A Visionary History of Women: Part 3

Old woman (witch or fairy) spinning. Woodcut attributed to Holbein from Boethius, De consolatione philosophiae 1547

The Pendle Witches

As a spiritual person, I am fascinated with women’s experience of the sacred. We women, for the past five-thousand years of patriarchy, have been side-lined and marginalized by every established religion in the world. But in every age, there have been women who have heroically rebelled against this patriarchal stranglehold to claim their authentic spiritual experience. Often it has involved looking within rather than without for spiritual guidance.

Thus far in my essay series, A Visionary History of Women, I’ve discussed Hildegard of Bingen and Margery Kempe who carved out their own woman-centered paths as mystics.

But what about women whose mystical experiences fell outside of the parameters of any organized religion?

One of the most important texts I have ever read was J. Kelly Gadol’s essay, “Did Women Have a Renaissance?” She points out that while elite European men were experiencing a Renaissance, women’s rights and lifestyle choices were becoming increasingly constricted during this period. The Renaissance was a very dangerous time to be female–women were the primary targets of the mass witch-hunting hysteria sweeping across Europe. Witchcraft persecutions were not a phenomenon of medieval superstition, as is commonly believed, but of the Renaissance and the Reformation, stretching up to the dawn of the Age of Enlightenment.

Anton Woensam’s idea of the perfect Renaissance woman: silent and obedient

The pre-Reformation Catholic Church, for all its problems and abuses, at least offered a space for female mystical and visionary experience. However, the hard-line Protestantism that followed the Reformation offered no space at all. If you saw visions or whispered prayer charms or left offerings at a holy well or lit a fire on midsummer eve to protect your cattle, you were suddenly seen as a witch, in league with the devil.

In winter 2002, I moved to Lancashire, in northern England. The back of my house looked out on Pendle Hill, famous for its legends of the Pendle Witches of 1612, the amazing real women at the heart of my novel Daughters of the Witching Hill.

In 1612, in one of the most meticulously documented witch trials in English history, seven women and two men from Pendle Forest were hanged as witches, based on testimony given by a nine-year-old girl.

The most notorious of the accused was Elizabeth Southerns, alias Old Demdike. Allow me to introduce you to a woman of power who changed my life forever.

This is how Thomas Potts describes her in The Wonderfull Discoverie of Witches in the Countie of Lancaster, the official trial transcripts.

She was a very old woman, about the age of Foure-score yeares, and had

been a Witch for fiftie yeares. Shee dwelt in the Forrest of Pendle, a vast

place, fitte for her profession: What shee committed in her time, no man

knows. . . . Shee was a generall agent for the Devill in all these partes: no

man escaped her, or her Furies.


Bess Southerns was a wisewoman of longstanding repute. What fascinated me was not that she had been arrested on witchcraft charges, but that she practiced her craft for decades before anyone dared to interfere with her or stand in her way. Cunning craft, the art of using charms to heal both humans and livestock was her family trade. When interrogated by her magistrate, she freely admitted to being a wisewoman and healer, even bragged about her familiar spirit Tibb, who appeared to her in the likeness of a beautiful young man.

At the time of her arrest, she lived in a place called Malkin Tower. Widow and matriarch of her clan, she lived with her widowed daughter and her three grandchildren, the most promising one being Alizon, a teenager who showed every promise of becoming a wisewoman as mighty of her grandmother.

In England, as opposed to Scotland and Continental Europe, witchcraft persecutions had been rare. Bess had been able to practice her craft in peace. This all changed when the Scottish King James I ascended to the English throne. King James was obsessed with the occult and had even written a book called Daemonologie—a witchhunter’s handbook—that his magistrates were expected to read.

The tide was turning for Bess and her family.

When a pedlar suffered a stroke after exchanging harsh words with Bess’s granddaughter Alizon, the local magistrate, eager to make his name as a witchfinder, played neighbors and family members against each other until suspicion and paranoia reached frenzied heights.

Alizon, first to be arrested, was the last to be tried at Lancaster in August, 1612. Her final recorded words on the day before she was hanged for witchcraft are a passionate tribute to her grandmother’s power as a healer. John Law, the pedlar Alizon had supposedly lamed, appeared before her. John Law, perhaps pitying the condemned young woman, said that if she had the power to lame him, she must also have the power to cure him. Alizon sadly told him that she lacked the powers to do so, but that if her grandmother, Old Mother Demdike, had lived, she could and would have healed him and restored him to full health. 

