Feminae: Medieval Women and Gender Index


  • Record Number: 6878
  • Author(s)/Creator(s): Classen , Albrecht.
  • Contributor(s):
  • Title: Flowing Light of the Godhead: Binary Oppositions of Self and God in Mechthild von Magdeburg
  • Source: Studies in Spirituality 7, ( 1997): Pages 79 - 98.
  • Description:
  • Article Type: Journal Article
  • Subject (See Also): Autobiography Binary Opposition Mechthild von Magdeburg, Mystic Mystics Self in Literature Visions Women in Religion
  • Award Note:
  • Geographic Area: Germany
  • Century: 13
  • Primary Evidence:
  • Illustrations:
  • Table:
  • Abstract: The most curious aspect of Mechthild of Magdeburg's visionary accounts is the extent to which she incorporates her own self in her visions, and at the same time reduces this self to the point of absolute extinction. The Godhead becomes a reflection of herself, and thus another self of Mechthild; this is often expressed by the image of the 'mirror.' The revelations can be described as autobiographical, in the sense that for the mystic the identity is established with the help of negativity and self-disembodiment. The more Mechthild emphasizes the irrelevance of her own self and/or of her soul, the more she succeeds in reintroducing her self by means of the literary discourse. The binary opposition of Godhead and soul relies on this absolute negativity as the springboard for the reconstitution of the self in literary terms. We may also say that the mystic utilizes the Godhead as a new voice expressing herself. Although a deeply religious account of her visions, "Das Flie├čende Licht der Gottheit" functions as an autobiographical discourse, and therefore as an important literary experiment in presenting the writing self in the image of the Godhead. [Reproduced with permission of the Titus Brandsma Institute (The Netherlands). Copies of "Studies in Spirituality" can be ordered from the publisher: Peeters Publishers, Bondgenotenlaan 153, B-3000 Louvain (www.peeters-leuven.be).]
  • Author's Affiliation: University of Arizona, Tucson
  • Conference Info: - , -
  • Year of Publication: 1997.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN/ISBN: 09266453