A Misty Autumn Morning

While lying in a sadness deep
I was awoken from that sleep
by sweetest purrs and softest fur
She gently bade me rise and see
the magical mist that called to me

With all haste I made my way
out into the newborn day
And to my heavy eyes it seemed
that still I wandered in the veil of dreams
where trees whispered within their shrouds
as I walked along in forested clouds.

Am I lost in this foggy Fall?
Is there no one to hear my heart’s call?
So much is now past, I know it well
Now long gone, simple memories
in countless tears that fell and fell.
Still they fall, still they fall…

 

 

Deirdre of the Sorrows by John Duncan

Deirdre of the Sorrows by John Duncan

 


“Celtic people, at their very core, are a water people. Within the various expressions of Celtic culture and spirituality there are hill people, shore people, and island people, but in each expression there is a deep and abiding orientation to the holiness of water. Something of the spirit of water has gotten right down into our souls, into our bones. Water has shaped us….In contemplating my own ancestors, I have arrived at the conclusion that Celtic people are not only a people of the water but also, and even more so, we are the consummate children of the mist.” – Frank MacEowen, “The Mist-Filled Path: Celtic Wisdom for Exiles, Wanderers and Seekers” New World Library 2002


© 2018 Meredith Everwhite (poem and featured image) All Rights Reserved

Welcome, Blessed and Watery Autumn!

Now we have entered autumn, the latter, darker half of the year. The Western Quarter, the Quarter of Water where endings begin. Days grow chillier, nights grow longer, and deep, aqueous contemplation pulls us into reflective silence. Or so it should. Don’t fight it. It is time to slow down, to breathe deep and to float and drift along the cycling currents of the seasons. The Western setting sun glows in the turning and falling leaves, reminding us all things end and transform. So sacred and vital is the West, to which wise ones from Paracelsus to Native American tribes assign the element of water. There dwells the Thunderbird, sending rains and thunder, indeed all water, from this darkening direction. Water reminds us that the only constant is change, and water itself, though ever welling and flowing, rising and falling, never dies but only continually moves and transforms. We are water, we are change, we are growth and transformation. We evolve, we grow, we must always learn to let go.

the-autumn-1896 Mucha

The Autumn by Alphonse Mucha 1896

The sacred trees into hues of golden fire now turn
past tears to dry, old woes and dross to burn.
While the wise Tiger of the West
Leads us into well-deserved rest
With his long-awaited and joyous return.

The cool and crisp air awakens and stirs,
The Goddess reminding me that we are all hers.
Even with thoughts of ends and death
I take in all nature with a hopeful breath,
As the line ‘tween this world and the Other steadily blurs…

 

 

see also last year’s: The White Tiger of the West: Autumn Equinox Oracle


featured image: Autumn Effect at Argenteuil by Claude Monet, 1873

© 2018 Meredith Everwhite (all original material including poem) – All Rights Reserved

Conchomancy: Janthina, the Blind Mystic

Janthina janthina is one of my favorite shells and, to my great delight, not only did I receive an actual Janthina shell from my friend and teacher Michelle Hanson, but other representations of the Janthina keep finding their way to me. This, combined with the natural attraction I have always felt to the shell and how much I relate to various aspects of it, reinforces it as at least one past & current (and perhaps mainly transitionally) personal shell partner for me.

janthina trinket box

A few years before I started studying the Ocean Oracle and received the actual shell, I inherited from my grandmother a lovely little porcelain trinket box in the shape of a Janthina. At the time I just thought it was a purple seashell but was so happy to later discover exactly what shell it represented.

My life has been filled with painful personal challenges for several months now, and it has been nigh impossible for me to apply myself to almost any spiritual or creative endeavors. Indeed, any endeavor more complicated than getting out of bed and through the day has been a battle. Especially throughout these struggles and changes, the meanings and messages of Janthina have been all the more profound and have revealed themselves to be somewhat more varied and intricate than I thought, at least in ways and for me personally, which I can’t emphasize enough.

In Michelle’s guidebook Ocean Oracle: What Seashells Reveal About Our True Nature, the meaning attributed to the Janthina is as follows…

“Living in a fantasy world, clinging to the clouds with no desire to be shown anything different; a state of denial.”

