As a continuation of previous collaborative works around feminity and its conception in western culture since Ancient Greece (Women and Watery Men, EARTHBOUND SQUATTERS, The Pile + the Pyre), this research focuses on the figure of Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179). “Gifted” to the church by her parents, Hildegard lived as an anchoress (walled-in seclusion) and later became the abess of her own cloister. Remarkably, Hildegard is one of few female voices that has survived within a historical record. She is a prolific composer of the middle ages, recorded her own mystical visions, scientific and natural findings as well as leaving behind an archive of letters and correspondence.
We are drawn to the notion of Viriditas (Greenness), a metaphor within her work that points at the omnipresence and the sensorial experience of divinity in the earthly world. Reclaiming this idea independently from patriarchical and anthropocentric Christianity, we want to engage with this “Greenness” as an image of erotic entanglement and a potentiality to relate otherwisely to a contemporary world threatened by ecological crises. The residency at LAKE studios gives us the opportunity to vocally explore specific “green” lines from Hildegard’s compositions, as well as looking for their resonance in our bodies’ presence and movements. ///
/ REPORT FROM WEEK I /
We read out loud to each other the text from Audre Lorde “the uses of the erotic” while receiving head to toe body work.
Tapping the erotic sap
Hilde like many a female mystic before her penned some hot and heavy devotionals to her Beloved. The Song of Songs inclusion in the bible established the acceptable precedence, parameters and metaphors for how longing, physical desire, or sexuality could be expressed in word. The Song of Songs is the erotic text of the bible and offers sensuous imagery of things growing, blooming, wet with dew, spices, fruits, animals, lips, mouths, eyes and of course the Beloved and Bride.
// excerpt from ch. 4 Song of Songs – Old Testament
Your lips drop sweetness as the honeycomb, my bride;
milk and honey are under your tongue.
The fragrance of your garments
is like the fragrance of Lebanon.
You are a garden locked up, my sister, my bride;
you are a spring enclosed, a sealed fountain.
Your plants are an orchard of pomegranates
// excerpt from Favus distillants – Hildegard v. Bingen
A honeycomb dripping honey was Virgin Ursula who longed to embrace the Lamb of God. Honey and milk were beneath her tongue. For she had gathered around her, in a host of virgins, a garden of apples and the flowers of all flowers.
Taking single lines out of text from Hilde’s compositions, we then gave ourselves 5 mins to write new poems.
Hilde wrote “and your mouth is like the sound of many waters”
and your mouth is like the sound of many waters my lips are thirsty for your truth my tongue wet and strong growing as a vine from the back of my throat pushing past unparted lips like a seedling leaving the soil in search of the sun
and your mouth is like the sound of many waters and your eyes like the sky and how it changes every day and the toes of your feet like pebbles in a mountain river the minutes spent with you disperse like humming bees in friendly sunlight when it is winter in you the stars reflect from your frozen skin and the infinite universe echoes in your night when it is spring again i ride on your sweet fragrance
Hilde: „previously she had disfigured earth“
previously she had disfigured earth fiddling around with those fingers wet & warm of innocence when raising her eyes from the site of her play & facing chaos shivers crossed her small body nowhere to hold onto leaning into darkness she found home all things begin & end the cutting of the thread the breaking of the bread/branch
previously she had disfigured earth when she laid within it from head to hip against the mud spreading her legs and arms apart together and tried her best to be an angel
// REPORT FROM WEEK II //
adapting a ritual from the poet CA CONRAD, with closed eyes and fingers spread, touching texts we asked for assistance in writing prayers. prayers for prayers and when is a prayer praise? the number 5 a sometimes guide.
I speak to you in tongues there is no other way in order to know you (however I will call you). I speak to you words yet unknown Every word I speak is a name for you for every word is a call, is me tilt(ing) toward you, the other. I'm inclined. And thus, every name I call you by bears a secret, something untouchable every word I know for you speaks of a world behind a veil. I cannot lift the fogs to see behind, my bones are heavy, but sometimes your light shines through and warms us like a fire. /// O to reject protection that I shall love with exceeding love that I might appropriate all kinds of knowledge secret and sacred languages and in all their riches a sense of mystery remains distinct delights and haunts (Through) a dedication of song that is purely sacred the unknown language switches roles the hierarchical list made humble in the fear of death flees beneath the wings
/// Like the roof of the world, which in ancient times was believed to be held up by Atlas, the titan, also the roof of your mouth is dark.
Like the winds, your soothing murmurs are born in the darkness.
We say roof to what is lifted to create spaces underneath it. We say arch and refer to the beginning of the world. First, you set the tent. Then the story begins.
After all, the world you made has been cosy for many of us until now. After all, it is the dark cave of your mouth that expels the words that come to touch us.
What is the so-called inside if it is feeling that lifts me up to the stars carries me to the edges of the world?
///REPORT FROM WEEK III ///
Viriditas – work in progress showing at UNFINISHED FRIDAYS V.78
//// REPORT FROM WEEK IV ////
The Ten Commandments | Revised Version from DECEMBRIS XXII ANNO MMXXI | as received through green messaging from Hildi v.B.
I am the Earth, I am your home, I am holy. I gift and sustain your life.
This is not about restricting your freedom, but you will never leave me. No matter how far you journey, you will always return to me. We can’t avoid each other. We have the most intimate relationship of all relationships.
I will stay unknown to you and you have inherited my mystery.
To take my name in vain is to curse your own.
Respect rest. Cherish what is.
Be grateful to those who have supported and and fed your growth.
Nurture all living things, whether you understand their courses or not. Do not violently interfere in their paths. Life needs your love. Be aware of your role in the cycle of life and death.
Honor the power of erotic bonds.
Do not be moved by scarcity, it is an illusion. There is no such thing as owning. You can always only have a share. Be generous/generative with your entanglements.
Be honest. Practice listening. Do not betray yourself or others.
All forms of life are of equal value inherent unto themselves. Do not fear difference.
If you would like to try and live according to the revised 10 Commandments, we are happy to receive reports of your experience at firstname.lastname@example.org