The Lost Shamans Of Scotland

Shamanism has been of interest to me for quite some time ever since I found out that the Shamans of Inuit culture were able to astral travel through their dreams. That seems like a very long time ago now. Long before anybody in the mainstream was talking about ayahuasca and journeying to the jungle to connect with mother Gaia. I suppose that is where my particular journey began in a way. Not on an ayahuasca trip, on a quest for something deeper and greater than myself.

 This quest initially lead to travel and engage with others who had been burdened with the same quest for belonging. That naively it might be a geographical location rather than where belonging might reside in the soul. I was a very long way from discovering what it might be to be off in search of people. What they might look like and who they might be. What I largely found was people medicating by location. The extremes that one might go to solve a problem by ways of distance and more than this the nihilistic recourse of escaping from escapism (that’s a thing).

It always fascinated me the lengths that people would go to, to belong, the places and subject that they might be engaged with in order to find themselves. Smoking opium and Buddhist mountain retreats seemed to flawlessly to stitch together the synergy of new-age consciousness and the sparks of spirituality. As ideas of The Global Village settled into our being one long haul flight after the other. Global Soul’s and Global Citizenry only now seemed to be entering the Global Consciousness now as part of the great pause.

To that end, I always felt very blessed that I had a religious upbringing and too some concept of a spiritual practice, even if I didn’t maintain one. In more recent years I found it deeply humbling to be blessed with the knowledge of where I actually come from geographically and how much comfort that has brought me.

You see while everyone else was running off to India and indeed foraging in the jungle it perplexed me deeply; What they would do when they got home? When they had transplanted the wisdom of another culture onto their own, completely denying the one that already resided there, which was, for the most part, Christianity, where I came from.

In later years it became clear that the quest for self-knowing and belonging was caught up in the idea of consumption, that we had to be somewhere else. Have something other and in many ways idolise the exotic in order to experience growth. It all seemed like fooey to me. Yet at the same time, I was deeply lost myself. Being endlessly evicted from my life and circumstances with the weight of emotion that nobody seemed to bear. I didn’t understand education. The idea of business seemed preposterous and more than that everywhere I went and no matter who I spoke to I was being asked to be everyone other than myself. All to fit in what was clearly a highly destructive system, that nobody else gave a fuck about. That everybody else had resigned themselves to be complicit in, while self-medicating and dreaming of escape and refusing to change anything. I was confused perplexed, disgusted by the consequences of these actions and the selfishness that drove them. It was clear we all lived in a deeply interconnected system that everyone was ignoring. How is the name of fuck was anybody motivated to participate in a life that benefitted the minority and question our right to exist anywhere beyond the space of corporate greed?

My quest for knowledge has pushed me into the depths of history, specifically the history of Scotland. In order to gain a better understanding of self and mitigate the rage I’ve been navigating all of my adult life. It was in this process that I begun to understand colonialism and even instigate my own form of decolonisation that worked around a better understanding of time in the personal sense, rather than the historical.

In recent months I’ve been thinking about Shamanism in relation to Scotland and in essence our lost ancient wisdom. I mean is it still there or just some kind of pseudo sacredness that has been derived from the ancient texts that weren’t burned in the fires of the reformation, along with our wise witches. We might use words like witches or even more recently Cailleach. The Scottish destroyer Creator Goddess of the Storms that each wise woman somehow embodies. The Cailleach certainly resonates with me even though my own ancient culture is lost to me. I’ve been calling in Kali for quite some time now. Finding divine feminine power all stirred together in the great boiling cauldron of creation seems therapeutic and appropriate.

As I grew up when we talk about Scottish wisdom it was barely a whisper. The oral histories were strong and women were stronger and the men were broken with the bars of their intoxication. Most of our wisdom is lost to us and at best hidden from us, the Scots. Unless you are Gaelic, speaking and even then it’s an archaic unfolding of what was a vanishing language, scattered among the isles.

I can hear the uproar now. For a woman that has been living outside the country for nearly twenty years I can understand why. Anyways I’m back now and ready to claim the ancient wisdom that I have to say I’ve been so desperately searching for all my life. You see that’s what they don’t tell you. That we are all misplaced. Even the book I was recently ready about witchcraft in the mid to modern period talking mainly about women using English folk magic. Which tells you a lot.

I have yet to unpack exactly what the use of an English Wisdom Keeper by richer English immigrants might have meant during this time. I’m doing my best not to jump to the conclusion I might want to. That Scottish magic was already being quietly pushed to one side in the prevailing geographic identities. That an internal xenophobia of the native might well indeed be the reason why the witch hunts started. A wee bit jealousy as a result of the local shamans being placed on the sideline. Of course, it is pure speculation. It is also pure speculation that magic-making was driven firmly underground.

