Sunday Morning at The Temple of Grace: The Children of Burning Man.

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Zipporah Lomax

The sky was vibrant orange.

I made my way across the open playa, pedaling towards that most sacred of places—the spiritual heart of Black Rock City.

Like a bell resting gently, the Temple of Grace rose in silhouette next to the blazing red orb of the rising sun.

A gentle stillness blanketed the space as I entered—a soft murmur of subtle shuffling, whispered prayers and tears of release—the delicate quietude of reverence.

The altar before me overflowed with layer upon layer of dusty offerings: carefully chosen words scrawled upon wood and paper, cherished possessions and meaningful trinkets, photos of loved ones tucked into every place between, coated in dust, corners curling in the wind. The prayers of thousands joined as one—ready to be unbound in a rush of air and flame.

Zipporah Lomax

There is a certain comfort in such mutual vulnerability, a surprising safety in the company of so many who’ve gathered for varied reasons: to honor and release, reclaim and let go, remember and rebuild. The space takes on the energy of the collective, morphing between sentiments.

At times sorrowful and heavy. At times light and graceful.

I sat in humble silence respectfully observing those around me, aware of a somber sort of heaviness—a thread of melancholy weaving its way between us—some piece of which we all held. It was our final hour to find peace, to scrawl our last words onto any receptive empty surface, to shed weighty tears and say our last goodbyes before that evening’s fire.

A discernible shift rippled through the space around me.

The air, suddenly less dense, felt brighter somehow—as though some tiny sun had risen again to warm us—like a balm, softly applied to our unified grief.

Intuitively, I turned to see the cause.

There, wrapped in orange silk, was a tiny blonde infant. Held safely in her mother’s arms, her deep blue eyes were calmly alert, taking it all in.

Zipporah Lomax

Immediately drawn to her serenity, I moved closer, kneeled beside her and introduced myself.

I watched in awe as Burners took note of little Astara. Her mother, Maura, graciously welcomed all who approached admiringly and Astara received them—patiently meeting their eyes and occasionally reaching out to touch them. These people were clearly moved. Some to the point of tears.

Zipporah Lomax

This precious little being had such an impact on everyone lucky enough to be there that Sunday morning. Her pure presence lifted our collective spirit and helped us exhale and let go of all we’d come there to absolve.

There was a dreamlike quality and a peripheral sense of disbelief in a child so small being there at all. Yet, to little Astara it seemed like the most natural environment. She was so at ease there in the dust, surrounded by hushed and adoring strangers.

Zipporah Lomax

It is encounters such as this that I aim to honor with my upcoming book, Dusty PlayGround. It is a visual tribute to the tiny, magical ones like Astara—the Littlest Burners who are such genuine gifts on the playa.

As a veteran Burner of 15 years, Dusty PlayGround is my testament to the softer side of this infamous event—gentle affirmation that it is so much more than a just once yearly gathering. The children are evidence of its cultural depth, demonstrating the generational diversity that makes Black Rock City a true community.

With this early exposure to the revolutionary principles upon which Burning Man is based—radical self-reliance, self-expression and inclusion, gifting and decommodification, civic responsibility and communal effort, participation and immediacy, leaving no trace—imagine what kind of future these kids might someday create.

Theirs is a world I hope to grow old in.

 

Relephant: 

A Pictorial Journey to Burning Man. {Nudity}

 

Author: Zipporah Lomax

Editor: Khara-Jade Warren

Images: Author’s own

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Zipporah Lomax

Zipporah Lomax has been a professional freelance photographer since 2007, specializing in Festival Photography since 2012. As the fifth of six kids and an auntie to eight, Zippy—as most people call her—has a marked affinity for children. That, combined with her sensitivity for quiet subtlety, has made her a festival favorite, known for her ability to see moments from an uncommonly intimate perspective. Zipporah is currently raising funds to bring her photobook, Dusty PlayGround, to life. You can help make it happen! Please visit her Kickstarter campaign before August 3rd to learn more and consider backing this project. For the Littlest Burners and their amazing parents.

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anonymous Jul 30, 2015 12:45am

This is the reality of Burning Man. Not just a festival in the desert, not a drugged out hippy cult gathering, not a rave party, but a beautiful expression of humanity, diversity, creativity, and culture. Thanks! We need more voices to spread the subtleties of the experience that is Burning Man.

    anonymous Jul 31, 2015 5:23pm

    And I, am so grateful for voices such as yours who speak up in support of such revelations. There have been many who oppose the bringing of kids, stating all sorts of narrow-minded perspectives, reasoning that it is no place for kids. I do hope to shift that a bit with my book. It's long overdue – the public expression of the subtleties of which you speak – that very intangible element that has drawn me back to the dust, year after year.

anonymous Jul 29, 2015 1:52am

Beautiful, Zippy. To be in the presence of such new, raw life is to see more clearly the energy of the divine…this is the power of babies to capture our hearts, our mind, our spirits, our love. I am here at the Mystery School of Love in the Netherlands now and have been captivated by the tiny souls here as well as I miss my own precious children. Thank you for your gifts, your document of pictures and reflection of words.

