What a treasure it is when you have a dear friend who walks with you on your journey through life. Through the highs and the lows. Someone who supports and loves you. Who encourages you and gives you guidance. Someone who recognizes your greatness and lifts you up when you have self-doubt or fear. Who encourages you to do your destiny work in the world even when you may resist.
If you have someone such as this, open your heart to love and appreciate this person’s presence in your life. Be grateful in this moment.
Listen with an open mind to the words that are shared by your friend. Our friends often are the messengers from the spiritual realm, in earthly form. Bringing us the news we need as guidance on our path in life.
St. Hildegard had such a confidant, friend, and mentor in her life that supported her in following her divine calling, even when she felt incapable of doing so at times.
While living at the St. Disibod Abbey, St. Hildegard became acquainted with the monk Volmar who acted as prior and father confessor to the nuns there. At this time, she had kept painfully silent about the unique visions she was experiencing. When she finally was able to gather her courage and share with others, it was Volmar who was the first person to hear about her visions and validate them as divine experiences. He soon recognized her rare spiritual gifts and became a good friend and mentor for many years in her life.
St. Hildegard often doubted herself and her abilities to share her experiences with the world. She had no formal education, as it was not available to women in these times. And, as a result, she considered herself unlearned and unworthy. She also thought of herself inferior as a woman – something that was common in the male-dominated society of the times.
So, at 42, when she felt God commanded her to write down and publish what she had seen and heard in her soul, she did not respond joyously nor immediately move into action. She felt insecure and inadequate. She felt fearful and anxious. Women did not write in medieval society. Only men did. So, she resisted this call.
“Behold, in the forty-third year of my passing journey, when I clung to a heavenly vision with fear and trembling, I saw a very great light from which a heavenly voice spoke and said to me: ‘O weak person, you who are both ashes of ashes and decaying of decaying, speak and write what you see and hear. But you are shy about speaking and simple in explaining and unskilled about writing those things. So speak and write those things not according to human speech or human inventiveness but according to the extent that you see and hear those things in the heavens above in the marvelousness of God.
Bring to light those things by way of explanation. Be like a listener who understands the words of his or her own teacher but explains them in one’s own way of speaking, willingly, plainly and instructively.
So you too, o woman, speak those things which you see and hear. Write those things not according to yourself or by the standards of another person, but according to the will of the one knowing, the one who sees and arranges all things in the secrets of His own mysteries.” (Scivias, page 1)
Soon after hearing this voice, St. Hildegard became sick and interpreted her illness as a consequence of her resistance and disobedience of God.
“…I refused to write for so long that I felt pressed down under the whip of God into a bed of sickness.” (Scivias, page 3)
She turned to her teacher and friend, Volmar. She shared her experience and her self-doubt, and he strongly encouraged her to write.
Over the next 10 years, she shared her experiences in the text that would become her visionary work, Scivias (Know the Ways of God) Volmar became her secretary, writing down the words she dictated.
We see the meaningful role Volmar played in her life as I have portrayed him in my version of her Illumination called: A Self Portrait.
Recognition and validation of her work by the Church was vital to St. Hildegard’s ability to share her work with the world. Her friend and mentor, Volmar actively supported her to have her visions recognized by the Church as a divine message of God. This led to Pope Eugenius III approving of her work and moving her forward into the public light as a spiritual leader – something that was unheard of during these times, and even prohibited for women.
Volmar, St. Hildegard’s friend, confidant, and secretary, was in her life for over 40 years. When he died, she grieved deeply. In her Book of Divine Works, she shared,
“I was grief-stricken when he died. He was a happy man, and he helped me in so many ways. He served God by listening to every word of this vision, and he corrected them all and made them more orderly. He always kept me going.
He cautioned me never to stop writing because of my physical weaknesses and illnesses, but to persevere in setting down this vision. He served God until the day he died, always supporting me. I mourned him, saying: “Your will has now been done with this man, your servant, whom You gave me to help with these visions. Show me how to carry on!”
It’s clear that St. Hildegard greatly valued and appreciated her dear friend and mentor, Volmar, who supported and encouraged her. She was not alone in navigating the unprecedented path for a woman to share her visions with the world. An inspiration to us in our contemporary times.
We see how the steps on our journey are a little easier to follow when we have someone in our community that supports and encourages us. We don’t have to do it alone.
Looking for a community of supportive people who are also on a path of spiritual development just like you….. so you can unfold your gifts in the world? Where you can be who you are and express yourself on your unique journey in life? Join my series of classes on Healing with St. Hildegard that are starting in April. Register here for a discounted price.
St. Hildegard made many contributions to the field of holistic health and wellness. The wisdom that she shared about natural healing, nutrition, and healthy living was a seed planted that now flourishes within the field of natural medicine.
In the mid 12th century, St. Hildegard recognized the health benefits of many herbs and spices and shared a basic recipe for biscuits or cookies that are commonly called “Hildegardplätzchen” (Hildegard’s Cookies). Today we might call them "Joy Cookies" as she says they lift any melancholia, open your heart, and bring you a sense of cheerfulness and joy.
