Playing Is "Celtic Magic"
Played By Akabadabra
of the Sun and Healing
Patroness of Aquae Sulis
Hot Springs of Bath, England
Sulis, the great British Celtic healer Goddess, was originally a solar
and fertility deity. Sulis’ shrine was located at Bath, England,
where her power was strongest. Some scholars say she was a
“Solar” divinity; her name is a derivative of the Celtic word “Sul” for
“sun” and “eye,” and Suilead, meaning wisdom. She is also a Goddess of
Perpetual fires burned at her shrines, which were natural mineral hot
springs. The Romans called her “Minerva Medica” (healing).
Statues show Minerva Medica as matronly, with a hat made out of a
bear’s head, and her foot resting on an owl. She was also
referred to as “Sulis Minerva” by the Romans. Minerva was a virgin
warrior dedicated to women’s rights and freedom. The owl was her
sacred bird, and healing and medicine were her themes.
Sulis is associated with the Roman goddesses Coventina and Nemetona,
who were also worshipped at Bath. She has a connection to Brigit,
who was associated with holy wells of healing water in Ireland.
Sulis, like Brigit, was served by priestesses who kept her eternal
flame burning. At Aquae Sulis as well as on the continent, she
appears in multiple forms, the three-part Celtic Goddess “Suleviae.”
Symbols on her shrine are antlers, which symbolize the sun’s rays, and
eyes, which signify the sun. The Roman God Mars Loucetius (light)
also was invoked at Sulis’ shrine. The Sun is associated with hot
springs, connecting hot water with healing.
On the main temple pediment there is a carved masculine Gorgon head of
Celtic origin. This image relates the Greek myth of Perseus and
the Gorgon to the Celtic Goddess Sulis and the Roman Goddess
Minerva. The Gorgon’s snakelike hair represents the waves of the
sea as well as the rays of the sun, linking fire and water; Sulis is a
Goddess of healing water as well as of the Sun. The Gorgon has
wings on either side of his head, alluding to Air, and he is made of
stone, signifying Earth origin. Therefore, the Gorgon combines
all of the four elements. Gorgons were thought to possess an
‘evil eye,’ which defended one against enemies.
The Baths and Shrine at Aquae Sulis
Archaeologists have determined that the hot mineral springs at Bath
were in use at least 10,000 years ago. The first to use the spa
were Neolithic hunter-gatherer tribes. The Celts, who arrived in
England around 700 BCE, are believed to have built the first shrine
structures at the springs.
The Romans, who arrived in Britain around 43 CE, took over the Celtic
shrine, and called the spa at Bath “Aquae Sulis,” the waters of
Sulis. A quarter of a million gallons of hot mineral water (120
degrees Fahrenheit) flowed daily out of the hot springs. For
centuries after the Romans left, the springs were buried under silted
deposits. They were uncovered in the 17th Century by
antiquarians. Columns of the original bath structures stand
today, open to the sky as they stood millennia ago, besides the River
Evidence of the pre-Roman sanctity of the springs is shown by the
presence of Celtic coins, cast into the water as votive
offerings. The man-made causeway which led across marshy grown
from the southwest to the springs is almost certainly pre-Roman.
The Romans built an imposing temple at the springs in honor of
Sulis. They constructed sumptuous bath buildings, a great altar
and a reservoir for the sacred spring water. The bathing complex was
designed so that the visitor could look from the main hall of baths to
the actual spring, bubbling up from the earth. The bathing pools
were fed with a constant flow of water through lead pipes which still
function today, and the largest bath was lined with 42 sheets of lead
whose combined weight exceeded 8 ½ tons.
Once the Roman legions departed from Britain early in the fifth century
CE, the city and its baths fell into decline. However, the town
was not abandoned. By the seventh century CE, the first Christian
structure was established on the ruins of the Roman temple, and for the
next twelve hundred years, a succession of churches rose and fell upon
the hallowed ground. The spa was “rediscovered” by the beginning
of the 16th century, as royal and aristocratic families arrived to
‘take the cure,’ and by the 1720s, Bath was on its way to becoming a
The hot mineral waters at Bath contained genuine therapeutic properties
for certain types of afflictions. There was a close link between
healing, regeneration and fertility, and patrons of the baths sought
the waters for those benefits. Women patrons sought help for
child-bearing and lactation disorders. Studies of the waters of
Bath have revealed the presence of 43 different minerals, including
iron, magnesium, potassium, copper and radium. Although the early
people who came to the spa for healing had no way to determine the
nature of these minerals, the springs have been venerated as a healing
site since Neolithic times. Can this be yet another indication of
the energetic resonance between humans and the Earth?