Other novels have been written about the Pendle Witches, but mine is the only one to tell the story from Bess and Alizon’s point of view. I longed to give these women what their own world denied them—their own voice, their own story.

May the voices and visions of our motherline guide us to claim our own voice, our own story, our own vision, our own power. May we all be wisewomen walking forward.

Mary Sharratt is committed to telling women’s stories. If you enjoyed this article, you might want to check out her novel Daughters of the Witching Hill and visit her website.

Miami in Virgo, a Mystical Feminist Novel by Sally Abbott     

Fifty years ago, California and elsewhere in the US and around the globe were roiling, creative, hopeful, and passionately dynamic places where many of those currently active in feminism and  feminist religion and spirituality found their voices and lives’ work. To offer a taste of that historical moment through the eyes of one young woman, you are invited to enter the world of the novel Miami in Virgo.

Set in California’s Central Valley in the mid-seventies, Miami in Virgo is a coming-of-age novel narrated by seventeen year-old Miami Montague. Insecure and fatherless, Miami struggles to hammer out an identity through her photography and the practice of feminist Wiccan ritual with her friends. She is short-circuited and ambushed, however, by emotional rivalries, sexual insecurity, and family drama. Her early years spent with her fundamentalist grandmother in east Texas cast a long shadow.

Disappointments in love coupled with exposure to the nascent gay pride movement in San Francisco lead her to question her own sexuality. Her confidence in free fall, Miami enters into a reckless one night stand at a Halloween party that has disastrous consequences for her move into a household full of teenage stepbrothers when her mother unexpectedly remarries and they move across county. Her peccadilloes take on a spiritual dimension and she goes through a soul searing scrutiny which eventually leads to the resolution of her conflicts through the deepening of her character.

Continue reading “Miami in Virgo, a Mystical Feminist Novel by Sally Abbott     “

A Visionary History of Women

Part One: Hildegard’s Holy Wisdom

I’m on a mission to write women back into history, because, to a large extent, women have been written out of history. Their lives and deeds have become lost to us. To uncover their buried stories, we must act as detectives, studying the sparse clues that have been handed down to us. We must learn to read between the lines and fill in the blanks. My writer’s journey is about reclaiming the lost heroines of history. My quest is to give voice to the ancestral memory of that lost motherline.

My novels address spiritual themes. As a spiritual person, I’m very interested in women’s experience of the sacred. As well as being written out of history, we women, for the past five-thousand years of patriarchy, have been side-lined and marginalized by every established religion in the world. Even in alternative spiritual movements, male teachers and leaders have abused their authority over their female students and followers.

But in every age, there have been women who have heroically rebelled against this patriarchal stranglehold to claim their authentic spiritual experience. Often it has involved looking within rather than without for spiritual guidance.

One of these women was Hildegard of Bingen, the heroine of my novel Illuminations.
Born in the lush green Rhineland in present day Germany, Hildegard (who lived from 1098–1179) was a Benedictine abbess and one of the most accomplished people of her time. She founded two monastic communities for women, composed an entire corpus of sacred music, and wrote nine books on subjects as diverse as theology, cosmology, botany, medicine, linguistics, and human sexuality, an intellectual outpouring that was unprecedented for a 12th-century woman. Her prophecies earned her the title Sybil of the Rhine.

Hildegard’s vision of Sapientia, Divine Wisdom.

An outspoken critic of Church corruption, she courted controversy. Though women were forbidden to preach, Hildegard embarked on four preaching tours in which she delivered apocalyptic sermons warning her male superiors in the Church that they must reform their evil ways or suffer divine wrath. But she had to pay the price for being so outspoken. Late in her life, she and her nuns were the subject of an interdict (a collective excommunication) that was lifted only a few months before her death. Hildegard nearly died an outcast, her fate hauntingly similar to that of many canceled women in our contemporary cancel culture.

Hildegard’s theology of the Feminine Divine has made her a pivotal figure in feminist spirituality.

A key concept in her philosophy is Viriditas, or greening power, her revelation of the animating life force manifest in the natural world that infuses all creation with moisture and vitality. To her, the divine was manifest in every leaf and blade of grass. Just as a ray of sunlight is the sun, Hildegard believed that a flower or a stone was God, though not the whole of God. Creation revealed the face of the invisible creator. Hildegard celebrated the sacred in nature, something highly relevant for us in this age of climate change and the destruction of natural habitats.

