Hildegard of Bingen

On the Elements

Introduction by Victoria Sweet

Hildegard says: "For God created the world with four elements, and indeed none can be separated from another, because the world would not able to stand, if one could be be separated from another. But rather they are inseparably held to each other. Fire, for instance, tends upward and rules and burns the air and is stronger than it. Air, in turn, is nearest to fire, and like a cloth-fuller makes it burn and also settles it down, because the fire is like a body for the air and also air is like the organs and also like the wings and feathers of fire. And just as the body cannot exist without its organs, so too fire cannot exist without air, because air is the agitator of fire, since fire would neither blaze nor burn, if it did not have air. Fire is also both the heat and the energy of water and it makes it flow, because water would not be liquid nor would it flow, but would be harder and more solid than iron and fetters, if it did not have the warmth of fire concealed inside itself; as indeed can be observed in ice."

Original Latin