For nine years, Elizabeth Huebner attended the Burning Man Festival in the Nevada Desert, marveling at the powerful creativity participants bring to this one-week event.
Each festival attracts up to 70,000 people, and everyone who attends is a participant rather than a spectator. This creates incredible, often transformative experiences.
Then, in 2016, Elizabeth took a break from the festival, spending two years studying the Divine Feminine. An idea emerged to build a temple at Burning Man that would guide women into embodying the Divine Feminine.
“This idea hit me like a lighting bolt and took on a life of its own,” says Elizabeth. “The art piece developed into a large-scale interactive temple that would hold interactive ritual theater. I wanted to create a beautiful temple, but I also wanted to explore how we can choose to create sacred experiences through the use of our own will and imagination. When I found out that the 2019 Burning Man art theme was metamorphosis, I knew this was the year to bring this experience to the desert.”
The next big step was to find a team that could join her in the project’s creation. First on board was Elizabeth’s father, David Huebner, who has over 20 years of experience as a carpenter. “It was so fun!” says Elizabeth. “He looked at my design and said, ‘We can build that,’ so he and I got some wood and started playing with how we’d put it together.”
The other huge addition to the team was installation artist Elizabeth Sciore-Jones of Ithaca, New York. “She specializes in interactive altars,” Elizabeth says, “so I gave her the full design of our interior, and she was the one who came up with the idea to weave our walls out of strips of cloth. My original design emulated a skep, a basket-like, woven honey beehive. Using fabric was a brilliant idea to create that effect!”
Using the theme of a beehive, Elizabeth and her team of 20 are constructing the temple in the shape of a hexagon, mimicking the cell configuration that the honeybee builds to store its honey. The 6 outer walls are 14 feet long and 8 feet high, each one handwoven from pieces of donated fabric and women’s clothing. At the center of the outer hexagon is a second smaller hexagon, measuring 8 feet from corner to corner. This is the dais or “stage.” Transparent curtains shroud the inner dais in a sense of mystery.
By day, a statue of a woman with offerings of incense and honey mead sits inside. At night, the dais becomes a golden throne for participants to sit upon as they embody their Divine Self, the center of the ritual theater. The interior is all flowing fabric, ornate altars, and original paintings dedicated to the Divine Feminine. The structure radiates honey-colored light as speakers play the sounds of buzzing bees and heartbeats from the womb.
“What truly makes our space unique, other than the beautiful design, is that this is an active temple in which all participants are invited to take part,” says Elizabeth. “We invite each participant to explore their relationship to the Divine Feminine in a very personal way, by either physically embodying Her and performing Her, or by witnessing and worshiping Her. I wanted to explore how we can all be active participants and creators in sacred experience.
“In ancient times shamans used ritual theater to embody the gods and goddesses. It was sacred—play and the imagination were key. That’s what this project is about, using imagination to create the sacred, to create something deeply true and real, archetypal, and transcendent. The Divine Feminine is of the earth as well as the cosmos. She is of the body. She is awakening in the body, and we intend to call Her forth, to use that experience for transformation, healing, and expansion.”
Elizabeth applied for a grant with the Burning Man organization, and was awarded a partial grant to begin construction through the Honoraria art projects. If you’d like to help finish the project, donate at Hive Temple Bee Divine Embodiment Project on GoFundMe, through Paypal at firstname.lastname@example.org, or mail a check to Divine Mother Temple, P.O. Box 2424, Fairfield.
Burning Man 2019 runs August 25 through September 2, 2019.