Hildegard of Bingen and Medicine

Dr. Sweet was always interested in the Middle Ages, even before she read Carl Jung. It seemed to her to be the invisible matrix, the microtubular structure, that underlies Western culture. The kind of houses we live in—and expect to live in—with their fireplaces, peaked roofs, and little gardens, are medieval. The utensils we use—knife, fork, spoon; what we consider food and a meal. Above all, the languages we speak, especially English, that merger of Anglo-Saxon, French, and Latin.

After she discovered Hildegard of Bingen, a twelfth-century mystic and nun who also wrote a practical medical text, Dr. Sweet completed a Master’s degree in the history of medieval medicine (Earth, Air, Water, Fire:The Medicine of Hildegard of Bingen), and then a PhD (Body as Plant, Doctor as Gardener). For a summary of her dissertation and a link to an electronic version, see Electronic Resources.

For a summary of her master’s research, see the award-winning article, “Hildegard of Bingen and the Greening of Medieval Medicine” in the Bulletin of the History of Medicine, 73 (1), 1999. For the PDF: http://search.proquest.com/openview/af29b49081c96a3f97fab7b9c1dd22c2/1?pq-origsite=gscholar&cbl=1816629

For her doctoral research, see the monograph, which can be found in most university libraries or ordered online: Rooted in the Earth, Rooted in the Sky: Hildegard of Bingen and Premodern Medicine, Routledge, New York, 2006.

For Hildegard’s mystical and musical sensibility, listen here: AntiphonOaeterneDeus.mp3

For Dr. Sweet’s version of Hildegard’s recipe for anti-depressant cookies, see anti-depressant cookies.