Saint Hildegard Beer : An amazing surprise!

Yes this is real . A can of beer called St Hildegard.

What a surprise when my son-in-law sent me a iphone photo of a St Hildegard can of beer.

He was at a hotel for a celebration and was so excited when he saw this can. I think everybody quickly became aware his mother-in-law had research and written about this woman and this was exciting news for Brendan to relate to me . Then for my birthday the family  bought me a carton  of Hildegard beer !!!!and it has been good for toasting the wonderful milestones my book  Hildegard of Bingen: A poetic journey has achieved.

This beer celebrates Saint Hildegard – who I know as Hildegard of Bingen.

I see Hildegard an inspiration but am just learning young people in pubs are celebrating her as the  first person to describe hops in a scientific manner.

The  back of the can reads:
Brewery: Hawkers Beer
Style: American Pale Ale
Format: 375ml Can
ABV: 4.6%
This beer celebrates Saint Hildegard, the first person to describe hops in a scientific manner. During her life, she was a brewer, mystic, prophet, composer, and prolific writer on religion and the natural world.

Mel’s hop-forward XPA predominately features Yakima Chief Hops’ Pink Boots Blend, consisting of a well-rounded mix of Pacific Northwestern hop varieties including Loral, Mosaic, Simcoe, Sabro, and Glacier.

A portion of the profits from this beer will be donated to Pink Boots Australia and the Asylum Seeker Research Centre.

Hawkers/Pink Boots/ Cryer Malt Saint Hildegard XPA

A collaboration with Pink Boots Australia.

Mel’s hop-forward XPA predominately features Yakima Chief Hops’ Pink Boots Blend, consisting of a well-rounded mix of Pacific Northwestern hop varieties including Loral, Mosaic, Simcoe, Sabro, and Glacier.

A portion of the profits from this beer will be donated to Pink Boots Australia and the Asylum Seeker Research Centre. This made me very excited that a beer called after Hildegard was helping asylum seekers. 

Hildegard and Hops

Wild hops had long been consumed by ancient Romans and used medicinally in different parts of the world for their anti-microbial, anti-spasmodic, and sedative qualities. So her observations of melancholy were apt, albeit arguably a bit shortsighted.

“Hops are the soul of beer.” – Jim Koch, Founder, Boston Beer Company

But given that hops had not been used in beer-making previously, and they were a long way from being ubiquitous or oft-cultivated, it is not surprising that the many benefits of hops had eluded Hildegard.  However, knowing Hildegard’s fondness for bitter tasting foods, it makes sense that she be the one to include this naturally bitter flavor in what we know of today as beer.

Some pointers I picked up from healthyhildegard.com  the wonderful informative website.

Health benefits of beer according to Hildegard

In her book,Causae et Curae, Hildegard wrote: “…[beer] positively affects the body when moderately consumed…beer fattens the flesh and…lends a beautiful color to the face.”

As it turns out, she was right on all accounts. Particularly regarding moderation. While far from a health tonic, beer does offer some unique qualities that have proven beneficial when consumed in moderation as part of a healthy lifestyle. Moderation is important.

  1. Increased bone density
  2. Anti-Inflammatory
  3. Cancer fighter ( the flavonoids in hops contribute to the health benefits of beer including preventing cancerous cell growth.
  4. Cardiovascular Health ( of course in moderation and discretio
  5. Reduced risk of kidney stones
  6. Digestive health
  7. Reduced risk of alzheimersAs the long shadows of autumn cue us to bring in the harvest and prepare for the coming winter, get outside and enjoy the turning of the seasons. And if you are so inclined, find a long table in a park or a local brewpub and hoist a beer with friends and family, fatten your flesh (just a little), and don those rosy cheeks. In moderation or discretio, of course.

    Prost!

Silver Nautilus Award for Hildegard of Bingen: A poetic journey

 

 

Congratulations to Ginninderra Press. Excited to announce Hildegard of Bingen: A poetic journey  by Colleen Keating has received a Silver Nautilus Award: Better Books for a Better World.  Hildegard of Bingen was published late last year and launched in November.

