Friday, October 12, 2018

"Grateful Conversations" - A Poetry Anthology with Self-Portraits by Friends

Maja Trochimczyk with Dana Gioia and Grateful Conversations. Photo by Dawn Jenkins

"Grateful Conversations" - the newest anthology I edited with Kathi Stafford for Moonrise Press (2018) - contains poems by nine writers - calling themselves the Westside Women Writers due to the location of the founding members. The poets include Millicent Borges Accardi, Madeleine S. Butcher, Georgia Jones Davis, Lois P. Jones, Susan Rogers, Kathi Stafford, Sonya Sabanac, Ambika Talwar and Maja Trochimczyk.  This month, the anthology has seen its first public readings.  

Maja Trochimczyk with "Grateful Conversations" and Robin Coste-Lewis, Photo by Dawn Jenkins

The very first appearance of this anthology in public was during the "Gathering of California's Poets Laureate" - an event hosted by Dana Gioia, organized by the California Arts Council and held on October 6, 2018 at the McGroarty Arts Center in Tujunga.  I read my poem "In Morning Light" (which is also posted on Moonrise Press blog). I also presented copies of the anthology to Dana Gioia, California Poet Laureate and former chair of the National Endowment for the Arts, Robin Coste Lewis, Los Angeles Poet Laureate, and Anne Bown-Crawford, Executive Director of the California Arts Council. The reading was filmed so hopefully the book will make it into the documentary about Poets Laureate.

Stage and audience at McGroarty Arts Center

McGroarty's house, all lit up!

From Dana Gioia and Arts Council

From State Senator Anthony Portantino, also a poet.

The first public presentation of the "Grateful Conversations" anthology was supposed to take place on Sunday, October 7, 2018 at 5 p.m. at the Flintridge Bookstore and Coffeehouse, in La Canada.  Seven poets  presented their work (Lois P. Jones, Susan Rogers, Madeleine S. Butcher, Maja Trochimczyk, Kathi Stafford, Ambika Talwar and Sonya Sabanac) but all poets will be  represented, as work by Georgia Jones-Davis and the group's founder Millicent Borges Accardi was also read.

Photo by Lucyna Przasnyski.

Photo by Lucyna Przasnyski

Photo by Lucyna Przasnyski

Lucyna Przasnyski who took photos for this reading, is from Krakow, and her mother was born in the same city of Baranowicze, now in Belarus, then in Poland as my mother. She was particularly touched by my memorial poem for my mom, "On eating a donut at a Krakow airport" so I'll reproduce it here:

Donuts and pastries at an airport in Krakow
Photo (C) 2012 by Maja Trochimczyk

On Eating a Donut at the Kraków Airport

I am moved to tears by the taste of a donut
Polish donut at a Kraków airport

Puffy, oval, brown yeast ball with sticky white icing
of lukier, dotted with candied orange peel

And the aroma of the rose confiture, a delight
I found in a café with a pretentious English name

One “Morning Coffee” in an ancient city of a hundred
Kawiarnias – alive with the dark fragrance of kawa

That black powder looted from the Turkish army
After the victory of Polish cavalry ended the siege of Vienna

Ah, forgotten stories, secrets, tastes of my childhood
My mom’s lessons how to properly peel an orange

Cook slices in syrup, add just enough vodka to the dough
To keep grease away… I bite into the soft, white flesh

My eyes fill with tears I had swallowed
When I walked into her antique-filled condo

And I saw her - frail, dove-white, forgetful
A shadow of the boisterous woman I feared

She ruled over her family with iron resolve
And made perfect donuts with rosehips and orange

I cry over my donut on this cloudy morning
Grey Polish skies open to let sunrays through

A dazzling hole in heaven, like the triangular eye
Of the Trinity resting on a stack of puffy clouds

On the ceiling of the Baroque church on Skałka
The nation’s shrine with gold angels on sandstone walls

It saw generations pass on their pilgrimage
To the agate-columned altar and the eye of infinity

This Divine Eye looks at me from beyond
when I bite into the teary saltiness of my donut  

Sweet Polish donut at a Kraków airport –
Full, round donut as it should be 

(C) 2013 by Maja Trochimczyk

It is a fascinating experience to be a member of a writing group. Sometimes pleasant, sometimes harrowing, it is all up to the poets to be kind or harsh with each other.  The following poem was just written before the most recent workshop, and has been revised as a result of poets' comments. A line "teeming with life" was too hackneyed, the dedication caused too many questions so it was removed. 

