Inspiring Enchantment & Illumination with Tarot & Intuitive Guidance

Roses in Myth and History

One may live without bread, not without roses.
— Jean Richepin

The Grace Thalia guides us onward, as we tour the magical garden. We are deepening our friendship with the Queen of the Garden, the rose.

For millennia, the rose has been woven into the fabric of myth and legend in nearly every civilization. An 18th century poetic recounting of classical mythology tells yet another version of the birth of the rose. According to this version, Bacchus was chasing a beautiful young nymph through the woods when He suddenly was trapped by the spikes of a very thorny shrub. She helped free Him, and to show His gratitude, the God of wine and merriment touched the shrub and ordered it to be covered with flowers to match the rosy blushes of the nymph.

The Hindu Gods, Vishnu, protector of the world, and Brahma, creator of the world, argued as to which was the most beautiful flower. Vishnu praised the rose, while Brahma (who had not actually yet seen a rose) sided with the lotus. But when Brahma at last saw the rose, He immediately agreed that the rose was supreme and rewarded Vishnu’s devotion by creating for Him His wife, the Goddess Lakshmi, making Her from 108 large and 1,008 small rose petals.

In Kashmir, the fearsome Mogul emperors cultivated beautiful rose gardens. And roses were strewn in the river to welcome them on their return home. In Persia, Nebuchadnezzar adorned his palace with roses. They were grown for their perfume oil and the petals were used to fill the King’s mattress.

Childebert I (496 – 558 C.E.), the Frankish king of Paris, had a rose garden planted for his Queen. Charlemagne ordered the cultivation of roses in all the castles where he held assemblies. And Leo IX, elected Pope in 1084, began the ceremony of the “Golden Rose.” A rose made from gold was sent to a favored monarch as a token of papal esteem. Those roses are now considered masterpieces of art.

Of course, such ceremonies lead us to how the rose has been intimately woven into the fabric of the mystical and secret occult practices for many centuries, as well. More about its magical significance tomorrow!

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  • July 9, 2008, 1:53 pm Copper Asetemhat Stewart

    Is there more coming on roses? You can always add Lucius Apuleius’ roses in _The Golden Ass_. (Roses are the antidote to his assinine condition, and he ultimately gets them from a Priest of Isis).

    Because of this, we keep a rose-garlanded donkey on the altar.

  • July 10, 2008, 4:43 am Beth Owl's Daughter

    There’s lots more coming, but I am heading for some of the later rose mysticism and symbolism. Didn’t know about this particular connection! Thanks for sharing it, Copper!