Hildegard and Julian: Sisters around the Divine Feminine

Two days ago was Hildegard of Bingen’s feast day.  Though we did not mention it, on that day we did do a second-best thing: We meditated on Julian of Norwich’s teachings on the motherhood of God.  

Hildegard of Bingen, self portrait.

Julian and Hildegard are close sisters in many ways, beginning with the reality that both are deeply creation-centered and both were women willing to have their voices heard—for Hildegard this happened in her lifetime since she was a very vocal Benedictine abbess—for Julian, unfortunately for us all, while she wrote the first book ever in English by a woman, it was not published until the seventeenth century and even then she was effectively ignored for centuries.  Today, however, both voices need to be heard in tandem as a corrective to Patriarchy 

I call Hildegard a “herald” of the Divine Feminine.  Webster’s dictionary defines the work of “heralding” as “to give notice of,” “to announce,” or “to greet with enthusiasm.” I believe Hildegard does all this. She gives notice, announces, and greets with enthusiasm the reality of the Divine Feminine. In so doing, she points the way to an alternative to the fundamentalism that’s raging the world over—from the Christian Bible belt to the fundamentalism in the Vatican, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, and wherever patriarchy feels threatened. 

Hildegard displays at times the energy of both Kali and the Black Madonna, a kind of fierceness. In part, her resilience may have been derived from her Celtic spiritual roots, as one can find this kind of sureness and strength in Celtic women even to this day. 

Adapted from Matthew Fox, Hildegard of Bingen, a Saint for Our Times: Unleashing Her Power in the 21st Century, pp. xvii, 111.

See also: Matthew Fox Julian of Norwich: Wisdom in a Time of Pandemic–and Beyond, pp. 45-58.  

To read the transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.

Banner Image: Stained glass windows depicting Julian of Norwich (location and photographer unknown) and Hildegard of Bingen (Selestat (Alsace); Saint Faith church; photographer Wolfgang Sauber; on Wikimedia Commons.)

Queries for Contemplation

Do you sense a deep meaning in the recovery of the works and wisdom of both Hildegard of Bingen and of Julian of Norwich in our times?  What is that meaning?  Do you see them as sisters to you, and heralds to this time in history?

Recommended Reading

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.

Julian of Norwich: Wisdom in a Time of Pandemic–and Beyond

Julian of Norwich lived through the dreadful bubonic plague that killed close to 50% of Europeans. Being an anchoress, she ‘sheltered in place’ and developed a deep wisdom that she shared in her book, Showings, which was the first book in English by a woman. A theologian way ahead of her time, Julian develops a feminist understanding of God as mother at the heart of nature’s goodness. Fox shares her teachings in this powerful and timely and inspiring book.
“What an utterly magnificent book. The work of Julian of Norwich, lovingly supported by the genius of Matthew Fox, is a roadmap into the heart of the eco-spiritual truth that all life breathes together.”  –Caroline Myss
Now also available as an audiobook HERE.

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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1 thought on “Hildegard and Julian: Sisters around the Divine Feminine”

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    Out of Celtic Christianity (think “not Rome”) came Wisdom in all its femininity. The legacy of Brigid and Hild was in stark contrast to the patriarchy of Rome. Perhaps here the church institutional may find its transformation (return) as the Body of Christ? }:- a.m.

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