Increasing Voltage

March 3, 2011

Power of Eternity

Image Credit: Cowgirl’s Land

Hildegard of Bingen was born in 1098 in the Rhineland. As a young woman she had strong religious yearnings, and like many young girls of the time, entered a Benedictine nunnery. 

She spent the first half of her life serving the other nuns, leading a self-effacing, obedient life, and keeping in check the powerful creative forces that brooded inside her. Showing skill as an administrator, she was made prioress of her nunnery in her late thirties and settled into a life of quiet devotion.

Then at age forty-three………….everything changed.

Menopause as Spiritual Call

If there is one landmark event to herald the coming of a woman’s middle age it is the cessation of menses, a life-changing, sometimes mind-changing episode around which swirls a galaxy of contrasting attitudes, theories, and beliefs. Historically speaking, women’s postmenopausal years have been viewed as a dry, sterile period in the female life course, as if removal from the reproductive cycle somehow robbed women of an essential femininity. For centuries any public discussion of menopause was unthinkable. The subject was a closed one, and taboo as well.

In many traditional cultures, for example, various transformative events in a woman’s life – the first menstruation, marriage, childbirth, menopause – are observed with rituals that consecrate these transitions, honoring them as sacred rites of passage as well as physiological events, and assuring the women who experience them that their lives are linked to the great cycle of all human life.

‘It is in realizing and in living this sacredness,’ writes the religious historian Mircea Eliade, ‘that a woman finds the spiritual meaning of her own existence, she feels that life is both real and sanctified, that it is not merely an endless series of blind, psycho-physiological automatisms, useless and in the last reckoning absurd. For the women too, initiation is equivalent to a change of level, to the passing out of one mode of being into another.’

One woman named Sarah opinion: ‘Menopause is a gradual process but scary. A contradiction in terms. Slow electric shock therapy. As you move through it you’re aware that you’re modifying, physically and mentally, and that you’ll never be quite the same person when it’s over. You realise your body is showing you some big lesson about the ending of things. It’s making you aware on a cellular level that you’re mortal. Yes, mortal after all.

‘Is that bad? No, it’s good. Because it’s the truth. The truth is always good. It tells you that if you were ever going to do such and such in your life you’d better do it now. Time to get on with raising the flag of conscious living. Time to get with it. Menopause is a middle-age wake-up call”.

At the age of forty-three, Hildegard began to have prophetic visions, first one, then another, then so many that, like other great visionaries, she started to think she was going insane. Searching for a religious authority to assess the validity of her experiences, she made contact with the greatest churchman of the day, St Bernard of Clairvaux, who quickly testified to their authenticity.

Image Credit: Jumping Tangents

From this time on Hildegard shed her deferential persona and assumed an aggressive, sometimes pugnacious stance toward a world that she now believed was her sacred mission to save.

This mission, it turned out, branched out in many directions. Not only did Hildegard introduce new rules and reforms to monastic life. She also began an intensive study of philosophy, medicine, and musical composition. Soon she was writing papers on scientific and medical subjects, including a remarkable text on the human body, and composing sacred music that would be played for centuries after her death. In her spare time, she invented her own private language, a mixture of German and Latin written in a surreal alphabet of her own invention. She also undertook ambitious overland missionary journeys, traveling by herself at night, crossing dangerous stretches of the Rhineland, walking through robber-infested forests, all unimaginable feats for a woman of her day.

Determined to fight corruption in the church, Hildegard carried on correspondences with four popes, King Henry II of England, and many worldly notables, whom she bombarded with elaborate manifestos on behalf of both civic and religious reform. By the time she turned fifty the “Sibyl of the Rhine” had become a model of the fighting nun, a woman warrior battling with the male establishment’s highest-ranking churchmen of the day, and struggling to found a convent of her own. This she finally did in 1147, moving her flock of nuns to the town of Rupertsberg near Bingen, where she helped design, then build one of the most impressive nunneries in Germany.

The Void~Womb of God, Sybil Archibald

Image Credit: Art of the Spirit, Sybil Archibald’s stunning art

“I had a marvelous and mystical vision. All my inner organs were upset, and the sensations of my body were no longer felt. For my consciousness had been transformed, as if I no longer knew myself, as if raindrops were falling from the Hand of God upon my soul.”  ~ Aunty Hilda


Above Text extrapolated from The Five Stages of the Soul, Moody & Carroll


  1. Hildegard rocks, no doubt about it.

  2. You are most welcome.

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