I will never forget my introduction to the Whirling Dervishes. My first official shoot for them was at a camp on the North Shore of Oahu. I had a new camera and really was struggling with the flash. Within a few hours of my working with this group I realized that flash was not going to work due to the nature of the Turn. Whirlers spinning in a circle cannot be interrupted by a flash; kind of like Weebles Wobble But They Don’t Fall Down–Unless You Use Your Flash!
Photo to the left is my first of many photos taken with Postneshin Jelal Loras. The elaborate scarf do on my head came undone not long after this shot was taken. I could never get that whole scarf thing to work for me. It was good that it was not a requirement that I wear any special head covering as they just never stayed put while I was shooting photos.
My first full retreat on the North Shore was actually not my first introduction to the Turners on a tour. The Winter before I met up with them in Brittenbush, Oregon, for an overnight stay and then back to Portland to visit a friend there. Walking across the grounds that first day in knee high rubber boots (courtesy of my friend who brought me) and a bathing suit in the falling sleet was a definite eye opener to the facilities there at Brittenbush. The hot springs and sauna were fabulous; the weather not so much. The introduction to the Friends was a bit intimidating, and I cried when I left my husband with the group and went back to Portland. I was not sure what he was getting into and the unknown scared me. I remember walking across the grounds that visit with Jelal, talking to him of my fears. His encouragement helped me to let go of my fear and allow what was to happen to happen.
As my years of association grew with the friends of the Mevlevi Order of America, I developed a deep love for them and began to understand what it meant to embrace unconditional love for our fellow humans, even those that hurt us. The message they taught, of love and cleansing of the heart and being a conduit of love from the Divine to the earth below, is no different than the spiritual message of many practices. Jesus said to love thine enemies, and Ghandhi said that “an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind”. I have yet to find a spiritual practice that does not espouse this practice.
This photo also reminds me that we are never aware of where a path you are guided to take will lead you. When you are prompted to do something, listen. Learn to be discerning. There is a scripture that says to “…test everything.” By that I think it means we should practice our connection with God every day so that we can test these promptings against what we know He is teaching us to do.
As the work on the book “My Journey With the Whirling Dervishes of America” comes to a close, I would encourage all to go to this page (http://journeywiththewhirlingdervishes.com/?page_id=313) and pre-order the book due out this Fall. I would dearly love that all those lovely Friends, and friends of friends, get a copy. The joy and love I witnessed is so evident in the photos. You will go on a journey through this book, of not only the turners, but of my own spiritual journey. This journey healed me. I really want to share it with you all. If you still have not given me your waiver, the time period allotted for this effort is quickly coming to a close. The photos are under “Private Viewing” on the bottom menu of the site and the password is knotinthehair. Please be aware that the photos are in CMYK (printer ready) and do not reflect the true colors of the photos.