Photo by Lucyna Przasnyski

For my "Self-Portrait" section I changed poems several times. The final solution was to write a new one ("In Morning Light") that became the closing poem of the anthology, due to its location. The poem was inspired by the quirks of the calendar in 2008. the Valentine's Day on Ash Wednesday, Annunciation on Palm Sunday, and Easter on April Fool's Day. No kidding. The other poems were selected to reflect my thoughts on our group, writing, my background from Poland, my inspirations and beliefs, a condensed portrait of my life in a couple of poems. I think it works. Some romantic, some nostalgic, some spiritual - the poems cover the gamut of my experience.  Two poems about writing, two poems about nostalgia for lost Poland, two poems about the history of Poland, one love poem, and two spiritual poems, one for public group performance and one to reflect about:

Photo by Lucyna Przasnyski

Here's the introduction to my self-portrait in "Grateful Conversations" - so much to be grateful about! 

Why, Write?
My self-introduction as a poet on my website opens with a statement: “Poetry is a way of life and a shortcut to the sublime...” An avid reader of poetry since my Polish childhood, I started writing in English after I emigrated to Canada and lost the ground under my feet — my family, language, culture... Yet, my loss became my gain, when I created a new family, found a new language, and discovered a new culture to contribute to in this New World of English. Indeed, to quote my old essay, “the flexibility, richness and focus of this language never cease to amaze me!” Writing in English is also helpful in creating a new identity: it is all “persona” writing as I try on my different poetic hats, and look in the mirror of words to see if I’m an Exile or a Queen.

 Since 1995, I have kept a personal poetic journal and gave all sorts of poems to my friends. I like illustrating them with my photographs, taken mostly in my garden and neighborhood of Southern California. In 2006, I decided to share my work at public readings and in publications, .I continued to write short poems, in a genre I called “freeway poetry” — composed in my head while commuting, and committed to paper upon arrival.  In 2010, I was selected to serve as the Sixth Poet Laureate of Sunland Tujunga; it still is my favorite title and I continue volunteering to promote poetry in my neighborhood, organize readings, and publish.

In the same year, thanks to the poetry anthology that I edited to celebrate Chopin’s bicentennial, Chopin with Cherries, I met Millicent, Kathi, and Georgia who all submitted beautiful work  for this romantic anthology.  Joining the WWW group was the next logical next step. We have shared our poetic discoveries and fascinations ever since; we have helped each other grow. Having to bring a new poem each month was sometimes a challenge, but mostly a joy of sharing and learning.

Personally, I never considered poetry a “career.” I‘m already a musicologist (Ph.D.)  and a grant writer; I do not need to make poetry into a job! Thus, I have avoided competitions and conferences, and initially wrote only for myself. Meanwhile, I discovered that having a roomful of people wait with bated breath for my next word was and is completely addictive. And the shortest way to finding myself in front of such an awe-struck audience is to workshop my poems with really talented poets.

In the following selections from 20 years of poetry-writing, I included self-portraits as an émigré, daughter, and lover, and a poem I wrote for Millicent, grateful for her charming and eccentric home with a rustic patio - daffodils in the spring, red-white-and-blue lanterns in the summer, and gold leaves in the autumn. Include in  my self-portrait a “responsorial” poem from my Into Light book of spiritually inspired verse and incantations. Over the years, I wrote a lot of dirges and plaints; in this book, I gathered my positive, inspirational poems. It is time to think of what I’ll leave behind and those types of poems are my little treasures to be shared with children and friends.

For me, poetry writing truly is about “Grateful Conversations” — with myself, with my friends, with the world… I am deeply thankful for the ten years and many hours of conversing with Westside Women Writers!"
~ Maja Trochimczyk

Photo by Maja Trochimczyk

The bulk of the book is dedicated to workshops - including one that I organized at the Norton Simon Museum. We wrote about the Mulberry Tree and it was magnificent! We also wrote about an ancient sculpture of the harpist from the Getty villa and many other topics, so you need to read the book to find out what's there. 

You can explore the anthology's poems and find out about the poets on Moonrise Press Blog

The paperback is available from

The ebook with color photos is available from

You can read the editors' introduction with the table of contents on Moonrise Press Blog

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Planetary Church of Plants? How to Create a New Religion

I'm so glad and so grateful to be alive here and now, on this planet where crickets sing all around me, on my patio at sunset, in my living room at midnight.  Our planet is so vibrant, so green. No wonder, green is the color of the heart chakra, the emerald of love.

Isn't it fascinating to just wake up one day and look around and say:"yes, that's right, everything is just right..."?  It takes a while to get to this point - that's why the happiest people are those over 70, who retired and can just enjoy life in their gardens, while the least happy are those juggling jobs, careers, relationships, children, and survival in their 30s and 40s.  Instead of watching TV, Netflix, or browsing Facebook -"who said what about whom?" who cares? - I like sitting on the patio and listening to the multiple patterns and rhythms of the crickets all around me.  Summer evenings are full of delight. Noon, too, filled with hundreds of bees gathering nectar in my myrtle tree; this, to me is the sound of life, all these bees...

