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.