Cappadocia Whirling Dervishes Ceremony

Dervishes    Dervishes

    Semâ is is the inspiration of Mevlânâ Celâleddin-i Rumî (1207 – 1273) as well as part of Turkish custom, history, beliefs and culture… It symbolizes in seven parts the different meanings of a mystic cycle to perfection (Ascension – Mirac). Contemporary science definitely confirms that the fundamental condition of our existence is to revolve. There is no object, no being which does not revolve and the shared similarity among beings is the revolution of the electrons and protons in the atoms, which constitute the structure of the smallest particle to the stars far in the sky. As a consequence of this similarity, every thing revolves and man carries on his life, his very existence by means of the revolution in the atoms, structural elements in his body, bye the circulation of his blood, bye his coming from the Earth and return to it, by his revolving with the Earth itself.
          However, all of these are natural, unconscious revolutions. But man is the processor of a mind and intelligence which distinguished him from and makes him superior to other beings… 
          Thus the whirling dervish or Semâzen causes the mind to participate in the shared similarity and revolution of all other beings…
          – The Semâ ceremony represents all a mystical journey of man’s spiritual ascent through love, deserts his ego, finds the truth and arrives to the “Perfect”. Then he returns from this spiritual journeys as a man who reached maturity and a greater perfection, so as to love and to be of service to the whole creation, to all creatures without discriminating in regard to belief, class, or race… The dervish with his head-dress(his ego’s tombstone), his white skirt (his ego’s shroud) is spiritually born to the truth, by removing his black cloak, he journeys and advances to spiritual maturity through the stages of the Semâ. At the onset and each stage of the Semâ holding his arms crosswise he represents number one, and testifies to God’s unity. While whirling his arms are open, his right hand directed to the sky ready to receive God’s beneficence, gazing his left hand turned toward the earth, he turns from right to left, pivoting around the heart. This is his way of conveying God’s spiritual gift to the people upon whom God “looks with a Divine” watchfulness. Revolving around the heart, from right to left, he embraces all of humankind, all the creation with affection and love… 

The Semâ is consisted of several parts, with different meanings… 

           A- It stars with a eulogy “Nat-ı Şerif” to the Prophet, who represents love, an all Prophets before him. To praise them is praising God, who created all of them.
           B- This eulogy is followed by a drum sound symbolising the Divine order of the Creator…. ” Kun=Be !”
           C- Then follows an instrumental music improvisation ” taksim ” with a read ” ney ”, it represents the firts breath which gives life to everthing : The Divine Breath.
           D- The fourth part is the dervishes gretings to each other and their thirice repeated circular walk ”Devri Veledi” accompanied by music called ”peshrev”, it symbolize the salulation of soul to soul concealed by shapes and bodies.
           E- The fifth part is the Semâ (whirling) it concists of four salutes or ” Selam ”s. At the end of each as in the onset, the dervish testifies by appearance to God’s unity.
           1- The first salute is man’s birth to truth by feelingand mind. It represent his complete conception of the existance of God as Creator and his own state of creature.
           2- The second salute expresses the rapture of man witnessin the splendor of creation, in front of God’s greatness and omnipotence.
           3- The third salute is the dissolution rapture into love and there by the sacrifice of mind to love. It is a complete submission, it is the annihilation of self in the loved One, it is unity. This state of ecstasy is the highest grade defined as ” Fenafillah ” in İslâm. However, the highest rank in İslâm is the rank reached by the Prophet : He is called God’s servant foremost and subsequently his messenger. The aim of Semâ is not unbroken ecstasy and loss of concious thought, but realization of.
           4- The fourt salute: Just as the Prophet ascends the ” Throne ” and then returns to his task on earth, the whirling dervish, folloving the termination of his spiritual journey and his ascent, returns to his task, to his state of subservience. (He is a servant of God, of His prophets and all the creation…) Sura Bakara 2, verse 285. At the end of this salute, he demonstrate this again by his apperance, arms placed crsswise representing the of God, conscjously and feelingly.
           F- The sixth part of the Semâ is a reading of the Quaran, especialy of the verse from Sura bakara 2, verse 115. (Onto God belong the East and the West, and wherever you turn, there is GOD’s countenance. He is All-Embracing. All-Knowing).
           G- The Semâ ceremony ends with a prayer for the peace of the souls of all Prophets and all believers… After the completion of ” Semâ ” ritual all the dervishes return silently to their cells meditation (tefekkür).

Cappadocia Mevlana Commemoration Ceremonies And Festival – 10 / 17 December

mevlana    Mevlana

   Mevlana, who is also known as Rumi, was a philosopher and mystic of Islam, but not a Muslim of the orthodox type. His doctrine advocates unlimited tolerance, positive reasoning, goodness, charity and awareness through love. To him and to his disciples all religions are more or less truth. Looking with the same eye on Muslim, Jew and Christian alike, his peaceful and tolerant teaching has appealed to men of all sects and creeds. Every year during 10th and 17th of December in Konya, all the whirling dervishes perform sema which is part of the inspiration of Mevlana as well as of Turkish custom, history, beliefs and culture.

The forgotten kingdom

 5 july 2007

   A few weeks ago I was glancing into a glass case full of old coins in Gaziantep Museum when something unexpected caught my eye. Old coins aren’t really my thing, but a coin whose label read “Kingdom of Cappadocia”? Now that had to be worthy of further investigation. In the back of my mind a bell had started to ring, but it was only when I got home again and could consult my reference books that the details came spilling out. Sure enough, there had indeed been a period in time (from 332 to 17 B.C., to be precise) when Cappadocia had gloried in the title of “kingdom.” This followed hot on the heels of a less glorious period when this part of Central Anatolia had been a Persian satrapy, ruled by a governor who permitted the locals to keep their own language and religion provided they paid tribute to an overlord in what is now Iran. Even today visitors to the great ruins of Persepolis can pick out the exquisitely preserved carvings of the Cappadocians bringing their tax of horses (and woolen socks!) to the Persian king as far back in time as the fifth century B.C. It was Alexander the Great who saw off the Persian satrapy as he carved out a new empire on his way east in 334 B.C. But, as film fans everywhere will remember, Alexander was not to make old bones, and on his death his sprawling empire quickly fell apart. It was at this time that the wily Cappadocians grabbed their chance and declared independence. Unfortunately geography was against them. To their west lay the expanding Roman Empire, to their north the equally ambitious Pontic Kingdom based around Amasya. Sandwiched between these two warring parties, the Cappadocian Kingdom had little hope of peace, although history records it as having had several very capable rulers — most of them called Ariarathes or Ariobarzanes — who were famous for switching political allegiance as the wind blew.We are indebted to the Greek geographer Strabo (born in Amasya in c.64 B.C.) for much of what we know about this period of Cappadocian history. The picture he paints is rather bleak, although it may have been darkened by his own pro-Roman leanings. Certainly he suggests that, in its dying days, the kingdom was seriously strapped for cash. Eventually he reports that Archelaus, the last king of Cappadocia, was summoned to Rome and accused of plotting against the Emperor Tiberius. An old man, Archelaus was no match for the Romans, and in 17 B.C. his kingdom was absorbed into their empire where it became the sprawling province of Cappadocia, with its capital at Caesarea (modern-day Kayseri).Nowadays Cappadocia is a marketing term that gives a quick touristic identity to an area that overlaps the provinces of Aksaray, Nevsehir, Nigde and Kayseri. But next time I go to take money out of the local ATM I’ll try to remember that it was once independent and important enough to boast its own mint and coins.