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The Meaning of Water Lilies

Posted by Suzie Canale on Wed, Jul 20, 2016

The Water-Lily and the Moon

in the bosom of the silver waves

grew a single water lily

speckless and spotless

the colour of pure milk

a private bud, it lay unopened

till the night it blossomed

complete, open, a whorl of whiteness!


Vijayalakshmi Harish


Water Lilies have always been looked upon with adoration because they’re found in the midst of slow moving bodies of water instead of the soil and are stunning to behold in their orchid-like appearance.  The bloom grows in a unique manner by extending long roots to anchor onto deeper particles contained in their aquatic habitat.  The plant’s majestic submersion in places like ponds and lakes makes these beauties special in a magical sense, which coincides perfectly with the flower’s root word, “Nymphea” or otherwise referred to as “nymph”.  It is common to stumble upon the water lily in fairytales where they are often the home to sprites or possess potions of enchanted nectars.  You can also spot the spectacular imagery of water lilies in several of Claude Monet’s paintings where he featured them quite regularly.

Interestingly, there are three varieties of the species, which are pond lilies, water lilies and the lotus flower.  All vary in coloring where the pond lily is white and the water lily can be seen in shades of blush pink, yellow and even lavender.  The Lotus Lily has its own fascinating properties that include its ability to open and close during the evening.  The Egyptians recognized the extraordinary beauty of the blossom and honored it within art and architecture.  Bangladesh is also a huge fan since the country made the water lily its national flower.

The specific meaning of the forest flower mainly suggests a purity of essence.  Virgins are typically associated with the lily but so isn’t the emotion of “coldness” and “unattainable”.  On the opposite side of the spectrum, it also means “unity” and a continuation of the “cycle of life”.  Several religious cultures maintain the water lily as a sacred symbol for ceremonial rituals, specifically weddings and funerals.

If you are lucky to come across the flower on your walk through the woods, be careful not to pick the heads from the lily pads since they are an endangered species throughout most of America.  

Tags: Flowers as Symbols, Language of Flowers, Flowers, Flower Meanings, water lilies

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