The lotus, or red waterlily in Egyptian mythology is associated with one of the creation myths as the ‘blossom which came into being in the beginning’ from the primeval waters or ‘emerged from the light’. At night waterlilies close their flowers and submerge into the water, appearing again in the morning to face the rising sun. The waterlily therefore also became a symbol for the rising sun.
The ancient Egyptians also viewed the blue lotus as a sacred flower. As the plant belonging to the god Nefertem, the blue lotus appeared frequently in Egyptian art.
The Papyrus plant was a symbol of the world which had risen from the primeval waters. The papyrus was the heraldic plant of Lower Egypt. Bunches of papyrus plants were supposed to signify triumph and joy.
Large storage jar with lotus and papyri decoration,18th dynasty Amarna (1550 - 1500 BCE).
The lotus, lily and papyrus flower features in tarot imagery, for example:
o ‘The Lady of Glory’ (Queen of Pentacles) – “The Princess holds a bunch of flowers while the sun shines in the sky”.
o ‘Uraei of the North’ ((4 of Pentacles) – Two papyrus stems representing life.
o ‘Papyrus Buds’ (8 of Chalices) – “Papyrus flowers that bend over towards the sides symbolise maturing that stops”.