Maybe this is how we lost magic. Maybe a war on between magicians started  in Midlothian  and spread globally. You see I write things and I find odd truth in them. Then you need to be open to the idea that JK Rowling was channelling something. Here in Edinburgh? Hmmm now, that had really given me food for thought.

The thing is even though Scotland may be all sorts of famous for out myths and legend we’ve lost our magic. Maybe that’s why the Scottish highlands is a placed renowned to be steeped in mystery because we simply don’t know who we are anymore or where our true power lies.

After finding out about the journey of the Sanusi I found out that you need to be called 9 times. Called to do what exactly, is still beyond me. Then I thought about it a bit more. Maybe it’s being called back to yourself. It made me think of the many Scottish people that I have met on my road through life specifically Scottish men. They were all in search of something. More than this they seemed to embody the wildness they were running from. They were lost in their own wildness. It was this that brought me to muse on The Lost Shamans of Scotland and how I might be one of them. You see on all my adventures through Scotland I’ve never met a psychic that did smoke and drink. Yet it’s not the story people want to hear. That where I come form whiskey is not just expensive it’s sacred. It holds our stories our values and it’s the glue that binds most relationships, both friendly and menacing and intimate together. Sometimes all at once

You see we do know our own magic in ways that can’t be fully explained, with a sadness and joy that can’t be diluted for easy consumption. It makes me think about Billy and one of the song’s he wrote. It expresses more about systemic trauma and displacement than I ever could with the idea of life on the road.

It reminds me of the working men I knew that would often go off on a bender maybe for a weekend sometimes for a month. Those wild men might wander out onto the road and accidentally stay there. Starting out with nothing more than a tweed blanket, some walking boots and a longing to be found. I’ve met so many of them on the road scratching at their soul and itching to get away no matter how far from home they might already be. These days I greet them as lost faithful friends, who share the same scratching at their soul. These are The Lost Shamans of Scotland.


The Heart of Yew

This is a grandfather tree and old chestnut tree in Roslin Glen very close to Roslin Chapel.

When I look back through time I often consider what it is that we really know about the past. I’m talking about human history here and not my own. Once again the stars have lined up to deliver something oddly undeniable, In fact to the point where I am beginning to believe that I may well be living somewhat of a new normal. It’s not so much instant manifestation as it is flow state where all the information comes piece by piece an all at once. It’s more of a challenge keeping track of the story than it is being in the right place. That’s a great place to be in my book.

So I cam back to Scotland on Friday the 13th. I did find this date a little bit worrisome. Right up until I met my mate David at the airport. Who told me he had a mate who was looking for a flatmate that lived right next to the Planetary Healing Center that also happened to be about 3 minutes walk from the beach. Where we bumped into a group of women wild swimmers on the beach having a bonne fire. It was clear I was here on a mission.

Fast forward one week; it’s the winter solstice and we are down in Roslin Glen singing and sharing to some very old trees, as I try to drown out the call of The Mother City and tune in to the heart of Scotland. It was hard as I felt the Table Mountain’s imprint deafening me. People had warned me about this. Next minute I’m outside the farmhouse in which a South African’s connection’s mother was born, just outside Roslin,  once again all quite serendipitously. It’s more than coincidence.

A few day s later and I find myself in Ormiston trying to remember why I now this place. Why does this name mean something? I’m thinking about David Livingstone again. I’m thinking about James Young. There is an old cross, not a Celtic one just nad old one about 500 hundred years or so. I found a plack about an Ancient Yew Tree, I can’t see it. These trees are usually hard to miss, especially in winter with there deep evergreen branches. The promise everlasting life, renewal and remembrance. Thay can be found in churchyards across Europe and signify the pagan origins of Christian places of worship. It turns out the tree was a short way outside the village and my friend David knew exactly where to find it. Given that we had been singing to some ancient trees only a few days ago and that it was the run-up to Christmas it seemed more than appropriate to give a visit. As David said you enter in through the yoni. This yew was a layering yew and which means the branches had bent to the ground and regrown creating,  what looks like a hedge round the main tree. It was quite remarkable.

That night I did a meditation and envisioned a Yew tree growing through my heart chakra as a sign of ever undying and eternal love.

On Christmas Eve I got the bus into Edinburgh and it was only then when I saw it as we rode through the main street. A small monument to  Robert Moffat the founder of the Moffat Kuruman Station, who had been born in the village over 200 years earlier.

What struck me most was that he (Robert Moffat) must of known far beyond the Christian paradigm the greatness of creation. You can’t live in proximity to a tree-like that an not wonder at the history and magic of your own people. Just like in Kuruman where the Eye is. These natural wonders speak of worlds beyond colonialist paradigms.

