The White Rose of York

The minster illuminated with white roses. Photo by Kippa Matthews

Every place has its symbol that defines it, captures its genius loci.

In London I worked in the City for a spell– one of the darker times in my life. I would often look to the guardian of that place– the pizzled dragon with its heraldic erection, and wonder.   To survive the alienation and everyday struggle I would often call on dark things to help me.  They were always there, waiting.

The York Rose

What a contrast now to find the sigil of this city, York, to be a white, five petaled mandala.  I fell in love with it when I first saw it.  Though the history dates back to the House of York in the 14th century and the War of the Roses in the 15th century, it was really the Victorians who popularized the symbol.  Great urban planners they were (though they tried to take down the city walls!) But they were also sentimentalists, and the white rose as a municipal symbol seems uniquely Victorian.

Of course the rose is the Christian symbol representing Mary– and where Mary is, we are sure to find also a much older goddess that predates Christianity. The rose is a pagan symbol– with its five petals like the five arms of the pentagram. Their cyclical, spiraled structure suggests the unfurled labyrinth of faith.

White Rose of York earrings by Feral Strumpet on Etsy

3 thoughts on “The White Rose of York

  1. Your “Feral Strumpet” graphics, plus prose, are works of art themselves! I look forward to each one of them (wishing I could order every jewel that accompanies your paragraphs). I hope that you are saving each entry, with thoughts about creating a future book or booklet, with each little “jewel” of historical relevance, and beauty of thought and illustration included. How beautiful that would be, like a “Daily Thought” (or weekly, or whatever……)
    Great stuff, Ally!

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