- Hildegard of Bingen
Let your eye live and grow in God,
and your soul will never shrivel.
You can count on it to keep you alive . . . awake . . . tender.
—Hildegard, Letter to Archbishop Arnold of Mainz
Humanity, take a good look at yourself.
Inside, you’ve got heaven and earth, and all of creation.
You’re a world—everything is hidden in you.
—Hildegard, Causes and Cures
When a person does something wrong and the soul realizes this, the
deed is like poison in the soul. Conversely, a good deed is as sweet
to the soul as delicious food is to the body. The soul circulates
through the body like sap through a tree, maturing a person the
way sap helps a tree turn green and grow flowers and fruit.
Don’t let yourself forget that God’s grace rewards not only those
who never slip, but also those who bend and fall. So sing! The
song of rejoicing softens hard hearts. It makes tears of godly sorrow
flow from them. Singing summons the Holy Spirit. Happy praises
offered in simplicity and love lead the faithful to complete harmony,
without discord. Don’t stop singing.
Hildegard was born around the year 1098, although the exact date is uncertain. Her parents were Mechtild of Merxheim-Nahet and Hildebert of Bermersheim, a family of the free lower nobility in the service of the Count Meginhard of Sponheim. Sickly from birth, Hildegard is traditionally considered their youngest and tenth child, although there are records of only seven older siblings. In her Vita, Hildegard states that from a very young age she had experienced visions.
From early childhood, long before she undertook her public mission or even her monastic vows, Hildegard’s spiritual awareness was grounded in what she called the umbra viventis lucis, the reflection of the living Light. Her letter to Guibert of Gembloux, which she wrote at the age of seventy- seven, describes her experience of this light with admirable precision:
“From my early childhood, before my bones, nerves and veins were fully strengthened, I have always seen this vision in my soul, even to the present time when I am more than seventy years old. In this vision my soul, as God would have it, rises up high into the vault of heaven and into the changing sky and spreads itself out among different peoples, although they are far away from me in distant lands and places. And because I see them this way in my soul, I observe them in accord with the shifting of clouds and other created things. I do not hear them with my outward ears, nor do I perceive them by the thoughts of my own heart or by any combination of my five senses, but in my soul alone, while my outward eyes are open. So I have never fallen prey to ecstasy in the visions, but I see them wide awake, day and night. And I am constantly fettered by sickness, and often in the grip of pain so intense that it threatens to kill me, but God has sustained me until now. The light which I see thus is not spatial, but it is far, far brighter than a cloud which carries the sun. I can measure neither height, nor length, nor breadth in it; and I call it “the reflection of the living Light.” And as the sun, the moon, and the stars appear in water, so writings, sermons, virtues, and certain human actions take form for me and gleam. Read more
Attention in recent decades to women of the medieval Church has led to a great deal of popular interest in Hildegard’s music. In addition to the Ordo Virtutum, sixty-nine musical compositions, each with its own original poetic text, survive, and at least four other texts are known, though their musical notation has been lost. This is one of the largest repertoires among medieval composers.
One of her better-known works, Ordo Virtutum (Play of the Virtues), is a morality play. It is uncertain when some of Hildegard’s compositions were composed, though the Ordo Virtutum is thought to have been composed as early as 1151. It is an independent Latin morality play with music (82 songs); it does not supplement or pay homage to the Mass or the Office of a certain feast. The most significant part of this entire composition is, however, that the Ordo virtutum is the earliest known surviving musical drama that is not attached to a liturgy.
- Ordo Virtutum by Hildegard von Bingen
Ordo Virtutum (Latin for Order of the Virtues) is an allegorical morality play, or sacred music drama, by St. Hildegard, composed c. 1151, during the construction and relocation of her Abbey at Rupertsberg. It is the earliest morality play by more than a century, and the only Medieval musical drama to survive with an attribution for both the text and the music. The subject of the play is typical for a musical drama. It shows no biblical events, no depiction of a saint’s life, and no miracles. Instead, Ordo Virtutum is about the struggle for a human soul, or Anima, between the Virtues and the Devil. The idea that Hildegard is trying to develop in Ordo Virtutum is the reconnection between the “creator and creation”
Part I: Prologue in which the Virtues are introduced to the Patriarchs and Prophets who marvel at the Virtues.
Part II: We hear the complaints of souls that are imprisoned in bodies. The (for now) happy Soul enters and her voice contrasts with the unhappy souls. However, the Soul is too eager to skip life and go straight to Heaven. When the Virtues tell her that she has to live first, the Devil seduces her away to worldly things.
Part III: The Virtues take turns identifying and describing themselves while the Devil occasionally interrupts and expresses opposing views and insults. This is the longest section by far and, although devoid of drama or plot, the musical elements of this section make it stand out.
Part IV: The Soul returns, repentant. Once the Virtues have accepted her back, they turn on the Devil, whom they bind. Together they conquer the Devil and then God is praised.
Part V: A procession of all the characters.
The Soul (female voice)
The Virtues (sung by 17 solo female voices): Humility (Queen of the Virtues), Hope, Chastity, Innocence, Contempt of the World, Celestial Love, Discipline? (the name is scratched out in the manuscript) Modesty, Mercy, Victory, Discretion, Patience, Knowledge of God, Charity, Fear of God, Obedience, and Faith These Virtues were seen as role models for the women of the Abbey, who took joy in overcoming their weaknesses and defeating the Devil in their own lives.
Chorus of the Prophets and Patriarchs (sung by a male chorus)
Chorus of Souls (sung by a women’s chorus)
The Devil (a male voice – the Devil does not sing, he only yells or grunts: according to Hildegard, he cannot produce divine harmony).
- Divine Healing Power of Green
During her lifetime, Hildegard of Bingen was famous for her visions that she had published in her mystical & theological works, Liber Scivias, Liber Vitae Meritorum and Liber Divinorum Operum. – Known as the German Prophetess (Prophetissa Teutonica), she perceived herself as the Trumpet of God called to denounce the social and political state of her time. Thus, she did not merely admonish nun and monks but also pope and emperor. – Hildegard was a seeing listener and a listening seeress. Her visions were at once auditions in which she perceived the voice of God, heard the music of the angels and gained insight into the secret of God (Vision of Trinity), the position of the human being in the cosmos and the history / herstory of God with humankind – from creation to incarnation up to the Last Judgement. ( Hildegard von Bingen 1098-1179)
Viriditas is one of the most recognizable contributions of Hildegard of Bingen.
For Hildegard, viriditas encapsulated the divine force of nature, the depth and breadth of which is reflected in the various translations. These words within the word are laden with meaning; with lively, powerful connotations that capture the essence Hildegard had conceptualized so long ago.
The origin of Viriditas,” Viridity” may be the union of two Latin words: Green and Truth. (Latin viridis (source of Spanish, Italian verde), related to virere “be green, and Old English triewð (West Saxon), treowð (Mercian) “faith, faithfulness, fidelity, loyalty; veracity, quality of being true; pledge, covenant,” from Germanic abstract noun *treuwitho, from Proto-Germanic treuwaz “having or characterized by good faith,” from PIE *drew-o-, a suffixed form of the root *deru- “be firm, solid, steadfast.also *dreu-, Proto-Indo-European root meaning “be firm, solid, steadfast,
But like most Latin words, Viriditas does not easily translate into convenient, straightforward English. While being difficult to translate may be frustrating to some, there is beauty in this complexity.
The Basic Definition and Origin
The definition is both literal, as in “green”, “greenness”, and “growth”, yet also metaphorical, as in “vigor”, “verdure”, “freshness” and “vitality.” For Hildegard, the spiritual aspects were just as essential as the physical meaning. In much of her work, viriditas was “the greening power of God.” It was in everything, including humans.
This “greenness” was an expression of heaven, the creative power of life, which can be witnessed in the gardens, forests, and farmland all around us. And like those lands, she saw viriditas as something to be cultivated in both our bodies and our souls.
What is it? Hildegard says it is God’s freshness that we receive as spiritual and physical life‐forces. This is vivid imagery that probably came to her simply as she looked around the countryside. The Rhine valley is lush and green and as we know today, a wonderful place, flourishing in fruit and vineyards. This greening power mysteriously is inherent in animals and fishes and birds, in all plants and flowers and trees, in all the beautiful things of this world.
Human flesh is green she says and our blood possesses this special greening power. The “life force of the body” (the soul) was green. Whenever sex was involved—she said there was a particular brightness in the green. This greening power was at the heart of salvation and the reality of the Word was verdant life. This greenness connects us all together as humanity and shines forth giving us common purpose. It is the strength within us that manifests as a strong and healthy life. This greenness originates in the four elements: earth and fire, water and air. It is sustained by the four qualities: by dry and moist, by cold and hot; not only the body—but greenness of soul as well.
Hildegard contrasts greening power or wetness with the sin of drying up (one of her visions.) A dried‐up person or a dried‐up culture loses the ability to create. Hildegard saw this as a grave sin and a tragedy. It also describes how she felt about herself during those years when she was refusing to write down her visions and voices. Her awakening did not occur until she embraced her own viriditas. From then on Hildegard was constantly creating.
‘O most honored Greening Force, You who roots in the Sun;
You who lights up, in shining serenity, within a wheel
that earthly excellence fails to comprehend.
You are enfolded
in the weaving of divine mysteries.
You redden like the dawn
and you burn: flame of the Sun.”
