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Outstanding female prophet
on November 15, 2006
Hildegard was one of the most famoust mystics of the medieval period. A rarity amoung women of that time, she conversed with learned theologians and even the pope, was given considerable autonomy to learn and teach, and was a very gifted writer, poet, theologian, mystic, and scientist.
Hildegard's visions, which are included in this collection, form a larger set of works of hers which include poems, songs and music, and various encyclopedias. Hildegard was a very learned woman for her time.
Her visions are very complex and involve many elements and themes. Some deal with classic theological motifs from the medieval period, such as the Church, Christ, heaven and hell, the last judgement and the fall. Others deal with the relationship between man (the microcosm) and the universe, while others deal with the mysteries of the Triune God and God's prescence in nature.
Most striking in Hildegard's visions is the intimate connection between man, God, and the creation. Mathew Fox rightly said Hildegard is a creation mystic; for her, the divine spirit fills and energises the universe, and the Earth itself is seen in terms as our mother and as sacred. Hurting creation is in fact a way we hurt ourselves, an ecological ethic which can certainly say a lot to us in this time, where our greedy carelessness towards the world and its resources threatens to imperil our very survival as a species. Hildegard also quite rightly and perceptively understands the goodness of creation in terms of the goodness of God, whose abundance is given to us freely out of love. Our sin in Hildegard's system very much boils down to our selfish tendency to only see ourselves and our wants, rather than our relationship with the creation and the creator. In this way, Hildegard speaks to us today as the prophet, who warns us of the spiritual and material destruction and doom that will come to us if we continue to live in our wicked ways; demythologized and interpreted in our context, this can be read as a prophecy to our own destruction if we do not turn from our sinful selfishness which manifests itself in the reckless way we hurt and exploit other people and the environment merely to sate our own desire.
Hildegard's work is filled with beauty and colour and is greatly enjoyable also as fine art, and indeed, Hildegard is as much a great artist as she is a prophet and mystic.
This collection of her works is quite good and takes us through the main cycles of prophetic visions.