Hildegard von Bingen

Composer, poet, visionary, healer, nun and proto-feminist. She was dedicated at birth to the church, and lived a cloistered life. At a time when few women wrote, Hildegard produced major works of theology and visionary writings. When few women were accorded respect, she was consulted by and advised bishops, popes, and kings. She used the curative powers of natural objects for healing, and wrote treatises about natural history and medicinal uses of plants, animals, trees and stones. She is the first composer whose biography is known. She founded a vibrant convent, where her musical plays were performed. Her story is an inspirational account of an irresistible spirit and intellect overcoming social, physical, cultural, gender barriers to achieve timeless transcendence.

The girl started to have visions of luminous objects at the age of three, but soon realized she was unique in this ability and hid this gift for many years. These vivid hallucinations were a source of inspiration for her music, as well as her theories on religion, medicine, and sexuality. It's believed that these "visions" were actually hallucinations due to some fairly intense migraine headaches.

Hildegard's writings are also unique for their generally positive view of sexual relations and her description of pleasure from the point of view of a woman. They also contain what might be the first description of the female orgasm:

-"When a woman is making love with a man, a sense of heat in her brain,
--which brings with it sensual delight, communicates the taste of that delight
--during the act and summons forth the emission of the man's seed.
--And when the seed has fallen into its place, that vehement heat
--descending from her brain draws the seed to itself and holds it,
--and soon the woman's sexual organs contract, and all the parts that
--are ready to open up during the time of menstruation now close,
--in the same way as a strong man can hold something enclosed in his fist."

Hildegard composed music for female voices. She described music as the means of recapturing the original joy and beauty of paradise. Her music is undergoing a revival and enjoying huge public success.

1998 is the 900th anniversary of her birth.

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