SCIVIAS BOOK ONE
God Enthroned Shows Himself to Hildegard
I saw a great mountain the color of iron, and enthroned on it One of such great glory that it blinded my sight. On each side of him there extended a soft shadow, like a wing of wondrous breadth and length. Before him, at the foot of the mountain, stood an image full of eyes on all sides, in which, because of those eyes, I could discern no human form. In front of this image stood another, a child wearing a tunic of subdued color but white shoes, upon whose head such glory descended from the One enthroned upon that mountain that I could not look at its face. But from the One who sat enthroned upon that mountain many living sparks sprang forth, which flew very sweetly around the images. Also, I perceived in this mountain many little windows, in which appeared human heads, some of subdued colors and some white.
And behold, He Who was enthroned upon that mountain cried out in a strong, loud voice saying, “O human, who are fragile dust of the earth and ashes of ashes! Cry out and speak of the origin of pure salvation until those people are instructed, who, though they see the inmost contents of the Scriptures, do not wish to tell them or preach them, because they are lukewarm and sluggish in serving God’s justice. Unlock for them the enclosure of mysteries that they, timid as they are, conceal in a hidden and fruitless field. Burst forth into a fountain of abundance and overflow with mystical knowledge, until they who now think you contemptible because of Eve’s transgression are stirred up by the flood of your irrigation. For you have received your profound insight not from humans, but from the lofty and tremendous Judge on high, where this calmness will shine strongly with glorious light among the shining ones.
“Arise therefore, cry out and tell what is shown to you by the strong power of God’s help, for He Who rules every creature in might and kindness floods those who fear Him and serve Him in sweet love and humility with the glory of heavenly enlightenment and leads those who persevere in the way of justice to the joys of the Eternal Vision.”
1. The strength and stability of God’s eternal Kingdom
As you see, therefore, the great mountain the color of iron symbolizes the strength and stability of the eternal Kingdom of God, which no fluctuation of mutability can destroy; and the One enthroned upon it of such great glory that it blinds your sight is the One in the kingdom of beatitude Who rules the whole world with celestial divinity in the brilliance of unfading serenity, but is incomprehensible to human minds. But that on each side of him there extends a soft shadow like a wing of wonderful breadth and length shows that both in admonition and in punishment ineffable justice displays sweet and gentle protection and perseveres in true equity.
2. Concerning fear of the Lord
And before him at the foot of the mountain stands an image full of eyes on all sides. For the Fear of the Lord stands in God’s presence with humility and gazes on the Kingdom of God, surrounded by the clarity of a good and just intention, exercising her zeal and stability among humans. And thus you can discern no human form in her on account of those eyes. For by the acute sight of her contemplation she counters all forgetfulness of God’s justice, which people often feel in their mental tedium, so no inquiry by weak mortals eludes her vigilance.
3. Concerning those who are poor in spirit
And so before this image appears another image, that of a child, wearing a tunic of subdued color but white shoes. For when the Fear of the Lord leads, they who are poor in spirit follow; for the Fear of the Lord holds fast in humble devotion to the blessedness of poverty of spirit, which does not seek boasting or elation of heart, bur loves simplicity and sobriety of mind, attributing its just works not to itself but to God in pale subjection, wearing, as it were, a tunic of subdued color and faithfully following the serene footsteps of the Son of God. Upon her head descends such glory from the One enthroned upon that mountain that you cannot look at her face; because He Who rules every created being imparts the power and strength of this blessedness by the great clarity of His visitation, and weak, mortal thought cannot grasp His purpose, since He Who possesses celestial riches submitted himself humbly to poverty.
4. They who fear God and love poverty of spirit are the guardians of virtues
But from the One Who is enthroned upon that mountain many living sparks go forth, which fly about those images with great sweetness. This means that many exceedingly strong virtues come forth from Almighty God, darting fire in divine glory; these ardently embrace and captivate those who truly fear God and who faithfully love poverty of spirit, surrounding them with their help and protection.
