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.

 

 

 

REVIEW of Launch

                                                     Review of Launch 

                                    Hildegard of Bingen – A poetic journey
                                                     by Colleen Keating

More than 80 friends , colleagues and fellow poets attended the launch of this “superb and elaborate work” in the Patrick White Room at the Writers Centre NSW Rozelle on Sunday 13th October 2019. 

A simple decor focused the attendees on the 12th Century and Rhineland setting for this amazing woman – abbess, artist, musician, herbalist, leader and activist. The room allowed everyone to hear and experience the importance of Hildegard. 

Before and after formal proceedings, Colleen’s very good friend Nigel Parry played cello music, that Hildegard would have enjoyed as much as this days participants.  

Sue Good – Chair of the Women Writers Group settled the convivial chatter, began proceedings

and introduced Dr Gisela Nittel (Chair of Eastwood U3A group) to launch Colleen’s work. 

Dr Nittel’s launch presentation was listened to with great interest and generated ongoing later discussion. Having been born on the Rhine, not far from Bingen, and having her academic study around German literature, her insights were of special importance to the story of Hildegard and Colleen’s poetic approach. Dr Nittel was an excellent choice as launcher, and Colleen was excited that she had been able to accept. During her talk Dr Nittel dipped into Colleen’s poetry and indicated how the poetry and the story really drew us all, into a very real experience. 

Colleen responded by thanking Sue and Gisela. Colleen then told the story of her own journey of discovery about this fascinating woman. Colleen segued from PNG experience of the moon landing, through amazing space age photography of  our fragile blue planet to a twenty year plus intimate journey in the steps of Hildegard. Colleen’s story was full of enthusiasm and excitement. A title that Hildegard gave to herself was ‘ a feather on the breath of God’ and Colleen read her poem that incorporates this feature into Hildegard’s story. (p57)

Formalities came to a close with two short readings from the work by two of Colleen’s daughters. 

Jessica Hay read “A Hum of Learning” (p170). and Bernadine Van Eyk read an extract from “Unearthing Heaven” (p123)

Colleen was kept busy signing copies of her work and answering questions, while Nigel continued to play to a captivated audience. Food and drink had been brought along by various friends and there was a real swirl of conversation. 

Colleen made a special mention of thanks to Ginninderra Press for their dedication to publishing poetry and thanked the Medieval Calligrapher Tania Crossingham  for her artististy, and the Writers Centre for the use of the venue and quality setting that The Patrick White Room provided. 

Hildegard’s Feast day This is a Countdown . . . MUSIC

 

 

Hildegard’s Feast Day  This is a countdown  Day 3.

Three days until Hildegard’s Feast Day – 17th September.

In  this poem from my new book Hildegard of Bingen: A  poetic journey,  we see how important MUSIC and SINGING is to  HILDEGARD  and to the  LIFE OF HER ABBEY.  

 

 

 

Hildegard is is now the Magistra (meaning teacher.)   Jutta has died and Hildegard holds her sisters together.  She leads them  away from  the old monastery to begin the creation of their own Abbey. (the new Abbey in Bingen)

To lift their spirits  she composes music that carries them on the breath  heavenwards.  The year is 1151 at their new Abbey on the Rhine River.

Unearthing Heaven

Seamless fold of seasons.
Not so seamless, their daily struggle..
Life is still comfortless
harsh, rough.

Music carries them.
Singing gladdens them.

Hildegard is invigorated
by harmonies of sound
sees music in the dawn
light on the hills
in the caress of the wind
shape of the clouds
sound of the entwining rivers
the patter of rain
chatter of verdant tendrils of vine.

Music moves in her mind
fills her writing
defines her day.
She sings with her sisters.
Her sisters sing with her.

Singing softens their tired
discouraged hearts
like blossoms soften stone walls. 

In giving voice to her poetry
Hildegard bursts into song.  
Words of Divine Light, 
sounds from the heavenly spheres
echo in her,

O fleeting soul, be strong. 
Clothe yourself in the armour of light.
You are surrounded 
with the embrace of Divine mysteries.

She sees creation, a symphony of joy and jubilation,
a great chorus of the cosmos itself.

In the garden with her sisters
she draws lines with a stick on the earth
dots out the shift of sounds,
with the stick as baton and pointer
she teaches them her new music.
Their eyes shine.
Her antiphons and canticles
enrich the Divine Office.
Richardis leads, her voice ethereal,
the sisters join, words and rhythms soar,
breathless notes, higher and ever higher.

Their unfinished church
embraces their song,
a new heaven and new earth.

 

 

Photos of music scores fro around Hildegards time to show the beautiful calligralhy  and the second photo is of the author in the vicinity of where Hildegard is supposed to have lived in the anchorage at the Disibodenberg Monastery from 1112 – 1150

PRESS RELEASE: Hildegard of Bingen by Colleen Keating

It might have taken nearly 1000 years, but against all adversity
this woman claims her place in history.

 A Poetic Journey with Hildegard of Bingen . 

Marvel at her tenacity and fragility.

Feel you are present with this amazing woman’s story.

Critics acclaim:  

 ‘What an oeuvre! What a superb and elaborate work.’ 