I, the fiery life of divine essence, am aflame beyond the beauty of the meadows, I gleam in the waters, and I burn in the sun, moon and stars . . . . I awaken everything to life.
Hildegard von Bingen, Liber Divinorum (Book of Divine Works)

Hildegard’s philosophy of Viriditas went hand in hand with her celebration of the Feminine Divine. Although the established Church of her day could not have been more male-dominated, Hildegard called God Mother, and said that she could only bear to look upon divinity in her visions if God appeared to her in feminine form. Her visions revealed God as a cosmic egg, nurturing all of life like a womb. Masculine imagery of the creator tends to focus on God’s transcendence, but Hildegard’s revelations of the Feminine Divine celebrated immanence, of God being present in all things, in every aspect of this greening, burgeoning, blessed world.

According to Barbara Newman’s book Sister of Wisdom: St. Hildegard’s Theology of the Feminine, Hildegard’s Sapientia, or Divine Wisdom, creates the cosmos by existing within it.

O power of wisdom!
You encompassed the cosmos,
Encircling and embracing all in one living orbit
With your three wings:
One soars on high,
One distills the earth’s essence,
And the third hovers everywhere.

Hildegard von Bingen, O virtus sapientiae

This might be read as an ecstatic hymn to Sophia, the great Cosmic Mother.

Mary Sharratt is committed to telling women’s stories. Please check out her acclaimed novel Illuminations, drawn from the dramatic life of Hildegard von Bingen, and her new novel Revelationsabout the mystical pilgrim Margery Kempe and her friendship with Julian of Norwich. Visit her website.

Biblical Poetry: Vibrational Essence by Janet Maika’i Rudolph

Today’s biblical poetry reflects on two passages in Exodus 15:2 and 15:3. Both deal with the vibrational essence that gives rise to the splendors of life.

KJV is the traditional King James Version. MPV is my own Mystic Pagan translation.See notes below for my translations of various words including LORD.

Exodus 15:2

The LORD is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation:
he is my God, and I will prepare him an habitation;
my father’s God, and I will exalt him.

YaaaHaaaVaaaHaaa, is the source of my vivacity and song
Unveiling pathways of liberation.
Rooted in the potentiality of my ancestors
Resplendent in beauty.

Continue reading “Biblical Poetry: Vibrational Essence by Janet Maika’i Rudolph”

A Mystical Journey: Psalm 93 by Janet Rudolph MaiKa’i

Sometimes I’m asked where I get my inspirations for verses to explore. In this case it was from the God Squad’s Rabbi Marc Gellman who discussed Psalm 93 in a recent column. In his analysis, he used Psalm 93 to wax poetic about how powerful god is outside of nature. In fact, he declared that the worship of nature is idolatry because it only points toward God but can’t completely match God’s majesty. Ahem and Excuse me! With my ire raised, I had to go and look at the Hebrew from my own Mystic Pagan perspective. Rabbi Gelman looks at these verses and his take-away is that “God is more powerful than even the most powerful storm.” Ahem and Excuse me again!  

After delving into the Hebrew words, I see a whole other side to this powerful Psalm. I see the “power of God” [as he would say] or the “beauty of the divine [as I would say],” is that most awesome ability to midwife creation and birth. In other words, to make love manifest. I see in Psalm 93, an esoteric poem bursting with motion that begins by creating a place (Earth) for life to exist. This poem is filled with sound vibrations, thunderous surf, the movement of water and descriptions of thresholds. As the motion unfolds, one is invited to participate in the energies [powers] of the divine pouring out through these threshold gateways.

Continue reading “A Mystical Journey: Psalm 93 by Janet Rudolph MaiKa’i”

REVELATIONS: The Mysticism of Julian of Norwich and Margery Kempe

My new novel REVELATIONS is drawn from the lives of two medieval mystics who changed history—Julian of Norwich and Margery Kempe, two very different women whose paths converged and who, I believe, have much to teach us today.

Women’s spiritual experience is a theme that keeps coming up in my novels. Perhaps some of you have read my novel ILLUMINATIONS, about the visionary abbess, composer and polymath, Hildegard von Bingen.

