The Mystic begins another journey, this time as an observer outside the circle of Knowing and Being. They perceive patterns within patterns in the sacred dance, yet unable to penetrate the mystery at its heart. The visit to the holy well in North Wales was only one aspect of the face of the numinous, there were other roads to explore. Rumi had laid the foundations of this particular path, so what to do but follow it to its destination of course. Sufism continues to hold a strong fascination for many in this modern age, in particular the activities of the Mevlevi Order (or Whirling Dervishes) in the performance of the Sema Ceremony or Ritual Dance. To express the beauty and mystique of the Ceremony in words is difficult, more so for an outsider. What is the Mystic searching for? Perhaps Gurdjieff’s insightful words may provide one answer:
“Man is asleep, he has no real consciousness or will. He is not free; to him everything ‘happens’. He can become conscious and find his true place as a human being in the creation, but this requires a profound transformation.”
“This requires a profound transformation”. Quite, but are we willing to undergo such a transformation? Are we even willing to wake up?
What of the Sema Ceremony in the scheme of things? The Ceremony is representative of the spiritual journey towards Perfection through intelligence and love, uniting three components in order to achieve this goal:
*The Mind manifesting through knowledge and thought.
*The Heart manifesting through emotion, music and poetry.
*The Body manifesting through movement.
The Semazen (or Whirling Dervish) is transformed during the process of revolution/whirling and returns having achieved completion and growth.
The Semazen’s clothing is also highly symbolic:
*The Camel hair hat (sikke) – signifying the tombstone of the ego.
*The White skirt – signifying the ego’s shroud.
*The Black cloak – signifying the grave.
As for the Ritual itself:
At the beginning of the Ritual the Semazen hold their arms crossed (signifying the number one). After the Noble Eulogy is sung so begins the flute solo, plaintive and full of sorrow. At its end the Dervishes slap the floor and stand up, circling counter-clockwise in honour of Rumi’s son, Sultan Veled. All participants greet each other during this procession, signifying the three stages of knowledge, received knowledge, knowledge gained by seeing and knowledge gained through gnosis. Their arms are held open, with the right held up to the sky and the left held towards the earth. Through this act the Semazen passes on the Divine’s spiritual gift to all who are present. By turning left to right they are transmitting love to all. After three circles they take off their black cloaks to reveal white robes, the colours symbolising the grave and resurrection. Then begin the four Salams of the Ceremony. Each has its own unique quality, drawing the dervish deeper into the hoped for union with God. Two further instrumental sections follow after the fourth Salam, ending with a musical solo. The dervishes stop whirling once recitation of the Qur’an begins. At the end they once again assume the position with arms crossed. The ritual ends with a prayer for the souls of all believers and the Prophets.
So much to think about, at this moment it seems as if all my experience and knowledge had been for naught. What a strange sensation! It appears the vessel always has room for more knowledge to be poured into it. What has been written is only my limited understanding of the mystical journey the Semazen takes towards wholeness. The depth of wisdom informing the journey is vast and therefore justice cannot be done in one sitting. It is a starting point for all who seek to become Masters of the Hidden Self, of their own and not of others. This is only one of many doors through which the Mystic moves through, dare you take up the invitation?
photo credit: <a photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/31223088@N08/10101026415″>Samarkand, Uzbekistan</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>(license)</a>
photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/93402933@N00/70887335″>Kapadokia-Dervish dance 2 via photopin (license)
photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/23336697@N00/4264191532″>DSC_0082</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>(license)</a>