At Burning Man there are actually two central rituals. The first (on the Saturday night) is the burning of the man. A 40 foot high effigy is set alight amongst dozens of fire dancers and a host of fireworks displays. Participants run in circles around the burning man and make incredible noise.
On Sunday night the temple is burned. The temple is further out, and actually much larger overall It is made entirely of wood and is an incredibly intricate art piece. On it participants scribble what ever it is they want to let go of, often sadness about a loved one who passed in the last year (or anytime really). In sharp contrast to the burn of the man, this is a highly somber and quiet. Up close, both of these rituals are physically quite hot. They are also magnificent enuf so that they can be enjoyably viewed from a fairly significant distance.
At the Rainbow Gathering the central ritual mixes noise and quite. Part of the site selection for the part of the national parks which hosts these gatherings is that they need to have a space (for the national gatherings) which can accommodate 25,000 people standing in a large circle holding hands. For the first half of the fourth of July, rainbow kids (some of whom are in their 80s) are silent, doing their daily chores, heading toward a mid day gathering which comes together in a large silent circle. After some length of time which seems cosmologically determined, the kids run into the middle yelling and this is the signal for everyone to run in. Much dancing and partying ensues.
We will have tree houses and zip lines and hopefully turbine platforms as our environment. Presumably, there will be an open field to operate in, and n year one only a few hundred participants. And I believe that this ritual, and its power and effect on people will be one of the things which determines how many people come back for year 2 and beyond.
So I am in dialog with my new lover Premin, who lives in a spiritual resort which used to be a spiritual commune about what gives ritual life and bond people with them. She said these clever things:
The real important thing about ritual is, that it is not a ritual. that it is alive in every moment, that it makes sense, that it takes people into account, and when it doesn’t feel right or fitting any more, it can be changed. It grows with the moment, with the people. It takes presence, and not routine.