So what do I think about when listening to the crickets? How about making up a new religion? A Planetary Church of Plants? I share the invention of this name with a friend. Not sure I'll ever have it registered and incorporated, but I'll certainly attend its services whenever I feel like it. I created a catechism of sorts for it, too, a set of core ideas worthy of consideration and application in daily life. But before getting to those ideas, let us enjoy the mountains:

Blue Sierra 

oh, to float into blue distance
a dream of weightlessness,
knowledge of nothing but the air
in the lungs, air carrying the limbs
from cloud to cloud into being,
into tranquility, into peace

all made of water, we live
in the Cloud of Unknowing
we breathe a shroud
surrounding the mystical
peaks of the Ancient One
that will not be known
nor understood fully

we have to, we must fly
higher, we must grow wings,
strain in childish hope
that we’ll find brilliance
hidden beyond the bluest
blue of infinity, of time

(c) 2008, first published in Miriam's Iris: Angels in the Garden

How to Create a New Religion

My new religion is my own way of connecting to All that Is, I AM, the Source, the One.  I've read tons and tons of inspirational and spiritual books, and came to the conclusion that everyone is right. And everyone is wrong, too, at the same time.  The basics are to be universally shared and accepted but many religions hide them instead and ask to be paid for the secret.

ONE, as Spinoza discovered, God cannot be outside of this world since God is infinite. Therefore, as Apostle Paul wrote "we live, we breathe, we move, we are in God that is everywhere.

TWO, We are all one -all connected to the One in two ways - our eternal spark of life, the spirit, the Soul, and second - our bodies that are made of matter and are constantly being renewed and remade from new particles, food, energy, air, water - all that endlessly cycles through us.

THREE, Here things are getting complicated - we each have our own Higher Selves - the timeless entities that remains "in the spirit" while we live through one re-incarnation after another, learn one lesson after another. This Higher Self is made of eternal Light and connected to the physical body by a silver cord, or a link of subtle energy. Have I seen it? No. Why would I believe in it? Why not? I've been told to believe in my Guardian Angel already, so why not make this Angel my own self?

FOUR, Reincarnation, karma, and the laws of One, of Love, Forgiveness, and "as above so below" are real and our purpose here is to learn to Love and to collect those moments of Love, like beads of a diamond necklace.

FIVE, physical death is the end of one lesson, a gateway to rest and a prelude to return, first back to the Source for a respite - we go there if we do not have ties that bind and are free of karma. If we are on the right path, there is no spiritual death, in spirit, or soul, we are infinite, endless.

SIX, we come back for another lesson, another lifetime if a) we are slow learners and need to stay one more time in the same grade of the Earth school, b) we do a wrong thing and have to undo it by repeating the experience, and c) we are perfect already and all-loving, but we want to help others.

SEVEN, we are not alone, the universe is full of beings - humans like us and those who are from higher dimensions, more advanced in the school of Love. Some of them are full of loving kindness, but others are not.

EIGHT, the way out and up is to learn to love, be thankful, grateful, kind, peaceful, creative, joyous, and of service to others. Service is important, for how else can we prove we love, if we do not serve?

NINE, the way forward is to focus on Light (some of the entities and beings live in darkness and want to turn us also away from the path of Light) so we focus and analyse and improve ourselves and follow the path of ascension. This is done effortlessly, without striving. This means literally becoming lighter - freeing ourselves of attachments, and consequences of negative experiences and emotions. Only those with feather-light -heart can come in to the Divine Presence. Others have to go back and do it over again. Ancient Egyptians knew it already. Why have we forgotten?

TEN, All life - from rocks, sand, soil, mountains, through trees, animals, birds, insects, stars, oceans, and galaxies has a spark of life within. We are all one. Thus, killing sentient life for food is not acceptable. Killing and harming others, especially sentient beings is not acceptable. It does not come from Love, it is not Love, and it does not lead to greater Love, so it is spiritually useless. Thus, we do not eat meat.

ELEVEN, Meditation is a daily delight - mantras, prayers, chants, all help, but the focus is on finding Light, God, the Divine within - and on being aware of one's own energetic body and of the energy flows in and around us. This means also awareness of ways of protecting our own spiritual space. And noticing the presence of other entities or beings, sometimes kind and helpful but at other times willing to invade our space. So this means clearing the air, so to speak. Wrapping ourselves in our own cocoon of white light.

