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Blog: On Health. On Writing. On Life. On Everything.

Hildegard von Bingen

September 17, 2010

Tags: herbs, food, canonization, crystals, Gordon - Noah, green force of the flesh, Healers of the World, Hildegard of Bingen, Hildegard von Bingen, Iran, Kneipp - Sebastian, Li Shizhen, music, mystic, Noah Gordon, plant kingdom, Rhineland, Schubert – Franz, sanctification, Saint Hildegard, sexuality, stones, Tehran, The Physician

Still from Tehran. -

On this day in 1179, Hildegard of Bingen died. Her exact birthday is not known, but it was also in September - 1098.

This medieval nun lived in the Rhineland. She was given to a nunnery when she was only eight and, against all odds, succeeded in medicine, music and politics. By the time she passed, she had written many books, had composed music and was in contact with many important political and intellectual leaders – a woman on top of her times.

Hildegard usually is usually labeled as a mystic. But in my opinion, she is anything but. When you read her works, you get the impression of a sharp intellect and endless curiosity. Among other things, she described two hundred kinds of fish found in the Rhine. That’s not mystic, that’s scientific! And when she writes about sexuality, she is so matter-of-fact – you wonder where she learned all that.

She composed celestial music – mostly only for women’s voices – just out-of-the-world! If you ever have a chance, listen to her! In her music, she is mystic, if you wish – but so is Schubert…

For me she is important as a healer. She used and described herbs extensively. Her crystal healing is controversial but interesting – after all, we are from the Earth, like stones. She talks about the “green force of the flesh” – meaning: We will be much healthier when our food comes mostly from the plant kingdom. This insight has lost nothing of its actuality.

Very shortly after her death, the process for her canonization by the Catholic Church had been instituted. But in nearly a thousand years, her status stayed at “beatification.” Also, the Church made sure that women would not follow Hildegard’s uppity. The misogynistic delay of sanctification has not hindered the common people to call her “Saint Hildegard” ever since.

She definitely is interesting – and I hope to write about her in my series of “Healers of the World.” I began with Sebastian Kneipp (my Kneipp novel will come out shortly); now I am writing about Li Shizhen, the sixteenth century Chinese physician and herbalist. And, hopefully, Hildegard will be the third.

One healer I will not write about is Ibn Sina, or Avicenna, the great Persian physician and scientist, who lived a century before Hildegard. Not that he was not important – our travels here in Iran remind me again how much he was. But somebody has already written a wonderful novel about him: Noah Gordon, The Physician.
Aspen eyes, by Peggy Peters

Iguazu Falls, by Xin Liu

Alexa Fleckenstein M.D. 2012, by Lolita Parker jr.

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