The Temple of Whollyness

The Temple of Whollyness has been revealed. It’s a massive pyramidal complex made entirely of interlocking puzzle pieces of wood, without any metal hardware. This kind of construction looks and feels organic, like something naturally produced by intelligent life forms — because, of course, it is.

It’ll also go up like the Fourth of July.

This is the method for which its creators have become known; Gregg Fleishman, Melissa “Syn” Barron, and Terry Gross, A.K.A. Lightning Clearwater III, brought us the beautiful Otic Oasis in 2011 and 2012, as well as the pistil inside the base of last year’s Man. These, like the upcoming Temple, were made only of simple, wooden shapes wedded to each other with pure geometry.

Temple creators Syn, Gregg, and Lightning

Otic Oasis, located far out on the fringes of the city, has been so named because it provides much-needed tranquility, which is in short supply in Black Rock City. Thanks to the structure’s remoteness and the intimacy, Otic Oasis was an ideal setting for conversation and reflection. It’s a thrill to imagine a Temple with the same construction.

My relationship to the Temple is complicated. I always feel like I’m taking up space there. Last year, my friend Sarah and I stayed at the Temple for 24 hours just to see if we could, and we made it through, but just barely. We were buffeted the whole time by the pain and sadness and joy and wonder Templegoers scrawl on the walls and scream to the heavens. It’s overwhelming. The Temple is the most intense place on the playa. It contains so much. So the shape of the container is critical. It sets the tone.

The tone of this year’s Temple will be heavily triangular, a 64-foot-tall pyramid with for 20-foot pyramids at its feet. It’s a grand, pleasing form. Its particulars are unusual, but its general shape recalls the great monuments of wonder humankind has built for many ages. It will be a worthy container.

You can help bring the Temple of Whollyness to the playa. Keep up with the project and donate to its construction at and follow it on Facebook.

Anyone interested in the power and legacy of the Temple at Burning Man would be remiss without reading Moze’s seminal document, Spirituality and Community: The Process and Intention of bringing a Temple to Black Rock City. I’d also submit the story Sarah and I wrote, 24 Hours At The Temple Of Juno, as a document of the kinds of crazy, wonderful things that can happen there.

About the author: Jon Mitchell

Jon Mitchell

, a.k.a. Argus, was publisher of the Burning Man Journal, the Jackrabbit Speaks newsletter, and the Burning Man website from 2016 to 2019. He joined the Comm Team as a volunteer in 2010 and as year-round staff in 2014. He co-wrote a big story about spending 24 hours at the Temple of Juno in 2012. His first Burn was in 2008.

9 Comments on “The Temple of Whollyness

  • Corvus says:

    What a grand looking Temple. Every year, that year’s temple is a big part — dare I say most important part? — of my Burning Man Experience. During last year’s tickopalypse, when it looked like the face of Burning Man might be altered irrevocably, I was telling my burner friends, “If Burning Man somehow imploded, and there was nothing left but the Temple, I would still come.”

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  • Dan says:

    it would be awesome to see the full design package/proposal they submitted to BMorg posted either here or on their site

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  • ~lancho! says:

    “It’ll also go up like the Fourth of July.” I can almost hear DPW blasting Freebird already……

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  • willow summers says:

    2011 temple was sooooooooooo amazing i hope this brings the same intimate communal feeling!!

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  • Jameyvegas says:

    Has to just getting so more energetic with the temple WAY TO GO !! BM Family
    Words are not able to describe it friend.
    Radar Portland Oregon

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  • I have to say WOOOOWWWW!…. I can only amagine the amount of energy that is going to collect there and be released into the COSMOS. The ANNNGGGLLLLEESSSS.
    Help I’m Levitating. I sure hope soooo!!!

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  • Curticus says:

    response to Iancho – Please Please No Not Again!!..Was that really DPW that did that??…we were about 75ft from those bastards that decided to blast Freebird during the Temple Burn. We all came to the conclusion that it was a group of clueless “virgins” who thought that maybe everybody would actually LIKE such a thing….nobody I talked to thought it was cool to do that or even liked the song! If people want to listen to music while the Temple is burning use frickin headphones!
    ….ahh,..that’s better…nice to be able to vent :-)

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  • Yes it was a memorial. Their burn ran over yours for all of three and a half minutes. We all survived.

    Did you let it disturb your peace? Or did you roll with it?

    Now back to the point. Killer design y’all. Can’t wait to see it go up!

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  • Mike "Techno Bear" Murray says:

    I Loved everything from BM 2012, from the head-over handlebars crash on my playa tiger bike to the tears I shed in the Temple.

    I accepted and learned to cope with everything and have brought that attitude with me to the Default world. Now saying that, I absolutly loved the “Free Bird moment”!! and so did the majority of my camp (a drop in the bucket of 20 souls).

    Hey, it could have been Dubb Stepp, then how would you feel? get off youre ass and dance or cry and pout, it’s your life how do you want to be?

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