I remember my first real experience of spring in Appalachia like a dream, because in some ways it was. I had lived here for two and a half years already, but working multiple jobs outside my own studio had kept me tethered to the realms of work and home, with almost no time for exploration in my exhausted hours off. The previous summer had been marked by the end of a significant relationship, and I was struggling to recalibrate my life and goals. Then in March of 2020, I was laid off from my restaurant job. What began as a period of uncertainty developed into one of the best things that has happened in my life: a total transition to self employment and the freedom to chart a course in a new direction. During that spring I spent more time in my studio than I had been afforded in years, had time for cooking and gardening projects, and made up for lost time being outdoors. Most importantly, I began to make time for self reflection.
Perhaps my favorite word for this phenomenon is viriditas, used extensively in the writing and music of Hildegard of Bingen, a 12th century saint, mystic, composer, and scholar of medieval medicine. Hildegard referred to viriditas as a “greening force” within all living things. She wrote of the connection between health and spirituality, detailing both the uses of foods and herbs with “good viriditas” and the cultivation of positive virtues as a way to achieve holistic health. Just as the trees put forth new leaves, we are invited to join in with all of nature in the cycles of growth and renewal. Hildegard’s viriditas describes nothing less than a divine life force coursing through all the earth, and the color green is an expression of the joy to be a part of it.
Perhaps these pots will call to mind familiar friends whose names you know well: bloodroot, trillium, trout lily, and the like. Or maybe they'll invite you to take your mug outdoors and enjoy the spring air after a winter spent inside. To me, these pieces commemorate the special experience of discovering something new in the earth and in the self.
I hope that while using these pots, you are filled with viriditas my friends!
St. Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179)
translated by Gabriele Uhlein
I am the one whose praise
echoes on high.
I adorn all the earth.
I am the breeze that nurtures all things
I encourage blossoms to flourish
with ripening fruits.
I am led by the spirit to feed
the purest streams.
I am the rain
coming from the dew
that causes the grasses to laugh
with the joy of life.
I call forth tears.
I am the yearning for good.