Lily meaning quick-reference keyword list:Hope, Faith, Birth, Purity, Renewal, Promise, Passion, Becoming, Chastity, Innocence, Fertility,, Cleansing, motherhood, Remembrance, Transitioning
Greek lore associates lily meaning with birth and it is a symbol for motherhood because the flower was said to be created from the breast milk of Hera.
As the story goes, Zeus wanted Hercules, his son born from an extra-marital affair, to become a god. One way of doing this was to have him suckle at the breast of his wife, Hera. Zeus invoked the god of sleep, Somnus, to put Hera in a deep slumber while he enticed Hercules to suck at her bosom. He did this so vigorously that the milk overflowed. That which flowed heaven-wards became the Milky Way, and the milk that flowed to the earth turned into a white lily.
Contrarily, the lily also hold masculine qualities as the Greeks held the lily as a symbol of high eroticism and sexuality, the long pistil of the flower suggesting a phallus and the pollen symbolizing fertility.
Many old wives tales suggest telling the sex of an unborn child by using a rose and a lily. All one need do is approach an expectant mother with a lily in one hand and a rose in the other. If the mother chooses the rose, it will be a girl. If she picks the lily, it will be a boy
In alchemical symbolism lily meaning is associated with lunar and feminine qualities.
Christians hold the lily as a symbol of chastity, innocence, purity and piety. In early Christian art the white lily is symbolic of the "Madonna" as the flower is associated with the virgin Mary. It is typically depicted in a vase or held by Gabriel in Annunciation paintings.
Moreover, the parts of the lily have specific religious signficance to the Virgin Mary:
The stem of the lily symbolizes Mary's religiously faithful mind
Lily petals represent her Mary's purity and virginity
The scent of the flower represents Mary's divinity
The leaves leaves signify her humility.
With its three petals, the lily is often considered a trinity symbol, holding the representation of three virtues: Charity, Hope and Faith.
Another reference to the lily's trinity-like nature is found in Byzantium and France where the lily sometimes identified with the Fleur-de-lys. Each protrusion of the motif is symbolic of
1) royalty, 2) prosperity and 3) expanse.
In mystery teachings, lily meaning s include: Development, Growth,, Progress, Freedom, Purity
In the symbolism of the Tarot, the lily also holds symbolism of purity, innocence and fertility. Also, the lily symbolizes vulnerability, and the freedom to be ourselves, as well as allowing others to be as they are too. The lily is a symbolic flower of health and provision. In a reading, the lily can signal growth, development, and a quality of innocence in our lives. Depending on the surrounding cards, the lily may also indicate new relationships and births.