The rose is a flower that has been used in the traditions, folklore, and symbolism of several cultures and religions all through the ages. The rose has represented romance, wisdom, duality and other concepts. It is a complex symbol that means more than meets the eye.
The dictionary definition of the rose plant states that it is a prickly shrub with showy flowers and pinnate leaves. According to Greek mythology, the rose was created by Chloris, the goddess of flowers. Chloris found the body of a nymph and turned the body into a flower. Chloris called Dionysus, who added nectar to the flower to give it a sweet fragrance. Aphrodite was invited to give the flower beauty. The god of the West Wind, Zephyrus was called upon to blow the clouds away so the Apollo could shine and make the rose flower bloom.
The different colors of the rose give it different symbolic representations and interpretation. Some common colors and interpretations of the rose flower are as follows:
Yellow: Mature love, Platonic love, Constancy, Joy
Pink: Motherly love, First love, Admiration
Purple: Enchantment, Royalty, Magical, Love at first sight
Blue: Unattainable, Loyalty, Mystery
Red: Passion, Love, Zeal, Courage, Immortality, Martyrdom, Fervency
White: Humility, Innocence, Purity, Light, Joy, Prayer, Sanctity, Balance, Secrecy, Loyalty
The rose has traditionally been a symbol of beauty and love. It is a sacred symbol of various religions in connection with their several gods and goddesses. In Ancient Egypt, the rose was related to the goddess Isis. To the Greeks and Romans, the rose was a symbol of Venus or Aphrodite, the goddess of love.
The rose also connotes secrecy as evident from the Latin phrase ‘sub rosa’ which means ‘under the rose.’ The phrase means that anything said in such meetings were not to be repeated elsewhere. Roses were hung or painted on the ceiling above where such meetings were held.
In Ancient Egyptian and Greek Mythology, the rose was used as a symbol for Horus, the son of Isis. Horus was the sky god represented by a man with a falcon representing the head, although he was represented as a child sometimes. In Egyptian artwork, Horus was represented as a naked child with his finger in his mouth as if sucking it. The Greeks interpreted this to mean he was crossing his lips with his fingers to mean secrecy.
The Greeks translated Horus to Harpocrates, the god of silence. In Greek mythology, Aphrodite gave her son Cupid or Eros a rose. Cupid then gave this rose to Harpocrates as a bribe to ensure that he kept the deeds of the gods and goddesses silent. Harpocrates was represented as a plump child with a finger to his mouth.
The rose also represented the resurrection or the rising Sun in the East. To the Egyptians, Horus represented the rising Sun that brought forwards each new day. For Christians, this symbolic representation can be seen in Jesus Christ, who is the Morning Star and the Resurrected Redeemer.
The rose is also associated with the Virgin Mary, the resurrection of Christ, martyrdom, and charity/passion. The red rose is a symbol of the blood of Jesus Christ as it was said that a rose bush grew over the site where Jesus died. The beauty of the rose flower is in contrast with its thorns. These thorns remind us of the Crown of Thorns worn by Jesus. The rose is a representation of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice for man. The 5-petaled rose symbolizes the passions of the Christ and all that he suffered on the Cross for mankind.
In Islam, the rose represents the blood of the Islamic Prophet Mohammed and his two sons. The red rose is a symbol of martyrdom, and it signified a more violent struggle than the white rose. The white rose signifies purity, martyrdom, and paradise awaiting those who were martyred for Godly causes.
In Freemasonry, the rose is used for various ceremonies and rituals. The rose was sacred to the Sun and Aurora. It signifies dawn, the Light, and the renewal of Life.
In the Scottish Rite, the rose is connected to some degrees. In the 4th degree, silence is one of the virtues espoused, and members are reminded of the white rose. In the 18th degree, the Rose Cross or Red Cross is referred to as the Knight Rose Croix. The Cross used in the 18th degree is one in which all four limbs are of the same size to connote balance.
One of the most used symbols in alchemy was the rose. The rose was a symbol of attainment, completion, and perfection. The symbol could also stand as a symbol of regeneration. The first symbol of the Rosicrucian fraternity was a hieroglyphic rose that was crucified on a cross. This cross was raised on a pedestal of three, which represented the crucifixion. In the 10th degree, there is a rose above three arches that symbolizes the crucifixion.
The rose also represents immortality. The concept of immortality is as old as man. Historical men buried dead people with their belongings, believing that the dead ones will need the possessions. Ancient mythologies spoke of men as gods that will dwell forever in the heavens. Immortality is the hope of all mankind. Immortality is the source of virtue for many. In Freemasonry, the hope of immortality is one of the things taught to members.
The rose has existed for ages to mean several things to men, and it is important in Freemasonry.