September 2022 WATERritual:
Return Thanks with Hildegard of Bingen

By Diann L. Neu with the WATER Community

Watch the September 2022 WATERritual.

Preparation: Place near you a candle, a glass of water and an herb like sage, thyme, and mint, if you can.

Call to Gather
Welcome to our WATERritual. In the midst of our challenging and dangerous world situations, we light a candle and gather to return thanks with and for Hildegard of Bingen who lived from 1098 to 1179. September 17 is the feast day of Hildegard of Bingen and the day she died. She is one of the most fascinating and influential spiritual leaders of the twelfth century, and one of the most gifted spiritual teachers of all time. She was finally named Doctor of the Church on October 7, 2012—an honor that, as of 2022, only four women (and thirty-seven men) have received thus far!

In this liturgy we return thanks with Hildegard for her visions, healing powers, and creation-centered spirituality that feels divine pleasures and does divine justice.

Hildegard of Bingen’s Vision in Her Art

This mandala is Hildegard’s The Universe or Cosmic Egg. “The Earth, the human home, lies at the center of creation. The universe is illuminated by stars and planets, refreshed by winds, and enclosed in fire that stands for God’s all-embracing love.”

(Liber Scivias, copy of the former Ruppertsberg Codex c. 1180; St. Hildegard’s Abbey, Eibingen)

Hildegard Says: “I am the fiery life of the essence of God; I am the flame above the beauty in the fields; I shine in the waters; I burn in the sun, the moon, and the stars. And with the airy wind, I quicken all things vitally by an unseen, all-sustaining life.”

Hildegard is a creation-centered mystic, a holistic health practitioner, a prophet of ecological justice, and a feminist who challenged the institutional Church. She is a great renaissance woman—musician and prophet, poet and artist, doctor and physicist, mystic and theologian, abbess and lover of creation. She is a role model for all time. In the name of all that is, we honor her.

Song: “In the Name of All That Is” by Jan Novotka, from In the Name of All That Is

In the name of all that is we come together.
In the name of the stars and galaxies;
in the name of the planets, moons and the sun;
in the name of all that is we come.

In the name of all that is we come together.
In the name of the ocean and the sea;
in the name of the mountain, desert and plain;
in the name of all that is we come.

In the name of all that is we come together.
In the name of the buffalo and bear;
in the name of the turtle, eagle and whale;
in the name of all that is we come.

In the name of all that is we come together.
In the name of the cactus and the fern;
in the name of the flower, tree and the herb;
in the name of all that is we come.

In the name of all that is we come together.
In the name of the elements of life;
in the name of the soil, water and air;
in the name of all that is we come.

In the name of all that is we come together.
In the name of the children of Earth;
in the name of the Spirit breathing in all things;
in the name of all that is we come.

The Life of Hildegard of Bingen

This mandala of Hildegard’s,
Angelic Choirs or All Beings Celebrate Creation,
shows the cosmic connection of all angels, people, and
all beings celebrating creation.
(Liber Scivias, copy of the former Rupertsberg Codex, c. 1180;
St. Hildegard;s Abbey, Eibingen)

Hildegard Says: “All living creatures are, so to speak, sparks from the radiation of God’s brilliance, and these sparks emerge from God like the rays of the sun.” (Divine Works 4.11)

Hildegard of Bingen was born into a noble family of Bermersheim vor der Höhe, Germany, in beautiful Bavaria. She enjoyed the advantages of wealth, family connections, and easy access to political and ecclesiastical power. She was the founder of the Rhineland mystic movement, a healer and composer, administrator and preacher, theologian and artist, visionary and author, and a Benedictine abbess of the famous monastery at Rupertsberg.

Like prophets before her, she spoke out against the corruption and abuses of the Church. At the age of eighty-one she was put under interdict (denied the sacraments and the right to sing the Divine Office) for being at odds with the local archbishop of Mainz for burying a man in the monastery cemetery who had been excommunicated by the Church. During her last months she wrote furious letters to the bishop to exonerate her name and her abbey and to demand justice. The interdict was lifted only six months before she died.

