Mystical Meaning Behind SubRosa
From our September 2005 Newsletter
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
now you know why the store name was chosen.
Magick is best kept Under the Rose.
But what about the SubRosa Magick logo?
Book of Roses, Alice Caron Lambert
The Craftsman, January, 1875