For the Love of
Roses have held a sacred place in our world for thousands of years. Petrified rose wreaths have been unearthed from ancient Egyptian tombs which date to AD 170. Cleopatra had her living quarters filled with rose petals so Marc Anthony would remember her for this opulence and be reminded of her with every rose he smelled. It is not surprising that the chemical composition of Bulgarian rose oil now has a reputation for being an aphrodisiac.
The variety of rose plants available to us is astounding. Beginning in the 1600’s, Botanists and gardeners began to hybridize and cultivate new specimens based on color, scent, growing form and hardiness. To this date over 150 species exist and over 3,000 cultivars.
Roses offer us a connection back to the earth through our senses of taste, touch, smell and vision. Their fragrance literally makes us “stop and smell the roses”, when we pass by a flowering bush. Their immense variety of colors, bloom sizes, shapes and climbing manners attract our visual attention. Roses engage our sense of touch in delightful and not so delightful ways. The soft petals of a rose feel like silk and baby’s bottoms, while their thorns can grab you like a cat’s claw from the underworld.
Roses were grown in medieval gardens more for medicine and food than for beauty. The wild species of roses were often used for their medicinal qualities by the indigenous peoples of North America. The leaves, petals, hips, and roots were widely used for a variety of conditions, including colds, fevers, diarrhea, influenza, eye washes and stomach troubles. Rose hips, the seed pods formed after the flowers have completed their blooming, offer high doses of vitamin C if boiled in water for a tea infusion and were often used to prevent scurvy.
Stories of recipes made with attar of roses, such as in the book, Like Water for Chocolate, by Laura Esquivel', invoke amorous memories of its powerful scent. Drinking and cooking with Rose Water is a common practice in Europe. Rose petals are completely edible and are in the same plant family as apples and strawberries.
Love potions often had some form of the rose in their ingredients. Here is one recipe, though it was also said the power of the potion was directly connected to the power of the maker.
Three hearts of precious wild pink rose
that under sun and starlight grows;
Three silver spoons of honey gold
awakens powers of the old;
Three silver spoons of brandy wine
you shall be mine, you shall be mine.
You shall be mine till I you free
This is my will, so shall it be.
There is a profound link with roses and spirituality at Holy places. While visiting ancient cathedrals in Europe on our Travels Tours, I have noticed roses are always present in the beautiful gardens surrounding these sites. I am forever grateful for the messages these glorious flowers give to me on these trips. When viewing the rose as a symbol, their multi-layered petals offering a portrait of an opening heart and display how this opening can happen slowly, with vulnerability and grace. Add to this opening the soft caress of an almost overpowering intoxication of scent symbolizing Spirit and you begin to feel this heart connection on an even deeper level. Through this experience, the roses in my garden at home have taken on new meaning, opening me even more to my spiritual connection.