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Hildegard of Bingen


Humankind cannot live without nature


Who was Hildegard of Bingen?

Hildegard of Bingen [1098 –1179] was a 12th Century Abbess, healer, artist, musician and deep ecologist who lived in the Rhineland of Germany. She had a profoundly deep understanding of the critical balance required within our relationship with the rest of the natural world. Her concept of Viriditas or ‘greening greenness, power of life’ was central to her expression of her Christian faith. In many ways she was a champion for ecology and the ethos of a deeply feminine and nature-based spirituality. She saw our planet as a living, breathing organism with intelligence and that we needed to learn how to live in harmony with all of creation.

Hildegard was prone to visions from an early age, and these laid the foundation for her art, music and writing. While many know her for her sublime vocal antiphon compositions, she also wrote books on herbalism, healing, psychological healing and nutrition.  In 2012 Hildegard was recognized for her
achievements and made a saint.

Mary, Mother of all joy, ground of all being, a glowing, most green, verdant sprout.

Hildegard of bingen

Why Hildegard inspires me

Hildegard is simply an extraordinary woman.

My father’s cousin Lavinia first introduced me to Hildegard when I was in my 20s and I am forever in her debt for that. Thirty years on and Hildegard is a key influence in my life and my work. I am inspired by the ways she has been able to articulate the myriad ways we work and connect with the rest of the natural world.

I adore her music and am awestruck by her art which portrays exquisite mandalas and medicine wheels, but also its her writings in Scivias and Causae et Curae that I also keep returning to. Her view of the world is quite shamanic and her writing, music and art embody the deep feminine.

Even though she lived 800 years ago, she is a voice for our times. She warned of ecological disaster if our relationship with Nature got out of balance. She spoke of cities being subsumed by water and also of the ariditas, the hot dryness of things out of balance and she fought for the rights of women. She wasn’t afraid to voice her opinions on life, religion and politics; and to build not one, but two abbeys in her lifetime is extraordinary.

She gives me courage to walk my own path in life and art.

The soul flows through the body as sap through the tree. Moisture keeps the tree green and produces flowers and fruits. That’s why the soul is like the sap in the tree, The green leaves symbolize understanding, the flowers the will, and the fruits burst forth as from the tree of intelligence.

hildegard of bingen

Materials I respond with

Hildegard’s relationship with the world was a form of sensual and deeply feminine spirituality and she felt the life, the viriditas flowing through all things. Each product in the Viriditas range draws on her passion, her connection to nature and sense of the feminine, and also on some of the plants she described a particular fondness and affinity for.

Plants and perfume notes include violets, sage, rose, fennel, silver birch – a tree that is known as ‘the Lady of the Woods’, evening primrose.

In the skin serum and cream plants such as burdock, plantain and lavender feature, as they do in her medieval classic Physica.understanding their needs; and so I too feel it is the starting place to select materials that are inspired by him.

I also take note of his writings on nature as part of his therapy. For example, he spoke of the benefits of walking at night in scented gardens and so I have selected narcotic notes of plants such as jasmine, honeysuckle and ylang ylang. Saturn in his chart is referenced in tree essences and resins and Jupiter, that planet of expansive thinking is signified by other aromatics.

In the skin serum and cream I have included Borage that Pliny the Elder wrote as being a treatment for melancholia.