As a spiritual person myself, I’ve always found it frustrating how women have been side-lined and marginalized in every established religion in the world. Yet from time out of mind, mystic and visionary women of all faith traditions have offered radical resistance. They have subverted institutional patriarchal religion from within and found their own direct path to the divine by plunging into the deep mysteries of the soul on a path of inner revelation. Julian of Norwich called God Mother and devoted her life to writing about the Motherhood of God. Similarly, Hildegard of Bingen wrote about her visions of the Feminine Divine. This isn’t a modern feminist interpretation. It’s right there in the original texts.

Like us today, Julian of Norwich and Margery Kempe lived in a time of pandemic and social upheaval, yet both women bore witness to the divine promise that ultimately all shall be well.

Continue reading “REVELATIONS: The Mysticism of Julian of Norwich and Margery Kempe”

The Way of the Mystic

Those of us in the Northern Hemisphere are coming out of a long pandemic winter and entering a new season of waxing light, hope, and growth. Yet these continue to be turbulent times. Even with the progress of the Covid vaccine, none of us truly knows when life will ever return to “normal.”

Like us today, the medieval mystics Julian of Norwich and Margery Kempe, the heroines of my new novel REVELATIONS, which will be published on April 27, lived in a time of pandemic and social upheaval, yet both women bore witness to the divine promise that ultimately all shall be well.

During a near-death experience, Julian received a series of divine visions and spent the next forty years unpacking them in her luminous theology of an unconditionally loving God who is both Mother and Father. Julian offered radical counsel to Margery Kempe, a failed businesswoman and mother of fourteen, who was haunted by her own visceral mystic experience. With Julian’s blessing, Margery walked away from a soul-destroying marriage and became a globe-trotting pilgrim-preacher and rabble rouser. Though these two women might seem like polar opposites—Julian, the enclosed anchoress, and free-roving Margery experiencing her visions in the full stream of worldly life—they complement each other. Together their lives and work form a Via Feminina, a distinctly female path to the divine.

The women mystics have always fascinated me. I identify very powerfully with Hildegard of Bingen, the heroine of my previous novel ILLUMINATIONS, as well as with Margery and Julian as spiritual women facing the roadblock of an institutional, male-dominated religion that side-lined them precisely because they were women. But instead of letting this beat them down, they found within their own hearts a vision of the divine that mirrored their female experience. I believe it’s no mere coincidence that both Hildegard and Julian dared to create a theology of the Feminine Divine, of God the Mother. All three women seized their power and their voice to write about their encounters with the sacred, preserving their revelations to inspire us today.

In our modern world, when many traditional religious institutions are crumbling, we can follow in these women’s footsteps and seek the divine—however we perceive the divine—within the sanctuary of our own hearts. This is the birthright no one can take from us, our eternal refuge. This is the Way of the Mystic.

Learn more about Margery and Julian as I discuss these mystics in a series of free virtual events.

My virtual tour kicks off with a very special Literature Lover’s event, sponsored by Valley Bookseller and Excelsior Bay Books in Minnesota. You can watch the video above. I am in conversation with acclaimed author, Elissa Elliot .

For a deep dive into Julian of Norwich’s spirituality, I am teaming up with Christine Valters Paintner of Abbey of the Arts to offer a Virtual Mini-Retreat on May 13, Julian’s Feast Day. You can learn more and register here.

To stretch body and mind in a creative virtual retreat that combines Yoga, women’s spirituality, and writing women back into history, please join me and Stephanie Renee dos Santos for SHEStories + Saraswati Flow on May 15 – 16.

REVELATIONS may be pre-ordered through any of the links below. As a midlist author, I am profoundly grateful for every single purchase.

PRE-ORDER HARDCOVER & EBOOK: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Bookshop.org | Indiebound | Hudson | Powell’s | Target |

PRE-ORDER AUDIOBOOK: Amazon / Audible | Kobo

Read an EXCERPT.

Mary Sharratt is on a mission to write women back into history. Her acclaimed novel Illuminations, drawn from the dramatic life of Hildegard von Bingen, is published by Mariner. Her new novel Revelationsabout the globe-trotting mystic and rabble-rouser, Margery Kempe, will be published on April 27. Visit her website.

Mysticism as a Female Path by Mary Sharratt


Women have been sidelined and marginalized in every established institutional religion in the world. Even in alternative spiritual movements, male teachers and leaders abuse their authority toward their female students and followers. This is why women’s circles and spiritual groups are as relevant and necessary in 2020 as they ever were. Those women who can’t find spiritual community often chose to go it alone on a solitary path. But they are not entirely alone–they follow in the footsteps of a long ancestral line of female seekers and mystics, who rejected a life of slavish obedience to male authority figures in order to contemplate the deep mysteries of the soul on a path of inner revelation.

