Lotus Flower Meanings & Symbolism + Mythology & Folklore

Lotus Flower Meanings

Lotus flower meanings include purity, fertility, compassion, transformation, and spiritual enlightenment. The lotus is equaled only by the rose in terms of the breadth and depth of art and literature that present it as a symbol with deep philosophical meanings. In addition to historical representations in Buddhist and other Eastern spiritual teachings, the lotus has become an important symbol in modern-day Western philosophies as well. In this post, you’ll learn about those meanings as well as lotus flower symbolism throughout the world.

Frog on a Lotus Petal

What is the meaning of a lotus flower?

  • Purity
  • Fertility and the Cycle of Life
  • Open-heartedness and Compassion
  • Transformation and Rebirth
  • Spiritual Awakening
  • Spiritual Enlightenment

Lotus Symbol: Purity

White Lotus Flowers

The lotus sprouts from muddy waters. Yet, as it emerges, the waters above it cleanse it. Then, its petals open up, and the lotus blossoms into an exquisite flower that blooms above the surface of the water.

This dichotomy in the lotus flower’s transcendence from a murky environment to one that is clear and immaculate and is why the flower is a symbol of purity in many cultures. No matter how impure its origins, the lotus still manages to bloom brilliantly.

This is why the lotus has also come to symbolize clarity of thought and purpose. When your pursuits are pure of heart – your past, where you come from, and your hardships are all unmatched by the purity of your intentions.

Fertility and the Cycle of Life

Because lotus flowers go through a daily process of regeneration, emerging from muddy waters to bloom above the surface of the water, they are also symbols of fertility. Giving birth is a natural part of the cycle of life, and the lotus embodies this process. Thus, couples who are trying to conceive may meditate on the lotus to bring positive energy to help them conceive.

In fact, ancient Hindu texts describe the lotus as the “Womb of the Universe” or the “Womb of the World” because of its life-giving attributes. In Hinduism, the Universe was once covered with water. However, a golden lotus with 1,000 petals emerged from the water, glowing like a sun. From those petals, the deity Lord Brahma created the material world.

Open-heartedness and Compassion

Lotus Mandala

As the lotus emerges from the water, its petals open up. Thus, these divine flowers are also symbols of having an open heart and receiving others with compassion. Though the lotus becomes more vulnerable when it opens its petals, it is able to absorb more sunshine. So, the lotus shows us that allowing ourselves to be vulnerable and being open to others – approaching them with empathy instead of judgement – benefits them as well as ourselves.

Transformation and Rebirth

Like the dragonfly, the frog, and the turtle, the lotus originates in the water, yet it doesn’t stay there. The lotus goes through a transformation – from being a closed bud in the water to an open flower that blooms above the surface.

So, like these associated animals, the lotus represents transformation and rebirth. The lotus reminds us that we can emerge to blossom, regardless of where we started.

Spiritual Awakening

Lotus Flower Symbol of Spiritual Awakening

On the path to spiritual enlightenment, there are steps. One of those steps is self-awareness, another is non-attachment, and a third is awakening. As a lotus flower’s petals open, so does the human mind with the expansion of awareness. So, the lotus also symbolizes the expansion, or awakening, of consciousness.

Spiritual Enlightenment

Lotus flower meaning is also a sign of reaching ultimate state of spiritual awareness, which is enlightenment. This state of being is often depicted as an open lotus.

Lotus Flower Color Meanings

Red Lotus Flower

Lotus flowers come in a few different colors, and each one has special meaning. Here are some of those meanings:

Red Lotus Meaning

In general, the color red symbolizes primal energy, passion, and love. A red lotus is representative of open-heartedness in love, including selfless love, and generosity of spirit.

Pink Lotus Symbolism

In Buddhism, the pink lotus is sacred, as it is a divine symbol of the Buddha as well as the path to enlightenment. A budding pink lotus that is just starting to open symbolizes a person whose awareness is beginning to expand. And, as referenced earlier, in Buddhism, a fully opened pink lotus symbolizes the attainment of enlightenment or reaching Nirvana.

Yellow Lotus

Yellow Lotus Flower

The yellow lotus, also referred to as a golden lotus in Buddhism, symbolizes the joy that can be attained from non-attachment to things and outcomes. It also symbolizes the intellectual pursuit of spiritual growth. In addition, yellow lotus flower meaning represents openness and hospitality. It represents a welcoming and generous heart.

Blue Lotus Symbolism

Blue lotus flowers are extremely rare, but they also have special meaning. The blue lotus symbolizes the pursuit of understanding and greater knowledge, and ultimately – greater wisdom. It also symbolizes clarity of thought and, in Buddhism, overcoming attachments to desires and emotions that hinder our growth.

Purple Lotus Meaning

Purple Lotus Flower

The purple lotus symbolizes finding harmony in divergent feelings, emotions, and beliefs as we seek enlightenment. Purple is a rare color in that is combines the coolness of blue with the warmth of red. So, it is often a symbol for peace and the positive aspects of diversity. As the lotus itself symbolizes open-heartedness, purple lotus flower meaning embodies being receptive and respectful to people who have different or opposing views to your own.

