“What's in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.”
William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet (2.2.45-7)
Roses, the flowers of love and passion, are purchased in their millions by romantics each Valentine’s Day. The history and symbolism of this exquisitely fragranced flower is as complex as its traditional uses and chemical make-up. In this Valentine’s newsletter we’d like to share some sumptuous stories about this much loved bloom, hailed by the Greek poet Sappo as the Queen of Flowers.
The Goddess Connection
Cultivated roses probably hail from Persia (modern-day Iran) but their ancestors have been used and revered throughout the world since ancient times, even by mythological Goddesses. Venus, the Roman goddess of love, beauty and fertility is often symbolized by a rose, as is her Greek equivalent Aphrodite. Over in Ancient Egypt dried roses were found in Tutankhamen’s tomb – did his young wife place them there as a symbol of their love? In Ancient Rome roses were worn by brides and grooms and Cleopatra is rumoured to have scattered rose petals on her bedroom floor to entice Mark Anthony inside, with apparent success.
Plagues, Piles and Goats
Roses were an essential part of Middle Ages’ medicine cabinets and used to treat a wide range of disorders including digestive, menstrual, plague fevers and skin problems. Aromatherapists reaching for its essential oil today will nod in recognition at many of the age-old reasons for choosing rose. In 1694 the Herbalist Pechey decreed the red garden rose to be “…astringent and bitter: it comforts the Heart and strengthens the Stomach”. Jumping forward to the 1920s the British Women’s Institute recommended red rose petal syrup for coughs and for those who spit blood. Meanwhile folklore tells us that fruits of the wild Dog Rose – rosehips – were carried in pockets to guard against piles (haemorroids) and rose shoots were fed to indigestion-prone goats – not quite as romantic as Cleopatra’s use for this aromatherapy favourite!
Grief, The Blues and Romance
Today rose remains as important to perfumers and medicinal plant practitioners as ever, particularly the varieties most loved by aromatherapists: Rosa damascena and centifolia, the latter being commonly used to produce absolutes. The chemical make-up of distilled rose oil differs to that of its absolute, with the distilled oil characterised by a richness in monoterpenes and monoterpenols. Rose oil is classically used to treat skin disharmonies, to support feminine hormonal imbalances, calm anxious minds, lift the mood and much more. It can be wonderful in helping beat the blues, particularly when accompanied by anxiety and/or sleeplessness. Being a flower of the heart Rose is also a friend to reach for in times of grief; Ingrid Martin considers it ‘..unbridled in its ability to soothe the pain of loss or rejection’ whilst adding that ‘Research confirms its traditional use as a sedative’. For the romantics amongst you we’ve got good news - its reputation as an aphrodisiac remains as strong as ever.
The rose looks fair, but fairer we it deem
For that sweet odour which doth in it live.
Willliam Shakespeare, Sonnet 54
The Most Important Love of All?
Learning to love ourselves can be challenging but it is an essential step along the path of developing love and compassion for others and the world around us. So this Valentine’s Day give yourself a little love. To help, run a bath and drop in one of our deliciously scented rose bath bombs. Light a joie de vivre candle, inhale the aromas and enjoy. You could also try a little self-massage – the feet, face and belly are perfect. Try using the massage blend below or add a few drops of our Inner Reunion
Anahata (Heart) Chakra blend or our Gentle Embrace
(Meridian blend) to an organic base oil.
Amour (massage oil)
Also lovely as a bath oil.
30ml organic apricot kernel oil
Essential oils of:-
6 drops Palmarosa (Cympopogon martini)
4 drops Petitgrain (Citrus aurantium fol)
3 drops Rose Otto (Rosa damascena)
(or substitute with Geranium / Pelargonium x asperum)
1 drop Vetiver (Vetiveria zizanoides)
I’m Gorgeous (winter moisturiser)
Enjoy a daily face massage whilst protecting your skin from the winter elements. Choose one of our lovingly blended face and body oils or try this:-
25mls organic jojoba or avocado oil
5ml calendula phytol (herbal infusion)
Essential oils of:-
3 drops Bergamot (Citrus bergamia)
3 drops Rose Otto or Geranium (Rosa damascena or Pelargonium x asperum)
2 drops Frankincense (Boswellia carterii)
2 drops Patchouli (Pogostemon cablin)
‘Developing love and compassion is not an emotional luxury. It is a question of survival’
His Holiness, the IV Dalai Lama
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