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“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;”
-“Romeo and Juliet” (Act 2, Scene 2), William Shakespeare
(quotation courtesy of No Sweat Shakespeare)
What flower truly evokes the image of love and romance more than the rose? Truth be told, it has been my favorite flower for my entire life. The gorgeous petals give the rose its classic beauty, the intoxicating scent creates an indelible memory. As a matter of fact, I buy myself roses fairly often and almost always have a vase full of them somewhere in my house: Hybrid, two-toned roses in bright orange and sunshine yellow, vibrant fuchsia and hot pink, snow white, bright yellow, and flaming or deep red.
Roses are revered by many magickal practitioners, perfumers, aromatherapists, and cosmetic outfits for its uplifting, gladdening, loving nature. With a connotation to romance, beauty, love, and passion, these blooms are often attributed to Aphrodite, Venus, and other love goddesses. Not surprisingly, roses are considered one of the most popular flowers for weddings! If you want to see some jaw-dropping, massive, multicolored bouquets of roses, check out episodes of the TLC series, “Four Weddings”.
It’s no wonder that perfumers have turned to rose oils, both synthetic and essential, to add depth, a touch of class, and that bit of romance to a scent. As a very popular heart note, you can guess that many commercial perfumes use rose in some capacity, but rose essential oil is extremely difficult to produce. Did you know that it takes many pounds of roses to make one drop of essential oil?
If you are like me, and love roses so much that you absolutely have to have a rose oil at your disposal, it’s time to do some shopping around. Here’s what’s out there. You will find that rose essential oils are usually sold under two labels: as a rose otto or a rose absolute. It is entirely too lengthy for me to write in detail about the difference, but one can chalk it up to the method in which the oil is extracted from the plant. On her website for the Aromatic Wisdom Institute, Liz Fulcher posted a wonderful explanation of the two, which can be found here!
A surefire way to determine the quality of a rose essential oil is the price tag. Along with neroli, jasmine, and several others, it is one of the most expensive essential oils on the market. You will absolutely be dishing out a pretty penny for a small amount of the real stuff. My last rose absolute purchase a few years ago was at least $50 for 3 mL (a little over half a teaspoon). I can imagine how much the price has gone up since then. Caveat emptor: If you’re finding half an ounce of something labelled as rose essential oil for about $20, you can bet it is adulterated and not of good quality. Pass on it!
While some believe that at least one essential oil is necessary to make a magickal perfume, (which certainly is feasible if another essential oil is more affordable), what if you can’t get any rose essential oil? What if you want to make a rose-based perfume, magickal or otherwise, and you don’t have that kind of cash to drop? Rose fragrance oil makes for an economical and ethical substitute when making perfumes! In her book, “The Enchanted Formulary”, Lady Rhea, a Witch and priestess in New York, advocates the usage of fragrance/synthetic oils in magickal blends: “Humans have wiped out natural resources just for commercial manufacture , and if something can be replicated synthetically for the sake of saving a species of plant, then I completely support it!” (p. 179). I try to use rose essential oil as often as I can when utilizing the scent in a perfume, however if the rest of the formula is made up of mostly synthetics, I am absolutely comfortable with using rose fragrance oil. Again, to find a product that serves your needs and budget, do your research and test, test, test!
Roses may be constants in perfumes, air fresheners, cosmetics, and candles, but even better, they can be used in cooking! European and Middle Eastern cuisine employs rosewater as a flavoring agent, predominantly for sweets, such as kourabiedes (Greek powdered sugar-covered butter cookies enjoyed mostly around the Winter holidays), macarons, and loukoum (colloquially known as Turkish Delight). I absolutely adore rice pudding, and while many recipes use cinnamon as its primary spice, sheer berenj, a Persian version of the dessert, uses cardamom, and, you guessed it, splashes of rosewater! There are even hard candies on the market that have rose and other aromatics as a flavor, such as Les Anis de Flavigny! I don’t think I’ve ever tasted any sweet containing rosewater that didn’t bring my spirits up!
Roses may be red.. and pink, peach, white, and yellow. As offerings for deities, to warm the heart in a dessert, or to enhance a beautiful perfume, if you start looking, you can find all sorts of uses for this majestic flower!
DISCLAIMER: Please make sure to thoroughly research all properties of essential oils for safety information, as certain ones should not be used by pregnant women, children, those with certain medical conditions, and those taking certain medications. Always consult a medical professional with any questions or concerns.