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Nelumbo nucifera

The Sacred Lotus (Nelumbo nucifera) has been known from time immemorial as: Pink Lotus, Blue Lotus, Bunga Telpok, East Indian Lotus, Sacred water lotus, Padma (Oriya), Ch'Ieh, Chieh Fen, Chinese Arrowroot, Lotus Bean, Fève d'Egypte, Hasu, Kamal, Lian, Lin Ngau (China, Taiwan), Loto Sagrado, Lotus Root, Lotus Sacré, Nelumbium, Oriental Lotus, Renkon, Rosa del Nilo, Sacred Lotus, Sacred Water Lily, Teratai/Seroja, Teratai and Bunga Telpok. The Sacred Lotus is often confused with Nymphaea caerulea (Blue Lilly). Both species are commonly referred to as "Blue Lotus."

The Sacred Lotus is one of the world's most celebrated flowers. All parts of the Sacred Lotus are used for their astringent, cardiotonic, febrifuge, hypotensive, resolvent, stomachic, styptic, tonic and vasodilator, cancer, and miscellany healing properties. The Sacred Lotus contains lotusine, demethyl coclaurine, neferin, and nuciferine. Lotus flowers, pods, or petals are most commonly used, while the flower stamens are reported to be the most potent part of the plant. Nelumbo nucifera may be smoked or made into a tea. "The effects seem primarily cerebral, but are quite noticeable and very enjoyable. There is a feeling of joy that permeates the whole body, emanating from every cell. This is delightfully wonderful and lasts for some time." Though little known in the modern world and difficult to obtain, the Sacred Lotus is non-addictive, non-toxic, and said to be "relatively safe for long-term use", with no known negative side-effects.

"Nelumbo nucifera (Sacred Lotus Petals) have become etched in folklore because of a fabulous people who supposedly occupied the north coast of Africa and lived on the lotus, which brought forgetfulness and happy indolence. Similar in effect to the Sacred Blue Lily of the Nile, the Sacred Lotus is often steeped in wine or tea. Some believe that the lotus came to India from Egypt. Later, Buddhism borrowed the flower from Hinduism. In Buddhist painting and sculpture, whenever Buddha is shown delivering an important sermon, he is shown sitting on a lotus pedestal. Buddhist scriptures enumerate fragrance, purity, delicateness and beauty as the attributes of lotus. From time immemorial to the present day, it has always been in folklore, religion and the arts in one form or the other. The term lotus is applied in general to several species of plants. About 100 lotus species are found in temperate regions of Asia, Africa, Europe and North America. The pink and purple coloured variety found in the country and widely used in religion is called Nelumbo nucifera. Scriptures tell us that it first bloomed with the creation of the universe. Over the centuries it has lost none of its allure. According to Yoga and Tantra there are seven lotus wheels in the human body. The lotus is the object of meditation in Tantrik Buddhism. The lotus motif has also been extensively used in shrines, art, architecture and sculpture of the Jains. The Ionic order of architecture of the ancient Greeks is an offshoot of the Assyrian and Phoenician forms which have the lotus as their basis. Nelumbo nucifera is a wholly edible species. Its seeds are roasted to make puffs called makhanas. The plant's rhizomes are a source of lotus meal which is rich in starch. In fact is American counterpart, Nelumbo petapetala was source of starchy diet for the American Indians. A number of wild animals feed on the plant. Fish find refuge in its underwater stalks."

Indians believe that Brahma, creator and God of the universe, sprang from a lotus blossom. And the Buddhist prayer "Om! Mani padme hum!" translates as "Oh!, the jewel of the lotus flower!"

The Lotus flower was immortalized in Homer's The Odyssey, in which Ulysses and his crew come ashore on the Island of the Lotus-Eaters:

"I was driven thence by foul winds for a space of nine days upon the sea, but on the tenth day we reached the land of the Lotus-eater, who live on a food that comes from a kind of flower. Here we landed to take in fresh water, and our crews got their mid-day meal on the shore near the ships. When they had eaten and drunk I sent two of my company to see what manner of men the people of the place might be, and they had a third man under them. They started at once, and went about among the Lotus-eaters, who did them no hurt, but gave them to eat of the lotus, which was so delicious that those who ate of it left off caring about home, and did not even want to go back and say what had happened to them, but were for staying and munching lotus with the Lotus-eater without thinking further of their return."
- from 'The Odyssey' by Homer


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      "The process begins by declaring legitimate what we have denied for so long. Let us declare nature to be legitimate. All plants should be declared legal, and all animals for that matter. The notion of illegal plants and animals is obnoxious and ridiculous."
     -Terence McKenna - The Archaic Revival

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