Hildegard’s life sings and dances across the pages
of this engaging harmony of her works . . .’

The reader feels put into the landscape and ambience
of Hildegard’s medieval cloistered world’

Learn how this famous composer and musician was silenced. 

How her Abbey was forbidden to play music or sing for nearly a year.

Experience her oneness with the earth and its importance to our wellbeing

‘The earth is our mother’ she would say,
she is mother of all for in her is the seed of all’

Engage with her study of plants for health and her holistic healing.  Hear her say to you:

‘Feast your eyes on the green ,a thousands shades of green,  a healing colour,
let it heal you with its greening power, rooted in the sun. 

Encounter the  joy and pain of the deep friendships in her life. 

Capture the beauty of the Rhine Valley in all its seasons, where Hildegard lived out her 82 years.

Endure the hard times where she, as a woman of the 12th century, hits the brick walls of patriarchy, ignorance, hardship and struggles to be heard.

If you already thought you knew Hildegard you will be all the more there as she creates her life journey. 

“It is a book to slow us down, inviting us to ponder and calls us to follow Hildegard towards a growing greenness in our lives”

If you do not know Hildegard you are in for a treat.

Can be ordered through all good book stores or from the publisher 

www.ginninderrapress.com.au 

or 

Amazon Books Australia, UK, USA

Colleen Keating / Hildegard of Bingen: A poetic journey

Back Poetry

 

 

 

 

Hildegard of Bingen Named one of the Most Loved Composers

Classic 100: Composers most loved of all time. 

 

Our ABC   classical radio, a few months ago, put out a call for  listeners to vote for their most loved Composer.  Well you know Beethoven, Bach, Mozart, Tchaikovsky, and Handel  will be there as Vivaldi and Elgar and Chopin will be there too.

Of course  I voted for Hildegard as my No. 1 and Mahler as my 2nd most loved composer . We waited a few months for the tally and over last weekend  – a National Holiday Weekend in Australia,  we prepared to hang around house cooking, gardening, reading knitting , to listen to magnificent music as we counted down from 100. 

Many of the great names fell  all day Saturday. Their gorgeous music came lifted us and left.  Composers fell away  . . . Grieg, Ravel, Haydn, Wagner, Bizet  and  it took another sleep .

On Sunday with the count 40 and down . . . Hildegard arrived at 33. There was an eruption of excitement. There was cheering all around our apartment. . . friends were texting me and we popped the champagne ( a bit later) To think the people have taken her ecstatic, heavenly music to their hearts.

You can still hear it all on www.abc.net.au/classic – 100

To think her music was silenced by the hierarchy for nearly a year, the year before she died and now today, 900 years later she is listened to and loved by people all over the world and today in the ABC Classical Countdown of the top 100 most loved Composers of all time  Hildegard rates 33rd  and one of the few woman. 

It is extraordinary that the voice of Hildegard has returned at this time of history with her music, her health and healing , her understanding of the environment and her call for  our need to be stewards and custodians of our Mother Earth for she is our life line.  

For me Hildegard is a woman who sees through hypocrisy  and cannot abide with the patriarchy of church or state .  She acts as if she is doesn’t see it.  She acts on  her intuition and what her inner voice tells her. To do this of course she had to listen  and listen and listen.

Listen  to the heart beat of the earth and the thrum of the tree and the wind and the messages that are with us constantly in nature and in our very being.

My story of her life written in poetic verse is with the publishers Ginninderra Press and will be launched in a few months.  

And hence I am thrilled  to see  Hildegard of Bingen named 

and for all the world ,

well  for all of Australia,

(at least but I know my daughter in England was jumping up and down with joy and some Hildegardeans in America and a few in Germany were filled with joy )

to stop and listen to her exquisite music today.

 

Last Swallows: A Poetic Journey

For Hildegard, health and healing sought balance in all aspects of life. She honoured interconnectivity – of spirit, mind, body; of humanity, the earth and the universe. This is the heart of Hildegard’s healing philosophy, though not unique to her. Buddha emphasised the middle way as the path of moderation and the path of wisdom. The Tao always reminds us to move towards finding the balance as with dark and light.

What would eventually set her apart, however, was how she chose to embrace the middle ground set forth in the Rule of St. Benedict. This enabled her to engage in her individual passion while serving the stringent institutionalism of the Church.

It was within this middle ground that she pressed her will and intellect into the interconnectivity of the physical and spiritual worlds, culminating in her foundational work in natural medicine.

From her early years Hildegard worked with  garden plants and herbs for healing. This can be seen in the following poem when Jutta is dying. ( from Book 111 of Hildegard of Bingen: A Poetic Journey)    

 

 

 

IMG_4230

Some of the books of the 21st century I have that are inspired by Hildegard of Bingen

 

 

 Last Swallows  

Hildegard’s world stands bleak, 
bare.    The last swallows long gone.
In cold light 
dew drops hang on a blade of grass.
Lingering dread 
knots her stomach.

She enters the anchorage 
sighs deeply,
lights Advent’s second candle.
Its smoky glow 
reveals the pale beauty of Jutta’s face,
she lies stilled. 
Hildegard puts down some bowls, 
kisses her forehead.

