The Temples have meant different things to different people through the years. Some people have a strong spiritual connection with it, others use it as a place of contemplation, a place to rest, a place of reflection, a place of rituals, weddings, reunions, etc.
The Temple has inspired its own tradition. Many write letters to the departed, themselves, no one, or everyone, or express the otherwise inexpressible by bringing an object or offering to burn on Sunday night of Burning Man. Those who participate in this tradition often find that it works as a spiritual cleansing, a liberator of the mind, and a psychological release. What is for certain is that the Temple always stirs awe and inspiration. Even if you don’t connect to it spiritually, it is a magnificent piece of art and highly revered as such.
For more information about the history and tradition behind the Black City Temple, please see “Spirituality and Community: The Process and Intention of bringing a Temple to Black Rock City” by John Mosbaugh (aka Moze).
2015 – Temple of Promise by Jazz Tigan and the Dreamers Guild:
The Temple of Promise is a guide. It’s a calming hand, and it’s a listening ear. Nestled in its center is a grove of trees. It’s no tower or pyramid or other such shape dictated by logic alone. It is no less a temple for its lifelike forms. It is more.
Scattered amidst the flow of the Temple area, wooden sculptures shaped like stones form a soft boundary. The tapering spiral of the main structure provides shelter and quiet. The lobed spire at its opening will tower 97 feet high. The tail of the building curls into a circle around the open-air grove, a container well suited for gatherings. The trees will be bare at the beginning of the week, but participants will leave their messages on strips of white cloth, which they will hang from the trees like the leaves of a weeping willow.
2014 – Temple of Grace by David Best and The Temple Crew:
The Temple of Grace will be 70+’ high, and have a footprint of 80’x80′; it sits in a courtyard approximately 150’x150′. The structure incorporates a central interior dome within a graceful curved body made of wood and steel. It will again have intricately cut wooden panels for the exterior and interior skin. 8 altars will surround the temple inside a low-walled courtyard, creating a large exterior grounds for the community.
2013 – Temple of Whollyness by Gregg Fleishman, Melissa Barron, Lightning Clearwater III, and The Connection Crew:
The Temple of Whollyness offers space to reflect upon how to become more whole. It’s epic central pyramid – an 87’x87’ base and 64’ tall – is designed with sacred mathematical proportions and constructed using innovative building techniques. Unbelievably, this majestic sanctuary is crafted completely out of geometric interlocking wood pieces that fit together without the use of nails, glue or metal fasteners. This soulful destination incorporates a symbolic visual history of the mysteries of sacred places, artifacts and monuments found in nature, religion, and cultures. The Temple’s name is derived from the concept that spirituality is a balance between three states of mind – to be holy, holey or wholly present. It is a safe haven to wholeheartedly reflect upon how to live in divine power rather than letting polarizing beliefs and the inevitable chasms – the holes in our hearts – lead us astray from joy.
2012 – Temple of Juno by David Best and the Temple Crew:
The Temple is returning back to the traditional style of temple that our community is familiar with, that we have built over the years as a temple crew.
The Temple grounds will incorporate a large central temple building sitting within a 150’x150′ walled courtyard. The courtyard is accessible by four entrances, one on each of the Temple sides. Benches line the exterior space, and surround the temple. The scale of the central building is smaller than the last years of the temples, but this will be the most detailed Temple we have built. The central building will have altar space, 3 occupied floors, and a tower. Intricately cut wooden panels and shapes will cover the courtyard walls as well as the interior space and the altars.
The Temple’s large enclosed exterior space, along with its interior structure and altar space is intended to address the needs of our community, to reflect and meditate in private.
2011 – Temple of Transition by Chris “Kiwi” Hankins, Diarmaid “Irish” Horkan and Ian “Beave” Beaverstock and the International Arts Mega Crew (IAM):
The Temple of Transition is a place of ritual and transition, a place where we both remember and look ahead, a place of ending and beginning.
Vaulted, lofty, and delicate, five smaller Temples surround a larger central Temple. Within each Temple a different phase of life is marked and explored. Altars and shrines abound amongst intricately decorated archways, windows, and walkways. Peacefulness, reverence, and reflection suffuse every aspect of the Temples. Everyone is welcome, it exists for everyone…
2010 – Temple of Flux by Rebecca Anders, Jessica Hobbs, Peter Kimelman, and Crew:
The Temple of Flux stands not as a habitable building, echoing churches and mosques from our histories, but as a counter-monument. Referencing our impetus to create structure as well as to relate to our environment. The Temple of Flux welcomes participants to take respite. It beckons one to journey its pathways and follow its sensuous lines as they arc into the air.
2009 – Fire of Fires by David Umlas, Marrilee Ratcliffe, and the Community Art Makers:
As human nature and perception have evolved, whether we feel with our heart, question with our mind, or attempt to explain our reality… fire has been at our center. At the center of our structure is the fire. Encased in thirty-two vertical feet of clear polycarbonate sheeting, nine gas lamps come alive as a tornado of flame as participants interact with the Temple. From one flame, all lamps can be kindled: fire imparts infinitely without loss. From a single, human desire all branches swirl out and find form upon a tangled bank.
