This is no longer my practice, but I honor
the sacred tradition.


with one whiff of its scent,
I’m carried back twenty-plus years
a roomful of semazens
all of us trained in the Turn
we are dressing for sacred time
honoring Rumi—the Dervish Sema
white tights, Turn shoes
supple black leather, soft soles
to slide on smooth wood

on with the white dress
its vast, full-circle tennure skirt
just clearing the floor,
wrap the wide, black sash,
tuck in the ends,
then don the vest,
before slipping on the hirka,
black cloak with sleeves
that graze the ground

we share candied ginger
to ease vertigo of whirling,
whirling, endless whirling,
turning to God
and finally, rosewater
symbol of the Prophet
may peace be upon him
liberally sprinkled,
its heady scent the sign
we are about to begin—
silence pervades the space

we tug on wool sikke,
ten-inch-tall hats, planting
them firmly, with reverence
on our breath, mixed with
infusion of roses, we make
the solemn walk to the Sema hall,
remove our hirka, fold them,
set them down and stand silent

ceremonial music begins
we bow to the postneshin
the Sheikh, the pole,
requesting permission to turn—
on his assent, we unfold our wings,
releasing prayers
rose essence

the artist of this drawing is unknown to me. I would love
to ask permission and credit this person. Please contact me if you know.

2023 ©Amrita Skye Blaine
I’m writing a poem a day. These are drafts—not final versions.

4 thoughts on “rosewater

  1. Sylvia Tepper

    Wow! You did this! I have been so fascinated by the whirling. Amazing. I always figured it is trance-inducing, an altered state experience, perhaps as close as we can get to fully experiencing God or oneness or non-duality whilst still inhabiting a separated body. Fascinating. That¹s such a beautiful description and an education to know all the terms for the clothing and the actions and the parts of the ritual. Love it! XO


    1. No trance at all, at least not for me–all attention on place in space, so you don’t deflate another’s skirt–in addition to the flow of Zikr or phrases on the breath. And yet, with all that, the sacred everywhere. It’s physically very taxing.


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