In her book, Physica, St. Hildegard recommended the use of nutmeg for its healing powers and offered the following recipe.
“Nutmeg has great heat and good moderation in its powers. If a person eats nutmeg, it will open up their heart, make their judgment free from obstruction, and give them a good disposition. Take some nutmeg and an equal weight of cinnamon and a bit of cloves, and pulverize them. Then make small cakes with this and fine whole wheat flour and water. Eat them often. It will calm all bitterness of the heart and mind, open your heart and impaired senses, and make your mind cheerful. It purifies your senses and diminishes all harmful humors in you. It gives good liquid to your blood, and makes you strong.” - St. Hildegard von Bingen, Physica -1153AD
If we take this seed that was planted by St. Hildegard long ago into our current times within natural medicine, we see that nutmeg is known for many health benefits including the following:
Here’s a recipe for St. Hildegard’s cookies that I’ll share, based on her original ingredients, but adapted to our modern times. Enjoy!
The spice of nutmeg along with cinnamon, and cloves, all have their own health benefits that will support mental functions such as concentration, boost immune system and blood circulation, increase vitality, reduce tension, and improve mood. This will promote a sense of joy and ease in daily life and a good night’s sleep. Something we all would appreciate!
St. Hildegard’s Cookies
¾ cups butter
1 1/2 c. coconut sugar
1 egg, beaten
¼ teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
3 cups spelt flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon cloves
optional: 1 cup chopped almonds
The sweet aromas of nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves that arise in your kitchen will also bring a sense of joy and well-being! Enjoy and also don’t forget St. Hildegard’s view of moderation – finding balance in your activities and in your enjoyment of food.
We’ll try St. Hildegard’s Cookies of Joy, along with other healing recipes and remedies, in my upcoming classes, Healing with St. Hildegard, starting in April. Sign-up here to join us.
St. Hildegard had a passion for music. For her, music was alive and found in every living being.
"There is the music of Heaven in all things." - St. Hildegard of Bingen
I remember when I first started singing St. Hildegard's music. I was part of choir, and we were getting ready to perform St. HIldegard's masterpiece: O Jerusalem. I would show up at rehearsal after a day of teaching feeling drained and ready for a nap. After singing St. Hildegard's music however, I left rehearsal feeling like I had just gotten plugged into a socket of powerful energy. I had a spring in my step and was ready to climp the nearest mountain!
For St. Hildegard, music was the Word of God and the Word of God was music. She said, “….without the Word of God no creature has being. God’s Word is in all creation, visible and invisible.”
What is this Word of God of which she speaks? We hear this word “Word” and might think of the words on a paper. That’s a good place to begin, for us, as human beings. But now, open your mind and expand your thinking to include much more.
We, as human beings, create and one way that we create is through our words – in song, poetry, and speech. Words that are written on paper become alive in our activity of expressing them through us. Singing a song, speaking a poem or lines in a play.
“The Word is living, being, spirit, all verdant greening, all creativity.”
–St. Hildegard of Bingen
We can even remember the story of the Kalevala, the great epic of Finland where creation arose through song and where creation remembers its origin through song.
From the Kalevala, the epic of Finland -
Vainomoinen opened his mouth and began to sing. He sang a most powerful song that only the wisest and the oldest upon earth could sing.
It rang with eternal wisdom that stretched to the farthest depths of the sea. Across the wide expanse of land. And to the heights of the sky.
He sang of life and death and the origin of all that was created upon Mother Earth.
He sang of the waters, the mountains, the animals.
And of himself, the first human being.
He sang of love and hate.
He sang of creation and destruction, of ease and pain.
He sang of all such matters of importance in the world.
The words of song traveled across the land as seeds do in a breeze. The earth came alive and shimmered like the leaves of a birch tree.
For She remembered her Origin.
The sunlight danced. The streams bubbled. The mountains trembled. The flowers swayed.
All creation sparkled in this knowledge. All of the land glimmered with the life of creation.
We can picture our words, our speech, originating in song, in music. Each word that is sung exists as creative divine power. Each word is made up of sounds within the word. And each sound has creative divine power.
Every element has a sound, an original sound from the order of God; all those sounds unite like the harmony from harps and zithers.”
– St. Hildegard of Bingen
In ancient times, when you spoke the names of the letters, you spoke the divine spiritual mystery of all human beings. Each individual sound had deeper meaning where the divine was revealed. A letter such as Alpha when spoken revealed the “one who experiences breathing in the world.”
These pictures can help us to realize that what lies behind our words and all of our creating in the world exists as Divine Wisdom or Divine Word. This creative power is a spiritual force that is alive and living. It’s a fertile ground within us for birthing and creating our gifts within the world. Our thoughts, actions, and words blossom from this fertile ground out into the world.
When we become aware of this creative spiritual force that is living in us, we become aware of the Divine within us and within the world.
St. Hildegard speaks of God invoking the Divine Word that is in every creature. And everything manifest is Divine Word, is God. The Divine Word, Divine Wisdom, is alive in everything.
