Life and death drama
Both the lily and the pomegranate have something to do with life and death that is: with a seasonal change of light and darkness, the Sun, which is the source and the Moon, which is the reflector. The lily flower has kept its twofold meaning until our days. It is still the flower of death and the most common fragrance in funerals, after possible aromatic incenses, of course. But at the same time the lily, especially the Madonna lily is a symbol of purity, radiance, and innocence, possibly in the way that Leonardo wanted to use it on his Annunciation painting1 carrying the old tradition of the scene.
Although lilies and multiple "sixes" are taken as a symbol of death, we cannot think of them symbolizing only the sad annihilation side of the fleshy existence of man, but also as a moment of rebirth, resurrection, and initiation. A willful baptism rite, a ritual bath before service in a large basin with a brim that was like the calyx of a lily2, is a transmutation process where a man becomes a fish by diving deep into the ocean of chaos and then comes back to life as a perfected man of cosmos ready to enter the temple. If this happens, and a human being is fortunate to experience it while alive, he becomes half a fish, and half a man, or just a fisherman. If not physical, the effect of death may spiritually have been total and irreversible so that the initiated human being has lost the false sense of self and retained true selfless servantism and altruism. Just before the Current Era, we can see this kind of allegorical and ideological thinking getting to new heights. In the Christian community in the Current Era, it was already common to speak about the second death or spiritual death of an ego3 and that meant that common symbols of physical death or afterlife were associated also with psychological and spiritual death and rebirth.
The symbology this major drama scene is rather consistent over the ages and cultures. The play of life (sanskr. lila) is smartly played in a small story of The Fairy Tale of the Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily4 by Goethe. When the fair Lily, accompanied with her ever pleasing harp playing (resembles Väinämöinen), was just about to leave, the green Snake caught the last lines of the song:
What can these many signs avail me?
My Singer's Death, thy coal black Hand?
This Dog of Onyx, that can never fail me?
And coming at the Lamp's command?
From human joys removed forever,
With sorrows compassed round I sit:
Is there a Temple at the River?
Is there a Bridge? Alas, not yet!
Once the temple is ready and arisen from the river, the snake was praised, and the ending of the story incorporates the familiar scene of the Hawk and the Sun, or winged sun disk5, as it is better known6:
At this instant the Hawk with the mirror soared aloft above the dome; caught the light of the Sun, and reflected it upon the group, which was standing on the Altar. The King, the Queen, and their attendants, in the dusky concave of the Temple, seemed illuminated by a heavenly splendour, and the people fell upon their faces.