The lotus flower symbol has a lot of religious belief and history surrounding it, especially in ancient Egypt. The symbol stands out as one of the most significant religious symbols in the Egyptian Mythology. On several occasions, it is used as one of the symbols of art in ancient Egypt; it represents the symbol of Upper Egypt, rebirth, creation and the sun. It is equally associated with the Sun god called Atum-Ra in ancient Egypt. Also, the symbol has an association with the lotus god of perfume called Nefertum.
Another name for lotus flower is water lily. The flower has the characteristic of opening in the morning and closing at night; this characteristic symbolizes regeneration and rebirth. Furthermore, both the water lily and lotus flower symbols are used in depicting the deceased once they get to the underworld. Additionally, it indicates reincarnation, regeneration, and rebirth.
Facts about the lotus flower in ancient Egypt
The lotus flower is a highly potent icon and symbol in the legend and mythology of ancient Egypt. It is frequently described in arts associated with ancient Egypt. The lotus symbolizes regeneration, rebirth, creation and the sun, as hinted earlier. Nefertem, the god of perfume in Egyptian mythology, is also the god of beauty, medicine, and healing; he has a strong association with the lotus flower. He is also depicted by a large lotus blossom on his crown in Egyptian art.
The lotus flower symbol is usually found in special and honoured places in Egypt. It is also found in architectural edifices, like Egyptian pillars, headdresses of pharaohs, on thrones, papyrus and in tomb Hieroglyphs. There is a strong connection between the lotus flower and the creation myth; the lotus is said to come from mud deposit before time. The ancient Egyptians believe that the creator got his birth from the cup-shaped chalice of the lotus flower. The lotus flower grows in muddy swamps, and the flower extends out of the water to give rise to 15 pink or white oval-shaped petals that spread in all directions. A curious looking flat seedcase is present at its centre. The flower is both sweet smelling and ornamental. Today, as it is the case in times past, the lotus flower is used in making lotions that contain oil extracted from the lotus flower. It is also used in making various medicines, air fresheners, unguents, cosmetics, and perfumes.
Pharaohs usually hold the lotus flower in their hands. It is depicted by the Deshret Red Crown, which is a symbol of Lower Egypt or North of Egypt. The pharaohs usually associate with the gods by holding the lotus flower when they are visiting Thoth, the ibis-headed Egyptian god, who is also seen as the secretary of Ra, the sun god. Thoth is equally seen as the Underworld that inscribed Pharaohs’ names on the Tree of Life. Another god associated with the lotus flower is the cow goddess of healing, fertility, and magic, who is named Hathor. Her crown is usually wedged between two cow horns, which surround the sun disk. Her sacred flower is the blue lotus, which represents her regeneration and healing powers.
History and Egyptian Mythology
Egyptian mythology recognizes two species of lotus, which are native to that period; they are
• The blue lotus also called Nymphaea cerulean and
• The white lotus also called Nymphaea lotus.
At a later date, the pink lotus, called Nelumbonucifera, was brought to Egypt during the Late period from modern Iran, the then Persia. The lotus flower stood out as the only flowering plant that could blossom throughout the year in Egypt.
The symbol was related closely to the cult of Osiris and funeral imagery. The imagery depicting this always shows the Four Sons of Horus standing in front of Osiris on a lotus.
Nefertem is the god of Memphis and son of Ptah; he is also referred o as the perfume Lord. He was seen as the first incarnation of Atum at Heliopolis. He was, however, later referred to as Atum-Ra, which changed later to Ra. Nefertum is considered in ancient Egyptian mythology as the god of beauty, medicine, and healing. In Egyptian art, he is usually depicted with a small child crouched on the symbol of a lotus flower, or a large lotus blossoming on his crown.
The symbol of ancient Egypt art always showcases the sacred blue lotus more than any other species. The lotus motif or symbol usually adorns the Tree of Life, which is represented by the capital of pillars. The white lotus has a lovely smell, hence its preference to the blue lotus.
It is believed in ancient Egypt that scent came from divine origin. As a result, it was used in making scented ointments, medicine, cosmetics, ceremonies, and rituals.
Many Egyptian arts show gods and goddesses holding the lotus symbol in the nose of pharaohs, kings, and queens; this is because the scents of the lotus flower are considered to have protective and restorative capabilities. The goddess Hathor also considers the lotus flower as her sacred flower; she, however, prefers the blue variety. In ancient Egypt, the lotus is used in inducing ecstatic state. Also, it is used as an aphrodisiac. Other uses include healing, cleansing, and stimulation.
The lotus flower is considered as the symbol of Upper Egypt, and it was used commonly in arts of Egyptian origin. In these arts, the long stem of the flower is intertwined with papyrus reeds, which is a symbol of Hapi, the Nile God. The depiction is also a symbol of Lower Egypt. The intertwining of the papyrus reeds with the lotus flower stands for the unification of the Upper and Lower Egypt.
It is also given a place in the worship of gods and goddesses, like the cat goddess. It has become part and parcel of Egyptian belief system that it is used in magical rituals, daily life, and temples. However, only priests and priestesses can enter the cat goddess temple. The lotus flower also decorates the small temples in the homes of individual Egyptians. Aside from the goddess of a cat, several other gods and goddesses also give reverences to the lotus flower.
Meaning in Christianity
The lotus flower also has meanings in Christianity. The followers of this religion give it meanings associated with those of the white lily, that is, purity and virginity like the virgin Mary.