Hildegard and David Paladin as Shamans, continued

If, as Thomas Berry observes, the role of the shaman is returning again in our time, it behooves us to meditate on its significance and that is what we have been doing, with Hildegard’s help and others, the last few DMs.  Let us continue.

Hildegard von Bingen – O Virtus Sapientiae Vocalia Ensemble of Sesto al Reghena Director: Francesca Paola Geretto

Poet Bill Everson speaks to the shaman’s ways when he says, “The idea of trance is the basic psychological function of the shaman.” Hildegard was often in a trance state while receiving her visions, and she led her nuns into trance states (and no doubt the people gathered to hear and pray with them) through singing her demanding music. The work of the shaman indeed!

Steve Herrmann believes that “the musical impulse is at the heart of all ecstatic and epic poetry,” and that what flows from the artist healer enables “a poetic image to channel aesthetic and curative energies that seem to emanate from the Cosmos.” This description seems to fit Hildegard’s work well—she insists all of creation makes melody, and that she was listening to it intently.  (Today’s science has confirmed this.)  Her music was of the essence of her message. She tells us that her visions of the “Living Light” also emanate from the cosmos.

“Crystal Dreamtime” by David Chethlahe Paladin on DavidPaladin.com, where the artist channels a message from his “grandfather crystal.”

One shamanic practice among Native Americans involved crystals. David Paladin paints a number of paintings of crystals and describes their power and meaning among indigenous peoples.   Commenting on one painting titled “Crystal Flame,” he says this:

Deep within the galaxy where Sirius reigns lies a crystal-laden asteroid.  It is the mythic source of all mathematical knowledge, the source of our dreams and visions, the beacon that guides our fantasies.*

Hildegard devotes an entire chapter in her book Physica to precious stones, including crystals. She recognizes mountains and rivers as the birthplace of many stones that “contain many powers and are effective for many needs. Many things can be done with them.” Their beauty and their power are willed by God to be “held in honor and blessing on earth and used for medicine.” She offers many remedies to a variety of sicknesses from epilepsy to spider bites, depression to lunacy, drawing on the help of these stones.

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

One rich dream common to shamanism is that of the “magic flight,” which often includes a large winged bird with a message to tell the people.

Hildegard had such a vision; indeed, she committed it to poem, music, and drawing. It’s a vision of wisdom taking flight with three wings. She shares it with us:

O moving force of Wisdom, encircling the wheel of the cosmos,
Encompassing all that is, all that has life, in one vast circle.
You have three wings: One unfurls aloft in the highest heights.
The second dips its way dripping sweat on the Earth.
Over, under and through all things whirls the third.
Praise to you, O Wisdom, worthy of praise!

It does seem that understanding the “shaman” archetype sheds light on many of Hildegard’s gifts to the world.

See David Paladin, Painting The Dream (Rochester, Vt. Park Street Press, 1992), p. 97.

Adapted from Matthew Fox, Hildegard of Bingen: A Saint For Our Times, pp. 85f. 

See also: Matthew Fox, Illuminations of Hildegard of Bingen, plate 22 and commentary on pp. 142-147.

Banner Image: Amethyst. Photo by Camille Cox on Unsplash.

Meditate on Hildegard’s poem, song, and painting (all above) of the three wings of wisdom in flight encircling the cosmos and sailing through it.  What is she saying to you?  To us today?  What do her picture, song, and poem, and the extended commentary in my book, Illuminations of Hildegard of Bingen (citation above), add to your meditation? 

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.

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.

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10 thoughts on “Hildegard and David Paladin as Shamans, continued”

  1. Avatar

    Even baseball players are waking up. The Atlanta Braves have had a terrible start to this season. The shortstop got sage, burned it and smoked thr locker room and entire stadium to rid them of evil influences. They scored 4 runs in the first inning and went on to win the next game.

  2. Avatar

    Hildegard’s devotion to cosmos and music reminds me of the closing lines of my poem KINGDOM: An Interim Report [published Catholic New Times 1982]:

    Lifting me up above
    my own dark space so
    I can see
    Cheering herself on
    veering round dark corners
    steering clear of blank despair
    writing sonatas to herself in
    sunsets and sundry places
    She writes such lilting measures
    I hear resonances of treasures from
    those patchy but persistent
    heavens proliferating every
    christ knows where.

  3. Avatar

    When I camp at Devil’s Lake State Park in Baraboo, Wisconsin I always become extremely peaceful and centered. I found out that the park has great crystal deposits and is considered one of the fifty highest energy spots in the world. The Natives call spots like this “good ground.”

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      You mention Devil’s Lake State Park… but then there is Devil’s Tower in Wyoming, Devil’s Punch Bowl in the California desert, Devil’s Post Pile in Mammoth, CA, Devil’s Island… should I go on? Why does the Devil get all the credit for Natural Wonders?

  4. Avatar

    We make “much ado” about things that Christ modeled as “commonplace” in the Kingdom at hand. I’ve had to discard much of my childhood learning and replace it with that of the Universal Christ of Divine LOVE. I have come to realize that I am shaman and prophet, and I believe we each have that innate capacity as emanations of Divine LOVE. But even to speak of such things or try to explain in worldly or human terms and language seems to me foolishness? }:- a.m.

  5. Avatar

    Honestly? I’m not sure what do make of any of this? Should I buy a crystal? Should I look for rocks? When I get one–what do I do? Talk to it? I bought like nine of Rev. Fox’s books–because I love the Jerry Garcia. He did do Jerry’s funeral–right? That’d be embarrassing if it was a different Matthew Fox. I’m sure it’s the same one, right? I had this creepy feeling about Rush Limbaugh–just a yuck feeling. That also led me to read Fox.

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Well Nate, Rev. Dr. Matthew Fox did do both Jerry Garcia’s wedding and funeral, and you definitely didn’t do wrong in buying Matthew’s books… that is so long as you read them. When it comes to stones, I worked for a couple of years in a store that sold crystals. If you like them then have them, if they don’t do anything for you then let them be…

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