As a spiritual director (and also as a parent, friend and public speaker), I try to tap people into their own wisdom and creativity.
Depending on your worldview, you may see wisdom and creative inspiration as coming from your intuition, communication with God, a collective unconscious or some combination of all three. However you define the source, practices of quiet (prayer or mediation), mindfulness (deep presence to the moment) and increasing self-knowledge (awareness of how your ego derails you) better allow wisdom and creativity to flow within you.
A spiritual director can offer guidance in these practices, help you discern when you are tapping into this flow and stand beside you as you grow in the confidence of access to your own wisdom.
One person who clearly accessed her inner wisdom and creativity – and had a spiritual director – was a 12th century woman known as Hildegard of Bingen.
Hildegard composed powerful music that is still widely enjoyed today and which scientists have discovered activates our brainwaves in unique ways. Enter her name in YouTube and listen to some of the recordings yourself. Here’s a couple:
Hildegard wrote encyclopedias documenting the healing qualities for over 300 plants and trees. She also wrote philosophical volumes on the spiritual and natural worlds that earned her such widespread respect even emperors, popes and kings sought her counsel.
Hildegard saw everything as existing within an interconnected web of creation – and understood that by studying the microcosm we could come to understand the macrocosm. This was in the 1100s! Long before quantum physics verified her teachings.
Hildegard had “visions” through which these secrets of the universe were revealed to her. She described these visions in her writings, oversaw their portrayal in painted mandalas (such as the one above) and talked about them on her speaking tours.
She also wrote about how the process of sharing her visions with her spiritual director strengthened her confidence in them and gave her the conviction to share her message with the world.
Everything that is in the heavens, on earth, and under the earth is penetrated with connectedness, penetrated with relatedness - Hildegard of Bingen
What if we all took seriously our own “visions” or moments of clarity when spiritual connectedness or creative inspiration seems to flow through us? What if we all nurtured these moments with meditation or other spiritual practices? What if we all had someone to talk to about these moments?
Hildegard may have seen her visions in what today we might call migraine auras, and much of her imagery stems from the lush forest that surrounded her monastery.
I believe we can all nurture our ability (as well as our children’s ability) to find meaning in everything around us. We all have the potential to better understand the secrets of the universe as revealed in something as simple as the veins of a maple leaf.
While Hildegard seems to have been blessed with more talents than the average human, the design of her daily life was ideal for nurturing her spiritual and creative gifts.
Since early childhood, Hildegard’s days were focused on practicing the quiet of meditative prayer and cultivating awareness of the sacred within each moment and all of creation. Knowing this helps us understand how her music and visions came to be.
How can we emulate Hildegard’s practices so as to enhance the wisdom and creativity flowing through our own lives?
Hildegard was a woman to be reckoned with. She understood the value and importance of her visions. Claiming unheard of authority for a woman not only of her time but perhaps any time in history since, Hildegard did not shrink from challenging those in power. She wrote sternly to those who she saw abusing their power, and her views were taken seriously by them.
O king, it is of utmost necessity that you take care of how you act... I see you are acting like a child. You live an insane, absurd life before God. There is still time. - Hildegard to Emperor Bararossa
If you are not familiar with Hildegard, I encourage you to get to know her better. And talk about her to the girls and young women in your lives!
Every creature is a glittering, glistening mirror of Divinity - Hildegard of Bingen
To experience some of Hildegard’s brilliance yourself, you can listen to her music or take a look at the mandalas that portray her visions. (Many of which can be found in Illuminations of Hildegard of Bingen) You can read any of her books – I recommend Book of Divine Works: With Letters and Songs or you can read books that have been written about her – such as Experiencing Hildegard: Jungian Perspectives. (all links are to my amazon affiliate page)
Then you’ll see for yourself why Hildegard is an inspiration for so many reasons – her access to wisdom, her holistic knowledge and creative talents, her ability to claim authority in matters not normally granted to women, her confidence in her visions and the strength of her convictions.
I will be presenting a program on Hildegard of Bingen at St Gerard Church in Brooklyn Park, MN on Feb 2, 2018, details to follow.
Let me know if you’re interested in having me speak at your event or if you’re interested in a spiritual direction session. Email me at Carolyn@spiritfulldirection.com.