Below are just some of my observations Into the 'Sema', dance of the Sufis, as with all my work it's a work in progress as I am continually learning and researching and I would urge you to do the same. There are many sufi orders that do things slightly differently to one another but the principles remain the same, there is a lot of information on sufism on the net, so if you are interested in finding out more, I have referenced some websites below and if you are ever in In Istanbul make sure to visit my freinds Nurdogan Sengule and Alp at LES ARTES TURCS. -
Sema is the 'dance' of the dervishes or 'Semazen'.
Sema or Samã means 'listening', it is an active meditation.
In the view of the Sufi. Movement is life. Everything is in motion.
This vibration is within and around our very nature and 'being'.
Modern science confirms that the fundamental condition to our existence is to revolve. There is no object or being that does not revolve and the most commonly shared similarity among all beings and objects is the revolution/vibration of electrons, protons and neutrons in atoms, which constitute each object and beings structure.
These atomic revolutions go beyond and reciprocate in different forms, in the shape many other circulations and cycles (macro and micro) which can be observed and recorded as they reoccur continuously in the universe and within objects, beings, nature.
These however are 'supposedly' unconscious, automated, natural revolutions. But man is the possessor of 'mind' and intelligence. So the 'Semazen' or dervish consciously (intends) decides to cause the mind to participate in revolution and thus embrace the 'unity' of all objects and beings, becoming 'one with all'.
Sema is a pilgrimage into the dervishes own 'being'. It is a ritual, a moving prayer, it is where the dervish channels the grace of the universe and remains an empty a vessel, making a choice to stay and serve the world without ego and without agenda.
Below are the 7 parts that make up the ritual.
The ceremony represents a 7 part cycle of transformation , a mystical journey of human spiritual ascent through mind, love and to 'perfect'. Revolving through this journey toward truth, the dervish travels to growth through love and desertion of ego in order to find truth and arrive to the perfect and then returns again as a human being who has found maturity and greater perfection so as to love and be of greater service to the whole of creation and to all creatures, without prejudice of race, religion (beliefs), class or nation.
Part 1. The dervish prepares wearing a head dress, a long felt hat called 'Sikke' which represents the egos tombstone and a black gown which represents the egos burial cloth. By removing the black gown the dervish is spiritually born into 'truth' to which he/she journeys and advances. From the start and through out each stop of the sema the dervishes arms are crossed representing the number 'one' physically testifying in unity and the oneness that exists in the universe. During the whirling the dervishes arms gradually open with the right hand facing the sky, ready to receive and channel the grace of the universe and left hand pointing down toward the earth letting the grace of the universe flow through them on to the world.
The 'whirling' (turning/spinning) is performed from right to left revolving around the heart, replicating the turn of the earth.
Part 2. Is a drum voice which signifies being the beginning, creation to ’be’.
Part 3. Represents the first breath, that which gave life to all, the ‘divine breath’. Here a musical improvisation called ‘Taksim’ takes place led by a reed flute called ‘Ney’.
Part 4. Symbolises the revolution and salutation of soul to soul which is concealed by outer shapes and form. Here the dervishes greet each other while a music called ‘peshrev’ is played.
Part 5. This is the sema or ‘whirling’, it is made up of 4 salutes (selam’s) at the end of which as in the beginning the dervish testifies by his appearance to unity and oneness of all.
Part 6. End of the sema. Where a verse of the Quran is read.
Part 7. Is a prayer to the ancestors.