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Tea with Hildegard

Everything that is in the heavens, on earth, and under the earth is penetrated with connectedness, penetrated with relatedness.

—Hildegard of Bingen

I have a new spiritual practice of sitting down and having a cup of tea with my mystic “friend” and mentor, Saint Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179). She has been living somewhere in my consciousness for a very long time; but it wasn’t until nearly 20 years ago that I knew she would become my spiritual mentor. I had just met my husband when I found Praying with Hildegard of Bingen by Gloria Burka, on his book shelf. (I knew I had found a person I could love who kept books like that!)

Saint Hildegard, Germany’s most famous mystic (considered in the Christian tradition right up there with Saint Teresa of Avila and Saint Francis of Assisi), has a message for today as much as she did in the 12th century. Matthew Fox in his book, Hildegard of Bingen, A Saint for our Times: Unleashing Her Power in the 21st Century, writes, “She is what we expect a saint to be: a mover and a shaker, a force to be dealt with not only in her day but also in ours, a bold and courageous human being to be listened to and emulated.”

As I hold my teacup breathing in the warmth and aromas of a good herbal tea, I sense Hildegard’s presence poking, provoking, and counseling me. She might be warning me about my “green” practices (or lack thereof) for both the sake of the earth and for the health of my body. She would praise me for making and kneading my own bread, especially using spelt flour. Another time she might encourage me to bring my intellect more together with my intuition so I can be more creative and move beyond old ways of thinking and doing. Hildegard would be cheering me on as I study and honor the Divine Feminine in my spiritual practices. She would tell me to take action about how the values of profit and power ahead of all else dampen our efforts to live into our wholeness as individuals and communities. And she would remind me that my piano sits idly by as I ignore that music is part of my self-expression. Each time we sip our proverbial tea, she tells me to “wake up” and be a light for others. With her mentorship, I am becoming more of who I am meant to be.

These ancient mystics have a lot to teach us as do modern day mystics. Mystics show us that we have the capacity for unlimited transformation into a more loving, joy-filled, and peace-filled life. While we may not live in abbeys or monasteries, we can be transformed into the greater consciousness of love and justice that their lives inspire. And a great way to continue on your journey is to find yourself a mystic, ancient or modern, sip a cup of tea, and listen to what they can teach you about living today.

Betsy Perry

P.S. For women who want to explore these ideas more, join Lumunos for the Appalachian Women’s Retreat, “Unleashing Your Inner Power: Exploring Healing, Mysticism, and Creativity,” April 26-28, 2019 in Newland, North Carolina. Saint Hildegard’s story will help us to frame our stories and deepen our own mystical, contemplative, and creative sides. For more information, go to

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