She continues with a more detailed explanation…

“Although it is unable to swim, the Janthina lives on the surface of the ocean far from shore. It accomplishes this by attaching itself to a homemade raft of mucus-cemented air bubbles. Its survival depends on clinging to these air bubbles, which is equivalent to the desire to live in fantasy, for if it becomes dislodged from the raft it will drown. In addition, the animal is blind, indicating a preference to not see the reality”.

Janthina is indeed very unique among mollusks in the way that it lives in the ocean. Frankly, I found it to be of a more admirable, daring nature than one of just denial and being willfully blind to reality. But this isn’t entirely what Michelle Hanson means to imply, as the meaning of the shells can be complicated and their ultimate interpretation depends strongly on the reaction or attraction of the one choosing the shell in a reading.

I take that to be perhaps the more “negative” or shadowy side of its meanings, rather like a reversed Tarot card or upside-down rune, but again this “negative or positive” interpretation or influence is more determined by whether someone likes the shell or not.

Researching the mollusk and how it grows and lives left me in awe of its very magical ways, and inspired this little poem, which I would like to confess I actually still took some artistic license with and in no way meant to change or disparage its meaning within the Ocean Oracle

Fair little Janthina,
lilac fairy of the sea –
you are no clinging coward
lost in vain fantasy.

You are a treasure rare and brave
for your raft is your life,
or the depths are your grave

The very depth you gaze upon
from your lofty sea-ceiling,
where you see all that I’m feeling,
little empath floating In-Between.

You need not eyes to see
For still you feel and dare
and feast on most dangerous fare!

Your glistening, highest abode
is shared by none other pelagic
And though so delicate and small
You are filled with transformative magic!

Life is so precarious and unpredictable and I feel that, to some extent, we are all barely holding on to whatever we create to keep ourselves afloat. We sometimes have to be very resourceful and creative and I feel that this can be beautifully reflected in the Janthina.

Of course, sometimes we create or think we have created something that may end up not being what we believed, or that we shouldn’t hold on to anymore, as I personally learned in my life recently. It can be bad enough that perhaps we are or can come across as something of a “clinging coward lost in a vain fantasy”.

But Janthina can also further teach us to adapt and to make the best of what we have, especially when it is not what we planned, wanted or is uncomfortable.

Here are some helpful associations and correspondences that presented themselves to me as I studied and meditated upon all aspects of the Janthina shell and the miraculous mollusk that creates it. I admit I may have, in my enthusiasm, dug for a few a little more than they may have presented themselves! But not much.

 

Janthina correspondence graphic

© 2018 Meredith Everwhite

To elaborate on all these, let us begin with gender, which I have assigned as feminine. This is due not only to its small, delicate nature and coloring and how passively it lives (apart from its predation!), but almost entirely to the fact that all Janthinas are born as males and turn into females as they grow.

While this is not the only mollusk to have unique sexual features, including undergoing sex change in its life, I still find at least some of the following to be relevant and helpful. But I also want to clarify that there are other shells that may still, while having some of this in common with Janthina, illustrate these points and energies better and more directly.

It is also because of this feature that I find it can assist men with developing and honoring their feminine side, as well as those who undergo male-to-female sex change, or biological males who simply identify as female. Even those, male or female, who discover they are not heterosexual can benefit from Janthina’s peaceful, accepting energy, I believr.

Additionally, it can be beneficial for healing (or can represent the need to heal) sexual abuse as there is no direct contact between males and females when it comes to reproducing, and males do not even possess a penis.

Obviously the first element I would associate with any seashell is water. However, some have certain characteristics which may align it with other elements. In the case of Janthina, I associate the secondary element of air, as it resides permanently between Air and Water, a powerful “in-between” place. It can therefore represent balance between logic and emotion, which are represented by Air and Water, respectively.

This helps us see different ways to interpret its attachment to its raft, and when we use that as a metaphor for our own lives and habits, we can ask ourselves many revealing questions. Are we balanced between logic and emotion, staying afloat? Or are we losing our grip and sinking, being controlled by emotion alone?

What is it that keeps you afloat in this world, and how do you view it? Is it something you could let go of if you had to, allowing you to move on in a healthy way? Or is it something that you have made so weighty and important that you feel like you would die if you lost it?

