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The Rose of Jericho

Anastatica Hierochuntica: The Herb of Resurrection

The Rose of Jericho is an ancient sacred herb. Having been on earth for over 290 million years, its endurance but also its ability to remain seemingly dead for decades until it decides to be reborn; makes it a natural wonder, and is probably the most enduring plant in the world. Its ability to revive itself created an association with the resurrection of Christ, which is why it is also called the Rose of the Resurrection or the Plant of the Resurrection. It is considered one of the most famous energy plants, which, in addition to its connection to the Christian tradition, has connections with feng-shui.

The Rose of Jericho is a shrub rather small in size, commonly found in the deserts of Egypt, Syria, Arabia and Mexico. It requires negligible amounts of water, so it can live in these warm climates. It can remain in the same place for many years with only a few drops of water. When the amount of water needed to become green is not enough, then it dries and takes on a grey-brown colour that gives the impression that it is completely dry and dead. However, despite the fact that the plant looks dry, it is kept alive and can remain in this state even for over fifty years. Then, it begins to gather its parts in a tangle and pull its roots from the ground. So this tangle is left to be carried away by the winds and to travel in better conditions with more water. When it finds the right conditions and the place to bloom, it will put its roots back in the ground. The impressive thing is that when it does, it returns to its original form within a few days, justifying its name as the Rose of the Resurrection.

This herb is also called the Hand of the Virgin and its myth is associated with the mother of Christ but also with Christ himself.

So according to legend, when Mary and Joseph fled from Bethlehem with their new-born baby, they passed through Jericho. After the long journey, Maria wanted to rest and breastfeed Jesus. As soon as her feet touched the ground, the small green bushes bloomed around her, filling the dry landscape with beauty and life . Legend has it that since then, the plant has been named Rose of Jericho, after the city in which it passed and greeted little Christ.

The legend also says that the Rose accompanied the Virgin on her journey from Jerusalem to Egypt, and out of respect to her grace, used to open beside her at every stop, and closed again to follow her footsteps in the desert whenever she was carrying on her way. Virgin Mary saw it, she felt sorry for it and, in tears from the emotion, she blessed it never to die.

The same story with Mary stepping on the ground and the opening Rose exists in a variation with Christ, who went to the city of Jericho tired and thirsty. Outside the city walls, he sat on a rock to rest. The hot air of the desert brought to his feet a dried plant, which as soon as it touched His feet it became green, opened and took out some dewdrops on its leaves. The myth wants Christ to take in his hands these dewdrops and to wet His lips dried by the heat, giving His blessing to this plant for the few moments of coolness that it gave Him.

The plant seems to follow Christ in his travels and in the important moments of his life, culminating in the day of the Crucifixion. On that day, the very little bushes that bloomed to greet the birth of Jesus, all died together as He breathed His last breath on His Cross, only to be reborn three days later, on the day Christ was resurrected. For this reason, the rose of Jericho is considered sacred and is believed to offer any kind of blessing to whoever owns it.

Apart from the connection of the plant with the Christian tradition, there are other myths and legends in other cultures. The Bedouins and many people living near the deserts, seek to find the rose of Jericho for its multiple metaphysical properties as this plant carries the message of the immortal and incorruptible soul.

So in many cultures, this herb accompanies people to their happiness and their wishes. In Germany, they give it to young couples who want to have a child soon. They open it again the day they learn the joyful news as a symbol of good luck and happiness. This rose is offered to the child and it accompanies him/her in every important period of his/her life.

In England, the young man in love opened the rose of Jericho with the wish to get the desired answer from his girlfriend. He put the ring inside and closed it again. Then he would give the rose to the girl and as she would open it, she would take the ring. In Egypt, it was opened to protect themselves against any evil that might enter the house. In Mexico, it was even used in a burial custom by placing the rose on the monument of the deceased to rest their soul in peace.

In Smyrna cunning women used to open it on Friday or when the moon was waxing as a symbol of abundance and love. The Smyrnaean witches also used it as an amulet but also to make the "water of Jericho" which they used it to bless and protect the house and its people from misfortune or evil.

The preparation of Jericho water is an easy process and what is needed is a small tin plate in which the "witch" put as much water as needed to cover the bottom of the dried rose. The herb was then left on the plate to bloom for 7 days after the contact with water. The rose of Jericho as it is resurrecting, enhances the water with its magical powers. Then this water was blessed and could be used as holy water in the house, says Mara Meimaridi. The plant could stay on the plate for many years as long as the water was changed frequently, thus ensuring the protection of the house. Sometimes they let the plant dry and put it in the health pouch which had the power to bring life and beauty to whoever owned it. With the holy water of Jericho they sprinkled the doors and windows of the house and then scattered the rest on their doorstep so that the evil would leave and not pass through their door again. The holy water put in the bath, could dissolve the spells, open the way to the "blocked ones", bring health and beauty. They also believed that the water could help the women heavy with child, bless the new-born and protect the mother and baby from the complications of childbirth. That is why they often put the plant near the uterus of the woman going into labour so it opens as the rose opens.

Then they washed the new-born with the water of Jericho to cleanse and bless them with a happy life. The water used to clean the child had to be kept for the cleansing of the christening cross that would protect the child from any evil. It could also be used at the ritual against the evil eye. Furthermore, the same water could bless both spouses and resurrect lost love. Often the women took their wedding rings, tied them with red thread and put them in the blessed water for a whole night, praying for the reunion of the couple. Finally, they used it in St. George's spell breaking ritual, in case someone was suffering from malefic witchcraft.

If you ever find this plant, make a wish as you add water, and the wish will come to life along with the rose. Once the water that symbolizes emotion, it is absorbed by the plant, it brings us the message of the incorruptibility of the soul and the cycles of time.

To open the rose, put it under running water. With the right hand, we place it in a bowl of water just enough to cover its root and when we leave it we make our wish. We make sure that every day it has a little water by pouring as much as it remains in a pot (or we collect it as the Smyrneans did as a holy water for cleaning the house, etc.). Leave it open for about 21 days and then close it and let it rest for about two weeks. At the end of this period, it is ready to open with the same process for a new wish.

The herb itself is an awesome ionizer of negative energy of our house. Nevertheless, we can strengthen it with a white quartz in the centre with the wish for good health, optimism and recovery for someone who is ill.

Respectively with a pink quartz, the plant helps us to find our soulmate but also to communicate properly with our friends and relatives. In this case, we place the plant in the bedroom. With amethyst, it frees us from fears and insecurities, while with the citrine and the tiger eye it helps in the financial prosperity of the house, if we put it on the right of the front door. Finally, if we put a hawk's eye on it, it will help to dispel the negative beliefs we put in ourselves, and with hematite or howlite it will protect the house from negative energy.

Imaginarium Magazine Issue 5 May 2021

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