Arms aloft Sufi

Found my protective talisman. My agent of change. My reminder of where transformation lies.

The whirling Dervish.

Coming of age as I did near New Lebanon, New York, the site of The Abode, I knew Sufis. Worked with a few at a Japanese restaurant near the intersection of Routes 20 and 22. Watched the waitresses go weak in the knees when Pir Vilayat Khan came to dine.

Even before that, though, I’d spent a summer working at a camp in Nova Scotia run by a Sufi. I bunked with another Sufi from Czechoslovakia (it was still around back then). I learned heart-centered meditation that summer, which competed with the TM I’d learned the year before. There was lots of storytelling and swimming naked in the sea, which is warm up there because of the Gulf Stream.

Years later, when I took part in a group that looked to Rumi for wisdom and occasionally cleared the floor to whirl, I was primed.

Whirling draws down heaven, even when you are a clod with no teacher and slim practice. Reliably so.

Somewhat like Grace’s Tree Woman, this glowing image of dervishes has been in my possession been for many, many years — most recently, pinned to the basement fridge (in my studio) with magnets. Ten years? More?

It wasn’t until cutting the outline of the Sufi that I realized the similarity of the arms held aloft to the girl running up the steps and the skateboarding boy.

Maybe it’s time to dance again? Or whirl?


Prompt 16. Acey’s Collage Month.

See also my Flickr album. SoulCollage and the tags here on the blog.

21 thoughts on “Arms aloft Sufi

  1. nancy

    Wow Dee! This is such an interesting story of yours! You have (so far) had a varied and interesting life. It also really struck me because just last night I finished “Hippie” by Paulo Cahelo (sp?) Then I start looking into blogs and Liz has the word Hippie and you have the whirling dervishes! I promised it to my neighbor, but when he is done, I can send it your way if you like 🙂 I also have noticed that maybe part of the reason I have not kept up, besides time is that I have no idea how to even begin some of the prompts! ha

    1. deemallon

      The prompts seem simple on the surface but many of them are very challenging. I’ve often felt like I’m not getting there somehow (hence today’s ReDo).

      Share the book with someone else because I’ve got at least four others in my queue. But thank you for the offer.

        1. deemallon

          And I could have been more honest: I’m not interested in reading anything else by the author of The Alchemist.

  2. Tina

    Your best work ever .. in my opinion. Agreed like Grace you have both found an amazing path combining your pasts and visions into the future. Also between you and Grace the lives you’ve lived .. being able to share them the way you both do .. I am in awe!! It’s why I love you both so much 😘

    1. deemallon

      Thank you Tina. ❤️❤️❤️ Collage was my first love (well, after writing). Cloth came so much later and only after I found a way to use a collage-like approach. I learned to patchwork to teach myself sewing basics. And now of course I love patchwork, too.

  3. Acey

    Interestingly yesterday I zeroed right in on the fact that you’d chosen a form that had a kind of disinterested, or at least non-committal sort of relation to the viewer if not you. Thought maybe it was your way of expressing an enigma wrapped in a riddle. How it SEEMS from the outside – how it FEELS for you. But now I see it was part of the finding-out process.

    I think these dervishes are right on for you. In fact when you called them that and i saw them I said “YES” out loud.

    (also the other figure disconcerted me a little because the silhouette reminds me a bit of Handmaid’s Tale style bonnets and cloaks)

    1. deemallon

      The silhouette is all about being hidden — you picked right up on that! I’m still interested in it as it moves through these pages but not as a personal force for good. Maggie also thought of the Handmaids Tale. Ick and ick for that story.

  4. grace

    i liked the hooded one. i loved the words..looks back but moves forward shows up anywhere and everywere.
    BUT…the dervish…to become lost in the Center and centered by the Center…BeautyFull

  5. Marti

    Aceys prompts have opened so much within me and your collage here Dee slips right into my bloodstream, the dancing dervishes. Images that move me in so many ways; this collage is vibrant, holds power, mystery and such deep expression…

    Dance for me is how I live in this world in moments of joy, of sorrow, of the need to shake this old body, in moments of sheer bliss, of anger as well. In fact, one of the collages I made from one of Acey’s prompt, the one having to do with the “essential” you is all about dance. The center figure is a drawing of a globe and a woman in the center , arms flung out, feet up in dance and the words, “The World is Made Up of Dancing Women.” Every other image in that collage and they cover the page, is of dancing women from many backgrounds.

