WHO IS HILDEGARD?
Anyone who knows me well, probably knows that I am a little obsessed with Saint Hildegard of Bingen. I cannot say enough amazing things about this beautiful woman. She was a Benedictine Abbess, which means she was appointed, by order of Saint Benedict, as a female superior in a community of Nuns during the 1100s. She was widely respected and considered a healer by anyone who knew her. It is said that Hildegard had direct visions from God through the ‘living light’. After much internal struggle and concern that the world would not accept her visions, Hildegard became very ill. She eventually realized it was necessary to record and share what she knew. There are several books in reference to her works, a few of which are referenced below.
It would also be a shame not to mention her breathtaking composition of music. Hildegard had no formal education on how to compose music and/or poetry. Her beautiful chant like music is how I came to learn about her. These composed songs and poetry are pleasantly and emotionally moving. My favorite CD is referenced below.
In addition to counseling women and composing music and poetry, she also had vast knowledge of herbs and spices. Hildegard felt many herbs and spices, among other things, could heal a sick person. Not only did she speak of physical ailments but of mental as well. She also felt, as many of us do, that physical and mental health often go together.
THE POWER OF THREE – CINNAMON, NUTMEG & CLOVE
These three spices offered amazing benefits to the body and spirit. Hildegard believed that consuming these three spices ‘reduced bad humors’ in a person (brought joy), enriched the blood and fortified the nerves. Small cakes were often made and consumed to enjoy the benefits of these spices. However, they were not your typical cakes. These cakes did not have sugar in them so were probably more like a biscuit.
Cinnamon – Hildegard believed that certain ailments could be healed by drinking cinnamon (in wine). The cinnamon bark was boiled in the wine and consumed while still hot. It was also recommended that pulverized cinnamon be consumed for congestion.
Nutmeg – In Hildegard’s book Physica, she explains that ‘ If a person eats nutmeg, it will open up his heart, make his judgment free from obstruction, and give him a good disposition.’ In this same paragraph she gives instructions for the small cakes as referenced above. She further explains that the three spices together (cinnamon, nutmeg and clove) will purify your senses and diminish harmful humors in you.
Clove – This spice was considered highly effective as a decongestant and anti-inflammatory. A powerful spice that helped with detox and hiccups (who knew?). A little bit of cloves goes a long way.
I prefer to add about 1-2 teaspoons of this mixture to scalded milk. However, it also is nice in coffee (about 1/2 teaspoon). You can substitute a dairy-free milk if preferred. However, it does taste best with organic whole milk, in my opinion.
This spice mix works great because you only have to make one big batch and it will last a long time. Sprinkle it on granola or on eggnog as well. A perfect addition to your food or drink if you are feeling down mentally or physically.
Hildegard Von Bingen – Physica, The Complete English Translation of Her Classic Work on Health and Healing
Scivias – Illustrated work by Hildegard von Bingen
Wikipedia – Hildegard of Bingen
Music CD – Anonymous 4 – 11,000 Virgins: Chants for the Feast of St. Ursula