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Cultural appropriation
at the Temple Of Kali 

Why a temple? Why the goddess of Kali and all this non-European religious symbolism? Are we
deliberately trying to disrespect or even desecrate non-Western heritage? Let us say right from the
beginning, this is far from us and not our story. We do not desire to exploit, we are a community of
celebration with a multitude of backgrounds and biographies.

So why do we call it “Temple Of Kali”? There is actually many reasons and some of them are quite
personal. We have spiritual people among us and non-spiritual. We have people who can find
profound value in the stories of a powerful female destroyer and preserver. We have people among
us who cannot imagine to be without the enrichment of tantric elements in their sexuality which
they were able to discover. We have people among us for whom being human means precisely and
especially sharing and caring by being intimate and strong at the same time. Intimacy and the
celebration of human sexuality is downright “sacred” for some of us and it deserves a temple. A
temple which we specifically aim to dedicate to “femininity”, one where it is about so much more
than sex and eroticism but about creation, all kinds of beauty, loves and giftings.

We have found that in our own kind of way and for our own reasons we wanted to call our place the
“Temple Of Kali”. We are ourselves in an ongoing discussion on how much
we want to stay with our chosen symbols and values and we have not yet come to a conclusion
where we want to change our name or the goddess of our choice since she means so much to us.
(We do, however, avoid using original images and representations from religious contexts, even if we
find it sometimes difficult to define what that is and how it does not apply to us.) We are open to
dialogue and discussion on how our mission could be problematic to some but we emphasise that we
do not want to exploit – we want to be enriched and want to gift. Our celebrations are strictly non-
commercial and we want to stay that way. We do not want to follow in a tradition of colonialism and
exploitation any longer – which can be a daily struggle.

We are Burners and always understand the Burning Man principles as part of our DNA. We are
thankful for the gifts of others and thankful for what we can gain from a global community. We want
to always be in a position of learning and always want to have open hearts for what others have to
say and give. Western “Orientalism” has often been defined as “fetishisation of primitive beauty”
from a supposed “high ground of superiority”. We at the temple do not claim to be superior to
anything or that we even appropriate something adequately. We are not suited to represent
something original. We are admiring and learning what some of us have been missing out on in their
own story and others of us just simply feel at home in. We do not even believe that we have our own
single culture. We ourselves come from multiple cultures and origins. We do believe, however, in a
global community where everyone can and should learn from everyone else.

We are thankful for everyone who appreciates this.

We are thankful for the diversity in our crew and all over the world.

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