Yesterday I was talking with Ajala, a friend in Nigeria. He told me that this weekend would begin the Osun Festival at the Osogbo Sacred Grove, a UNESCO designated world heritage site. Here's what UNESCO says about the grove of virgin trees:
The Osun-Osogbo Sacred Grove is a sacred forest that is the cradle of Yoruba cultural traditions. It is the domicile of Osun, the Yoruba goddess of fertility. The site consists of 40 shrines, 2 palaces, and many sculptures and other works of art.
It is believed that Oso-igbo, the goddess of Osun River, was the Queen and original founder of Osogbo. She was credited with many important achievements, which helped to establish the State. She lived in a beautiful surrounding and possessed magical powers, which inspired her people and frightened their enemies. Traditions acclaim her the goddess of fertility, protection and blessings. She possessed the ability to give children (through birth) to barren women and power to heal the sick and the afflicted by means of her medicinal water from the river."
Many years ago an Austrian artist, Suzanne Wegner, entered the Osun priesthood and began making wonderful sculptures at the grove. Like these ~
& here's a photo of Ms. Wegner, now 95 years of age, a high priestess of Osun. She has lived and worked at Osogbo for 58 years now.
Nigeria, though a troubled land, is on my short list of places to visit. If and when I go there, I hope to visit Osun's sacred grove and river.