Fleur-de-lis as a part of the Tree of Life
When two years back I wrote that the Fleur-de-lis1 and the Tree of Life should not be mixed with the Flower of Life, I should have been more precise and more careful with my wording. Although those symbols are seemingly different by shape, they seem to be connected by sharing very similar origins in the past. So similar that the Tree of Life can be seen as a more sophisticated and complex form of a sacred flower with all components: roots, stem, branches, leaves, buds, fruits, and seeds. In Appendix A of The Assyrian Tree of Life2, Simo Parpola demonstrates how the simple flower and complex tree ideograms can actually describe the same ideological motif. Note also how the Fleur-de-lis is present on the picture 4.2.5, at the top of the head of the winged genie who is carrying water in a bucket and reaching the Conifer cone from the Tree of Life. In a private discussion, Parpola mentions how the middle knots on the Tree of Life depicts the Fleur-de-lis and by that the innocence and purity of Ishtar in Mesopotamian tradition. Eight and six-petalled rosette symbols are both in balance with the same ideology.
In Jewish tradition, the Tree of Life was symbolized with a six-branched candlestick called the Menorah3. The seventh center stem of the candle is called shamash (the Sun) and it brings structure to the familiar 6 and 7 divisions mentioned in the previous Part 1.
A relief that is on the Arch of Titus in Rome4 has a depiction of the Menorah that stands on a hexagonal podium. There is a fascinating association of the Menorah to the oval shaped mandorla/almond symbol (i.e. the Vesica Piscis) which is present in the FOL, as we have learned. Quote from Exodus 25:32-335 says:
Six branches are to extend from the sides of the lampstand - three on one side and three on the other. Three cups shaped like almond flowers with buds and blossoms are to be on one branch, three on the next branch, and the same for all six branches extending from the lampstand.
The burning bush talking to Moses is said to be an almond tree. The miraculous rod of Aaron, which was stored in the Ark of the Covenant in Tabernacle, was said to blossom with flowers of an almond tree. Bitter or sweet almonds were used as omens and signs for Aaron the Patriarch, the brother of Moses, when he directed Israelites in the wilderness. Although a nut of an almond tree is a great fit for the FOL symbol, and it is recognized by Orthodox and Catholic iconography in the oval shaped aureole of Saints, there are other plants of even greater interest.
The most famous and the oldest flower decorations are probably similar to lotuses, lilies, crocuses, and roses. They can be found from Mesopotamian art since 3500 BC, and they were extensively used in Crete and in Egypt around 2000 BC and from that time on. Lilies, although we can’t always be certain of the exact species, are mentioned many times in the Old Testament. Etymology of the lily (the Egyptian water lily hrr.t ssn6 being the most central) is a good example of a compound root word that has spread to different languages and that has been applied to several general and specific flower species, smells, colors, female names, etc. This multipurpose usage of the word root is very similar to the story of the cane plant shown on Part 1.