Amer Latif’s Memories
This was in the mid-nineties, 1995 onward, Kabir and Camille Helminski, founders of the Threshold Society and publishers of best selling Rumi books like Open Secret (Barks), led a meditation/study group for Sufism. This group was connected to Rumi’s lineage in Turkey and as part of their studies, the group offered the Mevlevi ceremony of whirling, Sema, every year around Rumi’s death anniversary on December 17th. From1995 till at least 1997 or 1998, this ceremony took place at the West Village Meeting House. Rupa Cousins was part of this group and participated in these ceremonies. These were large gatherings with an average of over a hundred people from the community attending. Musicians would come from Boston to perform the contemplative compositions composed for whirling composed by Mevlevi-Turkish dervishes over the last six hundred years. Of course, the primary instrument was the new, the end blown reed flute that I play for you all.
My own connection to Southern Vermont is also because of this group. I came and studied with them for a year, 1995-96, before starting my graduate studies. Once I moved away from the area, I would try and come back each year for the Sema Ceremony. So, I have fond memories of the group getting together at West Village Meeting House. We would begin by cleaning the space, cooking food, rehearsing, eating a communal meal, and then offering the ceremony of whirling. We were there from morning till midnight. As you can imagine, all of the love and effort we poured into the Meeting House makes it feel like an old friend to me. Coming to visit you all every year is therefore extremely significant for me.
Thanks to all the lovely people of the West Village Meeting House, past and present.