The Temple at Burning Man
I’d like to dedicate this post to one of the most amazing experiences I have had so far in my life: Burning Man.
There is a lot I have to say about Burning Man and in this post I’d like to point out especially one attraction there, which is the Temple. But first of all, just a few words about Burning Man. It is an event that is held in the US, more precisely in the desert of Nevada. The city that is being temporarily built for a certain period is called Black Rock City and everything that happens during the event is being created by its citizens.
I came to Burning Man with no expectations and was mind blown because of so many reasons. Mostly by the people and their dedication, commitment and loving attitude. With everyone gifting and sending love towards you with no expectation of getting anything in return, is something that feels so magical and unique. The energy is vibing quite high throughout the whole city but there is one place especially, where the energy frequency was extremely high, which is the Temple.
The Temple is being built during every Burning Man and is a different structure every time. This year, it was a beautiful wooden structure, that looked from the outside like stairs rising up and down again towards the back of the building. The whole structure will be burnt on the last day of the event.
The first temple was constructed as a memorial for the constructor’s friend that had passed away on the way to Burning Man in an accident. In the following years, the temple has gained different meanings such as a place to rest, mourn, reflect or of rituals.
A tradition has evolved during Burning Man that the walls of the temple have become a place to write letters, hang photographs or simply leave any object. Many visitors use this space to commemorate loved ones that have passed away but it is also a place to leave any fears or pain behind.
As the temple will be burnt on the last day, it is a great ritual to perform an emotional cleansing and let go of anything that needs to be released. Even if there is nothing you want to leave at the temple, just walking through the structure and reading everyone’s letters on the walls and seeing all the photographs, is very intense and can be quite beautiful.
I have visited the temple a few times during my time at Burning Man and passed by, whenever I felt the need I had to. On my first day, I walked through it to get a first impression and immediately felt the strong energy that has gathered in the structure. After this visit, I didn’t plan to come back but it just happened. One day I was riding on the bicycle and ended up in the sandstorm just in front of the temple. I took a lot of time to walk through and read stories, letters and couldn’t hold myself back to share some tears while doing so. Feeling the love that people have left in their words and photographs. Another time I came back while I was exploring the outer areas of the city, ending up at the temple and taking the time to write a few things on the walls. I wrote a letter to my mother and commemorated her in the structure, while leaving also some tears and grief behind in its walls. But still then, I didn’t feel that I was done with it yet and a few days later came back again coincidentally. As I walked through the Temple, I felt extra emotional that time and just cried. Reading again stories on the walls and then suddenly it crossed my mind, if there are any other things I would like to leave behind. Anything that I have trouble letting go of. So I gathered everything mentally that I haven’t fully forgiven and accepted concerning my past relationship. Any pain I still experienced, any suffering I still put myself into, any memories that were hard to let go of. Any images I still had in my mind concerning my depression, suicidal attempt and miscarriage - I put it all in a bundle and left it behind as I was standing under the wooden roof of the Temple. The minute I stepped out of the structure, I couldn’t stop crying and just let it all out. And the only thought that crossed my mind in that moment was that I wanted to hug someone.
Leaving the Temple, there was a man standing there looking at me. He started to chat with me as I tried to cover my tears with my sunglasses. While I was looking for my bicycle, he walked towards me and asked me if I have some time, so he can teach me something. I agreed and he told me his story about coming to Burning Man for over ten years already. And that his gift to the people there is to teach them how to give a heart to heart hug. When I gave him a hug, he asked me why I hugged him this way and I said that this is my instinct to go towards the left side with my right shoulder leading. And as he gave me a hug towards the opposite site, he asked me if I noticed any difference. And yes, I did. Because in that way, we were bringing our hearts together and sharing our energy around it. And then there it was, the hug that I wanted right when I left was just right there and it wasn’t a quick and shallow hug. This one was I would most probably say the deepest and most meaningful hug I have ever experienced. Together with the surrounding energy of the Temple and the community, this was a moment I’ll never forget. And as I stepped away from him, a sandstorm was coming and suddenly it was all gone.
I would have thought that the burn of the Temple would be a big moment as everything will disappear that was left behind but in fact, this moment was more meaningful to me than seeing the burn. I felt a huge relief that day and an extreme feeling of surrendering. From all the amazing art installations and structures in the city, the Temple was my most favorite and I recommend everyone that plans on going to Burning Man to definitely pass by and spend some time on their own to reflect and contemplate.
I got so distracted by its structure and energy that I didn’t take any photos any time I came to visit the Temple. But luckily, I was with someone the first day that did, so I can share it in this post!