“Before the Zar”, posted for Oneshotpoetry….

"The Zar Tales", published by Lulu.com, 2010



The “Zar” is three things:  It’s a ritual exorcism (but not really, you never get rid of a Zar (Demon) you just give it new marching orders, or placate it);  The Zar is a Demon Spirit, or a collection of Spirits; and it’s also a female bonding dance.  It is a very old ritual and one of great importance in the Middle East and Africa for numerous reasons.

Presently, it is under attack in the Middle East and parts of Africa as being outside the bounds of Islamic religious belief.  However, it is a very important ‘mental health’ issue for women in these countries:  It is also a ‘social time’ where women from a village or town can get together and communicate with other women without restrictions.  I wrote my second book, “The Zar Tales” about the struggle to continue the Zar rituals.  I have been present during two Zar rituals and it is something errie and unforgetable.  Powerful stuff, indeed.

Lady Nyo


I am ready for the Zar.

Bathed, perfumed, hennaed,

my hands and feet tattooed

with proper designs,

silver amulets encircle my

arms, throat, ankles.

I have made

ritual prayers.

dance to open paths–

sweet incense bathes my soul.

This is old country,

possessed with Zars,

Selfish demons who

demand and torment

belabor and befuddle,

Creep up by our side

when we toil by day

sidle into our thoughts

when we pray at night for rest.


The Zar never purges

these troubling Spirits,


beguiles, baffles, bothers,

hopefully placates

and ultimately restores

Spirit to Flesh.

I beat out the rhythm:

DUM (space) teka-tek

DUM (space) teka-tek

gird my loins with faith-

prepare to do battle.

But hear my cry!

If my demon refuses

to quiet his Hell within,

then throw the stern net

of  reason over me.

Pin me down with  lucidity.

Use strength and increase it again

lay  your weight upon my twisting limbs,

nail me to the Earth

with your body and power.

And if I still dance out of control,

twisting under your hips,

stiffen your cock and pin me down

and growl into me:

“Woman, be still,

And know I am Man!”

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2008-2011

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26 Responses to ““Before the Zar”, posted for Oneshotpoetry….”

  1. brian Says:

    that sounds like an intense ritual…vivid in your poetic telling…thanks for the enlightenment..


  2. ladynyo Says:

    Hi Brian…it is intense…

    And thank you for reading and your comment!

    Lady Nyo


  3. Katie Says:

    this is one of the most beautiful poems of erotica I have read. The images are powerful; the music of the words is sensual; it reads wondefully aloud.


  4. ayala Says:

    Intense ….nicely done!


  5. hedgewitch Says:

    Fascinating. As always you open a window into an unknown world that is right there beside ours if we care to look. I do believe that demons can’t be completely eradicated in this world, but I like the idea of giving them new marching orders.


  6. Steve E Says:

    WHEW! or (sigh!) Don’t know which–grin! I tensed when reading this one, almost like an “O” novel…never hears of Zar until now. Thank you.

    We learn about EVERYTHING here.
    You DO write well, Lady Nyo


  7. Pat Hatt Says:

    Wow sounds like something very intense
    Making ones emotions go immense
    A ritual I never knew
    Now known thanks to you


  8. ladynyo Says:

    Hi Patrick,
    It IS very intense….Trance Dance. I didn’t give a very good or extended explanation of the Zar ritual, but it’s intense all right. Can go on for days, too.

    Thanks for reading and your poetic comment. LOL!

    Lady Nyo


  9. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, Steve…

    The Zar ritual, trance dance is worth the study. Intense, yes, but so damn important in this region. It speaks volumes that the religious authorities are trying to suppress it.

    Lady Nyo


  10. ladynyo Says:

    Hi Hedgewitch!

    This unknown world is just a breath (or page) away from us. I learned about the Zar Trance Dance when I was studying belly dance about 7 years ago, and found out that the ayoub beat (something like what was in the poem) …well, after a few weeks of listening to this in the background ….would send me into a trance…and from that…a lot of writing came about. It’s a brain activity, this Hyperarousal trance, but it’s NOT hypnosis. Not at all.

