essences of Heaven flooded into you,
Quem inspiravit Spiritus Dei.
strode upon this arrogance
gentle and loving Mother,
Glory to the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit.
to this one,
O clarissima Mater
clarissima Mater sancte medicine,
luminous shining Mother of sacred healing,
Autor: Joan Ohanneson
Tradução: Maria Eduarda Correia
392 págs., 16 euros
Voz Uma Mão-cheia de Estrelas
Por SUSANA NEVES
Sábado, 8 de Junho de 2002
Monja beneditina alemã, do século XII, visionária, herbalista, compositora, artista, Hildegarda de Bingen, em "Música Escarlate", é uma mulher de mel e espada. Biografia admirável.
Abadia de Rupertsberg, 1178. Um cavaleiro de nariz curto e espalmado, brusco na fala, soturno no olhar, exige um encontro de urgência com a santa abadessa Hildegarda de Bingen (1098-1179). É Dom Egberto, bispo-substituto de Mogúncia. Na sequência de se ter permitido o enterro de um nobre, "excomungado por graves acusações de fornicação", em terra sagrada do convento, vem o alto mandatário da Igreja informar que não mais poderão as freiras beneditinas cantar o ofício divino, não mais tocarão os sinos para a oração e a santa comunhão ser-lhes-á recusada. Indiferente às palavras da prestigiada visionária, a quem o Papa Eugénio III incentivara a escrever tudo o que via e ouvia de emanação divina, o substituto do arcebispo Cristiano em Roma não quer saber das provas de arrependimento do pecador morto e ameaça excomunhão. O silenciamento da voz da monja compositora - ainda hoje celebrada como um rasgo de originalidade no canto gregoriano medieval, essa voz que é um salto para o céu - causa um espanto repugnante que só consegue ser ultrapassado com o episódio seguinte. Hildegarda, 83 anos, vai ao cemitério desmanchar com as próprias mãos a campa do acusado, para que na morte ninguém o perturbe. Após várias cartas, dirigidas aos seus superiores hierárquicos, alegando injustiça, insuportável dor e falta para com o mandamento de louvor divino, é o arcebispo Cristiano quem levanta a interdição. Pouco tempo depois, Hildegarda morre.
Falando sempre em nome de Deus e do seu lado feminino - Dona Sabedoria, a autora de "Scivias" (Conhece as Vozes), "Livro dos Méritos" e "O Livro das Obras Divinas", bem como de vários tratados científicos sobre plantas medicinais, entre eles "Causae et curae", aparece em "Música Escarlate", biografia romanceada da norte-americana Joan Ohanneson, como um vento de aparência frágil capaz de alcançar o ímpeto de um furacão de espadas. E, no entanto, conhecia as árvores que a rodeavam ao ponto de saber de onde caíra uma folha.
Os olhos, de cor violeta, assombravam pela profundidade, viam através dos seres, chegavam à alma, absorviam o sangue e a dor de um ferido. Herbalista, sabia misturar as plantas e com elas curar as doenças do corpo, que na sua opinião, eram também males do espírito. A natureza, revelação do sagrado, não era somente benéfica; impunha-se a vigilância e o entendimento de todas as qualidades do mundo animal e vegetal. Dona Sabedoria supervisionava a ordem criada por um Deus poeta, autor de um universo unificado, no centro do qual o homem é inteiro, feminino e masculino, seixo insignificante e galáxia infinita.
Quando era criança, as servas assustavam-se com as suas visões inocentes - adivinhava, via, no interior do útero de uma vaca as manchas na pelagem das crias.
Por muito que nos pareça irreal o acatamento das suas palavras de repreensão por parte do Imperador Frederico I, o Barba Ruiva, e de alguns prelados corruptos, a verdade é que deveria manifestar-se no seu corpo, magro e elegante, uma força temível, desencadeando um autêntico susto capaz não só de apartar as águas do oceano como de dividir em dois o interlocutor.
No prefácio de "Hildegarde de Binden - Une Vie, Une Oeuvre, Un Art de Guérir en Âme et en Corps", de Ellen Breindl (Editions Dangles, 1994), o padre François Brune exalta o temperamento "musculado" da freira cuja liberdade e altivez de modos - temerários até na mais democrática república de hoje - fazem do temível Barba Ruiva um súbdito de chupeta e calções. "'Aquele que é' fala assim: Eu próprio esmago a desobediência daqueles que me fazem frente... Escuta isto, rei, se queres viver! Se não a minha espada te trespassará!" E, quando decide reivindicar pessoalmente o livro de rendimentos, pertença do seu convento, que os abades de Disibodenberg retêm para evitar a transferência dos bens oferecidos pelos nobres benfeitores, as palavras ressoam mais implacáveis do que o relinchar dos cavalos em cruzada.
