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Another Extraordinary Woman

September 10th, 2008

For some time I’ve known about the stories of three extraordinary women whose destinies seemed to be bound up with a completely different culture and spirituality that they were born into, and that really seem to reinforce the idea of reincarnation. One was the legendary Om Seti, an English woman – Dorothy Eady – who told her parents from an early age that they weren’t her parents, learnt Egyptian as soon as she could, and went to live beside the temple in Karnak, acting as a priestess and guide there for decades until she died. Then there was the German Maria Reiche who lived in Peru from the age of 29 and dedicated much of her life to the Nazca lines, so that now there is a Maria Reiche centre in Nazca. Then there is the story of the Swiss Alice Boner, who lived in India for over 40 years and cracked the code of the reliefs at the Ellora Caves (I write about her in ‘Sacred Places’).

But now on the BBC website I’ve discovered a fourth – the amazing Austrian Susanne Wenger. I’ll quote a little bit from the article below the picture and then you can follow the link to read more. How wonderful that such people exist in this world!

Thousands of Nigerians have been taking part in the annual Osogbo festival of the river-god Osun. Devotees, mostly from the Yoruba community, congregate in a sacred grove to seek Osun’s blessings. (Photo and text Andrew Walker BBC)
Bent double by age, the high-priestess of Nigeria’s Yoruba spirit-world shuffles forward from
under the trees, reaching out a white, blotchy hand in welcome.

Half a lifetime ago, Susanne Wenger dedicated herself to reviving the traditions of the pre-Christian Yoruba gods, “the orishas”, and left Austria to make Nigeria her home.

The frail 94-year-old artist, with one seeing eye, has been a driving force in Osogbo town,

where she is in charge of the sacred grove, a place where spirits of the river and trees are said to live.

In an upstairs room of her house, surrounded by carved wooden figures of the gods, she receives well-wishers and devotees, who she blesses in fluent Yoruba.

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One Response to “Another Extraordinary Woman”

  1. I’m glad to hear you talk about Maria Reiche, she was a truly inspirational woman. I spent some time in Nasca and her influence is everywhere. I think without her intervention and protection of the Nazca Lines they would have been destroyed and we wouldn’t have them today.

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