Mystic Midway Cosplay Guide


WELCOME to the marvelous world of THE MYSTIC MIDWAY where the line between PARTICIPANT and SPECTATOR magically dissolves!

This Cosplay Guide will offer you tips and techniques on how to craft your very own Mystic Midway/ Carnival of MIrrors PERSONA and play your part on Burning Man’s MYTHIC STAGE.

Creative persona can function as an ‘authentic mask’ which reflects deep inner & outer qualities you wish to explore, share and celebrate.

In the spirit of CARNIVAL of MIRRORS, we invite you to ask yourself-

‘Who am I on The MYTHIC STAGE of The Carnival of Mirrors Midway?’

‘What do i wish to embody, explore and share with others?’

We promise that by taking some quality time to prepare a ‘playa persona’, your experience will be that much richer and rewarding!

Become A Member of the 7 Families of the Mystical Midway and join your kin from around the world at Burning Man 2015!

Here is what you need to do:

1. Decide which Family you belong to. Descriptions of the Families and some of their traits below under “Which family do you belong to?”.

2. Create your own Persona. Your character, alter-ego, mythical super-human version of yourself, within that family. Make it your own! Embody that role. Cosplay as a being from that family, make accessories, adopt its powers and ways of interacting. The Cosplay Guide on our website includes tips for creating costume pieces.

3. Build a Mutant Carnival Wagon* in the general style of your family out of a repurposed adult tricycle. (If you’re feeling extra motivated.) You can get a trike on Amazon or even Craigslist. It’s the perfect burner bike because it’s stable, it will shade you from the sun and it has a nice big basket to carry your stuff around. See the attached guide on how to build a wagon. You can also join the MM ensemble pre-burn on one of our group wagon building outings.

4. Offer Magical Gifts to those you encounter in the Mystic Midway venues and on the Playa in general. The Cosplay Guide on our website includes tips for creating artifacts and magical gifts.

5. Come to the Mystic Midway booth at Burning Man and find your kin! The booth will be part of the Midway installations at the base of the man, 3:00 section, end booth. The main activity starts 8:00 / 9:00 every night Sunday, August 30 through Thursday, September 3rd. After that we will be taking the show on the road, circling the Mutant Carnival Wagons at various places on the playa, and bringing the Mystic Midway to life inside the circle. If you built a wagon, do it with us!

6. Join our 6:00 nightly Tea Party at the Mystic Midway camp. The Tea Parties are the venue for meeting members of all the Families. Come in full costume and share your Magical Gifts with the people you meet! Our camp will be located near, but not inside, the Midway Village Support camp, around 7:00, exact location TBD. (You can always ask someone at the booth where the camp is.)

7. Invite your friends to join too! Forward this Cosplay Guide to anyone interested. Visit our website for more information about the project, upcoming events and how to be part of it. We’ll keep updating it with more how-to guides, our exact camp location, etc.. Our pinterest boards are a great source of ideas: .  Join our Facebook Cosplay group!

Also… consider contributing to the Mystic Midway Indiegogo campaign (http:// )and spreading the word about it! This is one of those projects that speaks from the heart of Burning Man so it’s a great choice for people who want to contribute, even a small amount. It’s all about inclusion, community-building, cooperation, giving, bringing out people’s creativity and evolving into a more enlightened society.

Come take a look and find one of ‘yourselves’ in one of the 7 Families:

‘Basic Description’

This is the basic descriptive overview of each Family.


These are a few influences that inform each Family and make them distinct from one another. Though these are merely ‘suggestions’, we encourage coordinated participation within each Family to build an emotional & visual connection.


Each Family hosts a specific area of ‘inquiry’ based which they present to anyone, including other Families.


Each Family will develop rituals particular to their group, such as: dance moves, handshakes, sayings, gestures, special activities, special sayings, etc.

‘Magical Artifacts and Midway Accessories’

Each Family creates artifacts & rituals particular to their nature.

These are used to help convey INQUIRIES to others.

These may also serve as ‘gifts’.

They are a simple way for players and strangers alike to share moments of meaningful connection.

Some examples:

  • Ex. A MYSTIC might use STORY CARDS to give readings
  • Ex. A HOBOKIN might use a STORY TIN to capture and record stories
  • Ex. A WYRRDING WIZZARD might use ritual objects, candles, bottles, rattles, etc to invoke a MIDWAY CONCEPT or present an INQUIRY in a ritual manner.

Basic tips for creating Artifacts and Accessories

  1. Craft your own artifacts using found or cheap materials (check out the MYSTIC MIDWAY ARTIFACTS and ACCESSORIES Pinterest Board for ideas)

  2. Include a little scroll with written intent, an invocation on a ribbon, words inscribed on wood, etc. that reflect your intent and/or your mode of INQUIRY. Objects with an interior space that can be sealed are ideal

  3. Put yourself into an ‘expansive’ state to combine your INTENTIONS/WORDS/SCROLL/INVOCATIONS with your crafted objects. This is a good point at which to add any prayers or blessings from your Allies.

  4. In the privacy of your own trusted space, narrate out loud, your artifacts story: WHO has created WHAT and for WHAT INQUIRY or PURPOSE. This will help establish the ‘narrative quality’ of your artifact which you will be sharing with others. 
    Ex. ‘I, King Grumblepants, Hobo Kin of The Muddy Highways and Byways,  inaugurate this Storytin which housed a most excellent meal of sardines, that it may capturify most excellent tales of Mythic Goldness and Heroic Boldness’

  5. Share stories/pictures of your artifacts & accessories in the Mystic Midway social media channels/groups to inspire others! #mysticmidway

Hobo Kin

Hobo Kin


Basic Description: The Hobo Kin & Carny folk of Midway Alley are the Storytellers of The Midway.

