The Many Meanings of the Rose (Rose Symbology & Meanings)

Roses have been a powerful symbol throughout all of human history (and, for all we know, beforehand).

Different religions, factions, countries, and individuals have all assigned powerful meanings to this beautiful flower.

Many of these meanings relate, in one way or another, to romance or fertility. The rose is often used as a sign of love and is often associated with Valentine’s Day. However, you might be surprised to learn some of the more intricate, spiritual, religious, or esoteric meanings behind the rules.

Basic and Contemporary Meanings of the Rose Flower

Nowadays, especially with the New Age movement, it has become increasingly easy for people to assign their own meanings to symbols like roses. As these new meanings collect and circumvent the internet, it can make it hard to discern the original meaning of the rose.

Symbology is unique in that people can make their own definition for a symbol. However, certain definitions and understandings of symbols have spanned thousands of years. Understanding the original meaning of symbols can add a layer of depth to your understanding of a symbol.

Most of these meetings have their origins in religious, mystical, or esoteric traditions. We will go into more detail about these later.

For now, we will just discuss some of the modern-day meanings that the rose is known to have.

Different Rose Colors & Meanings

The colour of a rose has a strong impact on its symbolic meaning.

  • A red rose symbolizes love and passion.

  • A white rose is a symbol for humility and innocence.

  • A yellow rose is used to express friendship, joy, and happiness.

  • A pink rose is a reflection of gratitude, appreciation, and admiration.

  • An orange rose suggests enthusiasm, desire, and determination.

  • A purple rose represents enchantment and love at first sight.

The Number of Roses & Their Meaning

Depending on the number of flowers found in a rose bouquet, the meaning can also change.

Using numerology and esoteric knowledge, you can create complicated meanings for different numbers. We will add a brief bit of insight to this, but not go into much detail for the sake of simplicity. These are the different ways you can arrange a rose bouquet to provide different romantic meanings.

  • A single rose in a bouquet signifies love at first sight. The number 1 also signifies independence, self-sufficiency, and determination.

  • If you send a bouquet with two roses, it signifies a mutual and strong love. The number 2 is the symbol for duality, meaning partnership and unity.

  • Three roses is believed to be another way to simply say I love you. In numerology, the number 3 relates to creative expression and sociability.

  • Including six roses in a bouquet is believed to mean that you were asking the receiver to be yours. In numerology, a 6 refers to harmony, stability, and domestic happiness.

  • If you put seven roses in a bouquet that you were telling the receiver that you were infatuated with them. Contrarily, in numerology the number 7 relates to a human’s intrinsic desire to seek meaning, truth, and spiritual connections (though these are pretty heavy concepts to try to express by giving someone a bundle of roses).

  • Nine roses is supposed to represent eternal love. Nine is the number of completion, of a full circle, and of eternity itself. A very fitting meaning.

  • A bouquet with 10 roses is telling the receiver that they are perfect. This is also fitting as 10 is considered to be a number representing the ineffable, the divine.

Examples of Rose Meanings

Here are some other meanings of the rose.

  • A rose can signify secrecy or confidentiality. In fact, this is where the term “sub rosa” came from. The literal meaning of the term is “under the rose,” implying that whatever is being spoken, conferred, or done should be kept a secret. Keep the information under the rose.

  • In mediaeval times, roses were often made to hang from the ceilings in places where people met up . This signified the mutual agreement that whatever was spoken about during the meeting would be kept secret — sub rosa.

Religious Meanings of the Rose

Different religions have assigned different meanings to roses. Here are a few examples of some religious beliefs surrounding the rules.

The Rose in Greek Religion

The rose is most often associated with love and passion. It has been this way ever since the days of ancient Greece and probably before.

The Greeks often associated the rose with the goddess Aphrodite. Aphrodite is the Goddess of love and fertility, and this may be one of the earliest moments that the rose was used as a symbol of love.

Aphrodite used the oil of rose to protect the great hero Hector. Roses were also believed to help restore humanity to those who have fallen from grace.

The Greeks believed that roses came from Adonis, the great deity who held dominion over plants and rebirth. Adonis was born when King Theias attempted to shoot an arrow at his daughter after she had tricked him. Aphrodite attempted to save the daughter by turning her into a tree, which King Theias then shot with an arrow. Adonis was born from this tree when the arrow split it in two.

The Roles in Christianity

As the Roman Empire became more and more Christian, the rose became associated with the story of the Virgin Mary.

The story and the symbolism behind the rose actually led to the development of the rosary which is one of the most prolific Christian prayers. This blossomed in the 1400s.

