Week of 1/8-13/2024: Hildegard & Grey, Creativity, Divine Eyes, Black Madonna

January 8, 2024: Alex Grey and Hildegard of Bingen on the Divine Eye(s)
We have been celebrating and comparing the creative works of Hildegard of Bingen, a 12th century Christian mystic, and Alex Grey, a Jewish/Buddhist artist. Alex’s new painting, “Greening Power,” incorporates hundreds of green hands with eyes in the palm of each. Hildegard’s painting, “The Six Days of Creation,” includes a divine eye, and in her painting “All Beings Celebrate Creation,” Hildegard paints an army of angels which is “full of eyes and wings, and in each eye a mirror appeared and in the mirror the face of a person.” Hildegard talks about “the living eye” while calling the Holy Spirit “a fire that penetrates everything” and God the Creator “a brightness that shines” and Christ, the “flashing forth that radiates” divine fire.

“All Beings Celebrate Creation,” from Hildegard of Bingen, Scivias.

January 9, 2024: Grey & Hildegard: Angel Wings, Human Works, “Singing Justice”
Hildegard of Bingen, a mystic who painted many of her visions, talks about angels, saying “With amazing voices they were glorifying God magnificently for those miracles which God performs in blessed souls.” In her painting called “Emptying: The True Spirit of Poverty,” Hildegard presents many eyes. One figure full of eyes is without a face and represents the fear of the Lord—“viewing the Kingdom of God with humility in the presence of God.” Cirlot, a Spanish poet, mythologist and musician, informs us that an image of heterotopic eyes (eyes on different parts of the body) is “the spiritual equivalent of sight, that is, of clairvoyance.” Or, perhaps we could say insight. How parallel are Hildegard’s and Alex Grey’s paintings! East meeting West. Buddhism meeting Christianity. Twelfth century meeting the 21st century.

January 10, 2024: Greening Power, Peace, Creativity, Angels
As we have been meditating on Alex Gray’s painting, “Greening Power,” we reflect on peacemaking as an act of greening power, including hands, hearts and eyes that see differently and reach out to build structures of justice that make peace possible. We have also been reflecting on multiple eyes, called heterotopic eyes, which are visible in several of Hildegard’s paintings and Alex’s current painting. British scientist Rupert Sheldrake and Matthew chose another of Alex’s paintings for the cover of their most recent edition Physics of Angels. Aquinas says angels are experts at intuition, thus they assist us when our intuitive or mystical brains are activated.

The Physics of Angels: Exploring the Realm Where Science & Spirit Meet by Matthew Fox and Rupert Sheldrake. Painting by Alex Grey.

January 11, 2024: Hildegard on Greening Power, Spirit, Nature & Creativity
“Greening power” was an extremely important concept to Hildegard of Bingen, who lived in the Rhinelands in an area of lush fertility. She talks about the Holy Spirit as being a green “sap” inside all of us. We are like trees, she says, and the Holy Spirit is the capacity for juiciness, greenness, and moistness within us. Hildegard teaches that the only sin in life is drying up. She boldly wrote bishops and abbots, telling them they were drying up. She urges us to be verdant, fruitful, and juicy.

January 12, 2024: Hildegard on Humans as Co-Creators Whose Vocation is to Create
Hildegard sees creativity at the core of our vocation as human beings. She also recognizes “two aspects to humanity: the singing of praise to God and the doing of good works”—the via positiva, creativa and transformativa. She knows that creation can be used in a destructive way—in wars, weapons of war, and eco-wars. She advocates for the kind of juicy, green creativity that bears fruit. She tells us When a tree does not blossom, it cannot bear fruit. Likewise, a person cannot be fruitful without the greening power of faith. 

January 13, 2024: The Black Madonna: A Resource for Our Troubled Times
Today Matthew teaches at a workshop about the Black Madonna, together with Alessandra Belloni, author of a book Matthew calls excellent: Healing Journeys with the Black Madonna: Chants, Music, and Sacred Practices of the Great Goddess. Matthew also has great respect for Christena Cleveland, PhD, theologian and author of God Is a Black Woman. While Alessandra has had personal experiences with the Black Madonna and is knowledgeable particularly about the Black Madonna tradition in Italy, Christena is more familiar with the Black Madonna of France. When she learned of the Black Madonna as a professor at Duke Divinity School, she decided to embark on a 400-mile-long pilgrimage, visiting 18 different shrines to her, most over 1000-years-old.

