Cosmos in the Earth, Cosmos in our Bodies: Hildegard of Bingen’s Medicine

Hildegard's Vision of the Cosmos - Illumination

An illumination of Hildegard of Bingen’s visions — the Cosmos. From her book of visions, Scivias. The third vision of part 1 of this manuscript.

What does 12th century German magistra, mystic, composer, counselor, and physician, Hildegard of Bingen’s perception of the Cosmos (as presented here in her illustration) have to do with nitty-gritty daily practice of healing ways and herbal medicine in her monasteries? What is the connection of the abstract as depicted in the illustration with the qualities and uses of the plants? How do the elements of the cosmos as she understood and spoke of them “show up” in the garden that her nuns tended, the bodies of the people who came for healing, the plants and healing ways for helping restore good health and balance?

Hildegard of Bingen’s medicine was an expression of an amazing woman in a particular place and time, drawing on understandings of the ancients yet also expressing her own personal — spiritual and physical — experience of her world. Hers is a framework that links to creation in a poetic and spiritual way and yet is fundamentally practical, grounded on embodied experience of the literal earth beneath her feet and the turning seasons, and how that is mirrored in the body.

Come join me at my upcoming workshop, Hildegard of Bingen’s Medicine, where we will begin to experience her world — her past and her sensibilities, nature, and viriditas — Hildegard’s term for the greening power of God, the force of life. We’ll apply these experiences to getting to know some of her plants and healing ways, bringing them home to our own 21st century lives.

Saturday, March 2, 2019. 9 am to 3 pm. St. Placid Priory, Lacey, WA. Cost is only $65!
For more information and to register.

You may be interested in reading: Gratitude, Sip by Sip – a blog post by me about viriditis, gratitude, and engaging with plants and their viriditas.

The Antlered Deer Goddess

I love how with each turning of the year, I discover more and more of the deep mythic heart of the world. In so much that on surface seems mundane and superficial in what I perceive as the post-modern world, are truths that are powerfully present — as if in sleep or hibernation, or awaiting the time, like King Arthur and the knights in a cave, when the people and the land have most need of them.

That time is now.

And so, in various areas of my life — and perhaps you are finding it in yours — I discover power, beauty, mischievous and awe-inspiring magic.

Here as our wheel round the sun tilts furthest toward the longest night, I am finding our world rediscovering who Santa’s flying reindeer really are.

Gift of the Antlered Deer Mother - art by Jane Valencia

Gift of the Antlered Deer Mother – art by Jane Valencia

For one thing, the antlered reindeer in winter are female. And Santa himself, in shamanic garb, may — in this lore — represent a sacred power quite different from what is portrayed today. For the mythic and ancestral truth at the heart of Santa’s flying reindeer please read this beautiful and world-opening blog post: “Doe, a Deer, A Female Reindeer: The Spirit of Mother Christmas.”

As a child, crazy about deer (still am), my favorite Christmas story was that of Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer. As a young adult I strode away from anything reeking to me of commercialism around the holidays. Eventually I became aware of so much majesty that moves through our dreaming at this time of year, in our participation in the circling of the year, and embodiment of earth’s energies as we tilt away and toward the sun again. As ancestral myths and sacred knowings resurface, I feel myself turning the Sun, and the Soul of the World with eyes and heart that once again know wonder and awe, and the child nature that is ready to fly with the deer in the starlit longest night sky.

As we approach the Solstice, what magic are you discovering or rediscovering from an ever-deepening heart-space?

For more Deer Magic, please visit:
An Antlered Advent – Art Contributions
Seven women present art, musings, and more about their relationships with the ancient Deer Goddess and the Deer. I am honored to be included. You’ll find photos by me there, plus a link to “The Abbots Horn Dance” — Celtic harp music by Spookytree, my duo with Deb Knodel. At that link you can listen to and, through the end of this month, download the track for free!

Finally, I finish here with an illustration. Wild Sweet Blessings to you in this Season of Light!

