I’ve only been to the Zhikrs hosted at the Tea House twice, but it has quickly become something I look forward to all week. I honestly feel so lucky to have found this amazing group of people who are so dedicated to creating a space of love and unity, and who are so welcoming of people of all faiths and backgrounds.
I honestly couldn’t think of a better place for Zhikr than the Mystery Tea House; I’ve always loved it there, and Natalia (who runs it) is such a beautiful soul. It’s pretty rare to find someone who throws themselves into an experience as much as she does, and as Shaykh Safdar pointed out, she is a truly great teacher in how to be loving and open. Seriously, if you live anywhere near the Preston area, you HAVE to visit the Tea House.
For a bit of context, I’ll try to remember as much as I can of the talk given by the wonderful Rafiqa of the meaning of Zhikr; it is basically a form of worship from the Sufi tradition of Islam, using chanting, drumming and movement to cleanse your spirit and become more connected to God. And ‘God’ doesn’t necessarily mean Allah – you can dedicate it to whichever God you believe in, or just the universe itself. As Rafiqa said, the world is in need of a bit of peace right now. Even if it’s found in a tiny corner of Preston in a gathering of vastly different people coming together to celebrate the power of love.
I like to go in something loose-fitting and comfortable, and I always wear my clear quartz necklace for the Goddess and my red and gold beads for the God. Being a Solitary Wiccan, it’s really amazing to have a community in which to worship – even if everyone is worshiping something different. I’ve actually gotten chills during the chants. It’s a strange experience, and difficult to describe. It’s almost like being somehow separate from your body, or like the boundary of your physical body has disappeared and you’re just part of the world. I realise I sound like a total drippy hippy right now, but it’s the truth (and I can’t deny it; I totally am a drippy hippy).
But my favourite part is the Hadra, which is when it becomes really energetic and you will be exhausted. We stand in a circle and dance and chant to celebrate being in the presence of God – but it is far more than dancing. It is the most holy part of the Zhikr, and it leaves you feeling so full of joy. Rafiqa said she could never sleep after Zhikr because she felt so renewed and full of energy, and I completely understand why; both times I’ve taken part, I’ve come back home and talked none stop! For me though, it’s a feeling of being refreshed and motivated, full of energy but peaceful in your heart. When I am happy, it’s is either in a state of manic excitement, or a state of peaceful contentment. Somehow after Zhikr, I am both. It’s the best feeling. Especially now, going through tough times in terms of mental health, being stressed with working two jobs and trying to find something to do with the rest of my life, it is such a blessing.
So, if you are ever in Preston on a Sunday, Zhikrs are hosted every fortnight at the Tea House – and I can say from the heart that everyone is welcome.
Blessed be )O(