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Medium Adventures: The Roman in the Bath

“You cheer my heart, who build as if Rome would be eternal.”
~Augustus Caesar, Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus

West End of the Great Bath, Roman Baths

This article is a repost from our old blog – originally dated June 2008, a point in time when we were living in England.

Well, we decided to take a day trip yesterday and ended up choosing a trip to Bath. Bath is historically one of Britain’s top tourist destinations and was the playground of many a Regency well-to-do family.

Of course Bath is not a new town, it and the healing springs that bubble up from beneath it’s ground have been sacred for thousands of years. In the first century A.D. the Roman invaders wrestled control of these healing waters, sacred to the British Goddess Sulis, from the hands of the local Duboni tribe.

After gaining control of the hot springs, the Romans set about subduing its flow and controlling access to the waters by erecting a complex of temples and baths, the remains of which can be visited today.

I find it ironic that the very thing which could make a modern Pagan angry with the Romans, the restriction of access to the spring, is now what has guaranteed modern visitation to its site.

Minerva, From the Temple at Bath

If not for these Roman ruins, the spring would most certainly be capped and unknown, running anonymously beneath this modern, retail-carnival of a city.

So, and this is the only time that you may ever hear me say it, “Yeah Romans!!! Good job!”

I must admit that at the Roman Baths, the temple complex and bathing rooms, some of which take a bit of imagination to picture, are truly exquisite. The presence of both hot and cold natural baths in one place is magnificent.

The circular cold pool and the half moon “hot tub” type of area were both most appealing to me.

The great bath, heated by the forces of nature to about 115˚ Fahrenheit, was awe-inspiring. I can only imagine what it must look like at night with the fire lanterns lit. Against the rules, I put my hand in that warm healing water, dedicated to Minerva, the Roman equivalent of the British Goddess Sulis.

All I can say is that one can almost feel all of the minerals that are present in that ancient water, it has a palpable effervescence. This is not water that just fell into the water-table during last week’s rain storms. This is water which fell on the surrounding Mendip Hills millenia ago, spending its time percolating through bedrock and bubbling in underground caverns until it rose from this spring now and warmed today’s pool of heated water. Amazing stuff! Of course this place was always treated as sacred, because it is.

Vera Nadine, in Front of Minerva's Temple

In Roman times this was a place of healing, washing and community for the upper class of Roman Britain. Here they could receive various treatments, including a full-body oil rub by servants and slaves. Many came and spent the day here, bringing their personal servants to wait on their needs.

Though the irony of this social twist, coming to a sacred place where all life should be equally sacred and then oppressing someone else to ensure your own leisure, is not lost on me. I still find the thought of their lifestyle to be rather fascinating somehow.

After we had wet our hands in the great bath, we explored the other rooms of the complex and eventually came to the east baths, an area of the complex which has not been fully restored and does not have any water filling it. Here, at this end of the complex there were originally baths, which in later centuries became steam rooms for massage.

As I was walking through one such room, I caught a glimpse, through a hole in the wall, into the next room. And there, plain as day, I saw a thin, Roman man crouching against what was now a raised walkway. As soon as I focused on the vision, the visual apparition of him faded, but the energy remained.

I moved calmly through the exhibit and onto the walkway below which he had just appeared. There weren’t very many people around so I got comfortable, leaning on the railing above this energy that I could still sense.

I closed my eyes and tried to make a connection with him, which I did. I had an internal conversation with him, attempting to discern his situation.

Serge Mocking a Roman Statue, Roman Baths

I asked him who he was. He replied, “My name is Tirius and they will not let me out. They will not let me out.”

At that moment I got a vision of him being in this pool (which now no longer exists) and saw that some other men, two or three of them, would not let him get to the exit to leave the water. I am unsure but I believe that Tirius could not swim.

At first it seemed like a bit of fun, a joke. But then it turned serious.

Tirius calmly told me that it was horrifying and that it was unwarranted.

Whether they watched him drown, or whether they held him under the water, he never showed me. But, nevertheless, they had been responsible for his death.

When I asked him why his spirit had chosen to remain here, I could see that it was because he could not get over the manner of his death. It is like when a living person has been through something horrible, which is long past, but cannot let it go, constantly speaking of it and allowing it to effect them. It had become the biggest part of his self-identity.

I told him that it had been two-thousand years and that he was free to move on now. But he shook his head.

The Great Bath, Roman Baths

I said, “Yes you are free now. These are no longer the baths.”

I asked, “Can you see a light of any kind?” And I told him that it was safe to go into it.

He replied, “There is no light for me. I am a slave.”

Ahhh…….I get it now. He was a Roman slave, most likely an enemy captured in battle and sold. He had been here in the baths as a servant to wealthy traders and soldiers. And, some of them had drowned him for the fun of it.


No wonder he was traumatized, even in spirit.

I could see that his death and his place in society weighed heavily on his identity. It would be easier to work with it then it would be to work through it.

I noticed that this now-dry space had one wet area, an ancient open drain that connected out to the main river in this part of England, the Avon. (Ironically there are several River Avons in England, as the word Avon simply means river in Old English.)

“Well,” I said to Tirius, “then you can return to the Goddess via the river.”

“I can?” he asked me.

“Yes,” I said, “you will go out here through the drain tunnel, enter the river and follow it out to the cool, blue ocean. After that the Goddess will meet you and place you into her gentle boat, in which she will take you safely home.”

Serge, Playing with Centurion Armor in the Gift Shop

“But, I am afraid of the powerful Goddess.” he replied to me.

“But you needn’t be frightened of her,” I explained. “All came from her womb, from which these healing waters flow, and she takes all back within. She does not judge.”

“She will be kind to me?” he asked.

“Yes,” I replied, “the very kindest.”

“I believe you,” he said. “But….” And as he said this, his eyes glanced back towards the room, which had once been a smaller version of the great bath.

I could see that he was still not willing to simply leave this place behind and forget what had happened to him.

In a last ditch effort to get him to move on to his next life, after so long standing here and surveying the scene of his death, I referenced the loose stones strewn about the place.

I told him, “If it is this place that you must carry with you, until reaching your home, take one of these stones, of which the baths were built.”

“When you get to the sea,” I continued, “give the stone to the Goddess and let her take the weight from your soul, so that you can arrive home in peace.” “Give your worries to the Goddess, for she takes all.”

“And I will be free?” he asked. “I will be brought home to my people?”

“Yes,” I told him, “without a doubt.” “The Goddess will take you there swiftly and gently. Go to her now and live joyously in your next life.”

Vera Nadine, At the Roman Baths

He then reached down and grabbed a stone from what had been the floor of the ancient pool. And he walked toward the large drain, holding it above his shoulders, as if trying to keep it from getting wet in a deep pool, which no longer existed.

He paused at the opening of the drain and looked back for a moment before going forward, into the drain.

Just then, the crowd entering the space pushed me in the direction of the next room.

I am not perfectly certain if he kept walking toward the river or turned back towards the baths. But, I think he has already found the sea.


  • kaitlyn

    cool! u can talk 2 ghosts!?!?!?!?!?