5. The aims of human acts cannot be hidden from God’s knowledge
Wherefore in this mountain you see many little windows, in which appear human heads, some of subdued color and some white. For in the most high and profound and perspicuous knowledge of God the aims of human acts cannot be concealed or hidden. Most often they display both lukewarmness and purity, since people now slumber in guilt, weary in their hearts and in their deeds, and now awaken and keep watch in honor. Solomon bears witness to this for Me, saying:
6. Solomon on this subject
“The slothful hand has brought about poverty, but the hand of the industrious man prepares riches” [Proverbs 10:4]; which means, a person makes himself weak and poor when he will not work justice, or avoid wickedness, or pay a debt, remaining idle in the face of the wonders of the works of beatitude. But one who does strong works of salvation, running in the way of truth, obtains the upwelling fountain of glory, by which he prepares himself most precious riches on earth and in Heaven.
Therefore, whoever has knowledge in the Holy Spirit and wings of faith, let this one not ignore My admonition but taste it, embrace it and receive it in his soul.
Creation and the Fall
Then I saw as it were a great multitude of very bright living lamps, which received fiery brilliance and acquired an unclouded splendor. And behold! A pit of great breadth and depth appeared, with a mouth like the mouth of a well, emitting fiery smoke with great stench, .from which a loathsome cloud spread out and touched a deceitful, vein-shaped form. And, in a region of bright- ness, it blew upon a white cloud that had come forth .from a beautijill human form and contained within itself many and many stars, and so doing, cast out both the white cloud and the human form .from that region. When this was done, a luminous splendor surrounded that region, and all the elements of the world, which before had existed in great calm, were turned to the greatest agitation and displayed horrible terrors. And again I heard Him Who had spoken to me before, saying:
1. No unjust impulse takes the blessed angels from the love and praise of God
No impulse of injustice makes those withdraw in terror who follow God with faithful devotion and burn with worthy love through affection for Him, from the glory of heavenly beatitude; while they who serve God merely in pretence not only fail to advance to greater things but, by just judgment, are cast out from the things they erroneously suppose they possess. This is shown by the great multitude of very bright living lamps; they are the vast army of heavenly spirits, shining in the blessed life and living in great beauty and adornment, because when they were created by God they did not grasp at proud exaltation but strongly persisted in divine love. For, receiving fiery brilliance, they acquired an unclouded splendor, because when Lucifer and his followers attempted to rebel against the supreme Creator, they, with zeal for God in his and his followers’ downfall, clothed themselves in the vigilance of divine love, while the others, not wishing to know God, embraced the torpor of ignorance. In what way? At the fall of the Devil great praise burst forth from these angelic spirits who persevered in rectitude with God, because with keenest sight they knew that God continues immovable, without any change of any mutability in His power, so that no warrior can ever conquer Him. And thus, burning in His love and persevering in righteousness, they despised all the dust of injustice.
2. Lucifer, for pride in his beauty and power, was cast forth from Heaven
But Lucifer, who because of his pride was cast forth from celestial glory, was so great at the moment of his creation that he felt no defect either in his beauty or in his strength. Hence when he contemplated his beauty, and when he considered in himself the power of his strength, he discovered pride, which promised him that he might begin what he wished, because he could achieve what he had begun. And, seeing a place where he thought he could live, wanting to display his beauty and power there, he spoke thus within himself about God: “I wish to shine there as He does here!” And all his army assented, saying, “What you wish we also wish.” And when, elated with pride, he tried to achieve what he had conceived, the jealousy of the Lord, reaching out in fiery blackness, cast him down with all his retinue, so that they were made burning instead of shining and black instead of fair. Why did this happen?
3. God would have been unjust if He had not cast them down
If God had not cast down their presumption, He would have been unjust, since He would have cherished those who wished to divide the wholeness of divinity. But He cast them down and reduced their impiety to nothing, as He removes from the sight of His glory all who try to oppose themselves to Him, as My servant Job shows when he says:
4. Words of Job on this subject
“The lamp of the wicked shall be put out and a deluge shall come upon them; and He shall distribute the sorrows of His wrath. They shall be chaff before the face of the wind, and sparks scattered by the whirlwind” [Job 11:17-18]. This means the flagrant filth of wanton wickedness that emerges from false prosperity, like a distinguishing mark on the carnal will of those who do not fear God but spurn Him in perverse rage, disdaining to know that anyone can conquer them, while in the fire of their ferocity they want to consume whatever they oppose. In the hour of God’s vengeance this filth will be trodden underfoot like dirt; and by the supreme judgment these impious ones will be cast down in wrath by all who are under heaven, because they are harmful both to God and to humans. Therefore, since God does not allow them to have what they want, they are scattered everywhere among people, tormented by pain in the rage of their madness, because they burn to possess what God does not allow them to devour. And since they withdraw in this way from God, they become entirely useless, able to do nothing good for either God or humanity, cut off from the seed of life by the foreseeing eye of God’s contemplation. For which reason they are given over to misery, wasting themselves in the flat taste of evil fame, since they do not receive the downpouring rain of the Holy Spirit.
