Hildegard von Bingen: Why is she important?

By Student Brittany Baker

Why is Hildegard Important?

 hildegard (1)

Hildegard was a supreme woman in Medieval Germany.   A poet, artist, musician, playwright, theologian, scientist, and doctor of medicine, she changed the way we see both the world and a woman’s place in it.  In addition to her incredible artistic and scientific accomplishments, Hildegard is important because her writings exemplify how it is possible to gain respect and credibility in the face of unjust prejudice.   Barbara Newman, a renowned expert on Hildegard, notes that Hildegard embraced her inherent feminine qualities, rather than trying to imitate the powerful men who dominated her society.  In other words, Hildegard had faith in her abilities and accepted herself for the strong woman that she was.  Through Hildegard’s incredible accomplishments, she  proved that anyone who struggles to achieve greatness in the face of prejudice can make remarkable contributions to any field of study.

Hildegard’s Music

To find out all about Hildegard’s music, see a beautiful site by composer Eric Chapelle, look here.


Plate Representing Hildegard.

Hildegard’s Philosophy

Hildegard had extremely progressive ideas of microcosm and macrocosm.  Her visions suggested that similar patterns are reproduced on all levels of the cosmos.  This video of fractals is a great visual representation of the concept of microcosm and macrocosm because it shows a series of images that are the same in the large and small scale.

Hildegard the Playwright

This play is the oldest morality play by far (more than 100 years).  It is the only Medieval musical to survive with text and music.

  Click on the following link for the full Latin text of Ordo Virtutum along side the English translation http://www.oxfordgirlschoir.co.uk/hildegard/ordovirtutumtext.pdf

Hildegard’s Holistic Medicine




Oats “provide a rich mind and clear intellect.”  They also provide “good color and healthy flesh” For the person who is worn out, and suffering from a “split mind” or “empty thoughts,” they should take a hot bath and pour in the warm water that the oats were boiled in.  If they do this often, they will “return to themselves and regain sanity.” (Hildegard, 7)



 Peas make a person courageous (9).

Broad beans


Whoever suffers from pain in the internal organs should cook broad beans in water, add animal fat, or oil, separate the beans from the water and drink the water.  If a person does this often it will heal them inwardly (11).



 Hemp is “healthy for healthy people to eat it.”  It “takes away the bad humors and makes the good humors strong”.  However, if a person is “weak in the head” or has a” vacant mind”, they should not eat hemp because it can easily give them a headache (13).



“purifies the senses and brings a good disposition”  Nutmeg has the capability to “calm all the bitterness of the heart and mind, open the heart and clouded senses, and make the mind joyful” (24).pepper


For someone suffering from a loss of appetite, pepper can help them “put aside their loathing for food” (22).



 Cumin can be useful for a person suffering from congestion (23).



Licorice can be “beneficial to the “insane” person if eaten often because it “exstinguishes the furor in a persons head” (24).



 Cinnamon diminishes the bad humors, and brings good humours to whoever eats it often (24).



“Whoever suffers from such stuffiness in the head that it is as if they were deaf eat cloves often and the stuffiness will diminish” (28).



Thyme is good for someone afflicted with scabies or unhealthy flesh (32).



Parsley “generates seriousness in the mind” (68).



Celery induces good humors in a person when cooked, but also induces a “wandering mind” (71)



who have Onion is not good for “a sick and weak stomach, it creates suffering, either raw or cooked, because of its moisture” (78).  (AKA it makes some people fart!)

THE POWER OF SCENT  (Strehlow, 75)

For anger: Rose-Sage oil

  rose sage

For intelligence, concentration and wisdom: Lilly oil


To prevent viral infections and strengthen the immune system: Lavender oillavender

For depression: Rub fennel oil on temples, neck, or breast


For instructions on how to make cheap scented oils check out this site!



Strehlow, Wighard. Hildegard of Bingen’s Spiritual Remedies.

           Rochester, VT: Healing Arts, 2002. Print.

Hildegard. Hildegard’s Healing Plants:. Boston: Beacon, 2001. Print.

 Hildegard and the hidden power of Gemstones

Crystal therapy has been used in cultures around the world for thousands of years.  The effectiveness of Crystal therapy is vouched for by former research chemist Dr. Wighard Strehlow, who worked in the pharmaceutical industry for more than a decade.  According to Dr.  Wighard Strehlow, the healing energy of precious stones “absorbs the negative energy of abnormal thoughts and emotions,” such as anxiety, depression, distress, and other mental disorders.

Hildegard’s belief in the healing power of gemstones holds a logical foundation in the theory of the humors.  In Medieval times, the body was viewed as a composition of the four elements, or four humors, and gemstones were seen as an effective treatment for illnesses caused by the imbalance of these humors because of the particular proportions of the elements of fire and water that arise in the stones during their formation.

Another advocate of crystal healing, Dr. Patrick B Massey, explains that the practice of rulers wearing crowns embedded with precious gemstones is rooted in the belief that these gemstones have healing capabilities.


Smaragdus (Emerald)

Emeralds are effective against “all human weaknesses and infirmities”, because it is “brought forth by the sun” and springs from “the greenness of the air.”  “For a pain in the heart, stomach or side, carry smaragdus about you to warm the flesh of your body, and it will feel better.”

“If illness strikes a person so suddenly that they can barely withstand its attack, then they should immediately put smaragdus in their mouth” and breathe in and out repeatedly.



For someone who is suffering from weakness of the eyes, hold hyacinth up to the sun, moisten it with saliva, and hold it over the eyes so that they are warmed by it.  If this is done repeatedly the eyes will become clear and healthy.



Onyx “has great virtues against illnesses arising in the air.”  “If you are oppressed with melancholy, focus your attention on the Onyx and then put it immediately into your mouth; your mental depression will then cease.”



“Whoever keeps a piece of Beryl constantly about them, and frequently takes it in their hand and frequently focuses on it, will not easily argue with other people, nor will they be quarrelsome, but they will remain calm.”



Sardonyx can strengthen your intellect, knowledge, and “all the senses” of your body.

The effectiveness of crystal healing

“The effectiveness of the neurological influence of crystals and their tranquilizing effect on the brain can be observed in the electroencephalogram (EEG), which has been recorded under the influence of the Gold Topaz Prayer.”  Despite the fact that the EEG might be influenced by the relaxing nature of the Gold Topaz Prayer experience, it is unlikely that the cross cultural tradition of gem therapy has been passed down for many generations without reason.  As M.D, PHD, Patrick B. Massey explains: “Progress in medical therapy is not in a straight line.  Discoveries that result in great improvements in medical care require a change in perception.”

The long tradition of gem cutting

The ancient art of gem cutting dates back to 70,000 BCE.  To learn more about the history of gem cutting, click on the link below.

The History of Lapidary


Strehlow, Wighard. Hildegard of Bingen’s Spiritual Remedies.  Rochester, VT: Healing Arts, 2002. Print.

Selected Writings: Hildegard of Bingen.  Mark Atherton, Trans. Penguin, 2001.

“Crystals Used in Healing Have a Long History.” Daily Herald. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Apr. 2014.