In this Issue of SUFI, Dr. Alireza Nurbakhsh tells us altruism is fundamental not only to our spirituality but to our identity as human beings. Examples of this are found in the powerful healing combination of Sufism and shamanism embodied by Shaikh Rahmi Oruç Güvenç and in the ancient Blessing Way chants of Medicine Woman Sheila Goldtooth. Readers will also find in this Issue a fascinating exploration of Sufism in West Africa through the eyes of a contemporary Sufi Shaikh in Senegal.
DISCOURSE, ARTICLES, NARRATIVES AND INTERVIEWS
SUFISM IN WEST AFRICA by Zachary Wright
BLESSING WAY SINGER A Visit with Navajo Medicine Woman Sheila Goldtooth Interviewed by Chara Nelson, Photography by Alex Cowie
HELIOFANT PRODUCTIONS I, Pet Goat II by Sholeh Johnston
JESSIKA KENNEY Singing from the Heart by Sholeh Johnston
FILM REVIEW Beasts of the Southern Wild by Peter Valentyne
BOOK REVIEWS by Peter Valentyne
Seven Thousand Ways to Listen (Mark Nepo)
The Divine Flood (Rudiger Seesemann)
Saracen Chivalry (Pir Zia Inayat-khan)
In this Forest of Monks (Daniel Skach-Mills)
From Him by Dr. Javad Nurbakhsh
Prayer of the White-Tailed Tropical Bird by Eve Powers
Attendant Spirits by Mark Nepo
Silence by Alex Cowie
We are all Born Naked into this World by Robert Sternau
To Love by Roger Loff The Obedience of Iblis, the Devil by David Sulivan
(front cover artwork: Bear Bull Shaman, Blackfoot Medicine Man by Otto Rapp)
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at Canyon de Chelly, Arizona
Interview by Chara Nelson | Photography by Alex Cowie
Framed against the backdrop of deep golden canyons, red mesas and mountains of pondersosa pines, Navajo Medicine Woman, Sheila Goldtooth, takes the reader back in time in the ancient Navajo Way. Much of Native Tradition is based on the idea of harmony—with nature and with self. For Navajo healer Goldtooth, a life out of balance can lead to disharmony and manifest in illness. But imbalance can be realigned through the sacred chants and songs of her healing tradition, called the Blessing Way, passed down from her mother’s brother and the generations before him. Goldtooth tends to the women and families of her Arizona community, performing puberty or coming of age ceremonies, but is well known throughout the area for her strength in treating all those who need to be brought back into harmony. Goldtooth was born and raised in Round Rock (Tsénikani), Arizona, north of Canyon de Chelly. She grew up tending sheep and cattle with her uncle and learning about healing herbs from her aunt. Tradition and a closeness to the earth and nature were essential to her upbringing, all part of the path that led her to become a healer.
By Michele Rousseau
Sufism has few ideas, but an inexhaustible wealth and variety of illustration. Among a thousand fluttering masks the interpreter is required to identify each old familiar face.
~ R.A. Nicholson, 1898
Internationally renound musician and DJ, Mercan Dede, is beloved by many nations of the world but his home country, Turkey, houses his harshest critics – those who feel that his contemporary appropriation of Sufi music, whirling dance, and ethics are an erosion of the traditions of the path.
Michele Rousseau balances the anxieties of Dede’s critics with her own experience of his music, and his extraordinary power to bring people of all walks of life together to partake in a shared experience, a “contemporary sama.”
(Photo Courtesy Yagmur Kizilok)
Gazing out at the deep, glacial lake,carved out of the earth’s surface over a million years earlier, where kids were shrieking and jumping from rafts, I pushed my feet into the cool sand beneath the hot surface and squinted back at my own history. I traced it familiarly through the cottages and lakes of my childhood, then back more philosophically along a timeline that began with my mother and led all the way through the glacial days and the molten days, back to the big bang itself – the one event that links us all, our single family reunion. And, sighing over what had been feeling like the great weight of care-giving, I considered the obligations of daughters to mothers and wondered where they left off, unable or perhaps unwilling to see beyond the makeshift and unnatural borders I had thrown up: her and me.
In “The Enormity Club,” essayist Jan Shoemaker reflects on the philosophical reverberations brought about by caring for her elderly mother. Studying her own feelings of resistance to the disappearance of things she loves, she uses ready humor and stringent thinking to consider that perhaps the things that separate us really are a lie.
(Photo of Ron Mueck sculpture © Mike Bruce Gate Studios, www.gatestudios.com)
by Azize Güvenç with Yousef Daoud
Most of us know first-hand the transformative power of music and sound to create a profoundly calming or emotional experience, and readers know our previous issue of Sufi was dedicated to sacred encounters through music.
In their carefully researched essay Shamanic Traditions and Sufism, authors Azize Güvenç and Yousef Daoud take us into the amazing life and work of Dr. Rahmi Oruç Güvenç, a Sufi shaikh and master musician of Turkey who provides healing to the sick through music therapies that fuse Sufism with ancient shamanic practices from Central Asia.
Güvenç and his musicians combine music, movement and dhikr to awaken body, mind and soul. And researchers in Europe, the United States and Turkey are studying the positive effects of Güvenç’s sound and movement therapies on patients suffering from cancer, bone fractures, depression and other maladies.
(Photo courtesy of Azize Güvenç)