Ritual procedures at Bath included immersion in the hot waters,
drinking the sacred waters and sleeping at the shrine in the hopes of a
curative vision. Sacrifices and festivals were also held, and
offerings of money, jewels, shoes, spindle-whorls and coins have been
found, as well as moulds for making amulets to be sold to
patrons. The most common mould was of a solar wheel.
Sulis was also venerated as a Goddess of Justice. Researchers
found 130 “curse-tablets” at the site; these were petitions to the
Goddess, telling her the nature of the wrongdoing; the name (if known)
of the wrongdoer, and graphic details of the desired retribution.
These tablets were inscribed on thin sheets of pewter or lead, rolled
up, addressed to the Goddess Sulis or Sulis Minerva, and cast into
Sulis’ spring. It is interesting to note that not a single Roman
citizen is mentioned in any of the curse-tablets; the names are all of
Celtic origin. Although the curse-tablets mainly sought
retribution for the theft of personal property from patrons of the spa,
the remedies sought were often harsh.
It is interesting to note that the Celts had no male God of war, such
as Ares – they invoked a war Goddess. They also did not have a
Goddess of Love, such as Aphrodite. Celtic goddesses
evolved from manifestations of the Neolithic Great Mother in her
incarnations as maiden, mother and crone, all identified with the Earth.
Rules: Joy, success, leadership, healing, light
Colors: Gold, yellow
Jewel: Topaz, yellow diamond
Incense: Cinnamon, cloves, frankincense, laurel
Plants: Acacia, bay laurel, chamomile, citrus fruits, honey,
Trees: Acacia, ash, bay laurel, birch
Animals: Eagle, lion, phoenix
Sulis Ritual for Healing
Best conducted at the waxing or Full Moon, on a Sunday
Bath: Sea salt, oil of rose, pine or sage, Goddess Oil or
favorite oil for Self Blessing. White clothing or skyclad.
Goddess candle, yellow or gold; 3 candles in any combination of blue
and green; 1 white Self candle, athame
Sage for purification, or spring water with sea salt
Incense: Rose, sage or rosemary for healing or frankincense for
Flowers: any gold or yellow flowers (odd number)
Music: Native American flute, or Celtic harp, or other calm
Ritual Bath: Before beginning the ritual, fill bathtub with
comfortably hot water. Add a handful of sea salt, and oil of
rose, pine or sage. Bring Self candle into bathroom, light it,
turn out electric lights. Relax in water, envision your limbs
floating, weightless. When the water cools, let it out of the
tub, dry off, perform Self-Blessing with Goddess Oil or favorite
oil. Dress in white clothing, or go skyclad. Free hair from all
ties and bindings.
Bring white Self candle to altar.
Light sage bundle or incense and purify, or sprinkle altar and room
with spring water and sea salt.
Cast the Circle deosil, and invoke the directions:
“Hail. Guardians of the Watchtowers of the East, Powers of Air,
be with me now! Goddess Mother of Eagles, be welcome!” (Inscribe
“Hail, Guardians of the Watchtowers of the South, Powers of Fire, be
with me now! Goddess Brigit, be welcome!” (Inscribe invoking
Hail, Guardians of the Watchtowers of the West, Powers of Water, be
with me now! Goddess Cordelia, be welcome!” (Inscribe invoking
Hail, Guardians of the Watchtowers of the North, Powers of Earth, be
with me now! Goddess Aine, be welcome!” (Inscribe invoking
Say, “This is a place that is not a place in a time that is not a
time. We are between the Worlds.”
Invocation: The purpose of this ritual is to invoke Sulis’ divine
powers of Healing and to transmit them with all love and good intent to
(myself or other person in need).
Light Blue and Green candles.
Play calming music. Sit facing altar and contemplate the candle
flames as they burn steadily. Close eyes and keep image of candle
flame. Slow breathing; be aware of air traveling gently in and
out of your nose.
Consciously relax your body; bring your attention first to your feet,
then to your legs, up your torso, to your arms and finally to your
face, so that all your muscles are relaxed and receptive.
Now see the candle flame that burns in your mind’s eye begin to
grow. Soon it becomes the Sun, golden and radiant. You can
look at this Sun without hurting your eyes; it is gentle and
loving. As you watch the Sun, it changes; sometimes it is a
Gorgon’s face, with hair and beard that look like sun rays.
Sometimes it is a woman’s smiling face, her hair streaming out in all
directions. Sometimes it is the light glancing off a great shield
of gold and glass, held by stern Minerva. Slowly open your eyes
and stand up.
Light Sulis’ yellow or gold candle. Turn to the South and raise
hands, palms forward: “Goddess Sulis, patroness of the healing
springs and of the Sun, be welcome to my Circle. Bring your
healing love to me.” Feel the warmth of the Sun on your head, on
your face, on your body, and as you breathe in, feel the warming power
of Sulis’ healing in your lungs, your belly, your blood, your heart.
