By Sharon Callahan


     The rose belongs to the Rosaceae family, along with other domesticated plants such as the apple, pear, cherry, plum and strawberry, as well as a number of ornamental plants. However, it is the only member of the genus Rosa, defined as a woody, deciduous shrub, with thorny or occasionally smooth stems, leaves made up of leaflets, and flowers which usually have five petals.

     Originally roses grew only in the wild and were subject to genetic change brought about by unknown factors. Subsequent human intervention has changed their shape and appearance in many different ways and the outcome has been the introduction of a large number of varieties as they are known today.


     Both the red and white roses are sacred to the Virgin Mary in the Christian tradition. The white signifies her purity and the red represents the blood of Christ. The word rosary comes from the Latin for "rose garden."

     The five-petalled wild rose is associated with Christ on earth because it forms the human shape with arms spread out and legs apart, which fits into a five-pointed star. It therefore represents divine love in its earthly form. It also incorporates both the love of Christ, in the symbolism of its flower, and His suffering in its thorns.

     The rose is a sacred flower around the world because of its beauty and scent. The Muslims believe that the rose was created from the sweat of Mohammed. The ancient Egyptians held it sacred and roses have been found buried in Egyptian tombs. Both the Greeks and Romans used roses at weddings and funerals. The Hindus oil themselves with rose oil, along with other oils, in preparation for prayer and worship. The Persians believed that the nightingale sings mournfully every time it sees a rose picked; it loves the rose so much that it cannot bear to see it hurt.

     The oldest known variety of rose is the Apothecary's rose - Rosa gallica officinalis - ,traditionally used as oil or attar of roses, or as dried petals to heal the heart and to create a feeling of happiness. It is almost impossible to smell a rose without feeling your spirits lift.

     Roses have traditionally been used to purify places that have become tainted in some way.

     In the Thirteenth century, church architecture first incorporated the rose window, a round stained glass window whose intricate design was based on the rose, much as Eastern mandalas have been based on the lotus.

     In the garden of St. Francis (patron saint of animals) in Assisi Italy the roses grow without thorns.


     In the language of flowers, roses speak of beauty, abiding love and the union of heaven and earth. Each color of rose has a different meaning most notably the white rose for purity and the red rose for self sacrifice.


     At Anaflora, Wild Rose is one of our most often used flower essences for animals. As defined in my book Flower Essences for Animals:

     Wild Rose is helpful "when the thorns of life have been too sharp." Wild Rose is a highly spiritual essence. It allows the embracing of life even after severe trauma and abuse - self abuse or abuse by another. It opens an animal's heart to love and trust again. If you and your animal friend have both suffered abuse, take Wild Rose together. Wild Rose is useful in the treatment of lick granuloma, feather picking, foot chewing and other self-mutilation seen in animals who are stressed or ill. Wild Rose is found in the Anaflora Bereavement Formula, Pound Puppy and Kitten Formula, Service Animal Formula and Return to Joy. More information on Return to Joy Formula is presented in the article Helping An Abused Animal Feel At Home in the World Again and on the page Which Formula Should I Begin With.

     Sweet Brier or Eglantine, another form of wild rose, is slightly smaller and the petals darker red in color than other wild roses. Sweet Brier has thorns that grow downward toward the earth. Legend has it that the devil was supposed to have used the thorns of Sweet Brier as a ladder to try and reach heaven. He was thwarted when Sweet Brier extended itself horizontally as a bush and bent its thorns downward.

     Sweet Brier is useful for feral animals and animals suffering the consequences of abuse especially when aggressiveness and biting are the symptoms. This is the essence of choice for seemingly "hopeless cases."

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