Hildegard Festival: “Let us become the Hildegards of our time.”

At the magical Hildegard Festival over the weekend — more on that later — as soon as I walked in the door of the Community Building at the Oakwood Retreat Center, a beautifully sensitive gentle woman in flowing robes approached me, and said: “You know that one thing you said at the “Being at Home on Earth” weekend workshop last year? — about how you put pictures of your enemies on your altar” [oh yes, I remember well, during the second Iraq War in 2003: Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld] —  oh how that remark struck me, stuck to me!”

I stopped to listen more closely. There we were standing in the foyer surrounded by newly arrived participants milling and sorting themselves out, and I heard her say: “Because something has come up for me that feels so horrible that I’ve just got to do something about it. It’s driving me crazy, it’s just not like me, to feel such terrible animosity for a particular person.” She paused. Then, “I think you know who it is.”


“Yes,” she gushed, looking at me in agony. “And it feels just so horrible. I can’t sleep at night, the hating thoughts just keep coming up . . .”

So, right there in the foyer in the midst of newly arrived rushing milling participants  I paused, and then responded: “Trump’s function is to bring up from the unconscious of the American psyche the repressed fury that has been boiling underneath. The hatred is a cover for fear. The universe is filled with either fear or love. Only love can displace fear.”

“But!” she sputtered, clearly impatient with my response. “That’s what I mean! How DO I transform hatred (fear) into love?”

At this point we shifted focus to the body. “Feel the hatred,” I said. “Feel the fear. Consciously notice, witness, this awful sinking pain. Where in your body it is located.” “Here?” (I indicate her solar plexus). “Here?” (Her heart?) “Here?” (Her womb.) “Whereever it is located, feel it, allow it, breathe into it. Only as the fear/hate/pain is felt all the way through, only as it is honored, will it release you from its clutches.”

“Remember, Nature abhors a Vacuum. In other words, only as fear is released, can love rush into fill the void.” I cautioned that it may take a while!

Then I added, “Think of yourself as one of the pioneering souls who are deliberately attuning to the shared buried pain that Donald Trump’s rise to political power has triggered in the collective unconscious. He magnetizes all those folks who have felt displaced, marginalized, powerless, impoverished, and then, not knowing what to do with their own pain, project it out, as hatred for The Other. Think of yourself as one of the conscious beings who are helping in this way to safely release the buried pain and ease our way forward to a transformed future.”

She listened closely. I hope it helped. It certainly helped me!

I will post photos and more from the event over the next few days. Glad to tell you that Oakwood resident Megan Biner, the harpist/singer/composer, choir director and mother of three little girls who founded and directed this event, is already planning for the second Hildegard Festival next year.


Good thing too, because, if there’s one thing we all learned over the weekend, it’s that we must all become the Hildegards of our time. That we must, with unwavering fierceness and passion, serve and protect all of creation, all of it, nothing excluded, from the immense whirling harmonies in the cosmos above down to the rocks, plants, trees, rivers, the tiniest creatures who live in the soil. For it’s all conscious, all sacred and alive, everything in its own unique place and in relation to everything else, filled with viriditas (greenness, vitality, life force) and singing.

Here’s the beautiful Chartres-type labyrinth that Megan and others at Oakwood created for this event. It became the focus of a processional with candles on Saturday night after dark, participants singing a chant that Megan taught them beforehand. (Unfortunately, it was past my bedtime.)

Megan’s Labyrinth blogpost


And here’s the little Hildegard statue in the Hildegard garden filled with herbs that Hildegard used for their healing properties. See her classic book on health and healing, Physica.


Gardener and Oakwood resident Donna Blodgett led some of us on a tour of this and other gardens, where she sculpts “wild” weeds interspersed with those she deliberately plants.

That’s me, in the blue/black top with plaid shorts.


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