The story is told of how the first settlers of our city arrived in the Black Rock Desert. Drawing a line in the ground at the edge of the playa, they were told that once they crossed this line, “Everything will be different.” Holding hands, they stepped across it. When present day participants arrive at Burning Man they’re met by Greeters. Newcomers are invited to ring a bell and roll about in the dust. On the sixth day of the event, participants encircle Burning Man to witness its destruction. Here, for the very first time, an entire community regards itself. People do this with the reassurance that another Man, an always slightly different Man, will rise anew. At the the end of the event, thousands silently surround a temple dedicated to that strangest and most fearful change of all: the loss of loved ones and our ultimate departure from the world. From first to last, Burning Man has always been a rite of passage.
illustration by Dominic “DA” Tinio