Catharsis On The Washington, DC Mall

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Above: Catharsis on the Mall, the burning of the Temple by Ben Harper‎ from Facebook.

Catharsis "From the flames a jail cell" by Rachel Sadon from Twitter

Catharsis “From the flames a jail cell” by Rachel Sadon from Twitter

A Vigil For Healing The Drug War

There was an unusual drug war event held on the mall this weekend: Catharsis on the Mall. The event included speakers and panels, opportunities to remember people impacted by the drug war and looking forward to the end of the drug war. The event, we featured information sharing from Law Enforcement Against ProhibitionMultidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS)Students for Sensible Drug PolicyDCMJ, and more. 

An art installation, The Temple of Essence, stood as a monument to honor the victims of the drug war. It was a peace-building structure focused on the communities impacted by this conflict and the mass incarceration of our citizens. This Temple brought people together and created a space for reflection and healing. 

Catharsis Temple of Essence by Stella Bay on Facebook

Catharsis Temple of Essence by Stella Bay on Facebook

For 24 hours, people were invited to share their stories of struggle, honor, remembrance, and hope within the walls of the Temple of Essence.

Catharsis sharing in the Temple of Essence by Stella Bay from Facebook

Catharsis sharing in the Temple of Essence by Stella Bay from Facebook

On the evening of Saturday, November 21, 2015, the event culminated in a burning ceremony of the Temple of Essence transforming our individual stories into collective memory. Then, people celebrated until the sun rose, dancing until after 8 AM.

Catharsis preparation for the burning of the Temple of Essence by Paul Sirajuddin‎ from Facebook

Catharsis preparation for the burning of the Temple of Essence by Paul Sirajuddin‎ from Facebook

• The Temple was installed on November 20, 2015 and people interacted with until 6pm on November 21, 2015 (when burn performance preparations began).

• Participants shared their stories on the structure using chalk.

Catharsis the burning of the Temple of Essence by Shahid Buttar‎ from Facebook

Catharsis the burning of the Temple of Essence by Shahid Buttar‎ from Facebook

• People were invited to bring small mementos (photos, letters, etc) of those impacted by the drug war to be burned together.

Catharsis on the Mall, the burning of the Temple begins by Wayward Bill from Facebook.

Catharsis on the Mall, the burning of the Temple begins by Wayward Bill from Facebook.



• The Burn Ceremony started at 10:30pm on November 21, 2015.

Catharsis on the mall, live music after the burn, by Yoko K. Sen‎ from Facebook

Catharsis on the Mall, live music after the burn, by Yoko K. Sen‎ from Facebook

For more information, photographs, commentary and video visit their Facebook page.