TWELVE, Therefore, the best way forward and up is to follow the "Golden Rule" (treat others as  you want to be treated) as well as basic rules of "Love Everyone, Respect Everything" coupled with the Hawaiian code of conduct: "Sorry, Forgive, Thank, Love" (Ho'oponopono) and the Native American Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz:
1) Be Impeccable with your Word,
2) Do not Take Anything Personally,
3) Do not Make Assumptions, and
4) Always Do Your Best.

Now, that my TWELVE has split into four parts, or twelve again, if counting each step, it is time to stop. Things are becoming too complicated.

Everyone knows those rules, anyway. Ancient Egyptians wrote out the Golden Rule as "Now this is the command: Do to the doer to make him do" (Goddess Ma'at), and in a negative form as "That which you hate to be done to you, do not do to another."  In ancient Indian Mahabharata, the rule is described as a lesson to the king: "by self-control and by making dharma (right conduct) your main focus, treat others as you treat yourself."  In ancient Greece, the emphasis was on not doing the wrong thing: "Avoid doing what you would blame others for doing." – Thales. In Judaism, Leviticus (19:18) has the following verse: "You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against your kinsfolk. Love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD." Finally, in Christianity, the Golden Rule took the form of "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" (words of Jesus in the Gospels of Matthew 7:12 and Luke 6:31).

Knowing the words is not an issue. Doing the right thing all the time - now, that's a real challenge!
We can learn to be patient and kind from the trees.

A Tree Epiphany 

                          ~for Kristin Sabo who found the whale of a tree

I want the solid serenity of trees
the sighs of their boughs in the wind 
roots reaching to the core of the earth

an oak perhaps,or a grand plane tree
thatmajestic one in Descanso Gardens
a whale of the tree, floating on waves of air

or maybe that regal eucalyptus 
with multicolored bark - a canvas for centuries
shedding memories of droughts and storms

or liquid amber, oh my liquid amber
melting gold and bronze at my feet
nourishing the roots, seeds, new leaves

Wait for the sleeping earth to awaken 
the boughs sigh in the northern wind
the roots reach deeper, still deeper 

I adore the trembling of birches in the breeze, 
whispering:quiet, quiet, now listen –before 
leaves fall, bare branches shiver in the snow

an apple tree, comely and fruitful
in an abandoned orchard by the crossroads
shylyoffers gifts to all passers-by

I want the serenity of trees 
to fill my heart with their sighs, with their 
whispers, with their sleep.

Now that we've seen the whale of a tree - the Plane Tree in Descanso Gardens - let's make life simple. Let's go to the beach and enjoy building sand castles to be washed away by the ocean waves.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Independence or Interdependence? Reflections on Freedom

In America we swear allegiance to the flag. Not to the Queen, as in Canada, where my "citizenship oath" in 1994 started with: "I swear allegiance to the Queen, to be Her loyal and faithful servant..."  We are not servants of the Queen of England, here in the U.S. We swear allegiance to the flag.  And we celebrate our Independence on the Fourth of July.  With parades, fireworks and parties. What's not to like? 


 Red - are the rocks of the Grand Canyon
 White - are the mountains, shining with snow
   Blue - are the waves of Pacific Ocean

         Red, White and Blue - colors of all.  

       Red - is the Earth from which we come
        White - is the Air that fills our lungs 
          Blue - is the Water inside us, with Stardust

           Red, White and Blue - connected in all. 

              Red - is pure Love, deep in our hearts
               White - is the Brightness of our clear minds
                 Blue - is the Peace of well-lived lives

                    Red, White and Blue - freedom for all. 

© 2018 by Maja Trochimczyk

But are we really independent? Truly? From everyone? Are we really free to do whatever the heck we want? Or, is the freedom and independence that we celebrate on the Fourth of July something that can be imposed on others? Brought in tanks, with guns and bayonets? (Those are old-fashioned, now we should say: drones... so many ways of killing, so many wars...).  

There is a lot of war in the words for Stars and Stripes our national anthem, and I do not like those words: I cannot remember them, I always sing them from a slip of paper with printed text...

Instead, why don't we make our anthem America the Beautiful? A pure celebration of the riches and abundant beauty of our world? 

America the Beautiful (1904 version)

Based on a poem by Katharine Lee Bates

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for pilgrim feet
Whose stern impassioned stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness.
America! America!
God mend thine ev'ry flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law.

O beautiful for glorious tale
Of liberating strife,
When valiantly for man's avail
Men lavish precious life.
America! America!
May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness,
And ev'ry gain divine.

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears.
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea.

Maybe we should celebrate Independence Day as an Interdependence Day? seeing that we are all connected, all depend on each other... We all need the Earth with its core elements - air, water, food - simply to exist in physical bodies on this beautiful blue planet of ours.  We are all One, says the Law of One...