 

janthina on bubble raft

© 2016 Jackie Sones – Coastal and Marine Sciences Institute

 

I find Janthina to be most closely related to and representative of the astrological sign of Pisces, being not only watery, but a color associated with both Pisces and its planetary rulers of Jupiter and Neptune (as well as with other correspondences). Hence, I also consider the shell’s “planetary rulers” to be not only Neptune but the Moon.

Pisces is also the sign that is most likely to become severely emotionally crippled and afflicted if out of balance or bereft of nurturing. The Moon, apart from its marine associations, also has much to do with illusion, a shadow side of the shell’s meanings.

Janthina carries energies that are appropriate to the Third Eye chakra, which has to do with spiritual Sight, intuition and higher spiritual understanding. I also relate it to the Crown chakra, the highest, as it too dwells high on top of the sea.

Its color, again, is related to both of these chakras, as its hue can vary from pale violet to indigo.

The fact that Janthina is eyeless further attests to its associations with intuition, in my mind. I was reminded of the advice of Obi-Wan Kenobi to young Luke as he began his Jedi training…

“Your eyes can deceive you, don’t trust them!”

Janthina seems to do just fine without eyes! Being small, fragile, unable to swim and blind does not stop it from feeding on dangerous velellas and Portuguese Man-O’-War jellyfish! (velellas are technically hydrozoans, Portuguese Man-O’-War is technically a siphonophore, closely related to jellyfish)

I personally am not sure that a natural lack of physical eyes is necessarily a fair metaphor for a conscious choice that would be a “preference to not see the reality”, but it can remind us that it is all the more important to use our intuition and be honest with ourselves about what we are perceiving and clinging to. As long as you sense the truth and reality one way or another!

 

janthina eating velella aphotomarine

Janthina janthina eating a velella, image courtesy of David Fenwick – Aphotomarine Photography

 

Seashells and crystals have wonderful similarities and make great partners in healing, meditation, ritual work, etc. No prizes for guessing my reasons for partnering Janthina with amethyst! Not only for the obvious color similarities, but the energies and uses attached to amethyst (dream work, meditation, intuition, mysticism, high vibrations) make these a perfect pair.

Remember, many energies and uses attributed to natural substances often begin with their very deliberate color. It is not a purely coincidental visual aesthetic, and this is the case with many of my Janthina correspondences.

 

janthina and amethyst

 

There is a good handful of Tarot cards in which I can see the energy, messages and variations there of of the Janthina, the main three being the Hanged Man, the Queen of Cups, and the Seven of Cups.

 

shadowscapes-hanged-man.jpg

The Hanged Man is suspended in a rather precarious but enlightening position, much like Janthina is. Again, the fact that the Janthina has no eyes means that it must rely on other ways of perceiving, just as the Hanged Man teaches us is sometimes necessary, and that a simple shift in perspective can make all the difference.

 

shadowscapes queen of cups large

The feminine Queen of Cups also dances most gracefully and fearlessly upon the surface of the waters she knows so well. She has mastered her emotions and the realm of intuition and is the Lady of the first and most magical element.

As you can see, Stephanie Law’s representation of the Queen of Cups and the Seven of Cups in her Shadowscapes Tarot are especially appropriate for the correspondence of this shell.

The Seven of Cups is probably the most fitting card for the Janthina, as it reflects the duality of her fragile and somewhat illusory nature.

Many consider the Seven of Cups to automatically represent illusions and getting lost in fantasy but, somewhat like Janthina, it is more complex than that.

The reversed Seven of Cups can certainly indicate temptations, indulgence, being blinded by fantasies and futile pie in the sky, or poorly guided choices, i.e. an excess or sort of perverse or twisted version of its potential energy.

However, upright, it represents imagination, possibilities, choices and visions. Seven is the number of understanding, magical forces, esoteric knowledge, imagination and mystery – all relevant key-words for the Janthina, again at least in accordance with my personal experience of additional energies of the shell.

Though all those aspects and energies can indeed have a lot to do with the Ocean Oracle’s meaning of Janthina, and are powerful tools that can help one understand and see clearly and wisely choose what to build a life on and hold onto.

shadowscapes 7 of cups

Just as seashells can and do have helpful crystal partners, they also share similarities with herbs and flowers. All the magical tools & treasures of nature have various  correspondences, connections and allies!

