Hildegard on the Spiritual Warrior in Us All, continued

We are discussing the very important archetype for our times, one that displaces a sick and toxic masculinity that our patriarchal culture is drowning in, with a healthy and sacred masculinity—that of the Spiritual Warrior. 

The struggle with racism continues: Atticus Finch (Gregory Peck) defends Tom Robinson (Brock Peters) against a wrongful rape charge in To Kill a Mockingbird (1962). The Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, published in 1960, was banned in schools in Biloxi, MS (2017), and Duluth, MN (2018). Wikimedia Commons.

Currently we are calling on Hildegard of Bingen, a newly minted doctor of the church (though she lived nine centuries ago), for her teachings about spiritual warriorhood. 

Many people seem to think spirituality is about bliss and inner peace exclusively.  No.  It is also about love and therefore about working for justice and compassion (which “means justice” according to Eckhart and the Biblical prophetic tradition).  Therefore it is about spiritual warriorhood.

Hildegard speaks often of Christ as a “spiritual warrior” and how we need to be the same. Be “strong like a tree,” she urges us frequently.  I have the impression she’s sometimes talking to herself when she invokes this mantra for strength and stamina. All prophets, all warriors, need courage and stamina. She writes,

Amy Goodman, main host of the news program Democracy Now!, speaks to her arrest for covering the water protectors at Standing Rock, ND, and the central role of women in the struggle against the Dakota Access Pipeline. Video by Shannon Kring

Oppose the devil like a strong warrior opposes his enemy. Then God is delighted with your struggle, wishes you to call upon God constantly in all hours of your distress.

If you have a problem with the word “devil,” substitute Racism; or Sexism; or Patriarchy; or Hatred; or Ecocide; or Matricide; or Homophobia; or Denial; or Idolatry of money or power; or Addiction; or Fear; or Hypocrisy.  The “devil” comes in many guises.  The point Hildegard is making is that no matter the disguise, we are called to “oppose like a strong warrior” and “God is delighted with your struggle.” 

Hildegard writes to Pope Anastasius and criticizes him, telling him to become “rooted in goodness”:

You should be doing battle with evil, but that is precisely what you aren’t doing, when you don’t dig out by the root that evil which suffocates the good. And why not? Because of your fear of the evil men who lay snares in nocturnal ambush and love the gold of death more than the beautiful King’s daughter, Justice.

Dry injustice: No More Deaths and La Coalición de Derechos Humanos report that border counties transfer refugees’ emergency calls to Border Patrol, which fails to respond. Video by No More Deaths.

How significant is this phrase, which she returns to often, that justice is “the King’s daughter”? She explicitly links justice to the feminine, it is Lady Justice.  Notice how she names fear as the demon holding us back.

And she has something to say about that too.  Hildegard teaches that injustice is dry, whereas justice is wet:

When you lack the verdancy of justice, your soul is dry, totally without tender goodness, totally without illuminating virtue.

Permaculturist Dennis Doyon captures water from a spring revived through tree-plantings he and his family did 10 years ago, with the help of IGiveTrees.org, in the slashed-and-burned Atlantic Forest in Brazil.

A dry person, a passionless and uncaring person, a person in denial, is “totally lacking” in virtue and “totally without goodness.” 

Goodness cares, love cares, it goes to work to assist others, it gets us out of our coachpotatoitis, otherwise known as acedia.  Goodness is wet and creative and caring.  (Maybe this is why the color of the heart chakra is green.)

She expects all of us to be prophets and warriors–“O human,” she shouts, “why do you live without passion, without blood?”

Adapted from Matthew Fox, Hildegard of Bingen: A Saint for Our Times, p. 78, 33. 

See also: Matthew Fox, The Hidden Spirituality of Men: Ten Metaphors to Awaken the Sacred Masculine, pp. 19-32, 77-104.

Banner Image: A San Francisco protest by Stop AAPI Hate against violence against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash

Do you see people (self included) living “without passion, without blood”?  What can we do about that?

Hildegard of Bingen, A Saint for Our Times: Unleashing Her Power in the 21st Century

Matthew Fox writes in Hildegard of Bingen about this amazing woman and what we can learn from her.
In an era when women were marginalized, Hildegard was an outspoken, controversial figure. Yet so visionary was her insight that she was sought out by kings, popes, abbots, and bishops for advice.
“This book gives strong, sterling, and unvarnished evidence that everything – everything – we ourselves become will affect what women after us may also become….This is a truly marvelous, useful, profound, and creative book.” ~~ Andrew Harvey, author of The Hope: A Guide to Sacred Activism.

The Hidden Spirituality of Men: Ten Metaphors to Awaken the Sacred Masculine

To awaken what Fox calls “the sacred masculine,” he unearths ten metaphors, or archetypes, ranging from the Green Man, an ancient pagan symbol of our fundamental relationship with nature,  to the Spiritual Warrior….These timeless archetypes can inspire men to pursue their higher calling to connect to their deepest selves and to reinvent the world.
“Every man on this planet should read this book — not to mention every woman who wants to understand the struggles, often unconscious, that shape the men they know.” — Rabbi Michael Lerner, author of The Left Hand of God

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5 thoughts on “Hildegard on the Spiritual Warrior in Us All, continued”

  1. Avatar
    Jeanette Metler

    It’s hard sometimes to keep the passion burning in the face of injustice, when your truth-telling has been ignored and nothing changes. It’s difficult then when your passion begins to turn to anger, and then to despair. I used to think that truth-telling would make more of a difference, piercing people’s conscience, creating a little crack in hardened hearts for the light of truth to enter in. Now I’m not so sure? It seems that we have been fighting the same injustices from one generation to the next with change rarely happening or if it does its temporary. At times the movement is incredibly slow, one step forward and two steps back. However, I also see how very important it is to keep kindling the spark of this passion for justice lit, even if it is but a small tapered candle at times. What comes to mind is an ancient sculpture of St Genevieve, in which she is holding a lit taper. On one side of her is an evil spirit who daily blows her lit taper out, and on the other side of her is the Holy Spirit who keeps relighting it daily.

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Jeanette, I totally understand your frustration at not getting the results you would like for “truth-telling” but just remember, “Here is the patience of the saints: here are they who keep the commandments of God [in other words, keep doing what you know is right] and [keep] the faith of Jesus.” And thank you for the image of St. Genevieve!

    2. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Whatever you do, don’t become sooo discouraged that you stop your “truth-telling.” I know it seems like change is hard coming, slowly coming, and sometimes even not coming. But change does happen. Consider the fact that we have a Vice President that is a woman and part black and Asian! Consider the fact that minorities have the right to vote, and there are now numerous minorities in Congress. So keep the spark of passion for justice burning! And I love your image of the sculpture of St. Genevieve…

  2. Avatar

    Oh dear – the daily essentialist dirge, Justice as feminine, I guess exploitation is Masculine. Every day more and more essentialist misandry. Please the Earth and those qualities are not feminine nor those of the sky masculine. Men lay lie down their lives daily in so many ways. Such a pity these posts could be good

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Robert, I know that sometimes it seems a bit simplistic to make things so black and white that we can look at “Justice as Feminine” and “Masculine as exploitation.” But sometimes speaking in this way can bring important things we may not see to the fore and which are used for the sake of contrast. Matthew is not speaking negatively about masculinity, in fact if you have been reading previous meditations, he recently did a number of weeks on the sacred masculine. And he has written a book titled, “THE HIDDEN SPIRITUALITY OF MEN. If you “pity these posts could be good,” I would ask that you just give them a chance–stay open and see where these ideas will lead you… and I believe it will be to a good place !!!

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