Holy Sofia, the World Dancer Tarot card

Rose Symbolism and the Divine Feminine in the RWS Tarot

Holy Sofia, the World Dancer Tarot card

As a Rose Priestess, I thought it would be interesting to look at the Tarot through the lens of the mystical symbology of the rose. The rose symbolises the divine feminine and connects deeply with Venus, the Planet of the Goddess. Venus cuts a pattern through space that forms the five petals of the briar rose.

The scent of roses can appear out of nowhere to signify the presence of the Divine Feminine or one of her angels/emissaries. So where does the rose appear in the Tarot, other than according to the artist’s inspiration? Is there a real and lasting connection between the rose and the Tarot? Let’s begin by looking at general rose-related themes in the Tarot before we move on to the symbolism found in the most iconic Tarot deck: The Rider Waite Tarot.

Rose Themes in the Tarot

  1. The Fool’s Journey: The rose can symbolise the Fool’s journey through the Major Arcana. Just as the rose blossoms and evolves, the Fool progresses through different stages of growth and transformation as represented by the Tarot cards. In the Rider Waite Tarot, The Fool, ready to start a new Life Journey, carries a white rose, a symbol of the soul’s innocence and the quest for wisdom.
  2. Divine Feminine Wisdom: As mentioned, the rose is deeply connected to the divine feminine. In Kabbalah, the divine feminine is represented by the Pillar of Severity. This is the pillar that keeps us on the correct path and that balances the masculine Pillar of Mercy.
  3. Spirituality and Mysticism: The mystical symbolism of the rose aligns with the spiritual nature of the Tarot. The rose’s association with the divine presence features in cards like the Hierophant representing spiritual guidance, intuition, and connection with higher realms.
  4. Transformation and Balance: The rose’s life cycle, from a bud to full bloom and eventual decay, reflects the concept of transformation inherent in the Tarot. Cards like XIII Death or The Tower depict moments of change and upheaval, reminding us that even in times of difficulty, there is potential for growth and rebirth, just like the rose emerges once more in the spring even after the harshest of winters.

These are just a few ways the rose connects thematically with the Tarot.

Rose Symbolism in the Rider Waite Tarot

In the artwork of the Rider-Waite Tarot deck, the rose symbolism is prevalent. It is not accidental but adds layers of meaning to the cards. Here are some examples of rose symbolism in the RWS Tarot:

The Magician and The Hierophant

The Magician Angelic Tarot Card Meanings

On the table before the Magician, there are red and white flowers symbolising the duality and balance of masculine and feminine energies. The masculine white lily represents purity and compassion, while the feminine red rose represents desire and wisdom.

The Hierophant Angelic Tarot Card Meanings

The roses and lilies appear together again in the Hierophant card. When the Hierophant is fulfilling his function as a teacher of both exoteric religion and the mysteries of the divine feminine, we receive the full bouquet and he can act as an officiant in the Hieros Gamos.

The Empress Angelic Tarot Card Meanings

The Empress

The Empress card does not feature roses. There are pomegranates, a symbol of fertility, on her dress rather than roses. However, the shield leaning against her throne has the symbol of Venus on it. Venus is the Planet of the rose and the Rosa Mystica. Hence, we can view The Empress as the earthly embodiment of the Rosa Mystica.

The Church Fathers regarded roses as damnable, because of their association with Venus, and even banned them from graveyards.” ~Mara Freeman

The Fool Angelic Tarot Card Meanings

The Fool

In the Fool card, the Fool is standing near the edge of a cliff, holding a white rose in his left hand. The rose symbolises innocence, purity, and the beginning of a new journey. It represents the Fool’s openness to new experiences and the potential for growth and transformation. The reason the Fool holds the rose in his left hand is that the right brain, which is controlled by the Higher Self, controls the left side of the body. In his right hand, he holds all the stuff the personality self thinks it needs to survive.

Death Angelic Tarot Card Meanings


As an emblem of transformation and rebirth, the Death card features a white rose on a black banner. The rose represents the cycle of life and death, reminding us that even in times of endings, there is the potential for new beginnings. It symbolises the transformative power of letting go and embracing change. The white rose on the black flag symbolises the eternal return to a new beginning of The Fool ensured by our Higher Self or daemon. It means that there is no death. Death is an illusion.

2 of Wands Angelic Tarot Card Meanings Keywords and Correspondences

2 of Wands

The 2 of Wands features both masculine lilies and feminine roses. They are perfectly balanced by two wands sprouting flowers at either end forming an X-shape. The 2 of Wands is a card of decision-making, partnerships and taking bold action. The rose symbolism here invites us to bring ourselves into balance and our egos in check before acting on our desires.

The World Angelic Tarot Card Meanings

The World

Like The Empress, the World card doesn’t contain any rose imagery. However, the World Dancer is the embodied celestial Rosa Mystica, aka Holy Sophia/Holy Wisdom. The planetary correspondence for The World is Saturn, corresponding with Binah, the highest sephira on the Pillar of Severity.

These are not the only cards with rose symbolism in the Rider Waite Tarot. Go through your deck and see where else they appear and check out this excellent TABI article. What additional meanings can you glean from their presence?

What about other decks you own? Is the rose symbolism the same or similar to the Rider Waite Tarot or does it veer more toward romantic love or other interpretations? Let me know in the comments!

The Goddess of Love Tarot is a rose-themed deck that might be of interest to anybody on a Goddess Path. Check out my review!


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