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Linfield College students celebrate spring with annual fire ritual

2012 Linfield College BurnLinfield College art students will enact their annual rite of spring at dusk Friday evening, April 19, when they torch a two-story, wooden sculpture they have created. Everyone is welcome, and potluck dishes are appreciated.

Each year students in adjunct Professor Totem Shriver’s art class create the immense “built to burn” sculpture indoors, carry it to a field on campus, and ignite it in a whimsical celebration of spring. The event, complete with roaring fire, Taiko drum rhythms and a festive crowd, is patterned on ancient spring rituals.

Fire traditions around the world symbolize transformation, according to Shriver. “Fire represents something primeval and mystical, and this annual rite is a way to purify,” he says.

Participants are invited to inscribe wishes and burdens on prayer flags and scraps of paper, which are fed to the fire in hopes of transformation.

The fire takes about an hour to reduce the tower to ashes, and the evening ends with a marshmallow roast.

The event is held in the field west of Nicholson Library on the Linfield College campus in McMinnville.

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