October 2012 Ritual: In Honor of Hildegard of Bingen










Angelic Choir from Liber Scivias, Hildegard of Bingen 
ca. 1180, St. Hildegard’s Abbey, Eibingen

By Diann L. Neu

Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179) will be named Doctor of the Church on October 7, 2012 – an honor that so far only four women (and twenty-nine men) have received! She was the founder of the Rhineland mystic movement, a healer and composer, administrator and preacher, theologian and artist, visionary and author, a Benedictine Abbess of the famous monastery at Rupertsberg. Hildegard’s concept of veriditas (greening life-force) expresses divine justice rolling down like water.

Hildegard was well known for her healing powers involving herbs. To honor her and to generate your own power, gather sage, thyme, and mint to brew a cup of tea, scent a comforting bath, or season a soup or salad. Play music by Hildegard. Her words inspire this ritual.

Centering Prayer
Glance at the sun. See the moon and the stars.
Gaze at the beauty of earth’s greenings.
Now, think.
What delight God gives to humankind with all these things.
–Hildegard of Bingen

Story of Herbs
Hildegard used herbs for food, medicine, and good luck. Faith in herbcraft kept her close to Earth. Herbs healed the sick. Herbs nourished body and soul.

Water…gives the herbs their green power. –Hildegard of Bingen

Sage for Wisdom
Sage means wise! This miracle medicinal herb reportedly cures many ills, among them colds and sore throats. It is a cornerstone of many herb gardens.

The soul that is full of wisdom is saturated with the spray of a bubbling fountain – God herself. –Hildegard of Bingen

Pause and ponder how your wisdom inspires life. Return thanks.

Thyme for Inspiration
Thyme is of the essence! This lively perennial is a symbol of courage and inspiration. In its infinite variety it creates an ever-evolving pageant in the garden. Thyme spreads.

Like the incessant gurgle of the brook, the longing of the soul can never be stilled.
–Hildegard of Bingen

Pause and ponder how you take time to replenish your spirit and act justly. Return thanks.

Mint for Strength
Mint is widely treasured. This deliciously refreshing herb is most popular and well known. It has a take-charge personality.

Humankind demonstrates two aspects: the singing of praise to God, and the doing of good works. –Hildegard of Bingen

Pause and ponder how you share your resources. Return thanks.

Close your eyes and breathe in the scent of the sweet herbs. Reflect on the words of Hildegard of Bingen. (Pause) Return thanks.

Return thanks to herbs that act as medicine to cure diseases, season foods, and nourish body and soul.
Return thanks to all women who are healers.
Return thanks to Hildegard of Bingen for a spirituality that feels divine pleasures and does divine justice.

Brew Tea, Scent a Bath or Season Food with the Herbs
Play music by Hildegard of Bingen.

© Diann L. Neu, dneu@hers.com, cofounder and codirector of WATER, the Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual, www.waterwomensalliance.org
Hildegard quotes from Meditations with Hildegard of Bingen by Gabriele Uhlein.