We are interconnected in societies, too - it is easy to miss that if you watch the news or read the propaganda filled newspapers, always finding someone to hate, detest, reject, or attack. We can do better than that, we can love. We can live in peace and allow others to do the same, leave out their choices in their own way, as we do ours. What better way of life is there, but being creative, accepting, open, and loving?

Soaked by water guns, poets at the 4th of July Parade (with Dorothy Skiles).

Let's learn a lesson from those who were displaced and killed by white settlers to America: Native Americans. Our Independence Day was a day when their civilization on this continent started to being attacked. Over 30 million citizens of First Nations were killed in an extended genocide over the last two centuries. Their cultures were destroyed, too - and there are many wonderful lessons to learn.

Two Wolves. A Cherokee Tale

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandchild about life. " A fight is going on inside me," he says. "It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil - he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority and ego." 

He continued. "The other one is good - he is joy, peace, hope, love, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion. The same fight is going on inside you- and inside every other person, too." 

The grandchild thought about this for a minute and then asked his grandfather: "Which wolf will win?" The old Cherokee replied: "The one you feed."

So let's not feed the dark and evil wolf of negative emotions and convoluted, distorted thinking. Let's feed the nice wolf of peaceful, harmonious emotions, constructive and creative thoughts, compassion, kindness and creativity. This would make us truly Independent, and yes, Interdependent.

But then, what about Freedom? What about Free Will and the right of personal Sovereignty? I love my Declaration of Sovereignty as a Citizen of this Galaxy.  I posted it on this blog last year
along with the whole text of the Declaration of Independence and a story of my Mom, who died on the Fourth of July.  There is never too much of the good thing, so here's my Declaration one more time:

My Declaration 

I am a sovereign citizen​ of the galaxy

My heart goes out​ to the mountains​.​
My feet grow roots​ in the light​.​
My eyes touch​ heavenly stars​.
I breathe gold air​ of goodness​.​
I drink lucid​ water of joy​.​
​Nourished by divine affection, 
I thrive, ​l​inked ​to all living beings​ -​
​snow crystals, seeds, ​trees, and sunlight​.​
​In ​harmony,​ we sing the chorale​ of dawn​.​
I choose to love all,​ live in love​.​

I am a sovereign citizen​ of the galaxy​.​

It sounds quite pretentious, really, all these lovely images piled up, one after another - but the last two lines hold true, even a year later: "I choose to love all, live in love. I am a sovereign citizen of the galaxy." The gift of love is freedom.

Thus, I assert my Free Will and right to do what I want, with two caveats - one) that what I do is motivated by Love, and two) that what I do does not purposeful harm anyone or any sentient being. Since "sentient" includes animals, I became a vegetarian two years ago, once I really thought through the consequences of my Galactic Sovereignty.  When I was asked to become vegetarian years ago, I refused. I liked eating turkey for Thanksgiving. I was grateful, but was the turkey?

Finally, the fireworks: beautiful and deadly, a peaceful use of war technology. It is all fine and dandy, the colors are enchanting, the patterns in the dark sky delight with their transient grace, dancing through the air. Should we even have fireworks in California? In the arid West? So close to the vast expanses of forests and chaparral, dry and ready to explode into wildfire infernos from the smallest spark? 

Perhaps not, perhaps we should go to the ocean shore and watch the fireworks over the ocean. That would be as lovely as those that Charles Ives saw and immortalized in his Fourth of July:

This is an amazing piece, discordant, chaotic, it captures the spirit of the day...

Happy Independence Day, Everyone!

Monday, June 25, 2018

Hymn to Light, Skylarks, and the Sun of Ancient Egypt

I have not written any poems since the middle of May, when suddenly a long poem came to me, to celebrate the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year, the feast of light. In Polish ancient tradition, the shortest night is the night of divination - lighted candles float on flower wreath down the river. Young girls try to guess when they will find love and get married. Others commemorate those who left, like the wreath disappearing in the distance... carried by the streams and waves. In ancient times, the evening continued with huge bonfires and displays of bravado by young men jumping through the flames. The elements  - Water, Fire - were healing, purifying, renewing. In modern times,  fireworks light the sky, and everyone dances at outdoor concerts. 

My poem is not about the Summer Solstice night. It is about finding light in serenity and calm. A different mood entirely, but still connected to nature, to the Sun, the Earth, the Water. 

Skylark's Lesson

Don't strive. Don't fight.
Don't go beyond yourself, tensely 
stretching, reaching, grasping, in an effort
to bend reality to your own will
"I want, I want, I want..."

Listen. Leave this. Relax into Love
surrounding you like the smooth surface
of a mountain lake, rosy at dawn,
reflecting clearly the splendor
of crystalline peaks, glistening 
with new snow, in tranquil stillness.