 

Nautilus Award 

 

Nautilus Book Awards recognizes and rewards books that celebrate and contribute to positive social change, spiritual growth and conscious living. Its winners have included the likes of the Dalai Lama, Thich Nhat Hanh, and Marion Williamson. It’s truly an honour to be a part of this award-winning community of writers. I have always loved the idea of the Nautilus shell with its Fibonacci pattern and am thrilled to have this award.

 

Congratulations!  You are a Winner in the 2019 Nautilus Book Awards program!

Your book has been selected as an Award Winner in the category shown below.

Title:    Hildegard of Bingen: A Poetic Journey     

Author:   Colleen Keating  

>  [email protected]

Publisher:   Ginninderra Press   

Contact name & email:   Stephen Matthews

>  [email protected]

Award:      SILVER 

Category:  Lyric Prose  

We heartily welcome you to the Nautilus Book Awards family, comprised of highly esteemed authors and publishers from across the USA, and from over 20 nations around the world. You can be especially proud of your book’s selection as an Award Winner this season, which attracted a record-number of entries and included a magnificent diversity of high-quality books.

We are grateful for the chance to help promote and celebrate your book by increasing its visibility as a Nautilus Award Winner. And, we are truly encouraged by the new perspectives these books present with which to co-create a better future, individually and collectively. Changing the World one Book at a Time.

LYRIC PROSE

Hildegard of Bingen: A Poetic Journey
Colleen Keating
Ginninderra Press

We have developed our judging process over the past twenty years, and continue to expand and improve our parameters and our system of evaluation. It is our purpose and intent to seek, review, identify, and celebrate books that we feel best support the co-creation of a Better World.  Our goal is to offer life-affirming options with imagination and possibility to a world that longs for a new story.

Gold and Silver Awards, and one Grand Winner Award are given to print books of exceptional merit that make a literary and heartfelt contribution to spiritual growth, green values & sustainability, high-level wellness, responsible leadership and positive social change & social justice, as well as to the worlds of art, creativity and inspiration.

 

‘The Earth is our mother ‘ Hildegard reminded us 870 years ago

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Hildegard of Bingen envisioned a time when human activities would harm our Mother Earth. “The earth sustains humanity,” she wrote. “It must not be injured; it must not be destroyed.”

Hildegard further writes,  “The earth is the Mother of all, for contained in her are the seeds of all.” She recognised and revered the notion that we are one with everything in our living, breathing, glorious universe.

Reading Hildegard of Bingen: A poetic journey,  at this time is highly recommended as a foil for fear and anxiety at this time of crisis and as very relevant today for Earth Day after the devastation our earth has suffered. 

 

Hildegard of Bingen is called the founder of the environmental movement.  She is an early eco-warrior aware of the need to care for the earth and for how it gives us all we need.

Hildegard spoke of how we are one and part  with the earth how we are interconnected and interdependent on each other.

Earth Day is slipping past this 2020 with all the concern on covid -19 and with the call for physical distancing meaning it is not possible for much promotion. 

Hildegard von Bingen  lived in the 12th century, during a time when there was no inkling of the devastation, destruction and pollution that humans would wreak on our planet. She cherished the natural world around her. She lived in a veritable garden of Eden, surrounded by verdant forests, fertile river valleys, and the clear running waters of the Rhine, Nahe, and Glan rivers.

Finally a beautiful poem by Hildegard:

     I am the one whose praise echoes on high.

     I adorn all the earth.

     I am the breeze that nurtures all things green.

     I encourage blossoms to flourish with ripening fruits.

     I am led by the spirit to feed the purest streams.

     I am the rain coming from the dew.

     That causes the grasses to laugh with the joy of life.

     I call forth tears, the aroma of holy work.

