Dear Carolinda, I hope you can help me with some insights regarding my concern. This quote is from the book The Eye of Revelation.
When I was in India it amazed me to see the Maulawiyah, or as they are more commonly known, the Whirling Dervishes, almost unceasingly spin around and around in a religious frenzy. Rite Number One recalled to my attention two things in connection with this practice. The first was that these Whirling Dervishes always spun in one direction-from left to right, or clockwise. To me this is false. My wife is Turkish and the Whirling Dervishes spin counter-clockwise. Dr Tim Jaeger, Toronto
Tim, and of course his wife, are correct; the Dervishes do spin anti-clockwise and according to the historical writings they always have.
Peter Kelder wrote his book in 1939, and then republished it again in 1946, making a few descriptive amendments to the movements as well adding a couple of extra chapters. His quote about the clockwise spin direction of the Dervishes was not corrected in the reprint, so I can only assume he made a mistake.
I had read Bradford’s description of a clockwise spin direction and it confused me also. When the Whirling Dervishes visited Sydney, I went to the Opera House to see them perform the Sema (the religious ceremony in which they spin). All the material I had read on the Dervishes said they spun anti-clockwise so I decided to go and see for myself. The Dervishes spun in four separate sections and to tell you the truth I got completely confused which way they were spinning. I thought they went anti-clockwise in the first section, clockwise in the 2nd, anti-clockwise in the 3rd and finally clockwise in the 4th!
So I made an error too, and did not feel certain enough to write this article until now – thanks Tim! In truth, I found the music and the rhythmical twirling were so relaxing that I almost fell asleep! I had a friend with me who knew what I was looking for, but she was as confused as I was. I can emphasise with Colonel Bradford making his observational error. You’d have to see them to believe me!
For the record, in the book “The Eye of Revelation” the monks make no comment at all upon the spin direction of the Dervishes – that is Bradford’s observational error alone. The monks instructed us to spin CLOCKWISE.
…”There is only one caution: you must turn from left to right. In other words, if you were to place a clock or watch on the floor face up, you would turn in the same way the hands are moving…”
For those readers, who believe “The Eye of Revelation” contains the exact words of the monks, Bradford/Kelder’s error is a salient reminder that it was a WESTERNER who interpreted the monks’ teachings and brought them back to the West.
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Copyright (c) 2005 Carolinda Witt - author The Illustrated Five Tibetan Rites (Penguin/Lantern 2005) and The 10-Minute Rejuvenation Plan (Random House/Three Rivers Press 2007)