September 16, 1999

Well, all the webloggers have come back from Burning Man. I'm assuming that you know about Burning Man.

I'm assuming you know that the creator of this annual 90's be-in started the tradition from humble beginnings in 1986. Larry Harvey was wanting to do something cathartic after breaking up with a loved one. So he build a man out of sticks, held a barbecue, and at the end of the evening, torched the figure.

I'm assuming you didn't know that my mother has done something similar - torch a burning figure every summer - all throughout her childhood.

My mother is from a farm. My mother is also from Europe and where she is from it is tradition that every summer solstice, there is a community celebration in which there are songs, food, bonfires, and the burning of an effigy of a witch. She has fond memories of those evenings.

Now, my mom is not anti-Wiccan. The effigy burning was just a little Christian tradition that has been passed down throughout the generations.

In fact, it's thought that the Christians, when they first gained the cultural foothold in the area from the previous pagans, took over some of the more popular pagan rituals and Christianized them. And so the celebration of Winter Solstice became Christmas. And so the pagan ritual of burning an effigy of a man turned into burning an effigy of a witch.

And it is thought that effigies were used to emulate those earlier cultures that would have a human sacrifice every year to ensure a good harvest for the following season. Ever see The Wicker Man?

I hope Burning Man continues. But knowing the chances for myself to attend the event are very slim, I do hope for local, community Burning Mans to pop up.

Just like the ones that mom used to go to.