 Jutta, my mother,
your ascetics are too harsh.
Your imprisoned cell here 
is mortification enough.

Let our spirits give praise 
with rhythm of music,
with song of jubilation.
Our God, the Just One, is she who offers life 
with all its bountiful gifts.

She nurtures Jutta, 
urges with sips of fennel tea,  
warmed broth, mulled honeyed wine. 
Oil from the olives, freshly pressed, 
she heats over the smouldering hearth,
gently massages Jutta’s hands and feet.
Her flesh wasted.
Jutta has her mind only  
on heaven, 
to be remembered as a saint. 
Hildegard kneels beside her
holds her cold hands,
listens to her trailing breath.
She loves this broken woman.

 

Colleen Keating

from Hildegard of Bingen : A Poetic Journey

 

Hildegard-Medieval-Diet-Healthiest
Later Hildegard came to understand everything is given us
for our wellbeing. She would write later about the interconnection of all things.
There is no creation that does not have a radiance, 
be it greenness or seed, blossom or beauty, 
it could not be creation without it.  Hildegard of Bingen

In 1150, Hildegard left the Monastery at Disibodenberg and led her sisters to set up the new Abbey at Rupertsberg. There she embarked on deep and valuable work in lifestyle, nutrition, and well being for her sisters. Word spread around the  of her healing ways.

When Hildegard left the Monastery at Disibodenberg and led her sisters to set up the new Abbey at Rupertsberg in 1150 she embarked on deep and valuable work in lifestyle, nutrition, and well being for her sisters. And word spread around the Rhineland of her healing ways.

Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, declared “let food be thy medicine, and medicine be they food.” The concept of food as medicine is ancient. Hildegard was one of the first in Mediaeval Western civilisation that connected health and nutrition. 

Food as medicine is the core for Hildegard of Bingen. Her notion that a kitchen is also a pharmacy reflects a common theme among ancient traditions of healing: food is the first medicine. Medicines at the time were all plant based or specific combinations of foods prescribed according to their unique healing qualities.

Hildegard’s original work, was eventually split into two treatises, Physica  and   Causae et Curae –

“Physica” represents the history of natural remedies, which Hildegard had intended for public use. and in Causae et Curae Hildegard describes healing and treatment methods using humoral techniques along with traditional creation teachings, combined with ancient mystic Cosmologies.

 

 

 

IMG_3028iIMG_3015

The wonderful selections of breads at breakfast, in our Bingen Hotel overlooking the Rhine. It felt very much as if hildegard is present.

 

 

Today especially in Germany, Hildegard’s healing treatments have found a resurgence in holistic health and wellness.

Within this renaissance Hildegard’s philosophies around health and nutrition provide concrete ways to achieve a healthy spirit, mind, and body, which ultimately lead to a healthy lifestyle. From this healthy lifestyle we harvest many benefits, not the least of which is avoiding illness and unnecessary suffering.

Unearthing Heaven in Music: Poetic Journey

 

 

 

 

“Hildegard’s music is not easy. It is demanding with the breath…there are even a couple of songs that have two and a half octave ranges, which is extreme for music. In our day, we don’t even have most music like that.” ~ Linn Maxwell on Saint Hildegard’s music

This poem is set in Hildegard of Bingen’s new Abbey at Rupertsberg near the town of Bingen at the junction of the Nahr River and the Rhine in 1151. It is before her new Church is completed and before her sisters sing in flowing silk robes their Opera Ordo Virtutum  written by Hildegard (believed to be the first opera written by a woman in History. This poem is an extract from my up and coming writing on Hildegard of Bingen: A Poet Journey

 

 

De_spiri

                                                          Unearthing Heaven in Music
Unearthing Heaven in Music

Seamless fold of seasons
Not so seamless, human endeavour.
Life is still comfortless,
harsh, rough.

Hildegard is invigorated
by harmonies of sound,
sees music in the dawn,
dance of light on the hills,
in the caress of the wind,
shape of the clouds
sound of the entwining rivers,
the patter of rain
chatter of verdant tendrils of vine.

Music sings in her mind
fills her writing
defines her day.

In giving voice to her poetry
Hildegard bursts into song.
Words of Divine Light,
sounds from the heavenly spheres,
O fleeting soul, be strong.
Clothe yourself in the armour of light.
You are surrounded
with the embrace of divine mysteries.

She sees creation, a symphony
of joy and jubilation,
a great chorus
of the cosmos itself.
She sings with her sisters.
Her sisters sing with her.
Singing softens their tired
discouraged hearts
like blossoms soften stone walls.
In the garden with her sisters around her
she draws lines with a stick on the earth
dots out the shift of sounds,
and with the stick as a baton and pointer
she teaches them her new music.
Their eyes shine.
Her antiphons and canticles
enrich the Divine Office.
Richardis leads, her voice ethereal,
the sister join, words and rhythms soar,
breathless notes, thin higher and higher.

The unfinished church
embraces their song,
a new heaven and new earth.

 

Barbireau_illum-152a53c933353fe0e4907d8226a50b10c 2