New Connection and Conversation through SynchroDestiny


Since meeting Credo Mutwa life has gotten deeply connected so much for that the attracting game seems to be playing at speed. Unless you are interested in planetary wave of the stuff. A few months ago after a short conversation with an acquaintance who needed some help developing their arts career a little further. I headed out to see one of my co-creators who might be able to help. This year my Radical Curatorship idea has been slow to take off. Which was far more to do with personal circumstances than anything else. Yes, that stuff. Yes, the stuff of life. Anyway, I had initially considered the idea of taking on some form of agency rolls and then I remembered how much admin and sales bore me. That it is the deep hard conversations of creation that pulls me in, that make my life magic.

And just like that Ingrid turned up at the door. Ingrid had collaborated with Credo for twenty years, she was even selling DVD’s she had made of him talking about ancient and sacred sites in South Africa. Not only this she had been deeply involved in the creation of the Rainbow Nation. How odd it all seemed. I hadn’t yet been introduced to the idea of Synchro Destiny by Deepak Chopra yet though. So in retrospect, it all makes perfect sense. We had a 5-hour conversation that didn’t stop and we weren’t even drinking that much at all. We rhymed on about the appropriation of ancient African culture, its misinterpretation combined with misrepresentation and the impacts of trauma on the South African story. That ancient wisdom and history were getting lost and that there seemed barely enough time to catch it before it disappeared into the ether.

More than this it seemed to be frequently misappropriated by ‘white men’ in order to pursue unauthenticated ideas of ancient history where they had barely consulted a local.  That somehow there own guesswork might be better informed than people who had lived in the location for generations.

One of the things that of course came up was my insight into the Kuruman Moffat Station where David Livingstone had lived. How under-resourced it was and how it may well by an excellent site to develop a museum that or cultural site that acknowledges the impacts of colonialism on the Southern African culture and how better working practices could be put in place to help guide both cultural collaboration and initiatives in the future. it could also be used as a centre for African spiritual studies, while still serving local theologians. It was exciting to find that we shared the same view and that we also wanted The Eye of Kuruman to be restored to its natural state and that Kuruman itself could be developed as a cultural centre, where Credo’s work could also be showcased in potentially in conjunction with the Credo Mutwa Trust.

Of course of five hours there was so much more information exchange than I can share here. The thing is the connections were made from nowhere and just like that it would appear SynchroDesstiny was activated.

Credo Mutwa, Cultural Appropriation and a Road Trip Through Time.

Art Work by Credo Mutwa

I’m that woman, the one that moved to South Africa and had it on her tick list that she wanted to spend some time with a serious Sangoma. Seven years later after a few serendipitous meetings, the power of intention caught up with me. With the reminder that things of this nature should unfold naturally.

I had been permitted to go on a journey to Credo Mutwa see. A man who seemed to live somewhere within myth, legend and the astral. I remember when I first learned about the ideas of The Shaman, that in ancient and indigenous cultures that there had been seers and dream walkers who had been able to collapse time and the multiverse and communicate in other realms and dimensions. That here in the earthly realm they could sing to whales, call the buffalo and tame all the wild things. They could read the wind, decipher the sky and made magic with their words and healed with their potions. The Shaman in these terms seemed too magical to be human. Too other to be real. Too astral to be earthly and yet here I was on a journey to meet a man who for all of the above was true.

The power to be able to manifest such a meeting was not lost on me. Yet at the same time laid awkwardly within my consciousness. After all, it had only been eight years earlier that I had arrived for the first time in Southern Africa. That I had been told by a white man with a gun that “You wait and see you’ll be racist within a year. You don’t understand what it’s like” I still don’t understand what it’s like and I’m still trying to figure out where my own biases leave me in the realms of racism a concept I don’t even believe in. Why can’t we just call it what it is skin shaming? My knowledge of sub-Saharan culture was nil to zero and for years any “educated” person I bumped into endlessly seemed to proclaim that there was nobody here before the Europeans arrived. It seemed grossly naive at best, and convenient fairytale at worst. All the time while being asked about Scotland and how one might love to go there one day because it was “So ancient”. It seemed a perverse conversation on a continent that possessed all of human history. I was waiting to be invited to find out more, yet the conversations never came and it never seemed to be my place to cross the lines and take that which had not ben given to me.

You see coming from the west it has always fascinated me the lengths that one might go to, to find themselves. For decades now I have witnessed the hippy trail take people on an enlightenment trip East or into the depths of Peruvian jungles to commune with the plant medicine there. In the ever-increasing illusion that there might be somewhere better than here. Denial apparently is not a river in Africa and even though it is not my place, I often beg to differ. For years now I’ve been trying to find out the names of indigenous festivals, to be endlessly told there aren’t any. I’ll admit there is a high probability that I am asking the wrong people. However, it seems more than puzzling combined with quizzical that there are no commonly known seasonal markers. That festivals appear to traverse human life spans rather than earthly movements and that is absolutely all I know about that. That the books I have been afforded seemed woefully inadequate to inform me beyond the writers own misinformation. How do I know these things? I intuit them I suppose. That I am looking to unravel a far greater mystery a much bigger origin story.

