Camp Mystic— From Mysticism to Community Building… Burning Man 2017: Part 8

Camp Mystic mutant vehicle, Burning Man 2017

Most large camps at Burning Man provide a mutant vehicle for their participants and others to use on forays out into the Playa and around Black Rock City. I found this toothy dragon at Camp Mystic. At night, LED lights on the panels provide a light show.


Camps at Burning Man range from miniscule (mine this year) to well over a hundred participants. Camp Mystic fits the latter category. Its founders made their first journey out to the Black Rock Desert in 1998, six years before I did, and have been returning ever since. I always make a point of visiting the camp to check out its other-worldly art. I am never disappointed.

Mystic Camp, Burning Man 2017

I included a photo of this Camp Mystic art earlier. Here, a small person checks it out. Dad was nearby.

Mystic Camp 5, Burning Man 2017

The other side featuring a four-armed Hindu God.

This year, I also went on the camp’s website. If you would like to gain an insight into how the larger camps function at Burning Man, you might want to visit Take some time and peruse through the different categories.

Camps in Black Rock City perform a dual function. The most important is to serve as a home for their members. They provide a supportive community with common values and friends to share the Burning Man experience with. Part of the support is help with logistics.  A camping location (usually with structures to provide shelter), food, power supplies, and bathing facilities are fairly common. Participants are expected to help cover common costs, and, even more importantly, to share in the chores. Burning Man is a participatory experience. Some, like Camp Mystic, even hope to give their members a transformative experience. Here’s what the theme camp has to say about itself.

We are a medley of creative talent and energy. Inspired by a sense of mystery and wonder, we perceive the consciousness of “We Are All One.” Mystics encourage the enigmatic spirit to explore a deeper connection, not only on this planet and all that exists within, but the realm of the entire Universe. Camp Mystic is an ongoing experiment in the power of friendship, love, artistic expression, commitment, and exploration into the farthest reaches of human development and beyond.

Reminds me of my youth in the 60s and 70s— “It is the dawning of the age of Aquarius.” Remember that song by the 5th Dimension? “Let the sunshine in.” Parts of my soul still exist in that time warp, back when magic was real, back before the wars and politics and greed and fanaticism of the last 50 years created the malaise and cynicism that exists today. I suspect that the magic still exists for members of Camp Mystic, and hopefully it is being reborn into today’s younger generations. That’s a good thing. We need all we can get.

The second major function of large camps, and most small camps, is to give back to the community.  This is done by contributing and supporting art, offering workshops, providing drinks and food, and hosting events— a dance venue with large speakers and top DJs, for example , or a bunny parade. The number of things that people contribute is limited only by their imaginations. When I was there three years ago, I came across a peanut butter and jelly bar. It was filled with several types of bread, jelly and peanut butter. You were free to make your own sandwiches. The KFC Camp from Kentucky close by was offering fried baloney sandwiches and a shot of bourbon for breakfast. Woohoo!

Camp Mystic program directory, Burning Man 2017

This sign listed all of the events and workshops associated with Camp Mystic. They ranged from Yoga and meditation sessions to lectures on the future of humankind.

Mystic Camp program, Burning Man 2017

A closeup of the sign with examples.

I stopped in front of a large sign at Camp Mystic that listed the events and workshops taking place at the camp. As you can see from the photo, there were a bunch. I also took a close up to provide a perspective on the variety. For example, you could participate in an immersive light and sound experience that was reportedly similar in nature to taking DMT, a drug found in many plants that leads to a short, but intense, psychedelic experience where you might encounter anything from geometric forms, to aliens, to elves, to God.

Much of the art of Mystic Camp seemed to reflect what a DMT experience might be like. Other paintings featured our close association with nature, a vision of the future connection between humans and machines, and mystical contacts between men and women. There was also some fine ceramic work.

Mystic Camp art 10, Burning Man 2017

I can see where a little DMT might be helpful in this perception of an alternative reality.

Mystic Camp art 17, Burning Man 2017

Another example.

Mystic Camp art 14, Burning Man 2017

And another…

Mystic Camp art 6 at Burning Man 2017

A mechanized, robotic rendition of The Man. Is this our future?

