Excerpts from Hildegard of Bingen

From my early childhood, before my bones, nerves and veins were fully strengthened, I have always seen this vision in my soul, even to the present time, when I am more than 70 years old. In this vision my soul, as God would have it, rises up high into the vault of heaven and into the changing sky and spreads itself out among different peoples, although they are far way from me in distant lands and places. . . I do not hear them with my outward ears . . .but in my soul along, while my outward eyes are open. So I have never fallen prey to ecstasy in the visions, but I see them wide awake, day and night.

The light that I see thus is not spatial, but it is far, far brighter than a cloud that carries the sun. I can measure neither height, nor length, nor breadth in it; and I call it the "reflection of the living Light." And as the sun, moon, and the stars appear in water, so writings, sermons, virtues, and certain human actions take form for me and gleam within it.

Now whatever I have seen or learned in this vision remains in my memory for a long time, so that when I have seen or heard it, I remember; and I see, hear, and know all at once . . . But what I do not see I do not know, for I am not educated, but I have simply been taught to read. And what I write is what I see and hear in the vision. I compose no other words than those I hear, and I set them forth in unpolished Latin just as I hear them in the vision, for I am not taught in this vision to write as philosophers do. And the words in this vision are not like words uttered by the mouth of humans, but like a shimmering flame, or a cloud floating in the clear sky.

Moreover, I can no more recognize the form of this light than I can gaze directly on the sphere of the sun. Sometimes -- but not often -- I see within this light another light, which I call "the living Light". And I cannot describe when and how I see it, but while I see it all sorrow and anguish leave me, so that I feel like a simple girl instead of an old woman. . . . And when I see and hear things in this vision, my soul drinks them in as from a fountain, which yet remains full and unexhausted. At no time is my soul deprived of that light which I call the reflection of the living Light, and I see it as if I were gazing at a starless sky in a shining cloud. . . I answer those who write to me from the radiance of this living Light.