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. 


HYMN OF LIGHT

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.



More information:

https://katherinestange.com/egypt/hymn2.htm

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0jHsq36_NTU













No comments:

Post a Comment