You have to love a nation that celebrates its independence every July 4th, not with a parade of guns, tanks, and soldiers who file by the White House in a show of strength and muscle, but with family picnics where kids throw Frisbees, the potato salad gets iffy, and the flies die from happiness. You may think you have overeaten, but it is patriotism.
— Erma Bombeck
The rose is sacred to Aphrodite and is also the emblem of England. Two of the most famous roses in history are the white rose that was the emblem for the house of York and the red rose that represents the house of Lancaster, giving us the thirty-two years of conflict known as the Wars of the Roses (1455–1487).
Appropriately on this birthday of the United States, though, it is notable that the rose is also the national flower of the United States. In 1986, Ronald Reagan signed a rather flowery declaration that included the following:
“More often than any other flower, we hold the rose dear as the symbol of life and love and devotion, of beauty and eternity. For the love of man and woman, for the love of mankind and God, for the love of country, Americans who would speak the language of the heart do so with a rose.
“We see proofs of this everywhere. The study of fossils reveals that the rose has existed in America for age upon age. We have always cultivated roses in our gardens. Our first President, George Washington, bred roses, and a variety he named after his mother is still grown today. The White House itself boasts a beautiful Rose Garden. We grow roses in all our fifty States. We find roses throughout our art, music, and literature. We decorate our celebrations and parades with roses. Most of all, we present roses to those we love, and we lavish them on our altars, our civil shrines, and the final resting places of our honored dead.
“The American people have long held a special place in their hearts for roses. Let us continue to cherish them, to honor the love and devotion they represent, and to bestow them on all we love just as God has bestowed them on us.”
Today, I urge you to weave some Independence Day magic in whatever way you feel is appropriate. It would be highly appropriate to bring roses to your altar, and might I suggest the wonderful, simple, powerful Lady Liberty Feast Day ritual, created by the glorious Selena Fox, High Priestess of the Circle Sanctuary:
“Begin the day with a Lady Liberty meditation. Call to mind Her image and imagine Her standing before you. Invoke Her by at least one of Her names: Liberty, Libertas, Lady Liberty, Goddess of Liberty, and/or Goddess of Freedom. Then name and give thanks for each of the freedoms that you experience in your own life. If you are an American, do your meditation on July 4 and work with Her Statue of Liberty form. If you are from another country, select the date and image that you feel is most appropriate.”
Liberty Goddess altar at Spiralheart Witchcamp 2007.
Inspiration provided by Copper Asetemhat Stewart, photo © steward
More than ever, we need Lady Liberty to show us the way. May peace return to how we define our national values and pride, and may true liberty be restored to our people.