In mythology and folklore, the metaphor of the lily spoke of innocence and purity and became associated with spiritual and philosophical meanings. With time, the lily took on different meanings according to the culture or its usage
In Greek mythology, the conception of Heracles originated from an affair his father, Zeus, had with a mortal woman. Zeus then caused a deep sleep to fall on his goddess wife, Hera, in hopes that her milk would empower Heracles with divine abilities. When Hera awoke to the suckling child,she angrily tossed him away, emitting her milk across the universe. This action formed the Milky Way and lilies upon the earth.
The Chinese consider the lily as a symbol of summer and abundance, and some believe it represents "forever in love." Others use the lily as a lucky charm and maintain that it averts the effects of the evil eye upon them. When an pregnant mother wears a lily, she expresses her wishes to bear a son.
Over the years, scientists have discovered healing powers in various flowers. Some found that lilies contained antitoxic powers capable of curing depression. Europeans found that lilies healed various types of diseases and ailments.
The most common way in which people evaluate flowers' meanings are in their color. The white lily represents one's desire for purity and virtue, and the pink lily expresses the yearning for wealth and prosperity. The African lily, bearing a lavender color, tells the recipient that someone secretly loves them. The yellow lily symbolizes thankfulness and the desire for enjoyment.
When used at weddings, the lily represents the devotion of the couple toward one another. However, at a funeral, it announces the departure of a young soul being restored to its innocence after an untimely death.