– Hildegard von Bingen, Causae et Curae
Hildegard gives an interesting image about greenness stating that it drenches all things in this world and then gives the tree as an example. The function of the tree’s sap [its life blood that we know as its essential oil] falls to the soul in the human body. Its powers or abilities enable us to unfold or develop form just as it does in the tree. In other words, the tree’s essential oil gives life and nourishment— moistness to humans. She goes on to make comparisons between the tree’s branches, leaves, blossoms, and fruit with various stages within human life. For Hildegard, viriditas is that natural driving force, the life force that is always directed toward healing and wholeness. Love, too, is the breath of the same vital green power that sustains all life’s greenness. She sees the Holy Spirit as that power that gives human beings the green and open space where they are capable of responding to the Word and joining in all of creation. The Spirit purifies the world, scours away all guilt, and heals all wounds and sadness. So, green is not a mere color for Hildegard—it is an attitude and purposeful intent. It is the permanent inflowing and outflowing of viriditas. Ultimately—we are talking about physical health from the inexhaustible fountain of life’s living light. It is the very joy of being alive.
Hildegard’s philosophy of healing centered around her view of the body‐soul relationship. She identified 35 vices and 35 virtues to offset the vices (see Appendix for a complete list ). The vices are like risk factors that can destroy humanity and life on earth while the virtues are healing forces counteracting this possible catastrophe. A virtue like love, compassion, trust, or hope positively affects wound healing, lowers blood pressure by decreasing the adrenaline blood level, calms the heart rate, and decreases life‐ hreatening abnormalities like poor digestion and migraine.
According to Hildegard’s writings, these Christian/ traditional virtues are the greatest healing powers when negative forces—depression, madness, anxiety, fear, rage, bitterness, arrogance, desperation—are blocking the healing light (energy). Negative thoughts, emotions, and feeling are health destroying.
Strehlow (Hildegard of Bingen’s Spiritual Remedies by Dr. Wighard Strehlow), lists these vices and virtues in an easy format for us—they can be used as a practical guide for meditation, fasting, and prayer. Hildegard even wrote a morality play—and presented it as an opera with her nuns taking the parts of the virtues and her monk secretary Volmar, playing the part of the devil. Strehlow asks why are there so many illnesses considered incurable today when Hildegard only considered two diseases to be incurable—migraine and asthma? Medical practice as we know it in the West treats disease on the organic level—neglecting to look at the psychosomatic [emotional] causes. He observes that diseases are a malfunction of the body and neither drugs nor surgery, nor radiation can restore the body’s deficiencies. We know that it is impossible to solve an emotional problem with concrete remedies. Not even cancer can escape the problems of a disturbed soul. It will just keep coming back until the negative psychic factors that caused the illness in the first place are eliminated. See more of Dr. Wighard Strehlow Here
According to Hildegard, behind every negative force stands a positive spiritual healing force, and each weakness can be balanced by a spiritual strength. Some interesting observations have been made about Hildegard’s beliefs about the head and the spine. We know that the skull and vertebrae hold the nervous system together and provide the location for nerve outlets.
These nerves follow the body segments to activate and stimulate the entire body and all its organs. According to anatomy—there are 34 vertebrae plus the skull makes 35.These vertebrae with their thirty five spinal nerves communicate with the thirty five virtues and vices in our soul. Strehlow says that this discovery of the soul‐nerve interplay in Hildegard’s psychotherapy is one of the most important findings in the field and enables us to detect the underlying risk factors for the soul‐causing sicknesses. What we call the autonomic nervous system was for Hildegard the language between the body and the soul. Hildegard revealed a thousand years ago that lifestyle affects this communication. Negative feelings like hate, anger, and fear as well as positive emotions like love, compassion, hope and joy exert a strong influence on the autonomic nervous system, causing either health or disease. Hildegard already knew this—she observed that health and well‐being of our bodies depends entirely on the energy status of our souls. In order to heal the body—we have to heal the soul. Healing of the soul requires activating the power of the divine energy represented by the thirty‐five virtues, or healing forces. All of the virtues are uplifting and energizing and lead us into an atmosphere of relaxation, peace, and healing. The corresponding vices are life‐destroying, bringing low energy, fatigue, and a loss of immune strength. Fasting (which I will address in the next chapter) is the universal remedy for twenty‐eight of these spiritual problems (vices). The other seven require spiritual healing exercises like prayer, living in isolation, and physical training.
We see in this cosmic wheel, humans cultivating the earth through the seasons of the year and the seasons of their lives. The tree stands for inexhaustible life. Hildegard celebrates in this vision the fertility of the earth. “I saw how moisture from the gentle layer of air flowed over the earth. This air revived the earth’s greening power and caused all fruits to put forth seeds and become fertile… From the gentle layer of air, moisture effervesces over the earth. This awakens the earth’s greenness and causes all fruits to appear through germination.” You can see from this why staying wet and moist are such important virtues to Hildegard— without the moisture there is no creativity, no fertility.
Living a Healed and Whole (Holistic) Life
Our health and well‐being of our bodies depends entirely on the energy status of our souls, writes Hildegard. In order to heal the body—we have to consider the health of both body and soul.
How does she suggest we heal our souls? By activating the power of the divine energy in the 35 virtues or healing forces. She’s basically saying that you cannot just look at a physical problem without seeing the connection with the emotional and spiritual issues that contributed to the physical one. The plants Hildegard used were generally those which she might have collected from the nearby woods and fields or grown in the monastery garden. She does use some more exotic ingredients, like ginger, pepper, frankincense, and sugar that would have been bought. The most important fact for Hildegard is whether a plant is considered “hot” or “cold” which follows ancient Greek thought. Every herb was either warm or cold. The warmth of herbs signifies the soul and the cold of herbs signifies the body. Certain herbs have the virtue of very strong aromas, others the harshness of the most pungent aromas. They can curb many evils, since evil spirits do not like them. [This actually was a very common belief and can be explained through vibrational frequencies. Plants carry a certain vibrational frequency whereas evil spirits manifest as a low frequency. Hence living plants can drive out evil spirits.]
Hildegard offers concrete, exact directions for gathering, processing, storing, and using medicinal herbs. She tells you where these herbs grow and the proper time of day and season to gather them. She shows how to prepare these herbs as soups, beverages, purgatives, little cakes, powders and salves; and she describes how to use them as poultices, compresses, applications, and inhalants. For Hildegard, life from God was transmitted into the plants, animals, and precious gems. People in turn ate the plants and animals and acquired some of the gems— thereby obtaining viriditas. People then gave out viriditas through the virtues. According to Hildegard, human beings were originally created to be healthy and whole. These are basic characteristics to which we are entitled. In her theology, after the fall, man and woman discovered that everything had to be carefully and expertly cultivated. Life needed to be ordered with a fixed set of rules in everyday life—part of a sensible lifestyle, she writes. For Hildegard, discretion (which includes the capacity of discrimination) is the mother of all the virtues, which can help you maintain the balance necessary for a healthy lifestyle. When balance is missing, illness and disease take over. She realized that healing and holiness are involved in planning even the most mundane and practical aspects of everyday living.
All things in moderation (discretion). This is the vital juice, as it were, the very breath of all training and education. She observes that discretion touches on a vast range of thoughts and actions. She advises to guard your viriditas with the utmost care through proper diet, proper lifestyle, that is one free from excess indulgences and cravings, and attention to spiritual matters. This is a very natural health regime that is very practical and it’s one based on classic Benedictine/ traditionas principle of moderation in life. Lifestyle should be sustained and supported by our choices in nutrition, food and drink, even our clothing and the houses we live in. Everything should be a reflection of God. But as we look at our lifestyles todayweI see that 80 percent of the population suffers and dies because of a stressful lifestyle and harmful nutrition. Only 10 percent of our illnesses are caused by environment or genes.
We have let technology manipulate our food, water, clothing, and our houses. We have sick house and sick building syndromes, food allergies, chemicals in everything we touch and smell.
Finding Harmony from Excess
Hildegard permitted no excuses for greed and excess. She spurned all matters of excess and pretention. She argued that the purpose for man’s reason was not just to distinguish between right and wrong, but also to discern between overabundance and deficiency.
The Lush Greenness of Nature
Viriditas was a guiding image for Hildegard, appearing regularly in her work. The translations of her work vary in their interpretations, but there is unity in how she viewed this greening power of nature as a metaphor for physical and spiritual health. Viriditas was, in part, the visible aspect of the lush, greenness of the divine in nature.
Many believe that her damp, green surroundings at Disibodenberg inspired her association of this greenness to the vitality of spirit mind body. She lived in the valley around the Rhine River in Germany her entire life. The greenness of this region likely had a significant impact on her, leading to much of her work on life energy, abundance, and the sustaining power of nature being rooted in the notions of lush, green, and moist.
Healing Power of Green
Viriditas was meant to reflect nature’s divine healing power, a constant force, but also a momentary condition in which God heals through the greening power of a living plant. When one consumes a healing plant, this divine power is transferred from the plant to the humans and it becomes a moment of viriditas. This experience is meant to be a daily occurrence as you eat, a means to stay vital with the greening power but also a reminder of our eternal interconnectedness with nature.
Modern Variations of Greening Power in Medicine
A modern medical practitioner, Dr. Victoria Sweet was inspired by Hildegard’s ancient wisdom, and her concept of viriditas in healing patients. After obtaining her MD, Dr. Sweet went back to get a PhD in history; both her masters and doctoral theses were on the subject of Hildegard medicine.
