'Dervish' literally means 'doorway'and is thought to be an entrance from this physical world to the spiritual, heavenly world.

The Sema ceremony represents the human being's spiritual journey, an ascent by means of intelligence and love to Perfection .Turning toward the truth, he grows through love, transcends the ego, meets the truth, and arrives at perfection. Then he returns from this spiritual journey as one who has reached maturity and completion, able to love and serve the whole of creation and all creatures without discriminating in regard to belief, class, or race.

Semazens who perform sema commune with God through revolving around themselves. The act of whirling,  while revolving on its own axis symbolising the earth or planets while orbiting the Sheikh who symbolises  the sun or possibly God.
This confirms with comonly agreed view point of our culture that the fundamental condition of our existence is to revolve. We live in a world of revolving, everything revolves, electrons, protons and neutrons in the atoms or the universe with its constituents. But man is the possessor of a mind and intelligence which distinguishes him from and makes him superior to other beings. Thus the "whirling dervish" or Semazen causes the mind to participate in the shared similarity and revolution of all other beings… Otherwise, the Sema ceremony represents a mystical journey of man's spiritual ascent through mind and love to "Perfect." Turning towards the truth, his growth through love, desert his ego, find the truth and arrive to the "Perfect," then he return from this spiritual journey as a man who reached maturity and a greater perfection, so as to love and to be of service to the whole of creation, to all creatures without discrimination of believes, races, classes and nations.
In sema, every act or garment worn has a meaning.  The semazen's camel hair hat (sikke) symbolises the tombstone of the ego; his wide, "white skirt" symbolises the ego's shroud. By removing his "black cloak", he is spiritually reborn to the truth. At the start of sema, by holding his arms crosswise, the semazen appears to represent the number one, thus testifying to God's unity. While whirling, his arms are open: the right palm faces up and the left palm faces down. He is ready to receive God's blessing and convey it down to earth to mankind.
Revolving from right to left around the heart, the semazen embraces all humanity with love. The human being has been created with love in order to love. Mevlâna Jalâluddîn Rumi says, 'All loves are a bridge to Divine love. Yet, those who have not had a taste of it do not know!' The Sheikh stands for the sun and the Dervishes for the planets.
During  Sema itself there are four selams, or distinct rhythms. At the beginning, during and end of each selam, the semazen testify to God's existence, unity and power.
The First Selam represents the human being's birth to truth through feeling and mind. It represents his complete acceptance of his condition as a creature created by God.

The Third Selam is the rapture of dissolving into love and the sacrifice of the mind to love. It is complete submission, unity, and the annihilation of self in the Beloved. This is the state that is known as nirvana in Buddhism and fana fillah in Islam. The next stage in Islamic belief is the state of servant hood represented by the Prophet, who is called God's servant foremost and subsequently His 'Messenger.' The aim of Sema is not uncontrolled ecstasy and loss of consciousness, but the realization of submission to God.
In the Fourth Selam, just as the Prophet ascends to the spiritual Throne of Allah and then returns to his task on earth, the whirling dervish, after the ascent of his spiritual journey, returns to his task, to his servant hood. He is a servant of God, of His Books, of His Prophets, of His whole Creation.

The dervishes silently perform  sema, making small, controlled movements of hands, head and arms as they whirl. They are accompanied by music, often dominated by the haunting sound of the reed pipe or "ney", as well as drums and chanting as the ritual gradually transforms itself into rapid, spinning ecstasy.

The Whirling Dervishes played a vitally important role in the development of Ottoman  culture. From the fourteenth to twentieth century, they had a great impact on classical poetry, calligraphy and the visual arts.  Perhaps their greatest achievement,  was in the area of music.  Mevlana Celaleddin-i Rumi and his followers integrated music into their rituals as an article of faith. In his verses, he emphasized that music uplifts our spirit to realms above, and we hear the tunes of the Gates of Paradise.

