Hildegard of Bingen
Updated: Oct 10, 2019
For our first wise woman biography I chose a woman whose life and contributions were overlooked and not widely known until the last 30 years. Hildegard of Bingen, also known as Sibyl of the Rhine and Saint Hildegard, was born in 1098 in Germany and died 17 September, 1179. For her full biography, please see the links below.
I bring Hildegard to your attention because like many of us in middle age, her life changed dramatically. From the age of 3, Hildegard had experienced numinous interactions with God by way of visions in which she saw God through her 5 senses. Hildegard kept these visions to herself for years fearing that others would not understand them. In her early 40’s she experienced a powerful vision with a directive from God to “write down what you see and hear”. This directive frightened her and she refused to write for a long time due to self doubt. Hildegard then became physically ill. It wasn’t until Hildegard was encouraged to write down her visions that she began to regain her strength.
Hildegard finished her text called, Scivias (Know the Ways), within ten years. During the next 28 years she wrote two additional theological texts, two medicinal and natural science texts, and more than 69 musical compositions and plays. Hildegard corresponded regularly with popes, emperors, abbots, abbesses and statesman, and preached her own visionary theology publicly (at a time when women were not allowed to preach) throughout Germany while denouncing clerical corruption and calling for reform. Hildegard invented her own language, Lingua Ignota and coined the term Viriditas, or the greening power of God, to signify the life force within all creation giving us life and vitality. Hildegard also flouted convent tradition and let her nuns run around the monastery with their hair uncovered and crowns made from flowers on their heads.
I encourage you to let yourself sink into the depths of Hildegard's story and reunite there with your own wise woman.
Questions to ponder...
How many of us have parts of ourselves that we are afraid to share with others because we fear we would not be understood?
How many of us have a voice in our heads urging us to reveal our gifts but we doubt their value to others or our ability to adequately present them?
How many of us neglected our true voice and have had our bodies pay the price for our neglect through illness or stress related maladies or self abusive eating, drinking, substance use or other numbing activities?
How many of us have had experience where we faced our fear, followed our calling and had the universe open doors for us?