The tiny discoveries I made in the most unexpected place transformed my journey through France to research Woman On The Wall. In fact, the most interesting find was a pair of grimoires from Hildegard of Bingen at Fontevraud Abbey. These two book were not particularly traditionally Catholic. Indeed, they were books on the magical properties of plant and sorcery. Never one to avoid magic, I snatched them right up.
I never waited for magic, it simply manifested in front of me. I seemed to freeze time, and what bubbled up proved illuminating.
Even now, I contemplate why an abbey bookstore in the middle of France sold such blatantly heretical writings from a German saint such as Hildegard of Bingen. However, it definitely reinforced my hypothesis. Fontevraud served as more than just that of an ancient abbey. The most powerful women in Medieval and Renaissance France acted as its Mother Abbesses. The nature of the abbey also proved unique.
These two piece of literature inspired much of the magical world of the Sibylline. I found myself entranced by the detailed descriptions of how different plants could be used as remedies or even curses. It brought me back to a moment at Fontevraud when one of the workers took me through the old Saint Lazarus Priory and showed me the medicinal garden in its cloister. He pointed out that gardens such as it only existed in abbeys during the Medieval era. The church outlawed the growing of medicinal herbs any place else.
Of course, my mind plunged into overdrive after that and I began to imagine a world in which the women who cloistered themselves in abbeys did so in order to preserve many of the old ways. The Sibylline blossomed from there, thanks to Hildegard of Bingen and her beautiful works.
Learn more about the Sibylline and their magic.