I live in a volcanic area with many sulfur places and springs. These places are all imbued with the presence of Mefitis. Mefitis is an ancient Italic Deity whose cult and memory still survive in many areas of Central Italy. Her name brings to mind the image of places with unhealthy unbreathable, sulphurous, stinking air from which comes the word "mephitic" just to indicate a nauseating smell and places where life can take root.
In fact, the tradition tells us that "it is not necessary to immolate victims to Mefitis because she is a Goddess that takes the victims by herself." In fact, in places where there is Mefitis life makes it hard to impose itself: there are no plants, no animals, only sulphurous waters, muddy marshes and stagnant and foul smelling vapors. Here no one dares to approach ...
Christianity has associated Mefitis to a demonic and negative force: here christians place the gates of hell, places of eternal punishment and suffering. However, in the Roman religious tradition, Mefitis has not a negative feature. Quite the contrary.
First of all these places and the same Mefitis are associated with the chthonic underworld and, in particular, to those energies that have the ability to link together the four basic elements of the universe: water, fire, earth, air. Here the subterranean fire melts the rocks and metals, the water turns to steam and release the gas hidden underground that date back to the surface of the earth.
Mefitis is therefore related primarily to Tellus and Mefitis is a direct offshoot of the same Tellus: Mefitis derives from the "Womb of the Earth." She is therefore a feminine force that gives life and takes life. In the past, many people went to these places firstly because they knew the healing properties of the vapors that here one could inhale. Even today, many people come to these very hot sulphurous springs to remedy many diseases of the respiratory system, to make therapeutic baths for skin, etc ... In fact, in many of these sites have been found numerous ancient ex voto dedicated to Mefitis.
In addition, these vapors could cause the trance and then became sites devoted to divination. Even for their so peculiar conformation, these places provide great inspiration for meditation, contemplation, visions ... This should, however, be carried out with the support of a tutor.
All this (feminine force, healing, medicine and magic, divination) then explains why with the advent of Christianity Mefitis and the sites dedicated to her have been linked to the Devil and witches.
Mefitis, as many Italic and Roman Ancient Deitites, does not have an anthropomorphic representation: she appears symbolically in the form of nauseating steam.
We must therefore have great respect for these places and every time I approach these sites, my thoughts always go to this ancient Goddess.