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Haft Sema (Seven Sema) A Journey of the Heart

July 20, 2017 - July 23, 2017


Join Farima Berenji for a four day intensive retreat and venture deep into the heart through sacred circles and sufi whirling practices, practices based on the sacred number seven in Iranian mystical traditions and Sema rituals, Zikr (sufi prayers), and Shamanic healing, music, and sohbet (Sufi spiritual talk).

Retreat and training will focus on Farima’s intensive breathwork technique, her unique whirling techniques, and styles based on the Seven Pathways of Love.

The number seven has always been a sacred and symbolic expression among the ancient Persian mystic culture. For Indo-Iranians, Mesopotamians, and Zoroastrians, the number seven represents the “Seven Creations” or “Yazatas.” For that reason, it is believed that a mystical seeker must manifest the seven Creation of Life to be one with the Divine. These sacred movements and healing rituals later became the traditions of Iranian Sufi path in Greater Khorasan (Land of the Iranian Mystics) and are the origins of Sacred Dance and Sema (Sufi Whirling) movements.

The retreat and workshop will focus on these styles of Sema including:

  1. Ancient Indo-Iranian Sema (Sun/ Mithraism) and Sema of Planets
  2. Khorasan and Uyghur Sema
  3. Seven Sacred Birds Sema
  4. Sacred Flower and Sacred Geometry Sema
  5. Whirling in Silence and Whirling with Poetry
  6. Four Element Sema
  7. Turkish (Mevlavi) and Baktashi Sema

Given time, Farima will also teach her new research (Seven Senses Sema) whirling based on the Seven Senses.

The retreat will also include optional morning healing therapy sessions with Farima and a sacred dance workshop with guest instructor Cathy Stoyko in:

  • Whirling Techniques (Iranian, Turkish, and Central Asian Styles)
  • Stone Therapy
  • Element Therapy and Breathwork
  • Seven Makham – Seven Modes Music Therapy
  • Meditation and Visualization
  • Indian temple dance worshop with Cathy Stoyko

Nightly activities and healing ceremonies:

  • Drum Circles, Zar, Gwati, and Zikr (Sufi Prayer and Indo-Iranian Shamanic Rituals and Medicine Dance)
  • Sema Gathering
  • Sohbat – Farima’s Sufi talk based on the Seven Pathways of Love

Additional activities included:

  • Light lunches and healthy snacks
  • Guided walking tour of Cumberland
  • “Huma, Wings of Light” evening Sacred dance performance
  • Nature outings to Cumberland forest, lakes and beaches


The retreat will take place at the Abbey Studio in Cumberland B.C. (at First & Penrith Ave.) with outings into Cumberland Forest, nearby lakes and beaches for evening events and shared food. The Abbey Studio is a beautifully restored 120 year old former Catholic Church in the heart of the historic Village of Cumberland. The studio is located within walking distance to restaurants, cafes, parks, Cumberland Forest, Allan Lake, a natural food store, and several guest house and B&B accommodation options.

Tentative schedule

Travellers should plan to arrive by Wed. July 19th if possible.

Thursday and Friday July 20/21
10AM-11AM Morning healing therapy sessions (optional)
11AM-5PM Seven traditions of Sema
1-3PM Lunch and free time
8-10PM Zikr/prayers and healing ceremonies

Saturday July 22
10-12AM Sacred dance workshop based on Odissi Indian classical dance tradition with Cathy Stoyko (more details soon)
12-1:30PM Lunch break
1:30 PM-4PM Seven Sema whirling and sacred movement
4-7PM Guided walking tour of Cumberland and free time to explore…
7-9PM ‘Huma, Wings of Light’ sacred dance performance featuring Farima Berenji and her Comox Valley Simorgh Dance Collective at the United Church in Cumberland (across the street from the studio).

Sunday July 23rd
10AM-11AM Healing session and music therapy with Farima
11AM-4PM Seven Sema and sacred movement
1:30-2:30PM Lunch break
5-7PM closing evening Zikr and healing ritual
7-8:30PM Pot luck dinner, Q&A (optional)


Payment for the retreat includes: all workshops and evening events, light lunches and healthy snacks, guided walking tour of Cumberland, “Huma, Wings of Light” evening sacred dance performance, and nature outings to Cumberland forest, lakes and beaches.

Retreat fee $385 CND ($350 for Simorgh Collective members).
A deposit of $150 sent by May 31st, 2017 will secure your registration. Balance to be paid upon arrival.

Payment options:

  • Cheque made payable to Cathy Stoyko and posted to Box 1196, Cumberland B.C. V0R 1S0
  • Cheque or cash dropped off in person at the Abbey Studio, 1st & Penrith Ave. Cumberland B.C.
  • Email money transfer

Evening events are open to everyone not just those registered for the retreat. Pay at the door upon a sliding scale basis: $5-$15.
Sat. July 22nd cdstoyko@uniserve.com

Farima Berenji

Farima Berenji is an award winning Dance Ethnologist and internationally acclaimed dance artist, choreographer, instructor, and an archaeologist specializing in ancient, sacred, classical, and folkloric dances of Persia, Ionia, and the Silk Road. Recognized as one of a few world scholarly experts of ancient and mystical Iranian dance ethnology by UNESCO, she travels worldwide to record, research, lecture, perform, educate, and to inspire dynamic creativity and rejuvenation through dance and movement. More details…


July 20, 2017
July 23, 2017
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Cathy Stoyko
Farima Dance


Abbey Studio
2687 Penrith Ave.
Cumberland, BC V0R 1S0 Canada
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