The Cambridge Dictionary defines mysticism as the belief that there is hidden meaning in our existence, that every human being can unite with the divine. The American Dictionary states that mysticism is the belief that it is possible to directly receive truth or achieve communication with the divine through prayer and contemplation. Continue reading “Mysticism as a Female Path by Mary Sharratt”

A Lonely Mystic by Molly Remer

I want to be a lonely mystic
dwelling in devotion,82419444_2537557396456467_4177258129500667904_o
constantly dialoging with divinity,
drenched in wonder,
and doused with delight
in knowing my place
in the family of things.
I want to weave spells
from wind and wildness,
soak in solitude,
and excavate  the depths
of my own soul.
I want great expanses of time
to be and to listen,
to feel and know,
each step a prayer,
ceaselessly walking with the goddess.
I crave the clarity of insight
dropping with a flash
into my open hands,
the clear space of listening
with no other voices in my head.
I want to pray with my eyes wide open83673511_2550947128450827_73123862618832896_o
from sunrise until sunset,
never missing an opportunity
to commune with the sacred,
to feel myself enrobed,
with divine wonder, curiosity,
awareness, and understanding.
I want to light candles
and speak spells,
weave magic from the ordinary
and listen,
always listen,
to the whispers of my heart.
I want a chamber of quietude
with only crows and owls
for companions,
the soft eyes of deer
in a wooded glade
my witnesses,
steam rising from my broths and brews,
weeds and roses twining together
into the medicine of my spirit.
I want to be quiet and contemplative,
waiting in the shadows to spot the magic,
to feel the power,
to see through to the threads of things.
I want to feel still and holy
grateful and graceful,
to be an enspirited beacon
embodying my prayers.

I am a mama mystic
I nestle children against my shoulder,
my nose resting in blonde hair and needs,
mediate disputes,
knead bread dough,
make dinner,
fold laundry,
read books,
find filaments of magic
wound around the smallest things,
claw solitude from scraps,
and weave small spells
and bits of enchantment
from moments of magic
that wander by my full hands and head.
I gently coax quiet poems
from full spaces,
let prayers wind up over days,
nosing patiently into the cracks
between my deeds.
And, with my hands in the dough,
or my nose in the hair,
or the hand in mine,
I am drenched in devotion,
dialoging with divinity,
each step a prayer,
and knowing my place
in the family of things.
This is where the goddess dwells
right through the middle of everything,
in the temple of the ordinary.
Here, she says,
this too,
is holy,
and it needs you,
not that bloodless,
perfect priestess,
of silent
secret praise.
This is the real work of living
and it shows you who

*“Family of things” phrasing from Mary Oliver.

Molly Remer has been gathering the women to circle, sing, celebrate, 65317956_10219451397545616_5062860057855655936_nand share since 2008. She plans and facilitates women’s circles, seasonal retreats and rituals, mother-daughter circles, family ceremonies, and red tent circles in rural Missouri. She is a priestess who holds MSW, M.Div, and D.Min degrees and wrote her dissertation about contemporary priestessing in the U.S. Molly and her husband Mark co-create Story Goddesses, original goddess sculptures, ceremony kits, mini goddesses, and jewelry at Brigid’s Grove. Molly is the author of WomanrunesEarthprayer, the Goddess Devotional, She Lives Her Poems, and The Red Tent Resource Kit and she writes about thealogy, nature, practical priestessing, and the goddess at Patreon, Brigid’s Grove, and Sage Woman Magazine.

Seeking Moments of Beauty in a Crazy World by Mary Sharratt

Black Swan by Anna Marija Bulka


Our world seems to get crazier by the day. We live increasingly accelerated lives. Our downtime seems to shrink by the second. If I don’t watch myself, I get mired in tunnel-vision, doggedly chasing deadline after deadline without taking any time out for myself or my loved ones. Add Trump, Brexit, the coronavirus, invasive social media, and climate change to the mix, and it gets darker still. Our democracies and even our privacy are up for grabs.

How can we hang on to any sense of inner peace amid all this chaos? Continue reading “Seeking Moments of Beauty in a Crazy World by Mary Sharratt”

Hildegard: A Saint Eight Centuries in the Making

hildegard & volmar

The visionary abbess Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179) has long been regarded as a saint, with her feast day of September 17, yet she was only officially canonized in May 2012. Why did it take the Vatican over eight centuries to canonize this great polymath, composer, and theologian?

