An amusing vignette from the Pagan Past- according to Leanne Shapton in The New York Times Opinion section “No Lifeguard on Duty” (Sunday, July 29, 2012, p. 5): the ancient thermal baths of Bath, England, were not only a spot towards which Celts, and then Romans and Celts, repaired for relaxation and rejuvenation- they could also be a place where poorly-behaved persons could act badly. Touring the site once, Shapton was struck by the number of metal tablets nailed to the walls, invoking the Curse of the Goddesses upon whomever had stolen their possessions while they were bathing (seriously, who doesn’t know that obnoxious feeling? You climb out of the pool, all refreshed and happy- and someone has stolen all your stuff. Damn those Bastards! Damn them!)
The Celtic Sulis was apparently originally the Goddess who Guarded these healing springs (Sulis, identified as the River-Goddess worshipped by modern-day, human-sacrificing Pagans in the interminable 2nd remake of The Wicker Man). Presumably She was something of a Goddess of Inspiration and Philosophy as well, as the Romans interpreted Her in terms of Minerva. Hence “To Minerva the goddess of Sulis,” this Curse is given. “To Minerva the goddess of Sulis I have given the thief who has stolen my hooded cloak, whether slave or free, whether man or woman. He is not to buy back this gift unless with his own blood.”
Damn! That’s a Curse, huh? That’s some hard expression there. Two things are interesting: one is that it identifies the “Hooded Cloak” as a British Isles Pagan wardrobe item (I guess Great Britain was as rainy then as it is now, and being without a really good hooded cloak was a great inconvenience). The thing that amuses me, is the Ownership of Rage. This poor Pagan, seeking the healing, heated mineral waters of Sulis-Minerva, has been left bereft of a good cloak by some scurvy, thieving Pagan (perhaps a slave). So confident in the Justice of her or his Victimization- they are unafraid to whip out a Curse of Sulis and Minerva!
It’s so bold and fearless, it’s kind of admirable.