Spring Break: time-honored college tradition that gives students a week-long break from academia allowing them to travel, to relax and to simply take time away from school. This year, four Southern Oregon University (SOU) students and one SOU graduate traveled to the secluded foothills of Northern California near Willows to attend a gathering known as the Pagan Bunny Burn. Inspired by the original Burning Man, this four-day event creates a space where people gather to explore what the art and community.
For those unfamiliar with the Burning Man scene, each year the Nevada desert hosts a week-long immersive art/music/community event. Approximately 70,000 people come together, building a city and experiencing a co-creation of culture and joy. Some loosely define the event it as a festival, others a social experience. The most astounding factor is the Burners leave the desert with no trace of them being there—not even a burn scar from where the Man burns.
At the Bunny Burn, 50 differently themed camps organized events including: drum circles, costume making, talent shows and fire-spinning. Groups of wildly dressed people spinning staffs, poi, and hoops littered the camp sites. Kathleen Hamilton, an SOU graduate, started spinning fire two years ago at her first Bunny Burn; this year, she performed in front of the entire community during the grand Burning of the Bunny Ceremony—a thirty-foot-tall wooden sculpture set to flame on the last night of the event. For Hamilton, the benefits of attending an event such as this came as “…a reminder of how incredible humanity is.” She continued, “It’s a chance for me to step into my authenticity, play, and give back to a community that has so nurtured my growth.” She also lead the D.A.D camp– a themed camp dedicated to telling dad jokes, wearing outdated ties, and dancing to oldies.
For SOU student Alec Bayarsky, this was an opportunity to create new friendships in an inclusive environment. “I met some wonderful people and had the chance to explore and engage in new activities with friends and acquaintances from SOU,” he said. “It brought us closer and established friendships that otherwise may not have been established.” While meeting new people, Bayarsky’s favorite part of the Bunny Burn was when the crowd gathered together and watched the bunny light up in flames. He remarked, “It seemed simultaneously peaceful and complete…[strangers] were able to share in this great and powerful moment together and function as one big family.”
Although burning the bunny was the grand finale of the event, the three days leading up to it were full of group interaction. OAL major, Avi Vogel, was new to the Bunny Burn scene, but cited that the newness of each experience made it everything even more memorable. “I played with Boom Sexy,” a drum circle themed camp, “and jump in on juggling lessons.” The group left with new friends, memories, and a small amount of face-paint left over as proof of their exciting trip. All of them plan to return next year.