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Sunday, 13 May 2012

1.9 – PICTURE ESSAY: A Comparison Between Hilegard of Bingen's Visionary Paintings and Contemporary Aura Art

Comparisons between Hildegard of Bingen's paintings and more contemporary examples of migraine aura art:

Illumination of Hildegard of
Bingen's 'Scivias' (1160s/1170s) 

Illustration of recurring visual migraine aura
drawn by a patient with catatonic schizophrenia (1915)

Detail from 'Scivias'

Illustration of visual migraine aura from a participant in
the National Migraine Art competition (2007)

The two images compared below are an illumination of vision taken from Hildegard of Bingen's Liber divinorum operum - First Vision, and a photograph of a ‘Parry arc’. In 1820 the Arctic explorer Sir William Edward (1790-1855) saw and described the parhelic circle, which was a natural 22° halo. Parry arcs are created by the passing of sunlight through ice crystals when they are oriented at the correct angle – a similar process to rainbows. Hildegard said, '…My perception of things depends on the shifting of the clouds and other elements of creation’, and in the painting below, the wide ring of gold is a part of a 22° halo. The wings are formed by the upper tangent arc which arises over the 22° halo and begins at its upper rim. In her hands the figure carries a lamb which probably represents the sun. The monster beneath the feet of the figure is the lower tangent arc to the 22° halo and the snake is the lower part of the 22° halo. The sun elevation was at about 20°. The second face above the head is the bright area between the Parry arc and the upper tangent arc. The wing that extends down to the knee is a part of the 22° halo. The eagle and the human head on the left respectively on the right wing might have been parts of the Parry arc. 

1 comment:

  1. how much more have you written about St Hildegard? I am very interested. Thanks.