In Dr. Sweet’s TEDx talk at Middlebury College, (The Efficiency of Inefficieny) she describes Hildegard’s belief that human healing resembles the greening power and regenerating capabilities of plant life. In 2014, Dr. Sweet published a book on the subject called God’s Hotel. More recently, Dr. Sweet published a related book, Slow Medicine, also featuring viriditas as a central theme.
Within our Control and Within Reach
Hildegard believed viriditas was to not just be witnessed, but sought out. Hildegard spoke of this pursuit of viriditas through her metaphors of moistness, fruitfulness, and vigor of the soul. These attributes were how she saw life, signs of being alive, and of engaging in this living force of the creator.
Similar to her use of the humoral in her medicine, she saw viriditas as the living part of the duality with ariditas, the “dryness”, “drought”, “aridity”, and “infection” that can arise when the flow of viriditas is blocked.
She saw the tension between the life affirming and balance seeking attributes of viriditas and the barrenness and dryness of ariditas as motivation for constant inquiry into how to encourage the flow of greening power. Physical disease and spiritual decay were evidence of this lacking flow, a flow of greenness that penetrated every aspect of all life, and was a reflection of the Divine on Earth.
Oneness of the Universe
Living well required vigilance against this dryness overtaking our viriditas. The pursuit of greening power instructed much of Hildegard’s work on herbal healing and nutrition and was foundational in how she constructed her beliefs of the interconnectedness of the natural world, humanity, and the divine.
Regardless of how viriditas is translated, the word is full of life. It is entwined with Hildegard’s teachings and beliefs, in her music, art, writing, and her study of the natural world. Whether you are tilling your Hildegard healing medieval garden, or taking a walk in the woods, or just learning ways to invite health and wellness into your life, viriditas is a powerful reminder of the importance of our connectivity with nature and of acknowledging the life and beauty all around us.
The four bodily humors derive from the bodily fluids of blood, phlegm, black bile, and yellow bile. Like the theory of homeostasis, bodily humors seek balance. When bodily humors fall out of balance, our health and temperament suffer.
The four bodily humors represent the foundation of humoral theory (or, humorism), a medical doctrine practiced by ancient Greek and Roman physicians. Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, is credited with first applying this theory to the practice of medicine.
Hildegard and Bodily Juices
Humoral medicine was a holistic and highly individualist approach to health and wellness. It represented holistic healing because bodily humors were believed to influence both physical and mental (or, spiritual) disposition. The practice of humoral medicine required an individual approach, since the ideal state – or balance, of the four bodily humors may vary for each individual.
Hildegard of Bingen believed the spirit determines the health of our body and mind. When the spirit, mind, and body possess equal strength, the four bodily juices arrive in balance, resulting in good health. Just as the four elements of air, fire, water, and earth interrelate in a balance seeking cycle, our bodies mirror this relationship.
Balancing Bodily Humors
Hildegard applied the humoral theory of ancient medicine in her beliefs and practices. In Causes and Curae, Hildegard discusses a relationship of the body’s significant fluids (bodily juices) that correspond with the four qualities of hot, cold, wet, and dry. She associated the bodily humors of the traditional four fluids of blood, phlegm, bile, and melancholia with those qualities.
Hildegard also believed that the essence or “juice” of anything, especially the medicinal juice of plants, followed a similar relationship based on the qualities of bodily humors as dry, wet, tepid, and foamy. She believed that disease emerged from the wrong proportion of the bodily juices.
William Shakespeare (1564–1616) created characters that are among the richest and most humanly recognizable in all of literature. Yet Shakespeare understood human personality in the terms available to his age—that of the now-discarded theory of the four bodily humors—blood, bile, melancholy, and phlegm. These four humors were thought to define peoples‘ physical and mental health, and determined their personalities, as well. Read more here
Humors Bring Harmony
Hildegard’s understanding of the bodily juices was a unifying perspective in which the four humors existed within the body, but also within the natural world. She saw the four bodily humors as a microcosm of the fundamental organizing system of the universe. In her view, each juice existed to temper the other – just as the universe is made of the four elements and four seasons operating in harmony.
When harmony exists in us, we are in accord with all that exists. Because of our connectivity with the universe, Hildegard believed the soul to be the source of everything and thus essential in achieving harmony. She held four basic rules in the pursuit of harmony.
Rule 1: Strengthen the spirit
Hildegard believed that all problems and ailments in the body are ultimately rooted in our spirit. She believed that by strengthening and healing the soul, the body and its systems would then follow. Hildegard’s path to harmony flows from the spirit, to the mind, and the body. The power of health and wellness is within us. It is our duty to strengthen our soul such that this power will manifest. How?
We strengthen our soul through meditation, encouraging and practicing talents and virtues, and working against vices and weakness. The key is to identify and prioritize your values and determine whether or not you are practicing your values in your day-to-day life.
The Sufi Master, Sultan ul Awliya Shaykh Muhammad Nazim Adil Al Haqqani Q.S explains The HEALING OF THE HEART WITH THE MEDICINE OF DHIKR ( meditation on the Holy Names of Allah: “Each and very human being has two hearts. One is a physical lump of flesh the size of a fist and the other is the spiritual heart of immeasurable size and depth, more immense than the universe!” Read more…
Rule 2: Cleanse the Body
Hildegard was a proponent of regular detoxification and spiritual fasting. Cleansing through fasting, wormwood wine cures, and herbal treatments and elixirs. Hildegard’s fasting guidelines show that fasting needn’t be suffering or absolute deprivation. Fasting can merely be a dedicated period of time to allow your body to purge toxins, rest, and rejuvenate.
The spiritual fast is known from antiquity ,and the best known and most observed is in Islam :
Muslims believe that fasting is more than abstaining from food and drink. Fasting also includes abstaining from any falsehood in speech and action, abstaining from any ignorant and indecent speech, and from arguing, fighting, and having lustful thoughts. Therefore, fasting strengthens control of impulses and helps develop good behavior. During the sacred month of Ramadan, believers strive to purify body and soul and increase their taqwa (good deeds and God-consciousness). This purification of body and soul harmonizes the inner and outer spheres of an individual. Muslims aim to improve their body by reducing food intake and maintaining a healthier lifestyle. Overindulgence in food is discouraged and eating only enough to silence the pain of hunger is encouraged. Muslims believe they should be active, tending to all their commitments and never falling short of any duty. On a moral level, believers strive to attain the most virtuous characteristics and apply them to their daily situations. They try to show compassion, generosity and mercy to others, exercise patience, and control their anger. In essence, Muslims are trying to improve what they believe to be good moral character and habits.
Rule 3: Moderation
Moderation was a central theme of Hildegard’s beliefs and teachings. Hildegard believed that we should strive to bring moderation into our behaviors, thoughts, and actions. Her notion of moderation was about more than just eating and drinking nutritious foods. For Hildegard, moderation was closely tied to her beliefs that balance in spirit, mind, and body was essential in living a healthy life.
Modern living often seems designed to keep us off-balance. The flow of our daily lives presents seemingly limitless opportunity to step out of balance in order to accomplish our goals. An awareness of balance and placing our desire for balance into practice helps lead to a healthier state of being.
Avoiding processed foods, awareness of what we eat and drink, while limiting our indulgences helps keep us on the right path.
Hildegard’s Medieval Diet, based on natural foods enjoyed in moderation and balance, serves as a reference for some specific tips.
Rule 4: Sharpen the Senses
Live your life on purpose; set healthy goals; don’t allow life to “happen to you”. Maintaining contentment means cultivating a positive demeanor; it’s a choice we make many times, every day. Live your values with optimism and personal responsibility. Love your life. If you can’t love your life in its current form, identify the shortcomings and work on changes. Some of the most profound developments begin with the smallest turns of the dial.
O men of sight—what a sight!
Through mysteries you’ve passed
with gaze of spirit’s eyes,
in shining shadow
a living, piercing light
that buds upon that single branch
that flourished at
the entrance of deep-rooted light:
You saints of old!
You have foretold salvation
of souls in exile plunged,
in death immersed.
You circled, spun like wheels
as wondrously proclaimed
the mountain’s mysteries
whose top the heavens touched
and passed through many waters
yet still among you
arose a shining lamp
that raced ahead, that mountain
Scivias III.4: The Pillar of the Word of God.
Rupertsberg MS, fol. 145v
The four humours and their corresponding qualities.
Humoral theory, also known as humorism or the theory of the four humours, was a model for the workings of the human body. It was systemised in Ancient Greece, although its origins may go back further still. The theory was central to the teachings of Hippocrates and Galen and it became the dominant theory in Europe for many centuries. It remained a major influence on medical practice and teaching until well into the 1800s.
In this theory, humours existed as liquids within the body and were identified as blood, phlegm, black bile and yellow bile. These were in turn associated with the fundamental elements of air, water, earth and fire. It was further proposed that each of the humours was associated with a particular season of the year, during which too much of the corresponding humour could exist in the body – blood, for example, was associated with spring. A good balance between the four humours was essential to retain a healthy body and mind, as imbalance could result in disease. Such notions of internal balance have parallels in other medical traditions, notably Ayurveda, Unani Tibb and Traditional Chinese Medicine.