5. On Hell, which in its voracity keeps souls swallowed up
But the pit of great breadth and depth that appeared to you is Hell, having within it, as you see, the breadth of vices and the depth of losses. It has a mouth indeed like the mouth of a well, emitting a fiery smoke with great stench, because in its voracity to swallow up souls, it shows them sweetness and gentleness, and with perverse deception leads them to the torments of perdition, where rises a burning fire with black smoke pouring out and a boiling, deadly stench; these dire torments were prepared for the Devil and his followers, who turned away from the Supreme Good, not wishing to know or understand it. Therefore they are outcast from all good, not because they did not know it, but because in their great pride they despised it. What does this mean?
6. In the casting down of the Devil Hell was created
In the casting down of the Devil this exterior darkness, full of all kinds of pains, was created; for these evil spirits, in contrast to the glory that had been prepared for them, were subject to the misery of many punishments, and in contrast to the brightness they had had, endured the thickest darkness. How? When the proud angel raised himself on high like a snake, he received the prison of Hell, because it could not be that anyone should prevail over God. For how could two hearts possibly exist in one breast? Likewise, there could not be two gods in Heaven. But since the Devil and his followers chose proud presumption, therefore he found the pit of Hell prepared for him. So also the people who imitate them in their actions become sharers of their pains, according to their deserts.
7. Gehenna is for the impenitent, other torments for those who can be saved
Some souls, having reached the point of damnation, are rejected from the knowledge of God, and therefore they shall have the pains of Hell without the consolation of deliverance. But some, whom God has not consigned to oblivion, experience a higher process and undergo purgation of the sins into which they have fallen, and at last feel the loosing of their bonds and are delivered into rest. How is this? Gehenna is ready for those who have impenitently forgotten God in their hearts, but other torments for those who, though they perform bad works, do not persevere in them to the end, but at last, groaning, look back to God. For this reason let the faithful flee from the Devil and love God, casting away evil works and adorning good works with the beauty of penitence; as My servant Ezekiel, inspired by Me, urges, saying:
8. Words of Ezekiel on this subject
“Be converted, and do penance for all your iniquities; and iniquity shall not be your ruin” [Ezekiel 18:30]. That is to say: O you people! who till now have wallowed in sin, remember your name of Christians, be converted to the way of salvation, and perform all your works in a gush of penitence, who previously had innumerable vices and committed many crimes. Thus as you rise from your evil habits, that iniquity by which you had been soiled will not sink you deep in the ruin of death, since you cast it off in the day of your salvation. Therefore the angels will rejoice over you, because you have abandoned the Devil and run to God, knowing Him better in your good actions than you did when you endured the mockery of the ancient seducer.
9. The Devil’s fraud, which deceived Adam through the serpent
That a loathsome cloud spread out from the pit and touched a deceitful, vein-shaped form means that from the bottom of perdition the Devil’s fraud came forth and invaded the serpent, who already bore within itself the crime of fraudulent intention, in order to deceive humanity. In what way? Because, when the Devil saw Man in paradise, he cried out with great aversion, saying, “Oh! who touches me in the mansion of true beatitude?” And so he knew that he had not yet perfected in any creature the malice he had within himself, but seeing Adam and Eve walk with childlike innocence in the garden of delight, with great wonder he rose up to deceive them through the serpent. Why? Because he understood that the serpent more than any other animal resembled him and was eager to accomplish by its deceitfulness what he could not do openly in his own form. So when he saw Adam and Eve turn away in soul and body from the forbidden tree, he understood that they were obeying a divine precept, and that in the first work they began he could very easily throw them down.