I relate Janthina to lavender, violets and periwinkle. Again, color and its natural attributions and energies play a part in my perhaps obvious and predictable choices!

lavender

The beautiful, floral lavender has long been associated with calming, healing energies and high vibrations. Janthina, as we have seen, also has very peaceful energy and a naturally high vibration which is reflected in its mystical color and the literal height at which in lives. Lavender is also associated with the Air element.

Violets, apart from being violet, also have watery associations in Greek legend to link them to Janthina. The playwright Aristophanes referred to Athens as the “Violet-Crowned City,” because the name of Ion, the legendary founder of Athens who was crowned there, is identical to “ion,” the Greek word for violet. According to legend, Ion was leading his people to Attica and was welcomed by water nymphs, who gave him violets as signs of their good wishes.

 

The periwinkle flower I associate with Janthina because of its color, its five, slightly spiraling petals that echo the shell’s spiral and give it a magical, pentacle-like appearance, and the fact that its name derives from the Latin vincire, meaning “to bind”, or “fetter”, and the Janthina is surely bound to its airy raft as a matter of life-or-death.

Infact, periwinkle is associated with death, as it was frequently grown in graveyards (both intentionally and naturally as it is invasive and thrives on undisturbed land) and the Welsh believed that one would be haunted for a year should they pick periwinkle from a grave.

 

In conclusion, most of the energies I attribute to the Janthina, including the shadow meanings and conditions it may assist in healing, should be more or less self-explanatory. And while “feelings of separation from Source or of divine abandonment” may also be especially obvious, let me expound on this notion.

Much of the following explanation of this notion is very personal for me, to be fair, and is somewhat my own unique extrapolation though I don’t believe it to be too excessive or off the mark.

The Janthina, as has become thoroughly illustrated by now, depends entirely upon its bubble raft to survive in a vast ocean in which it cannot swim. Do you ever feel like this? Like you live in a world in which you barely know how to get by as the unique spirit that you are?

As I asked earlier on, what is your personal raft? Your spirituality? A relationship? Your career? Sometimes, no matter what we do or consider the center of our world, we can find ourselves becoming tempest-tossed and sinking into the depths of despair, losing what we so loved.

When something we have been clinging to with all our strength and determination turns out to not be what we thought – or even to be our very undoing – it is so easy to feel like we’ve been abandoned or betrayed by whatever higher power we believe in.

Itis easy to believe in, to trust, or to love something or someone when everything is going your way. Our convictions are put to the test when we lose what we held nearest and dearest.

Janthina teaches us that sometimes we have to let go. Letting go of what does not serve you does not have to result in the very literal end that Janthina experiences when she loses her raft, though it can feel just like that’s what is happening.

From this little shell that lives in constant danger, we also learn that we must continue to trust and to remain true to ourselves no matter what we lose. Whatever is at the center of your spiritual beliefs – Goddess, God, multiple deities, Nature, Buddha, elemental beings, ancestors, etc – it is still always there for you and you are never truly cut off or abandoned unless you cut yourself off.

Find the thing in your life that, no matter what you have to lose or let go of, you will never really lose. Something that you carry in your heart, mind and soul, and that reminds you of your own worth and divinity, and you will never be lost to an abyss of hopelessness.

To quote another wise, magical teacher, Gandalf the Grey…

“Despair is only for those who see the end beyond all doubt.”

queen of cups detail purple tint


© 2018 Meredith Everwhite – All Rights Reserved

Featured Image: Janthina on bubble raft, courtesy David Fenwick – Aphotomarine Photography

Resources:
Ocean Oracle by Michelle Hanson
https://comenius-legends.blogspot.com/2010/07/legend-of-violet.html

 

Words of Water: from “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”

In Coleridge’s longest and most famous major poem, a lanky old mariner regales a stranger on his way to a wedding with a supernatural tale of a long sea voyage-turned-nightmare due to the shooting of an albatross. At one dire point, the thirst-crazed mariner and his shipmates encounter (or hallucinate..?) a crumbling shell of a ship bearing Death himself and a yet more frightening female companion, playing at a game of chance to determine which will claim either the crew or the mariner who killed the fateful albatross.

The ghostly hulk comes alongside the mariner’s ship, and surprise and confusion turns quickly to terror as he recognizes the figures aboard…


Alas! (thought I, and my heart beat loud)

How fast she nears and nears!
Are those her sails that glance in the sun,
Like restless gossameres?

