Having selected a labyrinth pattern to be a part of the 3 Old Men ritual, our next issue is construction.
Remember that whatever we use has to be dragged out into the middle of nowhere, set up, and then struck, leaving no trace.
Despite the fact that a city of 68,000 occupies the Playa for over a week, the Burning Man organization is very protective of the the desert floor. They have to be; otherwise, the federal Bureau of Land Management will not give them permission to return the following year. Digging is therefore frowned upon; a turf labyrinth is right out. Plus, who wants to scrape out a trench in 100° weather?
I’m thinking tent stakes and rope are our best bet, but how will we lay out a circular labyrinth that way?
Geometry to the rescue: we will make it octagonal.
… becomes …
Now it becomes a matter of calculating the number of tent stakes (144) and the length of rope (1900 ft) and how to lay it out.
For the record, it’s 40 feet wide, with the paths two feet across. The site plan also allows for a ten-foot swath around it for the officiants to stand.
Here’s an image of the labyrinth with tent stakes:
I show this because if you look a bit at the patterns of the tent stakes, it’s not hard to imagine the outline of the Man himself therein:
So that could be a fun thing, outlining the Man with glowsticks or something. If we had a techwad like Kevin McInturff on board, I bet he could make solar-powered lights that outline the Man in all four directions, fading from one to the other. Yeah, that would be cool. But Kevin McIntuff is chicken to go to the Playa and pretend to be a dirty hippie freak with me. Wait, did I say that out loud?
To set the thing up onsite, I’ve devised a plan:
I even have a detailed, step-by-step process to do it, using the 8-foot staves to lay out the central octagon and then proceeding to use the layout triangle to place the tent stakes in an orderly fashion. The above image, FYI, is from my online workspace at Mural.ly—I highly recommend it as a collaborative workspace!