When I was growing up in Michigan, I loved Roses for the reasons many teenage girls love Roses. Because if someone gave them to you, it meant they loved you. I saved every Rose I was given, hung it upside down to dry, and kept the petals in box or a jar, until the giver broke my heart, and then I threw them out. I threw out a lot of dried Roses in those days; teenage love is a perilous undertaking.
In summers, I worked for a little local flower shop, and fussed over the sweetheart Roses in their candy-soft shades, and often on pay days I would buy myself a Rose or three for my room.
Towards the end of college, I was briefly engaged to a man with no imagination. After every quarrel he sent red Roses with an apology note. That was when the appeal of Roses began to fade.
In 1999 I moved to New Orleans with a lover, and again found myself working in a small flower shop. Only this time, I was around on Valentine’s Day. It only took one flower shop Valentine’s Day for me to despise Roses. By the end of my time in New Orleans, I was tired, depressed, angry, and scared of my future; I had moved several times, my lover had broken my heart, I had no money, no faith of any kind, and I was sick more often than I was well. I believe I’ve mentioned before how, for a time, I moved from emotional disaster to emotional disaster.
Until finally, a few years ago, I had the good fortune to end up with the hubster. When I moved in to this house, I was taken aback by the number of Rose bushes the hubster’s ex had planted everywhere. But they were pretty, and I often cut them and mixed them with other flowers to brighten up the house. And there was one Rose bush, a wild thorny thing, with delicate five-petaled flowers, thriving in part shade under a walnut tree. I never touched it, except to trim it back in the winter, but I loved the smell of the small, simple blossoms. This fierce, fragrant bush hardly seemed akin to the other Roses.
My love affair with herbs was in full swing, but I still thought of Roses as belonging to the territory of the flower shop, not the apothecary. I studied herbs, searching for a connection with individual plants, and didn’t give the Roses much thought, even though every time I turned around a new baby Rose bush had appeared in some half-empty garden bed on our land.
And last summer I found myself doing a lot of energy work with friends, and feeling the intuitive nudges to create those energetic elixirs with plants and stones. And somehow, in many different situations, Roses were called for. Then I wanted to make some herbal honeys, but at that time I didn’t have many plants large enough to fill a quart jar with their cuttings . . . but the roses were abundant, and some of them were fragrant enough. A mixture of varieties of Rose petals yielded an exquisite jar of infused honey.
And one day I sat on my porch and looked around the yard, and realized that the Rose was becoming an amazing herbal ally, even though I knew virtually nothing about Roses. And I realized, too, that those Roses were an instrumental component of the slow healing of my heart. For some reason I’d been resisting their pull on me, but I finally understood in one of those “Duh!” moments.
But none of the herbalists I was reading at the time had anything to say about roses. I sensed powerful medicine in the roses, but no one seemed to be talking about it, and I couldn’t understand why. I just went on with what I was doing, drying petals from the wild Rose under the walnut tree, making my Rose honey, and using Roses in magic and energy work frequently.
Of course, since then I’ve found plenty of herbalists who sing the praises of Rose, including the author of my favorite herbal blog. How amazing to find a voice in a different bioregion extolling the virtues of my beloved Rose, especially those fierce wild Roses I’ve come to love so much.
I’m delighted to be seduced by the plant world, but I also have a mind that was trained by academia, and so I found myself often questioning why Rose, in particular, should have courted me so persistently. There were so many other plants that seemed appropriate, given my specific health concerns and my general constitution–so why Rose? Of course the question of why a plant being calls to a human being is not, perhaps, best answered with the intellect, but old habits die hard.
I doubt I will ever understand with my mind the connection between human and plant, and I’m getting better at not worrying about it. The universe is full of miracles and mysteries, and honestly I think I’d be sad if that ever changed. But I’m coming to understand that Rose is important for all of us right now. Think about the energy of Rose, about the sweetness and love, but also the prickles. Rose offers healing for the heart of humanity, but she offers it with her own boundaries firmly in place. She says you may take, but you must take mindfully, or I will get your attention quickly. She teaches us simultaneously about love and generosity and about creating appropriate boundaries and caring for ourselves.
I’m sure there’s never been a moment in human history when more love was NOT needed. I’m sure there’s never been a time when it wouldn’t benefit us to operate a little more from our heart center and a little less from our head. But it feels to me like the need for stronger heart energy has reached an all time high, and I can’t help but think that that’s why Rose is such an important ally right now.
And here’s where maybe I go a little bit overboard . . . but I feel that those wild or old fashioned Roses, with their sensual fragrance and abundant prickles, offer us a beautiful balance between heaven and earth. They offer the ecstasy of communion with the divine, balanced with the need to be grounded and present. For me, Rose is not only an ally in the process of loving safely, but also in releasing dualistic thinking, embracing apparent contradictions, and becoming whole.
Who would think that such powerful medicine would come in pink?