This first appeared on Kate Bush's debut album, The Kick Inside in 1978, but was only released as a single in Japan under the title "Rolling The Ball" (it reached #3 on the Japanese charts). The following year, it was the lead track from Bush's Live On Stage EP, a collection of live recordings from a benefit concert at Hammersmith Odeon, London. That version peaked at #10 in the UK.
This song refers to Georges Ivanovich Gurdjieff (1877-1949), a Greek-Armenian mystic and spiritual teacher who used stylized dance to help people to unleash the powers within themselves and develop their full capabilities.
Edward Pearce - Ashford, Kent, England, for above 2
When Bush sings, "I love the whirling of the Dervishes," she refers to the ancient meditative dance in the Sufi tradition, which is a form of Islamic mysticism. During their sacred Sema ceremonies, the Dervishes - members of the Mevlevi Order of Islam - rapidly twirl until they reach a peaceful, spiritual state called Sufism.
In the lyrics, the knowledge-hungry singer wants to learn from a variety of teachers, not just Gurdjieff, whom she heard her father and brother discussing while she was writing the tune. She explained in a 1979 fan club article: "I thought it was important not to be narrow-minded just because we talked about Gurdjieff. I knew that I didn't mean his system was the only way, and that was why it was important to include Whirling Dervishes and Jesus, because they are strong, too. Anyway, in the long run, although somebody might be into all of them, it's really you that does it - they're just the vehicle to get you there."
Bush wrote this at her parents' house after the opening phrase, "Rolling the ball," popped into her head.