What To Look For While Reading

Mechthild of Magdeburg's Flowing Light of the Godhead

Mechthild's writing is full of images. Sometimes it reads like ecstatic confessions (to use Martin Buber's term), and sometimes like intimate moments.

1. Look for images that fall into the following categories: liquid; fire/heat; animals/birds; nature; clothes; flowers/plants; numbers; love/intimacy; women; food; courtly relationships; senses.

2. Look for the narratives in Mechthild. Her work might look like a notebook or diary, but sometimes she constructs a narrative out of those entries. What are the stories she tells? Included with this are the places where she uses dialogue. Who are the dialogue partners, in each case?

3. What and where are the allegories?

4. Mechthild alternates between prose and poetry. What is the significance of poetry for reporting mystical experience?

5. How would you compare Mechthild's writing to Hildegard's? To other mystics we have studied? Can you identify a tradition that she belongs to?