What is the Flaming of the Rose?
An Ancient Armenian Wheel of the Year

Vardavar is a traditional Armenian festival centered on the sacredness of Water. 


The origins of Vardavar can be traced back to ancient times when it was associated with the worship of the Armenian goddess Astghik (or in some sources, the mother goddess Anahit): the deity of love, beauty, fertility and water. The name Vardavar comes from the root vart meaning “rose” in Armenian and var meaning “rise” or “burn,” the flaming of the rose. Ancient Armenians brought roses to Astghik as an offering during this festival to ensure fertility of the land and crops during the harvest.


Over time, Vardavar was assimilated into Christian traditions and is now celebrated by Armenians of all religious backgrounds. The festival is usually held in July; 98 days or 14 Sundays after orthodox Easter. On this celebrated day, people gather in public spaces and playfully (sometimes mischievously) douse each other with water in a festive atmosphere. It is a day of lightheartedness and pleasure for people of all ages, laughing and enjoying the cool water during the hot summer days.


Vardavar is also seen as a way to symbolically wash away the sins and troubles of the previous year, offering a fresh start. According to Alice Odian Kastalian (a genocide survivor and Armenian textile historian), the high priest would sprinkle the people with the waters of the Aredzani, a tributary of the Euphrates river, and the people would in turn sprinkle each other with water. Water purifies and renews. Like baptism, immersion in water cleanses us, refreshing both body and spirit. Doves (sacred to Astghik) were traditionally freed on Vardavar, and other festivities resembled what we might know as an annual regional fair, where people exhibited their crafts and wares, competitions were held, and winners were crowned with wreaths of roses. 


I chose the poetic Flaming of the Rose as the name of this site to reflect the beauty, majesty, and power of the Armenian goddesses. May this work be a light in the darkness of time for devotées around the world.


I am a priestess, sibyl, artist and teacher devoted to the Goddess of All Time in all Her manifestations. 


From the beginning of time, Armenia has been a rich crossroads of peoples, cultures and empires, steeped in beauty and mystery. This website is a labor of love, and an ongoing commitment of research, collaboration, and art. I approach this work as a priestess rather than an academic, but I will strive to share my evolving knowledge and understanding of the goddesses with the most accurate and authentic sources I have access to. 


I chose to limit this work (as much as possible without losing context) to the Armenian goddesses because history has always favored and featured gods, kings, priests, and warriors. It is my intention to bring the goddesses back into their glorious and rightful place in history and recognize them in our contemporary culture.


History is necessarily a work in progress, and as new information becomes available I will update this site accordingly. I welcome constructive criticism, helpful feedback, and scholarly references. English language resources are scant in the area of Armenian history, and I am always in search of quality primary sources.


This work is dedicated with love and gratitude to the goddesses, the land of Armenia and her children, to my Armenian ancestresses: Satenig (Stella), Persapa, Zebethia, Vartouhi, and all the women who came before them whose names are lost to history.


Devanna Wolf

(Thomasian, Harutoonian, and Sahagian lineages)