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Egyptian Ecstasy - Blue Lotus

By John Clarke

Blue Lotus

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

Rosé wine
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.

Results

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!

Conclusion

Blue Lotus
Pros:
  • Easy to prepare
  • Feels great
  • Tastes pretty nice

Cons:

  • 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.

Sacred Weeds

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..

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