The first attempt to canonize Hildegard began in 1233, but failed as over fifty years had passed since her death and most of the witnesses and beneficiaries of her reported miracles were deceased. Her theological writings were deemed too dense and difficult for subsequent generations to understand and soon fell into obscurity, as did her music. According to Barbara Newman, Hildegard was remembered mainly as an apocalyptic prophet. But in the age of Enlightenment, prophets and mystics went out of fashion. Hildegard was dismissed as a hysteric. Even the authorship of her own work was disputed as pundits began to suggest her books had been written by a man.

Newman states that Hildegard’s contemporary rehabilitation and resurgence was due mainly to the tireless efforts of the nuns at Saint Hildegard Abbey in Eibingen, Germany. In 1956 Marianna Schrader and Adelgundis Führkötter, OSB, published a carefully documented study that proved the authenticity of Hildegard’s authorship. Their research provides the foundation of all subsequent Hildegard scholarship.

In the 1980s, in the wake of a wider women’s spirituality movement, Hildegard’s star rose as seekers from diverse faith backgrounds embraced her as a foremother and role model. The artist Judy Chicago showcased Hildegard at her iconic feminist Dinner Party installation.

hildegard judy chicago dinner party setting

Medievalists and theologians rediscovered Hildegard’s writings. New recordings of her sacred music hit the popular charts. The radical theologian Matthew Fox adopted Hildegard as the figurehead of his creation-centered spirituality. Fox’s book Illuminations of Hildegard of Bingen remains one of the most accessible and popular books on the 12th-century visionary. In 2009, German director Margarethe von Trotta made Hildegard the subject of her luminous film, Vision. And all the while, the sisters at Saint Hildegard Abbey were exerting their quiet pressure on Rome to get Hildegard the official endorsement they believed she deserved.

Pope John Paul II, who had canonized more saints than any previous pontiff, steadfastly ignored Hildegard’s burgeoning cult, possibly because he was repelled by her status as a feminist icon. Ironically it was his successor, Benedict XVI, one of the most conservative popes in recent history—who, as Cardinal Ratzinger, expelled Matthew Fox from the Dominican Order where Fox had served for thirty-four years—finally gave Hildegard her due. Reportedly Joseph Ratzinger, a German, had long admired Hildegard. He not only canonized her but elevated her to Doctor of the Church, a rare and solemn title given to only the most distinguished theologians.

But I believe the true credit for Hildegard’s triumph is due to the Benedictine Sisters at Saint Hildegard Abbey for keeping Hildegard’s flame burning.


This is drawn from Ann K. Gebuhr’s book, Hildegard!

Take some time to listen to and contemplate Hildegard’s beautiful musical meditation on the Holy Spirit, O ignis spiritus paracliti:

O spirit of fire, bringer of comfort,

Life of the life of every creature,

You are holy, anointing those perilously broken;

You are holy, cleansing festering wounds.

O breath of loveliness,

O fire of love,

O sweet savour in our breasts,

Infusing heart with the scent of virtue.

O clearest fountain,

In which we see

How God gathers the alienated

And finds the lost.

O breastplate of life

And hope of the whole human body,

O belt of honour, save the fortunate.

Guard those imprisoned by the enemy

And free those who are bound,

Whom the divine power wishes to save.

O mightiest course

That has penetrated all things

In the heavens and on earth

And in every abyss–

You reconcile and draw all humanity together.

From you clouds flow, wind flies,

Stones produce moisture,

Water flows in streams,

And the earth exudes living greenness.

You are always teaching the learned,

Who, through wisdom’s inspiration,

Are made joyful.

Thence praise be to you who are the sound of praise,

And joy of life,

And hope and greatest honour,

Granting the gift of light.

(This is Susan Hellauer’s translation from the insert booklet of Anonymous 4’s CD, The Origin of Fire: Music and Visions of Hildegard von Bingen.)

Read Hildegard’s poem slowly as a prayer, contemplating how the Sacred Flame, however you envision it in your own spiritual tradition, relates to your life.

Mary Sharratt’s Illuminations: A Novel of Hildegard von Bingen won the Nautilus Gold Award and was a 2012 Kirkus Book of the Year. Visit her website: www.marysharratt.com.

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