The rose is a symbol of the Goddess who is the mother of us all. The heart of the rose stands for that which is unknown, the hidden sacred world, In the folded structure of the rose, the flower seems to be concealing a secret inner core. To contemplate the mysteries of the rose is to meditate on mysteries of existence.
The white rose is purity, perfection, innocence and virginity, while the red is earthly passion and fertility.
The red and white rose wound together signify the union of opposites, symbolism we use at Beltane to celebrate the sacred marriage of the God and Goddess, an act which reconciles male and female, summer and winter, life and death, flesh and spirit, and brings about all creation, driven by the most fundamental and powerful force in the universe – love. The priestess might wear a chaplet of white roses, the priest a chaplet of red roses, which are brought together as part of the ritual.
This symbolism can also be used for the Great Rite. As a symbol of the Mystical Marriage on a personal level, the red rose represents a special kind of love in which one “melts away” into the beauty of another, and the old identity is surrendered for that of the beloved or a higher identity within oneself. In this sense, the rose is a symbol of complete surrender and permanent transmutation. Red and white rose petals can be added to the cup into which the athame is plunged in obvious symbolism. Rose oil can be used as the anointing oil.
During a handfasting ceremony, roses should play a part in chaplets, incense, decorations, bouquets, the anointing oil and pink or red rose petals may be scattered around the circle as a blessing. Rose petal wine would be a suitable drink for the chalice.
Roses are used in love magic, spells, rituals, incense, oils, talismans and charms.
At the Autumn Equinox, red rose petals represent the blood of the sacrificed god which fertilises the fields and brings us our harvest. The petals can be baked into the bread which becomes the proxy sacrifice or scattered on the fields at the cutting of the corn. Rosehip wine would be a suitable drink. The hips may be included in garlands or altar decorations.
The sacrifice of the God reminds us that unselfish sacrifice is an important aspect of divine love and rose oil can be used to anoint the heart chakra to connect with it and develop this characteristic within.
At Midsummer, roses are a symbol of the sun. Use roses in the decorations, chaplets, incense and wine.
Like the sun, which dies each night and is reborn each day at sunrise, the rose is an emblem of renewal, resurrection and eternal life, Use them to make memorial offerings to dead loved ones.
Rose is a flower of peace and harmony, and to ensure a happy home, roses may be hung up around it, used in potpourri, charm bags and flower arrangements. To ensure a peaceful night, rose water can be used to wash the face, rinse bed linen or rose petals may be scattered around the bedroom.
The rose is also a symbol of secrecy and suspended from the ceiling during meetings will ensure that none will break this trust. Because of its association with the workings of the heart, the rose in alchemy has come to symbolize secrets of the heart or things that cannot be spoken or an oath of silence in general.
© Anna Franklin, from the forthcoming Hearth Witch’s Garden Herbal, Llewellyn, 2023