The fall equinox approaches, arriving officially on Sept 23 to announce the arrival of the season. Here on the prairie, the change of seasons is upon us. I can feel the changes at a deep level, in my body, mind and spirit. I’ve been riding the wave of activity that shows up in my garden – harvesting beans, squash, and tomatoes that are just passing that peak of hyperactivity that is both brief and wondrous. It’s a time where I have a similar creative burst, writing, cooking, cleaning, and chasing after my straggly garden. I’ve also found that I can lose sight of the larger rhythm, until I get “poked” by little waves of anxiety that say “hurry, you’re running out of time, it’s almost too late”. My heart reminds me of the change that is already happening, settling me, and letting me know that I’m part of that thing that is much bigger than me.
Even though the seasons are a big part of my life as an herbalist, I have to step across that boundary that separates what I know from a more mysterious place, big and wondrous. In that bigger place, oddly, I have a strong sense of belonging. For pre-modern peoples, there were rituals that allowed this rhythm of the season to be important and celebrated. Our modern life leaves little room for respecting seasonal changes, but at a deep level, we sense that it is a big part of our lives.
St. Hildegard, a 12th century monastic nun, used the pattern and rhythm of the seasons as a model for the lifecycle and health of the human body. In her pre-modern world, many concepts to describe health and medicine originated from observations of the natural world.
Hildegard was an influential writer, composer, linguist, medic and philosopher. From her monastery in Germany, she wrote about the spiritual and physical interconnectivity of man and the universe. Hildegard believed that the easiest way to achieve and maintain health comes through our relationship with nature, and our relationship with God.
We explore Hildegard’s medieval insights for modern, healthy living, and restoring balance in our lives through the power of nature. She used a term called Viriditas, which she described as the divine live force that exists in plants – the amazing ability to put forth leaves, flowers, fruits and seeds. At the same time, she used it to describe the remarkable capacity of human beings to grow, give birth and heal. Hildegard believed that the cyclical nature of the seasons provides a pattern for the health of the human body. I’ve found that slowing down and paying attention to these seasonal changes are helpful in bringing balance to my body, mind and spirit.
We are celebrating Hildegard’s remarkable life in an evening of festivities on Sept 21, on the grounds of historic Joslyn Castle. Please join in an evening of food, music, history and camaraderie among local herbalists, medieval scholars and musicians, and Hildegard enthusiasts – see the details below!