The Egyptian Blue Lotus, Nymphaea caerulea, (also known as any combination of Egyptian, sacred, blue, lily or lotus), has been called the ancient Egyptian equivalent of ecstasy, but it’s psychoactive properties have only recently been (re)descovered. In an inspiring piece of shocking journalism, combined with insane photoshop skillz, I, Synchronium, and my trusty girlfriend find out what all this fuss is about.
Look at that image again. That same white/blue flower in each painting is what I’m talking about. It appears all over the place in Egyptian artwork, and now it seems it was the plant’s psychoactive properties that made it so popular to the Egyptians. It seems we still know very little about this interesting plant, however. Both the Wikipedia and Erowid entries say next to nothing, particularly on the pharmacological aspects. I’m currently waiting for someone on SpiritGarden forums to get back to me about a rather more comprehensive paper he found which focuses on the chemistry — the only problem is, it’s not in English. :-/ More updates on that later, I hope. All I’ve gathered so far is it contains nuciferine and apomorphine, a dopamine agonist.
So, the only piece of interesting information about the plant is from the 50 minute long documentary Sacred Weeds — Blue Lily. This came out in 1998, so the only copy I found isn’t great quality. It’s totally worth a watch, though, so I’ve included it at the end of this post. Wikipedia has the following to say:
The series ended with the investigation of the psychoactive effects of the Blue Lily (Nymphaea caerulea), a sacred plant in ancient Egypt. Michael Carmichael [hah!] suggested that the psychoactive effects of the blue lily and other psychoactive plants established a new foundation for understanding the origins of philosophy and religion in ancient Egypt. Alan Lloyd, the ranking took a more cautious approach. After witnessing the effects of the plant in two volunteers, all parties agreed that it was a psychoactive plant. Sherratt accepted the new paradigm for the origins of ancient philosophy and religion in his summation of the series.
Only one avenue remained unturned — trying it ourselves. Someone’s got to do these things, right?
Method - Two People
Take one bottle of generic £7 rosé wine and 25g dried blue lotus. Uncork the wine and pour yourself a little bit — if you don’t, the plant material won’t fit into the bottle. If you haven’t worked it out by now, the next step is put the plant material in the bottle. Then re-cork, shake a bit, and put back in the fridge. In about three days (yes, three days; serious journalism and scientific research need to be planned in advance!), your wine should have taken on a much darker hue.
When the time comes, you first need to filter the wine. Generic coffee filters are great for this, but you can use a clean tea towel too. Just pour your wine into a filter slowly until only soggy lotus flowers remain in the bottle. I found the best way to get these out was a long pointy thing and lots of patience. As they come out one by one, put them in a sieve over a jug of some description. Once you’ve got them all out, press them into the sieve to get as much wine out as possible. Once it’s all filtered, rinse out your wine bottle and put the wine, sans flowers, back in the bottle for storage. Drink the bottle between two people in the space of about one to two hours. On Sacred Weeds, they also ate the flowers when they realised they had no more wine left. Bear in mind that they had to import these fresh from Egypt at the time, so I think I’d have done the same! You can totally eat the once-dried flowers that you can buy today, but they won’t be a nice as the fresh flowers. Just like Guarana, this is one of those plants that actually tastes pretty nice.
The wine taste alright. It’s more bitter than usual, as you’d expect, but nothing like dream herb or kratom tea. It’s easy enough to knock back, but if you’re a big girl, you can mix it half and half with lemonade. The effects of the lotus itself come about at the same time as the alcohol — about 10 – 15 minutes after drinking. The effects are subtle and enjoyable, getting more pronounced the more you drink. Relaxation is the first thing you’ll notice, as well as a more talkative demeanour. Things seem more amusing and perhaps a little more enjoyable. You will definitely adopt a more cheerful disposition!
I don’t know if it was the lotus, or if I was just knackered after a long day, but by about midnight, I was falling asleep with my clothes on. More investigation is necessary before conclusions can be drawn!
- Easy to prepare
- Feels great
- Tastes pretty nice
- It's quite pricey @ £8 per person.
- It takes a while to soak
There's not a lot more to say, really. I wouldn't say the lotus made me ecstatic, but for an ancient herbal equivalent, it's not half bad. This is definitely a plant I'd try again, and recommend to others.
As promised, here is the Sacred Weeds - Blue Lily episode. Sit back, relax and enjoy!
In other news, I'll be launching some competitions soon, so keep an eye out for chances to win loads of cool stuff.