we are in the city with rumi's tomb, on a pilgrimage for the anniversary of his death. we have come to a dergha, a room crowded with people. so crowded it seems impossible that any more could fit, and yet the room is alive and when a new person comes, somehow the bodies move, rearrange and settle again. it is stifling hot and the air is thick. the women are wearing head scarves and mostly they are in the back of the room, as if by some unspoken agreement the men and women have separated themselves in half, the front and the back. but i do not want to be in the back of the room, i do not want to be a good sheep. what does God care for a head scarf? doesn't God know every hair on my head? so i edge my way into the wall on the mens side, in the front where the musicians are. there is an open space there where the men are holding hands and dancing in a circle. sometimes, one of them gets in the center and starts whirling.
baba is sitting in the front of the room. he catches my eye and motions for me to come to the center. i climb over people to get there, and then one of the men grabs my hand and i am pulled back and forth in the dance, bowing up and and down in trance like rhythm. we say, no we breath, the name of God, "allah". over and over, it is hypnotic. the rhythm is pierced by yells and shouts that make the energy get higher. i shout the name of God, allah! it has the same feeling as saying jesus or mother. "la il ilaha il allah"...there is no God but God, in the sufi way it means all the names of God are one.
zikir is ecstaic breathing, breathing the name of god and turning and bowing to bring on ecstatic states. it is very familiar to me, it is like speaking in tongues in the born again church i grew up going to. zikir means rememberence. tonight, i cried out for all the sins that have been committed against me and all the sins i have committed against others. i cried for all the joy and pain i have experienced. i cried out to the God i have known and the one i have not yet begun to fathom. i cried out for the soul of the child i aborted and the mistakes i made with the son i gave birth to. i cried out the name of God with the animal sound of longing for the love of my mother and father that i never felt i got. and down came the rain, the energy filling my body until i thought i would burst, like a locomotive and my body the tunnel.
still i felt myself resisting this locomotive and the resistance felt like a knife in my back. the ecstasy was washing through me and the pain was also stabbing me at the same time and it seemed impossible they could both exist at once so intensely. i kept trying to relax, to let go of my self consciousness and drown in the fullness. and then the pain in my back went away and my body was filled with a tremendous shower of light that was like the most intense orgasm and it felt like God was fucking me in the middle of all these people and i felt like dropping and writhing in the pleasure of the orgasm on the floor. but i kept holding the hands around me and making the deep throaty sound of the zikir and then crying out the names of God.
i felt i could not go on, i was exaughsted, but it felt like when you are having sex and the body and the nerves are finished, but some deep need drives you on to another orgasm. the sema has its own life and strength in the group energy, so i tapped into the person next to me and matched my breathing and movement to his and then i was riding his strength as if we were making love, as if the whole sema was a pulsating nucleus of dancing particles. and i was carried in the circle, in the drunken rememberance. i am laughing, i am crying, my limbs are covered in sweat.
finally the murshid calls for us to stop and i bow to him and he says,
"you made a beautiful zikir. who are you? you are my daughter".