BLUE LOTUS FLOWERS
Blue Lotus was one of the most important plants of ancient Egypt. Given its ephemeral beauty and alluring scent that is hardly surprising. To the Egyptians, it was a transcendental messenger of the Gods.
Blue Lotus is an Aquatic plant, native to the Nile Delta. Every year, the great sacred river floods the alluvial plain, bringing with it black sediments that regenerate the fertility of the land - a gift from the Gods. Like a radiant floral gem, the Blue Lotus flower emerged from the depth of this ‘primordial mud. To the Egyptians, the star-shaped flowers with their yellowish centre and sky-blue petals were an image of the Sun-God Ra - a symbol of transcendence and reincarnation. Like the Sun-God, the flowers open in the morning and close as the Sun begins to set. At night, they are submerged below the surface of the water - only to be reborn the following day. Thus, it is hardly surprising that the flowers of the Blue Lotus played such an important role in the religious rituals and ceremonies of ancient Egypt. Floral wreath, almost entirely composed of Blue (and White Lotus) flowers, adorned the dead as well as the living, as an ever-present symbol of eternal life.
In the ancient world, Blue Lotus leaves were used to treat liver problems and constipation. They were also thought to be effective as an antidote for snake bites and similar poisons. Dioscorides mentions that the seeds and roots are edible, both raw and cooked.
Egyptian mythology tells of an epic battle between Horus and Seth. One day, Seth found Horus sleeping under a tree. In an instant, he ripped both of Horus’ eyes out and planted them in the sand. But to his astonishment, Blue Lotus flowers emerged where he had planted the eyes.
Since then, the ‘Eye of Horus’ has become a symbol of protection and omniscience.
Interestingly, in ancient Egyptian art, Blue Lotus flowers are always depicted in combination with opium poppies, and mandrake. Some ethnobotanists believe that the imagery represents an iconographic ‘recipe’ for a sacred beverage made from mind-altering plants. The combination suggests a potent potion that may have been used to induce lucid dreams.