• Ghost Ship Fire Dedication

    A Ritual of Solace and Blessing. Burning Man 2017.

    At Burning Man 2017 on Friday Evening , Sept. 1st, there will be a ritual for the Ghost Ship fire victims.


    The ritual procession commences at 10 PM at the Center Camp Cafe' main entrance where the Laboratory of Hallucinations installation is located. All are welcome to join the procession and ritual!!


    Whether the Ghost Ship Tragedy directly impacted your life, or it was a remote event that you feel sympathy for, you are welcome to participate . Please come!!

    Gathering at the “Laboratory of Hallucinations” installation located at the Center Camp Cafe’ entrance portal a procession will commence that leads down the promenade.

    The Wheel of Samsara painting panel will be taken from the Laboratory of Hallucinations and born in procession along the promenade across the playa to the Temple.

    The procession will circumambulate the "Temple of the Golden Spike", ascending the stairs and going round the atrium and descending again.


    The procession is not intended to be solemn. In the manner of a New Orlean's Jazz funeral there will be a marching band, and in the manner of an Irish Wake there will be levity. No need to give up your festive playa spirit for the procession - there will be time enough to be solemn once the ritual enters the Temple.

    The wheel of Samsara will board the "Song of the Nereids", a human powered playa ship built by the late Pepe' Ozan, and continue along the Promenade to the Temple.

    Procession will enter the Temple and a ritual of blessing, "The Bhodhisattva Dedication" for the 36 victims of the Ghost Ship Fire will be performed.

  • The Bhodhisattva Dedication

    Using the "Wheel of Samsara" painting panel, paintings will be made to honor the 36 victims of the Ghost Ship Fire. The paintings will be made on special paper, washi from Japan that has been blessed at Mt. Koya, a sacred mountain that is the center of Shingon Buddhism in Japan. The blessing on the paper asks that these Ghost Ship Fire victims be free to become Bodhisattva, to transcend the cycle of incarnations, and ascend to Nirvana.

    The Bhodhisattva Dedication will go on until the morning. Each painting will be made rhythmically in a process akin to Japanese Calligraphy, but using a monoprint making process (the same as what is used in the Laboratory of Hallucinations). Each painting is specific to an individual victim.


    The paintings will be accompanied by music, a ritual drone with the slow percussion of a gong to regulate the rhythm of the creation of the paintings. This sound will be overlaid with singing.

    Purpose of the Ritual

    The foremost purpose of this ritual is to bless the dead, and to give solace to the living. Additionally, we hope to raise awareness of practical initiatives that strive to address the underlying social issues that gave rise to an unspeakable tragedy. Edwin Bernbaum, father of Jonathan Bernbaum; a young video artist who died in the fire, has started a non-profit, "Vital Arts" that seeks to foster safe and affordable living, working, and entertainment venues for artists in the Bay Area and beyond. We wish to raise awareness of this effort as well as other efforts to bring positive change in the wake of the Ghost Ship Tragedy. Last, but not least, we aspire to create a ritual of artistic beauty.

    Symbolic Structure of the Ritual

    The Ghost Ship Fire Dedication is designed to symbolically encompass all of Burning Man through touching on it's major institutions: Center Camp, Manbase, and Temple.


    When the Wheel of Samsara descends though the Oculus it circumambulates Omphalos and Expands in Ouroboros!


    Conceiving of Black Rock city as a universe in microcosm, we can consider the Manbase “Omphalos”, a Greek word meaning, “navel of the world” and as such the Axis Mundi around which the festival world revolves.


    Building on this idea, let’s allow that the Center Camp is “Oculus”, a Latin word describing an aperture in a dome, and a signature feature of Rod Garrett’s design of the Center Camp Cafe. Center Camp is Burning Man’s portal to the outside world where all administrative and utilitarian resources are located.


    The Temple may be called “Ouroboros”, another Greek word for an ancient symbol of a serpent eating its tail which symbolizes the eternal return of the cycle of life and death. The Temple is Burning Man’s most sacred center, and provides a meeting ground between the living and the departed, an opening to infinity.



  • Blog

    Documentation of the Ritual and its Creation

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/70674679@N03/sets/72157687430957116   Above is a link to work in progress on the Laboratory of Hallucinations. Amazing design and carpentry by Rex Mundi. Built in Lawrence, Kansas. This structure will be assembled at the entrance of the Center Camp Cafe' at Burning...
    The Ghost Ship Fire papers bearing the names of the 36 victims were blessed during the Japanese holiday of Oban, which is a Japanese tradition to honor the dead. At Mt. Koya, where the papers were blessed, a unique candle light vigil is held in the ancient cemetery Okunoin. These photos document...
    These are photos of the Wheel of Samsara painting stand that is the central ritual object of the Ghost Ship Fire Dedication. This fabrication was done in Lawrence, Kansas by Andre Sitting Up at Seibel Fabricators.
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