COSMIC COWBOY: ‘The Hidden World of Burning Man’, The Greatest Party on Earth or an Epicenter of Consciousness?

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“…Burning Man is a place where you can finally drop all façades and reveal who you really are — with nothing to prove, and no one to prove it to, and if you don’t know who you are, you’ll have plenty of space and freedom for self-exploration”:

The Hidden World of Burning Man – The Greatest Party on Earth or an Epicenter of Consciousness? – By Nanice Ellis

As an experiment in consciousness, 70,000 people from all walks of life gather in the harsh desert and build community from the ground up. For one week each year, Black Rock City becomes the home of Burning Man, and with its own airport, hospital, and post office, one of the largest cities in Nevada, USA.

Although each year is based on a unique theme, the week always culminates with burning an extremely large wooden man; symbolizing the transcendence of old paradigms that no longer serve individually or collectively. Unfortunately, this year the celebration ended with tragedy when a man jumped into the blazing fire seconds before the structure collapsed. After a magical week in the desert, this terrible turn of events left the citizens of Black Rock City shocked and confused, “Why would something like this happen?” Since there are no mistakes in the Universe, as a “five-time Burner” I’d like to share a deeper perspective….

Consciousness Rising

After an intense mind-expanding week in Black Rock City, most participants (known as “Burners”) experience an incredible rise in consciousness. Of course, this is wonderful, but the high energy/vibe that Burners bring back to “real life” (or default reality as they call it) is often un-relatable to family and friends. This year, however, the climactic tragedy grounded many Burners, so, upon returning home, they might speak about Burning Man differently. Instead of describing the greatest party on Earth in a manner that’s un-relatable to non-burners, they might present a more meaningful picture.

Quite possibly, by communicating the true essence of Burning Man, the high energy and vibration experienced in Black Rock City can ripple out to the families and friends of Burners worldwide – awakening consciousness one ripple at a time!

Therefore, as Burners tell their tales, instead of describing a 50-foot sheep driving across the Playa, a fire shooting octopus, or hundreds of other mutant art cars, they might talk about Burning Man’s all-inclusive community where no one is judged or excluded, and everyone is seen for who they are and not what they do.

Self Expression

Rather than showing photos of a disco roller derby, skate park, or circus theme camp, this year, maybe Burners will share the beauty of radical self-expression. In fact, maybe they’ll share that Burning Man is a place where you can finally drop all façades and reveal who you really are — with nothing to prove, and no one to prove it to, and if you don’t know who you are, you’ll have plenty of space and freedom for self-exploration.

No doubt, as new and seasoned Burners emerge from their real-life comfort zones each year, they shed limiting beliefs, find their inner voices, release inhibitions, forgive the past, and embrace new dreams.

Ultimately, Burners discover that Black Rock City is a safe place to shine. Regardless of body composition, age or expression, “shiny people” are absolutely beautiful – and consequently judgment of others naturally dissolves.


Instead of describing interactive art installations, virtual 3D games, and millions of LEDs lighting up the dark desert night as thousands of people ride their bikes through sandstorms, maybe this year Burners will talk about unity, community and collaboration, and how everyone works together to survive the harsh desert while building a massive city that thrives. Filled with world class artists, performers, scientists, engineers, builders, and healers, Burning Man is not a hippy community as many non-burners have been led to believe (although everyone is welcome and equally respected). Burning Man is a central hub for thought leaders, paradigm setters, and out of the box innovators. Many of the world’s best minds are found collaborating under the Tree of Life, surfing the Playa on mountain boards, or socializing in Center Camp.

Random Encounters

Instead of sharing mind-altering psychedelic experiences, this year, maybe Burners will share their most touching real-life experiences; random encounters they’ll never forget, lessons that changed their lives, or challenges they overcame. Maybe they’ll share how they came to the rescue of someone in need, or how a stranger offered them unconditional love and support at a moment of vulnerability.

Without facades, the borders between people are non-existent, and, therefore, it’s possible to connect with virtually anyone you meet on any given day – and not just superficially, but, rather, deep profound connections that ripple through the soul, and even though most paths never cross again, life changing encounters are never forgotten.


This year, rather than explaining how a Boeing 747 made it to the desert as an all-night dance club, maybe Burners will talk about a gifting community where money has no value, and how a greater universal currency generates energy. Moreover, in a non-monetary society, the magic of manifestation is everywhere. Indeed, when we don’t depend on money as a means of exchange, the Universe provides in miraculous ways. (please read my 2015 article “Burning Man – a magical land where thoughts become things”).

Burning Man is Medicine for the Soul!

Although a Burner never forgets watching their first sunrise from the temple or climbing a giant jelly fish sculpture 100 feet in the air, maybe this year, Burning Man will be more accurately described as medicine for the soul. Of course, there’s no telling how this energetic medicine might work, but, oftentimes, personal issues surface to be healed, and as disempowering beliefs are dispelled, old paradigms demolished. Few will argue that the Playa knows how to heal the heart and mend the soul, and by weeks-end, most Burners discover personal liberation.

No doubt, Black Rock City insists that you grow up and take responsibility for yourself so that you can collaborate in creative community.

What happens in Black Rock City….

Although Burning Man presents a magical world where consciousness awakens, the real and everlasting magic occurs off the Playa when Burners return to their global home communities. Indeed, it’s not what you do at Burning Man; it’s what you take from Burning Man that counts most….

Many leave Black Rock City in possession of a unique vision that illuminates their path, and, for the very first time, they return to reality as their True Selves — equipped with the courage for self-expression, they have the confidence to pursue their dreams.

Yes, there’s some super crazy stuff at Burning Man, and there always will be, but behind the glitz and glam, Burning Man represents a radical world where individual self-expression collides with community collaboration, and birthing a whole new paradigm for humanity, consciousness awakens.

Illuminating a message of love and community, what happens in Black Rock City every year is not meant to stay in Black Rock City. Indeed, when seventy thousand people carry sparks of consciousness back into reality, “what happens in Black Rock City” changes the world!

With love, grace & gratitude,

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