On December 17, Whirling Dervishes across the world celebrate the birth of Mevlana Celaleddin-i Rumi, a mystic poet, who founded the Mevlevi Order that is a spiritual sect of Islam.



Sema consists of seven parts
The first part,
The dervish with his headdress (his ego's tombstone), his white skirt (his ego's shroud) is by removing his black cloak spiritually born to the truth, he journeys and advances there. At the onset and each stop of the Sema, holding his arms crosswise he represent the number one, and testifies to God's unity. While whirling his arms are open, his right hand directed to the skies ready to receive God's beneficence, looking to his left hand turned toward the earth, he turn from right to left around the heart. This is his way of conveying God's spiritual gift to the people upon whom he looks with the eyes of God. Revolving around the heart, from right to left, he embraces all the mankind, all the creation with affection and love… It starts with an eulogy 'Nat-I Serif' to the Prophet, who represents love, and all Prophets before him. To praise them is praising God, who created all of them.
The second part is a drum voice, symbolizing God order to the Creation.

The third part
This is an instrumental improvisation  'taksim' with a reed 'ney.'  It represents the first breath which gives life to everything. The Divine Breath
The fourth part
It is the "dervishes" greetings to each other and their thrice repeated circular walk "Devr-i Veled," with the accompaniment of a music called "peshrev." It symbolize the salutation of soul to soul concealed by shapes and bodies.
The fifth part
This is the Sema (whirling). It consists of four salutes or "Selam"s. At the end of each as in the onset, the dervish testifies by his appearance to God's unity.
The first salute is man's birth to truth by feeling and mind. His complete conception of the existence of God as Creator and his state of creature.
The second salute expresses the rapture of man witnessing the splendor of creation, in front of God's greatness and omnipotence.
The third salute is the transformation of rapture into love and thereby the sacrifice of mind to love. It is a complete submission, it is annihilation of self with in the loved one, it is unity. This state of ecstasy is the highest grade in Buddhism, defined as "Nirvana" and in Islam "Fenafillah." However, the highest rank in Islam is the rank of the Prophet, he is called God's servant first and his messenger afterwards. The aim of Sema is not unbroken ecstasy and loss of conscious thought. At the termination of this salute, he approves again by his appearance, arms crosswise the Unity of God, consciously and feelingly.
The forth salute Just as the Prophet ascends till the 'Throne' and then returns to his task on earth, the whirling dervish reaching the state of "Fenafillah," return to his task in creation, to his state of subservience following the termination of his spiritual journey and his ascent. He is a servant of God, of his Books, of his Prophets and all his creation.
The sixth part  Sema ends with a reading of the Quran and specially of the verse from sura Bakara 2, verse 115, "Unto God belong the East and the West, and whither over ye turn, you are faced with Him. He is All-Embracing, All-Knowing."
The seventh part  is a prayer for the repose of the souls of all Prophets and all believers.
During the Sema itself there are four selams, or musical movements, each with a distinct rhythm. At the beginning, during and close of each selam, the semazen testify to God's existence, unity, majesty and power:

The First Selam represents the human being's birth to truth through feeling and mind. It represents his complete acceptance of his condition as a creature created by God.

The Third Selam is the rapture of dissolving into love and the sacrifice of the mind to love. It is complete submission, unity, and the annihilation of self in the Beloved. This is the state that is known as nirvana in Buddhism and fana fillah in Islam. The next stage in Islamic belief is the state of servanthood represented by the Prophet, who is called God's servant foremost and subsequently His ‘Messenger.’ The aim of Sema is not uncontrolled ecstasy and loss of consciousness, but the realization of submission to God.
In the Fourth Selam, just as the Prophet ascends to the spiritual Throne of Allah and then returns to his task on earth, the whirling dervish, after the ascent of his spiritual journey, returns to his task, to his servanthood. He is a servant of God, of His Books, of His Prophets, of His whole Creation.
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