The treatments for disease within humoral theory were concerned with restoring balance. These could be relatively benign and focused on changes in dietary habits, exercise and herbal medicines. But other treatments could involve more aggressive attempts to re-establish balance. As well as having the body purged with laxatives and emetics, or the skin blistered with hot iron, individuals already weakened by disease might be subjected to bloodletting because practitioners mistakenly believed that their bodies contained an excess of blood.
Hildegard’s Bodily Juices
Hildegard’s work in Causae et Curae, on the origin and treatment of diseases, offers a fascinating glimpse into Hildegard’s world view, and the theological underpinnings of her thinking around natural healing, naturopathy, and bodily juices. Even today, Hildegard’s descriptions provide a thought-provoking look at the causes of certain maladies and diseases.
The Rule of Fours in Hildegard Medicine
According to Hildegard, the Earth is composed of four primary elements and was given to man by God. In her book, Rooted in the Earth, Rooted in the Air, Victoria Sweet discusses the 4 elements as earth, fire, air and water. According to Hildegard, Fire strengthens, Earth provides life force, Air supports flexibility, and Water moisturizes and nourishes. Everything flows together, and no element can exist without the other elements.
Ideally, all creatures coexist and contribute to the interplay of the four elements, with every creature in relationship to one another. The elements benefit man; they nourish him, and provide him with a home. The basis of this orderly structure depends on the coexistence of man and elements, where everything has its place, meaning, and purpose. Driven by actions and faith, man occupies the center of this interrelationship.
Paradise Lost May be Found or Out of paradise every day
In Biblical lore, it was the fall of Adam and Eve that first compromised the intended structure of the universe, bringing disorder to all creation. When viewed through the lens of Hildegard’s microcosm-macrocosm, the fall from the Garden of Eden disrupted our relationship with nature, which lead to physical and spiritual changes in man, physical fragility, suffering and modern diseases.
As a result, the integrity of man’s original constitution (constitutio) was altered. Not all is lost, however, as the Creator has preserved a means for us to restore our unadulterated state. According to Hildegard, diligent work leads to a virtuous life, and thereby we may regain divine salvation (restitutio).
The Four Elements and Bodily Juices
According to Hildegard’s descriptions, the four elements interact in the human body as well as in nature to form the body and mind. Of the four basic elements, two possess heavenly qualities (air and fire), and the other two (earth and water) have earthly qualities. The two higher elements form the spirit, which is intangible in nature, whereas the body forms from the lower elements.
The four elements remain equally interconnected as much in people as they are on Earth. These elements moderate, support, and balance one-another. The resulting interplay forms our bodies and spirits, culminating in the human being to give him life.
Fire gives sight, the air gives hearing, water contributes motion and Earth creates the body and its gait. The soul is sent by God is further characterized by the deeds of men.
The Four Bodily Juices or Humours
Diseases arise from the imbalance of phlegmata or juices in the body; these are often referred to as bodily humours. These bodily juices, as Hildegard described them, formed after the fall of man, and they determine health and sickness, as well as character and temperament in the people.
Hildegard’s views on bodily juices or phlegmata were consistent with the common medical wisdom of premodern times. She incorporates several aspects of humoral pathology into her methodology, while also incorporating her own unique elements. One such element was in how Hildegard further subdivides her system of four bodily juice into two dominant and two secondary juices.
The nature of Hildegard’s four bodily juices relates to the composition of the four basic elements in the following manner: fire produces dry phlegm, whereas air produces moist phlegm; water produces frothy phlegm and earth produces a lukewarm condition. As with the element, our bodily juices attain their natural state through balance and harmony. Any disruption results in disease.
Man’s Character and Bodily Juices
These juices can occur in different combinations and thereby determine the character of the human being, as well as his physical condition.
“The man with the lukewarm phlegm is a sad and anxious. With him, the black bile is present in excess and compromises the brain and heart. This man is God-fearing and can also live quite long because his phlegm neither excessively harms him, nor makes him completely healthy.” – Hildegard of Bingen
In her writings about bodily juices, Hildegard describes people with certain characteristics. She identifies the dominant bodily juice, influencing the prevalent characteristic or behavior. In her analysis of these qualities and the corresponding bodily juice, Hildegard projects the life expectancy of those individuals.
In this way, Hildegard deals with most juices and the corresponding character such that the predominant phlegm and the arrangement of all other juices determine a person’s character.
Causae et Curae
In Causae et Curae, Hildegard describes a total of 16 possible character types. She describes why a person acts in a certain way and what juice causes that behavior. She also speculates on the influence such behavior has on a person’s life. Through this process, Hildegard attempts to explain why people act differently and how their lifestyle and temperament impact their lives and their life-expectancies.
The balance of juices determines our character and life span, and the composition (qualities) of those juices further defines our respective character.
Hildegard always traces disease to an imbalance of our juices. According to her understanding, a life of measure and Godliness is the best path toward maintaining a balance of the juices, and thus health and wellness of body and spirit.
Spirit Mind Body: Strength as a Skill
A skill must be learned, practiced, and tested. It is something one acquires through work, discipline, direction, and fortitude. Once acquired, it cannot be taken away, but it can atrophy if left idle. Consider the strength of our spirit mind body.
We hear a lot about a strong body, about how to build strength, what it takes to become “strong.” But these things are often limited by their own definitions, constrained by their transitory nature; fabricated solutions borne with expiration dates. And in a practical sense, most lack the simplicity and adaptability to accommodate the depth and breadth of a life being lived as a body, a mind, and spirit.
Spirit Mind Body: The Practice of Strength as a Skill
At Healthy Hildegard, we consider a holistic approach, evaluating strength as a skill that may occupy many different vectors of life. It is something that we build through our actions, something to be practiced, not a singular metric to be achieved.
There are countless books, blogs, web sites and gyms telling us how to live a healthy and fruitful life. Hildegard offered simple advice on bodily humors and strength of spirit mind body that have stood the test of time. Many suggestions can be incorporated into your life today, without joining a gym, buying a book, trying a new supplement, medication, or therapy.
The practice of building strength needn’t be heavy lifting. Skills can also come through small moves, through repetition of effort, through the accumulation of these practices tested against the challenges of everyday life.
It all starts with the spirit; the first of Hildegard’s four juices or bodily humors. Once we’ve committed to strengthening our souls through meditation, and faith in our inner wisdom, everything else can follow.
Begin your strength building practice with the wisdom of Hildegard and her simple ways to maintain the awareness of all that is you. Consider Hildegard’s Medieval Diet as a way to explore strength of spirit mind body.
- Points of Intersection: Viriditas and Veritas
Hildegard’s understanding of viriditas is multi-dimensional. It straddles the boundaries of the physical, the moral and the spiritual. Viriditas is fecundity. It is fruitfulness. It is greening power. A key facet of viriditas is its absence, ariditas. Dryness. The current state of the earth is an example of ariditas while the preferred situation of the earth within the universe is seen in viriditas. Obviously, at a purely physical level, this is the case. The earth is drying up and the seas are warming up. MacGillis’ discussion of the oceans, their composition, and the effects of lethal waste upon marine and human life leave no one in doubt. At a deeper level the crisis of unenlightened consciousness exemplifies another form of ariditas. It is a type of sinful mindset caused by deluded thinking based on rationalist and materialist philosophies. It is a type of sinful mindset that sees mankind [sic] at the top of the ladder of creation devouring natural resources and exploiting peoples. It is the type of sinful mindset that has created the current credit crunch—irresponsible, self-aggrandizing behaviour indicative of profound ariditas, of profound need for conversion. Where there is no ethical understanding, scientific knowledge leads to a diseased consciousness, to ultimate dryness and death. Says MacGillis: If the planet dies the only cause of it will have been consciousness, because without consciousness, the whole thing [earth’s cycles] was coded toward life…there are dynamics happening at the most profound level 7which are altering the capacity of the earth to do what the universe has mandated it to do. This is to continue to live and to continue to heal and nourish and regenerate itself. Consciousness is violating this mandate. And that’s us. Hildegard’s recognition of the interconnection between ariditas and sin is significant as is her conviction that viriditas is the way of justice and “fountain-fullness.” Is not viriditas also a heightened consciousness of connection, of consequences, of inter-relatedness, Is it not an embracing of creaturehood accompanied by a large dose of humility? The Earth, indeed the universe, is not a collection of objects, as Berry states, but a communion of subjects. Human beings are only one, lately emerged development in this communion. Understanding the principles of the new cosmology means imagining another kind of earth, perhaps like Hildegard’s, with viriditas at its core, an earth in full fruit. And in another kind of consciousness, veritas and reverence will enable people to see that the Earth is our body and God’s—something that Hildegard herself saw in her vision of the earth, embraced by the Cosmic Christ and resting in the womb of God (1998:41) read more
- The Green Man offers us a new understanding of the relationship between the macrocosm – the universal world – and the microcosm in ourselves.
