The Beasts and the Symbolism of the Ropes

If you look at the image I used for the header at the top of the page you will notice that it comes from the cover to my book. The image was divided into three parts that change randomly as you go to different pages on the blog. If you click around you will see all five beasts. These are illuminations that adorned the Rupertsberg manuscript of Hildegard’s Scivias, the book which contains the vision of the beasts, and are assumed to have been either painted by Hildegard herself or artistically directed by her..

Each beast represents a brief historical period (see here for the background). You will notice that there is something coming out of each of the beast’s mouth. Hildegard describes these as ropes that are attached to the top of a mountain. The mountain, she tells us is meant to symbolize a specific social evil that is characteristic of the individual historical era.

She explains that the ropes represent the attachment of the people of that era to its particular social evil, and that this attachment would be evident from the beginning of the era to its end. This is very important in helping us to discern whether the era in question matches the symbolism of the beast. Lots of things happen during a given historical period, but not things that continue from the beginning to the end.

The second era, that of the Yellow Lion, is an example of this. I identified it with the historical period of 1914-1945 (some historians start the era after WWI). Hildegard described the people of the era as “martial” or “war-mongering “, instigating many unjust wars. She describes the period well. In 1914 Europe went to war, and for not very good reasons. It would eventually get rid of most of its Christian monarchs and exchange them for military dictators, and then go to war again. It was an age of extreme nationalism that led to numerous genocides. Malice and hatreds engulfed the period from its beginning to its end.

The book includes much more detail and documentation.


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