Sweet, fresh, and salty waters

According to Mesopotamian myths, special flowers/trees were often associated with the water element, underworld streams and lakes originating to the creation of the world. Underworld sea/god, Apsu1 was believed to be a source of all rivers and fresh waters, as well as a source a nourishing liquid of sacred plants, trees, and fruits. Somewhere from the deep waters came up seven wise men2 who taught knowledge and civilized arts to humankind and then disappeared again. But there was also another kind of sea, the salty sea of Tiamat goddess (or Thalassa in Greek), who was the serpent of Chaos, the great Dragon. It is always too daring to talk in the mouth of the ancients, but there may have been people who understood that these two forces are but two sides of the One force3, and a mixture of them is the creation of the worlds. Raise of the monotheism, on the other hand, supports this view of the One principle. But on the other hand, monotheism did not stop people competing and violently promoting the strongest, the highest, and the latest ideology of the God of their own. Quite opposite. Destroying, refuting, and replacing old religions and belief systems with new ones was an ongoing process. What is interesting is the fact that even though appearances and customs of replaced religions were gone, the symbology of theirs transformed and continued in new forms.

Once we follow the story of the Fleur-de-lis, it becomes apparent that once upon the time the heraldic symbol was associated with six-petalled flowers like the lily and the iris4. From those flowers, the lily and the pomegranate fruit were in close connection to the Tree of Life and the Menorah. Earlier in the history, the lily was mixed by etymology and possibly by aromatic usage and cultic means with the blue Egyptian water lily (the lotus in the further East) which was a part of the Tree of Life motif. The smell of the lotus meant a presence of gods. By the scent of the flower, one would be one with gods.

Roots deep in primordial waters, the Tree of Life presented a life force and knowledge suck up beneath the ground and materialized in the six-petal plants, the lily flower and the pomegranate fruit. Knowledge transforms from bitter to sweet like a water when it is moved up to the plants through capillary action. Kings of nations and priests of religions were regarded as guardians of the knowledge, but the real holders of the key might have been mystic sects who emphasized personal transformation rather than transformation orchestrated by formal constitutions.

I think that this is the meaning of the scenery depicted on silver and golden goblets found from Marlik. The base of the goblet that has the FOL symbol represents twofold waters, fresh and salty. Monsters crawling up from the sea are in the fight, like cosmos and chaos. On one end, we see serpents awakening and on the other end, eagles flying free. Goblets that were used on ceremonies were full of meaning. A sip of the drink, as described on Dionysian mysteries, was for the liberation of earthly worries and troubles. It depended on the subject, if he was about to get in drunk or to realize the meaning of life and death. Mycenaean Golden Rosettes from 1600 BC with the FOL class 1 are special attachments for dead royals. Funerary cosmetic boxes from Thebes having the FOL symbol on the lid may have contained fragrances and perfumes of the flowers we have just talked about. This just adds to the holistic experience of the FOL symbol. It speaks with smells, tastes, for our eyes, ears, and every sense.

The Fleur-de-lis / the lily / the iris can be seen basically as the same symbol with the Flower of Life (and Death), but the former flowers are presented from the side view when the latter, the FOL, is presented from the top, i.e. bird’s eye view. It is just a matter of the point of view to see it either way. This is the very first thing that geometrical introspection wishes to teach us.

When presented as an ornament, the FOL pattern could be called the Field of Lilies, or in a more general way as the field of six-petal flowers. Interestingly, Jesus advised his disciples not to worry about clothing and everyday life tasks by speaking of lilies and King Solomon5:

Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

Even more memorable is the phrase from Song of Solomon6:

I am the rose of Sharon, the lily of the valleys. Like a lily among the thorns, so is my darling among the maidens.