Are those her ribs through which the sun
Did peer, as through a grate?
And is that Woman all her crew?
Is that a Death? and are there two?
Is Death that Woman’s mate?

Her lips were red, her looks were free,
Her locks were yellow as gold:
Her skin was as white as leprosy,
The Nightmare Life-in-Death was she,
Who thicks man’s blood with cold.

The naked hulk alongside came,
And the twain were casting dice;
`The game is done! I’ve won! I’ve won!’
Quoth she, and whistles thrice.

The sun’s rim dips; the stars rush out:
At one stride comes the dark;
With far-heard whisper o’er the sea,
Off shot the spectre-bark.

We listened and looked sideways up!
Fear at my heart, as at a cup,
My life-blood seemed to sip!
The stars were dim, and thick the night,
The steersman’s face by his lamp gleamed white;
From the sails the dew did drip –
Till clomb above the eastern bar
The horned moon, with one bright star
Within the nether tip.

One after one, by the star-dogged moon,
Too quick for groan or sigh,
Each turned his face with a ghastly pang,
And cursed me with his eye.

 

won-rawscan

Death and his companion, Life-in-Death, from “Poems of Coleridge” illustrated by Gerald Fenwick Metcalfe 1907

Life-in-Death preferred, obviously, to have won the mariner, securing for him (as is her role, made evident by her name) a fate worse than death as punishment for killing the albatross. He is condemned to watch his shipmates die one by one, and then to spend seven days and nights staring at the curse in their eyes, their faces frozen in haunting, accusing expressions.

Though mercifully, he was freed of his punishment and the dead albatross which had hung about his neck, but only once he acknowledged in awe the beauty of all the creatures in the sea, to which he had earlier disdainfully referred to as “slimy things”.

Fancy-Flying-Fish-2-GraphicsFairy

Read the full poem here

Featured image: “Ship” by Mikalojus Konstaninas Ciulionis 1906

Original material © 2017 M. Everwhite – All Rights Reserved

Red Rose Day – Celebrating the Queen of Flowers

Martin_Johnson_Heade_-_'Roses_Lying_on_Gold_Velvet',_oil_on_canvas,_c._1883-1900,

“Roses lying on gold velvet” by Martin Johnson Heade

June 12 is Red Rose Day, an annual observance which is likely an import to the US from Australia, where the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation holds a Red Rose Day and Week on different dates every year.

Roses are now in full bloom, making warm, buzzing June an ideal time to celebrate the beauty and majesty of the world’s most legendary flower. The rose is often called the Queen of the Flowers, and with endless good reasons.

A red rose in particular is a powerful symbol and none other in the world more quickly or thoroughly summons up the energies of love, romance, passion, and enchantment.

Roses are believed to have come from Persia (most species are native to central Asia) though their true origin is still a mystery. Rose fossils some 40 million years old have been discovered, though they are currently estimated to have first appeared as much as 70 million years ago. Many early civilizations cherished and made many uses of the rose, and cultivation dates back around 5,000 years.

The Persian word for rose is gul and is very similar to ghul, which means “spirit”. This reinforces the rose’s long association with spirituality, which concept is not exclusive of those of love and passion.

In fact, the energies and influences of the rose perfectly encapsulate (and repeatedly reflect through myths and fairy tales) the highest ideals and experiences of true love of all kinds, of romance and perfect union, transcendence, connection to the divine, transformation, beauty, magic and ultimate reality.


The Magic of Roses

rose assoc. graphic

 

It is not only in fairy tales that roses are objects of magic and enchantment; their energies and properties are well known and documented throughout history and lore. As in “The Romance of the Rose” (see below – The Rose in Literature), just looking at a rose can be an enthralling experience.

Rose oil is both the quintessential love oil and is also a great all-purpose oil that can be substituted for any carrier. As Scott Cunningham suggests…

Take a handful of rosebuds and place them in a silver goblet. Pour one dram rose oil over them. Let them soak for a week….on a Friday night, burn them over the charcoal to infuse your house with loving vibrations. This is an excellent “peace” incense and can be done regularly to ensure domestic tranquility.” (Magical Herbalism, Llewellyn Publications 1997, Chapter Ten – Scented Oils and Perfumes)

Rose water is one of my favorite magical substances and is such an easy, pleasant way to experience rose’s loving, peaceful, enchanting energies. My favorite (and simply the best and highest-quality I have encountered so far) is from Alteya Organics and can be found here. Cunningham also recommends rinsing your hands with rose water before preparing any love mixtures, and of course doing so before any magical working – especially focused on love – is a great way to cleanse, ground, and create the appropriate vibes.