On the macrocosmic scale he symbolizes the point at which the creative power in eternity is made manifest in space and time. Hildegard of Bingen gave a special name to the manifestation of cosmic energies: viriditas, greenness. On the scale of the human individual, viriditas is the operation of the Divine Word penetrating the soul and the whole body. Her idea has a modern parallel in the conception, much discussed by physicists, of the Anthropic Principle, the theory that intelligence is built into the form of the universe and that the reality of the universe is tied to us and depends on us as observers. It is a theory that may help us to conceive the new scale on which to think of the Green Man. Read more: NATURE, THEOPHANY AND THE REHABILITATION OF CONSCIOUSNESS
- TWELVE ANIMAL SPIRIT KEEPERS
Just as, for example, the body of a human being exceeds the heart in size, so also are the powers of the soul more powerful than those of the body . The powers of the soul extend over the entire globe. We look constantly at other creatures, Hildegard observes, yet “it is God whom human beings know in every creature. For they know that God is the Crentor of the whole world,” How beautifully, how freely, how rnagnificently Hildegard invites us to let go of human chauvinism. God is in every creature—not just the two-legged ones, much less the baptized ones of our race. The cosmos is truly a temple.
Hildegard considers the animal figures in this mandala to stand for “powers of virtue” that keep humanity going and working in the universe. Thus, for example, the stag stands for faith and holiness_ VVhen humans experience suffering we are like a bear in bodily pain” which cannot get rid of its pain but teaches us an “inner meekness, causing us to walk along the right path by exercising patience like a lam and to avoid evil by behaving as cleverly as a serpent. For through the distress of the body we often attain spiritual treasures through which we come into possessian of a higher kingdom.” Virtues for Hildegard are powers that humans exert on the cosrnos. They are as diverse as the various species that people the universe.
From the four directions of the universe Hildegard sees the heads of twelve animals breathing onto the human figure: 2 crabs„ a leopard, 2 stags, 2 larnbs, 2 bears, a serpent, a wolf. and a lion. As they are in Native American beliefs, these animais are the spirit keepers standing ror the “power of virtues.” that keep humaniry working in the universe and on earth: patient like a lamb, strong as a bear, clever like a serpent.
Note: About Native American beliefs:
The Spiritual Legacy of the American Indian
You have noticed that everything an Indian does is in a circle, and that is because the Power of the World always works in circles, and everything tries to be round. In the old days when we were a strong and happy people, all our power came to us from the sacred hoop of the nation, and so long as the hoop was unbroken, the people flourished. The flowering tree was the living center of the hoop, and the circle of the four quarters nourished it. The east gave peace and light, the south gave warmth, the west gave rain, and the north with its cold and mighty wind gave strength and endurance. This knowledge came to us from the outer world with our religion. Everything the Power of the World does is done in a circle. The sky is round, and I have heard that the earth is round like a ball, and so are all the stars. The wind, in its greatest power, whirls. Birds make their nests in circles, for theirs is the same religion as ours. The sun comes forth and goes down again in a circle. The moon does the same, and both are round. Even the seasons form a great circle in their changing, and always come back again to where they were. The life of a man is a circle from childhood to childhood, and so it is in everything where power moves. Our teepees were round like the nests of birds, and these were always set in a circle, the nation’s hoop, a nest of many nests, where the Great Spirit meant for us to hatch our children’ Read more here
Tibetan and Navajo Cultures: Throughout history the circle has been consistently regarded both as an important metaphysical concept and symbol, as well as a practical object of aesthetic creation and shamanic, ritualistic, magical usage, often used to define an area that is special, that is sacred, that is protected. Accordingly numerous rituals using circles have evolved in the past throughout the world. Knowledge of these rituals is important for the shaman, for they offer a way to tap into the cumulated energy of all of these rituals carried out with focused consciousness in the past, through the performance of rituals in the present that have a multidimensional resonance, that is, which set up harmonically sympathetic vibrations bridging states of non-ordinary reality with ordinary reality to reveal states of extra-ordinary reality.
This paper will focus on the use of the sacred circle in shamanic practices within two different cultures, the Amerindian Navajo culture and the Tibetan Buddhist culture, both of which have for many centuries and continue into the present day to create ritually efficacious magic circles using a technique known as sandpainting. The Navajo and Tibetans have both preserved their systems of psychophysical transformation, ritual, art and natural philosophy up to the present day. Read more
- Humanity and the Macrocosmos:
Hildegard writes: “The heads of the animals exhale forces of wind according to precise natural laws that spin the cosmic network throughout the world and create a corresponding moral relationship, All these animal’s breathe toward the wheel and these winds keep the universe in balance….. Neither the universe nor humanity could live without the blowing of the winds‘ LDO 2-17
Everybody who stays in tune with God and the universe receives an abundance of power. He who runs away lives in a spiritual blackout. Hildegárd foresees our time as a period of forgerfulness. Western civilization is without this spiritual power because it lives oblivious to God and nature. This is the greatest disease of our time. It is responsible for our loss of meaning and also for violence and addiction to such things as work, alcohol, drugs,and sex that keep us occupied and make us neurotic. Nevertheless, all nonsense contains sense and every disease has the chance to be healed. Read more Humanity and the Macrocosmos
Here the complete LIBER VITAE MERITORUM: In her second volume of visionary theology, composed between 1158 and 1163, after she had moved her community of nuns into independence at the Rupertsberg in Bingen, Hildegard tackled the moral life in the form of dramatic confrontations between the virtues and the vices. She had already explored this area in her musical morality play, Ordo Virtutum, and the “Book of the Rewards of Life” takes up that play’s characteristic themes. Each vice, although ultimately depicted as ugly and grotesque, nevertheless offers alluring, seductive speeches that attempt to entice the unwary soul into their clutches. Standing in our defence, however, are the sober voices of the Virtues, powerfully confronting every vicious deception.
Liber Divinorum Operum
Hildegard’s last and grandest visionary work had its genesis in one of the few times she experienced something like an ecstatic loss of consciousness. As she described it in an autobiographical passage included in her Vita, sometime in about 1163, she received “an extraordinary mystical vision” in which was revealed the “sprinkling drops of sweet rain” that John the Evangelist experienced when he wrote, “In the beginning was the Word…” (John 1:1).
Hildegard perceived that this Word was the key to the “Work of God”, of which humankind is the pinnacle. The Book of Divine Works, therefore, became in many ways an extended explication of the Prologue to John’s Gospel.
The ten visions of this work’s three parts are cosmic in scale, to illustrate various ways of understanding the relationship between God and his creation. Often, that relationship is established by grand allegorical female figures representing Divine Love (Caritas) or Wisdom (Sapientia). The first vision opens the work with a salvo of poetic and visionary images, swirling about to characterize God’s dynamic activity within the scope of his work within the history of salvation. The remaining three visions of the first part introduce the famous image of a human being standing astride the spheres that make up the universe and detail the intricate relationships between the human as microcosm and the universe as macrocosm. This culminates in the final chapter of Part One, Vision Four with Hildegard’s commentary on the Prologue to John’s Gospel (John 1:1–14), a direct rumination on the meaning of “In the beginning was the Word…” The single vision that constitutes the whole of Part Two stretches that rumination back to the opening of Genesis, and forms an extended commentary on the seven days of the creation of the world told in Genesis 1–2:3. This commentary interprets each day of creation in three ways: literal or cosmological; allegorical or ecclesiological (i.e. related to the Church’s history); and moral or tropological (i.e. related to the soul’s growth in virtue). Finally, the five visions of the third part take up again the building imagery of Scivias to describe the course of salvation history. The final vision (3.5) contains Hildegard’s longest and most detailed prophetic program of the life of the Church from her own days of “womanish weakness” through to the coming and ultimate downfall of the Antichrist. Read more here
Note: COMMENTARY ON THE JOHANNINE PROLOGUE by Hildegard of Bingen
“ In the beginning was the Word( Logos) , and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” John 1-1
“For we are the image of God, Hildegard tells us, and if we wish to see God we need look no further than our souls and bodies, ourselves and our neighbors.”
Few of us have been blinded by the reverberating light of Christ or seen the shimmering form of Lady Wisdom spinning her cosmic wheel. But then, we do not need to: For we are the image of God, Hildegard tells us, and if we wish to see God we need look no further than our souls and bodies, ourselves and our neighbors. “God willed that his Word should create all things, as he had foreordained before the ages. And why is it called a Word? Because with a resounding voice it awakened all creatures and called them to itself.” In the same way, human beings, formed in the Creator’s likeness, are inescapably creative, for we work with our hands and command with our voices. “What was made in the Word was life”: Like our Creator, we too live by the works that we create. By our making, we reveal ourselves to ourselves, and, what is more, we reveal God to one another. God’s rational word echoes in our speech, his praise resounds in our songs, and his creativity is declared in our creations.
“The living Light that made us is the singing Word that took our flesh; he made us because we were eternally his and he wished to be revealed as ours. We are his mirrors, his marvels, his fellow workers, and the work of his hands.” Read HILDEGARD’S COMMENTARY ON THE JOHANNINE PROLOGUE
- Jesus – The Paradigm of a Pilgrim in God
Jesus, the physical embodiment of the divine Breath
For Ibn ʿArabī, Jesus is an exceptional being. As the Andalusian author relates, Jesus was his first master and was decisive in his entry into the way of Sufism. This personal relationship, similar to a first love, encouraged him to hope that he would be a witness to the day of Jesus’s coming, and perhaps this motivated him to live his final years in Damascus, the place of his descent.
