It’s as if I have a tailwind behind me ferrying me along as I move quickly – so very quickly along. I cannot stop; I feel as if the road is driving me rather than me driving the road. I feel possessed by a Spirit, whose name I do not know – yet a name just at the tip of my tongue. A spirit that drives me towards a familiar destination, but not so familiar as I recall. I have ridden this highway that stretches across this nation two times before: first in the Spirit of the Courage and second in the Spirit of Adventure. I did not know their names at first either. I find comfort in the not knowing. In this third year, the Spirit who rides me not to a familiar destination, Black Rock City and the land of Burning Man, but instead to New Mexico to 3HO Foundation and the land of Guru Ram Das Puri. A center of spiritual light found in Kundalini Yoga.
The familiar sway of a fully loaded vehicle keeps me company. Its heaviness at my back gives me a sense of security and constancy. Included in my load this year is more than my camping gear, it is in fact everything I call my own – all safely tucked away in a one-way U-haul. As usual in big rigs, brakes are a precious commodity and often feel as if they are in short supply. I give thanks to the Gods of the crossroads who have saved my butt a few times along this trail of hope. What strikes me as I drive long stretches of straight and barely rippling highway is the sense of sameness of this journey as if I were indeed road-tripping to the Burn. I travel towards my destination during the same time of year, driving the same route, and wearing the same traveling dress. Two huge differences: this year, I’m doing all the driving and I ain’t afraid.
My first Burn was in 2006, the year of Hopes and Fears. It was a theme most apropos as my life was crashing and burning. Radical self-reliance? Never heard of it. But some small part of me was thrilled at the concept and damn it I was to learn what it meant! In Hope? Definitely, as I needed some type of succor to get me through – I needed *something* I was lacking, but didn’t know how to ask for. In Fear? Assuredly. All the fears of my life crowded in upon me – the idea of doing the Burn essentially on my own hit all of my buttons about being alone. It hit all my buttons about being responsible for myself on the material plane. Thankfully, the Youniverse granted me with an experienced guide and a driver in the guise of Din Tikkun. Not only did this man regale me with stories of the Burn and useful (very useful) advice on very sensible dos and don’ts; Din saved my ass on the road as I found that I was close to passing out most days after a few hours driving. I soon realized that if I had indeed driven on my own – I might not have made it to Burning Man at all. Radical self-reliance? Yea, right. In retrospect, I know that my inability to stay awake was an echo of something I was sleepwalking through in my own life. Luckily, the year of Hopes and Fears was a wake-up call I couldn’t ignore. The event itself was schizophrenic; I was in a place of bliss one moment and in absolute terror the next. My emotions and energy was jerked from one way to another from moment to moment. It was exhausting and at the same time exhilarating.
Devotion, yes devotion came to me this first year with a blessing of Hanuman. Hanuman, in the guise of a new friend who led me to my own place of prayer: the Alchemical Fire Circle. Dressed all in white as a humble appeal to find my truth; into this crucible I dove. I danced and chanted my way to my courage; to rewrite my beliefs; to revibe the current of sound that existed in my cells down to my DNA. Throughout the night, as my feet slapped the dust of the playa giving rise to daemons to carry my intentions to the heavens and to the earth; I released. I released my hopes and yes, I released my fears. I gave it to the fire. I gave it to the drum. I gave it to the chant. I gave it to God and Goddess. I danced this dance of unchaining of my hands, my feet, my heart, my being – as I danced like Shiva through the dust and stars of the universe destroying and creating; destroying and recreating the essence of myself. Night gave way to the pinkness of dawn and as the sun rose above the peaks of the mountains my body released in gratitude through blood.
In the realms of Healing as I journeyed with the Heebie Geebie Healers – I found my own healing in healing others. Sharing my energy and in return receiving the blessing of love and joy and tears of release showed me much in the way of compassion and the art of receiving gracefully.
In 2007, the year of The Green Man, me and 4 of my closest friends loaded up into the RV and headed out west. Again, the theme was right on for me. The Green Man or Big Daddy – the Horned One – God of the Green Forest was leading me out to the desert to explore myself. This second year was a blessing in that I chose to gather together all I had learned from the year before from practical to spiritual. In a practical sense, I was choosing to camp instead of RV. In a spiritual sense, I was releasing a level of safety and security – with intention. I left the RV with the healers and proceeded to erect a shade structure and small community with my mates Separado and Malibu Jav. Ah, the learning is so lovely in its simplicity. The beauty of self-reliance coupled with assistance from your neighbors will get you everywhere – every time.
