Saturday, August 2, 2014

Finding Sulis - Celtic Goddess of the Hot Springs

 When Sulis appears take note of any psychic visions or premonitions while seeking Her help in their understanding.........On your next visit to a hot spring, invoke the name of Sulis as you meditate on the healing of your body and soul.  Call on Sulis for blessings on your personal journey to light, health, and wholeness.

  Judith Shaw

I've always loved hotsprings, and visited many, as well as living for a while in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, an ancient place of hotsprings along the Rio Grande.  Going to the springs has meant many things to me, healing, detoxing, but most of all, clearing away the dross so that the divine could shine through. I always take my journal and a sketchbook.   It never fails that after a day or so at a hotspring all kinds of visionary things happen, including synchronicities.  In 2012 while staying for a few days at Essence of Tranquility hotsprings in Safford an entire art project called "Numina", complete with a written Proposal, popped into my head while sitting in a pool of water! I called it my "hot springs Satori".......That became the series of masks I called "NUMINA - Masks for the Elemental Powers" in 2013, and I was further blessed when Ann Waters and Mana Youngbear in California produced a play with them.

Actually, in 2007 something similar happened at Tonopah Hot Springs.  I had received an Aldon Dow Fellowship, and was going to pursue my Spider Woman's Hands project in Michigan.  5 months before leaving I was sitting in a tub at Tonopah, and chanced to talk with someone who lived there.........he took me that day to a petroglyph site in the area, and gave me some of his own photos of petroglyphs.  One was, undoubtedly, a spider - Spider Woman.  I have used that photo as a logo many times.  

I think that qualifies as the "oracular powers of hotsprings". 

The springs at TorC were so revered by native people that there was an agreement that, regardless of the continuing warfare of various tribes, there would be no conflict allowed at the springs.     Many of the Goddesses and Gods of  world mythology began as what the Romans called "Numina",  the Genius Loci or Spirit of place.  For the Romans, as for virtually all early peoples,  a healing spring was overseen and inhabited by an indwelling intelligence, an indwelling guardian.  Little shrines were always made to the Numen, and often, as in the case of a healing spring or a place of oracular power, the Numina were consulted, petitioned, and honored.  This understanding that place was alive, conversant, and human beings were a reciprocal part of that conversation (a contemporary way of putting it might be "local ecology") was expressed and understood through myth making. 

So it is no surprise that when the Romans encountered the revered hotsprings of  Bath, in Southern England, and built  their baths there,  they honored the Celtic Goddess Sulis (Aquae Sulis ("the Waters of Sulis"), and later incorporated her name with that of the Roman Goddess Minerva.  The Roman bath becamed dedicated to Sulis/Minerva.   Sulis's name come from a root meaning "eye" or "gap", referring perhaps both to the spring from where half a million gallons of hot water still well up every day, as well as to Her powers as seeress.

I took the photo above while I was waiting in Bath  for a bus in 2011 to take me to the Goddess Conference in Glastonbury.  I think the Oracular power of Sulis, and the baths of Bath............continue. at least for me!   And so, at last, I'm able to honor Her with a mask.

The hot spring at Bath has been renowned for its healing powers since ancient times. Pilgrims came from mainland Europe to bathe in the therapeutic waters, and references to Sulis are known from as far away as Germany.  The Romans equated Sulis with their Minerva, and so She was known to them as Sulis Minerva--which is  unusual, since the Romans generally used the native Celtic deity name after the Roman name. This is taken as an indication of Her importance and fame. 

"The Romans identified the local Sulis with their goddess Minerva. So it  is specifically identified as the virgin goddess of the arts, wisdom, weaving and magic. From Roman times onwards the local goddess was known as Solis MinervaBath is at the South of the region that was occupied by the tribe known as the Hwicce closely related to the word 'wicca'. I have a page about that, and map which includes Bath, on my blog:

Robert Moore
Image Courtesy Luna Lioness The healing Waters of Sulis

Sulis, Celtic Sun Goddess of Healing and Prophecy 

by Judith Shaw

Sulis, a Gaulish and Brythonic goddess, has the iconography of a solar deity. The name “Sulis” has a complex etymology, with various overlapping meanings. Her name may be related to the proto-Celtic word for sun, from which the Old Irish súil (eye) was derived. which probably leads to one of Her titles, “The Bright One”.  Her hair radiates around her face like the sun surrounded by sun rays.

Another interpretation of the name Sulis is “Provider of Healing Waters”.  She is  associated with healing springs in general and the natural hot springs of Bath, England in particular.  Archaeological evidence shows that the mineral hot springs at Bath were first used by Neolithic people at least 10,000 years ago.  The Celts, who arrived in England around 700 BCE, probably found Sulis already ruling there. Most likely they built the first shrines at the springs.  The Celts, who honored the sun on Beltane instead of the summer solstice, held their fire-festival on May 1 in reverence of Sulis.

Sulis by Judith Shaw
During Roman times these baths were named Aquae Sulis, honoring Sulis as the Great Goddess of this site. The Roman’s merged Sulis with Minerva, thus giving Sulis rule over home and state.  As Sulis/Minerva, She was the Goddess of City, Handcrafts and Agriculture. Through Her association with the warrior aspects of Minera, Sulis had the power to witness oaths, catch thieves, and find lost objects. Many curse tablets found at Bath call on Sulis to cast punishment on the guilty.

Sulis, Goddess of Healing, Prophecy, and Blessings is associated with healing waters and served by priestesses who kept Her eternal flame burning. The perpetual fires and the hot waters remind us of  Sulis’s origins as a Sun Goddess.

Her symbols are antlers, symbols of the sun’s rays, and eyes, symbols of the sun. She is often depicted with an owl, symbolizing wisdom.  Sulis’s power reflects the divine light of the sun filtered through the healing power of water, helping Her human children and their plants to grow and prosper.

When Sulis appears take note of any psychic visions or premonitions while seeking Her help in their understanding. Place a statue of Sulis in your garden to aide in the nourishment of the plants.  On your next visit to a hot spring, invoke the name of Sulis as you meditate on the healing of your body and soul.  Call on Sulis for blessings on your personal journey to light, health, and wholeness.


Judith Shaw
Sulis, Celtic Sun Goddess of Healing and Prophecy

Robert Moore
Warwickshire Wicca Blog

Luna Lioness
The healing Waters of Sulis

1 comment:

Trish and Rob MacGregor said...

Good synchros associated with your hot spring experiences. The masks are lovely.