CHAPTER 1 - INTRODUCTION
The fleur de lis has existed since the dawn of time in one form or another. To the ancients, it came in its quintessence—within the ultimate idea of flower. To the French, it came as an iris scattered among the rolling hillsides of Southern Europe. To America, it journeyed the Atlantic with LaSalle, Columbus, and the first explorers – emblazoned on their shields and royal coats of arms.
Where the fleur de lis is found in history, a sort of magic appears with it. A peculiar spell craft emanates from the symbol. In each time and place this magic clings to humanity in fascinating ways. The fleur de lis, and its perpetual connotations of natural beauty and transience, connects us with nature. Its usage dares back thousands of years. We can trace evidence of this before the first civilizations.
The symbol is a beacon from our earlier selves. It reminds us of a point in time when we all lived and died as one people. This remnant of our past echoes a history we all share. In the chronicles of our common ancestors, there was a time when we transformed a simple wooden hut into a glorified temple with just a few blossoms from the field and a piece of rope. In this simple act we converted the mundane into the sacred. Likewise, the fleur de lis reminds us of our own process of evolution. So as wooden posts inevitably graduated into stone columns, the same buds and blossoms used to decorate huts evolved within our monuments. Flowers became immortalized in stone capitals and ancient reliefs. Humanity would harvest from nature this sublime perfection.
Flowers hold a special place in my heart. They’ve instructed me in the importance of duality. They’ve inspired me to understand transience as a principle of nature. From that allegory of human life gave me an understanding and peace I feel compelled to share today. And as the symbol holds itself dear to my heart, I invite you to journey back in time with me to redefine this unique and graceful icon, the ultimate effigy of flower, the fleur de lis.
In Fleur of the Nile we’ll travel back in our most ancient history. We will understand past meaning more clearly by imagining our more primitive selves. And as we progress through eons of humanity, so will the symbol of the flower. As we move from caves to huts, and fatefully progress from stone monuments to pyramids, you can bet that the clasp, a piece of every fleur de lis, will come along with us. When we get to the French account of the symbol, the familiar history of the fleur will emerge. But we won’t stop there. We’ll continue to trace the symbol as it is today, almost lost, but not forgotten. In Fleur of the Nile we will examine what has inspired me to write and compile this book. We’ll look into photographs that speak a thousand words. When we’re done, I would hope that you come away with one central tenet: Humanity’s love affair with one of nature’s most creative icons, the flower, represents a deep-seeded spirituality that connotes effervescent ideas of transience, temporality, and duality. In the allegory of flower we can find bold meaning that harkens back to a time and place when humanity was just digging its roots.
As we are many things we are also one, and as we rise for the morning and sink into the night so too must we live for a moment and die in a day. The moral of the fleur de lis bears a message from nature so sublime that we were given immeasurable varieties to draw it from.
And thus, a new narrative to the story begins…