By Any Other Name, It’s Still Symbolic. Meaning of the Rose

Symbolic Rose Meanings
Symbolic Rose Meanings

The symbolic meaning of the rose is known by almost everyone on some level – otherwise it wouldn’t be the most popularly sent flower on Valentine’s Day (I know, I’m 2 weeks too late here).

The rose is associated with Aphrodite (Greek) goddess of love who was often depicted adorned with roses around her head, feet and or neck.  In myth we track down this association when we discover that a rose bush grew within the pool of blood spilled from Aphrodite’s slain lover (Adonis).  We can interpret the symbolism here several ways.  The most common interpretation is that the rose symbolizes an immortal love or a union that will never fade – even through time or death. 

Similarly in Christian lore, a rose bush was said to have grown at the site of Christ’s death.  His blood serving as the association with a red rose, combined with its thorns is thus symbolized the ultimate sacrifice

In addition to being a symbol of love, the rose is also representative of secrets or tacit understanding.  The term “sub rosa” means under the rose and comes from the practice of Romans hanging roses above meeting tables.  Here it was understood that anything said at this table, beneath the hanging roses, was forbidden to be repeated elsewhere. 

Seeking symbolic meaning of the rose from an esoteric perspective, we can look at the Tarot,  in which the rose is considered a symbol of balance.  Here the beauty of the rose expresses promise, new beginnings, hope.  This beauty is contrasted with its thorns which represents defense, physicality, loss, thoughtlessness.  The rose is seen in the major arcana as: Magician, Strength, Death and Fool cards.  All of these cards hold strong meanings of balance and equilibrium.

The color of the rose is symbolic as well: (flower color meanings can be found here in flower meanings in general can be found here ).

  • Yellow Rose: Joy, Protection against envious lovers, Mature love
  • White Rose:  Purity, Sanctity, Secret admirer, Mysticism
  • Red Rose: Sacrifice, Immortal love, Health, Memorial, Passion
  • Pink Rose: First love, Innocence, Healing 

Click here for more symbolic meaning of the rose, and other flowers

Or, click here for Symbolic Rose Meanings in the Tarot

Are you interested in tattoos?  Check out my Rose Tattoo Meanings here.

Now that we know a little history and symbolism of the rose, our giving of them to the ones we love can be more profound and rich in meaning.

8 Comments on “By Any Other Name, It’s Still Symbolic. Meaning of the Rose”

  1. On the shield of my coat of arms is pictured a red rose. Is this also the rose of arcana, and also associated with the rosicrucians ? Could this rose of originated in Jerusalem ? Was it a strong symbol for Celtic drbards ? Thanks.

  2. I believe my coat of arms portrays a red rose ( Lancashire, England) since the Crusades and was also used by the Celtic bards and may have been a symbol used for over 2,000 years.

  3. Hi Tom

    Blind, beautiful faith is equal to the beauty of the rose and a caution to heed the voice of reason/practicality are evidenced in its thorns.

    The rose is the driving force – the desired goal for which we strive. The color (white) indicates it is a worthy goal for which to strive – white, the color of purity assures us the adventure is worth every step.

    As long-standing symbol of purity, promise, and beauty, rose symbolic meanings also deal with the promise of new beginnings and hope.

    As mentioned before, we must also take the thorns into consideration – with the promise of new hope, we may have to endure a few stinging thorns (painful ordeals) along the way.

    Overall, the rose is a poignant symbol of the beauty that is ready to unfold within each of our hearts, and a reminder that we must take the opportunity to savor the beauty around us.

    These and the details in the post are what I’ve been impressed with as I’ve meditated with the rose.

    I understand you are looking for more historical specifics. This will be an exciting experience for you as you unearth the diversity through your lineage.

    The rose itself may serve as a metaphor for your exploration into your family history.

    As you learn more of the history of your family symbol (coat of arms), and follow the river of your own blood line – you shall blossom and unfold into graceful knowing – becoming more whole in who you are.


  4. Tomorrow unfolds like a spring-born flower into a bright spectacle…Today’s showers, no matter how uncomfortable, are necessary…Yesterday is buried along with last season’s splendor, enriching the soil. Thanks for your beautiful message concerning the symbolism about my family’s rose, I thought I would respond with another. I have been waiting for a web-site like yours !!

  5. Hi Tom,

    What a beautiful and poignant sentiment.

    Thank you so much for giving back here – your kindness is deeply valuable.


  6. saw a brilliant white rose.. the inside petals each had a dark shiny black thin line running across each petal.. there were about 3 lines… what is the meaning of this, please?

Comments are closed.