    Regarding demons/zars…..they have their place, especially in the Middle Eastern and African cultures. The Zar is beloved by women, because they can ‘sass’ their husbands without getting into trouble…a little freedom that they generally don’t have in these societies….”The Zar said that, not I”

    Needless to say, the men generally don’t like the Zars but the ritual have a very broad base of ‘being’ for these societies. It’s something I wrote about in “The Zar Tales”….and something that Moroccan and Turkish musicians and dancers turned me on to. There are so many things that we don’t know about, these cultural customs….very deep in the traditions of these cultures…but they have significance and power.

    And yes….you can’t get zars to disappear…you catch them….literally….as they come flying from the ends of the hair of the dancer, and you give them new marching orders. One does not want a stray Zar scaring the children or chickens….You make them behave by appeasing them….and reinsert them back into the host body.

    Thank you, as always, hedgewitch, for reading and your encouraging comments.

    Lady Nyo


  11. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, Ayala!

    Lady Nyo


  12. ladynyo Says:

    Hi Katie!!

    Actually, I wrote it right before I went to my first Zar ritual. I wasn’t sure what I would be seeing or feeling, but it was a gas. I feel it is impossible to remain ‘aloof’ from these things: they affect you deeply, even if you don’t come from that culture, you are part of it when you attend a Zar.

    There is a short story “Ahmed Is Dying For Love” that I wrote right after that experience, in “The Zar Tales”….it’s a gentle and funny story.

    So glad you like the poem, Katie…I admire your own poetry and writing so much!




  13. mindlovemisery Says:

    I had never heard of this ritual this was truly fascinating!


  14. pete marshall Says:

    hypnotic..from start to finish…great write


  15. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, Pete!

    I say the Zar ritual (trance dance) isn’t about hypnosis…but it certainly induces something hypnotic in the attenders….

    Lady Nyo


  16. ladynyo Says:

    Hiya Mindlovemisery!

    The Zar ritual actually exists even in Russia,…amongst Christians!

    It can be called different things, but overall, except for some trappings….it is a trance dance that is added by drums, sometimes a ney (flute) and differs from country to country in participants. In certain countries (I wrote of this in “The Zar Tales”, in 1983 Turkey) the Zar Ritual was an all women thing…yet in parts of northern Africa, there are men involved in some of the proceedings.

    For instance, the ney is never supposed to be played or touched by a woman. In Africa, an animal sacrifice during the Zar (to appease the Zars that have possessed women)…(and they are always married women…LOL!) is killed by a male….like a goat or chicken.

    In Egypt, too…men are involved in the (hidden) Zar rituals….In fact, because of the attempted shutdown of the Zars (the ritual, not the demons…) now in Egypt, in Cairo, in the bigger cities, women will pay for a Zar to be held in some house….these are richer Egyptian women. A Zar ritual will be supported with money in the countryside, but this is a bit different. In villages, the women get together and during the ritual will drink, smoke, laugh, roll around, and not act in the ‘proper’ Muslim tradition. The Zar ritual has so many purposes….it’s a mental health release for these very dominated women…and the role of a Zar demon is very interesting: they are a ‘voice’ for the wives, and the men are expected to respect the requests of the Zar demon possessing the wife.

    This ritual is worth the study.

    Lady Nyo


  17. libraryscene Says:

    absolutely fascinating…very much enjoyed your poem, but even more, reading your replies…as a lover of different music, it would be so cool if you’d included a favourite clip if you poet about Zar again, just a thought…


  18. ladynyo Says:

    Hi Library Scene,

    Thank you for reading and your comment, but I am not quite clear what it is that you are asking? In my second book, “The Zar Tales” there are stories (short stories, and some poems,) about the Zar ritual and Zars as demons…and a novella called “The Zar Tale” that is actually pretty funny….

