Burning Seed Lessons by Qi Cargill

Burning Seed Lessons

by Qi Cargill

I’m forty-three and just returned from my first festival. Everyone tells me that Burning Seed (based on the USA’s Burning Man) is one of the best and that it will have ruined me for all future festivals.  They also tell me the first one is always the best.

It was truly an amazing experience, possibly life changing. They prefer not to call Burning Seed a festival as there is no paid entertainment. Rather it is founded on Ten principles:

Immediacy Overcoming barriers between us and recognising our inner selves.

Participation  Everyone is invited to work. Everyone is invited to play.

Leave no TraceRespect the environment and leave no trace.

Civic Responsibility We assume responsibility for public welfare and endeavour to communicate civic responsibility to participants.

Communal Effort We value creative cooperation and collaboration.

Radical Self ExpressionArising from the unique gifts of the individual.

GiftingDevoted to the acts of gifting. The value of the gift is unconditional.

Radical InclusionEveryone is welcome, respect the strange. No prerequisites for participation.

DecommodificationA community that is unmediated by commercial sponsorship, transactions, or advertising.

Radical Self-relianceYou must bring everything you need to survive for the entire event, to discover, exercise and rely on his or her own inner resources.

I turned my phone off for five days, life changing in it’s self – I can’t remember the last time I did that, but I’m sure it helped me to completely let go of the outside world and just let myself be in the moment for the duration of the event.

With no idea of what to expect, I was completely overwhelmed by the beauty that surrounded me. Everywhere I looked I was dazzled by colour, movement, interactive art, amazing theme camps, costumes and people. The radical self expression meant I was looking at humanity in all of its diverse glory and it was just so beautiful!

At night time the whole place changed again to become this magical futuristic landscape with more lights and installations than I could possibly have conceived prior to seeing it.  And then there were the stars! I can’t remember the last time I saw so many stars; Burning Seed is set in a huge paddock and offers a full 360 degree view or the sky!

The shear decadence of it all struck me immediately, everyone had put so much effort into creating this beautiful, interesting, interactive, huge, hedonistic playground in which to come together to have the biggest party I’d ever been to! There was such an abundance of everything and the synchronicity of people or things appearing just as we needed them felt magical and meant that I never wanted for anything.

All the people I met were genuine, engaging, interesting, open, and giving. I could have spent hours talking to any and all of them. Everyone was so respectful of the ten principles; I never once saw anyone too drunk or behaving inappropriately, let alone dropping a cigarette butt or rubbish! The principles really do create a unique community environment that felt very different from the way we normally live and interact.

All this made me think lots about how some of these principles could become more integrated into my everyday life.

Some of the principles come very naturally to me. For more than two decades Qi has been safe haven for all sorts of people with respect for all age groups, cultures and beliefs we have embraced radical inclusion.  Gifting on that scale was amazing to behold and it definitely reminded me the spirit with which we have been offering everyone free tea, coffee and chai  for over sixteen years..  and how this simple act has helped to create genuine connection and community. Qi is a place for people to meet, to come together, to share, learn and grow.

Decommodification and leave no trace have made me think lots more about where I shop, what I buy and saying no to packaging and anything else that I don’t need. I have also seen massive shift in the past twelve Months or so in the shop with more and more customers declining receipts and carry bags if they don’t need them. All this gives me great hope that a shift in consciousness is happening.

For seventeen years our annual Qi Open Day has been a free event offering the community an opportunity to come together in the spirit of self exploration and discovery. Please join us again this year on October 26th & 27th 10 am-5 pm for free talks and workshops, and a free BBQ lunch. Just like other years we will have a free kids craft and activity table. Entry is also free and there is no need to book for the workshops, choose to attend one or make a day of it and come to as many of them as you like! To me these days have often had a magical dream like quality that feels reminiscent of my experience of Burning Seed. Watching strangers meet, talk and mingle in such an open, spiritual environment. The sense of community on the day has often restored my faith in the good will of people as they open to the spirit of giving and receiving.

Whilst at Burning Seed, I kept thinking that we as people need more time to come together in this way.  That if this immense beauty, self expression, collaboration, sense of community and sharing can exist for a week why it can’t be like this more of the time and in more places.

 If only we had more free time to dedicate to radical self expression, exploration, immediacy and sharing.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the four day work/school week and how that if we all had one more day it would give us time to come together to participate, to collaborate and to become more involved with our civic responsibility. More time to develop our interest and express ourselves fully. Surly there would be many social benefits to introducing a four day work/school week. Less unemployment with shared rosters, higher productivity, more time for families and community. Imagine the change that could come about if we had more time to come together!

Perhaps that’s why the powers that be are happy for us to be slaves to our consumer lifestyle and to the five day work week. Imagine what would happen if we all had the time to come together and unite!

If only all the magical beauty and abundance that is Seed could become an inspiration for change. My wish is that some of this time, energy, imagination, artistry and collaboration could be put to a more meaningful use. As much as I love a good party the excess off it all sits a little awkwardly within me. As I take what I have seen and learned back into the real world, I am going to try and hold on to the insights and inspiration this experience has offered me and use it to bring about positive change in my own life and in my community.

Eternally grateful,


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