Song: “Consciousness Waking” by Jan Novotka, from Awakening Consciousness (stop at .53)

Consciousness waking, Holy and Whole.
Creation stirring, birthing anew.
Now is the time. We are the space
for the Holy to rise in our midst.

Hildegard’s Visions

Hildegard’s visions are recorded in her book Scivias, Know the Way.

Hildegard Says in Scivias 1.1.: “Unlock for them the enclosure of mysteries which they, timid as they are, conceal in a hidden and fruitless field. Burst forth into a fountain of abundance, and overflow with mystical knowledge, until they who now think you contemptible because of Eve’s transgression are stirred up by the flood of your irrigation.”

When Hildegard was forty-two, she had mystical visions that transformed her life. She spent the next ten years writing about these visions in Scivias, Know the Ways. The three books focus on her six visions of creation, seven visions of redemption, and thirteen visions of sanctification—an allusion to the Trinity. This great work of religious genius can be viewed as a prophetic call, a book of allegorical visions, an exegetical study, and a theological summa.

Scivias resulted from Hildegard’s prophetic call and was addressed to indolent male theologians, monastics, and clerics.

In her last Scivias vision, which is really a concert, Hildegard introduced a body of exquisite music that includes seventy liturgical songs in which she offers praise to Mary, the choirs of angels, and saints who are prophets, apostles, martyrs, confessors, and virgins. Hildegard’s music and words inspire.

Song: Hildegard von Bingen – “Ordo Virtutum” (Order of the Virtues)

Hildegard’s Greening, Viriditas

This mandala of Hildegard’s, The Cycle of Life or
Cosmos, Body, and Soul, reveals her greening, mystic vision,

viriditas. “The verdant Earth, both the home of human beings

and their creative environment, lies at the center of creation. Within the cycle of nature, the months display people’s different occupations as the year matures.” (Liber Divinorum Operum, c. 1240; Ms. 1942, Lucca, Biblioteca Statale)

Hildegard’s says:O noblest green viridity, you’re rooted in the sun
and in the clear bright calm, you shine within a wheel no earthly excellence can comprehend.”

Hildegard’s concept of viriditas, a combination of the Latin words for “green” and “truth,” conveys a greening life force, the vitality and vigor, lushness and growth inherent in Creation. It expresses divine justice flowing like water.

Hildegard believed that all creation reveals divine blessings. Cosmic interdependence flows through her works. She saw this life force in the green hills and fruitful Earth that surround the Disibodenberg and Rupertsberg areas where she lived and worked. For Hildegard, the Holy Spirit is “green.”

Song: “O Nobilissima Viriditas, O Noblest Green Viridity”

(From “Responsory for Virgins” [D 165r-v, R 471rbva, Scivias 3.13.7b] by Hildegard of Bingen. Latin collated from the transcription of Beverly Lomer and the edition of Barbara Newman; translation by Nathaniel M. Campbell.)

R. O nobilissima viriditas,
que radicas in sole
et que in candida
luces in rota
quam nulla terrena excellentia

R. Tu circumdata es
divinorum ministeriorum.

V. Tu rubes ut aurora et ardes
ut solis flamma.

R. O noblest green viridity,
you’re rooted in the sun
and in the clear
bright calm
you shine within a wheel
no earthly excellence
can comprehend:

R. You are surrounded by
the embraces of the service,
the ministries divine.

V. As morning’s dawn you blush,
as sunny flame you burn.

Group Sharing

Take a drink of water. How do you connect with green viridity/creation-centered spirituality when you drink water and listen to creation-centered music? Let us share our reflections with one another in small groups.

