12th century mystic Hadewijch of Antwerp is considered one of the creators of Dutch lyrical poetry. She is also one of the most enlightened mystics of the High Middle Ages. Her weaving together of love and reason reveals a wisdom not yet grasped by modern Western society, a template and understanding that could create a more holistic world.
Note that for Hadewijch Love is feminine. The Christian teaching that God Is Love hides the mystical understanding that the Presence of God-Love is the feminine aspect of the Divine, God as Mother – known in Sanskrit as Shakti… In Judaism as Shekhinah, Islam as Sakina (Rumi said that, “The eternal mystery of Allah’s uncreated Essence is the Divine Feminine.” , and hidden in Christianity as the Holy Spirit (presented in modern times as male or gender neutral, the word used in original biblical texts was feminine).
On Love :
However cheerless the season and little birds, The noble heart must not be sad, But ready to suffer for Love’s sake.
It must know and experience all: Sweetness and cruelty, Joy and pain, All that belongs to the service of Love…
The ways of Love are strange, As those who have followed them well know, For, unexpectedly, She withdraws Her consolation.
He whom Love touches Can enjoy no stability
And he will taste Many a nameless hour.
Sometimes burning and sometimes cold, Sometimes timid and sometimes bold, The whims of Love are manifold.
She reminds us all Of our great debt To Her lofty power Which draws us to Herself alone.
Sometimes gracious and sometimes cruel, Sometimes far and sometimes near He who grasps Her in faithful love Reaches jubilation.
Oh, how Love With one sole act Both strikes and embraces!
Sometimes humble, sometimes haughty, Sometimes hidden and sometimes revealed; To be finally overwhelmed by Love, Great adventures must be risked Before one can reach The place where is tasted The nature of Love.
Sometimes light, sometimes heavy, Sometimes somber and sometimes bright,
In freeing consolation, in stifling anguish, In taking and in giving,
Thus live the spirits Who wander here below, Along the paths of Love.
‘So that the soul should find her being in God, Hadewijch tells us to love Him with the love with which He loves Himself, in order to become one single being with Love, “one single spirit” (I Con 6:17), that is, “To become God with God”.
‘Union does not make the person disappear but, through divine action, instead of being dissimilar, God and the soul are equal in oneness… It is from God Himself that we receive our being, absorbed, but not destroyed, by divine light, as Hadewijch explains with a beautiful image: the soul can be compared to the moon which, receiving all its light from the sun, disappears from the sky at sunrise… The preparation for union involves a stripping of everything else. Hadewijch rarely uses the words naked (bloet) and intact (ongherijnleect) which, with Hadewijch II, are signs of a refusal of forms and images, but she employs much more often the word gheheel: whole, integral, referring rather to a reintegration of the powers—“the searching mind, the thirsting heart, the loving soul”—in the abyss of Love through the elimination of everything that is not Love. In spite of this negative ascetic phase, Hadewijch’s mysticism seems to us to be more a mysticism of plenitude than of void: “I have integrated all that was divided within me”… It consists of a widening of the soul to the dimensions of God. In Letter XXII, she refers to a hymn attributed to Hildebert of Lavardin who sings of the paradoxes of divine nature: “God is above everything without being raised up; below everything without being lowered, in everything without being circumscribed, outside everything and yet wholly comprised.” That is where proud souls are invited to enter and Hadewijch is only too anxious to accept. It is from a Trinitarian point of view that she comments on the plea contained in the Lord’s prayer: that His kingdom may come (within us). We ask the Father to let us participate in His “power and rich essence,” to make us love the Son with the Father and be the Son Himself.’
So we see that Hadewijch was not afraid of a bit of gender bending on the spiritual path. She was also a champion of diversity…
For Hadewijch God is “manifold in His unity and onefold in His multiplicity”.
Quoted from WOMEN MYSTICS IN Medieval Europe by Emilie Zum Brunn and Georgette Epiney-Burgard Translated from the French by Sheila Hughes (1989)