Be glad, so glad. Be calm, so calm. Content.
Breathe deeply. Fill your whole being
with happiness found among white daisies,
fragrant clover and golden dandelions
on a spring meadow, under the bell 
of a sky, ringing with pure tones 
of a lone skylark that sings away,
up in the azure, among puffy white clouds
The sky is mirrored in the softness 
of cornflowers and bluebells. 

Be still, so still, like a pine forest
 at noon, hot with the fullness of summer
treetops barely stirring in the light breze
whispering to each other, to you
to the birds, weary with sleep after 
their extravaganza of the dawn chorus.

"The Sun is up. The Sun is up.
The Sun is everywhere. The Sun
caresses us and we grow, grow, grow
from deep waters of the Earth
into Sunlight."

Breathe deeply, slowly, deeply.

IN - the tension constricting your heart
with worries of today, yesterday, tomorrow.
OUT - the openness of Love, of loving all,
seeing all, touching all, being all -
flowing freely, brilliantly in waves
of liquid light - within you, around you,
over you - here, now, always, now - 

Relax into Love. Be still, so still. 
Be glad, so glad. Be happy.

Blossom like the Earth's gentle smile,
like the khorovod of trees, birds's servants 
sustaining us all among their branches.

Is there anything you want to know? 

The answer is here already,
waiting for you in the center
of your open heart. 

(C) 2018 by Maja Trochimczyk

Now that the Sun is out of its spring mists, and clouds, I love closing my eyes and turning my face towards it, like a sunflower, luxuriating in the rich, honeyed warmth and the glowing patterns under my eyelids.  The Sun is here, and we are here because of it. Without Sun, there is no life. Easy to forget in modern caves of concrete dwellings.  But easy to remember in the garden. 

A couple of weeks earlier, I added new words to the traditional hymn, "This is my Song" with the music of Jan Sibelius, a Finnish genius.  I like my version, though short, better than the religious hymn that the song has been transformed into. Here it is with the music. 


Bright Sun above, its radiance all around me;
Bright Sun within, awakened by its touch;
I breathe the Light. My heart sings of its brilliance. 
 My mind, my body  dance in endless Light.
 My days are full of peace, pure radiant beauty.
Bright Sun above, my Joy, my Love, my Light. 

What brought me into so much light? Hearing about  Tutenhamen or Tutenaten exhibit at the California Science Center. I thought about the famous deity, Sun-God, Aten. My hymn of light flows quite nicely if I dare say, especially when working in the garden. I wonder when my mockingbirds will learn this tune from me...

This summer, the California Science Center in Los Angeles presents the riches of the tomb of King Tutenhamen (Tutenaten),
A son of the famous Pharaoh Akhenaten who worshiped the Sun, Aten, he is remembered in modern Egyptian history because of a discovery of his forgotten tomb in 1918.  Gold, treasures, and riches aside, let's review the legacy of his father, Pharaoh Akhenaten ("He who is of service to the Aten" or "Effective Spirit of Aten") who died in 1335 BC.

Akhenaten, the husband of the beautiful Nefertiti (whom he made his equal), changed Egyptian religion for the duration of his rule, outlawed all other Gods, especially Amun - the king of all gods, and the Creator God - moved his capital to a newly built city dedicated to the deity, wrote the Great Hymn to the Aten, and died at a very young age. Since neither the populace nor the clergy of Egypt could understood nor follow the spirit of his reform, the country returned to the good old religion, struck his name from history (or tried to), restored old temples, ways of life and so forth. It worked, for another thousand plus years, until Christianity and Islam completely changed the religious landscape of the region.

Not knowing much about ancient Egyptian religions, apart from Thoth, the Books of the Dead, and the Emerald Tablets of Thoth, or of Hermes Trismegistos, I decided to read up on the topic.  Apparently, the "dethroned" deity, Amun, was one of eight most ancient Egyptian deities associated with the elements. Four gods and four goddesses, their consorts represented the four creative elements: Nun and Naunet - water; Heh and Hauhet - eternity; Kuk and Kuaket - darkness;  Amun and Amunet - air (or what is hidden). These are different from the classic elements of later times - Earth, Water, Air, Fire, plus Spirit.

According to Egyptian creation myth of the period, the interaction of these eight elemental deities caused a primordial explosion, so land emerged from the waters and life could begin. In a different version of the creation myth, the world was born from a cosmic egg created by the gods of the Ogdoad. Initially the cosmic egg was swathed in darkness - invisible, since the sun did not exist yet. After the egg was opened, the "bird of light" was found inside, a symbol of the sun God Ra. This God came from the egg and created the world.

