The Flower of the Other Shore

spider_lilyThe Autumn Equinox is fast approaching and as a reminder of the coming season of death the Lycoris Radiata, or the Red Spider Lily, is now blooming in my magical yard.

The Spider Lily originates from the orient and in Japan it is called Higanbana, which translates to “flower of the Other Shore.” The Other Shore is the opposite shore of the Sanzu River; the Japanese equivalent to the River Styx that the dead must cross in order to go to their afterlife.

Legend also says it will bloom along the path of lovers who part and will never see each other again.

So why is this beautiful flower associated with loss?

Well, for one it is a member of the Amaryllidaceae family of plants, a family that includes belladonna. Because of their poisonous attributes the Japanese would plant them on and around the graves of their dead to keep animals from digging up and eating the corpse.

This lily only blooms at the Autumn Equinox which signals the change from the growth of summer to the death of winter.

In the underworld the dead must cross the Forgotten River that separates the living world from the dead. When they cross they lose all memories of their life, but these Red Spider Lilies bloom all along the Other Shore, on the side of the dead, allowing the dead to remember their life and their loves one last time before forgetting them entirely.

Faye Wong wrote a beautiful song about this amazing flower called Flower of Paradise.

Find yourself some Red Spider Lilies right now, while they are blooming, and take a moment to remember your life and, especially, your loves.

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