Joan Ohanneson consegue em "Música Escalarte" - anteriormente escrevera "And They Felt No Shame: Christians Reclaim Their Sexuality", 1983, e "Woman: Survivor in the Church", 1980 - cruzar admiravelmente o texto original de Hildegarda, os factos históricos indissociáveis do seu percurso e os diálogos ficcionados. A subtileza e a intensidade desta biografia romanceada, que evita mitificações e devolve aos personagens a vulnerabilidade da condição humana, evocam os dez anos de investigação a que a escritora se dedicou, a visita ao mosteiro de Disibodenberg - onde Hildegarda, filha décima do barão Hildeberto de Bermersheim, é reclusa, aos oito anos, na companhia da monja Jutta - e o mergulho numa época de convulsões políticas, religiosas e filosóficas.
Este é o século do cisma entre o Papado romano e o Imperador Frederico I que agita e desorienta a ordem social e clerical. Ao mesmo tempo que as catedrais aspiram aos céus num estilo românico e primeiro gótico, surgem os Cátaros, seita religiosa de tendência maniqueísta, e a teologia escolástica irrompe nas palavras de S. Tomás de Aquino. Os poderes instituídos ameaçam tombar, enquanto por todo o lado pregam santos e demónios. "Queria ser autêntica em termos de história medieval. Queria ser rica e completa, fazer uma verdadeira tapeçaria daqueles tempos, na qual colocaria Hildegarda e veria as suas lutas. Tive de aprender a Regra de S. Beneditino e a estrutura e vocabulário do ofício divino. Passei meses só com Barba Ruiva", explica Joan Ohanneson, em entrevista disponível numa publicação "online".
Conservadora em relação aos dogmas da Igreja, opositora de Pedro Abelardo, seu contemporâneo, que tudo queria pôr em questão e avaliava se os mistérios divinos seguiam uma lógica, Hildegarda de Bingen afirmava "Credo ut intelligam" ("Creio a fim de saber") e a partir deste postulado viria a profetizar a desarticulação das instituições católicas e a falência do humano pelo esquecimento da natureza da qual é parte integrante. Trabalhar é orar, e as palavras de Deus não são puramente teóricas e especulativas - derivam da vida e inflamam-na com o seu poder verdejante. Se Deus inventou a música, dirá Hildegarda, é porque no interior do homem corre sangue divino, pura musicalidade escarlate.
"Gostava de recebê-la para jantar?", perguntaram a Joan Ohanneson. Sorrindo, a escritora responde: "Morro de medo dela!"
Nun for all seasons
Prophet, artist, politician, healer... all of this and she never gave up her day job. Fiona Maddocks gives a pragmatic account of the life of Hildegard of Bingen
Sunday March 18, 2001
Hildegard of Bingen: The Woman of Her Age
Headline £15.99, pp332
Buy it at a discount at BOL
The 12th century anchorite Hildegard of Bingen possessed a clutch of talents which would make even the most eclectic of media-donnas curdle with envy. Writer, visionary, prophet, composer, artist, herbalist, politician, preacher, property owner, upbraider of emperors and favourite of Popes, she could even exorcise demons and heal the sick. She invented her own language, wrote one of the earliest surviving morality plays, established her own convent, terrorised her detractors, and, when she died, was mourned by nuns and reverently biographised by monks.
Born in 1098 in the Rhineland, Hildegard's unusual abilities were visible from an early age, when she startled her nurse by predicting the colouring of an unborn calf. At eight, she was given by her parents as a tithe to the Church. In middle age a visitation urged Hildegard to write down her visions. She produced a vast corpus: allegories, prophecies, cosmologies, a medical encyclopedia, a guide to herbal cures, an elaborate sequence of chants and hundreds of letters.
Her writings are strewn with apocalyptic images - the stars, the serpent, the jaws of hell. Her medical suggestions are enticingly chaotic: advice not to eat carnivorous animals seems practical; suggested treatment for epilepsy (a small cake made from the blood of a mole, duck beak, the feet of a female goose and wheat flour) would surely cure only a hypochondriac.
