Fierce as the Fire: My Journey at Burning Man

I knew that my first year at Burning Man would be an impactful experience. The theme is Metamorphoses so transformation is implied! Of course I sent an intention: let go of control and attachment. That’s all, right?!

I’ve been working on self-love for decades now. I have grown and expanded over the years, becoming more self-aware, open, and loving than ever before.

Yet I still struggle with trying to control relationships and attach to them, to fill my “unlovable” story. I end up torturing myself and in complete grief when a relationship doesn’t turn out the way I want it to.

Ok, back to Burning Man.

I had always wanted to go, but somehow this was my year. In April I told some friends I wanted to go to Burning Man before I died. So I manifested a free pass just a few days later!

But who knew about all the shit you had to buy to get prepared and that this journey would involve survival skills! Yes, it was hot and dusty in the day and my “showers” involved pouring melted cooler water over me on a dirty tarp. Fun.

I was there for 10 days. Even in the first few days, I was like, how am I going to make it this long? But I knew I was here for that long for a reason. That there was work to be done and it was my time to practice patience.

I spent my days in the café. Coffee shop in the desert? Oh hell yeah! I would drink electrolytes, read, write and talk to people who sat next to me. All around me are expressive and creative people making art, practicing acro yoga and connecting with each other.

I wrote and wrote and wrote. I can’t remember when I’ve written in my journal that much. I wrote about my grief and loss.

Why do I try to love someone who is not available to love me back?

Why do I attach to him?

What is missing that needs to be fulfilled on my own?

Really I know that I’ve been living in fear. Fear of showing up fully, fear of being alone, fear of not being loved.

I cried as I wrote. But I didn’t mind. Hell, it’s Burning Man. A place where anyone and anything is welcome.

I was grieving. And I knew I was in the perfect place for healing.

All the time and energy I was spending on these disempowering stories, I could be doing sometime powerful and increasing my impact in this world! What if I could harness this energy into something greater?

When the sun started to set, I would walk and walk and walk, miles through the desert and discovering incredible sculptures. I climbed on as many sculptures as I could. Sometimes I climbed so high that my heart was racing. But being at the top I felt exhilarated and free.

I wandered around, intentionally opening up my energy. Someone handed me a paper butterfly and said, “This is for you.” Once I was walking around at night and the LED lights on my body stopped working. It was so dark that I could have been hit by an art car. Literally, moments later, someone biked up to me and asked if I needed lights and handed them to me.  

So perfect. When I embody love and trust, everything’s right. I’m taken care of beyond what I know or can see. I don’t have to control or force things to happen. I can just let go, show up, and allow the universe to take care of me. It’s time for my Metamorphoses!

Each evening I visited the Temple, as it was the most powerful and sacred place.  All over the walls, there were photos and goodbyes to lost ones. Dreams and inspirations for the future. Each day, the walls keep getting more filled that you could barely even find anymore room to write. I wrote a new dream on the walls each day.

“I love myself. I trust myself. I’m letting go of anything that holds me back.”

I sat. I cried. I prayed.

Every evening it was different, but just as magical and special each time. I watched dancers and musicians play. A poet was typing people’s stories. IN my poem, she wrote, “How can we be attached, when the fibers of our heart and soul have the potential to connect?” It’s infinite, full of possibility.”

I would walk around the Playa, and just be in awe by the vast desert, the sun setting, the mountains…. It’s truly incredible. I felt so connected to the land it did feel like anything was truly possible.

One evening, I found a wooden stairwell. So I walked up it of course! Where would it lead?

It didn’t lead anywhere. It was the Stairway to Nothing.

But it was Somewhere for me. It was the perfect place to sit, watch the sunset, and keep writing.  It was picturesque.

So many people started taking photos of me on top of the stairs. I guess I looked nostalgic. And then European aerialists showed up for a photo shoot?? Welcome to Burning Man:)

Saturday night is when they burn the Man and it’s such a great time to let go of it all. It’s also a huge party! So much fun energy, I loved it! The art cars circled the Man, each blasting different and sometimes competing electronic beats.

I wandered and played all night. I danced on art cars and on stages like if I were 20 again. I met tons of people and was having a freakin’ blast!

I told myself, Liora, remember this feeling. You are happy. You are connected to yourself and connected to something greater. You are on your spiritual path.

I asked myself for a sign. Hey Universe, am I really on the right path? Give me a sign!

Suddenly it felt really dark and all you could really see were people and bikes lit up. I realized that I didn’t know where the hell I parked my bike. I think it was next to some art car??

There were hundreds of art cars and thousands of people in miles of desert. How the hell would I find it? Playa virgin here makes a rookie move! Ugh.

I wandered around trying to find it. I was disappointed in myself and embarrassed. I feared I would have to back to camp and they would make fun of me. And then I thought, oooh, I could lie and tell them it was stolen. Man, I don’t want this to ruin my Burning Man experience!

After desperate wanderings, searching and looking at bikes that weren’t mine, I realized this was silly. That I was acting in fear. I was torturing myself and making myself wrong.

Let go. Release control. Release fear. Trust yourself. Trust your intuition.

I breathed that in and connected to that energy. Instantaneously I felt connected to my intuition Keep trusting yourself, Liora. Stay with it. You got this.

My senses walked me straight to an area that was more familiar. Oh, I remember this place. I then walked straight to my bike!

I was so grateful to have found it. I’ve never been happier to see such a shitty bike!

I remembered that I had asked for a sign that I was on the right path. This was it! It felt extremely empowering and I was validated.

The stars were bright and Jupiter was my compass back to camp.

On Sunday night they burned the Temple. The party was over and everyone was silent.

Burning such a powerful structure reminds us that everything is ephemeral. All the tears, the loss, the grief, and even the hopes, dreams and promises.

People around me were crying. But this time I wasn’t! I had cried earlier that week. I had done my work. I tapped into unconditional love. That I have the capacity to love so deeply and without attachment or an expected outcome. Burn it down!

That last morning, I woke up early to see the sunrise and walked one more time on this powerful land. I finally understood my journey of transformation and all that it took for me to get to be who I became. My last playa journal entry:

I needed exactly 10 days and it all unfolded as it needed to. The dark, the light, the heat, the dust and the prayers. My deepest prayers were answered. I am confirmed of who I am and where I am headed. It’s a path of light and trust and believing in who I am and what I have to offer. I am a beacon of light and a conduit for consciousness. I know who I am and get to share my light with others. It’s time for me to step forward and shine. No more hiding and pretending I’m small. It’s time to be seen and live my dream every single day. Every single moment.

Being back “in the default world,” I still confront some of the familiar pain and fears I was dealing. It doesn’t just all go away, does it. But I know that my experience at Burning Man was one of those milestone experiences in my life. It was a spiritual journey that gave me exactly what I wanted and needed. I stepped into my portal of strength, power, and gratitude and built more confidence, self-love, and trust in my life.

I can never go back to who I was before I stepped onto that vast, mysterious, and powerful desert. I discovered that I’m connected to magic in the air and fierceness in the fire.

2 Comments
  • Chris Pietsch

    September 23, 2019 at 5:48 am Reply

    That’s how you do it! ❤️

    • Liora Sponko

      September 23, 2019 at 6:23 pm Reply

      Thanks friend! <3

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