The reader is never sure of the Mariner's tale, and whether what he narrates actually happened or whether it was merely the fevered creation of his tortured brain. Either way, the poem establishes a clear relationship between the physical world, and in particular nature, and the divine and the mind of humans, and this is best captured in one of the final stanzas which reveals the central point of this poem:
He prayeth best, who loveth best
All things both great and small;
For the dear God who loveth us,
He made and loveth all.
The Mariner's experience is clearly the result of having defied this creed through his act of killing the albatross. The poem clearly states that humans must respect the physical world in order to respect God, and as a consequence of this they will enjoy health and sanity. The nightmarish, gothic qualities of the experience that the Mariner endures show the way that disrespecting the physical world leads to an altered mental state, where ghouls and phantasms are free to haunt and prey upon those who fail to acknowledge the divine in everything. God is not just an external deistic force, the poem argues, but he is in and permeates every essence of his creation, and in order to enjoy mental health, it is vital to realise this and acknowledge it through our actions.