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Myth and folklore – Water lilies have a strong presence in man’s history and legends. Perry says” Water lilies were well known to primitive man who, groping for sign and portents of the deity, saw in their blooms living symbols of regeneration and purification. Their manner of rising with the return of the rains, pure and undefiled from the mud and slime of dried up watercourses suggested immortality, purity, and resurrection. Professor Goodyear ascribed to Water lilies a high place in the arts of thirty centuries before Christ. From its twisted petals he traces the Ionic capital, and from that the Greek fret or meander.
This doubled, becomes the swastika, earliest of all symbols, and, according to the way it faces, the representative of good or evil. Male or female, light or darkness. The well filled seed pod suggests the cornucopia, emblem of fertility and another old symbol.”
The Hindu sun god, Surya, is portrayed as a dark, red man with three eyes, four arms, and he holds two water lilies – one to bless, and the other to encourage worship.
In Celtic myth, the lily is a plant of the water element, and is part of the water stones, trees and animals.
In the peninsula of Ardnamurchan in Scotland, the water lily concealed the “each na uisgich”, the “water horse,” a creature that carried you away under the water if you saw it, or, according to some, if the individual did not live a pure life. How, therefore, anyone could report its existence is a conundrum, or everyone was pure of heart.
In Northwest Germany, especially Frie Zealanders, the nenuphar was from the earliest of times, an object of veneration, and is incorporated into the escutcheon, and brought victory.
In all its forms, it is a potent symbol for either the wilder shores of Europe or Tibet.
In the Amazon basin, there are several myths attached to the giant lilies of the river, but one story tells that one night, when the world was new, a star feel from the sky, and became the water lily flower.
In Hindu and other Eastern traditions, pictures meant to portray the subtle anatomy of humans, the lotus is used to symbolise the “Crown” chakra, and water lilies the other Charkas.
The Victorians had a formal “language” of flowers, giving their gift a meaning. In this, the water lily signified the recipient was eloquent and pure of heart. For a birthday flower, it meant good luck and an open heart. For this, it had an association with the ruby as a birth stone.
Helios, the sun god, made Hercules a golden goblet shaped like a water lily to sail over Oceanus.