gaps separated rich from poor and urban from rural populations, and intense economic specialization further divided the classes. It was a world, in other worlds, remarkably like our own.
Arising from this complex milieu, the mysteries derived from diverse sources. Traditions drawn from many cultures flowed like tributary streams into the great Mediterranean basin, bringing with them the worship of Isis and Osiris of Egypt, Mithra of Persia, and the Anatolian Great Mother. Yet the mystery cults had much in common. All were grafted onto the stock of agrarian fertility festivals – relics of a prehistoric past – yet were essentially urban in character. They typically employed theatrical parades and pageants to attract a pool of individuals who might share little else in common, and they were organized as lodges. Membership within a cult implied broad equality with fellow mystai or initiates.
Ceremonies often took the form of pilgrimages. Participants removed themselves to sacred sites. Mystai sang and danced to flutes and cymbals, others wore masks and sported strange attire. Such celebrations might take many days, and while they lasted, class distinctions were dissolved. “Persons who are being initiated into the mysteries throng together at the outset amid tumult and shouting”, wrote Plutarch of the Eleusinian mysteries celebrated near Athens, “but when the holy rites are being disclosed and performed, the people are immediately attentive in awe and silence.
Such initiations were performed by firelight at night in enactment of a central myth of death and rebirth. They were often highly theatrical performances, and, unlike the tribal traditions from which they sprang, placed a unique emphasis on personal choice.
Many people probably attended the festivals simply to have fun. Intense, ecstatic and immediate, the rites did not stress doctrinal belief, but valued toward show and inward feeling. Artistotle states the mysteries weren’t about a teaching, they were initiations focused on direct experience.
The mystery cults, long a dominant form of idol worship in the late classical world, perished with the fall of Greco-Roman civilization. Yet the modern immolation of the Burning Man, surrounded by impromptu rites of celebration, forms an arresting analogy. The parallels are striking, fire, sacrifice, pilgrimage, visionary spectacle, egalitarianism, revelry, recruitment from an urban population, direct experience opposed to doctrinal belief, and central to it all, a myth of death and rebirth.
Organizers of this modern mystery disclaim any conscious plan to reproduce the past. Yet it might be that culture itself, is responding to the changing needs of our society. As students of ritual understand, the past and present rotate on a single wheel of time.
See Live-Blogging the Burn for all the occult references that happened at this year’s re-enactment of the Magickal Mystery Rituals.
[Update 8/31/14 2:22pm]
Thanks to Curt.Net for sharing these images he created.
The description of Bohemian Grove ceremonies is from the recording in this documentary, filmed secretly at their annual event.
Must’ve missed this one on the way to Cargo Cult: last August, the Huffington Post published some rare photos of the first burns. Burning Man began on the summer solstice of 1986, when Larry Harvey and his “latte carpenter” buddy Jerry James burned an effigy of a “Man” and a dog.
This collection of photos, taken by Stewart Harvey, reveals a simpler side of The Burn. Founder Larry Harvey (Stewart’s brother) and his cohorts are shown setting the scene first on SF’s Baker Beach…Behold, a rare glimpse inside the origins of what is now a worldwide way of life:
Baker Beach Arrival, 1989.
Raising the Man, Baker Beach, 1989.
Loading Seven Sections on Seven Pickups, 1989.
Pioneer Burners, 1989.
Assembling the Man, 1990.
What about earlier than that? What about the very first Burn, in 1986? For that we’ll have to go to my old mate Pig, at Mad Nomad films:
Here’s a photo of the Man burning in 1987, from CNet:
Here’s a history of the original burns:
The annual event now known as Burning Man began as a bonfire ritual on the summer solstice in 1986 when Larry Harvey, Jerry James, and a few friends met on Baker Beach in San Francisco and burned a 9-foot (2.7-meter) wooden man as well as a smaller wooden dog. Harvey has described his inspiration for burning these effigy figures as a spontaneous act of radical self-expression.
The event did have earlier roots, though. Sculptor Mary Grauberger, a friend of Harvey’s girlfriend Janet Lohr, held solstice bonfire gatherings on Baker Beach for several years prior to 1986, some of which Harvey attended. When Grauberger stopped organizing it, Harvey “picked up the torch and ran with it,” so to speak. He and Jerry James built an 8-foot (2.4-meter) wooden effigy for 1986, which was much smaller and more crudely made than the neon-lit figure featured in the current ritual. In 1987, the effigy grew to almost 15 feet (4.6 meters) tall, and by 1988, it had grown to around 40 feet (12 meters).
Harvey swears that he did not see the movie The Wicker Man until many years later, so it played no part in his inspiration. Accordingly, rather than allow the name “Wicker Man” to become the name of the ritual, he started using the name “Burning Man”.