     I am the yearning for good.

taken from a wonderful website  set up by Sarah Riehm a devotee of Hildegard or one of our family of Hildegardians who speaks of and about Hildegard with a  gentle mixture of very scholarly research and with a voice  of Hildegard accessible for us in the 21st century.  . .how I like to think Hildegard would be writing and speaking for us today

In  Hildegard of Bingen: A poetic journey I have Hildegard saying these words at different times including in the poem Viriditas. But it is beautiful to see it as a poem by Hildegard.

Sarah Riehm, Curator

[email protected]

www.livinghildegard.com

 

go

Hildegard’s Encouragement in a time of a Pandemic

 

 

Hildegard always encouraged:

Live simply

Live in the moment

Live in beauty

Her way of healing, –  individuals, groups, the world is going to the cause of the problem and working towards  healing the cause, compared with today’s medical model of treating only the symptoms not working towards the healing the problem.

This is like putting a blanket on a fire to smother the symptoms with out putting out the actually spark of fire.

The golden guidelines from Hildegard:

  1. Viriditas   literally “greenness,” a word meaning vitality, fecundity, lushness, verdure, or growth. For us today in isolation and social distancing draw energy from nature’s life force.

This can be found by sitting in a park or observing a tree or listening to the birds. one friend took 53 photos from her window and it was fulll of colour and movement. Just be present to what you see. and the delight of nature is there for you.

  1. Healthy and balanced nutrition found from food’s healing powers

     3   Regenerate strained nerves with healthy sleep, exercise and good food.

4.   Find a harmonious balance in your day. Make a routine – stretching,   walking,  drinking plenty of water,  doing what ever activity possible.

    5       Be vigilant . Wipe down delivered shopping.  Wash fruit and vegetables.  

    6    When stress arises:         

(a) name it, face it 

(b) accept it

(c) flow along/float 

(d) Let time pass

(e) Remember no feeling is final

(adapted from Healthy Hildegard.)

 

Hildegard always writes and speaks about the interconnectivity  of all things

we are interrelated and interdependent on all things and it is only when we bow down to that and become stewarts of our earth will we be healed.  Thank you Hildegard.

Book Review: Hildegard of Bingen: A poetic journey by Colleen Keating

Hildegard of Bingen by Colleen Keating is, as the author subtitled A Poetic Journey based on the life of the saint Hildegard von Bingen (1098 – 1179).

 

BOOK REVIEW      Women’s Ink Magazine  www.womenwritersnsw.org

Hildegard of Bingen – A Poetic Journey

COLLEEN KEATING

Ginninderra Press

ISBN 978 1 76041 766 6

Reviewed by BEATRIZ COPELLO

For those who do not know about this saint’s life, let me tell you she was an incredible and fascinating woman who lived in the Middle Ages in Germany. She lived an intense life dedicated not only to religion but also to science, art, music, politics and philosophy. Hildegard founded two monasteries and maintained active correspondence with kings, emperors and popes. During all her life this mystic had visions which she attributed to divine inspiration. 

In the forward of Hildegard of Bingen, Keating says she fell in love with Hildegard when she read a book lent to her by a friend. That love is evident in each page, in each poem, in each line. Through Keating’s poetry we get to know Hildegard, her life unrolls like a magic carpet. Poem by poem the reader finds out about her dreams, hopes, aspirations as well as her frustrations. 

Keatings’s poems come alive with sensory experience, her words are confident in range and depth and they are utterly clear and articulate. The poet could have been a witness in Hildegard’s life, she knows her, she breathes her, she has a familial intimacy with the philosopher. The author undertook a journey into the mediaeval world, the poems are factual and the events meticulously researched. They contain very vivid descriptions, we can see in our mind’s eye what Hildegard saw, like in

 

‘Arrival’

Disibodenberg, high in the forest
sprawls in the clouds.
The last mile steeply uphill
Secluded. 

A white butterfly dips and lifts.
Hildegard’s gaze follows it up
catches the glint of the sun
on the first stone wall.

Stoic buildings unfold
cloistered around a cobbled garth.
Their Benedictine monastery.

A monk in cinctured black robe
walks from signposted infirmary.
From beneath his blinkered cowl
he extends a welcome.
They dismount
Jutta falls on her knees in gratitude.