Jesus follows a path from God, and returns to God, without ever having been away from God; his descent into this world is followed by his ascent to the second Heaven (the one of Mercury), waiting to descend again to the great mosque of Damascus, before making the final ascent to Paradise. His vertical movement combines with a horizontal movement – that is, he travels ceaselessly [his ceaseless travelling] across the world as a wanderer with no place to rest his head. This constant travel is a manifestation of the constant activity of God and reveals the nature of all reality. Every creature is a word that comes from God and is destined to return to Him. In addition, Jesus, by means of his preaching centred on asceticism and the reminder of death, and through his alchemical spiritual and health-giving activity, he helps human beings on their path of return to the Creator.Read more…
In her Liber Divinorum Operum (Book of Divine Works), St. Hildegard of Bingen – whom Pope Benedict XVI declared a Doctor of the Church in 2012 – revised and expanded an earlier prophetic vision from her Scivias concerning five distinct future epochs between her own time in the twelfth century and the Eschaton, or End Times: all labelled, in veiled metaphors, under animal signs:
(1) The Age of the Fiery Hound (2) The Age of the Yellow Lion (3) The Age of the Pale Horse (4) The Age of the Black Pig and (5) The Age of the Grey Wolf.
Summarizing Hildegard’s complete programme from the LDO into the form of a schedule, we get a detailed system of good and bad times to come–and much to come–before Antichrist. Below I rely on a summary of her periodization of the future formulated by the scholar Kathryn Kerby-Fullton:
- Fiery Hound
Description of Time Period:
Time of spiritual weakness or “feminine debility” (tempus mul i ebre) –clergy are “perversi mercenarii are forerunners of Antichrist
–both secular and spiritual leaders and pope) simoniacs and heretics are corrupt (emperor –Church has fallen away from pristine apostolic discipline
- Yellow Lion
Description of Time Period:
Time of chastisement and disendowment of Church and purgation through tribulation for all
–“tempus utile” or “tempus virile”
–renewal of spiritual strength revealed through prophecy, abundance and peace–utopian vision
–conversion of pagans
- Pale Horse
Description of Time Period:
Time of sorrows
–persecution of Christians by heathens
–Christians saved by miracle and conversion of heathens
–Papacy and Empire dispersed
–Church returns to pristine discipline –renewal of spiritual strength again revealed through prophecy, abundance and peace black
- Black Pig
Description of Time Period:
Reign of heretics and forerunners of Antichrist
–many Christians desert orthodoxy
–moral decay and spiritual decline
–signs of the End
- Grey Wolf
Description of Time Period:
–persecution of faithful and traditional eschatological events
Death of Antichrist
Second Coming and Last Judgement **
In this thread, I am going to quote from some of these writings and would like to reflect with other posters on their significance.
Upon proclaiming Saint Hildegard of Bingen a “Doctor of the Church” in 2012, Pope Benedict XVI noted in respect of her legacy:
Proclaiming Saint Hildegard of Bingen,
professed nun of the Order of Saint Benedict,
a Doctor of the Universal Church
BENEDICTUS PP. XVI
FOR PERPETUAL REMEMBRANCE**
- A “light for her people and her time”: in these words Blessed John Paul II, my Venerable Predecessor, described Saint Hildegard of Bingen in 1979, on the occasion of the eight-hundredth anniversary of the death of this German mystic. This great woman truly stands out crystal clear against the horizon of history for her holiness of life and the originality of her teaching. And, as with every authentic human and theological experience, her authority reaches far beyond the confines of a single epoch or society; despite the distance of time and culture, her thought has proven to be of lasting relevance…
Hildegard’s teaching is considered eminent both for its depth, the correctness of its interpretation, and the originality of its views. The texts she produced are refreshing in their authentic “intellectual charity” and emphasize the power of penetration and comprehensiveness of her contemplation of the mystery of the Blessed Trinity, the Incarnation, the Church, humanity and nature as God’s creation, to be appreciated and respected.
**These works were born from a deep mystical experience and propose a perceptive reflection on the mystery of God…
Theological reflection enabled Hildegard to organize and understand, at least in part, the content of her visions**. In addition to books on theology and mysticism, she also authored works on medicine and natural sciences. Her letters are also numerous — about four hundred are extant; these were addressed to simple people, to religious communities, popes, bishops and the civil authorities of her time. She was also a composer of sacred music. The corpus of her writings, for their quantity, quality and variety of interests, is unmatched by any other female author of the Middle Ages.
Her main writings are the Scivias, the Liber Vitae Meritorum and the Liber Divinorum Operum. They relate her visions and the task she received from the Lord to transcribe them…
Thus, to the common wish of the People of God that Hildegard be officially canonized, was added the request that she be declared a “Doctor of the Universal Church”…
I hereby decree the present Letter to be perpetually valid and fully effective, and I establish that from this moment anything to the contrary proposed by any person, of whatever authority, knowingly or unknowingly, is invalid and without force.
Given in Rome, at Saint Peter’s, under the ring of the Fisherman, on 7 October 2012, in the eighth year of my Pontificate.
Note: About BENEDICTUS XVI
The Pope met Sheikh Nazim al Haqqani in Cyprus on 5th. of July 2010 in Nikosia
Later, Mawlana Shaykh Nazim al-Haqqani explained: Secrets of Pope Benedict’s Visit:
“I was meeting with his Holiness, Pope!The Lord of Heavens grants to him what his Holiness is asking. Here, he is asking nothingbecause he reached the top of the line but I was looking to his face and seeing that his eyes were searching something else. I am seeing that his Holiness Pope, not looking at this world or which thing he was dressing, no! His Holiness’ eyes were looking for something that common people can’t understand. Only he, who may be on that level, may understand. I just understood. At that time I embraced him and was taking everything that was making his Holiness (Sheikh Nabil: burdened) burdening? (SN: disturbing him), hanh, disturbing, just taking it away. He is therefore coming quickly and my heavenly power also reaching and taking him, therefore I am hugging his Holiness. And he was lightas a feather. Coming heavily, visiting Cyprus, his Holiness visited so many countries but he was asking to meet someone who may be for himan anchor,to support him. Through East and West, no one. That one minute’s time was enough. Therefore, everyone is asking something. But they are not knowing what they’re asking, because it is different. Only some people whose hearts belong to the heavens know what they are asking. His Holiness was asking to be free. From whom? From himself. And to rise towards heavens. You understand. May Allah forgive us. Allah Allah, Allah Allah, Allah Allah…”. From Shaykh Mohammad Nazim Al-Haqqani An-Naqshbandi, Sohbat June20, 2010
The resignation of Pope Benedict XVI occurred on 28 February 2013. Read more
Also in 2010 :The story of “The 33”and Maulana Sheikh Nazim
In 2010, the eyes of the world turned to Chile, where 33 miners had been buried alive by the catastrophic explosion and collapse of a 100-year-old gold and copper mine. Over the next 69 days, an international team worked night and day in a desperate attempt to rescue the trapped men as their families and friends, as well as millions of people globally, waited and watched anxiously for any sign of hope. But 200 stories beneath the surface, in the suffocating heat and with tensions rising, provisions—and time—were quickly running out. A story of resilience, personal transformation and triumph of the human spirit, the film takes us to the Earth’s darkest depths, revealing the psyches of the men trapped in the mine, and depicting the courage of both the miners and their families who refused to give up.
“I hope those people who were imprisoned 700 feet underground–and it is a miraculous happening to make people think about spirituality and miracles–as an ordinary position, if all technology came together, it could never save them!”…
Maulana explained that Allah had created this incident to destroy the foundations of disbelief. look here
- Five distinct future epochs of Hildegard of Bingen:
Hildegard is more explicit in the ﬁnal vision of the Book of Divine Works than in Scivias about distinct historical phases. She begins by recapitulating the ﬁnal hymn of the Ordo Virtutum, which in itself presents a vision of history:
In the beginning all creatures were strong; in the midst of it ﬂowers blossomed, then viridity slipped away. That ﬁghting man [Christ] saw this and said: “I know this, but the golden number is not yet full. Look at my father’s mirror. I bear weakness in my body, my small ones tire. Now remember that the fullness which was there at the beginning ought not dry up. You resolved in yourself that your eye would never fail until you see my body full of jewels. For it tires me that all my limbs are object of derision. See Father, I show you my wounds. Therefore, people, bend your knees to your father so that he may stretch out his hand to you. As if identifying herself with a wounded Christ, Hildegard urges humankind to return to that fullness of health or viridity with which creation was once endowed. Hildegard unravels what this means by explaining that she sees history not as a march of unstinted progress since the incarnation, but as one of a new burst of vitality immediately after the incarnation, followed by a period of long decay, “in which viridity fell away from its strength and turned into womanly weakness.” The renewal of the papal schism in 1159 probably reinforced her pessimism about the future of the Church. She may be alluding here to either Paschal III (1164–8), the cardinal placed on the see of Rome by Rainald of Dassel, archbishop of Cologne (1159–67), imperial chancellor and vicar for all Italy, or his successor as Antipope, Calixtus III (1168–78). Hildegard then examines various historical periods, ﬁrst describing the major apostles: the mild-mannered Matthew, the sceptical Thomas, the zealous Paul, the gentle James, brother of the Lord, the wise and strong Peter, and the virtuous and chaste John. There had been a gradual growth in iustitia and honesty of behaviour since the time of the Flood until the incarnation and the time of the apostles.After the time of the apostles, however, the sun became darkened and iustitia has weakened. She blames in particular “a judge of royal name” as bad as Nero and other tyrants. From a quite separate text, we know that she is referring here to the Emperor Henry IV. Hildegard assumes the voice of Christ in crying out about the loss of viridity in Christ’s body as if it were her own. She does not include any image of ecclesia as the Bride of Christ, as in Scivias. Perhaps out of disillusion with the formal structure of the Church, she now transferred her attention to the suffering of Christ himself. In the Liber Divinorum Operum, she concentrates on the theme that iustitia had fallen away from what it was in the past. The age of the dog began with the judge she mentions (Henry IV) and continued until God struck down another ruler “of a spiritual name, with the wisdom and cunning of a serpent,” perhaps Rainald of Dassel (d. 1167). She excoriates the ravaging wolves, dressed in ecclesiastical robes who carry arms, rob the poor, and plunder what does not belong to them. Then follows the age of the lion, a time of war, when armies will kill each other and many cities will be destroyed, although this will be followed by a time of justice and peace before ﬁnal judgment, presumably the time of the millennium. Her metaphors are those of natural health, the earth abounding with the “viridity of fruitfulness.”