Accounts of her life generally start with her Vita, written by monks before and after her death. There are also almost 400 letters in Latin, and her own accounts of visions and visitations. She was written to by monk and nun acolytes, eager for spiritual advice. As a firm supporter of the religious and social status quo, she was occasionally attacked for the rigid separation of social ranks in her order, which she defended with a hardly diplomatic analogy: 'And who would gather all his livestock indiscriminately into one barn - the cattle, the asses, the sheep, the kids?' She was a stalwart defender of the papacy, to the point of rounding on the emperor, Frederick Barbarossa, who supported three consecutive anti-popes. No proto-feminist, she insisted that her influence on the age exposed the lacklustre womanishness of the clergy; only in dire necessity, would God have resorted to her.
Fiona Maddocks offers a densely researched and archly understated account of the nun-polymath. Her argument is less for Hildegard's freakishness and more for the peculiar circumstances of the time, which permitted her talents to flourish. She unearths other, nearly-Hildegards to argue that the monastic life fostered women of intellectual range and curiosity, permitting them the time, resources and status to produce work.
Maddocks's is a pragmatist's account, continually emerging out of a tangle of opinion with an argument resonating with wit and fairness. To those who dismiss Hildegard's rehabilitation in the early twentieth century as anti-Semitic, she quietly suggests Hildegard's 'negative attitude towards Jews' was 'in keeping with Orthodox and Christian thought in the Middle Ages.' Of the neurologists who have deduced Hildegard's visions were symptoms of migraine she demands, 'Where is the migraine in the music?' Or in the art? To those who claim Hildegard's art, writings and music may have been executed by others, she proposes, slightly tricksily: 'As the figure who by not existing would have caused their non-existence, she must be their one true begetter.'
And for those who scoff at Hildegard's visions, Maddocks prescribes a dip into William James, the pragmatic philosopher and brother of Henry. In The Varieties of Religious Experience, he argues that an individual in a receptive state may experience a sense of 'something there', a glimpse of an 'unseen' world. This 'spiritual' state might be understood as a 'different' state from 'everyday' consciousness; the predilections of the times will influence how we interpret it. Maddocks adds that this does not necessarily mean we can skip backwards to previous eras re-diagnosing religious fervour as clinical depression or anorexia.
Maddocks's is a wonderful, subtle portrait, which lets the subject emerge half out of the shadows, without pouring conclusions and diagnoses upon her head. This strange, dynamic nun will slide away from contemporary labels, just as we will eschew her mole's blood gateaux.
One Tough Sister
Counselor of popes and kings, Hildegard of Bingen has been posthumously politicized
Excerpted from The Women's Quarterly
It's time for us to take back Hildegard of Bingen. For too long, the medieval German abbess, composer, and mystical poet has been dragooned into the role of cult figure for every half-baked notion of our time.
Hildegard was justly famous all over Europe during her own time, the 12 th century, as a prodigious writer, an advisor of kings and prelates, and a healer of physical and mental ills. Her meditations and musical compositions are currently enjoying a huge revival, and while this rediscovery of her spiritual depth and artistic brilliance was long overdue, the resurgence in her fame has been a mixed blessing, for Hildegard is being re-invented as a posthumous spokeswoman for feminist causes and an icon of rebellion against the church.
A prime example of this revisionism involves Hildegard's best-known religious work, "Scivias." The manuscript elaborates on the abbess's many visions of Divine Wisdom. Because Wisdom is personified as a woman in the Book of Proverbs and elsewhere in scripture, Hildegard's latter-day literary admirers have cast her as a worshipper of the Goddess Sophia, just like so many feminist theologians.
Elsewhere, Hildegard has been turned into a holistic-health nut because she wrote a medical treatise. Indeed, “Holistic Healing,” an alternative medicine anthology casts her as the veritable Hippocrates of the alternative health movement. Because she had an especially beloved friend among her nuns, she has also been appropriated by lesbians, presiding with her 12th-century contemporary, St. Aelred of Rievaulx, over the Saint Aelred and Saint Hildegard Society--the gay ministry at the Episcopal Church of the Messiah in Santa Ana, California.
Writer Marina Warner turned Hildegard into a dress-code rebel because her nuns sometimes wore silk costumes instead of their habits to perform her works. And Sara Maitland and Wendy Mulford insist that Hildegard did not believe in sin, a healthy antidote, in their opinion, to “what excessive guilt has done to women.”