In Hildegard’s life the days pass coloured by monotony and sainthood and as the days pass so is her strong and determined personality developed. Poem by  poem the reader becomes wrapped in a mantle of words, words that tell us of revelations, mysticism, determination and sainthood. Keating puts herself in Hildegard’s shoes and cleverly she is able to recreate the angst, the bravery and the defiance of this incredible woman. We enter her abode, her orchard, we get to know the sisters and her godly visions. We hear two strong voices Hildegard’s and Keating’s the poet. Writing is a labour of love, the writer not only poured her love for Hildegard in the poems but also her skills and knowledge.

Intuition, growth, earthiness, inner strength, passion, justice, wisdom, art are all words that describe what emerges from Keating’s poetry. What a great way to learn through reading poetry! The poet has not spared any detail about the life of Hildegard neither has she left out information about her sources. This fascinating book contains an Epilogue, a Chronology, a Glossary, Notes and a Bibliography. In the final notes Keating says: ‘A Poetic Journey seeks a middle ground between an accurate scholarly presentation of Hildegard and a personal interpretation of her story.’

I believe the writer has achieved her purpose offering us  the opportunity to get to know a mediaeval feminist of extraordinary creativity. Colleen Keating has created a masterpiece. 

Women’s Ink! Magazine   www.womenwritersnsw.org    March 2020 p19

Viriditas and Hildegard

 

Thanks to Healthy Hildegard for the photo and the idea to feature Viriditas.

 

Viriditas

After the rains
Hildegard tends the garden
knee deep
in wet grass,
up to her elbows in soil,
worms, snails 
and ruff of leaf compost.

Marvels at the ramble 
of a young squash vine,
a stray seed gone free.

Lingers in the fragrance
of chives and basil,
coriander, lavender and mint,
and the smell of parsley.

Savours their bouquet.
Being jubilant
with the flirt of white moths,
and the canticle of bird song
from an oak branch above.

Dwells on her knees
as if in prayer.

Hildegard stands
her hands on her lower back
stretches and arches
skywards.Wisping clouds
ruffle. Light whispers,

I am the breeze that nurtures all things green.
I encourage blossoms to flourish with ripening fruits
I am the rain coming from the dew
that causes the grasses to laugh
with the joy of life. 

Fearful of her own mystery
she clams shut this Light
into the tight knot of her gut.

*Viriditas means “greenness” – vitality, lushness, verdure, fecundity, growth.   It has its earliest connection to Hildegard von Bingen. 

It seems a perfect expression of the living green captured by the soul as the light dances over grass and leaf life.  

With the term Viriditas, Hildegard of Bingen meant to describe a fundamental force in nature and the cosmos that binds people with animals, minerals, and plants.

Viriditas, the power of nature

A greening power, as Hildegard described it, exists in all things and is the basis for all healing in people and of the earth.

This greening powere exists as a symbol of prosperity and vitality, with plants blooming, growing, germinating and bearing fruit.

We lose our greening power through apathy, monotony and stress in everyday life.

We lose our greening power when 

However, we quickly restore and preserve it through prolonged time and movement in nature.

Spring explodes
like a paint box come to life
spilling across
the browned winter-wearylandscape.

In Australia we wait for regeneration after the unprecedented fires we have experienced . We observe the tiny moments of  viriditas return.

I give thanks to all the wonderful people who are being proactive to save species that are threatened. eg the rare life of the green Corroboree Frog from the Snowy Mountains. My daughters who send hopeful photos of new life and promise me the trees will recover.

New life  bursting into our lives.

The Blue Nib reviews Hildegard of Bingen by Colleen Keating

Hildegard of Bingen in the Christmas edition of Good Oil Journal

‘Search out the house of your heart. Hope lies within,’ writes Colleen Keating. 

