Recently, I was chatting to a friend about films and “Meet Joe Black” came up. It reminded me of a wonderful experience.
“There’s not an ounce of excitement, not a whisper of a thrill and this relationship has all the passion of a pair of Titmice. I want you to get swept away out there; I want you to levitate. I want you to sing with rapture & dance like a Dervish”
These are the words of William Parish (played by Anthony Hopkins), in the film “Meet Joe Black”. He is talking to his daughter, about her not so perfect relationship.
It’s a great film and thought provoking but, that’s not the point of this blog. The point is, it was the first time I’d heard the word ‘Dervish,’ and although I understood what he meant, I’d no idea, at the time what a Dervish was…..
As I sat on the smooth worn steps of the Apollo Temple, watching the Mevlevi Order (Dervish) whirl in perfect harmony with their belief, I remembered the quote from the film, and realised that the description, when associated with love, fit perfectly.
Transfixed by these men, who had travelled all the way from Konya, I sat captivated, lost in time and space as I watched them leave this realm and find their own personal audience with God. In that moment, shining out from each and every pore of their faces, was the pure and utter joy of finding true love. Fascinating.
Iv’e been lucky enough to experience many things in my life, but living here, in a country where ancient history spills forth from every corner, I am constantly presented with wonderful opportunities…..but, where is everyone else? As I glance around, I count around 200 people in the audience? 200 souls, and that includes the Dervish themselves, their companions, the local press and the dignitaries, along with the Turkish culture vultures. How many Brits in attendance? If I’m being generous, I’d say around thirty.
I’m sitting under the starlit canopy of night, surrounded by the towering pillars of the Apollo Temple; a temple that was once home to an oracle only second in renown to that of Delphi, and I’m listening to the haunting melody of the ‘Nay’ as it lightly dances through the air, providing a spiritual soundtrack to this amazing display of faith. I too loose myself in this experience, as the whirling dervish twirl in perfect harmony with a look of pure rapture on their faces, and I have no doubt that I am witnessing an open channel straight to heaven.
The cost? 60ytl. The experience? Priceless.
After the sema (dance), the Melevi Order retire to a local restaurant, where they are happy to chat over cay. Absolutely delightful men and boys, but, you would expect that from a group so in tune with the Divine, wouldn’t you.
I learned that night, that the long brown cloak they wear represents the earth (toprak), under which we are buried. The white robe is the soul, and the terracotta hat, the cemetery. I love that, and I know it will give plenty of inspiration to my pen. Chatting to these guys was wonderful, but it did take a little away from the experience, seeing them sitting at the table in Jeans and Adidas T-shirts. Sometimes it’s better to preserve the illusion.
This blog began with the words of a fictitious character; Mr William Parish but I’d like to leave you with the words of a very real one. The 13th century saint, mystic, poet, and founder of the Whirling Dervish, Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi
“Come, Come, Whoever you are
Wanderer, Idolator, Worshipper of Fire
Come, even though you have broken your vows a thousand times
Come and Come yet again
Ours is not a Caravan of Despair”
NB: The Mevlevi Order originated from 13th Century Turkey from Sufi Mystic Poet Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi:
Nay: A reed flute which is a symbol of the human soul that needs to be completely void so it can resonate. A channel for the Divine.