As Zerubabbel tell us in the 15th degree, symbols of truth are often hidden from view to remind us that knowledge is progressive and only those worthy shall receive it. With this admonishment in mind, let us venture forth and shed further light upon our Chapter’s fondness for the rose and its significance. As we will witness this March, the Rose Croix degrees focus on the trials of those who have acquired knowledge and who wish to climb to yet higher truths.
In the 16th degree, Prince of Jerusalem, King Darius tells us that the valiant who are merciful and generous are the equals of kings; and every son of the light is a Brother. Through the symbolic rebuilding of the Temple, this degree teaches the importance of liberty, equality, and brotherhood and that the deity aids those who pursue good work. We must search farther to find our mystic rose.
In the first section of the 17th Degree, Knight of the East & West, we will witness a confrontation between King Herod II and John the Baptist. The tale, borrowed from the New Testament, warns what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his soul? While the second section borrows imagery from St. John’s apocalyptic vision of the end of time and instructs that one’s life must mirror one’s spirituality, for once one realizes a truth, one must live in conformity with it. The thorny rose remains untouched.
In our final 18th degree, Knight Rose Croix, faith, hope and charity are presented as steady guides to our actions and as the safest paths through hardship. As Knights, we are to elevate these three virtues to their highest form as compassion and the Law of Love. What would Love be without roses? In this degree we finally uncover that the rose was anciently sacred to Aurora, goddess of the dawn, who represented the resurrection of light and the renewal of life and, therefore, of immortality.
Aurora is the Roman equivalent of the Greek goddess Eos. She leaves her court, glowing with rosy light, and opens the purple Eastern Gates of pearl upon a pathway strewn with roses. Swiftly Eos rides forth in her chariot drawn by two horses, Lampus [Shiner] and Phaethôn [Blazer], while Nux and Hupnos [Nox and Somnus, Night and Sleep] fly in front of her as depicted by Guercino’s (Giovanni Francesco Barbieri) painting in 1621.
Ovid (Publius Ovidius Naso; 43 BC – AD 18) poetically describes Aurora further with his words in Metamorphoses:
The vigilant Aurora opened forth her purple portals from the ruddy East, disclosing halls replete with roses. All the stars took flight whilst Lucifer, the last to quit his vigil, gathered that great host and disappeared from his celestial watch.
Alfred, Lord Tennyson, also depicts Aurora in his poem "Tithonus”:
Once more the old mysterious glimmer steals
From thy pure brows, and from thy shoulders pure,
And bosom beating with a heart renewed.
Thy cheek begins to redden through the gloom,
Thy sweet eyes brighten slowly close to mine,
Ere yet they blind the stars, and the wild team
Which love thee, yearning for thy yoke, arise,
And shake the darkness from their loosened manes,
And beat the twilight into flakes of a fire.
Many of us in the far north are already familiar with Aurora and the rosy cheeks we acquire in search of her magically shifting colors in our skies. Galileo Galilei named the phenomenon Aurora Borealis for this Roman goddess of dawn, and Boreas for the Greek name for the north wind. Given auroras are more common near equinoxes, our 18th degree serendipitously falls precisely on this year’s Spring equinox, March 20th!
Let us arise my Brothers and awaken to warm & mysterious light of creation.
~ Wise Master, David J. Vosen, 32° K.·.C.·.C.·.H.·.