10. Only from Eve’s reply did the Devil know the tree was forbidden
For he would not have known that this tree was forbidden them unless he had proved it by guileful questioning and by their answers. Wherefore in that bright region he blew upon a white cloud; which had come forth from a beautiful human form and contained within itself many and many stars because, in that place of delight, Eve — whose soul was innocent, for she had been raised out of innocent Adam, bearing in her body the whole multitude of the human race, shining with God’s preordination — was invaded by the Devil through the seduction of the serpent for her own downfall. Why was this? Because he knew that the susceptibility of the woman would be more easily conquered than the strength of the man; and he saw that Adam burned so vehemently in his holy love for Eve that if he, the Devil, conquered Eve, Adam would do whatever she said to him. Hence the Devil cast out both the cloud and the human form from that region because that ancient seducer cast out Eve and Adam by his deception from the seat of blessedness and thrust them into the darkness of destruction. How? By first misleading Eve, so that she might flatter and caress Adam and thus win his assent, since she more than any other creature could lead Adam to disobedience, having been made from his rib. Thus woman very quickly overthrows man, if he does not hate her and easily accepts her words.
11. What things are to be observed and avoided in marriage
Because a mature woman was given not to a little boy but to a mature man, namely Adam, so now a mature woman must be married to a man when he has reached the full age of fertility, just as due cultivation is given to a tree when it begins to put forth flowers. For Eve was formed from a rib by Adam’s ingrafted heat and vigor, and therefore now it is by the strength and heat of a man that a woman receives the semen to bring a child into the world. For the man is the sower, but the woman is the recipient of the seed. Wherefore a wife is under the power of her husband because the strength of the man is to the susceptibility of the woman as the hardness of stone is to the softness of earth.
But the first woman’s being formed from man means the joining of wife to husband. And thus it is to be understood: This union must not be vain or done in forgetfulness of God, because He Who brought forth the woman from the man instituted this union honorably and virtuously, forming flesh from flesh. Wherefore, as Adam and Eve were one flesh, so now also a man and woman become one flesh in a union of holy love for the multiplication of the human race. And therefore there should be perfect love in these two as there was in those first two. For Adam could have blamed his wife because by her advice she brought him death, but nonetheless he did not dismiss her as long as he lived in this world, because he knew she had been given to him by divine power. Therefore, because of perfect love, let a man not leave his wife except for the reason the faithful Church allows. And let them never separate, unless both with one mind want to contemplate My Son, and say with burning love for Him: “We want to renounce the world and follow Him Who suffered for our sake!” But if these two disagree as to whether they should renounce the world for one devotion, then let them by no means separate from each other, since, just as the blood cannot be separated from the flesh as long as the spirit remains in the flesh, so the husband and wife cannot be divided from each other but must walk together in one will.
But if either husband or wife breaks the law by fornication, and it is made public either by themselves or by their priests, they shall undergo the just censure of the spiritual magisterium. For the husband shall complain of the wife, or the wife of the husband, about the sin against their union before the Church and its prelates, according to the justice of God; but not so that the husband or wife can seek another marriage; either they shall stay together in righteous union, or they shall both abstain from such unions, as the discipline of church practice shows. And they shall not tear each ocher to pieces by viperous rending, but they shall love with pure love, since both man and woman could not exist without having been conceived in such a bond, as My friend Paul witnesses when he says:
12. Words of the apostle on this subject
“As the woman is of the man, so is the man for the woman; but all are from God” (1 Corinthians 11:12.]. Which is to say: Woman was created for the sake of man, and man for the sake of woman. As she is from the man, the man is also from her, lest they dissent from each other in the unity of making their children; for they should work as one in one work, as the air and the wind intermingle in their labor. In what way? The air is moved by the wind, and the wind is mingled with the air, so that in their movement all verdant things are subject to their influence. What does this mean? The wife must cooperate with the husband and the husband with the wife in making children. Therefore the greatest crime and wickedest act is to make by fornication a division in the days of creating children, since the husband and wife cut off their own blood from its rightful place, sending it to an alien place. They will certainly incur the deceit of the Devil and the wrath of God, because they have transgressed that bond God ordained for them. Woe to them, therefore, if their sins are not forgiven! But although, as has been shown, the husband and wife work together in their children, nevertheless the husband and the wife and all other creatures come from the divine disposition and ordination, since God made them according to His will.
13. Why before the Incarnation some men had several wives
Before the Incarnation of My Son, however, certain men among the ancient people had several wives at once, as they wished; they had not yet heard the open prohibition of My Son, Who when He came into the world showed that the right fruit of this union of husband and wife as long as they live is the fruit manifest in the union of Adam and Eve, a union to be exercised not by the will of Man but by the fear of God. For it is better to have this right union, by the arrangement of the prudence of the Church, than to crave fornication; but you humans ignore this, and pursue your lusts not only like humans but like beasts.
