A Touch of the Sacred: The Temples of Burning Man

Each year a temple is built at Burning Man where people go to leave messages honoring loved ones. The temples are burned down on Sunday night releasing the messages to the sky.

The reasons for visiting Burning Man are as numerous and complex as the people who go. For many, a sacred element is involved. One aspect of this is a visit to the Temple.

The Temple is where people go to leave messages for loved ones who have passed on and to give thanks for blessings received. It is also a place for love letters, philosophical observations and whimsical statements. Literally thousands of people participate annually.

The Temple is also a labor of love and one of the most beautiful and unique buildings put up each year at Burning Man. It is burned on Sunday night when the thousands of messages are released into the sky.

I make a point each year of visiting the Temple to read and honor the messages that have been left behind. But I also visit to pay homage to the volunteers who donate thousands of hours and tens of thousands of dollars necessary to build the structure.

The following photos are designed to capture the uniqueness of the temples and the diversity of the messages.

Panels like these covered the temple shown above and demonstrate the care put into building each years structure.

2010's temple resembled a huge sand dune. People gather here to read and leave messages.

The temple from 2006.

This provides an idea of the number and types of messages left at the temple.

Another example of the variety of messages left and how the surfaces of the temple are used.

The following messages I found particularly touching or humorous.

It isn't unusual for people to leave messages about pets.

Or to leave pictures or items such as this guitar.

Fly free, Singer of Songs...

I couldn't resist this message...

A final temple shot. Photo by Ken Lake

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