October 24, 2016


As one of the world’s oldest aquatic plants (dating back over 65 million years) scientists have discovered water lily fossils with pads over four feet wide!  Water lilies originate from North Africa + Europe, but they now grow all over the world.

There are roughly 70 different species of water lilies worldwide, including both night- + day-bloomers.  Water lilies come in a variety of beautiful colors, including the indigos, blues + purples frequently depicted in ancient Egyptian art, where the blue blossoms were commonly infused into wine and used as a euphoric during festivals + religious rites.  The blue water lily was revered in Ancient Egypt, representing fertility, the renewal of life + rebirth, and was often referred to as the blue lotus.


People often confuse water lilies and lotuses.  Even the scientific community classified the lotus with waterlilies, until DNA technology became more advanced in the late 1980s and showed that, in fact, the lotus flower is more closely related to trees than to water lilies!  Here’s the easiest way to tell them apart: Water Lily pads (leaves) rest elegantly on the surface of the water, while Lotus leaves emerge from the water entirely, growing toward the sky.  Another significant difference is in the leaf shape – water lilies always have a distinctive notch on one side, while lotus leaves are entirely circular.


The largest varieties of water lilies are found in South America.  Both the Royal Victoria and Amazon water lilies have massive green pads that can hold small children!

One of the most interesting aspects of the Water Lily is the way it grows.  After the flower blossoms, it pulls itself down under the water in a corkscrew pattern, where it transforms into a fruit.  When the seeds are ready, they float back up to the top of the waters, where they can then travel to other parts of the pond and eventually burrow in the mud.

Water Lilies are not just beautiful to look at – they also have tremendous benefits for their environment.  They filter + purify the water for all the other species in the water, as well as provide shade + cooler water for the fish to reside.

White Water Lily Close Up


Historically, the White Water Lily in particular has always been a symbol of purity + chastity.  The Latin botanical name is Nymphaea, from the Greek word meaning ‘water nymph.’  The Greeks are said to have given white water lilies this name due to its anti-aphrodisiac qualities.  In Central America and Mexico, the Mayans revered water lilies as a sacred symbol of the earth.

In herbalism, White Water Lily has been used to address irritation + swelling of sensitives tissue, such as in a mouth and eyewashes.  It can be used externally in a poultice for bruises, sores, irritated skin + other forms of inflammation.  The roots have been used to make tea for coughs, inflamed glands + mouth sores, and there is even a folk tradition of mixing White Water Lily root with lemon juice and applying to the face to remove blemishes.  During World War I, the European species of White Water Lily (Nymphaea alba) was infused into alcohol extracts to make an anesthetic when the conventional opiate anesthetics became scarce.  This flower is also said to soothe the nervous system and help induce sleep; some herbalists also support the Greek idea that it decreases lust.  It is said that monks and nuns would consume the roots of water lilies to decrease their sexual drive.

CAUTION:  the White Water Lily referred to here for herbal use is the highly fragrant Nymphaea odorata, also commonly known as the American White Water Lily.  There is another White Water Lily that does not have a scent that is poisonous, Nymphaea tuberosa.  The roots and leaves of the fragrant White Water Lily can be used in cooking and the flowers can even be made into a jam!  However, one must be very careful in the identification process, so as not to confuse it with the other species that are poisonous.

White Water Lily Flower Elixir

Just as the water lilies pull themselves down underwater to transform into fruit, the White Water Lily Flower Elixir pulls us into a world of heightened awareness + sensitivity.  It sharpens our perceptions of seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting + touching, and it helps us stop to notice the magic + beauty around us all the time.  White Water Lily also helps us to be more in tune, boosting our intuitive qualities, and the ability to recognize synchronicity.  It enhances compassion, as well as a deep understanding + anticipation of others’ needs around us.

White Water Lily dissolves dullness or feeling unclear.  It teaches us patience + enhances clarity.  If something is unclear, wait until the mud settles; when the water is clear, then decide + move forward.




Magnifies: Awareness, sensitivity to others’ needs, compassion, synchronicity; feeling more connected to everyone and everything around you; sharper senses and perception: hearing, smelling, seeing, feeling, tasting


Dissolves: Lack of awareness or clarity; ignorance or feeling dull; walls around you that prevent you from seeing


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Love + flower petals,




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