Game of Gods:
The Temple of Man in the Age of Re-Enchantment
By Carl Teichrib
* The following is an excerpt from the first pages of chapter fourteen.
The mutation is a success, Doctor. The culture war is over. WE WON! – Tim Leary.
Our greatest power is in the group; our greatest power is in the group. – Paradox Pollack.
Lasers skimmed across the 15-acre pond, striking the beach near the main sound stage before moving up to spray dancers and flow artists with reds and greens and blues. Behind our gathering, a heavy wall of trees – poplar and oak – absorbed the kaleidoscope, dissipating the beams into the shimmering darkness of the deep foliage. Basslines energized the night air; the ever-present beat absorbing and infusing everyone, then moving outward to be transformed by distance into a dull sounding doof, doof, doof, doof, doof. Drops and builds plunged and peaked the mood, cascading and escalating the emotion of the music. Bodies moved and flashed under the effect of strobes. Poi and hoop artists spun in the changing colors.
People drifted through the blurry zone of darkness and light: friends and lovers and strangers. Pungent smoke wafted from the shadows.
This fusion of sound, movement and light continued until morning, when the summer sun washed over the stage, the beach, and the tents scattered along the forest trails. The lasers were no longer effective, and most of the partiers were stumbling to their sleeping bags, exhausted or otherwise incapacitated. Disc jockeys (DJs), however, continued to mix songs under the rising orb, playing for the remaining stragglers, but mostly for themselves.
It was July 2015, and I was attending an art and music festival tucked inside a 320-acre tract of woods and meadows. Trails and rough bush roads crisscrossed the property, with the main attraction being an old gravel pit converted into a recreational area, including a private swimming lagoon and beach. It was the perfect hideaway for a weekend of electronic dance music (EDM), conscious experimentation through psychedelics, and for participants to let loose and party.
Admittedly the gathering was smaller than expected. Pre-event interest on social media indicated about 600 people would be attending Dimensional Rift, but the actual number was less than half that. Nevertheless, it was a brief glimpse into what is known as a Temporary Autonomous Zone (TAZ).
Made famous by Hakim Bey, TAZ is an anarchist approach to cultural, social, and political liberation. Recognizing an overlap between civil uprisings and the free flow encountered in festivals and experimental communities, TAZ is viewed as a liminal region – an evolutionary space between yesterday’s world and tomorrow’s dreams, “a moment of cultural disorientation” – where novel experiences take on a transformational quality. Here, participants connect in a co-creative theater of social and spiritual insurrection. Festivity, therefore, acts as liberating illegality – that is, the intentional transgressing of normalized culture and formal boundaries.
In the TAZ, the individual encounters a sense of tribe, a temporary utopia where organic community is discovered in a synergy of sights and sounds. It is a vibe shaped by the party actors who are influenced, in turn, by set and setting. Coming in contact with a range of syncretistic experiences and the feeling of communitas, the spectator is transfigured into a participant, an interconnected member of the hive – a node of energy within the network. New social information is generated and absorbed; then, once the event is over and everyone disperses, the experience is re-transmitted into the “default world,” soaking into the cracks and pores of civilization.
One way to consider it is this: “heresy as cultural transfer.” Dimensional Rift, a minor bush rave, was but a small taste.
My task was to conduct social surveys, talk to partiers and volunteers and sound artists, and try to better understand the broader cultural movement being mirrored in this event. Wearing my Outback hat, equipped with a gnarled walking stick, and armed with a clipboard, I approached participants with a two-page sheet of questions and worldview statements.
Between lunch hour on Saturday – when people were starting to rouse from a night of activities – and late afternoon when a string of supercell storms devastated the event, I was able to conduct a small sampling of surveys. Most who took the time to fill out the form did so amiably, and this opened up space to chat about experiences and expectations. Only a few turned down my request, and one girl was too stoned, slowly handing back her empty paper with an equally empty look.
Although the overall number of questionnaires completed was too low for my satisfaction, they did yield interesting information. Nearly half who filled out the forms claimed to be Christians in the past. Based on conversations, it was apparent this was not simply a cultural identifier – rather, there were strong hints of hurt and disillusionment from a former church life. Turning from the Christian faith, they had gravitated to Buddhism, Wicca, New Age, Atheism or Agnosticism, and/or Transhumanism.
When confronted with the statement, “God is separate from nature and me,” the vast majority disagreed. To the line, “Humanity is valued above nature,” most rejected this assertion. “Earth is a living organism” was met with a resounding yes.
The responses correlated with the festival theme: Together. We Are One.
Game of Gods is available on Amazon.
 Timothy Leary, Design for Dying (HarperEdge, 1997), p.95, capitals in original.
 Paradox Pollack, acting as High Priest in Pepe Ozán’s opera, The Return of Empress Zoe, performed on August 31, 1996 at the Burning Man festival in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert. “Our greatest power is in the group” was part of a chant given around a small fire with other members of the opera. Video on file with the author; a copy can be found online at https://youtu.be/xkD772SgMuA, The Return of Empress Zoe, uploaded by Paradox Pollack. Pollack was co-founder of the San Francisco-based Dream Circus and Mystic Family Circus, and is an actor, director, producer, and choreographer.
 In Australia, the ever-present thump associated with Electronic Dance Music would come to be known as doof.
 The 2015 Dimensional Rift festival, July 3-5, took place near St. Laurent, Manitoba.
 Andrew Johner, “Transformational Festivals: A New Religious Movement?” Exploring Psychedelic Trance and Electronic Dance Music in Modern Culture (Information Science Reference/IGI Global, 2015), p.60.
 The concept of TAZ was expounded by Hakim Bey, T.A.Z: The Temporary Autonomous Zone (Pacific Publishing Studio, 2011, originally published in 1991), pp.67-98. Hakim Bey is the pen name of Peter L. Wilson, a controversial social critic, poet, and anarchist philosopher who spent time studying Tantric and Sufi traditions.
 Eric Davis, Nomad Codes: Adventures in Modern Esoterica (YETI, 2010), p.37. This quote is part of an essay on Peter L. Wilson and the cross-pollination of cultures.
 2015 was the last year for the annual Rift as the damage caused by the thunderstorms effectively wiped out the operation. Because of the deluge I left the festival early, hoping to make it through the bush road before it became impassable. Others had already exited during the storms, heavily rutting the trail. Bouncing along with my windshield wipers on high and water up to my floorboards in places, my truck’s exhaust system snagged something, ripping off the muffler and tailpipe. It was a long drive home; soaked from packing gear in the downpour, and wearing my earmuffs to deaden the noise – the same I wore to catch a few hours of sleep during the festival… doof, doof, doof.