I used to think “whirling dervish” was merely what you called a wildly energetic child. When I discovered that a dervish is a male Sufi who spins his body in a carefully practiced dance, I wondered what his spinning was all about. I learned that the dance originated in a very specific religious context—the mystical Sufi dimension of Islam. I like to imagine the dervish’s mystical spinning as an expression of the many forms of turning we witness in nature, including human nature and of course in children. Hence my poem.
Sufi whirling (or Sufi turning) … is a customary meditation practice performed within the Sema, or worship ceremony, through which dervishes (also called semazens) … aim to reach the source of all perfection… This is sought through abandoning one’s nafs, egos or personal desires, by listening to the music, focusing on God, and spinning one’s body in repetitive circles, which has been seen as a symbolic imitation of planets in the Solar System orbiting the sun.
Read my poem “Why Does the Dervish Dance?“by