Anar Journeys are group pilgrimages that blend inner journeying with outer travel. Moving together as a circle, we visit sacred places while experiencing the Sacred in us. Through practices like Sufi poetry, sohbat and the Way of Council we deepen the connection to each other as well as to places and people around us, turning the journey into a transformative experience. First hosted in 2018, Anar Journeys are designed with a strong intent and leave ample space for emergence. At Anar Journeys we want to contribute to a deeper intercultural understanding and healing in the world.
The soul is like a bird that has one wing stretched towards the East and one towards the West.
- Abul Hasan Kharaqani -
Anar means "pomegranate" in Persian. When a pomegranate is ripe it cracks open, showing the world its juicy seeds. The pomegranate is a powerful metaphor for the inner truth and beauty that is hidden and only manifests at the proper time. The countless seeds symbolize unity in all of life’s diversity. The anar is said to have originated in Persia and connects the geography of Southern Europe and Turkey through Iran all the way into South Asia. These are the lands Anar Journeys will take you to.
To learn more about what distinguishes Anar Journeys click on the image below...
Turkey is a country rich in sacred traditions. The ancient land of Anatolia (“full of mothers”) carries the energy of the divine feminine, long forgotten but dormant in its soil. Connecting Europe and Asia, Turkey has a long Sufi tradition that has shaped much of its culture and spirituality. Despite Turkey’s drift into modernity, Sufism is still alive and can be experienced if you know where to find it. Anar Journeys Turkey draw from Aslınur’s deep connection to the Sufi wisdom of Anatolia and Marian’s love of Islamic culture and Turkish hospitality.
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We also host one-day tours and weekend immersions into Sufism in Istanbul on short notice. Please contact us for more info.
Marian Brehmer (born in 1991) sees his life as a pilgrimage between the East and the West. Born in Germany, Marian's upbringing was shaped by frequent visits to India with his parents. In India he developed an early awareness of unity in diversity. Combining his work as a researcher and writer with his inner journey, Marian began traveling around the Islamic World as a teenager. In Iran, Marian's love for the poetry of Rumi took him to the study of Persian literature and music, which felt more like remembering than learning something new. He loves sitting in circles which he views as a core practice for the new global civilization. Fluent in Persian and Turkish, Marian has conducted his Masters research on the reception of Sufi poetry in modern Iran. He lives in Istanbul with his wife Aslınur.
Aslınur Akdeniz-Brehmer (born in 1990) is rooted in the Sufi tradition of her great-grandmother, which taught her to see life as a continuous journey of returning home. She believes in the interconnectedness of all beings and sees intentional rituals as a powerful force to reconnect to the divine in deeper, more joyful ways. Aslınur is a graduate in English and Turkish Literature and wrote her Masters thesis on Rumi’s Masnavi. Exploring creative ways of adapting the ancient wisdom of her homeland to 21st century life, Aslınur facilitates circles for women. Her calling is to recover the feminine essence of Islam and lead Sufi pilgrimages to the shrines of women saints in Anatolia. Aslınur also works as an editor and translator. She is currently birthing a handicraft project and a book idea.
Joined Anar Journeys Turkey in September 2018
"Aslınur and Marian are immensely courageous to host such journeys. Their love of Sufi lore and careful preparation stood them in good stead, but by nature such pilgrimages are ‘emergent’ – you cannot know what to expect from one moment to the next (and that includes lunch… or lack of it)! That can strain the goodwill of any group, and it can invite a new level of maturity and cohesion from the participants. This beautiful young, cross-cultural couple acted as both tour guides and interpreters, and as anchoring seeds of the precious ‘pop-up’ community they nurtured into being through our daily check-in and check-out circles, where the individual pilgrims learned they could let their vulnerabilities be held by the group and our hearts spontaneously opened to each other in tenderness or hilarity. Part of their own emergent practice has been to give away leadership in these circles, inviting other pilgrims to step up and host. In this way, leadership becomes distributed and the group begins to take responsibility for its own experience. What a wonderful model for new ways of being together in our wounded societies!"
Joined Anar Journeys Turkey in July 2018
"If you have any interest in Sufism, this is a journey you must not miss. Marian and Aslınur are gracious, knowledgeable and compassionate guides. You will experience excellent Turkish food, the grandeur of Ottoman architecture - bazaars, mosques, and tombs of Sufi saints - and just enough information to whet your appetite to go deeper. You will interact with the kind and generous hospitality of the Turkish people as well as with your fellow pilgrims in a circle of shared intimacy. Due to Aslınur and Marian’s heartfelt facilitation, I came away with a deeper appreciation for a non-patriarchal form of Sufism and how that fits into the healing journey of my life. It was a remarkable and memorable pilgrimage into the heart of the modern Sufi path."
Joined Anar Journey Turkey in July 2018
"This lovingly prepared journey turned me from an experienced traveller into a mindful pilgrim who learnt to listen as if her heart was on her chest. Wherever we went we tried to be the soul of that place, practising mindfulness in eating, walking, talking, thinking, acting and of course deeply listening. As a group of pilgrims we were literally walking each other home.
This journey was one of the deepest experiences in my life. I recommend you from the bottom of my heart to be part of this amazing experience called Anar Journeys! Especially if you want to learn the Sufis kiss..."