Approaching Medieval English Anchoritic and Mystical Texts by et al Dee Dyas (Editor)

By et al Dee Dyas (Editor)

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128. Hali Meiðhad ‘has as its main purpose the exploration of those very fantasies which are most dangerous to the woman committed to virginity and the anchoritic life: sex, marriage and children. The treatise methodically constructs and dismantles visions of happiness in these things’ (Savage, ‘Solitary heroine’ p. 79). 65 Nicholas Watson, ‘The Methods and Objectives of Thirteenth-Century Anchoritic Devotion’, The Medieval Mystical Tradition in England, ed. Marion Glasscoe, Exeter Symposium IV (Cambridge, 1987), pp.

There can be no return to Eden. There is, however, within the biblical narrative, the possibility of reaching another homeland, a hope offered to those who are willing to return to God and journey obediently through such alien landscapes. All wilderness experience therefore carries within it a fundamental sense of alienation and deprivation, of struggle for survival, of being on a dangerous spiritual knife-edge poised between the horror of eternal condemnation and the hope of redemption. Temptation and sin Disobedience brought humankind into the wilderness in the first place and the literal wilderness, like the wilderness of the world, remained a place where temptation and the possibility of sin were real.

A. O. Anderson and M. O. Anderson, eds, Adomnan’s Life of Columba (London, 1961), p. 31. Cf. Jacques Le Goff, ‘The Wilderness in the Medieval West’, The Medieval Imagination, trans. Arthur Goldhammer (Chicago, 1988), p. 50. , eds, The Rule of St. Benedict (Collegeville, MN, 1981), p. 169. 30 DEE DYAS Desert Fathers but also from more recent models. 48 Bede’s account shows Cuthbert, like the Desert Fathers before him, being miraculously fed (XVIII), demonstrating extreme asceticism (XVIII), facing demonic attacks (XXII) and constantly being sought by visitors in need of counsel and practical help (XXII).

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