“All elements are present in man and every man can act through these elements which are fire, air, water and earth. These four basic substances are intertwined and connected to such an extent that none of them can be separated from the others; they are closely related to each other…”. (note by Saint Hildegard)

Knowing which medicinal substances are suitable for our organism is not only based on a rational basis. Understanding the action of medicinal substances requires deepening, based on hearing from outside oneself. The mind is not excluded, as precisely its systematicity and rationality help us to research. Internal listening and wisdom enable us to hear the Divine. Living in harmony with nature, which is a microcosm within the macrocosm.

Sancta Viriditas is a sacred green power that favored all living things. Viriditas is our connection to the transcendental. It is a synergy between the human and the transcendental. It is a spiritual word that passes through nature into our soul and body. About the origin of life, Hildegard wrote: “From green, the heavens and the earth and all the beauty in the world were created. Man is directly connected with cosmic forces. When man is not in harmony with God and the world in which he lives, there is an imbalance”.

In addition to the Viriditas, existence is also determined by the Four Elements of Air, Fire, Earth and Water, from which everything in the micro and macro cosmos is composed. The balance of all four elements is the foundation for the perfect functioning of living and non-living nature.

The first records of the universal concept of the four elements, according to which the entire cosmos functions, were already known in ancient Egypt. In classical Greece, Empedocles (450 BC) called them the Four Roots. Plato later named them with the term we still know today – the four elements.

Each of the four elements has its own primary characteristics that describe it. Saint Hildegard called the characteristics Primary Subtleties. The foundation of subtlety is the harmonious functioning of the four elements and their associated qualities of the four juices and four temperaments. Subtlety means an energetic substance in natural substances that affects a person. Subtlety describes a characteristic of a food or healing substance (herbs and crystals). Hildegard describes warm, cold, dry and moist subtleties, which can have a positive or negative effect on a person depending on their intensity. Subtlety does not describe the material or chemical characteristics of substances (vitamins, minerals), but works on an energetic level. But it is precisely from the subtlety and the order in which the differently acting subtle substances enter the body that it depends whether a certain substance is suitable or unsuitable for a person.

When the four elements are combined with the primary subtleties, the four bodily juices are created. The four bodily juices are blood, phlegm, yellow bile, and black bile. Balance in the organism can be established on the condition that all four juices are balanced.

Human character and the four temperaments

Temperament is a balanced and harmonious relationship of the four elements, subtleties and four bodily juices. The four temperaments describe four personality types: sanguine, phlegmatic, melancholic, choleric.

How can we determine which herbs are most suitable for a particular person?

Herbs are connected to the human temperament through the four elements and primary characteristics. Each herb has its own primary subtlety: warm-wet (air), warm-dry (fire), cold-dry (earth), and cold-wet (water).

“There is a flower for every disease. But every flower is not for every person”. Why not?

“…For the various precious herbs and powders and spices that we make from precious plants, if consumed without order, will not benefit a healthy body, but will harm it, so that its blood will dry up and its body will become emaciated, because in its body they will find no juices on which to release their forces. These substances do not strengthen a person, do not stimulate muscle growth, but only destroy the bad juices with which they fight. If we consume them, we must do so carefully, wisely and only if necessary…” (note by Saint Hildegard)

An example to make it easier to understand: the dominant element of a choleric is Fire, and the Primary characteristic is Hot and Dry. This means that it is not recommended for choleric people to consume hot and dry herbs (e.g. garlic). These herbs will inflame the Fire element even more in a choleric person and overheat and dehydrate his body.