Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Vision of creation: A Jungian view of Hildegard's "On the Origin of Life" vision
by Hudson, Brenda Kay, Ph.D., Pacifica Graduate Institute, 2011, 195; 3716788
Abstract (Summary)

Hildegard von Bingen, a visionary abbess living in the tumultuous 12th century, recorded and interpreted three very powerful visions pertaining to Christianity. This dissertation is limited to the first image of Hildegard’s last vision called De Operatione Dei, the Works of God, a cosmological vision about creation. Hildegard named this image On the Origin of Life.

The thesis of this dissertation suggests the four main characters in the first image of Hildegard’s cosmological vision—the two-headed and four-winged red figure named Caritas standing on the serpent-wrapped monster—correspond to the four stages of Jung’s individuation—encounter with the shadow (serpent), encounter with the soulimage (monster as Adam), encounter with the god-image (Caritas), emergence of the Self (godhead). Each of these characters and stages represent a level in what has been called by perennial philosophy the Great Chain of Being. Hildegard’s vision represents the unfolding of Spirit into matter. Jung’s individuation process describes the soul’s journey back towards Spirit.

This work starts by introducing the vision and Hildegard’s interpretation. Next it moves to what other authors have written. Since the vision is about creation the interpretation starts with the literalists’ view of Genesis and moves to the mystical interpretations of Genesis. Other creation stories including a serpent and a goddess amplify the interpretation. Then, using Jungian and alchemical symbols the images of this iv vision are further elaborated. The research follows the logic of the axiom of Maria, from the uroboros, to the hermaphrodite, to the trinity and ending with the marriage quaternio—two pairs of hermaphrodites. Byington’s symbolic elaboration process is used to interpret the dramatic action of the vision thereby bringing the vision back to life as Hildegard might have experienced it. Finally, the parallel between Hildegard’s vision and Jung’s individuation process is explained in detail. The work ends with Hildegard’s interpretation of why god created the world showing how it aligns with the goal of individuation, and how both are critical for the life of the soul in the 21st century.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Nelson, Elizabeth E.
Commitee: Hoeller, Stephen A., Koehn, Allen
School: Pacifica Graduate Institute
Department: Depth Psychology
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-B 77/04(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Medieval literature, Metaphysics, Psychology
Keywords: Alchemy, Biblical creation, Hildegard, Individuation, Jungian psychology, Vision interpretation
Publication Number: 3716788
ISBN: 978-1-321-96044-0
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