Writing my way through the A-to-Z blogging challenge, I’ve tasked myself with creating a manifesto reflecting wonders, curiosities, and delights currently captivating me – all through the lens of unusual, obscure, or simply charming-to-me words.
R is for…
rosarian – a person who is fond of, develops, or cultivates roses
My claim as a rosarian is strictly as one who loves them; but that love is deep and wide, covering the physical and the spiritual and all the gardens between.
I have a particular fondness for creation tales, and roses, from the Greek perspective, is one of my favorites.
Chloris, the Greek goddess of flowers (perhaps known to you more familiarly in her Roman guise as Flora), came upon the body of a nymph in the woods one day. Saddened, she decided to bring her back to life as a flower. She called upon the Three Graces who bestowed upon the flower brightness, joy, and charm. Aphrodite gave the flower beauty; Dionysus, god of wine, added a special nectar which created the beautiful intoxicating fragrance. She called upon Zephyrus, her husband and the god of the west wind, to blow away the clouds, so that Apollo might allow the Sun’s rays to open the flower’s petals. When done, they all agreed it was truly the Queen of Flowers. Aphrodite named it Rose, and dedicated it to her son, Eros, the god of love. To celebrate the Rose more widely, Aphrodite invited Iris and Eos to help announce this creation. Iris, the goddess of the rainbow, adopted the rosy color as part of her wardrobe, and Eos, the goddess of dawn, painted the morning sky with the rosy color.
Lovely story isn’t it, befitting such a lovely flower.
There are more than a hundred species or roses and thousands of cultivars. While there are a number of ways to classify roses, a helpful one divides them into three categories:
- wild or species (roses with a single layer of petals; this category includes wild roses and their close but cultivated relatives)
- old garden roses (cultivated roses that existed before the creation of the hybrid tea rose in 1867; excluding the species roses mentioned above)
- modern garden roses (the hybrid tea rose and later creations)
Far from being just ornamental, roses have long been used by many cultures for their medicinal and culinary properties. Leaves, petals, and fruit (rose hips) are all utlilized, both in their whole forms and in some way extracted. Rose water is lovely and subtle, and then there are the essential oils, concretes, and absolutes, all extracted from the flowers and used extensively.
Essential oils from roses are primarily made from two species of roses. Rose damascene (the damask rose) is widely grown in Syria, Bulgaria, Turkey, Russia, Pakistan, India, Uzbekistan, Iran, and China. Rosa centifolia (the cabbage rose) is more commonly grown in Morocco, France, and Egypt.
I’ve been working on a many-layered rose project for more than a year now, and one of the aspects of this has been wearing my hat as an aromatherapist/natural perfumer. I’ve been doing extensive blending, and much to my delight have been led down many garden paths and rabbit holes in the process. Many people don’t realize with oils the vast and sometimes subtle differences in scent that are the result of the things such as type of rose, where it’s grown, and conditions under which it grew. That’s the joy of being a perfumer or someone who enjoys working with oils – I’ve gathered a rather extensive library of different rose oils. Not only is their scent different, but as an energy worker, I’m able to tune into the different energetics.
Of course I’ve already admitted scent is hugely important to me, but that’s really only one of the layers. I’m much more interested in the sacred and spiritual aspects of flowers, their essences, and their oils.
Lynn Serafinn in her book The Garden of the Soul explores four flowers as representations of spiritual principles. She considers Rose as representing the principle of giving. I powerfully resonate with this:
“The Principle of Giving is all that emanates from you into the world. It is the very breath that you exhale into the universe, so that others may take it in and find their own life within it.”
Of course all flowers speak to us differently, and my sacred walk with roses may very well be on a different path than others. I think that matters not at all. Every thing around us has things to teach us, but we are fully responsible for how we integrate what we receive, and what we offer in return.
One of the lessons Roses have taught me, is beautifully described by Rumi:
The rose opens
And when it falls
I am unabashedly a rosarian – I will always walk the rose path and welcome the gifts of these flowers, both hidden and undeniably apparent.
What about you? Do you love roses? Are you ready to unfurl something just as the bud opens into full blossom? Do tell – you know I love to hear.