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by Ilana Sobo
February 23, 2018
“The red rose whispers of passion, And the white rose breathes of love; O, the red rose is a falcon, And the white rose is a dove.” John Boyle O'ReillyThe ever beautiful and enchanting rose has been the world's most romantic and beloved flower since the dawn of time. According to fossil evidence, the rose dates back at least 35 million years. Humanity has been working with this elegant flower for food, medicine, ritual, ceremony and pleasure for at least 5000 years. Our love affair with this sacred flower extends from continent to continent and appears in mythical tales, literature, poetry, art, and films. The red rose, as you might imagine, translated to true, deep and passionate love. The pink rose conveyed joy and admiration and the white rose, grace, innocence and purity. Roses have been widely cultivated and celebrated for thousands of years, appearing at almost every major celebration, including weddings, births, graduations and funerals. The rose is so miraculous that simply being in her presence and inhaling the fragrant scent can bring much needed healing. Rose is endowed with many great healing benefits for body, mind and the spirit when gazed upon or worked with topically and internally. Old time healers knew to offer this plant for help healing heartache, grief, melancholy, as well as for various concerns of the lungs, the reproductive system, and restoring the nerves. Let’s find out more about this brilliant flower and how she enchants.
Many cultures became enchanted by the rose. Legends concerning the rose are intertwined with Gods, and Goddesses, the Buddha, Brahma, Cleopatra, Vishnu, Cupid, several Popes, the Crusaders, St. Francis of Assisi, Mary Queen of Scots, St. Vincent, Venus, Zephyrus, Aphrodite and many more.It is said that the word “rose” originated when Flora, the Roman Goddess of Flowers, was struck by Cupid’s arrow and, unable to properly pronounce the word Eros, said “ros”. From this, the word “rose” became a synonym for Eros. In both Rome and in Greece it became the symbol of vitality, love, beauty, sensuality and the abundance of nature. Another story shares that the god Zephyrus loved Flora so much that he changed himself into a rose because the Goddess had no interest other than flowers. When Flora saw the rose, she kissed it and thus fulfilled Zephyrus’ wish. The tradition of giving roses in the name of love dates back to the late 17th century, during the reign of King Charles II of Sweden, who became fascinated a new practice and art in Persia called floriography, the language of flowers. Courtiers began spreading the teachings throughout Europe. This nonverbal language focused on one’s ability to communicate using flowers without saying any words at all. The practice carried on through the centuries and peaked during the Victorian era, a time when the open expression of feelings was not considered proper in polite circles of of society. Ancient Hindu writings tell the story of the God Vishnu, the protector of the world, and Brahma, the creator of the world, arguing about which flower was the most beautiful. Vishnu believed in rose's superiority while Brahma, who had yet to see a rose, revered the lotus as the most beautiful. When Brahma finally saw the rose he soon agreed that the rose was the most supreme and enchanted of the flowers. The Birth Of Venus - 1485, Sandro Botticelli - Galleria Uffizi - Florence, Italy“The voluptuous Romans of the later Empire made lavish use of the blossoms of the Rose. Horace enjoins their unsparing use at banquets, when they were used not only as a means of decoration, but also to strew the floors, and even in winter the luxurious Romans expected to have petals of roses floating in their Falernian wine. Roman brides and bridegrooms were crowned with roses, so too were the images of Cupid and Venus and Bacchus. Roses were scattered at feasts of Flora and Hymen, in the paths of victors, or beneath their chariot-wheels, or adorned the prows of their war-vessels. To the Romans the Rose was a symbol of pleasure and the companion of mirth and wine.” ("A Modern Herbal" by Maude Grieves) According to the ancient Greeks, the rose was created by Aphrodite, Goddess of Love. White roses were said to have sprung from the sea foam which surrounded her as she rose up out of the sea. In another tale Adonis, Aphrodite’s lover, was mortally wounded when hunting a wild boar. Aphrodite rushed to his side and from the mixture of his blood and her tears grew a superb, fragrant, blood-red rose.
Rose water applied topically can also treat headaches and relieve eyestrain and heat in the eyes. In Ayurveda, rose is said to enhance the spirit of devotion, prayer and love and in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), where the heart is believed to be both a physical organ and the seat of consciousness, the rose is said to have a powerful affect on the spiritual state of one’s heart and is thus considered a shen tonic: a medicine for the spirit.
Rose essential oil, hydrosols and compresses also provide tremendous topical relief for inflammation and skin infections due to astringent and tonifying constituents. Topically rose essential oil can soften skin, reduce premature aging, reduce inflammation and help move stagnant energy when used in acupressure/marma therapy. One can make use of the petals in so many ways to create all kinds of aromatic gifts, like rose waters, potpourri, skin care, or even a rose tea simply to inhale the sweet aroma and bliss out.
Photos by Ilana Sobo
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