I wish that there was an easier way of saying “that person’s non-verbal communication cues are non-threatening and engender trust.” If that doesn’t make sense then you might better understand what I heard a lot of: “that person had a good aura.” Or if a more organized religion is your forté then you might hear it as “they have a kind heart and a sweet spirit.”
There was the concept of faith. The belief that if you needed something bad enough then “the playa will provide.” As it turns out I had an experience where this came true. I guess one of the times I got in my car I hit the headlight switch, but the car has light sensors so it didn’t turn on. It also wouldn’t turn on at night because the RFID in the key fob wasn’t close enough. But when I was sleeping in my tent with my keys in my pocket that must have been close enough for the headlights to turn on and kill the battery. While I knew all I needed to do was turn the car on so the hybrid battery could recharge the car battery I flirted with the idea of lining up enough AA batteries to get the 12V but decided I didn’t want to blow a fuse so I asked around for jumper cables. I didn’t have to ask to many people before someone had a backup battery with jumper cables attached. What happened was just like other heavily religious groups they feel like a cohesive group and will go further to help strangers within the group so that things get accomplished that otherwise would seem impossible.
Burning Man has been around for enough years so that traditions have created and changed. Being always inquisitive I asked a lot of questions about why. A lot of traditions started because someone did it one year as a contribution and then everyone just kept doing it. Others no one was sure why but I was just told to get my own symbolism out of it. Some others lost me when words like “cosmic” or “universe” were used. I don’t see the altered state that these traditions created is any different then the the altered state that other religious traditions started. (hunger, sleep, primitive drugs).
I had started out thinking that all the groups were so cliquey, groups of friends would start tribes and would minimally interact with others outside of that (Like the circle of RV’s that set up next next to me that had no problem blowing generator exhaust on all the tents outside the circle.) I figured the more this happened the less there would be first time burners. But I learned other groups where much more open. I was adopted into the bouncy bouncy tribe (So named because they had a bouncy castle and one of the people in the group had a rabbit art car) just because I camped near them. I had a great time talking with all them so there is hope yet.