Capturing the essence of a 12th Century abbess and mystic for our times

Capturing the essence of a 12th Century abbess and mystic for our times

“The soul is like the sap in the tree, the green leaves symbolize understanding, the flowers the will, and the fruits burst forth as from the tree of intelligence.”

Hildegard of Bingen [1098 –1179] was a 12th Century Abbess, healer, artist, musician and deep ecologist who lived in the Rhineland of Germany. She had a profoundly deep understanding of the critical balance required within our relationship with the rest of the natural world. Her concept of Viriditas or ‘greening greenness, power of life’ was central to her expression of her Christian faith. In many ways she was a champion for ecology and the ethos of a deeply feminine and nature-based spirituality. She saw our planet as a living, breathing organism with intelligence and that we needed to learn how to live in harmony with all of creation.

Hildegard was prone to visions from an early age, and these laid the foundation for her art, music and writing. While many know her for her sublime vocal antiphon compositions, she also wrote books on herbalism, healing, psychological healing and nutrition.  In 2012 Hildegard was recognized for her achievements and made a saint.

Hildegard is simply an extraordinary woman.

My father’s cousin Lavinia first introduced me to Hildegard when I was in my 20s and I am forever in her debt for that. Thirty years on and Hildegard is a key influence in my life and my work. I am inspired by the ways she has been able to articulate the myriad ways we work and connect with the rest of the natural world.

I adore her music and am awestruck by her art which portrays exquisite mandalas and medicine wheels, but also its her writings in Scivias and Causae et Curae that I also keep returning to. Her view of the world is quite shamanic and her writing, music and art embody the deep feminine.

Her beauty is not that of a human form but that of intangible essences—light and fragrance and song. – Hildegard of Bingen

Even though she lived 800 years ago, she is a voice for our times. She warned of ecological disaster if our relationship with Nature got out of balance. She spoke of cities being subsumed by water and also of the ariditas, the hot dryness of things out of balance and she fought for the rights of women. She wasn’t afraid to voice her opinions on life, religion and politics; and to build not one, but two abbeys in her lifetime is extraordinary.

She gives me courage to walk my own path in life and art. I think we need her wisdom in our world right now and my contribution to helping this happen is in various talks, courses and retreats I create around her writings and art. And of course, there is natural perfume too.

Creating Divina Essentia

The collection Atelier Signatum Naturalis is where I explore working with the finest aromatic extracts: absolutes, concretes, essential oils and tinctures to create beautiful natural perfumes that evoke the lives and wisdom of ancients. I wanted to paint an aromatic portrait of her that conjured the gardens of her abbey where so many came for her wisdom and her medicine. I wanted it to resonate with her own love of the divine feminine.

I wanted it to have a sense of freedom and raw sensuality, as well as power and mysticism. It is a love letter to an extraordinary woman. And when worn on your skin it enables you to 'draw down' Hildegard's essence into your very being. She is there with you, helping you navigate our changing world and helping you, be the change that we wish for.

Hildegard’s relationship with the world was a form of sensual and deeply feminine spirituality and she felt the life, the viriditas flowing through all things. This perfume draws on her passion, her connection to nature and sense of the feminine, and also on some of the plants she described a particular fondness and affinity for. Plants and perfume notes include violets, sage, rose, fennel, silver birch – a tree that is known as ‘the Lady of the Woods’.


“I am a feather on the breath of God” - Hildegard of Bingen

Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.