The age of the horse, however, symbolizes the onset of changeability. The armies of the heathen will attack Christendom. She anticipates a radical fragmentation of the Roman imperium that can never be repaired. People will follow other teachers and other archbishops.Picking up the claims of Scripture, she anticipates that both sons and daughters shall prophesy (Joel 2:28; Acts 2:17), while there will also be many heresies before the emergence of the Antichrist in the time of the pig.
By identifying these wild animals with speciﬁc periods in history, Hildegard encourages her readers to think much more clearly than in Scivias that these present times are part of an order that must pass away before ultimate judgment. She was no longer afraid of speaking out about the wrong directions that had been taken in the history of the Church. She is also more speciﬁc than in Scivias about what the Antichrist is teaching: his arguments against the precepts of chastity, which she says will deceive mankind.
Only through the sending of Enoch and Elijah will the trickery of the evil one be overcome and people will be won back to God. All of these prophecies serve to warn humanity that it must return to the moral righteousness, the iustitia revealed by Christ. Hildegard sees the wounds in Christ’s body as manifestations of the injustice which still endures in society. In Scivias, she had preserved a more traditional image of the Church as a Virgin Bride that had been soiled by vice and corruption. Her emphasis on the suffering of Christ in the Book of Divine Works reﬂects her broader interest in that work with the need to restore the health of the human body. She is convinced that injustice will eventually be exposed and the son of perdition defeated. Hildegard concludes the Book of Divine Works by referring back to the frailty of her own body, which she sees as weak and frail, animated only by the Holy Spirit to give instruction to the Church.Her hope for human history is that it moves towards a restoration of that vitality in her own body for which she longed. The Book of Divine Works is one of the great texts of the twelfth century, a vision of the working of the world and the human person. It may be misleading to describe it as a vision of history. Hildegard saw her mission as one of promoting moral reform rather than of arguing for social revolution. Nonetheless she did become much more articulate than she had been in Scivias about the extent of corruption within the Church after she had established herself at Rupertsberg. By the time she ﬁnished the Book of Divine Works in 1174, when she was seventy-six years old, she had lost none of her imaginative powers, but she was more pessimistic about the future than when she had started on her prophetic career.
(1) The Age of the Fiery Hound (2) The Age of the Yellow Lion (3) The Age of the Pale Horse (4) The Age of the Black Pig and (5) The Age of the Grey Wolf.
first, she avoided identifying “the day or the hour,” which is good because only false prophets do that. It might Seem like her timeline can be exactly fixed on the historical timeline and thus come up with a date…but we actually can’t do that without speculating.
Second: speaking of speculating, specifically about how to fix her timeline to the historical one, I’m about to try to do that very thing. But keep in mind that this is just fun speculation.
Third: the Church never says that private revelations are definitely true. So don’t take St. Hildegard’s vision as gospel truth, nor speculative attempts (like mine below) to fix it to certain points on a timeline. This is all theory…not necessarily true.
Now for my attempt to Speculatively affix this Not-infallible vision to a timeline:
The Fiery Hound age might be the 1100s. The Albigensians were forerunners of the antichrist and could be the perverse mercenaries of whom St. Hildegard speaks. The corrupt secular leaders could include Emperor Henry V, who persecuted the Church over the investiture controversy, King Henry II, who wanted to make the Church an arm of the State and martyred St. Thomas Becket in the process, and Emperor Frederick I, who persecuted Pope Alexander III. The corrupt spiritual leaders and pope could include the many English clergy who cooperated with King Henry II, the many other European clergy who cooperated with Emperors Henry V and Frederick I, Pope Paschal II, who compromised with Henry V over the issue of lay investiture, and Pope Celestine II, who compromised with France when the king there tried to illegally appoint a bishop.
The Yellow Lion age might be the 1500-1600s. The “time of chastisement and disendowment of Church” could be the Protestant Revolt. In England, Northern Germany, and the Netherlands, the Church was disendowed and its buildings were transferred to protestants. Catholics were persecuted in these territories and forced underground. “Tempus utile” and “tempus virile” seem to mean “time of usefulness” and “time of manliness,” and there were many great saints during these ages who made great use of the time to convert the protestants back to the Faith, institute the Catholic counter-reformation, and oversee the Council of Trent. This could be the “renewal of spiritual strength” St. Hildegard mentions. The “conversion of pagans” could be from the missionaries to South America who converted the continent to Christ, to North America where Mexico and Florida were converted, and Asia where Catholic missionaries such as St. Francis Xavier had great success in Japan and India.
The Pale Horse age might be the 1700-1800s. “Church polluted” could be a reference to the time right before the French Revolution, when France had many atheist bishops and almost the whole clergy subscribed to the anti-papal demands of the French. The 1800s also saw the heresies of Americanism and its child Modernism threaten the Church in America and some of its poison has continued to this day. “Persecution of Christians by heathens” could be a reference to the Revolution in France, the No Nothing party in America, the Kulturkampf in Germany, the Unification of Italy, and the Boxer Rebellion in China. “Christians saved by miracle and conversion of heathens” could be a reference to Lourdes and the restoration of Catholicism in France with Napoleon (who was a persecutor overall, but did re-legalize Catholicism…his successors in France were a bit better and restored Catholicism more fully). “Papacy and Empire dispersed” could refer to the dissolution of Holy Roman Empire, the kidnapping of the pope by Napoleon, and the annexation of the Papal States by Italy. “Church returns to pristine discipline” could refer to the reigns of Blessed Pius IX and Leo XIII, who also brought back the pope’s “spiritual strength” in part through their widely-read and influential encyclicals. The Church in Europe began to reattain dominance under them.
The Black Pig age could be the 1900-2000s. “Reign of heretics and forerunners of Antichrist” could refer to rampant atheism, modernism, and protestantism. “many Christians desert orthodoxy” could refer to the gains evangelicalism has made and cafeteria Catholicism within the Church. “moral decay and spiritual decline” could refer to sexual revolution with its fruits, rampant abortion, contraception, sexual deviance, and triumphalist hedonism. We are still in the 2000s, so we might be waiting for the “signs of the End.”
- The Five Beasts of St. Hildegard: Prophetic Symbols of Modern Society
An another cycle is described by Reid TurnerThe Five Beasts of St. Hildegard: Prophetic Symbols of Modern Society. The cycle is as a mirror of the great one but on a shorter time ( see Timeline of Cycles by René Guénon and Gaston Georgel)In 1929 René Guénon made the breakthrough in decoding the correct duration of the Manvantara and the duration of the 4 Yugas. That work can be found in his book “Traditional Forms and Cosmic Cycles”. René Guénon explained in the aforementioned book how he arrived at the decoding of the real duration of the Yugas and of the Manvantara. He did not claim some secret source or divine inspiration, but rather he exposes his logical deduction based on elements of several different Traditions, and with that process demonstrates the complementary nature of the teachings of those Traditions. The end result of the breakthrough decoding, whose argumentation is too long to be duplicated here, is that:…Read More
In 1150 St. Hildegard completed her first major work, Scivias (“Know the Ways of God”), a description of 26 highly symbolized visions that manifest the history of salvation. Soon after her death, inexplicably, Scivias and Hildegard fell into obscurity. It wasn’t until the late 20th-century that the work was rediscovered by Latin scholars looking for material for their students. The first complete English translation appeared in the 1990s.In Book Three, Vision 11, Hildegard describes five symbolic animals as the forerunners of the Antichrist: a Fiery-Red Dog, Yellow Lion, Pale Horse, Black Pig, and Grey Wolf. She explains that each one represents individual and brief historical periods that follow each other in succession. She also reveals how each animal symbolizes a particular evil that afflicts society during the corresponding period.
In the book The Five Beasts of St. Hildegard: Prophetic Symbols of Modern Society, it starst with an examination the 20th-century with the intention of seeing how historians divided it up and then how they characterized the individual eras that the divisions would unveil. It turned out that there is general agreement among them; certain years marked major social and geopolitical changes in Western society: 1914, 1945, and 1991.
Thus the century can be divided into four eras: 1870-1914; 1914-1945; 1945-1991 ; 1991-present. (1870 was the Franco-Prussian War which changed the map of Europe and inaugurated the secularization of western Europe). Consulting a wide range of historians, some of whom were friendly to religion and others not, the characterizations of those historical periods that emerged actually matched Hildegard’s description of the specific social evils that were represented by the first four of her five beasts.
The following is a very condensed presentation of those correlations. The first one was difficult to figure out; Hildegard’s description of the era was brief and somewhat vague. The others, as you will discover, are quite obvious.
