I love roses. I adore them. Especially the old roses, the wild roses, the un-pruned and un-prunable, the hardy, hardier, the hardiest, the climb-y, overgrown, slightly improper roses that smell fabulous, host a million bees and come in shades of pink that could make a biker blush.
I very much enjoy rose time, which is right now.
I have baskets of them all over the house, drying or waiting to be processed, jars of them macerating, liquors, honeys, elixirs melding, piles and piles of lovely roses.
And maybe you do, too? And what are you going to do with all of these roses?
There is the basic tincture and elixir, which honestly are nothing to sneeze at. A very good rose plus a very good liquor needs absolutely nothing else to be endlessly delightful. A tiny bit of honeycomb can add to the elixir but I don’t feel like it’s a must.
And then there are combinations–I am a fan of mixing my roses with raw cacao paste. This is my very favorite, and I make a Rosa Rugosa/Heartblood Cacao elixir called Rosestorative that I’ll say, with bias, kicks ass.
I mix rose with Peach-flower, leaf, bark and fruit–for a cooling elixir that clears summer heat like nothing else.
I have been experimenting with a Mint-lime Rose elixir called Rose Julep that is surprisingly delicious.
I like it with Skullcap tops for a soothing and calming tincture, and Hawthorne for a gentle heart tonic.
I combine Rose with Linden, Passionflower, Milky Oats, Tulsi, Skullcap and Peach for what I call my “summer 9-1-1 blend”.
I have made a blend of Roses with fresh cherries and vanilla beans for my personal secret Winter elixir stash.
I put it in other elixirs like the Angelica-based Foothills elixir, the Motherwort and Ashwaganda-based Lionheart elixir and Mugwort-based Little Sugar Dream Nectar.
And I adore Rose mixed with all types of Basil, especially Lemon Basil, for a focusing, clearing blend that tastes great.
So the rose has these medicinal properties, these actions, and this is all very nice. This is great. But Rose also has a certain symbolism. A very, very long history of relationship with humans. Songs, poetry, art, sacred and profane, ancient, evolving over eons, handmade precious scents which we might make as an offering to the gods and goddess of pollination, human and animal, shades of pink best described as “revelatory”, rosy distillations that grace our most sacred spaces, sugared petals that speak of celebration and ritual.
The rose, if nothing else, suggests things.
Deeply human things.
Roses symbolize first dates and a night of passion and decades of abiding love. Roses grace births and deaths, rituals and dinner tables, gravestones and biceps.
Oh, and then there are the thorns. Where I am from, Rosa Rugosa forms protective stands along the Atlantic Coast, keeping drunks and/or tourists off of the delicate dunes and helping hold together the beaches which are subject to erosion from constant winds and water. So Rose speaks to us of boundaries.
And Rose can be the spark that helps us light our own inner fire.
The plant we use, sensually, to create a moment of intimacy, of heart-opening, of connection. Rose can help us to create a space, to build trust, to mourn a loss.
The special medicine of roses is that they don’t last, they bloom and they fall, and then they are gone, they bring us into the moment, clearing away the crap, they say be here now, they say gather roses while you can, they say get yourself into this moment as fully and as magenta-ly as you possibly can and when it’s all over let it go.
The rose connects us–to each other, to our lineage, to nature, to ourselves.
And, listen– the rose is damn fine in a little shot glass on a summer evening.