Yet here I was on my own ego trip to commune with a master of consciousness knowing that there would be no time. That maybe I would catch a glimmer of a frequency or a shard of insight. That the most that I might be able to hope for was to bathe in his energy field for a while. After all, he was ninety-eight and we had been warned that he may not be as coherent as in previous years. This warning posed deeper questions… Yet we’d been permitted to impose ourselves. Only time would tell us what it meant and it seemed to big a question to not be answered in person.

I’d seen him on a documentary once at a place that had been re-named Adam’s Calendar the world oldest stone calendar that marked the movement of the sun. A structure so old that it’s placement could account for the continental shift. The documentary has been deleted from YouTube now for reasons that are only known to its maker. That is how I came to know of Credo. He had been initiated there a long time ago. Yet still, the name of that place eludes me. As it should. There are secrets that are supposed to be kept, so as to not give their power away. If there is one thing I know through my indigent whiteness is that there are some secrets that need to be earned. That don’t come out of nowhere that a wisdom keeper has to bestow on you. You can’t get there unless you fall through a rabbit hole or two and only they will know when you do.

In South Africa, a Shaman is known as a Sangoma. Credo is not just a Sangoma he is a Sanusi. In fact the last Sanusi. A Sanusi is the highest-ranking of the Sangoma. A Sangoma that has been called nine-times to the path. I’m still not one hundred percent sure exactly what that means. Though I think it’s got a lot to do with leaving, breaking and surrendering all at the same time. It made me considered the lost Shamans of Scotland and if there was still full knowledge of such things? If the second sight, that I had been brought up on might take us somewhere beyond tarot card readings in the kitchen, ghostly sensations, the time jumping qualities of visioning and insense laden rooms with crystals.

Magic is not for sissies and when I think about the idea of this although it might seem trivial I often think of Gandalf. How amazing that is and yet at the same time how incredibly inappropriate. Yes, I was heading out into the wild as culture vulture ticking off the box on the to-do list. While rolling dice with the deeply profound and hoping to get away with it. What was wrong with me? I’d spent most, if not all of the last seven years ducking the idea of ‘social responsibility’ refusing to impose my privilege on the unsuspecting masses. An active observer and unwilling participant. Yet now here I was ready to grab the cherry all for my very myself, in a deeply hypocritical style that would smooth and serve my ego in ways the devil would be proud of. Yet still, I was here on this journey?

What if something deeply profound happened? What if Credo really had something to say? How might it change my life? It was not my first journey into the unknown and I’m old enough now to know little changes about me except my mind as it expands.

It made me think about my mate Christian, who had been the last person that I had known to have an intimate understanding of alien consciousness. He had never fully shared the full extent of his knowledge and I often regretted that the opportunity for that conversation had been lost, when he accidentally drowned in 2012.  What had always struck me was he died very shortly after he had re-named his boat, New Moon. Now it seemed more pertinent than ever.

We were meeting Credo on the day of New Moon in Leo the day that the divine feminine supposedly officially took control. There were strange circumstances (of course there would be).  He was delighted to see us when we actually arrived and was as you might expect a ninety-eight-year-old to be. He talked in rhymes and riddles connected to fact. You had to listen hard to get it. I followed as best I could. It was the frequency that was the main thing. The light beaming through his soul and the portal his brain created to other worlds that seemed energetically tangible. The conversation ended and my questions continued.

What a strange feeling it was to be Kuruman and just like that time looped back on itself and the deeper connection became clear. The next day we visited The Kuruman Moffat Station and it all seemed to make a little more sense. I had ended up exactly where I had intended to be for a massive chunk of my life on the trail of David Livingstone. The village that I grew up in had a connection with the man due to one of its past residents Jame ‘Paraffin’ Young who had funded much of David Livingstone’s journey to Africa. I had learned of this great adventure at school and here I was standing somewhere I had seemed to be destined for most of my life wondering if I might be the only person to have come all the way here from there? Time collapsed and I wondered exactly what I was supposed to do with this strange predicament. It felt deeply symbolic as I considered my relationship between Scotland and South Africa and most specifically these two places Kuruman and Wemyss Bay.

We then drove to Kimberley. A place for obvious reasons very close to my soul. Where I was able to buy myself a Kimberley diamond.

I had fulfilled two life long dreams in one accidental journey. This is how the magic presents itself in the fulfilment of dreams and intentions set long ago. Both of these things came in pure flow to the point where it was mindblowing.  Was this the power of coming to meet Credo?

You probably considering why I might dare mention David Livingstone and the extraction economy in an article about Credo? Or how Scottish woman might be audacious enough to presume that any or all of these things are connected? And yet they are. I don’t know exactly how yet! All the information is there. I have to follow the breadcrumbs to find the magic. As my rapid response to flow, state is teaching me.