The Fiery Red Dog (1870-1914)
Historians like to call this the “Age of Imperialism”; the empires of Europe were at their zenith. From a sociological perspective, however, the theme of the era was the exploitation of the working poor, a problem Karl Marx was determined to fix. His ideology was spreading like wildfire of which the popes of the era would issue many warnings and condemnations. Pope Leo XIII, in his famous encyclical, Rerum Novarum, declared of the problem of social injustice “…there is no question which has taken a deeper hold on the public mind.” If you read the encyclical, you’ll notice that it is primarily a condemnation of communism.Here’s how Hildegard described the era:
“One is like a dog, fiery but not burning; for that era will produce people with a biting temperament, who seem fiery in their own estimation, but do not burn with the justice of God.”*
The key to understanding this is to focus on the word “justice”. “Fiery” is to be understood as passionate, similar to a common English usage of the word. We are told that during this era characters will emerge who are passionate for justice, but not really “on fire” because it is not the justice of God, but their own form of justice. It is not difficult to make a case that she was referring to injustice toward the working poor by the upper classes and the consequent rise of communism. The history and literature of the era testify to the centrality of social injustice for understanding what was happening during the period. (Zola, Hardy, etc.)
The Yellow Lion (1914-1945)
Most historians connect the two wars and call it something like “The Age of Catastrophe”, or “The Age of Total War”, an era dominated by wars, genocides, military dictatorships, political prisons, religious persecutions, etc. Historians struggle to understand how the Christian nations of Europe permitted it to happen.Hildegard describes the era as follows:
“Another is like a yellow lion; for this era will endure martial people, who instigate many wars but do not think of the righteousness of God in them; for those kingdoms will begin to weaken and tire, as the yellow color shows.”
“Martial” or “war mongering” does not overstate what kind of people dominated much of this era; nationalism and communism were two sides of the same coin. As the era came to a close, the fall of the Nazis and their allies proved to be a spectacular exhibition of self-delusion and cowardice.
The Pale Horse (1945-1991)
To historians these years are known as the “Cold War” era. Most focus their attention on the many conflicts, proxy wars, intrigue, etc. between the two superpowers. Others with more sociological interests will examine the student riots and unrest, assassinations, and the changing perspectives on human sexuality. In regard to the latter, one can think of two influential documents produced during the era that reveal the dramatic changes that took place with regard to sex, The Kinsey Reports (1948), and Humanae Vitae (1968).Hildegard describes the era as follows:
“Another is like a pale horse; for those times will produce people who drown themselves in sin, and in their licentious and swift moving pleasures neglect all virtuous activities. And then these kingdoms will lose their ruddy strength and grow pale with the fear of ruin, and their hearts will be broken.”
The key word is “licentious”, meaning sexual debauchery. Thanks to artificial birth-control the purpose of sex changed from procreation to pleasure. Like a healthy horse turning sickly pale, the damaging consequences of the sexual revolution on western society began to reveal themselves in the 1980s. Statistics on abortion, divorce, single-parent families, suicide, STDs (including AIDS), etc., all exploded as the era came to an end.
The Black Pig (1991-present)
It is an open question as to how future historians will view the West since 1991 and what sort of titles will be used to characterize the period. From the experience of the last quarter century one might be tempted to call it “The Age of Globalization”. The dominant themes have been free trade, elimination of borders and for much of Europe, a common market, passport, and currency. This title also suits the continuing migrations of millions to Europe from the Middle East and Africa.
Note that Hildegard states clearly that she is referring only to the era’s “leaders” in her description. The generation of leaders since the 1990s have not been, in general, the same type of people as their predecessors. Today’s leaders tend to be pro-abortion and pro-homosexual marriage, imposing many laws, like Obergefell vs. Hodges, that are contrary to Christian teaching.
“…[T]his epoch will have leaders who blacken themselves in misery and wallow in the mud of impurity. They will infringe the divine law by fornication and other like evils and will plot to diverge from the holiness of God’s commands”
As the agenda of political correctness, gender theory, homosexuality, race, etc., gradually became more radicalized in the higher educational system through the 70s and 80s, naturally so have our leaders who were educated in those times. Think of Clinton, Blair, Obama, Trudeau, Cameron, Holland, Merkel, etc.; think also of the thousands of their political appointees, including judges, that further the cause of political correctness, the goals of which “infringe the divine law”. Historian Paul Johnson has described it in terms of social engineering and referred to it as “the salient evil of our time”.
The Grey Wolf
The arrival of the era of the Grey Wolf will ultimately prove whether it was coincidental that the preceding four historical eras matched Hildegard’s descriptions of them. But it is important to acknowledge, however, that Hildegard’s descriptions are not interchangeable with these eras. Historians may vary on the importance of the sexual revolution, but they would not place it in the other eras, it belongs to the Cold War years. Likewise, outside of the era of the Yellow Lion, the other three eras were relatively peaceful. Social engineering was being practiced by the Soviet Union and the Fascists, but it does not define the period of 1914-1945, malice and militarism do. Moreover, since the four follow in the proper order; it strikes me as unlikely that these correlations were accidental.
It is interesting that Hildegard goes into far more detail regarding the Grey Wolf then the other eras. Essentially, three main things will define the era:
- Civil unrest and revolutions with their cause being economic inequality.
- Physical persecution of the Church by a specific group of people.
- A powerful spiritual revival in the Church.
She also adds that it is when the Church will be “…replete with the full number of her children.” The Church’s mission to evangelize will have been completed.
The Beasts and the Symbolism of the Ropes
Each beast represents a brief historical period (see here for the background). You will notice that there is something coming out of each of the beast’s mouth. Hildegard describes these as ropes that are attached to the top of a mountain. The mountain, she tells us is meant to symbolize a specific social evil that is characteristic of the individual historical era.
She explains that the ropes represent the attachment of the people of that era to its particular social evil, and that this attachment would be evident from the beginning of the era to its end. This is very important in helping us to discern whether the era in question matches the symbolism of the beast. Lots of things happen during a given historical period, but not things that continue from the beginning to the end.
All the ropes are black except the one that comes from the mouth of the wolf, which is partly black and partly white. For the length of the ropes indicates how far people are willing to go in their stubborn pleasures; but though the one that symbolizes greed is partly black and puts forth many evils, yet some will come from that direction who are white with justice. And these latter will hasten to resist the son of perdition by ardent wanders, as My servant Job indicates about the righteous doer of justice, when he says:
Words of Job:
“The innocent shall be raised up against the hypocrite, and the just shall hold to his path; and to clean hands he shall add strength” [Job 17:8-9]. Which is to say:
One who is innocent of bloody deeds, murder and fornication and the like, will be aroused like a burning coal against one who deceives in his works. How? This latter speaks of honey but deals in poison, and calls a man friend but stifles him like an enemy; he speaks sweet words but has malice within him, and talks blandly to his friend and then slays him from ambush. But one who has a rod with which to drive away vile brutes from himself walks in the light of the shining sun on the righteous path of his heart; he is raised up in the sight of God as a bright spark and a clear light and a flaming torch. And so, bearing in himself the strongest and purest works, he puts them on like a strong breastplate and a sharp sword, and drives away vice and wins virtue.
“For, from the time of the persecution the faithful will suffer from the son of the Devil until the testimony of the two witnesses, Enoch and Elijah ( Khidr in Islam), who spurned the earthly and worked toward heavenly desires, faith in the doctrines of the Church will be in doubt. People will say to each other with great sadness, “What is this they say about Jesus? Is it true or not?”
“The king shall rejoice in God; all they that swear by Him shall be praised; for the mouth of them that speak wicked things is stopped” [Psalm 62.:12.]. Which is to say: The profound knowledge of the beautiful human language that gives voice to the will and disposition of God is a great measure of human stature; and it makes music at the altar of God, for it knows Him. And when the hissing and gaping of the Devil, which taints human minds with shame, is forsaken in the time of desperation, the blessed will be praised in minds that sing, and they will make a flowing path of words to the pure fountain of the mighty Ruler.
- Man in Sapphire Blue or The Trinity: A Study in Compassion.
Hildegard describes: “A most quiet light and in it burning with flashing fire the form of a man in sapphire blue.” The blue colors and the manner in which the man holds out his hands, extended toward the world, denote compassion and healing. Hildegard describes the Trinity as “One light, three persons, One God. The Father is brightness and the brightness has a flashing forth and in the flashing forth is fire and these three are one.” The Father is a living light, the Son, a flash of light and the Spirit is fire.. The fire of the Holy spirit binds all things together, illustrated as an energy field surrounding the man. Symbolized as the golden cord of the universe, the Holy Spirit streams through eternity creating a web of interconnectivity of all being and of divinity with creation and humanity (reminiscent of an East Indian cosmology using cord and thread imagery).
Hildegard’s theology of Trinity is about divine compassion entering the world. Jesus the Christ is the revelation of the compassion of God, the incarnation of divine compassion. The Hebrew word for Womb is compassion. But we do not merely look at a mandala (ancient circular image of the universe) – we are transformed by it. This mandala draws us into the energy of divine compassion, it connects us with the Christ, the Blue Man, such that we realize our own identity in Him who is the compassion for the universe. If we don’t hold our healing capacity in unity, the entire rope (universe) unravels.
May the words and visions of Hildegard speak to your sense of divine receptivity. And may you wonder with reverence at the precious gift of this amazing, sacred cosmos and our Oneness with all of Life.