Here I will spin a totally true little tale about Black Rock City, Synchronicity and Sacred Reciprocity. I am very fortunate to be so close to my two brothers. Steven (a.k.a. Mr N) is the oldest by 4 years, I am the middle child (both my parents were middle children) and Chip is the youngest (11 years younger then me). We were pretty spread out during those years, since Mr. N lives in Philadelphia, Chip lived in San Francisco and I live in Georgia. Chip is a veteran burner whose first Burning Man was in 1995. In 1999 we decided to go to the Playa together. We went for the adventure, the good times… but for us it was also about making pilgrimage together to our Mecca, the holy city of Black Rock. For us it was an intentional spiritual journey! We were fortunate enough to make that pilgrimage 3 times together (1999, 2000, 2002) and I’m sure more than one tale will be spun here about those trips.
Our intent began about a year before the trip. When the time came Mr N & I flew to San Francisco to meet up at Chip’s place. After a week of gathering we drove out to the Playa to spend 8 days in the dust. We stayed with the theme camp Fleshlab, and made a lot of new friends. One of our gifts to the community, from Mr N and myself, was “Adorning the Goddess” (we adorned Gods as well). For those who asked… first we would open a circle in sacred space. Then I would do a 30-60 minute bodywork, with energy medicine, session to prepare the canvas. We would sit and discuss design and colors and then proceed to do a full bodypainting. We were not artists or professional body painters… though, we had good intent.
One young woman, in her early twenties (not pictured here), came to me and wanted a bodywork/energy session, which I offered to anyone and completed many sessions. She wasn’t really interested in the body painting. She had a beautiful energy to her, very friendly, warm and easy to talk with. Ends up she was a graduate student in some technical field (?). She introduced herself as “Aum”. I asked her if that was a spirit name,or a given name. She replied a given name. I chuckled and said “Hippy parents, huh?”. She replied something like, “You don’t know the half of it!” and proceeded to explain to me that she had a sister, a year younger then her, with the same name. Well sort of the same name… while her name was “Aum”, her younger sisters name was “Om”. Both had the same name but with different spellings (there are two ways to spell Aum/Om). This was pretty hilarious to me, being Aumdoc! So we had a really nice bodywork session which she seemed to appreciate greatly. I saw her once or twice over the week and I have never seen her again since (though in more recent years we have reconnected digitally).
For those who don’t know me, at that time I had a solo practice of Holistic Obstetrics and Gynecology, in metro-Atlanta, assisting in the delivery of around 12 – 15 babies a month. I am an Osteopathic physician who has always integrated bodywork into my care of patients. I also have had a lifelong interest in Earth medicine, yoga and plants.
About 6 months after the above burning man I was at the hospital assisting in a delivery. It ran very late into the night (as usual it seemed). Around 4:00 am I finished and was hoping I could go home to get 1-2 hours sleep before starting the day (seeing 25 patients in my office). So I went to the locker room and pulled off my scrubs, changed into my street clothes and went home. When I woke up (about 2 hours later) to start my day I realized that I had lost my CHARM NECKLACE. The black cloth strand had 3 very small charms hanging from it, each no more than 3/4 inch in length. Three symbols that had specific spiritual significance to me then (and now). I had been wearing them around my neck for about around 3-4 years.
Trying not to be too attached (chuckle) I thought about how I had lost it. I realized that several hours before when I was rapidly changing into my street clothing I had probably pulled it off with the surgical scrub top and tossed it into the laundry bin. I went to the hospital and looked for it without success. I spoke to the laundry people to keep an eye out for it. It never showed up and was gone forever. Two days later I received a package in the mail… from sister Aum! This was pretty interesting to me because I didn’t even remember ever giving her my contact information. I sat down and opened the package to find my “Aumdoc Patch”. This was a completely hand embroidered patch made from scratch, and with great skill, by Aum. ON THE PATCH WERE THE THREE SYMBOLS: MUSHROOM, DORJI AND AUM SIGN!!!!!!!
The synchronicity almost overwhelmed me! I came to realize that when I was doing her bodywork session in Black Rock City, I was not wearing a shirt but I was wearing my necklace which was dangling from my neck. Whenever she was on her back, and I was working over her, she surely had a clear view of the charms and took note. I was pretty floored by the synchronicity of receiving her gift at that time. She truly understood the ethics of GIFTING and Sacred Reciprocity (Ayni)! It was deeply endearing to me that she took the time to make this gift for me… it was obviously a lot of work, requiring great skill, for it to turn out the way it did. I immediately recognized it as my“Aumdoc Medicine Patch”and it holds great significance to me to this day. It now resides on my “old man’s sweater” which is my multi-patched and embroidered comfort sweater (from West Philly’s oldest men’s store “Dan Stevens”, age of sweater circa 1955) that I wear in the evening at home. Thanks Aum !