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Hildegarde's Wisdom for Greening the Planet
Greening Power of Life
Hildegard of Bingen, a 12th Century Bendedictine nun listed more than 300 herbs in her writing Causes and Cures.Her monastery at Rupertsburg had a large herb garden from which herbs were taken to treat members of the monastery as well as the people living nearby.Hildegard believed very strongly in the healing power of herbs as coming from God.She adopted the ancient world’s belief in the elements that composed the world…air, water, fire, and earth.She recognized that the human body contained these elements.She wrote:“As long as the flow of the humors in a person functions properly and maintains warmth, moisture, blood and flesh, then the person enjoys good health. But as soon as they flow all at once in excess and without caution, they create sickness and cause death.”
Viriditas was one of the principles in her works, which means “greenness”; meaning life.Hildegard recognized that this “greenness was transmitted by God to everything God created.People maintained the health of their bodies by eating the plants and animals, which inturn provided them with the minerals they needed to survive.Hildegard affirmed the practical knowledge of the healing properties of plants.She saw how we are connected with nature.Hildegard that all life contained Divine Energy:
Oh fire of the Holy Spirit,
holy are you in giving life to forms...
Oh boldest path,
penetrating into all places,
in the heights, on earth,
and in every abyss,
you bring and bind all together
From you clouds flow, air flies,
Rocks have their humours,
Rivers spring forth from the waters
And earth wears her green vigour
O ignis Spiritus Paracliti
Viriditas expresses for Hildegard fertility with the opposite being ariditas meaning aridity or barrenness.She could apply the natural processes of life to our spiritual life.“If we surrender the green vitality of virtues and give ourselves over to the drought of our indolence so that we lack the sap of life and the greening power of good deeds, then the powers of our very soul will begin to fade away and dry up”When viriditas fades away in our souls because of our failures, we are placed in a position to become open to God’s love.It is God’s love that nourishes us into life. Thus, viriditas contains a redemptive quality.Christ is the embodiment of this green lushness.The absence of God’s love wilts the soul.
Hildegard perceived nature as a source for the revelation of who God.She intuited that God desires life for all and it was important that all of creation should be made whole.She truly honored the world and the creation of humans as a gift from God.You have a garden of people in which you seek to plant many wholesome desires and good works. God pours his dynamic good will upon those desires and those works and causes the garden to grow green though the dew and the rain from the living fountain.
Hildegard can be regarded as an ecological prophet, who was ahead of her times. She speaks to our modern times as well, telling us that the greening power is essential for the future of Mother Earth.Veriditas needs to become a part of out consciousness.Veriditas reminds us of our connectedness to one another and to all living things.