Early last summer, I was asked by young composer, harpist, singer, and choir director Megan Biner, at the Oakwood Center in Selma, Indiana to research and prepare a presentation on the world-view of Hildegard Von Bingen for a Hildegard Festival that Megan had planned for late July. This I did, spending six weeks or so with a number of secondary sources, as well as numerous letters this remarkable 12th century Benedictine abbess, mystic, healer, philosopher, and author wrote to peasants, princes, and popes. I came away astonished and entranced, as does anyone who spends any time at all with the prodigious trail she has left from eight centuries ago.
At the Festival itself, both presenters and participants ended up asking themselves, stirred into passionate intensity: “How can I become more like Hildegard?”
When I told my brother-in-law John Cowan about the Indiana event, he immediately decided to put on a Hildegard Festival on in Seattle. This single decision on his part spawned a continuing trail of synchronicities, with John and I both stunned at how Hildegard herself seems to be taking the lead in both making sure that this event comes to pass, and telling us how she wants it presented!
Meanwhile, in late September I gave a truncated version of my original Selma presentation to a group in Seattle as a sort of preview or trailer, to the main event, planned for early 2017.
Afterwards, that group of about 20 people spent over an hour in an intense, provocative, and receptive group discussion of the meaning and message of Hildegard for our times.
In the group were many, including an elder nun, who are truly steeped in Hildegard studies — unlike myself, a rank amateur. So I “pulled a Hildegard,” began the presentation by telling the audience that I didn’t know what I was doing, since I had only recently begun to research her. (She was known to begin her admonitory missives to powerful men in high places by saying that she was “but a poor little woman.”) But I did give at least one version of Hildegard’s unusual life, and the images presented brought something of her full force to the screen for us to ponder.
A few weeks earlier, Mitch Mattraw, one of my long-term readers, was told by fellow blogger Laura Bruno that I was going to be in Seattle, where he lives. He contacted me, and said that he would be willing to videotape the event! John and I liked the result so much that we asked him and his video production company, Cab Fare Productions, to collaborate with us for the upcoming Festival.
Besides myself, in this 33-minute video, three others have parts to play. I asked each of them to send me short biographies. Sue and Memmi are long-time Hildegard researchers. John is the producer who got the Hildegard ball rolling in Seattle.
Sue Kraemer, PhD, is a scientist, educator, master gardener, and musician. Sue has been studying Saint Hildegard and other Christian mystics for many years. She is currently focused on Hildegard’s healing methods and their relevance to our modern health care system.
Marimbaist and Multimedia Artist, Memmi Ochi, D.M.A, was always attracted to the calm and serene nature of Gregorian chants, which led her to Hildegard von Bingen, and she began researching Hildegard’s music as a part of her graduate work. After learning about the possibility that Hildegard had colored-hearing synesthesia, which Dr. Ochi also has, her research and interest in Hildegard became more personal. In addition to studying Gregorian chant, She has been to St. Hildegard Abby in Eibingen, Germany and experienced singing the Hildegardian chant with the sisters. Dr. Ochi continues to explore the magical intersection across time with Hildegard’s and her music. www.memmiriam.com
John Cowan is a environmental scientist by training and a cosmic hermeticist rooted in our beingness in the world. John’s work has taken a dramatic turn following the death of his beloved wife Mary and now he works fully to help people liberate themselves from the bondage of unprocessed grief and loss. His journey with Hildegard began over 15 years ago when he and his wife first heard her music and read her letters. She continues to be a force in his life and has been the spirit and wisdom that is driving the upcoming Hildegard Festival.
UPCOMING HILDEGARD FESTIVAL!
Hildegard of Bingen Festival – We plan to hold a Hildegard Festival in Seattle early in 2017. Join us for a three-day event dedicated to an amazing and multifaceted 12th century woman. This German mystic of the Rhine was a Benedictine abbess and founder known for her visions, musical and dramatic creativity, love for creation, her medicine and healing arts, her poetry, visionary prophecy, and feminine articulation of her God experience. Round dances are among the oldest forms of movement to music; they symbolize the cycles of life and the vibrating cosmos as dancers move around a center and in their movements weave threads of life. Come dance with us and celebrate the life of this acclaimed mystic, through her music, writing and poetry. Taste some of her wholesome recipes which we will have on hand to share!
If you are interested in participating and/or planning this herstoric Seattle event, please confirm by sending an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org. And tell him that you would like to join the closed facebook group, the main form of communication for those planning the Seattle Hildegard Festival.