Hildegard believed the spirit determines the health of our body and mind. When the spirit mind body are equally strong, the four life “juices” are balanced. Our bodily humors thus operate as a healthy system. Just as the four elements of air, fire, water, and earth are interrelated in a cycle that seeks balance our bodies mirror this relationship.
Balancing Bodily Humors
Hildegard applied the humoral theory of ancient medicine in her beliefs and practices. In Causes and Cures, Hildegard discusses a relationship of the body’s significant fluids that correspond with the four qualities of hot, cold, wet, and dry, associating the bodily humors of the traditional four fluids of blood, phlegm, bile, and melancholia with those qualities.
She also believed that the essence or “juice” of anything, especially the medicinal juice of plants, followed a similar relationship. Following the ancient theory based on defining the qualities of bodily humors as dry, wet, tepid, and foamy she also believed that disease emerged from the wrong proportion of humors.
Humors Bring Harmony
Hildegard’s understanding of the bodily humors was a unifying perspective in which the four juices existed within the body but also within the system of horticulture, from microcosm all the way up to the fundamental organizing system of the universe. In this view, each juice existed to temper the other – just as the universe is made of the four elements and four seasons operating in harmony.
When harmony exists in us, we are thus in accord with all that exists. Because of this connectivity with the universe, to achieve harmony Hildegard believed the soul to be the source of everything. She held four basic rules in this pursuit.
Rule 1: Strengthen the spirit
Hildegard believed that all problems and ailments in the body are rooted in our spirit. She believed that through dedication and commitment to strengthening and healing the soul, the body and its systems would follow and heal. Hildegard’s path follows spirit mind body to attaining strength. The power of health and wellness is within us, it is our duty to strengthen our soul such that this power will manifest.
Strengthening the soul can be achieved through meditation, encouraging and practicing talents and virtues, and working against vices and weakness. The key is to identify and prioritize your values and determine whether or not you are practicing your values in your day-to-day life.
Rule 2: Cleanse the Body
Hildegard was a proponent of regular detoxification and spiritual fasting. Cleansing through fasting, wormwood wine cures, and herbal treatments and elixirs. Hildegard’s fasting guidelines show that fasting needn’t be suffering or absolute deprivation, but can be merely a dedicated period of time to allow your body to purge toxins, rest, and rejuvenate.
There are many products incorporating the methods recommended by Hildegard – even comprehensive packages, available to assist you with your seasonal or occasional fasting program.
Rule 3: Moderation
Moderation was a central theme of Hildegard’s beliefs and teachings. More than just eating and drinking nutritious foods in moderation, she believed that we should strive to bring moderation into our behavior, thoughts, and actions. Her notion of moderation was closely tied to her beliefs that balance in spirit mind body was essential in living a healthy life.
Modern living often seems to be designed to keep us off-balance. While the flow of our daily lives will certainly put us in situations that require us to drift out of balance in order to accomplish what needs to get done, our awareness of balance and our practiced desire to seek balance are what will ultimately lead to a healthier state of being.
Avoiding processed foods, awareness of what – and how much, we are eating and drinking, and focusing on limiting our indulgences of all varieties will help keep us on the right path.
Hildegard’s Medieval Diet, based on natural foods enjoyed in moderation and balance, are a great reference for some specific tips.
Rule 4: Sharpen the Senses
Live your life on purpose; set healthy goals; don’t allow life to “happen to you”. Contentment is something that can be maintained through cultivating a positive demeanor; it’s a choice we make many times, every day.
Live your values with optimism and personal responsibility. Love your life. If you can’t love your life the way it is now, identify what you don’t love about it and change it. Some of the most profound changes begin with the smallest turns of the dial.