whirling into summer

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Thursday, June 22, 2006
I was going to write a hooray for summer type post, but I have become overwhelmed with thoughts of the Whirling Dervishes of Turkey and Egypt. I find whirling as a form of devotion fascinating and beautiful. Contemplating mystery and beauty -- there are worse ways to start summer.

Here's a piece about the Dervishes from the novel The Fiery Pantheon by Nancy Lemann. (to give some set up, the characters are Grace and Walter, and Grace has finally decided to let Walter take her out on a date. (they happen to be traveling around the world and are presently in Turkey.) The back story makes a lot more sense in context, but the Whirling, I think, stands fine on its own.)

The date was still not over. Finally he took her to see the whirling dervishes, her dream.

For it may be that the Lord will raise thee to a praised estate. It was Grace's aim to attend the Whirling Dervish Convention in Konya on July 17. It was actually a festival but she called it a convention. On that day the dervishes dance in the Sports Palace. But she was unable to negotiate the trip to the remote and obscure W.D. Convention and had to acquiesce to the level of just going to the W.D. museum in Istanbul. There they arrived to be stunned by the information that the dervishes were dancing then. Stunned because they are elusive, for only the graced to see.

They wore black robes over starched white tunics and long wide skirts tied at the vest with one thin sash, and tall tan hats or turbans. They shuffled slowly round and round a circle bowing to the master. It was boring. Then suddenly just as her eyes were about to glaze over there was a loud clap and one by one they started whirling, first with their arms wrapped around their chests, then faster in a graceful motion they released their arms and flew them up toward God, whirling madly, using one foot as a pivot. It went on for an hour or so and the feat was that they didn't fall from vertigo. They whirled around so fast that each became almost invisible.

While whirling they are in a praised estate, conducting a form of prayer, literally trying to be closer to God.

The date was over, but the ecstasy was not.

from The Fiery Pantheon by Nancy Lemann
2 comments on "whirling into summer"
  1. Okay. I am so sure that you already know all about Rumi, but in case you don't, I believe that he was all whirly and stuff and I do know that although I find poetry to be hard to digest his poetry is actually pretty amazing considering the time he wrote and all of that. The summer weather is beautiful but I am thinking that I am not quite ready for 100 degrees as of yet...perhaps a little 98 Degrees instead?

  2. ha ha! You should never be so sure that I know about anything. My knowledge is so full of big gaping holes it's not even funny. So as crazy as it is, I was aware that Rumi was a muslim poet, but I did not realize he was a DERVISH, even though looking at google results tells me that this is a pretty KEY factor!!

    I may have some (awesome) poetry rec.'s for you if you're interested. And not the "poetry" of mr. nick lachey and his brother, and that other guy (or was it two other guys?) from 98 degrees!! (you know, I liked them after a bit when they admitted that they were too stupid to keep track of their fake ages. I guess their record label had them say they were younger to appeal to the 12 year olds. It was the honesty and the sort of "isn't it stupid that they give us a fake age"-ness of it that appealed. But now what I remember is that they were TOO STUPID.) Of their songs I liked the sort of fast Una Noche one the best.


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