It is 1178, the year before Hildegard of Bingen dies. The Bishop has silenced the music in their Abbey as punishment and some of the Sisters are feeling discouraged; however, Hildegard still crossed the Rhine to visit her second convent every week and encouraged her Sisters in their work and prayer.By Colleen Keating

Struggle in Exile

Advent
casts deep sorrow.
It is cold, dark, silent.
Hildegard hears mumblings.
She reassures her Sisters
with her presence at Rupertsberg,
her visits to Eibingen.The darkest nights of the year
anticipate the fledgling Christ Light.
In the Chapel candlelight
resolve flickers in her eyes.
Listen, listen, listen.

My Sisters this is our time to listen.
As we pray the words,
listen to their song in your hearts,
she continues,
The Bishop cannot forbid us to listen.                
Silencing the outer sound
does not silence us.
Search out the house of your heart.
Hope lies within.

She points to the fallowed gardens
blanketed by white-sleeted hay.
Contemplate its promise.
As silence in absence of bird-song
reminds us, music will return.

While the interdict diminishes them,
meal time together brings nourishment:
hot spelt bread, garden broths, teas
and from their harvest of stored foods,
bottled quince, the warmth of
herbs and hot berry wines.
They listen to the Nativity story.
Conversation swirls over the tables.

When the postulants, last season,
singing joyfully, picked purple sloes
and red hawthorn berries in the woods,
to brew and bottle,
little did they know the comfort,
their warm wines would be,
how perfect for this dark time.

Colleen Keating

Colleen Keating is a Sydney-based poet and writer. Through her work she “explores the paradox and wonder of nature, the harsh realities of life, of inequality, injustice and increasing threat to our natural environment”. In November 2017 Colleen published her second book of poetry, “Fire on Water” (Ginninderra Press), which recently won a silver Nautilus Book Award. Colleen’s website is colleenkeatingpoet.com.au

If you would like to republish this article, please contact the editor.

Why is Hildegard of Bingen important?

Why is Hildegard of Bingen Important?

  1. Hildegard of Bingen produced major works of theology, music and medicine. Her work continues to influence our ways of thinking today.
  2. Hildegard is one of only 36 people to be named Doctor of the Church, a title given by the Roman Catholic Church to saints whose writings, research or study on theology or doctrine are useful to Christians “in any age of the Church.”
  3. Hildegard von Bingen changed the way we view the world. Among her most recognizable contributions is her theory of Viriditas, the divine force of nature.
  4. Hildegard was an early naturopath. She closely observed and documented human ailments and remedies. We have Hildegard of Bingen to thank for discovering many healing plants and natural remedies.
  5. Hildegard was an early nutritionist. She influenced the medieval diet popular today.
  6. Hildegard taught us how-to live-in moderation. She had a firm belief in routine, discipline, and discretio, the practice of living in balance and bringing the union of the divine and man into order.
  7. Hildegard of Bingen taught us that creativity is both an expression and form of prayer.
  8. Hildegard was one of the most important composers of the Medieval Period. Her morality play and opera, Ordo Virtutum, is the only Medieval composition surviving today with text and music.

Who was Hildegard of Bingen?

Canonized in 2012, Saint Hildegard of Bingen has long been recognized as a meaningful religious and historic figure. Born in 1098 to a noble family in Germany’s Rhine Valley this Benedictine abbess was a visionary and polymath, a poet, playwright, composer, philosopher, theologian, Christian mystic, scientist, and Doctor of Medicine.

What is Hildegard of Bingen Known for?

We appreciate Hildegard today as an extraordinary woman of the Middle Ages who held extremely progressive ideas for her time. Her irrepressible spirit and gifted intellect lifted her above the social, cultural and gender barriers of the time to consult and advise bishops, popes and kings during a period when few women were given respect.

St. Hildegard remains known as the originator of German alternative medicine and deserves recognition for her contributions to holistic health and wellness. She promoted the prevention of disease and illness by natural means of a moderate and healthy lifestyle and used the curative powers of natural objects for healing. She memorialized her healing methods in her writings.

Hildegard’s Literary Contributions

In Causae et Curae (Causes and Cures), she wrote extensively about the cause and symptoms of a variety of health conditions and provided guidance for treating the pathologies with natural remedies.