2008 – Basura Sagrada by Shrine, Tuktuk, and the Basura Sagrada Collaboratory:
Basura Sagrada is a temple constructed mainly from burnable trash, recycled materials, and the tossed-off detritus of American society. Meticulously detailed, the temple is a precious space created from non-precious materials, a receptacle for the hopes, dreams, memories, and elegies of the citizens of Black Rock City. The temple is comprised of five main structures, with a group of outlying buildings growing towards a central nave clad in a series of spires that reach towards the sky. This temple is intended as a refuge for intrepid souls, a place where spontaneous, unmediated conversation occurs between the individual and the divine.
2007 – Temple of Forgiveness by David Best and Tim Dawson and The Temple Crew:
This year’s temple features four grand entrance halls that converge onto a central altar. Above the altar the open tower projects to the sky, letting the energy flow dynamically through the structure. As you approach, you see the central tower rising above the flanking entrance halls; at the top are long curving beams that reflect the arc of the sky. Clad with intricately cut and layered wood, the Temple is a vehicle for remembrances and blessings, promises and forgiveness.
2006 – Temple of Hope by Mark Grieve and The Temple Crew:
Groups of conical towers surround and obscure a courtyard, in the center of which rises a grand stupah. The courtyard is accessible through alleyways between the towers, creating a feeling density and furthering the illusion that you have taken an adventure into another land. The conical towers are built from a series of wooden hoops, lumber and small uniform pieces of white fabric, creating elegant, vertical, catalytic curves. Each tower is a variation based on the theme of curves.
2005 – Temples of Dreams by Mark Grieve and The Temple Crew:
This year’s temple is a family of shrines, spires, and pagodas surrounding a central temple, all woven together to create a village of temples. The village will be as much about the space inside the village as the structures themselves, as a place for the community to gather, to be together, and to reflect. This village is dedicated to the hopes, dreams, and memories of everyone on the playa – to acknowledge where we came from – and where we are going.
2004 – Temple of Stars by David Best and The Temple Crew:
Somewhat grander in scale than previous temples, but horizontal rather than vertical, the Temple of Stars arcs a quarter mile across the Playa, inspired by Japanese sculptural landscapes. A central Temple, 40′ wide by 100′ high, is surrounded by walkways, platforms, and fabricated gardens. Walkways will extend to smaller towers at each compass point. Further outposts will extend from the left and right of the Temple, in turn leading to a bridge on each side. Long approach paths lead up to each bridge. Benches and other contemplation areas will be set up along these paths. The entire structure will be primarily composed of wood, with some metal support elements.
As with previous Temple projects, it will be a place for participants to reflect, honor, remember, and celebrate those they have lost.
2003 – Temple of Honor by David Best and The Temple Crew:
David’s fourth temple on the playa is the evolution of an idea that began three years ago with the Temple of the Mind, and was followed by The Temple of Tears and last year’s Temple of Joy. An imposing multi-story temple made of densely patterned black and white paper over a cardboard and wood frame, the Temple will be a place to honor each other, the earth, our families, ancestors and communities. The temple of honor will also have space to address one’s dishonor, a place to leave it, to release it and let it go. Just as we need a place to honor those things and people we hold most high, so too we need a space to deal with those people and ideals we have dishonored, including ourselves.
2002 – Temple of Joy by David Best and The Temple Crew:
The Temple of Joy will be an approximately 30′ x 30′ structure, the topmost spire of which will reach 100′ into the Black Rock sky. As planned now, it will have a second floor viewing platform approximately 20′ off the ground approachable by one of two wooden staircases. The temple will offer several altars, an ascending series of roofs, and hanging from the center will be a magnificent 20′ long Pendant of Insight made of colored glass and wood — viewable from the raised platform.
The Temple will be built almost entirely of recycled wood and materials and covered with elegantly carved panels. Over the winter, 4000 volunteers from across the country took on the task of carving a five foot square piece of Russian birch plywood according to one of David Best’s designs. Though we try to pre-assemble as much as possible before arriving in the desert, it will require nearly two weeks on the playa to complete construction.
Like last year’s Mausoleum, known as the Temple of Tears, the Temple of Joy will be a place to commune with the passage of spirit. It will also be an embarkation place for voyages to the Great Unknown. Bells and mirrors will abound in the Temple of Joy, and we invite visitors to take time here to reflect upon the gifts we have received from those we love, both living and dead, and to consider how these gifts have changed our lives. Pilgrims to the temple may bring tributes to the givers of these gifts, and they may inscribe messages that memorialize this passage of gifts upon its many-storied walls.
2001 – Temple of Tears (aka the Mausoleum) by David Best and Jack Haye and The Temple Crew:
The mausoleum will be a place where participants can commemorate, remember, venerate, bid farewell, excoriate, exorcise, celebrate, and above all, honor those whose loss has moved them. Parents, friends, loved ones, ancestors, the unborn, those who chose to exit this plane by their hand… in short anyone who has had a loss and that means everyone, is welcome to pause and meditate on the meaning of pain and loss. We will provide small wooden blocks for participants to add the names of their honored and revered and/or despised and reviled lost. All will be housed in a magnificent wooden filigree temple and ziggurat.
2000 – Temple of the Mind by David Best and Jack Haye and The Temple Crew:
The temple of the mind is a place where pilgrims can confront the demons of their own mind and become one with the greater mind. It is made from the recycled wooden pieces of dinosaur kits.
Temple descriptions borrowed from http://www.burningman.com/installations/.