The Significance of The Lotus Flower
The lotus flower has long been a spiritual symbol found in cultures around the world. It has been used in ceremonies and artistic renditions by the people who honored it. Its unique behavior has many believing it is a mysterious flower with God-like attributes.
As we uncover some of the magic behind the lotus, you too will see why this seemingly common pond flower happens to be so significant. As a bonus, you'll also discover why we call our holistic skincare Nefertem with the Lotus as our symbol.
The Lotus Flower and Water Lily Flower
The lotus flower as we know it today is scientifically named Nelumbo nucifera, but commonly referred to as the "Indian Lotus" or "Sacred Lotus".
The historically vital "Blue Lotus" is actually a water lily and is scientifically named Nymphaea caerulea.
Other lesser known varieties of the lotus/lily exist as well such as Nymphaea nouchali, Nymphaea odorata and Nymphaea lotus.
The Lily and Lotus families are frequently mistaken for one another as they share similar growth and reproduction, features and edible traits. For many, many years they were thought of and classified as the same plant. Recently, however, scientists have decided to class them into their own separate Family and Order.
Regardless of their proposed differences and classifications, their historic significance remains unified.
For ease of reading, I will hereinafter refer to both as simply “lotus”.
History of the Lotus
The Blue Lotus originated along the Nile Valley in Africa and spread to places such as India and Thailand. The oldest records of this botanical variety reference the Blue Lotus blooming in the standing waters off the Nile River.
Generations later, the Indian and Asian records describe the Lotus as a thing of beauty and grace.
Over time, the Lotus became a staple in spiritual ceremonies and ancient paintings. Many grew to symbolize the Lotus as a sign of nobility and honor.
The African Relationship With The Lotus
In Egyptian hieroglyphics, many Gods and Goddesses are portrayed holding a lotus flower, smelling a lotus flower or crowned with a lotus flower – Nefertem is one such God. The lotus was used in spiritual ceremonies and as offerings to the Gods.
The Indian Relationship With The Lotus
In India, statues and paintings honoring Buddha depict him sitting on a lotus flower to symbolize enlightenment and detachment from material possessions.
The Hindu Goddess Lakshmi is adorned with a lotus in her hand and a lotus beneath her feet. Lotuses are also seen carved into Hindu temples to signify purity of the mind, body and speech.
The Mystery and Lure of the Lotus Flower
A remarkable God-like trait of the lotus flower, that draws much mystery and allure, is that the plant can control the temperature of its flower within a small range just as our human bodies can. Researchers suspect this is to maintain an ideal temperature for coldblooded insects which help to pollinate the flower.
Just as amazing, an ancient seed (roughly dated at 1,300 years old) was able to be germinated after being discovered in a dry lake bed in Northeast China. This revival after such a long period of dormancy is intriguing in its own right.
The Symbolic Meaning of the Lotus
The lotus has been compared to the cycle of life and reproduction. It has been coupled with enlightenment and the yin/yang concept. That is, to know the beauty of the lotus, we must also know the ugliness of the muddy waters to which it emerges. Together, they create a balance.
To some, the lotus symbolizes renewal. As the sun sets (the lotus closes) we retreat to rejuvenate ourselves via sleep; as the sun rises (the lotus opens) we are once again reborn as we rise to consciousness.
To others, it reminds them that pure thoughts and speech should be held in the highest regard. One can see the association to purity and cleanliness in the way the flower bud emerges from muddy water unsoiled.
Practical Uses of the Lotus
Throughout time, the lotus has been cherished at weddings, funerals and even dinner time – its use ranging widely based on the beliefs of the culture using it.
Many enjoy the lotus plant through food dishes, medicine and recreational drugs. All parts of the lotus plant are edible; however some parts do require cooking before eating to kill parasites and harmful bacteria.
In many Asian countries, the roots, leaves, flowers and stems are sautéed, steamed, used as garnish and made into teas.
It is said that smoking or drinking the tea of the lotus flower can alter your state of mind, causing primarily sedation and relaxation. Some countries, such as Poland, Latvia and Russia have banned the plant as an illegal drug and anyone in possession can face serious criminal charges.
Nefertem and the Lotus
Before anything on Earth was created (according to one creation story of the people of the Nile Valley in Africa) there was water. This water was referred to as the primordial water or "nun". On one magical day, a flower bud began to emerge from the water in harmony with the rising sun.
As it opened, the blue petals from the lotus revealed a tiny man sitting inside; that man was Nefertem. As he stood he stretched out his hands, offering the vast and diverse display of plant life to the world. Some describe it as him providing the "spirit of the plants" to Earth.
Nefertem is regarded as the God of beautification, cosmetics and the healing arts. He is known today as the father of aromatherapy and herbal healing.
Why We Chose to Name our Business Nefertem
Nefertem symbolizes the connection we have to Mother Nature and the spirit of all living things. Our mission is to bring the power of nature into daily routine and to do this, we must acknowledge the energy or power of everything we put around us.
Our handcrafted, holistic products, like Nefertem himself, offer the spirit of the natural world to those who seek to be infused with it.