Tuesday, 18 June 2013

A Spiritual Breakthrough

Merry meet one and all.

Sometimes something happens that shakes you to your core; a divine moment that connects your spirit not just to the spirits of your ancestors but also to the sacredness of a holy site.  I never really expected to have such an experience, so when it happened it moved me in ways I had never anticipated and the strength of my feelings actually moved me to tears.  So where did this epiphany happen?  In the middle of a tourist hotspot.

I've always been fascinated with our ancient ancestry in the UK, particularly the Roman and pre Roman  eras, and since a school trip many many years ago, the Roman baths in Bath, Somerset, have epitomised that fascination. The Romans are well known for their buildings and bath houses, and this amazing structure, much of which extends under modern Bath, was built to utilise the natural hot spring that was already a sacred site dedicated to the goddess Sulis, who the Romans identified as Minerva.

A few years ago, I met up with my family in Bath to visit the famous Christmas market and visit the Roman baths and museum.  It was the first time I'd been back not just since childhood but therefore since becoming a witch, and I looked forward to experiencing it through new eyes.

If you've never been and you get a chance I heartily recommend it. Yes the Victorians rebuilt some of the structures, and indeed the Terrace is fundamentally a reconstruction with the statues being built prior to it's grand opening in the late 1800s, but the fundamental spirit is still intact.  On the day we visited, on a bitterly cold December day, you could see the steam rising off the surface of the water.  As I gazed over the Great Bath and saw the steam curling up from the mineral-rich waters I suddenly got a vision of what this must have looked like to our ancestors.  Imagine for a moment you are back in Celtic England.  See the natural pool, the muddy edges covered in footprints as people stood in awe gazing over the steam. This sight must have blown their minds!  No wonder they understood it to be sacred, the home of a goddess.

As I wandered through the museum, trying to filter out all the tourists, my mind dwelt on this vision and the importance of this site.  However it wasn't until I found myself in front of the spring overflow that I had my experience of Divine connection.  There was something about standing in front of the Roman pipe that had been pouring water for a couple of thousand years, the minerals staining the bricks, the steam rising and the sound of the water rushing down, and I truly understood the sacredness of this site. Interestingly, I felt a connection to both the Celtic and Roman goddesses; it was the location that hit me, rather than a particular goddess, and I was drawn to both equally.  It really did hit me like a physical force, and the beauty of this Divine Connection moved me in a way I can't really explain; if any of you have experienced this you will know what I mean, and even now just thinking about it makes me emotional.

My ritual chalice
As I wandered through the rest of the museum, I was rather quiet.  I found the rest of my family, and I chatted with Mum about the artefacts, the architecture, and the offerings both Celts and Romans had made to their goddess.  We came at last to the gift shop, and it was there the final piece of the jigsaw fell into place. As Mum and I entered we were both drawn to a stemmed cup on display.  This one was a different colour to the rest, and was decorated with a relief copy of the Gorgon's Head from the Temple of Sulis Minerva.  I'd been waiting for guidance on a chalice for my alter, and as we both laid eyes on it we knew it had been found, and Mum laughingly announced she'd been looking out for a final christmas present for me and so grabbed it quick before anyone else could pick it up.

This spiritual experience has stayed with me of course, and has influenced me in ways I will probably never fully understand.  It has left me with questions though; am I drawn to Celtic traditions or Roman?  Does it have to be an either/or decision or can I, like the Romans, take a piece of this and mix it into a piece of that to make something that works for me?  I think this is the next major step on my journey, and if I ever figure it out I will of course share it with you.

Blessed be )0(