The Temple is one of the things that makes burns different from other festivals. It belongs to no religion, yet it is spiritual; it is a place for emotion, for release, for grief, for letting go… it is a sacred space. Sometimes people get too carried away with their radical self-expression and fail to respect the Temple, those who made it, and those who have poured their complex feelings into it. Here’s Frenchy with a wonderful rant on just this topic:
Greetings Fellow Burners!
In recent years we seem to have lost some of the respect and the idea behind the Temple…. As our community grows and expands it may simply be that people are unaware of the significance and symbolism of what we are trying to create and foster… It is probably just about communication and sharing… and this is my contribution to that idea.
As a Temple crew builder and Kiwiburn fanatic for three years, this issue holds a special place in my heart… The first year I crewed the build of the Lotus Temple under Hippie, Roh and Nic, and didn’t even get to see it burn as I had to dash off to organise some fire performers, though it already held a strong place in my heart and I believe it always will.
So… What is the Temple all about? If it was a Kiwiburn body part, it would be the heart. The beating, pulsing, deep feeling part of the festival. The imagery of a temple brings up ideas of a place of worship; a place to mourn, a place to pray and give offerings and thanks. It is a place to honour those that have left this plain of existence and a place to create shrines for those we love and have loved. It is a place to let go, a place to move on, a place to forgive and forget and release, a place to hold dear and a place to remember. A place for quiet reflection and grounding amidst a colourful loud crazy hedonistic festival. It is a sanctuary; it is a heart space. It is a sacred space for the whole community. And one of the largest art structures on the Paddock.
Temple of Wyrd 2015; Headed and designed by Rohana Weaver – “The Triskele is a symbol of balance, unity and the inter woven nature of life.”
The mothership, Burning Man in Nevada, USA (Black Rock City) where Kiwiburn takes its inspiration and principles, says:
“As travelers, historians, and archaelogists can tell you, great cities contain spiritual and ritual centres – physical manifestations of the human quest for the transcended and magisterial. Grand cathedrals, imposing temples, and soaring mosques attempt to intersect both Divine and earthly powers. For Black Rock City, that heart is perhaps best identified with the annual temples – each an ephemeral locus of memory and mourning.”
2015’s Temple crew, led expertly and with tons of heart by the very talented Rohana Weaver, made a big effort to reinstate the meaning behind the Temple. We created signs explaining what it was all about and encouraged participants to attend the burn in silence. And they did.
“The Temple is a space for reflection, contemplation, remembering and letting go… On Sunday evening the temple is intended to be burnt in silence as we watch our offerings go up in flames.”
The Temple burn night for a wide majority of people is a very powerful and significant date in our festival schedule. Especially if people have lost loved ones or had big challenges in their lives in the past year. It is a symbolic process of letting go of all that is and holding the space as a community. It can be a powerful time of healing and support.
Actions such as cheering as it burns, senseless graffiti and joke penises can not only be offensive to most of the community, it can also undermine the months of hard work the Temple crew has put in; for many they are thoughtless and hurtful. Kind of like taking a sharpie pen to your nana’s grave…. As much as some of this graffiti is up for interpretation, some people graffitied shrines and pictures of loved ones who had passed and this caused a great amount of distress and upset for the people who had placed them there… It would be great for the community to be vigilant around acts such as this.
How can you directly help your community with this? It’s all about spreading the word and ideas to virgin burners, letting people know what it’s all about, it’s about self policing as a community… if you see someone being inappropriate, perhaps respectfully and in a non-violent way explain what the Temple is about, and how drawing a badly depicted penis is taking away from it’s core ideas. Tell them you personally feel that they are defacing your mate’s grave. Tell them how it makes you feel, and why we hold the Temple in so much significance. Tell them whatever helps to get the point across for you.
And of course… Is self policing a contradiction? Is this festival not about radical self expression? Indeed it is, but would you really class drawing a penis on the heart of the festival as ‘radical self expression’? Where do we draw the line as a community? Is this issue not more about bringing people together as a community in a sacred way than allowing people to do whatever they like? It is about being responsible and respectful of each other’s feelings, and ultimately buying into one of the core ideas and ceremonies of Kiwiburn.
And if you dont want to tell that drunk guy covered in facepaint and glitter that his graffiti is not art and that drawing vampire teeth on someone’s deceased relative is senseless and offensive, then please send him to me, I’d be happy to educate him on the etiquette!
Thanks for reading!
Frenchy The Cosmic Fire Pixie <3 xxx