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The Egyptian ‘Lotus’
Nymphaea Caerulea, the Blue Water Lily
By Caroline Seawright
Called a ‘lotus’, the depictions of the floral symbol of Upper Egypt is actually known as a Nymphaea caerulea which is actually known today to be a water lily. This flower, along with the papyrus flower, was shown throughout Egypt in tombs and temples to symbolize the union of Upper and Lower Egypt, but the blue water lily had a much deeper significance to the Egyptian people.
In the beginning were the waters of chaos … Darkness covered the waters until … the Primeval Water Lily rose from the abyss. Slowly the blue water lily opened its petals to reveal a young god sitting in its golden heart. A sweet perfume drifted across the waters and light streamed from the body of this Divine Child to banish universal darkness. This child was the Creator, the Sun God, the source of all life.
So the Primeval Water Lily closed its petals at the end of each day. Chaos reigned through the night until the god within the water lily returned. The Creator knew that he was alone. This solitude became unbearable and he longed for other beings to share the new world with him. The thoughts of the Creator became the gods and everything else which exists. When his thoughts had shaped them, his tongue gave them life by naming them.
The Egyptians saw that the blue water lily opened up each morning, seeing the intense golden center set against the blue petals, seemingly an imitation of the sky that would greet the sun, releasing sweet perfume. Each afternoon, they would close again only to open again each day. The flower was therefor firmly linked with the rising and the setting of the sun, and thus to the sun god and the story of creation. The religious significance of the flower was great – many columns of the Egyptian temples had water lily capitals crowning them.
I am he who rises and lights up wall after wall, each thing in succession. There will not be a day that lacks its owed illumination. Pass on, O creatures, pass on, O world! Listen! I have ordered you to! I am the cosmic water lily that rose shining from Nun’s black primordial waters, and my mother is Nut, the night sky. O you who made me, I have arrived, I am the great ruler of Yesterday, the power of command is in my hand. — Spell 42, The Book of the Dead
The god of the blue water lily was Nefertem, a god not just linked to the sun but to beautification and healing.
Taken at the Adelaide Botanic Garden
Textures from my own p/f.
Edited in Photoshop.