Though the history of Fire Lingams goes back over 6000 years, at Burning Man it began in 1991 CE, when a sculpture by Pepe Ozan first burned on the playa.
In the early years, there were two main community burns: the Friday night ritual burn of "Pepe's Tower", then the burning of the Man himself the following evening.
Each year the Friday Tower Burn ritual became more elaborate. Preparations drew on the talents of theater professionals, musicians, dancers, costumers, and mask-makers. On the playa, everyone was invited to participate, and a large percentage of burners present did.
By 1996 these rituals were renamed the Burning Man Opera. Each opera took inspiration from a different religious tradition or myth. Favored in each tradition were the possibilities for expressing Dionysian ecstatic release through theatrical reenactment.
It is the year ll58 AD, Constaninople. When a treacherous Cardinal reveals that the Empress Zoe is a hermaphrodite, she is condemned to be drowned in the Bosporous.
The High Priest of Hell incites the jealousy of the Graces, who assist him in the Infinite Recreation of Fire.
Satan, embodied as a goat to please His wife, is amused by the events that threaten the very Balance of the Universe. As Chaos erupts, the Mantra singing of 50 devotees and 1000 participating audience members helps to save the Universe.
From the Great Above to the Great Below, 100 devotees, supported by an emotional audience and opposed by the Nissabas, demons of the Underworld, helped re-established the Cosmic Order by accompanying the Goddess of Love in her quest to rescue Tamuz to the world of the living.
On the night of the final lunar eclipse of the millennium, an ancient Dravidian Fire Ceremony was enacted on the playa. Participants and audience summoned the Cosmic Desire that engendered the Beginning of Time in a rite of Ecstasy and Sacralization.
In a ceremony of Mystery and Sacralization, the members of the five sects of Playa Voudoun (the green-mudded snake-people of Damballah; the red, fire wielding knights of Ogoun; the white-veiled, erotic Ezilis; the black-draped, morbidly obscene yet capricious Guede; and the energetic drummers and builders of Couzin Azaka) invaded the flaming Sacrosanct Pentagon.
At the climax of the rite, altars, stages and giant totems were set ablaze. Frenetically dancing to the fire, the Children of the Spirits, followed by all Burning Man participants in attendance, pierced the flaming Portal of Life and Death in an initiation by fire into the new era.
THE THAUR-TAURS OF ATLAN
For two weeks in the desert, the Troupe of the Traditional Burning Man Opera boldly recreated life as it was lived thousands of years ago, during the visit of the Pleiadians to our planet.