You see it is ancient culture and it is ancient wisdom. There are no clocks to set magic by. “A wizard arrives exactly when he means to” Did I mention that JRR Tolkein was born in Bloemfontein.  There are always clues. You must follow those breadcrumbs. So you can imagine my amazement that David Livingstone ended up in the town where Credo Mutwa would live 100 years later. That the poster boy of colonial adventure and religious imposition might be completely outshone by a great holder of ancient South African wisdom. After all, in South Africa Credo is a living icon.  A revolutionary figure that whispers magic into the hearts of all of South Africa’s children and way far beyond.

Kuruman too was home to one of the most powerful freshwater springs in the world. The spring is known as The Eye of Kuruman. Which is far less menacing than it sounds if you discount the bad landscape architecture that has been imposed on this natural power source. You see the land has stories to tell us. Wants of its own. The land is sacred. It calls us. It pulls us close. We have to be able to listen to it and see what grows there. To eke out what information is necessary among the profundity.

Then just like that, it would appear my trajectory might have radically altered. It’s taken me over two months to write this it might be an indicator of the rapid-fire of manifestations that have taken place in my life since then. Significance and meaning connecting dots faster than my neuro synapses can process them.

Radical Curator

It recently occurred to me that curatorship is philosophy for the material world. For a long time, I have known that the way that we understand the world is through objects. Whether it is an ancient Egyptian monument or through away plastic bottles. Each and every item that survives beyond its immediate use tells a story.

What I have always understood is the Curators have a unique say in whether an item is deemed important or not kept or discarded.  Collected or disposable, recorded or overlooked. If we look at objects in the 100-year time frame, everything becomes fascinating. Everything changes, especially in the age we are in. Cassette tapes are collectables, vinyl is coveted and art pieces these days have even become instantly disposable on purchase, even at a high sales price. How is that possible? What does it say about us that defunct technologies are one of the most craved things on the planet? How many people are out there right now looking for white MacBook to reconfigure?  It’s wild what objects can tell us, about fashion, about culture, about people and even economies. Objects even have the ability to tell us about resources and extraction industries as mining? Can you imagine in a thousand years from now that someone might be breaking down your old phone to find out the specific configurations of its components and where they all came from? That somehow something as mundane as an old phone might offer an incredible source of information as the 21st-century human condition. That it might tell us of trade routes and lost civilisation. That we can use these things to look back through time. I’d love to say that curatorship is all themes and colours yet it is so much more than that. It’s away of seeing both into the future and back into the past. That the things that we collect now will tell future generation what was important, the things that we valued and the things that spoke to our souls. That beyond pen and paper there was a human story to be told.

It’s so interesting to me that even now the white middle-class male might still be top of the pecking order for art collectables and that despite our technologies and global connectedness women are still a novel feature. That land right is barely a footnote in our planetary evolution. That climate change is hardly on the agenda. Then sometimes I look forward to telling my children that I grew up in the age of plastic. That our generation will be remembered far more for our wasted than for what we valued.

That’s wher the Radical Curator comes in. What if we valued people more than objects? The human story over things? Life over the inanimate? The Earth over resources? After all it the only true resource we have.


Afrikaburn 2019: Ephemerpolis

IMG-3251It’s been a longer road than most to get here for me, having lived in South Africa for nearly seven years the existence of Afrikaburn came into my consciousness in whispers; about a party in the desert where they burned things, big structures, just like Burning Man. It sounded interesting, and yet, chaotic scenes of Burning Man and the average American heading out into the desert in search of survival skills for the apocalypse still felt strangely experimental. Combine that with a group of white South African’s that were used to being cleaned up after and it almost certainly felt like a joke. Radical self-reliance? How is that even possible in the middle of the desert with no water?

I’ve been living in the shadow of Afrikaburn here in Observatory in Cape Town for the last four years. Afrikaburn has revolutionised my own life, bringing me friends and acquaintances that shared my left-wing views of a radical community-based future that encourages us to love more and live my life alongside these desert dream weavers. The broke ones, the desperate and the daring all trying to find a little piece of paradise here on planet Earth. Here in Cape Town, with all the Mother City has to offer. I often joke that certain areas of Cape Town are the places that we come to escape from escapism. Yup, it’s a fucking thing all those beachfront bars all over the world are a constant and continuous reminder that the awe-inspiring gifts of planet Earth are never quite enough to soothe us. Sunshine and Blue skies = Desert.

What does all that have to do with my first time in the desert anyway?

I’d attended Tankwa Town meetings. I’d read the guiding principles and the survival guide. I’d consulted with Burners been to De-compression as well as some smaller burns and even been out to the Afrikaburn site for a meetup. I knew about theme camps, grants, plug and plays and regionals and I felt it was something I could certain thrive through. If I’d been more committed maybe I would have contributed more and yet as a radical curator was it really something I wanted to give that much energy to? I’d been observing from the sidelines for a while and curatorial decisions are very difficult for me. Helping, harming? Vanity project and self-gratification are all warning signs I look out for.

