Hildegard's Healing Plants: From Her Medieval Classic Physica

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Beacon Press, May 11, 2002 - Health & Fitness - 192 pages
Medieval saint, mystic, healer, and visionary-Hildegard von Bingen has made a comeback. She is now popular in natural healing circles, in medieval and women's studies, and among those interested in investing the everyday with the spiritual.

Hildegard's Healing Plants is a gift version and new translation of the 'Plant' section of Physica, Hildegard's classic work on health and healing. Hildegard comments on 230 plants and grains-most of which are still grown in home gardens and sold at local health food stores. In one of many entries on women's health, Hildegard writes, 'Also if a pregnant woman labors much in childbirth, let someone cook pleasant herbs, such as fennel and assurum, in water with fear and great moderation, squeeze out the water, and place them while they are warm around her thighs and back, tied gently with a piece of cloth, so that her pain and her closed womb is opened more pleasantly and easily.'

Whether read for the sheer enjoyment of Hildegard's earthy, intelligent voice ("Let a man who has an overabundance of lust in his loins cook wild lettuce in water and pour it over himself in a sauna") or for her encyclopedic and often still relevant understanding of natural health, Hildegard's Healing Plants is a treasure for gardeners, natural healing enthusiasts, and Hildegard fans everywhere.

Hildegard's Healing Plants includes 230 plants and grains-most of which are still grown in home gardens and sold at local health food stores.

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It was fairly helpful in doing a project on medieval herbs. I found it a useful resource.

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Use Hildegard's devotion to viriditas - ebulliens viriditas and relate it to the tree imagery in a quarta visio of Liber Scivias. (scanned image) discuss her work as taking a position between the Theological orations of Gregory of Nazianzus and the revival of hexameral literature in the late Renaissance.  

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Page xv - God was transmitted into the plants, animals, and precious gems. People, in turn, ate the plants and animals and acquired some of the gems, thereby obtaining "viriditas.
Page x - Hildegard's mystical books, which was written between 1163 and 1 1 73, concerns itself with the unity of creation. Hildegard herself does not use the terms macrocosm and microcosm, but she succeeds in synthesizing into one great whole her theological beliefs along with her knowledge of the elements of the universe and the structures within the human body. This work is often considered as the epitome of the science of her time.
Page xiii - Church would have been spared the defilement of an indelible stain. Hildegard's correspondence with St. Bernard, then preaching his crusade, with four popes, Eugenius III, Anastasius IV, Adrian IV, and Alexander III, and with the emperors Conrad and Frederic Barbarossa, brings her into the current of general European history.
Page xi - Hildegard's uses of plants, one cannot decide with certainty whether she is relying on her own experience, traditional lore, or written authorities, although she does not seem to depend much on either Pliny or Isidore. On the other hand, the plants she uses are generally those which could be collected from the woods and fields or grown in the convent garden.
Page xiii - Approximately seventy sequences and hymns, antiphons, and responsories are found in the cycle and were written for a wide range of liturgical celebrations, from important church feasts to those of lesser-known saints.
Page xii - Hildegard usually indicates what medicinal purposes the plant in question serves. Sometimes this follows fairly obviously from its qualities; at other times the connections are more tenuous.
Page vii - Hildebert, was a knight in the service of Meginhard, the count of Spanheim. At the age of six, the child began to have the religious visions that were to continue the rest of her life.
Page viii - Latin. At the age of fifteen, she was clothed in the habit of a nun in the hermitage of Jutta, which, by this time, had attracted enough followers to become a community, following the Rule of Saint Benedict.
Page xii - People could then determine their effect on the persons who ate or used them, according to whether they were in or out of humor — that is, in a balanced or unbalanced state.

About the author (2002)

TRANSLATOR: Bruce W. Hozeski, founder of Hildegard studies in the United States, is author of Hildegard von Bingen's Mystical Visions and Hildegard von Bingen's Book of the Rewards of Life and teaches at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana.

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