Greetings friends! It’s been quite some time since my last posting and I can’t begin to express how grateful I am to be back with you all. Over the last year I have done a great deal of traveling-both inward and outward. I have visited new places and I have had new experiences; experiences that keep pushing me forward.
Ahhh, yes…the plant medicines-we’re back! One topic of plant medicine which seems to keep circling back to me is that of this beautiful little ally, the Blue Lily. Shrouded in mystery since the time of the Ancient Egyptians, many questions and even outright confusion follow this sacred ally even today. In the paragraphs below I will attempt to peel back the veil – for just a little peak – to illuminate the rich history of the Sacred Blue Lily.
Shakespeare asks us “What’s in a name?” Well in the case of the Blue Lily – A LOT. Blue Lily (Nymphaea caerulea) is known by many names. This plant has been referred to as Sacred Blue Lily, The Sacred Lily of the Nile, Blue Lotus Flower, Blue Lily Flower, and Egyptian Lotus, just to name a few.
Erroneously referred to to as the Blue Lotus Flower, the Blue Lily is at best a very distant relative of the Blue Lotus (Nelumbo nucifera). That being said, these distant cousins do share some similar alkaloids (including nuciferine and aporphine which give both plants mildly sedating effects). A little side note and potential segue into a future blog post, the Blue Lotus (Nelumbo nucifera) was the plant consumed by the “Lotus Eaters” in Homer’s Odyssey. Stay tuned…
Another plant that is commonly confused with our Blue Lily (Nymphaea caerulea), and even shares Blue Lily’s common name is Agapanthus africanus. Native to the Cape of Good Hope region of South Africa, this drought resistant plant is commonly used in residential and commercial landscaping through out Europe and North America. The flowers of the Agapanthus africanus, although beautiful in their own right, have no historical Shamanic or ritual aspects to them.
So now that we know which plant we are talking about, let’s look a little deeper into this ancient entheogen. Since the time of the Egyptians, the Blue Lily has been prized for its beautiful form. Native to the Nile River delta and its estuaries, the plant has a dark to sky blue flower that rests atop four to five foot stems jutting above the water’s surface.
Sadly today, due to encroaching development and agricultural practices, the Sacred Lily of the Nile has almost completely disappeared from its natural range. Fortunately, the Blue Lily has long since migrated to regions of India and Thailand and is easily propagated. On one of my more recent travels I stumbled upon a pond-full of Blue Lillies in, of all places, a pond in the middle of Manhattan!
Native to the region that birthed the Egyptian civilization, The Sacred Blue Lily of the Nile was a revered ally. From the lowliest Egyptian citizen all the way up to the Godhead, the Pharaoh, Blue Lily played an important role in their day-to-day life. Ancient Egyptians wore blue lily buds and flowers as fashionable head adornments. Blue Lily was used medicinally (Voogelbreinder 2009, 247) to relieve pain, increase memory, improve circulation, and promote sexual desire. Blue Lily preparations were taken to treat the liver, relieve constipation, neutralize poison, and regulate the urinary system. The petals were applied both externally and internally (Ratsch 1998, 399).
Found scattered over Tutankhamen’s body when the Pharaoh’s tomb was opened in 1922, many historians thought Blue Lily was simply a symbolic flower for the ancient Egyptians. Today there is mounting evidence that they used the plant in rituals to a far greater extent than we first thought. Some postulate that the elite priesthood of ancient Egypt used the Blue Lily to produce some sort of state of shamanic ecstasy (Ratsch 1998, 398-399).
Blue Lily was first cited in the Egyptian Book of the Dead, and is also mentioned in the tale of Horus and Seth. It may be seen in numerous carvings in the Temple of Karnack, and is the focal point of a portrait of the Egyptian god Nefertem who was also known as the “Great Lotus”. Traces of phytosterols, bioflavonoids, and phosphodiastrates, all compounds found in Nymphaea caerulea can be found in the bodies of Egyptian nobles. By now it should be quite obvious that the Blue Lily was an integral part of Egyptian society. Have I piqued your interest?
As far as effects, expect a relaxed state – this is a truly empathetic entheogen. But, rather than discussing my experiences in great detail, I’m more interested in hearing about your experiences with Blue Lily! I hope you found this Blue Lily breakdown helpful, and by all means tell me how you work with this teacher, and how it works for you!
One last thing. I mentioned at the beginning of this post how Blue Lily keeps circling back to me. Well, a few weeks back I received an email from a super talented young filmmaker named Nils Taranger. His new documentary, A Blue Flower, is about to make it’s inaugural film festival run this winter. Nils is a very talented graduate student at the University of Central Florida pursuing his masters in Film Production. A Blue Flower is a documentary about Nils personal journey of healing through the pursuit of a legendary blue flower that can heal all that ails. If you have the opportunity, go see this film and support this blossoming young filmmaker.
Love and Light,
Ratsch, Christian., The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Plants: Ethnopharmacology and its Applications. Rochester: Park Street Press, 1998.
Voogelbreinder, Snu, Garden of Eden: The Shamanic Use of Psychoactive Flora and Fauna, and the Study of Consciousness. Snu Voogelbreinder, 2009. tor/Producerhan Viagra.