Secondly additional cash I had some, accompanied with time and so maybe it was time to see what all the fuss was about, and finally head out into the desert to find all these radically self-expressive, self-reliant people who really were really doing out here in the desert.

It was only on buying the tickets didn’t I truly begin to understand how much this little adventure was going to cost me in South African Rands of course. Everyone had said that even with a free ticket it would cost about R4000 to go. It’s an expensive party to attend on the basis of radical inclusion in country built on inequality. It wasn’t just the money either it was the time collecting and buying all the stuff you needed and the fact that unless you were an ultraorthodox ethical consumer you were buying straight into the capitalist trap. First aid kits, toilet paper, wet wipes, water, dry-packed foods, road snack and of course costumes. Already I was baulking at the idea. Only a few months earlier I was standing up for climate change and now I was running round with a millennial desperate to buy plastic fast fashion in order to grab at instafame. I did my best to brace myself against and yet I still got sucked in. The woman who buys natural fashion that lasts yet seems to have a soft spot for acrylic knitwear. Oh well. I wonder when the eco-nazis take power if this will be the kind of interrogation that we are up against. All of a sudden I wasn’t sure what I was heading into the desert to learn? As my microplastics would painfully outlive anything that I might gain there, even me. The quiet guilt permeates me even now.

Eventually, after a lot of shopping we were ready to hit the road, of course, I had to pick up a hand made musical table of Andre the Crystal Sound Healer before I could pack my own car.

By the time I’d hit the road to Tankwa the radical inclusion had already begun. I’d been invited to stay at a theme camp that I had had absolutely nothing to do with until the point of my invitation. I had however picked up and to some degree rescued the theme camp organisers on the same stretch of road I was driving along now after a car crash. They were not returning the favour of support in a very amplified and appreciative way.  I was grateful that my plan of scratching out a patch of dust had turned to co-creative fluff and it was a positive reminder that wherever possible to pay it forward. I arrived at the camp and was almost immediately welcomed once Tash and Peter remembered who I was and then introduced to the rest of the team.

“Welcome Home” it was obvious it was a burner greeting and I wonder how many people really knew how much truer that was than it might be. After all, everyone is African and more importantly the rumour is that everybody in genetically 10% Khoi San. We were all returning home. Literally to our earliest ancestral home,  where we had endured as a species out here in the desert on the oldest part of the Earth crust. Where Dinasaurs had almost certainly roamed here in the pre-life geography.  Where up until century ago you could still have watched great migrations of animal life and humans too. The flat desolation of the landscape opened up questions for me far deeper than the transidentatl shift of a party. Why here in this place, were we practicing radical anything without understanding the very landscape around us.

Then all of a sudden it was back to the here and now. I had a stretch tent to sleep under, a kitchen to cook in, water and shower and a functional waste system. When I think about where I could have ended up it seemed like a major miracle and the word I used to reinforce the good feeling was “pleased” and grateful to be included. Everyone was welcomed here and love seemed to permiate and I wondered how long it would last? I’m incredibly impressed to say that it did.

What the big news was that burner culture and politics was at the forefront of conversation. The camp had originally been set up as Sentella International Camp that represented another regional burn that Tash and Pete ran in the north. The Sentella International Theme Camp had been rejected as being to Plug and Play. It was somehow clear that organisational politics was at play. Which seemed weird to me, as the Tankwa Town Town Hall Meeting I had attended they wanted a camp that supported internationals. Hmmmm? So instead it was now The Potatoe Heads and we gifted potato meals every day.

At first, I couldn’t figure out how it worked. “The Theme Camp”, as an entity. How radical self-reliance fitted in with a  group of people that had just driven from Joburg or thereabouts and all the other internationals that were at the camp. It would appear that no-one at the camp had built the camp and that service providers had brought the tent and the water and that the farm owner had a profitable business serving the burn and of course he should. It made me wonder about the circular nature of the South African econonomy and what was being fed back to the locals. Who was hired and where any excess money flowed out here in the desolate landscape? Was that something that was even considered? The main news was still we had a camp and water that allowed us to thrive here. Even if radical self-reliance seemed to come with money.

The Potatoes Heads were gifting potaoe based meals each day between 12 and 3 every day. The communal effort in that process was combined with both bringing potatoes, as well as cooking, seving and cleaning up after. Given that I didn’t know to bring potatoes I headed up one of the daily meals. Which I must say I was incredibly proud of creating a new recipes Peasent Potaotes Gratin, boiled potatoes with a milk, garlic, onion and cheese sauce, yes nothing like potaoe grain but hey.

Due to the nature of our camp and the fact that it was integrated wth a regional burn, many of the camp attendees were already burners. Which lead to a lot of burner culture conversations.  Almost all the camp members that I spoke to had signed up for ranger duty, which I didn’t know I could do until it was too late to do the training…. It really impressed me that a lot of first time burners had commited fully to that element of participation and civic responsibulity, that they were deeply invested in finding a new way of being and integrating as a community. It was also very interesting to discover burner names and find people negotiating that for themselves. That they could be somebody else.

