Lo, how a Rose e’er blooming from tender stem hath sprung!
Of Jesse’s lineage coming, as men of old have sung.
It came, a floweret bright, amid the cold of winter,
When half spent was the night.
Traditional German Carol, late 1500’s
There is no rose of such virtue
As is the rose that bear Jesu; Alleluia.
Traditional English Christmas Carol, c.1420
Is there any other flower that has been heralded as much as the rose? According to Witchipedia, “roses have been cultivated for over 5,000 years. There are 150 natural named species worldwide and thousands more cultivars. The Chinese were the first to cultivate roses and begin hybridizing them.” The rose, which has always been a symbol of love, may be the one flower that transcends all cultural and religious boundaries. It’s magical, medicinal, culinary and decorative uses have been appreciated by just about everyone. If you find someone who hates roses, you might want to keep your distance from them!
In Pagan circles, the rose has been tied to a number of deities, especially Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty. In ancient Rome, the rose was associated with Venus, Bacchus and Cupid. According to A Modern Herbal, the Romans viewed “the rose as a sign of pleasure, the companion of mirth and wine, but it was also used at their funerals.”
As a ritual and magical flower, rose petals and rose hips are often used in connection with love and healing spells. Rose water is used in baths to enhance the mood for love. Rose tea is said to enhance prophetic dreams and their scent has a calming effect as well. And let’s not forget how many people send roses to convey love, friendship, sympathy and the like.
Christians also have a long association with the rose. During the Middle Ages the rose was cultivated in monastery gardens and was used for medicinal purposes. Medieval Christians identified the five petals of the wild rose with the five wounds of Christ. The red rose also stood for the blood and suffering of Jesus and was eventually adopted as a symbol of the blood of the Christian martyrs as well. The rose also has a long association with the Virgin Mary, especially a white one which stands for purity, virtue and unselfish love.
During the Protestant Reformation, Martin Luther designed the Luther Rose or Luther Seal whose central image is that of a red heart on top of a white rose. He said, “Such a heart should stand in the middle of a white rose, to show that faith gives joy, comfort, and peace. In other words, it places the believer into a white, joyous rose, for this faith does not give peace and joy like the world gives. That is why the rose should be white and not red, for white is the color of the spirits and the angels.”
There is so much more that can be said but there is no doubt that the rose has been a powerful symbol and magical flower for a very long time. Enjoy them!
Copyright ©2016 by David Taleisin, http://www.sabbatsandsabbaths.com