My Sufi Initiation: Companions of the Musavir
Song of the Reed by Rumi
This poem is very hard to find in translation. My dance Director, Elizabeth Dickinson owned a vast library of rare books and I think it came from there. Click the button to stream it from the blog. It’s very short.
This may come as a surprise to all of you, but my first formal initiation into a spiritual path was in 1982 when I entered the Sufi Order. This was not the California hippy version headed by Vilayat Khan, but then Paris based order run by his brother, classical composer Hidayat Khan.
This came about through a dance company I worked with for many years called Companions of the Musavir.The Musavir is the creative aspect of God in Sufism. We performed Sufi stories using Middle Eastern Dance and mime. Dressed is magnificent costumes, the director, Elizabeth Dickinson, a former model and Opera singer, wanted us to be the Russian Ballet of Middle Eastern Dance. We also did Balkan line dances, Gyspy hora’s, and under my influence, Medieval and Renaissance styles used to act out fairy tales.
My Sufi name was Majid. I liked it because it sounded like Magic and Mage.
The Influence of the Goddess
My interest in Middle Eastern was direct offshoot of my growing connection to the Moon Goddess. I was also reacting against Feminism — the idea that in order to be equal to men that woman had to become the same as men and give our femininity. I like my femininity and see no benefit or equality in doing violence to myself to fit into the power structure in its own terms. That is not a revolution but a sell out.
I could think of no stronger way to affirm the Feminine than to become a belly dancer. Companions of the Musaivir was perfect for me because I also saw the theater as a temple, and the idea of creating rituals using woman’s sacred dance forms — ancient as Egypt, archaic as Greece — appealed to me immensely. Elizabeth said I was one of the very few dancers in the 20 odd troupe that understood what she was trying to do with it, and invited my to join the Sufi Order.
We made videos of all of our performances and they were played on cable access in Seattle. I must see if they still exist…I was really proud of a piece I choreographed in which I was Circe luring the ship of Odysseus to my shores…We did an amazing staging of Oscar Wilde’s Salome with some really incredible dances. We did fabulous Dance to the Moon Goddess to wild flutes and drums, the Zar, and of course Dervish spins turned into snowflakes and planets. Our most beautiful one was Attar’s Conference of the Birds. Elizabeth so talented and had a music collection from all over the world.
The Opening of the Heart
The most powerful thing that happened right after my initiation was that my heart center opened at a very deep level. I spent that Spring being so moved by the beauties of nature that I would burst into tears. I had always loved nature, but this was different, more pure. It was an opening to the Divine.
The symbol of Sufism is the winged heart — a motif that I could not ignore in the art of Nigel Jackson, who like myself, is a carrier of the witch blood.
This video is gorgeous as is the Tarot deck, Rumi Tarot created by Nigel Jackson. Watch for my interview with him sometime in September, 2009.
There is a deep connection between Sufism and the Holy Grail that I will explore in future posts. The Grail runs everything that I have been involved with in my life.
Song of the Reed
Listen to the song of the reed,
and hear its tale,
complaining of the pain of separation
Since I was cut form my meadow of reeds
Men and women have cried
through my songs,
tearing me heart in pieces
with the anguish of parting.
I desire to unveil
the mystery of passion;
Anyone separated form his origin
wants ro return to it.
I, too, have cried for it
in all gatherings
accompanying the songs
of the happy
and the unhappy ones.
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