“All creation is awakened, called, by the resounding melody, God’s invocation of the Word.” – St. Hildegard of Bingen
St. Hildegard inspires us to discover the Divine Word in all of creation. Here are a few ways for you to explore her wisdom in your daily life today.
“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.”
– St. Hildegard of Bingen
2. Sing Praises - Offer your praise in return to all of creation. In song or in words. Express your gratitude for all that you have received.
For your breath, for your health, for nature’s contribution to your health, for your spirit guides, for those people in your life, for the Divine, and more. Offer your thanks, your praises. In the morning when you arise and before sleep when you go to bed.
"The fire has its flame and praises God.
The wind blows the flame and praises God.
In the voice we hear the word which praises God.
And the word, when heard, praises God.
So all of creation is a song of praise to God."
– St. Hildegard of Bingen
3. Speak with Integrity - Speak your words throughout the day remembering them within the origin of the Divine Word. Our words have great power. Power to heal and power to create anew. Strive to be open and honest, yet not hurtful towards others. Speak with integrity and honor.
Interested in learning more? Join my upcoming classes on Healing with St. Hildegard starting in April. Sign-up here.
In our exploration of St. Hildegard’s numerous pieces of writing, we can take a closer look at the words of wisdom shared in her many letters of correspondence to others. In her correspondence to a young Benedictine nun, Elisabeth of Schöngau, we see that she speaks of moderation as a foundation for health:
“Listen, then, …..and learn moderation! For moderation is the mother of all the virtues for everything heavenly and earthly. For it is through moderation that the body is nourished with the proper discipline….
When there are unseasonable downpours, the fruit and vegetables growing on Earth are damaged; when a field has not been plowed, you do not find good grain springing up…
It’s the same with a person who lays on herself more strain than her body can endure. This is a sign that the effects of holy discretion are weak in such a person…” - St. Hildegard of Bingen
We see how St.Hildegard compares moderation in the human being to that needed in caring for plants. There’s a balance between too much and too little in order to reach health.
When we hear the word moderation, we sometimes think of depriving ourselves of something. Exercise moderation in food and drink. Those glasses of wine or bites of chocolate. It seems like hard work and not too enjoyable. Yet, we know it’s wise for us in the long run.
If this arises in your thoughts when you hear the word moderation, set aside this view for a moment and consider moderation as a support in creating balance in your life.
Balance between …….
work and relaxation,
activity and rest,
speaking and listening,
taking action and being open to what arises,
time with others and time alone,
giving and receiving.
St. Hildegard describes the balance that is in nature – with an excess of rain, the fruits and vegetables would be damaged. A lack of activity in not plowing the field would lead to no good grains sprouting. Balance exists in between the extremes.
Balance is what is experienced when we have the right connection between the efforts we put forth in a situation and the receptivity for the situation to unfold with its own inner wisdom. These two meet and find a right relationship with one another to arrive at health and well being. This meeting place has the potential to be fertile ground for something new to be birthed and created.
“When one’s thoughts are neither frivolous nor flippant, when one’s thoughts are neither stiff-necked nor stupid, but rather, are harmonious – they habitually render physical calm and deep insight.” - St. Hildegard of Bingen
Moderation will support us in finding balance in our lives. When we’re in balance, we’re empowered to be our best self. We are guiding our own path. The excess of activity or inactivity doesn’t take control of us.
Excess at either extreme can lead to unhealthy aspects that take control of our lives – addiction, self-centeredness, and disease/illness that interfere with our health spiritually, emotionally, and physically. Developing our own self-discipline to not venture in to excess or inactivity, guides us into this place of balance.
Take a moment to picture the rhythm of water
flowing – not a flood, not a drought. Water that flows rhythmically nourishing all life on Mother Earth.
Finding balance in our lives nourishes us. It helps us to recover from challenges, rejuvenate our energy, and be receptive to what comes toward us as new possibilities.
Balance resonates within us. We have a feeling of harmony with what is outside of us in life and with what is in our inner life. It is a subtle experience or state of being that we work to discover.
In times of balance, the qualities of space and time that we live in begin to change. We experience how balance is a creative and dynamic relationship between ourselves and the world.
Energy for life and renewal bubbles up within us. Inspirations come. Illnesses have the opportunity to be healed. A new wholeness enters.
Each person’s place of balance varies. Yours is not the same as someone else’s. You’ll know that point of balance that serves you, contributing to health and well being in yourself and the world.
Do you want to explore balance in your life a little more? Observe this week, without judgment, where does balance exist in your life, where would it serve you to experience more balance?
Interested in learning more? Join my upcoming classes on Healing with St. Hildegard starting in April. Sign-up here.
I was born in London, England, educated in Switzerland, and am fluent in English, German, Spanish, and French. I hold a Doctorate in Ministry Degree and Masters Degrees in Counseling Psychology and Education. Also, I am an accomplished artist and educator. I use all of this and much more when helping others heal their souls.