Papyrus is a transliteration of the Greek word papyros (which gives us ‘paper’), itself derived from an Ancient Egyptian word meaning ‘royal’. The papyrus was the equivalent of the book. In the days when its tufted growth thickly covered the marshes of the Nile Delta, ‘the papyrus became the vigorous symbol of the world in gestation; in the form of the bulbous column it served as a support in temples, the scene of the daily rebirth of the universe. Verdant and perennial, the sign for “joy” and “youth” (= “green” in hieroglyphics), it was the magical sceptre of goddesses; it was used in splendid bouquets, symbols of triumph which were offered to the gods and to the dead’.
In hieroglyphics the papyrus roll signified knowledge. Unrolling it and rolling it up again corresponded with evolutionary and involutionary drives, with the twofold aspect of knowledge, exoteric and esoteric, with the alternation of the secret and the revealed and the immanent and the manifest. In psychological terms this exhibits tension and relaxation, elation and depression.