During the time of Ancient Rome, when everyday life was filled with the rituals of the gods, bathhouses were a center of health and community. The mineral spas of the ancient world were thought to renew well-being and clear the mind. Wealthy Romans left the bathhouses relaxed, well-oiled and perfumed with the decadent luxury of a day at the spas.
The alluring, timeless indulgence of mineral spring has long captured my pagan imagination. So, last weekend, we packed the car with a picnic basket, our bathing suits and a couple of overnight bags and we headed to Berkeley Springs, West Virginia, which is famous in the region for its healing Roman bathhouses.
It took some convincing to get my husband to join me for this exotic ritual from the farthest reaches of an ancient civilization. Let’s just say the role of Pagan Adventurer isn’t quite his thing.
We spent the night before browsing the boutique shops (I picked up an amazing bottle of sparkling grapefruit wine) and the farmer’s market. When he wasn’t paying too close attention, I booked us both an appointment at the bathhouses.
“Sorry, baby. It’s non-refundable. Oops!”
For a reasonable price (about $32 total for both of us), we got out own private bath, which was about the size of a half a lap pool.
Stepping into the bubbling nutrient-rich waters, I felt like a lobster about to be slow-boiled.
It was hot. Really hot.
My husband (pictured) was squirming about. “How are you standing this?”
We had the room for 30 minutes, and I was beginning to think 5 minutes would have done just fine. But we hung in there.
Towards the twenty minute mark, the most amazing thing happened: the headache I didn’t even know I had evaporated. My muscles began to relax in so deeply, I realized they were tense in ways I hadn’t noticed.
I watched as the cloudy mist swirled about us. It seemed like a good time to try steam scrying.
By the time we were dried off and headed out, I felt lighter and energetic and decidedly more youthful.
Pagan Bucket List, Experience #1: check.
For my other spiritual goals this summer, check out: