RELIGION
09/02/2016 04:08 pm ET Updated Sep 07, 2016

Behold The Dusty Beauty Of The Burning Man Temple

Here today, gone tomorrow.
"The Temple" at the 2016 Burning Man festival
Dave Washer
"The Temple" at the 2016 Burning Man festival

Every year, a team of architects and volunteers construct a colossal temple for the Burning Man desert art festival. And every year, on the last day of the week-long extravaganza, they set it alight and watch as it slowly burns to the ground.

“It is a strange sensation, to watch the temple go up in flames,” Dave Washer, a longtime member of the “temple crew” told The Huffington Post in 2014. “There are these sparks that twirl upward into the night sky. I always look at them as the prayers and the spirit of all the countless people who have arrived here, of those we love and hold dear, spiraling upwards towards the heavens.” 

This year’s temple is set to burn in a matter of days, and all that will be left of it will be photographs and imprints left of the minds of those who were lucky enough to see it in person.

As in many past years, architect David Best designed the structure ― this year named simply “the temple.” Best has designed and coordinated the building of roughly half of the Burning Man temples over the years, starting with the Temple of Mind in 2000.

Washer joined the team in 2008 and called this year’s temple “our best ever.” At 100 feet tall, with a 2,500-square-foot interior and additional 100 feet of courtyard ― the temple certainly seems a sight to behold.

The temple is designed as a place of solemn reflection and prayer. It honors loss, holds space for grief, and offers a shelter for those in need of sanctuary.

Washer shared a reflection with HuffPost on this year’s temple that illustrates the sacred power of the holy, impermanent structure:

There was a moment when we finished building this year’s temple at Burning Man...

After 21 arduous, beautiful days on the playa, after months of pre-build in Petaluma, after dust storms, exhaustion and superhuman resilience we gather together inside. Champagne is opened and we embrace... The chandelier and the altar hang from the peak and emerge from the earth as two sharply honed golden points. In the evening breeze the chandelier moves and the two gold points dance around each other like opposing magnetic forces...

And then there is this moment...

The two points find their moment of stasis. Frozen millimeters apart. Touch to touch not touching. We all see it and feel it at the same time. This moment of perfection surrounded by this temple we created for loss and grief, for release and forgiveness, for one person, for humanity, for us who built it, that in a million years can never be finished nor ever find perfection. Suddenly the silence is broken with howls, cheers, embraces, tears, laughter.

And still the two points hold...

It is our moment! Our perfection amidst the imperfection. At the center of this stands beaming the artist and inspiration of this temple, David Best. We all believed without doubt that this is our best Temple. We take our selfies, say loving words to each other, take the group photo as the sun sets behind the western ridge and then release her to the world arriving on this black rock desert...

Check out photos of the 2016 Burning Man temple below:

  • Dave Washer
  • Dave Washer
  • Dave Washer
  • Dave Washer
  • Dave Washer
  • Dave Washer
  • Dave Washer
  • Dave Washer
  • Dave Washer
  • Dave Washer
  • Dave Washer
  • Dave Washer
  • Dave Washer
  • Dave Washer

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article misstated the area of the temple’s interior space as 50 square feet; it is 2,500 square feet.

HuffPost

BEFORE YOU GO

PHOTO GALLERY
The Amazing Art Of Burning Man Temples
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