White Lotus Flower Meaning

White Lotus Flowers

White lotus meaning includes purity, grace, peacefulness, and faith. The Buddhist goddess Tara is represented by the white lotus, as is the Hindu goddess Saraswati. So, the white lotus also symbolizes divine feminine energy, as well as fertility. In addition, the white lotus is a powerful symbol purity of mind as one pursues spiritual enlightenment.

Spiritual Meaning of the Lotus

Dragonfly on Lotus Flower

As mentioned above, lotus flower spiritual meaning embodies both awakening and achieving enlightenment. So, this is a powerful flower to meditate on as you expand your spiritual practice.

Associated Spirit Animals

The lotus shares some traits and symbiosis with certain wild animals and insects. For example, both beetles and bees pollinate lotus flowers, and aquatic animals, such as fish, frogs, and turtles, find shelter under their leaves.

In addition, the lotus shares symbolic meaning with the frog, turtle, alligator, and dragonfly spirit animals because they are all animals who symbolize transformation. All can move between a watery, aquatic environment, which represents the sub-conscious, to a land environment, which represents the conscious or material world.

Furthermore, the lotus also shares synergies with the elephant spirit animal, as both are symbols of the Buddha.

Lotus Meaning in Buddhism

Buddha on Lotus Flower

The lotus is emblematic of Buddhist philosophies and is a symbol of the Buddha himself. As the lotus grows from a muddy environment into a beautiful and unstained flower, Buddha personified our ability to evolve beyond the travails of the material world into enlightened beings.

In Buddhism, the lotus symbolizes our ability to transcend physical and material desires and attachments to become pure of heart, speech, and action. For this reason, artists often depict lotus flowers in mandalas, Buddhist statues, and other artwork.

Lotus Flower in Hinduism

Saraswati
Hindu goddess Saraswati on a white lotus.

Similar to Buddhism, in Hinduism, the lotus represents the ability for our awareness to expand and our souls to evolve. As in Buddhist artwork, Hindu artists often depict deities, such as Vishnu, Saraswati, and Lakshmi, sitting or standing on lotus flowers.

Practitioners of other Eastern spiritual beliefs, such as Jainsim and the Baháʼí Faith, also view the lotus as a sacred symbol of purity and devotion.

Lotus Symbolism in Christianity

For Christians, lotus flower meaning is symbolic of Christ’s rebirth and ascent to Heaven. In addition, the lotus in Christianity is akin to water lilies, which symbolize purity, rebirth, and the Virgin Mary.

The Lotus in Yoga Practice

Lotus pose in yoga

Lotus meanings can also be applied to your yoga practice. As the lotus goes through a process of transformation, yoga poses helps your mind, body, and soul to transform, becoming more balanced and integrated in the process. In fact, the lotus pose in yoga helps to calm the mind, thus opening it up to greater awareness and receptivity.

Lotus in Cultural Folklore and Mythology

The lotus appears in the cultural mythologies and folklore of many cultures. Here are some of those stories:

China

As in other Eastern traditions, in China, the lotus also symbolizes transcendence and purity. In addition, in Chinese culture, the lotus represents feminine beauty and matrimonial harmony and contentedness.

Japan

In Japanese culture, lotus flowers symbolize purity of body, mind, and soul.

The Lotus in Greek Mythology

Odysseus and the Lotus Eaters
18th-century French engraving of Odysseus on the island of the lotus-eaters. Author unknown.

In Greek mythology, the lotus plant took on a much different meaning than what it symbolizes in Eastern spiritual teachings. For the ancient Greeks, the lotus symbolized hedonism and even apathy.

In the Odyssey, Homer told the tale of the lotus eaters – inhabitants of an island where the locals subsisted on eating lotus plants. When the islanders fed Odysseus and his sailors the lotus plant, they got high and fell into a stupor of laziness. Some historians surmise that the lotus plants in the story were actually poppies because of their opium-like effects.

Ancient Egypt

In Egypt, a blue lily grows in the Nile River Delta, and it is often described as a blue lotus. In ancient Egypt, the lotus also symbolized transformation, notably of death and rebirth to the afterlife. The Egyptians also associated the lotus with the rising sun and the sun god Ra.

Victorian Lotus Symbolism

In Victorian England, flower symbolism was a popular past time. For the Victorians, exotic flowers were especially interesting because they were not as accessible there in the 19th century as they are today. Lotus meaning in Victorian England was emblematic of estranged love. It also symbolized verbal eloquence.

Lotus Flower Tattoo Meaning

Lotus Tattoo

The lotus is a wonderful symbol for a tattoo. Lotus flower tattoos show the world that the wearers are spiritual people – both works in progress and avid students who are working on their own spiritual growth.

A lotus tattoo also shows the world that you are generous and open-hearted. In addition, a lotus flower tattoo can demonstrate your reverence for Eastern spiritual teachings and the expansion of consciousness.

Tattoos are extremely personal to every individual. Your lotus tattoo can also symbolize your own personal journey and your ability to rise above the challenges and hardships of your past. The lotus says that regardless of your environment or any troubles in your life, you remain pure of heart, body, mind, and soul.

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