Customer Reviews: Hildegard von Bingen's Physica: The Complete English Translation of Her Classic Work on Health and Healing
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on June 5, 2011
This book is very interesting as other reviewers noted. The biggest issue I have with it is the poor translation of Christian themes (natural to a work written by a nun of the 12th century). Where the word "demon" is used in the original text, the translator, Priscilla Throop, renders it as "airy spirit". And yes, there is a big difference between an "airy spirit" and a demon. Consider which one you would want in your bedroom at night. Yes, there is a difference. This makes me wonder what else Throop is twisting to fit her own worldview instead of simply giving us Hildegard's writings in common English.
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on January 4, 2013
My husband and I are enjoying reading this book. Since Hildegard has been made a Doctor of the Catholic Church, we've been exploring her writings and music. Our complaint is that the translation of this book doesn't well reflect the deep faith of St. Hildegard: she believed in Jesus and much of what she wrote was the fruit of prayer and study. This book translates the parts speaking of her faith rather stumblingly. We look forward to a more informed translation of this and her other books.
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on October 15, 2012
Before we begin, this book is not meant for modern practitioners of herbal medicines. If you are looking for recipes and how-tos, this is NOT the book for you. It is written for the audiences of the Middle Ages. These recipes and suggestions are not appropriate to modern usage, some could be potentially poisonous to the patient.

For modern scholars, it gives us an insight into the thoughts on and healing practices of the day. Von Bingen examines Humorism and the aspects of other plants, minerals, and animal and how they apply to remedies. Like many medieval works on health and healing, it is part religion, part observation, and part magic and whimsy (e.g., unicorn horns - though these could be represented by Narwhal horns).

As stated before, when looking for healing recipes and herbal facts, modern practitioners of the healing arts should be VERY cautious in applying any recipes found in these old texts. Not all of them are safe and if making use of animal parts, some may not be legal.

Other works that students may find interesting:
Medieval Herbal Remedies: The Old English Herbarium and Anglo-Saxon Medicine
Leechcraft: Early English Charms, Plantlore and Healing
Medieval Herbals: The Illustrative Traditions (The British Library Studies in Medieval Culture)
The Trotula: An English Translation of the Medieval Compendium of Women's Medicine (The Middle Ages Series)

This book a nice translation of one of Hildegard von Bingen's works.
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on August 3, 2007
I have tried to use this book once or twice. One of the things that still make me giggle is using lion's ears to combat deafness. Then I remembered all these animal body-parts that are still being harvested for their medical qualities that are bringing the animals into extinction -- like is the case with the rhinoceros and the shark. So I stop giggling and stick to the plant sections.

The recipes that Hildegard uses are sometimes hard to do because I simply have no idea what some of the plants she uses are. She also uses wine a lot, which is new to me. I come from a tea tradition, so boiling things in wine is a true novelty. Maybe this is why I have not used it much since it can be very different from what I know. On the other hand, it has provided me wonderful new experiences in the herbal work! I have not used the mineral section yet, and only stuck to the plant section.

At the very least, it is a fascinating treatise on medieval medicine. I do recommend it!
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on April 10, 2015
Beautiful book, really nicely bound. And it is very in depth on the herbal remedies Hildegard recommended. I got this primarily because I thought it would be really interesting to compare and contrast the herbal remedies of her time with those of some of the Shamanic remedies of Native American and other cultures around the world to see what is similar and different.
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on December 2, 2012
I was attracted to this book after St. Hildegard of Bingen became a "Doctor of the Church" within the Catholic Church recently. Living in early Medievil Times makes it fascinating. Her health remedies are being studied today by doctors. Mystically she was revealed natural healing remedies of creation. "Physica" is a translation of her work. The terminology is difficult because it is based on Medievil speech by which some words do not even exist today for explanation of meaning. However, I recommend it- and to read it with today's understanding of terminologies. It is amazing to read,and absorb the brilliance, vision, and medical wisdom of this woman - St. Hildegard of Bingen. I would also encourage everyone to research her life - extraordinary.
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on June 14, 2007
From herbal treatments to stone power, Hildegard covers it all in this excellent translation by Priscilla Throop. Anyone interested in the holistic and deep level personhood approach of Hildegard (she was much more than her music) will count this book as essential to their collection. Hildegard as theologian, philosopher, musician, and natural healer can all be seen in Physica. Enjoy!!!
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on February 19, 2016
Exceptionally interesting! Properties of various forms of food, minerals, etc. divinely revealed to this phenomenally gifted woman of God. Her insights have been verified by modern medical practitioners even though she was not a doctor! Intriguing information about foods and herbs and things, that have been substantiated by modern science, even though these revelations are 1,000 years old! A must-have for any serious student of aromatherapy (essential oils), or other type of alternative medicine practitioner.
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on August 7, 2015
This book was a treasure trove of interesting facts, useful information, and entertaining lore. If you are a Hildegard fan but haven't read this you should love it. I am interested in all the above and it has it all. It is a bit like a treasure hunt to find the nuggets of useful herbology but it's a fun hunt. Griffins and unicorns are even mentioned.
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on September 9, 2008
Priscilla Throop's fine translation of Hildegard's PHYSICA is an exacting, heart-felt treasure, valuable to scholars and laymen alike. With this, and her more recent translation of Hildegard's CAUSES AND CURES, today's reader gets a clear view of Hildegard's scientific, medical world.
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