    My guardian/totem college combines some of my cloth with paper images and my spirit guide is of a curandera, a fictional one based on Rudolfo Anaya’s beautifully written book, Bless Me Ultima. I found a photo of the actress who plays Ultima for Rudolfo’s book was made into a movie a few years ago and this collage is in essence, in honor of both of my Spanish grandmothers, wise women, curanderas in their little villages in Spain.

    Dance and healing, for me, they are one and the same…

    1. deemallon

      “In many shamanic societies, if you came to a medicine person complaining of being disheartened, dispirited, or depressed, they would ask one of four questions: “When did you stop dancing? When did you stop singing? When did you stop being enchanted by stories? When did you stop being comforted by the sweet territory of silence?” This quote is attributed to Gabrielle Roth and I used to know who articulated this four questions — Angela somebody. I’ll keep looking.

      You words make your life come so alive!

      I don’t know why I stopped enjoying music or moving to it.

      1. Marti

        Talk about magic here; this is unreal!!! Gabrielle Roth is one of my special favorites.

        Years ago a friend told me about her and I purchased two of her CD”s: Ritual and Bones. These CD’s saw me through the rough years of menopause . I danced and chanted and howled and wore myself out, sweating out all of the upheavals of those year. Even now, when my life is quiet and steady, not a week goes by that I don’t feel the need to dance. In fact, the dancing collage that I spoke of came about because the morning of Acey’s “essential you” prompt, before I had even read it, I felt the need to do some salsa dancing at 5 am so off to you tube I went to dance with my beloved salsa queen, Celia Cruz. Hip shaking, whole body shaking, twirling and just taking in that primal beat and then when I cooled down, made a cup of tea, read blogs and there was Acey’s prompt, a sign of great importance so off I went to make a collage of the essential me and my dancing ladies…

        In an interview, (Ambient Visions in 2006) Gabrielle spoke of the importance of movement, of dance. She said, “”sweat your prayers”… and added that her work is “to embody spirit. She further explained that “on the way that became much more complicated than I thought it was. The path is much more arduous than that. The first thing that has to happen is we have to free the body from all of its conditioning in a very literal way. We need to physically free the body, wake it up and get it back into motion and fluidity. As soon as that happens, we start to feel, our emotional world is enlivened and we begin to deal with our fears, our angers, our sorrows and our joys. We get a feeling of what compassion might be about. We learn to express the heart, to get to know the wilderness of the heart and to learn how to express it in creative forms so that we can be spontaneous and authentic in the moment with each other.”

        Dee I never forgot these words and as my husband would tell you, I have been know to take myself into the center of the dance floor at festivals, he standing on the sidelines shading his eyes, watching from afar as I let myself whirl not like your dervishes but nonetheless, I abandon all pretense of decorum and let the music rip through me…it is when I feel the most in a state of grace…

        1. deemallon

          Ha. Wish I could occupy that dance floor with you. In that group I mentioned, we often danced to Roth. We were invited to move, as opposed to dance, and sure enough something else happened.

        1. Acey

          oh I see I am way off the mark. love that book. was thinking of re-reading it and using it as inspiration to art journal once this challenge is through. Or one of her others.

          was quite sad when she died so suddenly …

      2. debgorr

        Love this quote… I first encountered Gabrielle Roth in a class for teaching young children to dance as an activity in the classroom. 🙂

    2. Marti

      Correction here: I looked back at my dancing collage and the drawing of a globe with a woman in the center, arms flung out, feet up in dance has these words, “The World is a Dancing Woman” not “The World is Made up of Dancing Women”- somehow, the correct phrase is all that more powerful…

  6. Marti

    In another moment of synchronicity, Angeles Arrien was a Basque/American, her family from the Pyrenees area in Spain. Both of my parents were also from that part of Spain. I am very familiar with the Basque culture; godparents were Basque and I attended many Basque celebrations in my hometown in CA. In reading of her life, it was interesting to see that her family came to Idaho in the US, same place that my father came to from Spain in 1923. The many Basque celebrations that I attended were held at a local Basque restaurant and here is a further connection to dance: All of these celebrations featured singing and dancing – couples, women with women, men with men in joy, in happiness and quite possibly fueled by the drinking of picon punch! My parents were wonderful dancers; it was especially thrilling to see my father, arms held out, linked with other men, line dance the it any wonder that dance is in my blood!


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