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As a Goddess-centric Witch, I am always looking for new ways to connect with the myriad of global goddesses. Even though I know that I can have powerful relationships with different goddesses from the comfort of my home, I’ve also got a bit of a travel bug, so when I am wandering in new places, I try to hold myself open to spiritual experience and divine intervention. Sometimes, though, I only realize how magical the experience was after the fact. I'll be exploring these different experiences and goddesses on this blog.

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Goddess Underground: Bath

When I visited the city of Bath in western England, I didn’t realize it was the site of an ancient goddess temple.  I knew about the Roman baths, of course, and I was vaguely aware of Jane Austen’s connection to the town, but it wasn’t until I rounded a corner in the museum and came face to face with an image of the temple that once stood there that I realized I was at a goddess site.

b2ap3_thumbnail_485.JPGThe temple, although dedicated to the Roman amalgamation of Sulis Minerva (possibly a combination with the original deity’s name), sat on top of ancient hot springs that had been viewed as a source of power and healing for years before the arrival of the Romans.  There’s plenty of awesome archaeological evidence preserved in the museum in Bath documenting the existence of a goddess of the spring for centuries. 

Interestingly, although the Romans dedicated the space to Minerva, they topped her temple with a strange male face.  Snakes encircle him, like hair, and the image has been dubbed “the gorgon’s head”.  Anyone who’s read even a pinch of mythology will understand how odd it would be for a gorgon (and a male one, at that) to be on Minerva’s temple, but his true identity seems lost to time.  Perhaps he is the old god of the spring; the energy there, while soothing and strong, is not only feminine, but I’m just speculating.

b2ap3_thumbnail_467.JPGThe museum in Bath is a wonderful place; the exhibits are well lit and neatly arranged, and the space encourages movement.  As much as I loved exploring the well-curated museum, however, I was blown away by the water.  There’s a beautiful eighteenth-century fantasy reconstruction around the pools of warm water above ground, but the real magic lies underground.  If you follow the path through the museum, you eventually find yourself descending into a cavern.  Part natural formation and part Roman ruins, as amazing as this is, it isn’t the highlight of a trip to Bath.  If you keep walking, you’ll eventually come face to face with a low, churning waterfall: the source of the spring.

If you ever have the chance to go there, spend some time in the museum, but make sure you follow the path all the way to the source of the spring.  You’ll be glad you did, and many visitors seem to skip this part of the experience; it was amazing to have a moment alone with the goddess underground.

It’s a place of raw power, and I left Bath feeling both rested and energized.  I’d only been expecting ancient ruins (which I adore), but I was pleasantly surprised to meet the vestiges of an ancient, primordial goddess in Bath. 

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Jen McConnel first began writing poetry as a child. Since then, her words have appeared in a variety of magazines and journals, including Sagewoman, PanGaia, and The Storyteller (where she won the people’s choice 3rd place award for her poem, “Luna”). She is a poet, a novelist, and a goddess-centric witch with a love of all things magical. Her first nonfiction book, Goddess Spells for Busy Girls: Get Rich, Get Happy, Get Lucky, is out now from Weiser Books. A Michigander by birth, Jen now lives and writes in the beautiful state of North Carolina. When she isn’t writing, she teaches writing composition at a community college. Once upon a time, she was a middle school teacher, a librarian, and a bookseller, but those are stories for another time.

Comments

  • Emily Mills
    Emily Mills Wednesday, 25 September 2013

    Yet another reason to visit Bath when I finally make it to England. Does the museum address the goddess imagery at all?

  • Raheli EverydayMagicPodcast
    Raheli EverydayMagicPodcast Wednesday, 29 January 2014

    Hi Emily, I was there in June 2013 and the audio tour goes into a good amount of detail regarding worship on the site, I'd highly recommend it.
    Raheli.

  • Jen McConnel
    Jen McConnel Thursday, 26 September 2013

    I think so; it's been a couple years since I was there, but I remember plenty of goddess imagery in the cases and on display, with cards and brief explanations. It's a beautiful city; I hope you have a chance to visit soon!

  • Raheli EverydayMagicPodcast
    Raheli EverydayMagicPodcast Wednesday, 29 January 2014

    I was in bath last year and can highly recommend the baths as well. I don't normally recommend audio tours, preferring to soak up the essence of the place but there was a range of guides that spoke at length about possible forms of worship on the sight and the fact that recent speculation is that the "gorgon" head might actually be a representation of Oceanus or Neptune. I spoke at length about my trip to bath in my podcast episode that was released just before Christmas.

  • Jen McConnel
    Jen McConnel Thursday, 30 January 2014

    Thanks so much for sharing your experience, Raheli! I was impressed with everything about the museum; like you, I usually avoid audio tours, but this one was stellar. So glad you had a chance to visit this beautiful city!

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