Another creation myth emerged later, in the form of Ennead of Heliopolis, adding hierarchy and a timeline to cosmic events. This system had nine deities emerging from one another. In the beginning there was nothing (the goddess Nun). First, a mountain of earth arose from Nun; Amun-Ra created himself on this mountain. Then he created the gods of air (Shu) and moisture (Tefnut). Shu and Tefnut gave birth to the earth (Geb) and the sky (Nut). Their separation led to the emergence of our world. Nut and Geb had children who were also gods and goddesses, Osiris, Horus, Set, Isis and Nephthys.

Very complicated! During the reign of Akhenaten, the whole system was set aside and one deity, the Aten became the main god; worshiping  traditional gods was not allowed.  The Aten was not a new god but an obscure aspect of the sun god worshipped as early as the Old Kingdom. According to what scholars believe, "Aten was the traditional name for the sun-disk itself and so the name of the god is often translated as the Aten. During the New Kingdom, the Aten was considered to be an aspect of the composite deity Ra-Amun-Horus. Ra represented the daytime sun, Amun represented the sun in the underworld and Horus represented the sunrise. Akhenaten proclaimed the Aten (the visible sun itself) to be the sole deity, taking sun worship a stage further."

Furthermore, "The Aten was worshipped in the open sunlight, rather than in dark temple enclosures, as the old gods had been. However, far from being open to the people, only Akhenaten (and his family) could connect with the god. In the Hymn to the Aten, Akhenaten states "there is none who knows thee save thy son Akhenaten"." That was not very nice. The point is NOT to have an intermediary, medium, or anything or anyone between you, the Seeker, and the Divine Source. So, in that Akhenaten failed, and that's why his name was deleted from Egyptian history and his son was renamed as well.

But, in keeping with the Solar focus of this essay, let us read two Hymns to Aten that I found. No, I did not translate them. I do not speak ancient Egyptian.

Hymn of Aten

How manifold it is, what thou hast made!
They are hidden from the face (of man).
O sole god, like whom there is no other!
Thou didst create the world according to thy desire,
Whilst thou wert alone: All men, cattle, and wild beasts,
Whatever is on earth, going upon (its) feet,
And what is on high, flying with its wings.
The countries of Syria and Nubia, the land of Egypt,
Thou settest every man in his place,
Thou suppliest their necessities:
Everyone has his food, and his time of life is reckoned.
Their tongues are separate in speech,
And their natures as well;
Their skins are distinguished,
As thou distinguishest the foreign peoples.
Thou makest a Nile in the underworld,
Thou bringest forth as thou desirest
To maintain the people (of Egypt)
According as thou madest them for thyself,
The lord of all of them, wearying (himself) with them,
The lord of every land, rising for them,
The Aton of the day, great of majesty.[5]
From the last part of the text, translated by Miriam Lichtheim:
You are in my heart,
There is no other who knows you,
Only your son, Neferkheprure, Sole-one-of-Re [Akhenaten],
Whom you have taught your ways and your might.
[Those on] earth come from your hand as you made them.
When you have dawned they live.
When you set they die;
You yourself are lifetime, one lives by you.
All eyes are on [your] beauty until you set.
All labor ceases when you rest in the west;
When you rise you stir [everyone] for the King,
Every leg is on the move since you founded the earth.
You rouse them for your son who came from your body.
The King who lives by Maat, the Lord of the Two Lands,
Neferkheprure, Sole-one-of-Re,
The Son of Re who lives by Maat. the Lord of crowns,
Akhenaten, great in his lifetime;
(And) the great Queen whom he loves, the Lady of the Two Lands,
Nefer-nefru-Aten Nefertiti, living forever.

The Great Hymn to the Aten

Translated by John A. Wilson

Praise of Re Har-akhti, Rejoicing on the Horizon, in His Name as Shu Who Is in the Aton-disc, living forever and ever; the living great Aton who is in jubilee, lord of all that the Aton encircles, lord of heaven, lord of earth, lord of the House of Aton in Akhet-Aton; (and praise of) the King of Upper and Lower Egypt, who lives on truth, the Lord of the Two Lands: Nefer-kheperu-Re Wa-en-Re; the Son of Re, who lives on truth, the Lord of Diadems: Akh-en-Aton, long in his lifetime; (and praise of) the Chief Wife of the King, his beloved, the Lady of the Two Lands: Nefer-neferu-Aton Nefert-iti, living, healthy, and youthful forever and ever; (by) the Fan-Bearer on the Right Hand of the King ... Eye.