In Physica (The Natural Power of Things), she described the forces of nature and their effect on the health of man.

Hildegard is also known as the “Sybil of the Rhine” for her visionary writing.

Hildegard’s Visionary Works

Liber Scivias (Know the Ways) is perhaps the most famous of her writings. It describes 26 of her most vivid visions and deals with the belief that the universe exists simultaneously within each of us, while also encompassing everything else externally. As the illustrator of Scivias Hildegard is one of the few identifiable artists of the Middle Ages.

Her second visionary work, The Book of Life’s Merits (Liber Vitae Meritorum), illustrates the inseparable link between the cosmos, man’s salvation, and moral determination. It contains one of the earliest descriptions of Purgatory.

Hildegard of Bingen’s final visionary work, The Book of Divine Works (Liber Divinorum Operum) describes the comprehensive relationship with God, the world around us, and man.

Hildegard’s Legacy of Music

Hildegard considered music to be the point where heaven and earth meet. She viewed music as the interconnectivity between humans and the universe. Her book of songs (Symphoniae) includes the morality play and opera, Ordo Virtutum (Play of Virtues), which was the first morality play and opera written, preceding others by more than 100 years.

What did Hildegard of Bingen do?

Hildegard of Bingen was ahead of her time. She was the “first” in many fields, producing major works of theology, music and medicine. Her work helped usher in many new and creative ways of thinking.

Hildegard changed the way we see the world and a woman’s place in it. She demonstrated a new way of thinking and living during a time when little was expected of women. Her historical impact stems as much from her role in diligently recording the culmination of beliefs and practices over centuries of human experience as it does from her unique thinking. Her body of work touches on virtually every part of our beliefs and practices.

 

 

 

Launch Speech by Dr. Gisela Sophia Nittel

                    Hildegard von Bingen – A Poetic Journey – Launch Speech

Thank you, Sue, for your kind introduction. And thank you, Colleen, for the great honour of asking me to launch the book that’s been your magnificent obsession for a very long time. How wonderful to see so many of you here celebrating this special day with Colleen!

Let me start with a confession: even though I was born in Germany and studied German literature to post-graduate level, I knew little about H until reading Colleen’s book. My academic focus had always been 20th century

literature, and the subject of my doctoral dissertation was the Austrian poet, Ingeborg Bachmann — a woman born more than 800 years after H.

It’s not that I wasn’t exposed to the medieval era at Sydney University — as undergraduates we read the German equivalents of Beowulf and Chaucer, for example, but there was never any mention of H. In fact we didn’t study the work of any women from any period at all in those intense four years of German language and literature. Mind you that was the 1970s before feminist consciousness had begun influencing the academy in general and the male- dominated German Department in particular.

Fast forward to 2019 with Colleen asking me to launch her book and I find I’m not only belatedly curious about this famous German woman, but newly conscious of a personal connection because of the Bingen component in her name. You see, Bingen is a German town on the Rhine River, and I was born in a German town on the Rhine River (south of Bingen). And I share my

page1image55271872

surname with a town located not far west of Bingen.

So I found myself wondering: Who was this H, whom my distant ancestors may well have known (or at least heard of)? A woman who is so highly revered (not just in Germany but internationally) almost a millennium after she was born? Most importantly, what was it about H that so mesmerised my non- German-speaking, Australian poetry friend, that she not only travelled to

page1image55271488

 

Germany three times to tread the same ground but also spent two decades immersing herself in the life and work of this Benedictine Abbess so she could transform her research into more than 100 poems — hoping, I suspect, to infect others with what I like to call “Hildy fever”. It certainly worked in my case!

After reading these poems, and being inspired to find out more, I now understand why Col fell in love with this Sibyl of the Rhine, for H was by any measure a most extraordinary woman — dizzyingly prolific writer, gifted composer, skilled naturalist, revered mystic, expert healer and dedicated

missionary. And not just a dabbler but genuinely accomplished in these fields — a true polymath. Her CV would be impressive enough for a man of her era. For a woman her achievements can only be described as astonishing.

