We began our second week in Black Rock City with one of those unforgettable Burning Man moments: the ritual blessing of the Temple, its builder and build crew, and the Temple Guardians by the Paiute Tribe of Native Americans. The tribe’s reservation surrounds Pyramid Lake, NV, just a skosh south of Gerlach, and has a long relationship with the Black Rock desert, home of Burning Man.
Dean Barlese, the Paiute spiritual leader, offered a general blessing, then had his associates Keenyns Reed and Misty Young Bear bless individual members of the Temple team. Barlese told builder Arthur Mamou-Mani that this blessing was intended to remove any possible wrongs that may have been done to the land by the presence of the structure and by anything that may have been done or said within it. A similar blessing will be repeated by the Paiute post Burn over the charred remains of the Temple.
The moment was made even more emotionally satisfying by seeing how much progress had been made on the Temple itself. Having missed visiting the construction site for only a single day, we were amazed at how much closer the structure had come to the renderings of it we had seen initially months before. The Temple is likely to open close to schedule.
Out late last night on our bikes, we passed one new art installation after another and a plethora of bright and blaring art cars – each one more clever than the next. We love the spirit of human creativity that flows throughout Burning Man. It’s what brings us back and renews us year after year, and I can’t recommend it too highly to my peers.
Art is not the only thing springing up on the Playa as we reach the official start of the event; we’re also seeing many more theme camps emerge from the desert surface and a noticeable increase in bike traffic on the rudimentary roadways. Our neighbors on both sides have built out their camps and are fast becoming populated by new and experienced Burners. Both Earth Guardians and Camp Vulcan have triple the number of campers we do and both have embraced us in Burner fashion. There’s plenty of love to go around here in Black Rock City.
On-Playa Guardian training began last night with a full house of volunteers. All signed-in trainees were provided with the traditional kerchief (specially designed to honor Temple Galaxia) and bracelet with a tiny bell – items worn by Guardians since the service began in 2002. Trainees learned the meaning of “holding the Temple space” (the Guardian mission), the importance of withholding judgment over people and their actions, and the art of resolving a problem without drawing attention to ourselves or making the situation worse.
Everyone was excited about the new portal that’s been created for Guardian Headquarters. We’ve heard many comments about how much easier it is to find us now that we have a lighted entryway. “Portal,” our Playa name for the creator and builder of the amazing new sign that welcomes people to Guardian HQ, continues to put finishing touches on his work. For our camping area, we’re completing a few minor items after which we can call it a done deal. Our population has finally reached double digits with more coming in every day.
We were able to take advantage of some communal showers last night – always a true Burning Man style experience. Lashes had hot water in her women’s only shower area. I opted for (actually, it was my only option) the co-ed showers and ended up taking a cold-water cleansing. I’ve gotten used to sharing my shower experience with naked men and women, none of whom care or pay much attention.
It’s windy and dusty yet again as we begin our Sunday while attendees pour into Burning Man. But temperatures remain bearable (and are scheduled to stay that way all week) so I’m not going to complain about a little dust. I’m just happy to be in a place where I feel younger every day.