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.
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,
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.
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.
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