The conversations also focused alot around the guiding principles and how they contradicted one another. How navigating them was an arts practice in and of itself. I talked to a few burners about what had grivitated them towards The Burn, some of them having been to Black Rock. One person told me it was the art, another couple were into community building and leading intentional drug taking.

Radical Self Expression is from what I can sense the main driving force behind a big party in the desert. It is an extended sense of freedom and liberation for those who can afford it. For me it was far from revolutionary and how could it be? A whole load of white people using their privilige to create a space of radical self-expression.  It reminded me of life in the Capital of Panem. It was less than representative of  Afrofurturism than you might hope in 2019. I watched and a wondered how many of the people here parading about in unicorn leggins were actually into it? Much like so many of the things we do were trying it on for size. Maybe its more about radical experimentation? That you can pretend to be someone else in this escapist mirage, That you can pretend to be someone else in this escapist mirage, where no photogrpahs are taken (without consent) and the adoptation of a burner name can guarantee anonymity. It became clear as the costumes wafted by that it was all they were, a fancy dress show, only to be rivalled by the drudgery of office day wear. The parade made me think back to freshers week, it was fresher week with no social ramifications. What happened in the desert stayed in the desert, because for the most part everybody here was attempting to be free. However they would go home put on clothes they didn’t like, for a job that they hated, in the hope that one day life might become the desert. Isn’t that what millenial and influencers are all about? Selling the dream as opposed to living it?

Yet radical self-expression is necessary, as fucked up as that sounds, especially here in South Africa where the remenant of the propoganda state are still very much cut into the pscyche along with the accompanying religious abuse. How else you going to get yourself free if you have never witness a straight man parading about shirtless under a pink fluffy coat, in spaceship covered tutu with leapard print underpants over the top, in a sombero and a pair of glittery sunglasses. How else are you meant to discover that society is a construct that we have inherited rather than created. That there are different ways to be in the world beyond your financial productivity, that your true value is greater than what you own and who you are have been constructed largely on how people have rejected you. Imagine you just belonged and that in fact you were able to feel more at home in the desert with no faciliaties than you do in your mantion in Camps Bay.

Sparkle Pony? What’s that. I think I might be one. Not every burner is aware of the guiding princples. That there is an ideology that informs this party.  That you a supposed to turn up prepared. Though I do love the idea of someone turning up naked with nothing but glitter. Sparkle Pony is a laughable idea. A party based on the priciples of giftin and radical-inclusion and particiaption? I’ll be your Sparkle Pony, that seems like a party throw down if ever I heard one. Yet somehow a term a shaming term has come into play for people who might embrace those those priciples fully. If it were me I’d get me a posie of Sparkle Pony Police and start riding round town as part of the communal effort. Hmmm yes guiding principles can be tricky little fuckers especialy when there are more than a few. Maybe the Sparkle Pony Posy could embrace fun, the frolicking and freedom of containing microplastics exspecially bought for the occasion drifting accross and peremiating geological time. I love being able to think about time in this way. Leave No Trace an absolutest idea that intends to educate and yet denies the truth that our age may well become synomus with plastic should our digital technology and histories be lost. I like the idea of fast forwarding through time to schools in the future “From 1907 – 2030 we can see that plastic deposited around the globe and much like the carbon based fuels of the steam age there residue premiated everthing. There dust is still found in some of the most remote locations on earth and we have yet to discover the larger imapcts on the ocean floor and how these generation managed cause mass extinction even within the moast ancient Earthly life forms’.  On that note I too keenly signed up for making my own glitter emblased tutu for Tutu Tuesdays. An deeply embraced the delights of plastic fantastic gifting.

An imaginary town on the in the desert with Sparkle Pony Bandits, taking over civic responsibility from those pesky Rangers. Civic Responsibility, so much easier and so much more fun when everybodies vested interest is to have a good time. Imagine that if life and the greater structures of society where based on the idea of good vibes only. Is that even attainable beyond a week in the desert? I wonder? It makes me think beyond what is created and how restorative justce might play out if the party continued. It also feed back into the idea Adreinee Brown idea of pleasure activism and makes us wonder about what we think society is all about anyway? At this point my mind is exploding, imagine if we could get everybody on  the same page, in real life? That everything can get better, if we work together. That’s the amazing news, for the most part across human society it has.

