Keeping Your Health Rosy…
My Austrian grandmother introduced me to roses. She adored her rose garden, planted during the 2nd World War in her sanctuary in North London. She came to the UK as a refugee in 1939 on the kinder transport fleeing from the Nazi’s. She is eternally grateful to the British for affording her and her family asylum and her rose garden was her special place of peace and tranquillity.
My first childhood herbal concoctions were rose medicine; crushing smooth, pale peach, petals for rosewater potions. I remember feeling slightly cheated as the petals browned and lost their beauty over time.
Roses have a long and colorful history. They have been symbols of love, beauty, war, and politics.
Over the past few years I have re-connected with rose on a very deep level. In Summer there is hardly a plant I pass without needing to go have a chat, sniff and stroke. I have been amazed at the sheer diversity of roses growing in my little village alone. In nature, the genus Rosa has around 150 species spread throughout the Northern Hemisphere, and then there are the entire hybrids created for our gardens. Apparently there are over 30,000 varieties, leading to the most complicated family tree of any known flower species. Garden cultivation of roses began 5,000 years ago, in Asia. She truly is an ancient ancestor, fossil evidence ages her at 35 million years old.
Included in her vast family Rosacea are hawthorn, apple, plum, raspberry and lady’s mantle to name a few. Most have astringent, cooling qualities when used as medicine.The rose is a rose,And was always a rose.But now the theory goesThat the apple’s a rose,And the pear is, and so’sThe plum, I suppose.The dear only knowsWhat will next prove a rose.You, of course, are a roseBut were always a rose. by Robert Frost 1874-1963
This time of year in the UK folks many folks send their loved ones roses for Valentines Day, a celebration of romantic love.
But where do all these roses bought to symbolize LOVE come from? The bulk of them come from Kenya in Africa, where cut flowers are one of their biggest industries. As many as one million stems a day are packed from the biggest flower farms. They are transported in refrigerated lorries to planes, flown to Amsterdam and auctioned off to wholesalers who then supply the florists.
February in Ancient Rome saw the feast of Lupercalia. The men sacrificed a goat and a dog, then whipped women with the hides of the animals they had just slain believing this would make them fertile.
The pagan fete included a matchmaking lottery, in which young men drew the names of women from a jar. The couple would then be, um, coupled up for the duration of the festival — or longer, if the match was right.
The ancient Romans may also be responsible for the name of our modern day of love. Emperor Claudius II executed two men — both named Valentine — on Feb. 14 of different years in the 3rd century A.D. Their martyrdom was honoured by the Catholic Church with the celebration of St. Valentine’s Day.
We call her Rosa Heartspetal. Her spirit or character is the elderly midwife, who has seen and birthed so many babies with generosity and kindness; never taking any nonsense, full of gifts of nurture and infinite knowledge.
Her delicate petals are perfectly heart shaped in our native Wild Dog Rose (Rosa canina). She provides emotional heart support, cooling anxiety and steadying the nerves. We make a tincture out of the petals.
Roses are under the domain of Venus. Friday is also ruled by Venus, so is a good day for harvesting Rose buds and petals. Harvesting especially around the full moon ensures that the energies of the plant are up in the arial parts. We harvest the petals on a dry, bright day, filling a jar to the brim with the petals, asking or setting intentions for what the medicine can gift us then covering with good quality vodka. We then leave it in a cool place for a lunar cycle to brew. Strain out the petals and you are left with a Powerful Brilliant Rose Petal Tincture.
We have long used her sexy, deep red fruits, the rosehips, to make syrups packed with valuable nourishment in the form of vitamins and minerals. It tastes delicious. The content of ascorbic acid (also known as Vitamin C) in the hips, is ten times more than in blackcurrants, fifty times more than in lemon and a hundred times more than in apples.
There have been plenty of studies documenting how the hips have given numerous folks relief from arthritis. And we use tinctures and powders for this and also heart conditions very effectively.
One of our favourite remedies is our Drops of Love. It’s made from rose tincture, rosehip syrup and peppermint tincture mixed together. These beautifully cooling and centering drops gently nourish and support the nervous and digestive systems.
Peppermint helps to clear a fuzzy head and calm digestion, thus also aiding mental processes. The word “mint” derives from the Latin for thought.
Rose has an amazing history as symbol of mystical or divine love. We use it here for its uplifting, calming properties. Rose is full of tannins which are a plant compound that has an astringent, binding effect on membranes in the body. This binding nature of the tannins has the potential for the containment of nervous energy and erratic patterns. Delicious, nourishing rosehip syrup is made from the hips. Its vastly nutritious make-up provides a wonderfully nurturing support system for the whole body, mind and spirit.
We keep our drops of love in the medicine cabinet and our handbags ready to use like a rescue remedy – taking the drops in moments of anxiety or shock or just when we feel like we need a hug from Rosa Heartspetal.
Being kind and loving to ourselves is essential for good health. Rose reminds us to take care, to nurture our hearts and nourish our bodies. This Valentines day, how will you connect with rose?
You could make a tincture or a syrup or you could have a rosewater bath or drink a cup of frangrant rose tea. Breathe in her sweet, uplifting smell and make a promise to share LOVE and PEACE on valentines day – first with yourself and then to the wider world.