The Human Form
Topic: The Natural World
The human form is built into the world structure; indeed, even the cosmos.
Hildegard of Bingen OSB (1098 – 17 September 1179), also known as Saint Hildegard and Sibyl of the Rhine, was a German Benedictine abbess, writer, composer, philosopher, Christian mystic, visionary, and polymath. She is considered to be the founder of scientific natural history in Germany.
Hildegard was elected magistra by her fellow nuns in 1136; she founded the monasteries of Rupertsberg in 1150 and Eibingen in 1165. One of her works as a composer, the Ordo Virtutum, is an early example of liturgical drama and arguably the oldest surviving morality play. She wrote theological, botanical, and medicinal texts, as well as letters, liturgical songs, and poems, while supervising miniature illuminations in the Rupertsberg manuscript of her first work, Scivias. She is also noted for the invention of a constructed language known as Lingua Ignota.
Wilson, Andrew, editor. World Scripture II. Universal Peace Federation, 2011, p. 143 [Hildegard of Bingen, Scivias].
Hildegard of Bingen
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Richard Rohr, Hildegard of Bingen, Scivias [Excerpted from his commentary]
Throughout the ages, the mystics have kept alive the awareness of our union with God and thus with everything. What some now call creation spirituality, deep salvation, or the holistic Gospel was voiced long ago by the Desert Fathers and Mothers, some Eastern Fathers, in the spirituality of the ancient Celts, by many of the Rhineland mystics, and surely by Francis of Assisi. Many women mystics were not even noticed, I am sorry to say.
Julian of Norwich (c. 1343-c. 1416) and Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179) would be two major exceptions (though even they have often been overlooked).
Hildegard of Bingen communicated creation spirituality through music, art, poetry, medicine, gardening, and reflections on nature. She wrote in her famous book, Scivias: “You understand so little of what is around you because you do not use what is within you.” This is key to understanding Hildegard and is very similar to Teresa of Ávila’s view of the soul. Without using the word, Hildegard recognized that the human person is a microcosm with a natural affinity for or resonance with the macrocosm, which many of us would call God. Our little world reflects the big world. The key word here is resonance. Contemplative prayer allows your mind to resonate with what is visible and right in front of you.
—Adapted from Richard Rohr with John Feister, Hope Against Darkness: The Transforming Vision of Saint Francis in an Age of Anxiety (Franciscan Media:2001), 135; and unpublished “Rhine” talks (2015) [the Center for Action and Contemplation].
Hildegard von Bingen’s vision of the Feminine Divine
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