Bingen, Hildegard of - Nigella
Type of Spiritual Experience
It is unclear which Nigella she means.
Nigella damascena has been grown in English cottage gardens since Elizabethan times, and is commonly called love-in-a-mist. We think this is what she is referring to
The seeds of Nigella sativa, known as kalonji, black cumin, black onion seed, onion seed or just nigella, are used as a spice in Indian and Middle Eastern cuisines. In India, the seeds are used as a carminative and stimulant to ease bowel and indigestion problems, and are given to treat intestinal worms, nerve defects, to reduce flatulence, and induce sweating.
A description of the experience
Hildegard von Bingen’s Physica – translated by Priscilla Throop from the Latin
Nigella (ratde) is hot and dry, and it is good as food for no man, since it would make him sick. It is not beneficial to animals, though it is not very injurious. If someone has ulcers on his head, which are not scabies, he should pound nigella and mix it with roasted lard. He should often and thoroughly anoint the ulcers with this, and it will reduce them, and he will be healed. Also, pound the nigella, and mix honey with it. Where there are many flies, you may streak it on the wall, and the flies on tasting it will sicken and fall dead.