Hildegard the Healer

This mandala of Hildegard’s is The Fountain of Life. “Three female figures stand as if rooted in, or on the stone rim of, the Fountain of Life above the City of God, and look up to contemplate God’s saints in a heavenly cloud.” (Liber Divinorum Operum, c. 1240; Ms. 1942, Lucca, Biblioteca Statale)

Hildegard of Bingen Says: “The rivers give rise to smaller streams that sustain the Earth by their greening power.” (Divine Works 4.59)

Hildegard was a healer who was knowledgeable in medical matters and knew the therapeutic plants grown in the monastic gardens. She learned the wisdom of her locality from the traditional folk around her. She used herbs for food, medicine, and good luck. Faith in herbcraft kept Hildegard close to Earth and creation. When you can, or when you are cooking with an herb, think about Hildegard, her viriditas, and healing.

Hold an herb if you have one near, let’s touch our healing powers and pray for those who need healing now. For whom do we pray? Tell us, and we will respond: May healing come.

Let us bring our hands near our mouths and blow our breath into them as a prayer of thanks for green power and healing.

Take Action

Let us put our creation-centered prayers into action. Here are some possible ways:

. Work in a garden.

. Brew a cup of tea, sit outside, preferably near water, and commune with the trees, grass, birds, and creation.

. Scent a bath or season food with the herbs.

. Listen to Hildegard’s music:

Sending Forth

Return thanks to Hildegard for creation spirituality that feels divine pleasures
and does divine justice.
Return thanks to all healers who value creation-centered spirituality and care for the cosmos.
Return thanks to Hildegard of Bingen for her visions, courage, and boldness.

Song: “I Am So Grateful” by Karen Drucker

Learn More from These Resources

Hildegard’s Writings

Hildegard of Bingen. The Book of Divine Works. Translated by Nathaniel M. Campbell. Washington, DC: The Catholic University of America Press, 2018.

———. Causes and Cures: The Complete English Translation of Hildegardis Causae et Curae Libri VI. Translated by Priscilla Throop. Charlotte, VT: Medieval MS, 2008.

———. Cause and Cure: Holistic Healing. Translated by Manfred Pawlik and Patrick Madigan. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1994.

———. Hildegard’s Healing Plants from Her Medieval Classic Physica. Translated by Bruce W. Hozeski. Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 2001.

———. Mystical Writings. Edited by Fiona Bowie and Oliver Davies. New York: Crossroads, 1990.

———. Scivias. Translated by Mother Columbia Hart and Jane Bishop. Classics of Western Spirituality. Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 1990.

Books about Hildegard

Chicago, Judy. The Dinner Party: Hildegard von Bingen Place Setting and Runner, 1974–1979. New York: Brooklyn Museum, Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art., 1979.

Dickens, Andrea Janelle. The Female Mystic: Great Women Thinkers of the Middle Ages. New York: I.B. Tauris & Co, 2009.

Durka, Gloria. Praying with Hildegard of Bingen. Winona, MN: Saint Mary’s Press, 1991.

Fox, Matthew. Hildegard of Bingen: A Saint for Our Times; Unleashing Her Power in the 21st Century. Vancouver, BC: Namaste Press, 2012.

Jantzen, Grace. Power, Gender and Christian Mysticism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995.

Kujawa-Holbrook, Sheryl A. Hildegard of Bingen: Essential Writings and Chants of a Christian Mystic—Annotated & Explained. Woodstock, VT: SkyLight Paths Publishing, 2016.

Malone, Mary T. Four Women Doctors of the Church: Hildegard of Bingen, Catherine of Siena, Theresa of Ávila, Théresa of Lisieux. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2015.

Meconi, Honey. Hildegard of Bingen. Women Composers. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2018.

Schipperges, Heinrich. Translated by John Cummng. The World of Hildegard of Bingen: Her Life, Times and Visions. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1998.

Uhlein, Gabriele. Meditations with Hildegard of Bingen. Santa Fe, NM: Bear and Company, 1983.

© Diann Neu, adapted from Stirring WATERS: Feminist Liturgies for Justice,