The Rose – reflections on its meaning

The rose can have several meanings across many different cultures and traditions. This beautiful flower that we can find growing in our garden is most commonly associated with love.

Indeed, the red rose can be a symbol of passion, a gift between lovers. The Greek goddess of love, Aphrodite, is often depicted with roses in her hair, around her neck or at her feet.

However, the red is only one shade of this flower. The various colours of the rose can also carry different meanings:

A Yellow rose is a symbol of friendship, joy, good health

A Pink rose is a symbol of gratitude and peace

 A White rose is a symbol of purity, spirituality

 An Orange rose is a symbol of enthusiasm, optimism, excitement.

As well as the colour of the rose, the scent of a rose also carries its symbolism and can have a special effect on the psyche. In aromatherapy, the smell of the rose has one of the highest vibration frequencies of all essential oils and its soothing scent can help alleviate stress, depression and anxiety. In some traditions it is also said that smelling a rose with no apparent roses nearby, can signify the presence of Angels or God.

Beyond its colours and its scent, the rose itself has a range of esoteric meanings.

In medieval times, “sub rosa” – a Latin expression which literally translates as “under the rose” was a term used to signify secrecy.  Anything that was discussed in a chamber with a rose suspended from the ceiling, or at a table underneath a hanging rose, was understood to be secret and was forbidden from being disclosed elsewhere.

In alchemical texts, the rose is also a fundamental symbol, commonly depicted in the works of those such as Robert Fludd and symbolising, amongst other notions: completion, perfection and regeneration.

It is also not surprising that the rose is associated with prominent religious figures. In Christianity, Jesus is referred to as the “Rose of Sharon” whilst the Virgin Mary is often associated with roses, the Rosary  (meaning “Crown of Roses”) being a clear example of this association.  In Eastern traditions, the rose is associated with the Heart Chakra (Anahata). Meditating on this centre can assist with rebalancing love, compassion and harmony towards oneself and others.

For Rosicrucians, the rose has a particularly special meaning. Of course, it is in the name – Rosicrucian – and at the heart of the Rosy Cross, perhaps the most well-known symbols of the Rosicrucian Order.

When I contemplate the rose, and reflect on its meaning, I cannot help but notice two things. Firstly, I see the various folds of the petals, signifying the unfolding of our consciousness, the flourishing of our hearts and minds as we progress on the spiritual path.

Yet I also contemplate the stalk on which the flower sits. I look at the thorns and understand the difficulties on the path of our evolution. I see that situations can be prickly – there can be fear, there can be pain, but the beauty of the rose lays at the end of it all.

In the end there is the most beautiful experience that one can conceive  – there is enlightenment.

Many people have been inspired by the rose, and a friend of mine recently forwarded me a beautiful poem written by a fellow Rosicrucian.

I hope it will also inspire you to contemplate the beautiful rose, whose symbolism can speak to us all.

Seek ye the red rose,

for here is the meaning of life.

Seek ye the red rose

whose beauty and fragrance

are nature’s glory.

 

Seek ye the red rose,

for here are the cycles of life,

from bud to bloom,

with petal full

the dropping of seed to be reborn.

 

Seek ye the red rose,

for here is the reflection

of nature’s law symbolic of life.

 

Seek ye the red rose

and find its secret,

for when you do

your path will be clear,

your path of glory.

For you are

the red rose of glory.

 – Poem by Jack Hurst

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