But let there be right faith and pure love of the knowledge of God between husband and wife lest their seed be polluted by the Devil’s art and divine vengeance strike them because they are biting and tearing each other to pieces and sowing their seed inhumanly with the wantonness of beasts. In such a case jealousy will torture them like a viper, and without the fear of God and without human discipline a defiled excess of seed will be stored up in them, and often, by the just judgment of God, this perversity of theirs will be chastised by having those born of them deprived of limbs and of health in their lives; unless I receive their penitence and show Myself propitious to them. For if any shall call upon Me in penitence for their sins, I will accept their penitence for the love of My Son; for if anyone lifts a finger to Me in penitence, that is, reaches out to Me in penitence and groaning in his heart, saying, “I have sinned, Lord, before you!” My Son, Who is the Priest of priests, will show Me that penitence; for penitence which is offered to priests for the love of My Son obtains the purgation of the sinners. Therefore, people who worthily do penance escape from the jaws of the Devil, Who, trying to swallow the hook of divine power, has grievously wounded his jaw; and now, therefore, faithful souls pass out of perdition and arrive at salvation. How?
Because the priests at the altar, invoking My name, will receive the confession of the peoples and show them the remedy of salvation. So, in order to find God propitious, let them not contaminate their seed by various vices, since those who emit their semen in fornication or adultery render their children, born of them thus, unsound. How? Can he who mixes mud or ordure with pure clay make a lasting vessel? Likewise, will he who contaminates his semen in fornication or adultery ever beget strong sons? But many work in different ways in their inmost being, and many of these become prudent toward the world and toward God. And with these the heavenly Jerusalem is filled; deserting vice and loving virtue, they imitate My Son in chastity and in great works, carrying in their bodies, as much as they are able, His martyrdom.
But when I do not wish a person to have children, I take away the virile power of the semen, that it may not coagulate in the mother’s womb; So also I deny the earth the power to bear fruit when by My just judgment I will to do So. But do you wonder, O human, why I let children be born in adultery and similar crimes? My judgment is just. For, since the fall of Adam, I have not found in human seed the justice that should have been in it, for the Devil drove out this justice by the taste of the fruit. Therefore I sent My Son into the world born of a virgin, so that by His blood, in which there was no carnal pollution, He might take away from the Devil those spoils that he had carried off from humanity.
14. No human or angel but only the Son of God could deliver Man
For neither a human being, conceived in sin, nor an angel, who has no covering of flesh, could save Man, wallowing in sins and laboring under the heaviness of the flesh, from the power of the Devil; but only He Who, coming without sin, with a pure and sinless body, delivered him by His Passion. Therefore, though human beings are born in sin, I nevertheless gather them into My heavenly kingdom when they faithfully seek it. For no wickedness can take My elect from me, as Wisdom testifies, saying:
15. Words of Wisdom on this subject
“The souls of the just are in the hand of God; and the torment of death shall not touch them” [Wisdom 3:1]. Which is to say: The souls of those who embrace the path of rectitude with devout affection are aided by the celestial Helper; so that, because of the good works by which in the height of justice they strive for Heaven, the torment of perdition does not break them, for the true Light strengthens them in the fear and love of God. But after Adam and Eve were driven out of the place of delight, they knew in themselves the work of conceiving and bearing children. And falling thus from disobedience into death, when they knew they could sin, they discovered sin’s sweetness. And in this way, turning My rightful institution into sinful lust, although they should have known that the commotion in their veins was not for the sweetness of sin but for the love of children, by the Devil’s suggestion they changed it to lechery; and, losing the innocence of the act of begetting, they yielded it to sin. This was not accomplished without the Devil’s persuasion; for that purpose he sent forth his darts, and it did not come to pass without his suggestion; as he said, “My strength is in human conception, and therefore humanity is mine!” And, seeing that if Man consented to him he would become a sharer in his punishment, he said again within himself: “All iniquities are against Most Powerful God, since He is certainly not unjust.” And that deceiver put this as a great seal on his heart, that Man, who had consented to him of his own accord, could not be taken away from him.
Therefore I took secret counsel within Myself, to send My Son for the redemption of humanity, that Man might be restored to the heavenly Jerusalem. And no iniquity could withstand this counsel, for My Son, coming…