Burning Seed – it’s a pretty magical place for sure.. but is it a religious experience? A new ritual? (photo: Noma Kim Photography)
by Dokktor Wonderlust
I was fortunate enough to experience Seed 2015 as a ‘burgin’. I am by trade an anthropologist and a couple of days into the experience, a veteran of five years asked for my professional opinion.
My answer was that participation in ritual is an essential part of being human. As the established rituals of the default world lose their meaning and cease to offer us the sense of community they may once have, new rituals like Burning Seed are needed to reflect the values of our changing world.
Language, Religion and Ritual
My experience of Burning Seed brought to mind the work of Roy Rappaport, an anthropologist who spent his career studying ritual in Papua New Guinea and elsewhere.
Rappaport says that language is what makes us human, it allows us to conceptualize things beyond our physical existence and therefore reflect on the nature of our own existence – it facilitates our consciousness.
The human mind has endless capacity to imagine, an our minds are open to infinite possibilities – heaven and hell, angels and demons, wookies and even unicorns (if we must).
However, this same ability allows us to lie and deceive. So how can anyone, much less a society, know what to believe and what to reject? This is a moral question, and Rappaport argues that the answer humans came up with was religion, and the rituals that accompany it.
Ritual is a Community Experience
Ritual prevents language from descending into meaninglessness because unlike mere words, the performance of ritual is considered trustworthy. This is because the meaning of ritual is not determined by one individual performer but, rather, by the participating culture at large – that sounds a bit like Burning Seed to me.
Rappaport argues that ritual is necessary in order to allow one to transcend individuality and participate in communitas – ‘the revelation of the hidden oneness of all things’ – which is beyond the grasp of any one individual and beyond what can be expressed in words.
The Ten Principles
Burning Seed is not one person, and in performing the ritual of Burning Seed we create a society guided by the our cultural fundamentals – the Ten Principles. These are the values that guide the society of Red Earth City.
Another world is possible. In my fluorescent-lit hub of daily wage slavery it is easy to lose sight of this. In the performance of the ritual of Burning Seed we create a more desirable society.
So, in answer to my friend’s question, humans need ritual and as the established rituals of Christianity and Capitalism cease to reflect our values or serve our needs new rituals must be invented. I believe Burning Seed is one of these…
What do you think? Want to find out more? Go LIKE our Official Burning Seed Facebook Page or take a trip around the website and let us have your thoughts… 🙂