I use rose water to create sacred space (just spray it around the room), for emotional healing and to connect with mermaid energy, to which I have found roses and rose water to be very conducive; mermaids are beautiful, feminine, watery, enchanting, psychic and very much concerned with all matters of love…just like the rose.

Here is a folk charm that has been somewhat modernized and was reprinted in a vintage rose-themed calendar…

While thinking constantly about the desired person, make a small bag from material that he or she has worn or slept on (a thoughtful witch will pick an old inconspicuous garment rather than a new sheet but make sure whatever you use has not been washed since it was worn). Into the bag put three rosebuds you have carried next to your heart for a day, a lock of your hair and one of your lover’s, then tie the bag shut by wrapping it seven times with a red ribbon consecrated to Aphrodite. Clean the house, prepare the dinner, and follow your own beauty rituals still thinking of your lover. When the object of all this attention crosses the threshold, bury the bag under the doorsill. He or she will never want to leave you.”

Love charm disclaimer: For educational & special interest purposes only! Any charm or spell designed to control another, especially as in this kind of “love spell”, is unethical and inadvisable. Such spells rarely even work (at least as intended) and, in any case, still carry the potential risk of rebounding with the worst consequences. What goes around really does come around. However in true “love spells”, the goal is simply to draw a worthy love to you or to even better love yourself, not to try to turn a specific person into your thrall. Carrying rosebuds (with the right intention of course) is indeed an effective way to attract love into your life.

 


Health and Healing with Roses

Not only are roses filled with magical energies, they carry a great many health benefits. Rose water is one of my standard magical tools, but also one of the very few beauty products I use and truly a health product I can’t live without. It is wonderful for the skin as a cleanser and toner, and is delicious in teas and other food applications, where it’s healing and beautifying power can be absorbed even more.

Rose hips are especially potent, and drinking a decoction (not an infusion: hardier ingredients like root, bark and berry are better boiled for a period to really extract the material) of rose hips is probably the best way to enjoy the myriad benefits listed by Victoria Zak in 20,000 Secrets of Tea…

Free-Vintage-Images-TeacupRoses-GraphicsFairy21

These are the virtues of the rose: Antidepressant, antiviral, aphrodisiac, blood tonic, urinary tract tonic, tension relief, nerve strength, immune strength, circulatory aid, antioxidant, astringent, antiseptic, kidney tonic, hormone regulator, system cleanser, stress resistant, infection fighter, respiratory aid, antispasmodic, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, digestive aid, skin hydration, phlegm remedy, recovery tonic, adrenal supporter, free radical scavenger.”

Need I say more?

waterhouse_my_sweet_rose crop

My Sweet Rose” (detail) John William Waterhouse 1908

 

 


 

The Rose in Literature

From “The Romance of the Rose”, a 13th-century poetic allegory of courtly love by Guillaume de Lorris (first half, second half completed by Jean de Meun)…

Chapter II: The Spring of Narcissus

“I perceived in the mirror, among a thousand other things, rose-bushes laden with roses in a secluded place completely enclosed by a hedge…Possessed by this madness, as many others have been, I at once approached the rose-bushes, and I assure you that when I drew near, the sweet scent of the roses penetrated my very entrails and I was all but filled with their fragrance…There were roses in profusion, the most beautiful in all the world. There were buds, some tiny and closed up and others slightly larger, and some much larger ones which were coming into flower and were on the point of bursting. These buds are attractive, for wide-open roses have completely faded after a day, whereas buds stay fresh for at least two or three days…From among these buds I chose one so beautiful that when I had observed it carefully, all the others seemed worthless in comparison. It shone with colour, the purest vermilion that Nature could provide, and Nature’s masterly hand had arranged its four pairs of leaves, one after the other…The area around it was filled with its perfume, and the sweet scent that rose from it pervaded the whole place. When I became aware of this scent, I had no wish to depart, but drew nearer and would have plucked it had I dared stretch out my hands. But sharp, pointed thistles forced me to draw back, while barbed, keen-edged thorns and prickly nettles and brambles prevented me from advancing, for I was afraid of hurting myself.”

