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Hildegard von Bingen's Physica: The Complete English Translation of Her Classic Work on Health and Healing Hardcover – September 1, 1998

4.1 out of 5 stars 45 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"A work filled with astonishments and delights for present-day readers." (Lee Pennock Huntington, Montpelier Times Argus)

"Saint, mystic, healer, visionary, fighter, Hildegard von Bingen stands as one of the great figures in the history of women in medicine. She was renowned for her healing work and her original theories of medicine." (Elisbeth Brooke, in Women Healers)

"Gives a good sense of 12th century herbalism based on humors, common superstition, and sprinkled with a dose of Bingen's mystical insights." (American Herb Association, Vol 16:2)

Language Notes

Text: English
Original Language: Latin
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Healing Arts Press; 1st edition (September 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0892816619
  • ISBN-13: 978-0892816613
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #152,843 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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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By Mary on January 4, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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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Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
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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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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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