Mystic & The Mind: Of Mental and Spiritual Health

The landscape of mental health and spirituality in relation to the Pagan and Polytheist experience is vast and regularly uncharted territory. How can we gather the tools to help those that are experiencing spiritual emergence? What happens when emergence becomes an emergency? How can we support our community members who experience mental illness? And is it possible that there is a spectrum of experiences relating to mental health and spiritual transformation instead of a dichotomy? This blog explores the realm of mental health's intersection with spiritual health, both from a personal perspective and an academic one.

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The Kalends at Three

Tomorrow marks the Kalends of April, the first day of the month. In Ancient Rome, this was the day that state-sanctioned sacrifices were made to Juno, Janus, and the Lares. The date of the Nones, the day all other monthly festivals were publicly announced, was given. While a few syncretic Roman Revivalists follow the lunar cycle of marking the Kalends, which would be when the first sliver of a new moon could be seen in the sky or (not quite as accurately) the new moon, most of us observe the first of the month as the Kalends. That was how it was marked for the majority of Rome's history.

Most months, I work extra hard to make sure that I cook a modest but well-balanced meal for my family from scratch on this day. We offer at the lararium, or shrine to the Lares and household Gods, that sits in the middle of our dining room table. In my home, we bring the Gods to the table with us when we eat. We offer the first bites of food from our plate to the Lares, giving Them what They are due, along with all food that might happen to fall onto the floor. With a toddler in our house, the Lares get fed well with all the food that falls.

The rest of the religious duties of the day fall on me, though, and that's because I'm technically the only person in the house of this religion.

Except this is going to change this month. It was agreed upon many years ago that any child I had would be raised within my religion, since my husband is an agnostic humanist who loves Christmas. Now at 3-years-old, I feel like my daughter has hit that magical age where she's ready to start really learning about the Gods (though she continues to insist there are only 2 Gods) and participate in her mother's religion.


Tomorrow we will wander out in the morning to buy bells and collect a few sticks. I will have her help me string them onto red wool yarn and tie them to the sticks. We will be making a windchime to place next to our front door. Historically the windchimes and bells called tintinnabulum placed outside by the doors and gardens of Romans typically involved at least one phallus; I will be painting a few onto the sticks while she paints in general. They were meant to drive away the evil eye and harm while attracting good luck and fortune.

We will place out the offering bowl outside of our door to give thanks to Janus, Juno, and our Lares for the protection they give our family and home along with a request for their continued support. We will hang the windchimes. We will offer birdseed to the Genii Loci and Lares of the land.

Later in the day, after I've taken down the various amulets I have hanging inside of the house and ritually washed them, we'll cook dinner together. We'll start with baking bread. We'll make a small loaf for the Penates, who watch over our food, along with the bread we will eat at dinner.

By that time, she'll probably lose interest in what her mother is doing in the kitchen for the day and wander off to play again. But at the dinner table, we'll formally offer and give thanks to the Gods who help us thrive in our lives. We'll give the Gods their due, continuing the cycle of gift-giving that goes on between humans and Gods.

I have written a simple prayer to teach her at the dinner table:

Thank you, Gods.

Thank you, Ancestors.

Thank you, Land Spirits.

May You continue to protect us.

May we continue to honor You.

May You continue to bless us.


At 3-years-old, I want to model the proper names and rituals for the religion I practice for her, but there's a delicate balance there. Now it's not simply about modeling the behavior, but it's about inviting her to participate in the religious life of the household more than I have in the past. It's about building the future by establishing a firm foundation.

I think I will be offering extra tomorrow to ask for help in this most important task.

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Camilla Laurentine is a mother, artist, writer, and craftswoman wandering about Memphis, TN. She is a Roman Revivalist and American Pagan. Her path is a living, continuously changing entity that could best be described as a syncretic blend of the Continental Europe, honoring a careful balance of Spirit-informed gnosis and scholarly study. She has big dreams of building temples and a safe sanctuary for those struggling with spiritual and mental health issues. Camilla is a sibyl and teacher, available for spiritual consultation and mentoring. You can find her jewelry and art at her Etsy shop: Wunderkammer by C. Laurentine -  


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