This is the Temple of Promise from Burning Man 2015, a simple and beautiful structure designed to capture the early morning sun.
Census figures from Burning Man show that 71% of the participants claim to have no formal religious affiliation. Given this, it might seem strange that a temple is one of the major structures built in Black Rock City each year. But there is another factor at work here; over 50% of Burners claim that they are spiritual. While they may not adhere to any particular religious doctrine, they believe that they are part of a whole that is beyond any individual’s existence. Or, at least, that’s how I interpret being spiritual. It’s how I feel.
Whatever Burners believe, there is no doubt that visiting the temple can be a spiritual experience. In addition to being a place of beauty, as I hope the photos in this post show, the Temple is a place where 10,000’s of messages are left honoring loved ones who have passed on, asking forgiveness and expressing thanks. At the end of the week, the Temple is burned and the messages drift off into the air or, the Heavens if you prefer, giving a sense of peace to those who have left them.
Part of a larger structure, this temple was built in 2007 and was known as the Temple of Forgiveness.
This was the 2008 Temple. (Photo by Ken Lake.)
The curving wood on top of the Fire of Fires Temple reflected flames shooting into the sky. Note the intricate detail on the side panels.
A close up.
The Fire of Fires Temple at night. (Photo by Don Green.)
The Temple of Flux represented the constant change we experience in life. It can be seen as waves or as sand dunes. This photo was taken from the Man. The Center Camp Cafe, the Man, and the Temple are always in a direct line. The buildings on the other side represented a city.
Tom likes to get up early in the morning for his photography. He captured this photo of the Temple of Juno at sunrise. (Photo by Tom Lovering.)
Here’s another. (Photo by Tom Lovering.)
A later photo by me showing detail of the Temple of Juno.
The Temple of Whollyness resembled a Pyramid.
This large stone structure was inside the Temple of Whollyness.
The Temple of Grace was built for the 2014 Burning Man.
I liked this shot I caught of its spire under butter milk skies.
The Temple of Grace at night. (Photo by Don Green.)
Another photo of the Temple of Promise. I had taken Tom’s advice and rolled out early to capture these photos.
As the sun came up, Burners grabbed each other’s hands and formed a large circle around the Temple. The act was totally spontaneous.
A black and white I created.
Inside the Temple.
As I mentioned, thousands of messages are placed on the walls. By Saturday, there is little room to write on left within reach.
I found this message left behind honoring Uno Hogan quite touching. I think you will as well. It is quite typical of messages found in the temple.
And this message humorous but sincerely meant!
The Temples are always burned on Sunday night, the last night at Burning Man, in a solemn and moving ceremony with the thousands of messages sent skyward. This is the Temple of Juno.
A note on the photographers: All photos that I include in the Burning Man blogs are taken by Peggy, me, or members of the Horse Bone Tribe— all close friends who have traveled and adventured with us down through the years.
Monday: Back to Bandon on the coast of Oregon.
Wednesday: I begin my story of how Bone was found.
Friday: I continue my exploration of the unique and beautiful structures at Burning Man.