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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Looking Forward and Back

(A picture of a marble bust of Janus Bifrons, his two bearded faces back-to-back.  He looks forward and back.)

I find myself in 2016 wondering exactly where the last of 2015 went. It's a rather easy question to answer in reality. It went to art. It went to family. It went to study and research. To resting. To respecting my spirit's need to pull back and sit within myself. To slow down for the sake of my body.


December was an endless flurry of holiday preparations. We marked the first year my family observed a more formalized Yule complete with ritual. Which humorously reminded me of why I will never make it as a public priestess performing rituals; especially not in a formal Roman setting. It never fails that I cry. I cry because I find myself deeply moved in a way that only a connection to the Gods brings to me. I cry because I feel the connection to the Ancestors, and I feel Their joy. There is such tremendous joy at the returning to roots.

Yule is, of course, not a traditional Roman holiday. The year has quietly pulled apart the last of a firm grounding in Roman tradition, and I find myself entrenched in a journey to the Rhineland, where temples reflect Germanic, Roman, and Celtic influences. I find myself once again in an unapologetic eclectic place as I wander along figuring out what is turning into my own tradition. I am not a character from history. My climate by no means matches Rome's. It's only natural to break the ground in a way that falls more aligned with the world around me. That, by itself, is the pragmatic approach that lays underneath our ideas of ceremonial pomp from the Ancient Romans.

I need pragmatism and simplicity more than ever. This will be a year of massive change for our family as Mr. Foxglove graduates from his PhD program and moves on to a residency in his field. We will most likely be moving out of Missouri due to that. My daughter will be starting preschool. I will be finding what feel like 5 dozen different doctors for us, which is not easy for a family where everyone has at least 2 rare diseases. I will be getting serious about my art business.

In truth, I already feel the current of change happening, and it's been there for a while. I think that is perhaps one of the reasons why I've been forced to live closer and celebrate the pulse of the climate and world around me. It's easiest to stay grounded when you're deeply rooted in the world around you, but I would be kidding if I said that I wasn't just a little terrified of how transplanting the exposed roots is going to work.

I will cling to the little rituals that make up my day. Offerings and prayers in the morning. Meditation in the afternoon when I can get to it, or at the very least tapping in as I work on whatever art is being made. Offerings at dinner, and Kalends and Ides dinners that equate to what Sunday dinners were in the homes of my friends' as a child. And the newest ritual of the day, sitting down with my daughter before bedtime to read a myth.

With this shift happening in my life, I've decided this year my blog here at PaganSquare is going to focus on the foundations in a religious life that requires simplicity. Partially this is because of my daughter, and in a way I hope to give a glimpse into what raising a modern polytheistic Pagan is like. There will still be a connection to Rome, but don't be surprised if you find we do things a bit different in my home... After all, the agreements and covenants between the Roman people and the Roman Gods were exactly that. One of the largest responsibilities of we modern people is forming our own relationships and oaths to the Gods, and that is exactly what I'm setting out to do over the course of my life – Re-establish a relationship based on the modern needs of the Gods, my family, and myself; not that of an ancient culture.

That begins with helping my daughter navigate her own religious and spiritual journey in her life. So not only is moving back to the foundation relying on its strength, but it's the first layer of what I hope becomes a home in a religious life for my daughter. One day I hope that it's my daughter offering in the name of her own family (however that may look like), so that I can sit back and joyfully cry without worry of being the blubbering priestess.

Here I am in 2016. Hail to Janus, guardian of both beginnings and ends! May your year be a glorious one.


"Janus1" by Loudon dodd - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons.

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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 -  


  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham Monday, 04 January 2016

    I grew up with a copy of Will Durant's "Caesar and Christ" in the house. It had a big fold out map in it. The Roman Empire covered a lot of territory. The provinces of Germania, Gaul, Brittan, and Dacia all had a different climate from that of Italy. Yes, the Romans took their gods with them wherever they settled down. So too did the Greeks, Jews, Egyptians and Syrians who migrated throughout the empire. So if you find yourself worshipping Roman gods according to a Celtic/German festival calendar I'm sure the people in Belgica and Dacia did the same. If you have access to a real University Library with actual books on the shelves and not just computer stations check and see if they have any books on Dacia or some of the other Roman provinces, it could be enlightening.

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