The movie “The Wicker Man” was orginally made in 1973, and starred Edward Woodward, Christopher Lee, and Bond Girl/Peter Sellers’ wife Britt Ekland. In 1979 it won a Saturn award for “Best Horror Film”, and was nominated for Best Actor, Best Director, Best Writing, and Best Music. It was also nominated for a Satellite award in 2006 for “Best Classic DVD” in (DVDs were discs that movies used to come on, Millenial kiddies).
Note the antlers, the scene on the beach, and the man base. If you haven’t seen it, it’s worth a look, it scared the absolute beejeezus out of me as a kid.
Iron Maiden released a song “The Wicker Man” in 2000.
The Wicker Man was remade by Mel Gibson’s Icon Entertainment starring Nicolas Cage in 2006. It’s considered to be one of the worst remakes ever. From Wikipedia:
The film holds a 15% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 105 reviews. The consensus says, “Puzzlingly misguided, Neil LaBute’s update The Wicker Man struggles against unintentional comedy and fails.” On At the Movies, the film received two thumbs down from Richard Roeper and Aisha Tyler. The film garnered five Razzie Award nominations, for Worst Picture, Worst Actor (Cage), Worst Screenplay, Worst Remake, and Worst On-Screen Couple (Cage and his bearsuit).
Wikipedia says that the both films are based on David Pinner’s 1967 novel Ritual.
The movie might not have played any part in Larry’s inspiration, but the idea of burning an effigy was the entire theme of the 1986 solstice burn. The Summer Solstice is a sacred date in Pagan ritual, which is also known as Wicca magic. Even giving Larry the benefit of the doubt that he’d never seen the original Wicker Man, he is a very well read person – an “autodidact” – and he seems to be very learned when it comes to history and ritual. When he first called Jerry James with the idea, he said “I want to burn a figure for the solstice”.
The Wicker Man movies didn’t invent the idea of ritual effigy burns, and neither did David Pinner’s novel. It’s an ancient druidic tradition, one of the earliest descriptions of the ritual is from Julius Caesar – the emperor, not the Shakespeare play. In those days, druids were so powerful that their intervention could stop two opposing armies from starting a war. The druids would punish those who did not bring them offerings, placing the culprits – and their animals – inside a giant wicker structure, and burning them to death in it so that the rest of the village could hear their screams, and thus fear the Druids. Fire was a significant technology back in those days, that’s why we still have the concept of “The Eternal Flame” today. Wicker Man burns still happen all over the world, including at San Francisco’s annual Illuminati theme camp hangout where commerce is banned and everyone goes by special names: Bohemian Grove.
This site describes the Wicca magical nature of the ritual quite well:
Traditionally, burning a human effigy is intended to create a spirit messenger – to connect the celebrants with energies and powers which would ordinarily be beyond their control.1 For early peoples, the energy of fire was connected with the sun which brings light, health, and growth, as well as the hearth fire of food and hospitality. Fire was the spark of life which connected human hearts with the stars; for some it was the fire of inner change and transformation, the quest for knowledge and power.
There’s some debate about whether the first, 1986 figure was 8-feet tall, or 9-feet tall. One creation myth says that the effigy was burned to symbolize Larry Harvey breaking up with his baby momma, and that the man was originally a woman. From Outside Online’s story Hot Mess by Brad Wieners:
JOE FENTON (member of the Black Rock Rangers, Burning Man’s security team): I didn’t go to the burns on the beach, but I did a paper about them for a college course on the anthropology of festivals. Larry told me very specifically that the figure was an effigy of his ex-girlfriend, the mother of his son. He told me he wanted to burn her out of his memory.He moved off that soon afterward. I guess he figured it wasn’t very politically correct, and now that idea is actively suppressed.
Other myths suggest it was always supposed to be androgynous. The 1986 and 1987 photos seem to prove otherwise – with those horns, later removed for some unknown reason, the wide hips, and the goat-like face, it looks more like the Satyrnic god Baphomet to me. From Abraxion.com
The symbol of the left handed path, usually portrayed as half human, half goat figure, or a goat head. It is often misinterpreted as a symbol of Witchcraft in general, it is used by those who practice the black arts. The origin of the name Baphomet is unclear. It may be a corruption of Mahomet ‘Mohammed’, or even a combination of two greek words, baphe andmetis, meaning ‘absorption of knowledge’. Baphomet has also been called the Goat of Mendes, the Black Goat, and the Judas Goat.
Note the similarities to the 1986 Baker Beach effigy with the wide hips, goat’s head, the single raised arm, and the pentagram…
If anyone was there for those Baker Beach burns, we’d love to hear from you. Got photos? Video? Stories? Please share, this is history now…