Even by today’s standards, H was prolific in her writing. Her first work, Scivias (Know the Ways (of the Lord)) was 150,000 words long — that’s the length of two doctoral dissertations in the 21st century! (Imagine doing that in an era of wax tablets and parchment.) This magnum opus (in which H documented her extensive spiritual visions) took 10 years to complete.

But H wasn’t done with writing at this point: two more lengthy tomes followed — one that took 7 years and another that took 10. These three writing marathons are even more remarkable when you consider that H didn’t start writing her first book until she was 43, and didn’t finish her third and final book until she was 75. Truly an inspiration to all of us who write!

In the field of music, H composed 77 liturgical songs and an allegorical

morality play (which, I understand, was the first of its kind). And in her role as a healer, H completed two major medical treatises. She also wrote books on the lives of saints; her literary legacy also features volumes of correspondence including letters to VIPs like the Holy Roman Emperor (Frederick Barbarossa), Henry II of England and Eleanor of Aquitaine.

 

No wonder there’s a cornucopia of publications, translations, web sites and societies devoted to H. Colleen’s book, however, [hold up Col’s book] is a unique contribution to this field because it transforms H’s life into poetry — into poems that engross us with their immersive reimagining of H’s persona and experiences; poems that give us the sense that we are there, witnessing the highs and lows through H’s own eyes.

Right from the start, we’re hooked by the drama and suspense that Colleen creates with the cinematic technique of flashback in the two opening poems.

We are dropped into H’s life at 81, at what is clearly a moment of crisis: our heroine in the cemetery, alone and trembling with rage; her frail but determined body pulling and heaving at a large wooden cross. “What on earth is going on?” we wonder. “Why is she doing this?”

Having sparked our curiosity, Colleen cuts back to the 14-year-old H before she became a nun. From there we are taken step by step on H’s long and often challenging journey, which reveals to us the significance of that moment in the cemetery and its consequences. We tend to think of nuns as having quiet, contemplative, and uneventful lives, but this was not the case with H, who was entrepreneurial in her service to others and courageous in the face of adversity! Our Hildy was no shrinking violet!

Throughout her book Colleen skilfully balances moments of high drama with the joy and calm of quotidian life at the abbey. In the poem “Anticipation” (p. 129), for example, we read: “The sisters prune, pickle and preserve, / plait the

garlic / to hang from the cross-pull beams…”

Colleen’s poems are full of such lyrical attention to detail — detail that often interweaves multiple senses. Let me quote from p. 179: “It’s a time of tumbling leaves, abundance of fruit, / grapes, apples, wild plums, mulberries, quinces, hazels, chestnuts, all for the picking. // She smells stench of malt, […] recoils at the reek of tanneries. Her ears prick at the clang of forges, mills and water

page3image55134848

 

wheels, / tune into the lilt of troubadours and balladeers.” And what about this delightful example of synaesthesia: “Aroma of pickles zings from the kitchen.” (p. 223)

Another aspect of this book that delights me is the thoughtful inclusion of background material that supplements and enhances the poems. Col’s bibliography contains two pages of primary and secondary references as well as background reading and a list of recordings. There’s an excellent set of endnotes; a glossary for those of us unfamiliar with terms like “simony”; a map

showing H’s journeys; and a handy list of characters to refer to when we wonder, “Guda? Where does she fit into the picture again?” Col’s aim here was to find “a middle ground between an accurate scholarly presentation of H and a personal interpretation of her story”. Colleen has achieved this to Goldilocks level – or should I say “Hildegard” level — here and indeed in every aspect of this book.

The story of Hildegard of Bingen is not just one about a truly remarkable woman but one that also exemplifies the spirit of friendship, community, humanity, perseverance, resilience and courage in the face of opposition, adversity and injustice. As such it’s a story to inspire us all, and Colleen’s poems do that story more than justice so I enthusiastically commend this book to all of you.

Congratulations, Colleen, on this inspired and inspirational “labour of love”. I am both delighted and honoured to declare your book officially launched.