The Rose. It’s an iconic flower. The single long-stem rose. The red rose for love, sex and desire. The yellow rose for joy and commitment. The morbid black rose. Rose gardens. As someone who grew up Catholic and attended Catholic school for my entire life, Roses were always associated with Mary, the Mother of Jesus. Late May and June are Rose season here on the East coast of the United States, where I find myself currently. For those with the gifts of green thumbs and a bit of the right flower food, though, the season can last much longer. There are roses, rose petals—often found in sachets and teas. There is Rose Water—a substance used in Middle Eastern and South Asian cooking as well as for perfumes and rituals the world over.
But what happens when roses die? … Rosehips are born.
What is a rosehip? Rosehips are the fruit of the Dog Rose bush (a wild/heirloom variety of Rose). They are delicious and nutritious. They are bright orange and/or red and they are sour–delectably, for someone like me who has a sour tongue.
Rosehips are food.
People use them to create jams, jellies, compotes, baked goods, syrups, chutneys, vinegars, sodas, wines, ice creams, and gummies/leather.
Rosehips are medicine.
They have one of the highest concentrations of Vitamin C available in any fruit. They also have a high concentration of iron, flavonoids, and antioxidants (often present in fruits with such brilliant colors). Traditional and botanical medicine practitioners have taken and given Rosehip teas, oils, syrups, serums, and tinctures for centuries, if not millennia. They can be a great ally in maintaining a strong immune system and are used to prevent and ward off colds, flus and other common infections. The oil of the seed is especially good for skin, given the high concentrations of vitamin A and C.
Rosehips are magic.
They are loving, fluid, peaceful. They are associated with fertility goddesses from a variety of locations and traditions, including Isis (Kemetic), Venus (Roman), Aphrodite (Greek), and Brigid (Celtic). Their nutrient density and brilliance also aligns them with Jupiter—the great benific of the skies. They are feminine–shaped like a gourd, like a belly, like a womb, like a wombman. They signify fertility, abundance, wealth of all kinds. Most frequently, however, they represent and are said to be able to facilitate divination and most of all, attract love …
As I wrote in my post about the Summer Solstice and as I discussed during my Summer Solstice ritual dinner, I sense that this Summer is a return to, a reflection on, a continuation of the Summer of 1967—known as the Summer of Love in American History. The Summer of Love was the beginning of what many people think of when they think of “the 60s” (a perception that, ironically, also refers to at least half of the 1970s). The Summer of Love sparked “the Movement”—which was actually a convergence of many national and international social and political movements and factions of society. It brought people together—people who probably wouldn’t have come together previously. So much of U.S. culture today as it exists within national boundaries and as it has influenced cultures beyond national boundaries is rooted in that Summer of Love.
Free Love. Real Love. Unconditional Love. When I write about Love, I am not referring to the shallow concept thrown around like a Frisbee at the beach–but the sort of revolutionary love that radical political philosophers and actors like Che Guevara, bell hooks, Chela Sandoval, Jesus and Rumi discuss. I’m writing about the most powerful force on the face of the planet—a force that breaks through every illusion, delusion, misconception, wrong perception, affliction and addiction—and transforms them into something inconceivable, something beautiful beyond belief, something mind-blowing. I am writing about the one thing that can bring us into the fullest and truest expression of ourselves … not the expression of what I want people to see, not the expression of what my ego desires, but the expression of my soul, the expression of who I really am, no matter where I am—the weirdness, the vulnerabilities, the pain and traumas, the needs, the wants, the failures, the gifts, the talents, the imperfections, and of course, all of the sweetness that dwells in each of us, wanting desperately to be broken open.
It is a tragedy. And, it is a salvation. It’s not a person, it’s a process–though, a process that usually involves another person … sometimes more than one. This kind of love ignites revolutions in individuals because by encountering and being broken into by “the Other,” the one who has been broken into is forced to encounter every single “other” within themself. This connects to the philosopher Terence’s assertion that “Nothing human is alien to me.” Everything you are is inside of me and everything I am is inside of you. It becomes a social revolution because it changes how I interact with every person I meet. It means that every encounter with who society would qualify as “different” becomes an encounter with myself, becomes a mirror, becomes a test of how much I have learned to manage my own thoughts, manage my own energy, embrace the fullness of who I am, set healthy boundaries and treat my limitations and vulnerabilities with respect, compassion and even joy. I am not sure this was the love that manifested en masse in 1967 (though, certainly some did). But I am absolutely convinced that it is the love this Summer wants to produce, replicate and root itself in despite of and perhaps because of the pain, chaos and cruelty that continue to show their ugly faces all over the world.
And for that reason, I accept the spirits of the Roses and Rose Hips have been moving into my life (not necessarily consciously), that have been showing up with increased frequency (besides the fact that this is Rose season, after all). I find that when the spirit(s) call—regardless of what form it/they might take—it’s best to listen and to answer. It/They will get its/their way no matter what, so it’s easiest and quickest to surrender at the outset. So, here’s to a Summer of Love …