    anonymous Jul 29, 2015 11:19pm

    Thank you for seeing me, Tobin – for so beautifully reflecting my own experience of these magical little beings. I feel truly blessed to be so acutely aware of their lighthearted presence – so lucky to speak their simple, silly language. Yours, are particularly sparkly. 😉

anonymous Jul 28, 2015 1:45pm

What a wonderful article and PHOTOGRAPHY! Even if Burning Man doesn’t resonate with you, the value of this project is undeniable. it’s hard to not appreciate Zipporah’s talent both for words and capturing raw beauty around her. I can’t wait for this book to come alive !

    anonymous Jul 29, 2015 11:15pm

    Yes, Marta! As one whose work I greatly admire, your support is particularly meaningful. I'm grateful that you understand the deeper importance of this project. Indeed, as the Kickstarter campaign nears its end, I am understanding its significance more than ever. Glad to have you on board!

anonymous Jul 28, 2015 1:24pm

So excited for this!!
Zippy you are an inspiration and beautiful being!! You’re a magical time keeper!

Awesome to think about how these kids will show they’re kids and they’re kids, kids when they all grow up!
Looking forward to the book!

    anonymous Jul 29, 2015 10:44pm

    I love that idea, too, Hoodie – that the kids pictured in this book will someday share it with THEIR kids. Such a beautiful notion! Thank you for your support! I greatly look forward to placing the book in your hands!

anonymous Jul 28, 2015 12:26pm

Your words are such a genuine gift, Yoshi! It's true – we so rarely get to experience our photos in tangible form these days. With everything so simultaneously immediate and disposable, we scroll so quickly through, taking momentary notice and then promptly forgetting as the next image fills our screens. In contrast, imagine holding a book in your hands, feeling the weight of it, turning the pages and slowly meeting the faces pictured there. With Dusty PlayGround, I hope to provide a beautiful experience that transcends simply LOOKING. xo!

anonymous Jul 27, 2015 9:47pm

Having been to eight burns and looking forward to number nine, I've recognized that the Temple is the space that resides closest to my heart. Zipporah has captured in words the powerful magic that brings me to tears every time I enter. Thank you.

    anonymous Jul 28, 2015 12:07am

    It is such a magical place that words truly do not convey. I have offered what words I could find here – yet I still feel they fall decidedly short. I'm glad you found them resonant with your own experience of that space. <3

anonymous Jul 27, 2015 8:26pm

This book is a piece of art just bursting forth with promise and hope for our future ! What a beautifully written piece that truly captures the essence of the Temple at Burning Man and the transformation that takes place within this sacred structure I, for one, am so excited for this art to be presented to the world! Thank you, Zipporah, for putting yourself out there to make it a reality!

    anonymous Jul 27, 2015 9:45pm

    Feeling such genuine support through words such as yours bolsters me greatly! This has and continues to be an absolute labor of love. Knowing that there are so many who are as excited to see this book as I am to create it makes the emotional rollercoaster of its birth all that much easier to endure. Thank you for believing in me, Jill! <3

anonymous Jul 27, 2015 8:07pm

Beautiful description of such a precious place! Thank you for painting it so vividly with your words and pictures. You are one talented women! I can't wait to see you're book!

    anonymous Jul 27, 2015 8:27pm

    I so appreciate your support of this project, Carrie! It is my honor to share these stories and images – indeed, I have been waiting a very long time to do just that. The book will be beautiful – I promise! <3

anonymous Jul 27, 2015 7:57pm

G O R G E O U S !!!

anonymous Jul 27, 2015 7:24pm

Thoughtfully written and hand-crafted by such an amazingly talented woman! These are the futures we want to zoom-in on – and we finally can through the lens of Zipporah. Thank you zipp for creating something so beautiful!

    anonymous Jul 27, 2015 8:25pm

    I so appreciate how clearly seen I feel through your words. My task is to continue to show up and see that which invites me to witness – to honor these futures that are so newly unfolding amongst us. xo!

anonymous Jul 27, 2015 6:54pm

Love this article, the photos and looking forward to more from Zipporah Lomax! What a wonderful idea!

    anonymous Jul 27, 2015 8:23pm

    Much love, Dhani! I'm so pleased you like the idea!

anonymous Jul 27, 2015 6:20pm

Thank-You Thank-You Thank-You Zipporah and Elephant Journal. I am a grandmother a mother and a grateful participant at festivals and gatherings that get us human together in all ages.The description that Zipporah shows in her both writings and artful photography is a perfect testament what can be experience at, in this example Burningman. The faces and the connection in between a child and an adult, the connection in between mother/father and child. There is an energy and a love that is so unconditional and that is what Zipporah with her artful Photography has captured and will capture whenever she is behind her lens. Reading above article lifted me right back to what Burningman meant for me and what it means to thousands of people, unconditional love in a way that is challenging to describe in words,hence Zipporahs art photos are capturing exactly what is felt! Again Thank-You

    anonymous Jul 27, 2015 8:22pm

    Thank you so much for this thoughtful response, Anna-Lena! I do so appreciate knowing that others have similarly deep experiences out there – I look forward to sharing more after photographing this year!