Fall 2007

Those Who Tire and Oppress Me

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Keywords: arts, Hildegard von Bingen, Earth Mother, embodied, healing, women’s spirituality

This painting is based on the life and words of Hildegard Von Bingen, a 12th century mystic of the Benedictine order who suffered from many kinds of illness, and who in her later life was ostracized by the church because of her ideas. The words spiraling out from the woman’s mouth, noted below, are excerpted from Hildegard’s report of one of her visions, which she recorded in her book, Scivias [translation].

I saw the image of a woman of great size—just as a great city is…. Her womb was full of holes, much like a net, and a great crowd of people were moving about in it…. Her breasts were surrounded with such splendor that they shone as a reddish dawn full of reddish lightning…. Next…infants entered her womb through the many holes that were in it. This woman then sighed, drawing the infants up to her head, where she breathed them forth through her mouth, remaining pure in the process…and the woman, looking at them most kindly, said to them sadly, “My very own children are turning back into dust. Nevertheless, I conceive and bear many who tire and oppress me, their mother, with their various…heresies and schisms and useless battles, in plunderings and in murders, in adulteries and fornications and in other errors similar to these.”
— Hildegard Von Bingen (1)

In this artwork, I explore the physical and mental anguish of the literal and figurative earth-mother-goddess in her personal sacrifice.