The Year She Grew Her Antlers - art by Jane Valencia

The Year She Grew Her Antlers – illustration by Jane Valencia

 

 

Winds, Rain, Blue Moon, and Buds: Finding Nature within Us

We have reached the time of Imbolc, the Celtic-rooted cross-quarter festival that marks the transition of winter into spring, falling as it does between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. Earlier this week I felt that winter was never ending, yet my calendar and the approach of the Imbolc Full Moon told me otherwise. Sure enough, a wander through the fields led me to furry silver Pussy Willow, Snowdrops opening, Cleavers extending their star-whorl leaves, even Dandelion sprouting new leaves and a tightly closed flower or two. I pick Indian Plum leaves and my mouth puckers with its acrid sharply cucumber flavor, all familiar to me, all tasting of this transition time.

But even without the buds and the flavors, and even with the relentless rain, and the winds, I think I would have realized on my own that Imbolc had arrived. It’s a quality of lightness in the air, or perhaps a field of grace that somehow touches me and that I in turn can touch, that awakened only a day or two ago. Or perhaps it was I who awakened to it.

Imbolc is associated with Brighid — the Goddess, the Irish saint, She who has been many through countless generations. Rightly so, we may attune to poetic word, the craft and artistry of metalwork and the forge of the smith, healing wells, and spiritual fire, the quickening of life in the seed deep in the earth or in the womb, the power of women returning to the world. And we can continue our wander through space and otherworld time: Music and mystery, Bear medicine, the cauldron of life, rebirth, and renewal, the midwife and the healer, beauty and blessing, the hearth and sanctuary, sovereignty — all of these threads and more are patterned in the ancestral weave that is Brighid, the sun and earth goddess, and this time of year, Imbolc.

Brighid’s Mantle, Brighid’s Well

What follows is  a fabric of words, or words upwelling like water. Allow yourself to move through the language as if it were a weave or waterflow. No need to dwell on specifics, unless specifics pull you inward. The words are merely Brighid-inspired language, inspired by the photo below.

Quote from Michael Meade, Mosaicvoices.org

I know the statement in this image to be true. In this time of quickening, of attuning to one’s creative fire, to illumination, to the forged beauty and direction that powers, activates, and moves your life, what does your Soul speak to you of your life’s mission, the terrain that is your hearth, your sacred earth? How does the Earth herself remind and nourish your essential nature? How does Sacred Mystery hold and guide you within its architecture, and shine through every cell and space of your bodymindheartbeing? Each of us is an absolutely unique expression within the beautiful and sometimes frightening universe, and we are universes within ourselves.

Where in your daily life, the arc of your earthwalk, does rhythm, melody, and harmony enter into strength and a rich-overtoned simplicity? Where is the “of course” in your ecological landscape, the spaciousness wherein the truth and heart of Nature is not separate from your own? When do you find that you listen most deeply, when your heart is most curious, when your mind drops brilliance in service to Unity?

Separation is an illusion. Our roots lie deep in the earth and our branches interlace the heavens and one another, with all things. We are interwoven with more than that which our five senses detect, and we are gifted with a guidance system and compass that lets us know from within which step is ours to make. We are infused with viriditas, the life force, the very physical stream within all of nature that nourishes growth, balance, connection, expression, vitality, our medicine nature in all its seasons and cycles.

The human family speaks 7,500 languages on the earth right now, yet, countless languages have existed, and countless continue to exist in other forms — in the slow walk of stones, the flight of the birds, the greening of the plants, the transmutive agent that is fire, the breath within water, the one story in each star, the secret word in your very origin, in the most minute and expansive place in your Soul. At the very heart of all these modes, these expressions, is a sound, an energetic seed that speaks Mystery, Beyond-and-Within, Divine — the word that holds Sacred nature in its center for us and pulls us deeper into the past and possibility and unnameable and future beauty that belongs to all of us.

When do you find yourself listening most intently? And when are you filled with wonder, child’s delight, deep peace, forgiveness, gratitude, love of all. Where is your place of origin in the deepest sense? Where is the right place, the most resonant tone for allowing your life to unfold into its right timing and motion? Where are you elegant?

Blessings to you at this time of fire and water, beauty, crafting, inner resolve, new beginnings, threshold, and wherever you are in the truth and laughter of your heart.