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: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x8S1aGY80Us.

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), californiasciencecenter.org/exhibits/king-tut-treasures-of-the-golden-pharaoh
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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Thursday, May 31, 2018

Grateful Conversations: A Poetry Anthology by Friends

Grateful Conversations: A Poetry Anthology 

Edited by Maja Trochimczyk and Kathi Stafford

Paperback, 280 pages, with black and white illustrations

I am very happy to have completed the bulk of the work on the anthology of poetry by my writing group, Westside Women Writers.  Entitled Grateful Conversations: A Poetry Anthology, after a prompt by the founder of our group Millicent Borges Accardi, this 280 page volume was co-edited by Kathi Stafford and published on May 30, 2018. 

Grateful Conversations is a portrait of a group of female poets from California, who come together each month to hone their craft and share their verse.  Known as Westside Women Writers and active as a group since 2008, they include Millicent Borges Accardi, Madeleine S. Butcher, Georgia Jones Davis, Lois P. Jones, Susan Rogers, Kathi Stafford, Sonya Sabanac, Ambika Talwar and myself. 

In the words of the WWW founder, Millicent Borges Accardi, this is “a community of women writers working together to support each other with strong attention to craft, to grow as writers and as people in community.” The volume includes poems written for seven workshops and self-portraits in poetry of the nine writers. 

WWW at the Norton Simon Museum.August 2013.
L to R: Maja, Susan, Lois, Georgia, Sonya, Madeleine and Millicent.  

To read the preface and find out which poems are included in which workshop sections, please visit the Moonrise Press Blog.  My poems are found in most of the workshop sections: 1) Millicent's prompt, "The Lake of Claret," 2) A harpist at the Getty Villa - "Song of Stillness," 3) Van Gogh at Norton Simon Museum - "Into Color, Into Light," and "The Mulberry Song" 4) Grandparents - "How to Make a Mazurka," from Chopin with Cherries, and "Ciocia Tonia" from The Rainy Bread; 6. The Broad Museum - "The Infinity Room" and 7. Rivers - "Easter Apocalypsis."

The Lake of Claret

Maja Trochimczyk

The scent of cinnamon and nutmeg in the air
Hot sangria in my glass, white light shines
Through the rich hue of claret, opalescent
Like my silk scarf at a California party

I savor the taste of long ago – that evening 
On the lake by the bonfire heating a huge metal pot 
With cheap wine from bottles marked “Wino” 
In a fake handwriting – no provenance, 
no appellation controlée

We put plums, apples and piernik spices
Into our grzane wino during that fateful sailing trip
Spending nights under dark fir branches
Picking mushrooms and blueberries 
In the underbrush

They thrive in acidic soil fed by rotting needles
Where a pungent smell of decay and fruit lingers
Beneath prickly juniper swathed in cobwebs
Drops of moisture gather on pine bark 
Striped by shadows

A handful of wild strawberries glisten 
Among delicate blades of grass in forest clearings
We lose our way, lured on by their promise 
Of sweetness, their carmine hue, light aroma 
Brightened by sunshine

We did not talk much then, my last year
Of wandering through Mazurian Lakes
Stopping at island coves, setting camp, moving on
After a morning dive to the sandy bottom, 
Scattering the fish

It was best to listen to the wind in the treetops
Pine branches whispering to each other
About the end of summer, snow that will break them, 
Icicles that may kill –grateful conversations never had

But now taking place

In my own Self-Portrait section, I put two poems about writing and our group, two about immigration and nostalgia for lost country, two about romantic love, and two about spiritual lessons in life. Some of my poems have been previously published and only one brand new: "Definition: Writing;" "In Millicent’s World;" "An Ode of the Lost;" "On Eating a Donut at the Kraków Airport;" "Shambhala; "“Look at me…”; "On Divine Comedy and Ice Cream;" "Repeat after Me;" and  "In Morning Light." 

I also selected a variety of illustrations from my thousands of nature photos, it took a while to pick them and then I had to change the selected images, because they did not work in black and white of the original paperback book.  There will be color versions soon, so that's not a complete loss. 

In an essay about my personal approach to poetry, I wrote: 

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. I close my self-portrait with 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! 