Body of Ritual
Sit facing altar, keeping Sulis with you. Turn your gaze inward
and again visualize the golden Sun, feel its warmth. Sulis sits
beside you; feel her warm hand on your shoulder. Pray: “Be
with me, Goddess Sulis, as I gather healing for (myself or a loved
one).” Visualize white and golden rays mingling, streaming from
the face of the Sun. Raise your hands, palms upward, and feel the
healing streaming into your palms; it may tingle or pulse. Notice
the healing moving up your arms, into your chest and your heart,
suffusing your entire body.
If you are healing yourself, open without reservation and allow the
healing to stream to the tips of your fingers and toes; visualize what
is ailing and see it surrounded by white and golden light. See
yourself as whole and healthy, dancing in the Sunlight.
If you are sending healing to someone else, say, “Goddess Sulis, be
with me as I send Your healing power to (name).” Feel the healing
concentrate, great beams of white and golden light, in your
heart. Raise your arms, palms outward, send the rays through your
arms and hands and hurl them through time and space to the person you
wish to heal. Feel the healing streaming out of your palms.
Sulis rests her hands on your shoulders and streams the healing with
After a while you will feel the healing rays subside and then slowly
Raise Cone of Power
Return your attention to the present; be aware of the music playing
softly. Dance, swirl and move to the music. Sulis dances
with you, her long hair flying. You can still feel Her hands in
yours. Then, She releases your hands.
Kneel, put your palms on the ground and rest your forehead between
them. You may need to stay this way for a while (much power
Open the Circle
Moving counterclockwise, open the Circle. Thank the Watchtowers,
saying to each in turn, “Leave if you must, stay if you will.”
Thank the Goddess Sulis, saying, “Leave if you must, stay if you will.”
Ground again if necessary. Say, “The Circle is open but unbroken;
the love of the Goddess is ever in our hearts. Merry meet and
merry part, and merry meet again.”
Sun-faced Mother, when I was very
small, they brought me to Your
“Look,” they said, “Our offering to You, our sun-haired daughter,
To be Your postulant.” They left.
I was only five years old, and I cried, “Mother, Father!”
I cried and cried, and some old dame, a senior Priestess, took me
by the hand.
“You are most favoured,” said she.
“Now you are a member of the Goddess’ family. Now, cry no more.
Come, meet your sisters.”
Soon I learned to tend the holy fires and fetch the coins
Thrown by the patrons into the Goddess’ spring. I learned to love
The hot, fetid, bubbling waters that washed away sad memories.
I learned the prayers and chants. I learned to take the hand of
an old blind lady
And bring her to the baths; pour soothing waters over her,
Receive her thanks and blessings. Soon I learned
The rituals and treatments for the sick. I learned to be a
Patrons pressed my hand, knelt at my feet, thanked me with gifts
Of cloth, of lyres. I learned to diagnose old aching bones and
A weakened liver; impending childbirth peril, scanty milk. I
Mothers bereaved in childbed, and the blind that believed, mistakenly,
That, beholding the Goddess’ face, their sight would be restored.
My sisters and I read the curse-tablets piously laid in the waters;
Laughed at the punishments asked for the theft of a sandal or a rabbit.
On the solstices and other solemn nights, we gathered together
At the foot of the Goddess, the Sun, and thanked her for our serene
Now I am old; now I too soak in the bubbling waters, ease my bones.
I never missed an earthly family. Early transfixed by Sulis’
Sulis’ love filled my heart; Her service filled my days.
Sometimes I wonder: if I did not serve Her, if I had lived a mundane
Married, had children, seen my children’s children,
Would I have come at last to Her, bringing my aging bones?
I think I would. I have lived my life in the Sun.
Bibliography and Credits
Aldhouse,-Green, Miranda, The Sun-Gods of Ancient Europe
Conway, Diana J, Ancient and Shining Ones
Conway, Diana J., The Goddess Path
Cunliffe, Barry and Davenport, Peter, The Temple of Sulis Minerva at
French, Claire, The Celtic Goddess: Great Queen or Demon Witch
Green, Miranda –The Gods of Roman Britain
Monaghan, Patricia, The New Book of Goddesses & Heroines
Monaghan, Patricia, The Goddess Path
Monaghan, Patricia, Encyclopedia of Celtic Mythology and Folklore
Starhawk, The Spiral Dance, 20th Anniversary Edition
Telesco, Patricia, 365 Goddess
Special thanks to Hrana Janto, for her magnificent portrait of Sulis
Martin Gray’s Websites, http://www.sacredsites.com/
(Minerva, the Celtic Connection)
This page is the
intellectual and creative property of Dame Niamh