The Path under the Rose Arches
L'Allée de rosiers
Claude Monet 1918-24

The Mystical Meaning Behind SubRosa 
From our September 2005 Newsletter

The phrase Sub Rosa comes from the Latin, literally 'under the rose,'  from the ancient association of the rose with confidentiality. The rose, the queen of flowers, is the symbol of beauty of youth, love, joy, silence, and has long been associated with the Mysteries. 

Demeter and Persephone
Initiation into the Eleusinian Mysteries

In Egypt and Greece the candidates for initiation into the Mysteries wore roses; and roses were the constant ornaments of the temples during the ceremony of dedication and opening the feasts of the Mysteries. The object of decorating the candidates for initiation with roses is to remind them of that which had been communicated to them as secrets (sub-rosa) they were bound to preserve with inviolable silence. The ritual symbolism of the rose is illustrated on the stone of the Labyrinth of Rhodes (the Island of Flowers). The shape of the rose shows the course followed by initiates, its rings between the rows of petals symbolize the path leading to the center, where the minotaur awaits.

Harpocrates, son of Serapis and Isis, from Begram, Kapisa, Afghanistan Kabul Museum, Kabul

In ancient Egypt, the rose was the emblem of the god Horus, later regarded by the Greeks and Romans as the god of silence. The expression 'Sub Rosa' or 'under the rose' originates from a Greek/Roman misinterpretation of an Egyptian hieroglyphic adopting Horus as a God (along with Isis and Osiris), the Greeks translated his Egyptian name her-pa-khrad to Harpocrates. The Egyptian hieroglyphic showed boy sucking his finger; the Greeks thought the boy had his finger to his lips, in the sign of secrecy. Cupid is said to have given Horus/Harpocrates a rose as a token of gratitude for not betraying the confidence of Cupid's amorous Mother, Venus. Thus the rose became doubly linked with confidentiality through Horus, and as the symbol of beauty, was dedicated to Venus/Aphrodite the goddess of love.  

In older folk stories, 'under the rose' is the place where mothers tell their children that they were found, in a secret place. The modern telling of the story suggests an innocuous cabbage substituted for the feminine velvety flower, since the rose's flesh-colored petals were considered to have a 'genital' significance.

The custom developed of hanging a rose over the council table to indicate that all present were sworn to secrecy. Sub rosa, or 'under the rose' has come to mean that which is carried out in secret. The ceilings of Roman banquet rooms were decorated with roses to remind guests that what was spoken sub vino (under the influence of wine) was also sub rosa.

Mark Master Mason - The ribbons bears three rosettes of similar colour. London Lodge 1970's

The rose, especially among the Freemasons, is the symbol of silence, which the candidate has faithfully promised and observed. The three Rosettes on a Master Mason's Apron indicate that every Master Mason has thrice been obliged to Fidelity, to Secrecy, and to Silence: Fidelity to the Craft, Secrecy as regards their sacred Secrets, and Silence as to the proceedings of the Lodge, which should never be disclosed to the profane.  

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So now you know why the store name was chosen.
Magick is best kept Under the Rose.

But what about the SubRosa Magick logo? 
Click here.

Book of Roses, Alice Caron Lambert
The Craftsman, January, 1875


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SubRosa Magick
15 Foxon Blvd, (Rte.80)
East Haven, CT, 06513
(203) 469-5625

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