    I’m not sure what you mean about ‘a favourite clip’. However, it’s good to meet another poet who loves different music! Music certainly connects us to the world and especially to different cultures!

    My very best!

    Lady Nyo


  19. C Rose Says:

    This piece struck that sense of Animus, old world masculine energy, dominating being called out by that of Anima the wild feminine. I truly this work ~ Rose


  20. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, C.Rose,

    That’s a good description for this poem. Hadn’t thought about it that way, but what I was thinking was that men in these cultures don’t appreciate the Zars….they in some ways, replace the human men….

    But women definitely believe in the Zars….and I also have met some older men who do, too.

    In this poem, the woman is apprehensive about the Zar ritual….knows that she will be either possessed (or is…) or in trance, and she calls out to her mate to safeguard her from these things to come. He ‘rises to the occassion’. He is….her protective mate, which is what we women want in life. But also our independence.

    I think about my own husband, who gives me enough rope to wander, but reels it in when I come to danger. LOL!

    Thank you for reading this poem and leaving this insightful comment.

    Lady Nyo


  21. Raivenne Says:


    That was my sudden exhale, not realizing how your words were literally breathtaking so enraptured was I by them!

    I remember reading a novel (eons ago), where a woman who was quitting drugs cold-turkey was having a very violent moment in her withdrawal. Her lover trying to help her realized she was either going to kill him to get to drugs or kill herself to stop the pain, it was that great. Knowing only another high equal to her drug would get her past this crucial point, he did the only thing he could think to do – sex. Hard, violent, brutal, completely lacking in love, even as he poured his love into her, saving them both from the demons of her withdrawal.

    From the gently serene segueing to the thrashing, but barely controlled almost violent sensuality at its conclusion is skillfully and beautifully penned reminded me of his necessary act.


  22. ladynyo Says:

    Ahhhhhhh! My delight knowing that there are women readers out there that Understand!

    Some people, male and female…are very wary of this poem. They are either embarrassed or …well, I think it hits on a certain level that many of us are uncomfortable speaking of. Some….actually only women, have accused me of anti-feminism….but I think that the character calling out to her mate, to help her defeat the Zar (demon) is a testiment to love and devotion, security between a couple. And how is this done…in the most primal way possible…to pin her to the earth with his sex, and restore her to sanity.

    (I don’t know, but being possessed by a Zar must be more than annoying…lol)

    But Sex can be so therapeutic. It can detour pain, disillusionment, grief, especially grief….and in the hands or presence of a man who we know loves us, but has little else to waylay this pain you speak so well of,….well, here sex comes in in therapeutic doses. And exactly as you describe: Hard, violent, brutal, and completely lacking in the niceties of decorum. Perhaps that is the only way we can get past something that is so damn painful we are losing all proportion.

    There was a time, where I was kicking-screaming-angry at life and betrayal, and the only thing my husband could do was exactly what he did: He wrapped me in his arms and covered me with his body and his strength were the boundaries that I needed right at that time.

    Thank you so much, Raivenne, for your reading and your powerful empathetic comment.

    Lady Nyo


  23. ladynimue Says:

    I was so much amazed with the ease you brought life to the ritual .. I could feel it happening right here ! Impressive !! Your writing goes strong with each post !!


  24. ladynyo Says:

    Hello Lady Nimue!

    Thank you so much. The Zar ritual is something that is so full of energy, dynamics, color and symbolism, it’s hard to ignore the impact. In part, it’s this Hyperarousal Trance that takes effect by the motion of dance and the ayoub rhythm of the music.

    Or perhaps we allow ourselves to be a little bit possessed by our topics?

    Thank you for reading and your very kind comment.

    Lady Nyo


  25. Steve Isaak Says:

    Read this before, still love it. =)


  26. ladynyo Says:

    Hey Steve….
    It went through a little revision, but the sense of it is still the same.

    Thanks, friend.



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