Mystic Camp art 12, Burning Man 2017

I felt that this exotic woman, like the robot above, reflects on the future connection between humans and machines.

Mystic Camp art 16, Burning Man 2017

I really liked this dancer with her swirling presence.

Mystic art 1 from Burning Man 2017

The incorporation of birds and animals, and our relationship with nature is often included in mystic art, as this painting and those below illustrate.

Mystic Camp art 11, Burning Man 2017

Heart's colors set the Mind Free

Mystic Camp art 15, Burning Man 2017

Mystic Camp art 8, Burning Man 2017

A couple of paintings focused on human contact through the eyes

Camp Mystic art 5, Burning Man 2017

Celestial Venus by Damien Jones at Burning Man 2017

Three ceramic sculptures also caught my attention.

Mystic Camp ceramic at Burning Man 2017

Mystic Camp art 3, Burning Man 2017

If you would like to learn more about the art and artists of Camp Mystic, go to the Camp Mystic site listed above and click on Art and Performance.

Continuing to read down the list of events and lectures offered by the camp, I found that I could participate in workshops on “What the Heck is Leadership,” and “Humankind, Where Do We Go from Here.” The leadership course was offered by Jason Gore who works as a coach for CEO’s who have start-up businesses. It was a practical, hands-on lecture where people could learn communication and organizational skills critical to leadership and included some of the same skills used by Burners in developing their camps. I’ve mentioned before that Google is one of the companies that considers Burning Man a valuable experience for its employees.

Henk Rogers’ course on Humankind was a bit more ambitious. He was discussing topics like how to eliminate our dependence on carbon based fuels and how to end war. He was also interested in how the Universe might end and what we could do about it. (Burning Man has never been shy about its desire to change the world.)

I was amused to find that there would be “Critical Tit Adornment” for the Mystic Camp women who would be riding in the Critical Tit Parade. Neither I nor the public was invited. The parade is an annual event where several hundred women go on a topless bike ride through Black Rock City. I’ve watched a few; the participants obviously have a lot of fun and part of the experience is to have their breasts painted and/or adorned with pasties and even tassels.

I’ll conclude with a couple more shots I took around the camp.

Camp Mystic mutant vehicle side, Burning Man 2017

This was the front half of the mutant vehicle I featured at the top of the post. A large platform on top provides room for Burners.

Camp Mystic

And finally, the outside of the camp.


NEXT BLOG: I will continue my exploration of Playa where we visit a pyramid made out of 100,000 Gummy Bears and a 40-foot tall flamingo, along with aliens and several other art works. It’s possible that we will even be able to answer whether the chicken or the egg came first.

27 thoughts on “Camp Mystic— From Mysticism to Community Building… Burning Man 2017: Part 8

  1. Yeah, Man – you’re right on with that Age of Aquarius!! Looks like a sample of “Iron Butterfly” album covers there too. Ooooh, look at all the pretty colors ~~~~

  2. A few days at Burning Man ought to be obligatory for those wanting to become politicians.

    Perhaps it is not too late yet. Trump might well convert to a more convivial, tolerant, accepting and outward looking president . Could he be enticed to enter this wonderful world?

    With Burning Man lies hope.

    • We might live in a different world, Gerard. 🙂 As for, Trump, they would probably have to rename the festival to “The Wonderful, The Magnificent, The Most Incredible, The Donald,” to get him there. (Laughing) –Curt

  3. Some very very beautiful art here. More and more BM reminds me of the Back to the Land Festival that I attended in Oz twice in the early 90’s. It’s BM on a much smaller scale (about 10,000 people) and without the man.

    • I think there must be a number of festivals around the world, Alison, that inspire art and inspire people. I still remember the first time I went to a Renaissance Faire. 🙂 –Curt

  4. Working backwards I have seen those gummy-bears! Seems each year you cover Burning Man it becomes more …what’s the word. Developed? Organized? Spectacular? Enticing? Great post. Thank you Curt, and my best to you and Peggy. -JoHanna

    • Thanks! What I find, JoHanna, is that each year is different. There is always something I find that captures my attention, something that I go back to several times. It is also possible that I capture more. My primary focus is always on the art. There’s no way I could cover everything. 🙂 –Curt

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