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Rose, the flower of love and protection
Symbolic of love, the rose has been associated with a number of different Deities over the centuries. Perhaps the most well-known in the West are the Greek Goddess Aphrodite, and the Roman Goddess Venus, there are other associations including Hathor in the Egyptian Pantheon, and Hulder from the Norse. The role of the rose in protection, and secrecy, is less well known but just as important.
Several Witches I knew grew types of rose in their garden, and their houses. One them lived in the archetypal ‘Witches Cottage ‘deep in the countryside, and was literally the only house for miles around. To discourage intruders, and partly camouflage the building she grew a type of rose called “Constance Spry” in the garden, and over the back of the house. It worked very well in hiding and protecting her home, but on at least one occasion she had to cut herself an exit with secateurs when a strong wind blew the whole plant off the house and into the front garden, totally blocking the front door!
The other witches lived in more urban areas and used roses back and front as a defensive hedge that could also supply ingredients for spells and rituals. At the front of their house they mainly grew bush roses which protected access to the windows, and at the back they cultivated ‘Eglantine’, or ‘Rambling Rector’, both of which are fast growers, around the perimeter of their back gardens. By tying it back in barbed-wire like coils they had a live version that not only smelt and looked great, but could also be used in spells and potions.
Another aspect of protection was the association which roses have with secrecy and silence. As with the magickal saying “To know, to will, to dare, to keep silent” In the Pagan groups today there are several explanations of what this saying actually means, but several traditional Covens I know trace it back to Classical Greece, and the Goddess Aphrodite. She gave a rose to her son, Eros who, in turn, gave it to the God Harpocrates, who was the God of silence and secrets. Meaning that aspects of spellcasting and ritual were to be kept strictly within the group.
The Romans assimilated this idea and incorporated it in architecture, the most common example being its use in Roman banqueting rooms, as a reminder that things said under the influence of wine (sub vino) should not be mentioned outside the room. The term for this was “Sub Rosa”. This was continued in the middle ages when European council chambers had either a rose suspended from the ceiling, or in a vase on the table to pledge all those present to secrecy. In modern times the Scottish still use the term for a specific series of confidential, unrecorded, meetings.
When using roses in magick be sure you know where they have come from, and how they’ve been grown. Most commercial rose growers use insecticides and other aids to make sure that the roses are as pest-free and flawless as possible, unfortunately this can have a negative effect on the quality of the rose for potions and other decoctions that are used on the body. Magick users that use flowers in their work prefer to use the ones grown in their own gardens rather than commercial ones from shops. The only exception to this is rosewater, which is commercially available from supermarkets in the UK and US, and online, because it is used in baking and making beauty products.
One of the simplest of these is rosewater cleanser, which is a simple mixture of 1 part glycerine to 1 part rosewater, usually about ½ a cup (118 ml) of each. Heat the mixture to just below boiling, but make sure the liquid does not boil. Apply a teaspoon (15 ml) of this liquid cleanser with cotton pads or a washcloth.
Home-crafted rose syrup is also an excellent way of boosting the Venusian energies of rose, in combination with rhubarb, another Venusian plant, and sugar, which is also associated with Venus.
1 lb of rhubarb,
1 pint of water
1 lb granulated sugar
10 Red Roses (Damask if possible) with the calyxes [white bits at the bottom of the petal] removed
Clean and cut the rhubarb into chunks. Simmer it in the water for twenty minutes, mashing with a wooden spoon for the last ten of this time to assist in the extraction of the juice. Strain through a fine sieve, such as a flour sieve, press out as much of the juice as you can. Add the sugar and the rose petals and simmer gently for fifteen minutes. Strain through the flour sieve, pressing firmly as before to extract the maximum amount of juice. Slow boil until the syrup thickens, then pour carefully into warmed bottles – ideally screw topped - or mason jars, fill to the top and seal.
To use put a teaspoon of the syrup in a mug, and add a tablespoon of boiling water. Stir and allow to cool, then fill up the mug with milk or warm water according to taste and how milk affects you. The Mage who shared this with me said it was a good tonic, and aided in the treatment of sore throats.
Today people are re-discovering how fermenting some foodstuffs can add to their nutrition and health benefits using the natural yeasts present on plants and in the atmosphere. But this has been known to people living in harmony with nature since the beginnings of farming. So to finish I will leave you with a recipe for homemade Rose Petal Wine. There’s nothing quite like it for a really good offering to the Deities, or for celebrating the love of someone special.
Rose Petal Wine:
1 lb peals from red and pink roses
3 quarts water
1 lb rice
• Boil the rose petals in the water for ten minutes, and strain through a flour sieve
• Add the rice, bring it to the boil and boil for 3 minutes, strain through the flour sieve again
• Add the sugar and stir it until it dissolves
• Bottle and cover*
• Keep for six months or longer. With good batches a rose scent develops and grows stronger over time
* Some people prefer to put the warm liquid in clean warmed bottles, and stopper them with cotton wool. This allows the carbon dioxide to escape, but no bacteria to enter and spoil the wine. Others prefer to go the modern route and use a demijohn (wine making jar) with a sterile water/air lock, both available from wine-making suppliers. It’s entirely down to what you feel works best for you. Just make sure the container you use is sterile and warm.
Content copyright © 2015 by Ian Edwards. All rights reserved.
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