More from Hildegard on the Spiritual Warrior in Us All

Hildegard develops further her deep and useful teachings about our spiritual warriorhood in a visionary image she painted: two walls coming together, building a “heavenly city.”  Wisdom “builds herself a home” in all of us.  Hildegard assures us that every person whose soul has been “aroused for living” houses wisdom.  We are all here to set up our tent of wisdom as we see in the picture below.

“Original Blessing: The Golden Tent.” Hildegard of Bingen, Scivias.

Christ says to Hildegard:

Rejoice with me with praises and joy and build the living Jerusalem with living stones, for it was I who found humans after they had been lost through the deception of the devil.

The stones of Hildegard’s city will be made of people who are grounded in the virtues.  Its chief cornerstone is Christ.  Indeed, he has already “raised up the full and holy city Jerusalem with his every work…in the healing of souls.” 

Hildegard makes a clear distinction between the church and the kingdom of God (as we all should do).  We build up the kingdom of God in this life and on this earth with virtuous people—which she defines as people “zealous for justice.”  People are the “living stones” of this kingdom or walled city.  (Jung says a walled city symbolizes a mother symbol.  The city shelters its inhabitant like a woman shelters her children.)

Hildegard’s vision of the City of God: Scivias III, the second vision. Public Domain; from Helicon in Cockaigne

People who are “living stones” ought to render church more like the Kingdom of God.  The path she lays out is two-fold: 1) human self-criticism and 2) human works.  The two walls coming together furnish “a fortification and a defense in good works.” 

The first wall symbolizes what Hildegard calls “speculative knowledge” and is depicted as smooth and solid.  This speculative knowledge constitutes our foundation.  Through it a person sees and judges his own actions.  The word “speculative” in Hildegard’s day is not how we use the term in our rationalistic culture however. 

Speculum is the Latin word for mirror.  Speculative knowledge is mirror knowledge—meaning for Hildegard our capacity to reflect and to look at ourselves, to be critical of oneself and one’s works (or lack thereof).  We are to look at our face in a mirror:

“Blurred Thinking.” When we look at our reflection, what do we see? Photo by Laurenz Kleinheider on Unsplash.

…to see whether there might be any beauty or manliness in it.  Thus, in speculative knowledge one determines whether the work he accomplishes is for good or for evil and he does this by looking at himself.

It is our capacity for self-reflection and self-criticism that determines our humanity, she insists.  Indeed, the ultimate reproach from the devil is this: “You don’t even know what you are.”  The ultimate ignorance is ignorance of self.

A second meaning of the mirror is this: We are God’s images.   Therefore, we are mirrors of God.  God shines in our beauty and good works.  God speaks to Hildegard:

I have created countless mirrors which is reflected in all the awesome variety of my originality which can never end.  I have created these mirror images to harmonize in songs and praise.

Adapted from Matthew Fox, Illuminations of Hildegard of Bingen, pp. 79-80, 142-144, and plates 9 and 22.

Banner Image: “The Red Head of God Zealous for Erotic Justice.” Hildegard, Scivias. From Matthew Fox, Illuminations of Hildegard of Bingen.

Are you one of God’s “countless mirrors” of Divinity seeking to harmonize in songs and praise?  Are you a “living stone” of the kingdom/queendom of God zealous for justice?

Illuminations of Hildegard of Bingen

An introduction to the life and work of Hildegard of Bingen, Illuminations reveals the life and teachings of one of the greatest female artists and intellectuals of the Western Mystical Tradition.  At the age of 42, she began to have visions; these were captured as 36 illuminations–24 of which are recorded in this book along with her commentaries on them.
“If one person deserves credit for the great Hildegard renaissance in our time, it is Matthew Fox.”  – Dr Mary Ford-Grabowsky, author of Sacred Voices.

Upcoming Events

Join Matthew Fox & Bruce Chilton as they explore the meaning of Easter in a 2-session Virtual Program: “Resurrection” hosted by Cameron Trimble. These sessions are recorded to watch at your convenience. Register HERE.
Responses are welcomed. To add your comment, please click HERE or scroll to the bottom of the page.

Share this meditation


Daily Meditations with Matthew Fox is made possible through the generosity of donors. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation

Search Meditations





Receive our daily meditations

Leave a Comment

To help moderate the volume of responses, the Comment field is limited to 1500 characters (roughly 300 words), with one comment per person per day.

Please keep your comments focused on the topic of the day's Meditation.

As always, we look forward to your comments!!
The Daily Meditation Team

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Join us in meditation that supports your compassionate action

Receive Matthew Fox's Daily Meditation by subscribing below: