I started to write about the Lily on my health blog and it got just too spiritual and energetic to leave it there; seemed out of place and more at home here.
An appropriate time to be writing about the Lily with Easter (Eostre) around the corner. I never thought of the Lily as being a flower with medicinal benefits; actually until I got into Reiki I rarely thought of any plant as having medicinal properties.
If I had read the labels of any pharmaceutical product, I would have noted that there were elements of flowers in the concoction, and it is usually that element which produces the health benefits. All the rest are those things that require pharmaceutical companies to attach the warnings of any possible adverse reactive effect or contraindication of the product.
The Lily always reminds me of Easter and funerals. Not quite ‘life’ giving moments.
The Madonna or White Lily (Lilium candidum) is a native of the Mediterranean world and for centuries has been associated with the idea of the pure and resurrected soul, and thus with Easter. A similar species, Lilium longiflorum, provides the Easter Lily we find at the florists.
It is the long leaves of the Longiflorum species that provides the medicinal properties. It has a history in its native China as a medicinal plant. The old herbalists used the Madonna Lily as a cleanser of the female genital tract. The remedy that was prepared cleansed the waste material from the organs which sustain the fetus. It has also been used to remove cysts from breasts, ovaries and uterus.
The Lily (leaves, roots, stem, etc.) has been used for the following:
- heart, angina, and strokes: The active cardiac glycosides and flavonoids stimulate the arteries causing them to dilate.
- treating burns, preventing formation of scars. The roots are used to prepare a salve that is applied to the skin.
- childbirth: Used when the contractions are weak.
- laxative: dried flowers used as laxative or diuretic
- spider bites: the roots and flowers
- coughs, fevers and stomach disorders: taken as a tea
- ulcers and inflammation: because of astringent and soothing properties
- tumours: applied to hard tumours to soften
- depression: essential oil produces sense of contentment and security
- food: flowers and stems used in Asian cooking as they are sweet, chewy and have a mild vegetable flavour similar to lettuce, asparagus or zucchini
Historical records also provide information about the Lily being a symbol for some aspect of spiritual life. It was suited specifically
to be a representative of the opening of the inward path, the first ‘guidepost’ on the spiritual journey.
There must be a basic purity of motive when one undertakes the inward journey, otherwise your efforts will be in vain. Single-mindedness and purity of motive must be tempered with receptivity. I can’t hear that often enough. There is so much just waiting for us to open up and receive it. But, when we are closed-minded, stuck on traditions and “the way it’s always been,” we will never open up to receive what is being offered, gratis the price having been paid in full.
The Lily is representative of the union of opposites, cancelling any limitations imposed by a one-sided ideal, making them compatible. Yeshua’s mother is a symbol of this juxtaposition of opposites and no doubt why the Lily is representative of Easter. Easter, as I shared in an earlier blog, was originally Eostre, the celebration of the Goddess of Spring.
Over time, Yeshua’s mother became the symbol of the spiritually purified soul, ready to be entered into by the divine impulse. This is why the Lily has been associated with Mary and her purified soul.
Yeshua himself is a clear representative of the reconciliation of opposites, cancelling the limitations and imperfections of man that they might become as one.
Jacob Boehme used the metaphor of the Lily extensively to represent the union of opposites and took the reconciliation of opposites to be “at the root of human nature.” He saw humanity as a contending opposition. He wrote of the mystery of the Lily in “Three Principles”.
Everything about us is a duality of opposites. Think about our emotions, how if we did not have one how would we know we had the other; i.e. sad and glad, angry and content, excited and depressed, etc.
In his book “Seven Herbs: Plants as Teachers,” Matthew Wood wrote about our human failings and tendencies. Before I quote I must say that form my own perspective, unless and until I admit that I am flawed, imperfect, weak and in need of help, then why would Yeshua bother to step in and help. We are told in Scripture that, “in our weakness He is our strength.” [my paraphrase]
In speaking of the spiritual journey and the gaining of spiritual knowledge, Matthew said that:
“Spiritual knowledge starts with the realization that we are imperfect, vulnerable beings, composed of conflicting desires. … we are busy trying to do the work of spiritual purification ourselves,
- living by ideals
- suppressing personal desires
- judging ourselves and others as insufficient
God can not work with us. We are usurping the Divine prerogative, for it is God’s choice whether or not to work with us … not our choice whether to work with God. [Bam! Doesn’t that just hit you between the eyes!] … cannot assume God’s beneficence, and he cannot bequeath it until we have given up trying to insinuate ourselves into his good graces by our paltry and conceited efforts. Once we have accepted this, the conflicting contrarium of our desires and ideals will create the perfect receptacle into which the Divine Presence can descend.
A soul that can do this is pure and true, not the ideal sense.”
What he wrote about our tendencies strikes a chord. I have spent so much of my life trying to “clean up my act”, when all the Lord wants from any of us is a simple Yes or No. I can look back now and see how my life has “cleaned up”, if you will, without notice on my part. Whenever I tried to do the right thing, because some book or person said it was right and I felt like I was forcing myself, I may have succeeded for a while, but eventually returned to my old ways.