October 4, 2015

Introducing Hildegard

During October and November, I’m returning to one of my favorite mystics. Her world view has been an inspiration to me since the 1980’s. Hildegard of Bingen was born in 1098 into a world of Popes and anti-popes, Crusades, and feudalism. She lived in Germany and was sent (dedicated) to a monastery as a young girl. The prioress, Jutta, was very influential in encouraging Hildegard’s spiritual growth.
In 1136, Hildegard took over as prioress when Jutta died. By 1148, she had founded a new community and 1 year later moved to a second abbey at Rupertsberg. Her nuns, like all monastics, observed times of work, sleep, prayer, and study. (8 hours of sleep, 6 of work, 6 of prayer, and 4 of study or meditation) 
Hildegard had visions throughout her life, but did not start writing them down until she was 43. Her works were endorsed first by Bernard of Clairvaux and then by Pope Eugenius III. Even though she was a woman, Hildegard was highly regarded by church leaders of her time. In fact she counseled popes, kings, and queens around Europe.
Hildegard’s theology encompasses our relationship to God, to one another, and to the earth. She teaches that we are meant to be in harmony through justice and compassion, which is holiness. She sees everything as being holistically related and mystically connected to God and God’s creation.
Along with her writings, Hildegard is known for the art she created. Many of her mandalas depicting her spiritual view of the world and relationship with God are well known. She also wrote music, used herbs to heal, and wrote recipes (see below to try out some-I made the Spice Cookies, which are very good. A bit sweet for my taste, so I might cut back on the sugar a bit if I make them again. Also you could add nuts or raisins to the batter for a nice change.)
As abbess and counselor to the high and mighty, Hildegard can serve as a role model to women of all times. She proves that you don’t have to be powerful to have an impact. Over the next few weeks, we’ll explore some of her works and see how her words are still valid over 900 years after she was born.
Spice Cookies

3/4 cup butter or margarine (1 1/2 sticks)
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves
Cream butter with brown sugar. Beat in the egg. Sift dry ingredients together. Mix dry ingredients into butter mixture. Heat oven to 350o. Form walnut sized balls of dough, place on greased and floured (or parchment lined) cookie sheet. Bake 12-15 minutes (till edges of are golden brown.) Cool for 5 minutes, remove from cookie sheet and finish cooling on racks. Makes 24-30. 
(https://recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-detail.asp?recipe=459415 Recipe reconstructed and adapted from Hildegard's circa 1157 treatise Physica: Liber Simplicis Medicinia) She said that these cookies should be taken at regular intervals to increase joy and positivity!)

Breakfast porridge
1 c. grain (oats, spelt, barley, etc.)
2 c. water
Boil 5 minutes, add your choice of nuts, spices, fruit such as:
Almond slivers, coconut flakes
Cinnamon, cloves
Apples, cranberries
Brown sugar or honey

Some other fun recipes like Hildegard’s are at http://divineyoudivine.blogspot.com/p/hildegards-recipes.html
Next time, we’ll start looking at Hildegard’s view of God as light and breath! 

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