The symbolism of the rose among the ancients was twofold. First, as it was dedicated to Venus as the goddess of love, it became the symbol of secrecy, and hence came the expression "under the rose," to indicate that which was spoken in confidence. Again, as it was dedicated to Venus as the personification of the generative energy of nature, it became the symbol of immortality. In this latter and more recondite sense it was, in Christian symbology, transferred to Christ, through whom "life and immortality were brought to light." The "Rose of Sharon" of the Book of Canticles is always applied to Christ, and hence Fuller, Pisgah Sight of Palestine, calls IIim "that prime rose and lily." Thus we see the significance of the rose on the cross as a part of the jewel of the Rose Croix Degree.
Reghellini (volume i, page 358), after showing that anciently the rose was the symbol of secrecy, and the cross of immortality, says that the two united symbols of a rose resting on a cross always indicate the secret of immortality. Ragon agrees with him in this opinion, and says that it is the simplest mode of writing that dogma. But he subsequently gives a different explanation, namely, that as the rose was the emblem of the female principle, and the cross or triple phallus of the male, the two together, like the Indian lingam, symbolized universal generation. But Ragon, who has adopted the theory of the astronomical origin of Freemasonry, like all theorists, often carries his speculations on this subject to an extreme point.
A simpler allusion will better suit the character and teachings of the Degree in its modern organization. The rose is the symbol of Christ, and the cross, the symbol of His death--the two united, the rose suspended on the cross--signify Allis death on the cross, whereby the secret of immortality was taught to the world. In a word, the rose on the cross is Christ crucified. W. B. Yeats says beautifully in his poem, The Secret Rose, Far off, most secret, and inviolate Rose, Enfold me in my hour of hours, where those Who sought Thee in the Holy Sepulchre Or in tho wine vat, dwell beyond the stir And tumult of defeated dreams.
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