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Roses are arguably the flower most commonly associated with love and romance. On Valentine's Day, they are so popular that they often sell out quickly, leaving in the lurch those who waited too long to dash to the florist.
But what do dream roses symbolize? Are they simply symbols of love?
Roses, like all dream symbols, mean much more than they do in the waking world.
In dreams, roses can symbolize:
In addition to all the above, considering the meaning of a rose's thorns as well as its health, color, and how open or closed it is will yield great results.
Let's examine the symbolism of roses in dreams petal by petal!
Sub Rosa: Rose as a symbol of Secrecy
One meaning we might not generally associate with roses is that of secrecy. However, roses have been associated with secrecy for many centuries and throughout many cultures.
The term sub rosa literally translates to "under the rose" and refers to the use of the rose to mark places wherein secret meetings were held or to things which were to be kept confidential.
Associating roses with secrecy likely began in Greek mythology wherein Aphrodite endowed her son Eros with a spectacular rose. Eros used the rose to buy from the god of silence, Harpocrates, a sort of blanket non-disclosure agreement regarding the sins of the gods.
Ancient Romans had a practice of not only placing a wild rose on the doorways of secret meeting places, but also of painting images of them on the ceilings of their banquet halls. All one needed to do was look up and he was instantly reminded that what happened at the party should stay at the party because what is done sub vino (under wine) should stay sub rosa.
In the 16th century, it became a practice to carve roses into the confessionals of Roman Catholic churches, assuring the penitent that what was said inside was under the Seal of Confession.
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If you are dreaming of roses, look to the symbolism around the rose and ask yourself if there is something going on in the dream that needs to be dug into. There's no person we're better at keeping secrets from than ourselves.
Rosebuds as Symbols of Innocence
Orson Welles chose a child's sled as the primary symbol for his cinematic masterpiece, Citizen Kane. The sled, with the trade name, "Rosebud," is a symbol of both innocence itself and innocence lost.
Rosebuds are the nascent stage of the bloom, they are the first peak at the flower that will blossom after a winter of dormancy. If the rosebud in your dream is vibrant and healthy, the dream could be a reminder of a time when you felt the innocence as a child. A healthy rosebud in a dream could remind you that you can reclaim that which you thought was lost forever.
Alternatively, a rosebud that is wilting, fading, dying, or dead may symbolize feelings that one has lost one's innocence or that one has lost or is losing something as precious as one's innocence.
Feelings are tricky. About the only safe thing one can say about feelings is that you are feeling them! Feelings might be valuable pricks of the intuition worth listening to or they might be hollow, haranguing knocks of neurosis imparting absolutely nothing of value.
Dreams that leave feeling fearful or sad or frightened are not likely coming from a space of intuition. Our intuition usually comes to us when we are in a position to act or change our course of action. Even when something has gone too far for us to alter, our intuitive self usually does its best to impart a sense of peace, not one of fear. Talking a dream out with a trusted friend can usually help you discern if your feelings are coming from a healthy or disordered mental space.
Rosebuds as Symbols of Rebirth and New Beginnings
In the popular 1980s song, "The Rose," the singer reminds the listener:
Just remember in the winter, far beneath the bitter snows
Lies the seed, that with the sun's love in the spring becomes the rose.
Roses are not the only perennials to return to life after resting throughout the winter, but there is something wonderfully spectacular about seeing the tiny blossom gradually open in sync with the lengthening of days.
Perhaps roses seem to most aptly symbolize rebirth and new beginnings because roses, in general, have as their symbolic motif that of wholeness. When a rose blossoms it symbolizes the rebirth of the whole being—not simply a newness in one area of life.
If you are dreaming of rosebuds, congratulations! This positive symbol might indicate a whole new life coming opening up to you after a long, dark night of the soul.
The Color Symbolism of Dream Roses
From the red roses lovers send to each other to the yellow rose as emblematic of friendship, the color of a rose has always had meaning. Since color is a primary way dreams communicate, here are some rose colors and their possible interpretations.
Purity and Innocence
Joy and Sweetness
Love, Courage, Respect
Friendship, Welcome Back
Yellow With Red Tips
Falling in Love
Red and White Together
A thorn defends the rose, harming only those who would steal the blossom.
— Chinese Proverb
Every Rose Has Its Thorn
In some versions of the fairytale, Sleeping Beauty, Aurora sleeps in a castle surrounded by thorn bushes. Only a knight daring, brave, and wise may pass through the thorns to get to the vulnerable princess.
Jung spends a great deal of time elucidating the Shadow archetype, an archetype which means much, much more than simply the "dark" side of ourselves. Many people claim they are comfortable with the dark part of themselves, but they mean they are OK with the dark parts of themselves they acknowledge. The difficulty with the dark is that it's hard to see when you're in it!
To become whole, fully individuated people, we must integrate the dark half of our selves—that is, we must acknowledge it and all its contents and redeem it—bring it back to what it was before it became the storage locker for all the parts of ourselves we don't like—the parts damaged, the parts ugly, the parts that once held beauty, but are now distorted.
To do this, we often need someone to guide us through our own darkness but the person guiding us cannot be someone who will also prey on us, who will use our darkness against us. Our thorns might be precisely what protects us from predators.
Dreams of roses, especially when one sees roses replete with thorns can symbolize the shadow of ourselves or the need to keep our blooms protected until they can blossom safely.
Unless your dream rose is fading, wilting, or dying, it's typically an overwhelmingly positive dream symbol. If you have been through a trying time or a long, dark night of the soul, this dream symbol can be a hopeful sign that you are coming out of that night and coming into a waking world that's coming up roses!
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2019 Aisling Ireland