He says:

Thou appearest beautifully on the horizon of heaven,
Thou living Aton, the beginning of life!
When thou art risen on the eastern horizon,
Thou hast filled every land with thy beauty.
Thou art gracious, great, glistening, and high over every land;
Thy rays encompass the lands to the limit of all that thou hast made:
As thou art Re, thou reachest to the end of them;
(Thou) subduest them (for) thy beloved son.
Though thou art far away, thy rays are on earth;
Though thou art in their faces, no one knows thy going.

When thou settest in the western horizon,
The land is in darkness, in the manner of death.
They sleep in a room, with heads wrapped up,
Nor sees one eye the other.
All their goods which are under their heads might be stolen,
(But) they would not perceive (it).
Every lion is come forth from his den;
All creeping things, they sting.
Darkness is a shroud, and the earth is in stillness,
For he who made them rests in his horizon.

At daybreak, when thou arisest on the horizon,
When thou shinest as the Aton by day,
Thou drivest away the darkness and givest thy rays.
The Two Lands are in festivity every day,
Awake and standing upon (their) feet,
For thou hast raised them up.
Washing their bodies, taking (their) clothing,
Their arms are (raised) in praise at thy appearance.
All the world, they do their work.

All beasts are content with their pasturage;
Trees and plants are flourishing.
The birds which fly from their nests,
Their wings are (stretched out) in praise to thy ka.
All beasts spring upon (their) feeet.
Whatever flies and alights,
They live when thou hast risen (for) them.
The ships are sailing north and south as well,
For every way is open at thy appearance.
The fish in the river dart before thy face;
Thy rays are in the midst of the great green sea.

Creator of seed in women,
Thou who makest fluid into man,
Who maintainest the son in the womb of his mother,
Who soothest him with that which stills his weeping,
Thou nurse (even) in the womb,
Who givest breath to sustain all that he has made!
When he descends from the womb to breathe
On the day when he is born,
Thou openest his mouth completely,
Thou suppliest his necessities.
When the chick in the egg speaks within the shell,
Thou givest him breath within it to maintain him.
When thou hast made him his fulfillment within the egg, to break it,
He comes forth from the egg to speak at his completed (time);
He walks upon his legs when he comes forth from it.

How manifold it is, what thou hast made!
They are hidden from the face (of man).
O sole god, like whom there is no other!
Thou didst create the world according to thy desire,
Whilst thou wert alone: All men, cattle, and wild beasts,
Whatever is on earth, going upon (its) feet,
And what is on high, flying with its wings.

The countries of Syria and Nubia, the land of Egypt,
Thou settest every man in his place,
Thou suppliest their necessities:
Everyone has his food, and his time of life is reckoned.
Their tongues are separate in speech,
And their natures as well;
Their skins are distinguished,
As thou distinguishest the foreign peoples.
Thou makest a Nile in the underworld,
Thou bringest forth as thou desirest
To maintain the people (of Egypt)
According as thou madest them for thyself,
The lord of all of them, wearying (himself) with them,
The lord of every land, rising for them,
The Aton of the day, great of majesty.

All distant foreign countries, thou makest their life (also),
For thou hast set a Nile in heaven,
That it may descend for them and make waves upon the mountains,
Like the great green sea,
To water their fields in their towns.
How effective they are, thy plans, O lord of eternity!
The Nile in heaven, it is for the foreign peoples
And for the beasts of every desert that go upon (their) feet;
(While the true) Nile comes from the underworld for Egypt.

Thy rays suckle every meadow.
When thou risest, they live, they grow for thee.
Thou makest the seasons in order to rear all that thou hast made,
The winter to cool them,
And the heat that they may taste thee.
Thou hast made the distant sky in order to rise therein,
In order to see all that thou dost make.
Whilst thou wert alone,
Rising in thy form as the living Aton,
Appearing, shining, withdrawing or aproaching,
Thou madest millions of forms of thyself alone.
Cities, towns, fields, road, and river --
Every eye beholds thee over against them,
For thou art the Aton of the day over the earth....

Thou are in my heart,
And there is no other that knows thee
Save thy son Nefer-kheperu-Re Wa-en-Re,
For thou hast made him well-versed in thy plans and in thy strength.

The world came into being by thy hand,
According as thou hast made them.
When thou hast risen they live,
When thou settest they die.
Thou art lifetime thy own self,
For one lives (only) through thee.
Eyes are (fixed) on beauty until thou settest.
All work is laid aside when thou settest in the west.
(But) when (thou) risest (again),
[Everything is] made to flourish for the king,...
Since thou didst found the earth
And raise them up for thy son,
Who came forth from thy body:
 the King of Upper and Lower Egypt, ...
Ak-en-Aton, ... and the Chief Wife of the King ...
Nefert-iti, living and youthful forever and ever.

Source: Pritchard, James B., ed., The Ancient Near East - Volume 1: An Anthology of Texts and Pictures, Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1958, pp. 227-230.

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