Saturday, January 10, 2015

Sema, the Whirling Dervish Ceremony, Cappadocia, Turkey

I felt really privileged to attend a Sema, the Whirling Dervish Ceremony. My guide, Mehmet Buyukata ( took me in the evening to the place where these ceremonies are held.  I’ve always loved Rumi and the Sufi tradition so was so thankful to be present for the ecstatic dance.  No cameras were allowed during the sacred music and dance.
Sema has seven parts and each part symbolizes a stage in the mystic journey to perfection called ascension (“Mirac” in Turkish) The Whirling Dervishes cause their minds to participate in the revolutions (atoms revolve, electrons revolve, the sufis revolve). The dervish head dress represents the ego’s tombstone., their wides skirts the ego’s shroud. They are spiritually born to truth by removing their black cloaks.  They journey through each stage of the Sema.  At the onset of each stage they hold their arms in a criss cross position, representing the number one and testifying to God’s unity.
While whirling, their arms are open, their right hand directed to the sky and ready to receive God’s beneficence, gazing up, they turn their left hand toward the earth and turn from right to left, pivoting around the heart. Revolving, they embrace all of humankind, all of creation with affection and love.
The ceremony itself involved several musicians, playing wind instruments, stringed instruments and drums as well as chanting. There were six whirling dervishes.  When the ceremony was over two returned to allow photos.


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