The esoteric and mystic Christians believe that the rose was a sign of some of the sacred mysteries related to the creation of the universe and the divine. The rose and the rosary have remained important components of Christianity ever since.


Islamic culture has always been known for their propagation of beautiful flower gardens using complex geometry. In these gardens, the rose was often one of the centerpieces, or at least played an important part in the overall appeal of the garden.

The rose is also traditionally associated with love and romance in Islamic mysticism. The Sufi Islamic mystics would hold the rose up to their beloved while speaking some of the divine names of God in order to bring divine love into physical reality.

The Rose of Baghdad is the name assigned to the ancient Sufi master Giuliani. He was the founder of the order Qadiriyya, whose symbol is a rose.

Roses in Tarot Cards

The rose is a symbol that is also utilized in the infamous Tarot cards. Tarot cards are a divination tool that have been used for many years to help people gain a glimpse into the future.

These cards don’t actually predict the future, rather, they tap into archetypal forces and energies that are present in our everyday lives. By understanding the symbology and the energetics related to each of these cards, people can study their subconscious minds and make solid decisions.

The rose is used in four Tarot cards. These cards are the Fool, the Magician, the Strength card, and the Death card.

  • The Fool is the first card in the Tarot deck. The fool card signifies the beginning of a new journey. The Fool is a carefree and adventurous soul who is hoping to explore and find new experiences. When the rose is used in the Fool card, it symbolizes purity and helps us remember to keep your mind clear so that we can appreciate our experiences for what they are, rather than colouring them with our own preconceived notions.

  • When the rose is used in the Magician card, it signifies wisdom. The Magician card helps us remember that we are in control of our own lives and that we can tap into certain forces in order to make things happen.

  • The strength card is one that represents, obviously, strength. It is a card that reminds us to remain determined and steadfast in our goals. However, when somebody becomes too strong or headstrong, they can become cocky and inconsiderate to the needs of others. The rose pictured on this card reminds us to remain balanced when we are using our strength and to be considerate both of ourselves and others.

  • The Death card has a scary name. However, rarely does it actually refer to death. The Death card is more of a transitional card which refers to the death of one type of experience, setting, or situation. The rose, when signified on the death card, reminds us to remain clear and transparent with our intent so that whatever unfolds is in alignment with our true desires.

Roses in Different Cultures

Different cultures also have their own different meanings relating to the rose. Here are a few examples of cultures that are known to appreciate the rose.


England is well known for its appreciation of the rose. In fact, the rose is the national flower of England. This has been the case for more than 500 years, when England first used the Rose as a symbol for the house of Lancaster during the Civil War. Both England football and rugby unions also use the red rose as their symbol.

The United States

The rose is the state flower of five different states in the United States. Iowa, North Dakota, Georgia, New York, and Oklahoma all claim the rose as their state flower.

Portland, Oregon is also sometimes known as the City of Roses. Staying true to this nickname, they host the annual Rose Festival and have done so for more than a century.

Another city also shares the same nickname: Pasadena. Located in California, Pasadena hosts the Tournament of Roses Parade.

Roses and Socialism

Interestingly, the Rose has also been a symbol of socialism. People who supported socialism often wore red roses on their clothing. This allegedly paid tribute to those leaders that were killed in protest marches.

The red colour of the rose also signifies the blood that workers lost through their toil. To this day, it remains an important symbol regarding the importance of workers.

Spiritual, Esoteric, and Occult Meanings of the Rose

The rose has tremendously powerful spiritual and esoteric meanings. Nowhere is this more important than in the Rosicrucian order, also known as the Order of the Rose Cross.

Roses have been employed in spiritual and secret societies for many years: The Rosicrucian order, the Freemasons, and the Order of the Garter all use roses as symbols to indicate their order.

No matter which group you are referring to, the rose means the same thing. Like the Lotus flower in Buddhism and Hindu mythology, the rose reflects the flowering of human consciousness and the unfolding and blossoming into an enlightened being.

Another reason that the Rose may be important to the secret societies is because of its relation to the term sub rosa. As we discussed earlier, sub rosa means to remain in secret.

Esoteric Christianity says that the rose actually relates to the Virgin Mary and her participation in the holy Trinity. Christian mystics believe that Mary acted as heaven’s rose and therefore allowed for the completion of the holy Trinity, the father, the son, and the Holy Spirit.


Whether or not you’re spiritual, it’s clear that the rose has a lot of symbology associated with it. Throughout all of human history, people have assigned various meanings to the rose. Ranging from romantic meanings to the more spiritual blossoming of human consciousness, roses have been one of the most popular symbols across the globe.

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