LOTUS

At the heart of symbolism

Lady with the UnicornTrees and flowers

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Summary

Sessile oak, orange-tree, pine and holly

The six tapestries are decorated with two or four trees bearing fruit (sessile oak, orange-tree, pine and holly). The fruit contains seeds destined to be disseminated. The seed represents the germ, the grain source of a multitude of other trees. It symbolizes the primeval Unity, the Principle of the manifestation of all the beings and all the things. The inalterable character of Unity is notably underlined by the evergreen foliage (orange-tree, pine and holly) or the extreme longevity (sessile oak) of these trees.

 
Sessile oak in Touch
Oak
 
Orange-tree in Taste
Orange tree
Tree of Life, Arabic mosaic 8th century
Tree of Life
Holly in Touch
Holly
 
Pine in Touch
Pine
 

Tasting the fruit of the tree leads the being either to rediscover his spiritual original nature or to find his human or ordinary condition according to the tree nature:

  • The Fruit of the “Middle tree” erected at the “World Centre” or the “Tree of Life” located in the middle of the terrestrial Paradise confers to the being who tastes it the access to eternal life, to immortality proper to the spiritual world;
  • The fruit of the “Tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil”, also situated in the garden of Eden, sends the one who tastes it back to his condition of ordinary being and to the duality of the temporal world.

Now, the ordinary being passes most of his existence, if not the totality, away from the Centre he is coming from and towards which he is called back. He can rediscover it, after number of tests, in order to taste the fruit of the “Tree of Life” and recover his original unified state. Conversely, the being that eats the fruit of the “Tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil” must leave Paradise, abandon his unified nature and discover his condition of ordinary being. That is the meaning associated to Adam's banishment from Paradise and the fall. This is the moment when Adam acquires “knowing good and evil” (Genesis III,22), i.e. starts considering all things from the duality point of view.

Wild and cultivated flowers

Jasmine flowerThe flower setting evokes the hanging patterns in medieval civil residences. Woven with the greatest care, this flower carpet constitutes a seedling of around forty species representative of the flora at that time. It is divided into:

  • Wild flowers from fields and woods (columbine, aster, digital, wallflower, hyacinth, daffodil, marguerite, lily of the valley, daisy, periwinkle, Veronica, violet etc.);
  • Cultivated flowers (jasmine, carnation).

Beyond its specific meaning, the flower symbolizes the feminine, passive principle of manifestation. It represents the receptacle, the cup destined to receive the masculine, active influence alongside the vertical axis notably depicted by the pole of the banner or standard. In this respect, it is similar to the horizontal crescent woven on the same pole.

Moreover, the blooming flower also portrays the development of the manifestation in all its diversity, a diversity represented by the flower variety and the number of petals.

This double meaning, as receptacle and development, is particularly true for the emblematic flower of the Middle Ages, the rose, appearing in the fence of Taste. The influence of Heaven is often symbolized by the “celestial dew” dropping from the Tree of Life and manifested into the variety of flowers, colours and perfumes.

It is particularly interesting to observe that this development is more obvious for wild flowers, symbols of the surrounding nature, than cultivated flowers, product of the medieval culture. The latter are in fact less numerous and carry five petals only depicting the five senses. The petals are placed around the chalice, heart of the flower symbolizing the “sixth sense”.

Bibliography

  • René Guénon:
  • “Symbols of Sacred Science”, Sophia Perennis Publisher 2004;
  • Notably, chapter 9 on “the symbolic flowers”.
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