Burning man 2017 has ended after a little over a week of “interactive rites, ritual processions, elaborate images, shrines, icons, temples, and visions.” The theme for this year was the “radical ritual.”
Burning Man is an opportunity for artists, performers, and regular folks to participate in transcendental, higher dimensional orgies or just maybe observe one before hopping back in their private planes to reflect on how their mescaline trip can inform their tech startup’s strategy. Every year, an effigy of a man (referred to as the Man) is constructed out of timber and burned at the very end, giving the festival its name.
This year’s burn ended on a tragic note when Aaron Mitchell, a 41-year-old first time burner, jumped into the flames of the festival’s effigy. Several burners documented Mitchell’s sprint to the burning effigy, which you can see here. Rescuers tried to reach him but had to retreat when the wooden structure of the Man began to collapse.
After being airlifted to the burn center of UC Davis, Mitchell died of his injuries. While a full toxicology report is pending, Mitchell was apparently not under the influence of alcohol. Hopefully, as time goes on, witnesses will be able to shed light on what happened and what drove Mitchell to dive head first into the burning Man.
Despite how it ended, this year’s Burning Man was a major experience for the senses, as always. For those of us who can’t make it to Black Rock City or afford to fly in, there’s always photographs to show us what we missed, like a man wearing a helmet made of cell phones or people battling each other in the Thunderdome.