God Is a Black Woman, by Christena Cleveland.

Banner image: The Eye of Horus is an ancient symbol thought to be equated with well-being, healing, and protection. Horus is associated with the great Isis myth, Isis being another example of a “dark goddess.” Wikimedia Commons. Public Domain.

Recommended Reading

Creativity: Where the Divine and Human Meet

Because creativity is the key to both our genius and beauty as a species but also to our capacity for evil, we need to teach creativity and to teach ways of steering this God-like power in directions that promote love of life (biophilia) and not love of death (necrophilia). Pushing well beyond the bounds of conventional Christian doctrine, Fox’s focus on creativity attempts nothing less than to shape a new ethic.
“Matt Fox is a pilgrim who seeks a path into the church of tomorrow.  Countless numbers will be happy to follow his lead.” –Bishop John Shelby Spong, author, Rescuing the Bible from FundamentalismLiving in Sin

The Physics of Angels: Exploring the Realm Where Science & Spirit Meet
By Matthew Fox and Rupert Sheldrake

When was the last time a scientist and a theologian discussed angels together? What are angels? Many people believe in angels, but few can define these enigmatic spirits. Now visionary theologian Matthew Fox and acclaimed biologist Rupert Sheldrake—pioneers in modern religious thinking and scientific theory—launch a groundbreaking exploration into the ancient concept of the angel and restore dignity, meaning, and joy to our time-honored belief in these heavenly beings.

Hildegard of Bingen’s Book of Divine Works: With Letters and Songs

Today there are many websites and Hildegard groups that celebrate and honor Hildegard’s teachings, philosophy, art, and music. Author 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. A sixteenth century follower of Martin Luther called her “the first Protestant” because of her appeals to reform the church. As a writer, composer, philosopher, Christian mystic, Benedictine abbess, healer, artist, feminist, and student of science, Hildegard was a pioneer in many fields in her day.

Naming the Unnameable: 89 Wonderful and Useful Names for God …Including the Unnameable God

Too often, notions of God have been used as a means to control and to promote a narrow worldview. In Naming the Unnameable, renowned theologian and author Matthew Fox ignites our imaginations by offering a colorful range of Divine Names gathered from scientists and poets and mystics past and present, inviting us to always begin where true spirituality begins: from experience.
“This book is timely, important and admirably brief; it is also open ended—there are always more names to come, and none can exhaust God’s nature.” -Rupert Sheldrake, PhD, author of Science Set Free and The Presence of the Past

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4 thoughts on “Week of 1/8-13/2024: Hildegard & Grey, Creativity, Divine Eyes, Black Madonna”

  1. Avatar

    CREATIVITY~JOY~COMPASSION… continue to grow in the hearts~Souls of All our sisters and brothers around the world with Beautiful Mother Earth and all of Her living creatures and graceful abundance! — Amen

  2. Avatar

    I also reflect on when “Paul lost scales from his eyes during his conversion and was blinded for a while. To see the face of God, the glory of God, the Kingdom of God, is waking up spiritually” and how to see may lead to a state of blindness or darkness because you are learning to see in a new way, or seeing with God’s eyes, and not your own. “Cirlot points out that numerous eyes signify ‘the night with its myriad stars’ but also—and paradoxically—’the possessor of so many eyes is left in darkness.'”

    I am learning now how to see what I receive from God. Or how to see this new world I receive from God.

    1. Avatar

      The Center for Action and Contemplation has free podcasts with Brian Mclaren called, “Learning How to See”, and I find them most helpful.

  3. Avatar

    The statement that God is a black woman is striking to me. In the 1980s I learned that the human race was engendered by one black woman in Africa. This can be traced because all females have the same mitochondria, something that males do not have. I now find it interesting that Donald Trump is being tried in a court of law by a black female judge.
    I wrote a long poem titled ‘African Queen’ published in 1988 in a Catholic newspaper. The poem was printed beside a review of the Attenborough movie ‘Cry Freedom’ about South African freedom fighter, Stephen Bilko.

    A few lines from my poem:

    Black Rachel she
    weeps for her children
    to pale men deafened by
    years of destruction
    pale sightless men who their
    gouge out their own eyes lest
    they see clearly their
    Death-machine wasting the
    womb of this woman.
    She refuses to die.

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