A Radical Feminist in her Time
Over 800 years ago Hildegard of Bingen presented radical viewpoints on women-power and male-dominance in the Christian Church, stone/gem healing, meditation, insight and intellect, the web of life or planetary oneness, being in nature, environmentalism, and personal stories of suffering, etc. Despite her outspoken manner and her popularity among people wanting religious change, she was one of only four “Doctors of The Church.” They were all women! She believed there was a need to balance the sacred masculine with the divine feminine. She called for “spiritual warriors” to stand up to abuses of power, hypocrisy, bigotry, injustice, and corruption in the Church of her times. Her leadership eventually led to the rise of the Rhineland Mystics (Eckhart, Aquinas, etc.). Through intellect, emotion, deep spirituality, and devotion to Cosmic Christ Hildegard of Bingen pursued a courageous wisdom path. She meditated on mandalas and illuminations. She was seen as a giant slayer, like Judith who slew Holofernes ( the unknown female pair other than the popular David and Goliath). She published many books. Some refer to her as a Christian Bodhisattva. At the age of 80 she was interdicted (like excommunication) for refusal to remove the buried body of a radical young man from her monastery. Her belief in social justice prevented her from doing what the Church ordered. Hildegard called for people to be as strong as trees in their social justice activities.
She moved into the “cave” of her heart to find her deepest soul wisdom. She invited followers to find a stone or feather that attracted them then hold it in their hand in meditation. She created many spiritual remedies, including healing uses of quartz, amethyst, emerald and others. One of her most revealing views was that our thoughts could be disharmonious and our spirituality darkened; these conditions caused hopelessness and suffering. She warned against “poor me” and “it is so awful” attitudes. She was one of the earliest herbalists, and used aroma therapy in her healing work. As a cure to heal physical and emotional suffering, she recommended that you read (bible, psalms, other holy books), pray, contemplate, etc. Lucky for us that her Benedictine sisters copied all of her writings; the originals were burned in the fire bombing of Dresden in 1944.
One of her more popular stories/meditations dealt with the human path of suffering and struggling. Hildegard noted one’s life story is like climbing a high mountain on a treacherous pathway. The pathway includes huge thorns, rocks, rivers, poisons, scorpions, bad dragons, and devils. While the strong-willed continue at all costs, eventually they grow wings (think angels) and fly above all the dangerous obstructions in their way. This metaphor may be helpful to our suffering today.
Another short meditation includes holding a spiritual stone in your hand, then placing it over your heart. While closing your eyes, meditate on the stone-over-the-heart and say to yourself “in your blessing sustain, strengthen and become one with me.” Repeat as many times as you need to. Notice the difference.
In another meditation she aims at adoration, atonement, self-healing, and self-rehabilitation. In my own version (more secular), I have noted the following. May I recognize the healing center in my soul. May I have peace in my soul. May I allow my soul to forgive me, redeem me, and hold me. May my soul allow me to experience love and compassion – as well as self-compassion. May I be renewed as the eagle is.
In another healing meditation, Hildegard noted that we need liberation from addictions, obsessions, sensual poisons, greed, abuse of power, and disharmony of souls. She asks us to imagine how we would “let go” of these unhelpful patterns in our lives. Hildegard sounds like The Buddha here. We must let go so we can heal the inner emotional emptiness. Craving kills spiritual hunger and motivation, so we need to be in our soul’s spirit to end the craving and self-medications. Note Jung’s “Spiritus contra spiritum.” She recommends prayer, contemplation, meditation, fasting, rigorous physical activity/hard work to fill the emptiness of our soul.
One last meditation worth noting includes being in nature to discover your deeper soul. Go to a favorite place in nature, or imagine one. Change or remove your clothing to become like a flying eagle. Light a candle. Sit, lie or stand in silence. Continue until you sense contact with your spiritual center. Take a few deep, slow breaths to calm the body and mind. LET GO of anything that disturbs your emotional balance right now, right here. LET GO!
Go even deeper inside yourself to connect with the deepest sources of your soul.
Feel the happiness and rejoice in divine connection. Just be with it.
For more information refer to Fox. M. (2012). Hildegard of Bingen: A Saint for Our Times. Vancouver, Canada: Namaste. See also Strehlow, W (2002). Hildegard of Bingen’s Spiritual Remedies. Rochester, VT: Healing Arms Press.
By Anthony R. Quintiliani, PhD., LADC
Author of Mindful Happiness
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