It was hard for me to grasp the idea of immediacy in an imagined environment. After all what is immediate about fantasy? After all the buring issues of the day had all been put on hold so we could head out into an experimental society in the desert. Where impact of the positive impact of the party was far more understood to be vibrational that it was practical. I consider pleasure activisim. It is true Burners were a special breed, especially here in South Africa. That out here we were living on the edge, a wild untamed kind of existance that made us extraordinary. Maybe I’ve had a far to extreme life to find people playing at survivial a immediate. I mean after all at anytime you can call in the instacrew to document the process at any time. Though I speculate if it was real survival it might represent a Blair Withc scenario, where everybody just walk round in circles, whenthere is a perfectly ggod stream to navigate. Maybe this imaginary hardship of one week in the desert take the urban human to understand of deeper humaness and yet how? When out here on the playa we are doising ourselves with drugs in order to connect. Meanwhile I’m still advocating for conversation as a means to heal as a means to connect. What is truly real about the burn is the spirit of collaboration. That we are all here to help one another. That without one another we can never truly thrive it’s the way the we relate that brings the greatest highs.

As radical curator the art was underwhelming. It spoke to me less about fully actualised concepts and more about human labour. They reminded me of the quitisential Scottish folly that dotted the landscape of only the most extravagent Scottish estate. Yes folly in a  country with so much poverty and the extravangence to create soemthing to burn. I’ve always said that I work with the back end of the arts. That I am far more interested in what drives someone to create, far more than the creation itself. That exhbitions and artworks are just byproductos of a pschological process. I wondered about the people that built the structures had to watch them burn. How much ego, self-actualisation, healing and release was caught up in it? Far more than the beauty or symbolisms of the structure; it felt like such nilihistic creative pursuit. It was hard to find the motivation.

Burners talked about the burns as some kind of spiritual gathering and I wondered at the truth of that? Then I remember I’m for all intense purposes and indigent white person. I forget that that is what so many people are looking for the connection to the tribe or in this case the clan. (Even this choice of words seems bodly and very deliberately out of kilter with wider South African culture). Wood is fuel. Ultimately it seems like fuck tonne of effort to try and figure out what it is to connect our their beyond the realm of the digital nomads. That even an istamoment is be curated rather than lived.

The Khoi San were rolled out as you might expect for some kind of cultural cudos and understanding and yet there seems to be very little orientation on offer as to why they are there or indeed what the significance of the ceremony is. Is the silent ceremony simply silencing?  I wonder what they really make of all this? I’m sure it all feels rather strange.

I have watched the fires burn in my village on Guy Faulkes night. Where we celebrated revolution and democracy all at the same time. What a smart move it was of the overlords to let us burn something every once in a while to fuel and vent our destructive tendancies? While celebrating collectively and the commune? I forget that the children of colonialist societies have so little to connect to. Half histories, lost inbetween oceans and airport lounges. Is it any wonder they have to drive into the desert to feel like they belong.

Buying into the idea of equality seemed poetic for a party to based on radical inclusion. Money has over the course of history bought freedom and for some priviliges. There is nothing radically self-reliant about service providers. If this was real politics it’s the quazi left policies of a neo liberalist system playing out full force. A very long way beyond the socialist ideal decommodification.

Discover what it is to be free and to discover what it is to trade in exhange. That there is value beyond the material. What are we really trading anyway? Potaotes. Pancakes, Gin all things that don’t seem to belong in the Tankwa Karoo.

How does branding fit into that too? It’s hardly the dull drudgery of the socialist block? What was really meant was real world brands. Real world brands also made me laugh when it extended to branded drinks. So that one of my best memories was the image of one of my theme cmaps members being alomost permenantly in posession of Savanas in varying states of consumption. It was only when I got back and a burner friend pointed out to me how much she enjoyed spending aweek without money that it even crossed my mind. However the glut of spending that proceed that level of financial freedom seemed to permaiate though out and that that too had been the experience of the majority of attendees. Isn’t Afrikaburn after all selling an experieince. Why else are rich interns turning up in there droves talking about connectivity that took them a 16 hour flight to find in acountry with estimated 76% unemployment. Each One Teach One was adopted by Africaburn principle? Did I mentioned I learned how to make a tutu? Does teaching people to cook witout a recipe count? You can’t help but call bullshit.

Afrikaburn and Burner cluture cracks open far more questions about it’s very being rather than offer tengible global or community solutions.  It’s guiding principles represent the deeply tangible paradox for the the planet. Tanka Town tells us far more about our dystopian present that I want to build my way out of, than the utopian present that I want to create. It’s this curiosity that has lead me to investigate further; more out of understanding anti-human rhetoric than the idea that a new way of living in the desert.Premesthfors the theme for 2019 screamed far more about designed obsolescence than some mystical city lost in time. That the long shadows of a passing caravan might have a more enduring footprint on human memory and the earth crust than 15,000 non-present human connections experimenting with the idea of humanity, society and radicalism. Maybe I just want more of it in real life.

Old Beginnings


It’s contradictory I know! Maybe it will make more sense when it’s done or even fully begun. This site is currently under construction, if you’re happy to just browse around for some basic information about Kimberley K. Stone please feel free to take a look.