 

Dicksee_Frank,_La_Belle_Dame_Sans_Mersi

La belle dame sans merci” by Frank Dicksee

This passage vividly portrays the paradox of the allure and the inevitable pain of love through the imagery of the enthralling yet sharp, prickly rose. Such dichotomies and allegories are also illustrated in the original French fairy tale, “Beauty and the Beast” by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve. Beauty’s father prepares to leave for a business trip and offers to bring gifts home for his children…

“And what shall I bring for you, Beauty?”
“The only thing I wish for is to see you come home safely,” she answered. But this only vexed her sisters, who fancied she was blaming them for having asked for such costly things. Her father, however, was pleased, but as he thought that at her age she certainly ought to like pretty presents, he told her to choose something.
“Well, dear father,” she said, “as you insist upon it, I beg that you will bring me a rose. I have not seen one since we came here, and I love them so much.”

Ironically, Beauty’s modest request turns out to be the most expensive of all the gifts as it is his attempt to claim the fateful rose from a certain enchanted castle that results in her imprisonment there.

“In spite of being so cold and weary when he reached the castle, he had taken his horse to the stable and fed it. Now he thought he would saddle it for his homeward journey, and he turned down the path which led to the stable. This path had a hedge of roses on each side of it, and the merchant thought he had never seen or smelt such exquisite flowers. They reminded him of his promise to Beauty, and he stopped and had just gathered one to take to her when he was startled by a strange noise behind him. Turning around, he saw a frightful Beast which seemed to be very angry….”

 

warwickbeauty

“Beauty and the Beast” by Warwick Goble

From “The Little Prince” by Antoine de Saint-Exupery (Harcourt, Brace & World 1943)

“…one day, from a seed blown from no one knew where, a new flower had come up; and the little prince had watched very closely over this small sprout which was not like any other small sprouts on his planet…but the shrub soon stopped growing, and began to get ready to produce a flower. The little prince, who was present at the first appearance of a huge bud, felt at once that some sort of miraculous apparition must emerge from it. But the flower was not satisfied to complete the preparations for her beauty in the shelter of her green chamber. She chose her colors with the greatest care. She dressed herself slowly. She adjusted her petals one by one. She did not wish to go out into the world all rumpled, like the field poppies. It was only in the full radiance of her beauty that she wished to appear. Oh, yes! She was a coquettish creature! And her mysterious adornment lasted for days and days.”

The little prince later learns, just as the young man in the Garden of Pleasure in “The Romance of the Rose” that loving another comes with a price, that beauty and love often bring pain, and are never permanent. It is not until long after he has left his flower that he realizes what she meant to him…

“The fact is that I did not know how to understand anything! I ought to have judged by deeds and not by words. She cast her fragrance and her radiance over me. I ought never to have run away from her…I ought to have guessed all the affection that lay behind her poor little stratagems. Flowers are so inconsistent! But I was too young to know how to love her…”

 


The Lover tells of the Rose in his Heart, from The Wind Among the Reeds (1899)
by William Butler Yeats

All things uncomely and broken, all things worn out
and old,
The cry of a child by the roadway, the creak of a
lumbering cart,
The heavy steps of the ploughman, splashing the
wintry mould,
Are wronging your image that blossoms a rose in the
deeps of my heart.

The wrong of unshapely things is a wrong too great to
be told;
I hunger to build them anew and sit on a green knoll
apart,
With the earth and the sky and the water, re-made,
like a casket of gold
For my dreams of your image that blossoms a rose in
the deeps of my heart


 

rose poem

 poem © 2017 Aethiriel (M. Everwhite), painting: “Red roses in a Japanese vase on a gold velvet cloth” Martin Johnson Heade

 


 

Resources
http://www.herbs2000.com/flowers/r_history.htm
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rose
100 Flowers and How They Got Their Names by Diana Wells
Magical Herbalism by Scott Cunningham
20,000 Secrets of Tea by Victoria Zak
The Romance of the Rose by Guillaume de Lorris and Jean de Meun, Oxford World’s Classics
http://www.surlalunefairytales.com/index.html

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery (Katherine Woods translation)
W.B. Yeats Selected Poems by John Kelly, Phoenix Poetry

© 2017 M. Everwhite – All Rights Reserved