Influences: ‘Hobos’ of The Great Depression, Auguste-face Emmett Kelly-style clowns, the hard-working folks who have been the backbone of carnivals, festivals and circuses throughout time.

Inquiries: ‘What stories, old and gold, do you have to share?’ How do you ‘get the job done?’

Magical Artifacts and Midway Accessories: STORYTINS (tins filled with stories they’ve captured and recorded) Tin Can altars to their ALLIES, cigar shoe banjos, found junk brooches, Mystic Midway maps inside their coats


Royal Jester and Professor Grimaldi

Royal Jester and Professor Grimaldi

Basic Description: These eloquent tricksters hold a more refined mirror to the foolish bumbling of Humanity.They prize witty verse and nonsensical rhyme over purely bawdy physical comedy. They have an antiquated appearance and silhouette that hearkens to another time. The difference between the HARLEQUIN-JESTER and the THE CLOWNS, BUFFOONS AND FOOLS may not be perceived by outsiders, as their separation into two Families is based largely on some sort of age-old hierarchy issue. (Their social politics are extremely convoluted)

Influences: Harlequin, Pierrot, Court Jesters, Euro-clowns, Mimes, Joey Grimaldi

Inquiries: These Midway Jesters use language, wit, song and rhyme to reflect to others, ruminations and explorations on LIFE AS ART, MYTHIC PLAY & PERSONA, PARADOX, WHIMSY and TRAGEDY, etc

Magical Artifacts and Midway Accessories: Sceptres and baubles, slapsticks and wands with Midway Invocations inscribed on ribbons, long-nosed commedia masks

Dark Harlequins

Dark Harlequins


Basic Description: Lower caste Clowns in large tunics, bold patterns, neck ruffs, grotesque body exaggeration under full bodysuits. Some of these clowns have a more ‘modern appearance’. (It is wise to NEVER ask one of this Family how they differ from the HARLEQUINS & JESTERS)

Influences:  Grotesque ‘Bouffon’ clowns, village idiots,, American Clowns, ‘Hunchback of NotreDame’, Mr Punch

Inquiries: This Family re the most 'physical' in their presentation. As such, their nquiries re argel communicate through play, irreverence and himsy.

Magical Artifacts and Midway Accessories: Bells, bell hats, sceptres with miniature representations of themselves on them, whoopee-cushion/fart sound making Bauble staffs , slapsticks, giant foam/cardboard mallets, hunchbacks

Fae Folk

Fae Folk


Basic Description: These Wild folk of The Ancient Places are deeply emotional, intuitive, heartfelt and attuned to the vital energies of Creation

Influences: Wild Races of The Earth, Froud Faeries, Arthur Rackham, ‘Veriditas’, Orion Foxwood, The Froud Oracle

Inquiries: Who are your allies? How do you honor and call upon your Allies? How do you connect with the ESSENCE and myriad primal energies of Creation?

Magical Artifacts and Midway Accessories: Magical faery charms made from natural objects with small mirrors and beads attached, charms woven into their costumes & hair, small shrines made from natural materials, magical oils and scents

Lady Fortuna

Lady Fortuna


Basic Description: These wandering folk peer into the shifting waves of timelessness to assist others in finding illumination in their MYTHIC STORIES.

Influences: Seers, fortune tellers, sages, Mystics,Oracles

Inquiries: ‘how do you call upon INSIGHT, VISION and INTUITION?’ How do you access and harness expansive & altered states of consciousness?. What is your relationship to the CONCEPTS & PERSONAS of the Midway STORYCARDS? How can these assist you on your own journey?

Magical Artifacts and Midway Accessories: Mystic Midway STORYCARDS and other oracular devices, scrying mirrors, smoke, urns, tea sets, lenses, frames




Basic Description: These are post-modern Shamans, Medicine Folk, Kooky Konjurers and Wizards of Wyrrd. Their unique connection to inner magic and MYSTIC FIRE is reflected in their outer garb, combining many unusual elements. They frequently employ ‘theatrical’ ritual and spoken invocation

Influences: Medicine Workers, Pagan/ Shamans, Conjure and Hoodoo Workers

Inquiries:How do you access and harness expansive states of consciousness in service to healing, illumination and transformation?’ What rituals do you employ in your life to work with MAGIC?

Magical Artifacts and Midway Accessories: A WYRRDING WIZZARD use ritual objects, candles, bottles, rattles, etc to invoke  MIDWAY CONCEPTS or present  INQUIRIES in a ritual manner more than any other Family

Mr. Nobody

Mr. Nobody


Basic Description: These are strange, mythical and fantastic creatures such as Human-Animal hyrids, Mermaids, Satyrs, Winged & Horned beings, Puppet People, Blue Skinned Djinn, Daemon-Angelics and other beings from fantastic realms not yet discovered or named

Influences: the presence of embodied Mythic elements on the playa, Cosplay, Fairytales and Legends, Anime, cartoons, Pop-Culture, Futurist

Inquiries: The members of this Family Class craft inquiries specific to their persona and certains STORYCARDS.

Ex. A Mermaid might present Inquiries relating to fluidity and emotions

Ex A Blue Djinn might share a special incantation to call upon when you wish to

Ex. Puppet Headed Toast Guy might share a simple song about Bread

Magical Artifacts and Midway Accessories: the members of this Family craft artifacts and accessories specific to their persona