In the most outrageous blow, Hildegard, who, like other medieval ascetics, practiced self-mortification (fasting and flagellation), has been turned into an honorary anorexic. In a metaphor-torturing article in "The New York Times Magazine" last May, writer Jennifer Egan theorized that in her self-denial and suffering, Hildegard, along with Catherine of Siena and other mystics, was an early avatar of the self-starving, self-mutilating Princess Diana.
The real Hildegard would have scoffed at the insipid victimology she inspires among contemporary writers and scholars. This nun was one tough sister.
Born to a noble family in Bermersheim in southwestern Germany in 1098, she was a sickly child, so her parents parked her in the Benedictine convent at Disbodenberg at the age of eight. The abbess, Jutta, another mystic later beatified by the church, took Hildegard under her wing and raised her like a daughter, teaching her to read Latin, the language of learning.
When Jutta died in 1136, the nuns of Disbodenberg elected Hildegard to succeed her as prioress. Disbodenberg was lavishly endowed by the local gentry and enormously wealthy, permitting the nuns to lead lives that were rather more comfortable than the Rule of St. Benedict strictly allowed. In around 1150, Hildegard along with twenty of her nuns left to found a Spartan new convent near Bingen. She later established a second convent across the Rhine.
In such actions and in her writings, she established a reputation as a foe of the churchly worldliness that marked the 12th century, a time when bishops and abbots often bought their way into office and lived like secular princes. Her "Scivias," written in a prophetic and apocalyptic style, was filled with denunciations of wickedness and vivid allegorical predictions of divine wrath to come. Contrary to what latter-day feminist scholars have written of her, Hildegard’s book contained detailed descriptions of sin—-fornication, adultery, homosexual acts, simony, heresy, and the like--not to mention a harrowing vision of hell.
Her book caught caught the attention of another 12th-century monastic reformer, St. Bernard of Clairvaux, a founder of the rigorous Cistercian order. They became fervent correspondents, and Bernard secured Pope Eugenius III's approval of Hildegard's theology. Soon she was traveling all over Germany (a most unusual venture for a medieval abbess), rebuking them for their carnal transgressions and fondness for luxury and relating the contents of her visions to monks, clergymen, and secular officials.
Her medical treatise, "Causes and Cures," based on close observation of diseases, won her a largely female following that that sought her counsel on physical ailments, marriage, and family troubles and constituting an audience for her "oracles," as she called them." But far from presaging today’s holistic-health movement, her medical theories were actually in the classical mode, heavily influenced by the boilerplate diagnoses of the second-century Greek physician Galen.
Despite her intellectual range, it was her striking poetry and music--more than seventy compositions--that marked her as one of the most creative minds of the Middle Ages. They consist mostly of liturgical songs, but her musical play, Ordo Virtutum, was one of the first full-scale medieval dramas and the product of 20 years of labor. Its cast included 16 different virtues, all depicted as women, battling the devil for possession of the human soul.
Sadly for academic revisionists, Hildegard's theology was distressingly retrograde. Although she regularly portrayed divine wisdom ("Scientia Dei") as a gorgeously dressed female, it was always in a context that specifically paid homage to God. Hildegard believed that women's strength rested on two old-fashioned pillars: virginity and maternity. If you took them away, all that was left was fluttery, self-absorbed feminine frailty, which was why Hildegard referred to her own lax time as an "effeminate age."
The current fascination with this towering woman who could separate the genuinely feminine from the merely effeminate has not produced all junk. There are some fine new works of scholarship about Hildegard. I recommend "Hildegard of Bingen, 1098-1179: A Visionary Life," by Sabina Flanagan, and Barbara Newman's "Sister of Wisdom: Saint Hildegard of Bingen's Theology of the Feminine."
But my favorite words about Hildegard were written in 1924 by F. G. Holweck, domestic prelate to Pope Pius XI: "She denounced the vices of society, of kings, nobles, bishops and priests in unmeasured terms, but the Emperor, bishops, abbots and laymen came to ask for her advice." Hildegard was never officially canonized (she declined to perform the required post-mortem miracles), but she inspired fear and admiration in the men who made saints. She was even hipper than the revisionists who try to recruit her into the ranks can imagine.
Charlotte Allen, a Beliefnet editor, is author of 'The Human Christ: The Search for the Historical Jesus' (The Free Press).