The Symbolism and Meaning of Black Roses

The Symbolism and Meaning of Black Roses

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Black roses are some of the most striking rose variations you can find. Like every flower, black roses have represented many things. But what does the colour black itself symbolise?

Colours and their Cultural Differences

To understand black roses, we first need to discuss the history of the colour itself.

Colour Theory: The History of Black

According to colour psychology, the different colours we see evoke different feelings. Blue makes us feel calmer and, at times, depressed, and red can make us excited or warn us of danger.

This colour theory is everywhere you look. It's why stop signs are red, and the go in a traffic light is green. This association is largely culturally built. Over the centuries, certain societies will tell similar stories, using colours to associate certain tropes, feelings, or lessons within their stories.

You can see this in any film we watch today. In Star Wars, the bad guys have red Lightsabers, while the good guys have blue and green ones. In Lord of the Rings, the shire is a beautiful, natural green, while Mordor is a fiery red and shadow-ridden black.

Sometimes, this can be reversed, yet the implication is the same. For instance, in Harry Potter, the Killing Curse is a green light with a sickly, poisoned effect. Whereas the simple disarming spell is red, which has nobility and strength associated with it. It's always down to the context and what feeling you're trying to evoke that makes a colour feel one way or another.

However, this shows that not every culture or society views colours the same way.

Colours and their relationship with meaning
The Theory of Colours

The meaning Behind Black in Society

In many societies, black represents is evil and danger. It is the primal fear of the dark, the unknown and the nightmarish. It is a colour that evokes fear purely due to how incomprehensible it is. Black is found to represent nothingness, an empty void we cannot comprehend.

And yet, this is not the only way to view black. Simply associating black with fear and evil is reductionist. It demeans this colour that has the potential to evoke great power. Long has the mystery that the colour black evokes been used to inspire awe and shock.

Black has a sense of Majestic Elegance

Black goes so well with gold because both have a sense of majesty and elegance. It is the go-to colour for suits and professional attire.

Black is a Symbol of Strength

Despite the associations with death, the colour black can still symbolise strength. Although people traditionally wear black at funerals, sections of society have used the colour as a statement of resistance against passive living. The goth and alternative scene, long maligned as ne'er-do-wells or vandals, actually have a powerful symbol.

 Word chart of the symbolism of the colour black
Symbolism of the colour black

What does a Black Rose mean?

Throughout history, black roses have always been associated with all kinds of “evil” or threatening organisations. There was a time when a black rose would represent black magic or the power of witches.

This card in the Rider-Waite-Smith tarot deck shows the Grim Reaper carrying a black banner, bearing a white rose.

Number 13 Tarot Card, meaning Death
Death: Tarot Cards

This symbolises purity, promise and beauty, but the black banner behind it could show the darkness hidden with death. The suffering, torture and idea that death comes for us all in the end. However, the card is usually implied to signify an end, not merely just the obvious interpretation of death.

This gives black roses a strong tie to death and mortality, at least in the Western world. Black roses can symbolise hatred, despair, death, or rebirth.

However, eastern societies, such as Japan, view white as a colour of death rather than black. In Japan, wearing white can imply your mourning, while black is far more commonly seen as a colour of formality, honour, and deference.

Black Rose hand-held
Single Black Rose

What Black Roses are Known for Now

Black roses are co-opted by many organisations, people, and cultures worldwide to mean different things. Over the years, there have been several changes to the implications of black. This is especially seen in societies where racial questions became important and divisive talking points from the mid-20th century right up to the present day.

Black roses are beloved during the festivities of Halloween due to their dark, spooky nature. They go splendidly with the bright orange pumpkins and other Halloween-themed decorations. Black roses also make a unique conversation starter at formal dinners or first dates.

The black rose is a symbol for anarchists. Anarchism is a political concept that is extremely liberal, to the point of calling for the (sometimes violent) dismantlement of all government institutions. In more tame cases, anarchism is merely an anti-capitalistic and state-sceptic movement dedicated to improving local communities over international greed.

Many anarchists use the black rose to symbolise their movements. It is the perfect kind of icon: Easily identifiable, up close or at a distance, and makes a statement without the need for words. Black roses say: "See me for my beauty, but beware of my thorns". It has a feeling of resistance, uprising, and denial of the status quo. Naturally, it was very quickly adopted by anarchists.

Many other radical socialist movements have adopted the Black Rose. These organisations identify as Libertarian socialists and feel anarchism is too far for them. Still, traditional socialism is either too weak or has betrayed its ideals in favour of globalist ideologies. The black rose is a symbol for Anti-Fascist groups, who see the symbol as a call for violence against hateful ideologies.

As such, the black rose has a mixed sentiment in the modern political world. While it is always a symbol of mystery, darkness and spooky elements in stories, the real world sees it differently. Black roses are considered a potentially violent, revolutionary image in politics and sociology. Something that would set the hearts of freedom fighters and partisans alight and strike fear into those who see it as the enemy.

The Symbol of Socialist Anarchism, a Black Rose
Anarchist Rose

When Should you Send Black Roses?

Black symbolises resistance, determination, and uprising against adversity. Black has a versatility that no other colour can match. From macabre and gothic to sentimental and formal. There's no end to the opportunities to use this scintillating colour.

No matter the occasion, black roses hold a powerful statement and an important meaning. Use this power wisely, and the world will never be the same.

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