The Infinity Room

At the Broad Museum, is closed, they say. 
I do not trust them, anyway. I would not go in.

I find my own Infinity on the beach –
floating on the waves that cross the Pacific
to lick my toes covered with sand crystals.
It is scattered among multicolored pebbles 
in shallow tide pools I walk through to reach you.

I’m home now.

My infinity stirs in dewdrops on the grass –
diamond sparks on moss green, chartreuse and celadon, 
shining  in early spring light.

It tastes refreshing in cold juice of an orange 
picked in my garden when it is 33 outside. It echoes 
in the melodious phrases of the mockingbird 
that claims the top of my pine, its contours 
outlined against the misty hilltops 
and the bluest of California skies.

Where is yours? Where have you found 
that spark, that voice, that calling?

Is it in the sunrays bouncing off the mirror surface of the lake,
splitting into a myriad prisms between your fingers -
your private rainbow?  Or the hot desert wind 
that challenges you to a race across sand dunes? 

Maybe you walk into the white expanse of the museum 
filled with a bunch of Jeff Koontz’s metallic balloons 
and see yourself reflected in the smooth, polished skins, 
bright and translucent like air bubbles, a giant child’s delight?

I hold a bouquet of infinity in my hand. 
It opens to blossom in ellipses, circles, petals –
intersecting trajectories of light, reverberations
of energy reflecting a multitude of timelines –

crystal after crystal – wave after wave –
carnelian into amber into gold – emerald into sapphire  
into quartz crystals – sparkling above a multitude 
of mirrored cupolas – other infinities that pass me by.

In Morning Light

We live on a planet where it rains diamonds —
hard rain, sparkling crystal droplets — in the clouds, 
in the air, on the ground under our feet.

Here, the Valentine’s Day falls on Ash Wednesday.
Red strawberries, wine-hot passion and Ashes to ashes,
dust to dust — lessons of impermanence of the body,
constantly reconfigured in a vortex of quarks and atoms
until the pattern dissolves like snow at the end of winter.
Delicate snowdrops peek from under the melting cover 
of phantasmagorical shapes and figures.

Here, the Annunciation Day of Mary’s greatest joy
falls on Palm Sunday — from rainbow wings of Fra Angelico’s 
Gabriel bowing before the shy, blushing maiden in royal blue
we look ahead to the green of palm fronds lining the streets
of Jerusalem. We welcome the destiny of the King.
We see red blood on the stones of Golgotha, 
the Place of the Skull. Not even this is real.

No wonder, then, that Easter, the greatest Mystery —
of Death into Life, Spirit over Matter, the Divine 
in an emptied human shell — Eli, Eli, Lema Sabachtani — 
Sanctus, Benedictus, Agnus Dei — it is done  — 
yes, that Easter — is on April’s  Fools Day this year.

We fool ourselves when we see death as enemy.
We spin our lives into thin filaments of a spider-web.
Illusion woven into illusion. Deception after deception.
They rise and fall with the rhythm of seductive charm.
The smiling demon is the most persistent. Incorrigible,

it pulls us down, down, down into the mud, 
from whence we did not come. Nothingness 
ties us up with bonds of non-belonging.

My revelation is this — we live on the planet 
where it rains diamonds. We walk on untold treasures 
that we do not notice — we forget and forget and forget 
where we came from, where we are, where we are going.
We spin our future out of spider silk and shadows.

Our lives fill with the sand of dreams, changing 
like shards of glass, broken bits of colored plastic 
in a kaleidoscope — transfigured into the most 
astounding waltz of the rosettes, reflected 
in hexagonal mirrors of transcendence —

My revelation is this — we are the children 
of Sunlight — blessed by Radiance — wearing 
Love’s golden halos — we shine and blossom — 
in Light’s cosmic garden of stars — lilies — violets — 
peonies — daffodils —and roses — always roses — 
in this brilliant garden — on a diamond planet —
of what is — in the Heart of the Great, Great Silence —

— there’s no here — nor  there —
— no before  — nor  after —
— no inside  — nor  outside —

——— All is Always Now———
——— All is Always One———

——— Where We Are ———