When You Rise, the World Lives When You Rise, the World Lives
House Altar depicting Akhenaton, Nefertiti and Three of their Daughters, circa 1350 BCE. Egyptian Museum of Berlin.
Experiences, Fiction

When You Rise, the World Lives

The Cult of the Aten
Paweł Janiszewski
time 10 minutes

The ruler sits with his children on his knees, warmly caressing his wife’s face – no pharaoh before or after allowed himself to show such human emotions. Akhenaton’s religious and social revolution continues to fascinate researchers to this day.

In the modern world, time passes quickly. We momentarily focus our attention on events and people who have been brutally torn from the depths of anonymity by some event inspiring the fleeting interest of the mass media. But on the other hand, there are people who lived tens, hundreds, sometimes thousands of years ago, who have nonetheless entrenched themselves in the collective consciousness forever. Their faces and figures – once immortalized in stone, pictures, etchings or in some other way – have become icons of civilizations.

Without a doubt, one of the most ancient members of this group is the Egyptian royal couple who ruled during the mid-14th century BCE. She is the beautiful Nefertiti. Her exquisite bust, a treasure of a Berlin museum, still inspires delight. He is the pharaoh Akhenaton. His strange and seemingly irregular depictions are hard to forget, and his extraordinary life and achievements are an endless source of inspiration for the human imagination.

A genius or a deviant

Some people hold that Akhenaton was a brilliant religious reformer who was the first in history to introduce the monotheistic religion of the Sole God, that is, the Aten. According to others, he was just a smart politician, who did so in order to restrict the


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The Dark Side of the Sun The Dark Side of the Sun
Daniel Mróz – drawing from the archives (no. 580/1960)

The Dark Side of the Sun

Demons in the Shadows
Adam Aduszkiewicz

On hot days, a natural reflex makes you seek shelter in the shade. Noon is the time of day when the sun – without which there would be no life – shows its destructive strength. Salvation can only be found in the shade.

He who forgets that the sun has a dark, destructive side is doomed. Slavic mythology featured Poludnitsa, or Lady Midday, a malicious, murderous demon that hunted imprudent folk who ventured into the fields at high noon in the summer. The famous master of Christian asceticism Evagrius Ponticus wrote of the most troublesome noonday demon, otherwise known as the demon of acedia, who would paralyse people with feelings of powerlessness and hopelessness in the middle of the day, tormenting them with a premonition that the life they were leading was a failure. It would prompt nervous movements and a desperate search for something that confirmed the value and meaning of their existence. And just as the sun burns most fiercely at noon, when it is at its zenith and begins to lean towards the west, thus the demon of acedia, with particular ferocity, afflicts people at the zenith of life. It is at that critical moment, when it is clear that a long path has already been traversed and that the time remaining – no matter how long – is finite, that the demon poisons the soul with doubt, highlighting the void of human existence and plunging the person into despair.

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