Our hard work erecting the shade structure was blown off (or on?) course when the wind whipped up and took that parachute to full bloom. It was as if the djinn of the desert were flying by on a passing zephyr to add a bit of zest to our set-up mechanics. The steel poles swayed heavily, like a newly landed sailors deep in their cups. While deep inside the Self made of rebar bent to the will of this force of nature, but held firm with its grounding deep in the playa. The parachute billowed in seemingly random and reckless abandon with each gust and there was the nails-on-chalkboard sound of tearing fabric. Each tear added to our anxiety and despair of ever raising our paragon of shade to the occasion, duct tape or no duct tape! Luckily, some happy passers-by came to our rescue and with the love made possible only through freedom – held our poles, clipped our clips, and taped our tears. And with a blessing of thanks from us – our saviors of shade just as happily and quickly disappeared into the streets of Black Rock City.
It was the eve of this first night on the playa that made my pilgrimage to catch a glimpse of the Man in all his Green glory. There he was, neon green lit against the darkened sky standing atop his sacred mountain looking on benevolently upon this city made with sweat and toil and a whole lot of flash and glitter and upon me – – His daughter. A child He had re-made, no, a child who had re-made herself with the tools He had handed her and then taught her to use. Blessed be Papa! It was with a sense of His blessing upon me – His prodigal daughter returned – that I pedaled off into the night for silly fun and the good kind of trouble made possible on the Playa.
Two evenings later on the night of the lunar eclipse the Green Man Burn made Global news. A man called by many labels: an artist, an anarchist, a terrorist, or a liberator took it upon himself to burn the Man early.
The next morning the Green Man’s skeletal frame was stark against the pale blue sky. I watched the Man’s pallbearers begin to lower him into the ground – my father, my brother, my lover. For three days/night they worked him below the green tarpaulin of the mountain he had stood upon. The green of his burial mound stood above his prone body while the sky remained empty of his frame. And for three days and nights I went inside myself and explored the landscape of my Self against the cityscape of Black Rock. For three days and three nights I found depth in my Self, in Others, and in Him as I skated gracefully and sometimes recklessly over and under and through and around the sights and sounds and passion of the Playa. Under this city of damnation and this city of redemption – the black rock never shone so darkly or so brightly; the Full Moon waned as Her lover lay beneath the hill. She held me, Her daughter of lifetimes, as She held him in her arms.
The first night, She led me to the Buddha and in contemplation and prayer I humbled myself; my knees and forehead dusty where I bowed. The second night, She led me to the sacred sounds of Kirtan to chanting the sacred names of God; my voice rose high and soared with the friendly angels as we experienced—as we became one. The third night, She brought me to the deep knowing of the body in the rigors of Kundalini Yoga; awakening the serpent in my spine – Shakti rose in me to dance across the burning sand.
Throughout, I found trust in the conversation of strangers and in lying beside them in the night as we shared a space to sleep and dream of the Playa. I found that my pace was simply that – my own. As I danced and walked to the beat of my own drum I found that own my own was how I am, you are, we are and the beauty is in knowing that and finding in that very stillness – the connection that we are all one and are never alone.
So here I am in 2008, heading West, but lo not to Black Rock City, but instead to the high desert of Northern New Mexico. This journey is my Burn this year. The amusing part is that yet again the theme of Burning Man is on target: The American Dream. In this sojourn I follow my hearts dream of mixing my Spirit with Service as I embark on a new career, a new home, a new life. I am ready for this adventure down to the DNA in my cells. I know with an assuredness that I have never before possessed that I belong here in this time and space. And perhaps more importantly, I choose to be here consciously, actively, and intentionally. Yes, I have left my kith and kin back East, but we are one. I have new kith and kin that I have yet to meet in this life in this new place of rock, and sand and stone. In this place of stark beauty, majestic mountains, and sudden wild flowers; I am open to receive the Youniverse. I am walking my American Dream and yes, I can name that spirit – The Spirit is Destiny. In this, I know I am blessed.
Ase, Blessed Be, Amen, Wahe Guru, Ho
In all the circles that meet here upon this Earth may we all meet in Love and Freedom.
Oh right, they’re one and the same.