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The Osun-Osogbo Sacred Grove

November 6th, 2015
Image: Robert Sarjant

Image: Robert Sarjant

Here is a fascinating article by Tara Trinley Wangmo about the Yoruban Osun-Osogbo Sacred Grove on the banks of the Osun river in Nigeria. Tara is founder of – a stunningly beautiful website full of inspiring articles and gorgeous images. It is well worth visiting!

Deep in the heart of Africa lies the Osun-Osogbo Sacred Grove, a forest along the banks of the Osun river in Yoruba land of Nigeria. It is a gigantic art exhibition sustained by spiritual culture, the last of hundreds of sacred forests which used to adjoin the edges of most Yoruba cities before recent urbanization. The whole grove is a temple for the ancestral-based Olorisha religion and consists of thousands of small shrines, sculptures and ornaments of gods, goddesses in theirs joyful union. This Sacred Grove is regarded as the abode of the goddess Osun, the personification of the waters of life and the spiritual mother of the Osogbo township. It is said that the goddess would give prosperity and protection to her people if they built a shrine to her and respected the spirits of the forest.yoruba

The grove is an active religious site where daily, weekly and monthly worship takes place. An annual processional festival to re-establish the mystic bonds between the goddess and the people occurs every year over twelve days in July and August and thus sustains the living cultural traditions of the Yoruba people. The grove is also a natural herbal pharmacy containing over 400 species of plants of which more than 200 are known for their medicinal uses.

The Osun-Osogbo Sacred Grove has five main divisions associated with different gods and cults, each one with beautiful and stunning hand-crafted shrines. The grove has a mature, reasonably undisturbed, forest canopy, which supports a rich and diverse flora and fauna, including the endangered white-throated monkey. The Osun River meanders through the whole grove and along its length are nine worship points. Throughout the grove the broad river is overhung with forest trees. Its waters signify a relationship between nature, the spirits and human beings, reflecting the place given to water in the Yoruba cosmology as symbolizing life. The river is believed to have healing, protective and fertility powers. The fish are said to have been used by the goddess Osun as messengers of peace, blessings and favour…To read the whole article click here


2 Responses to “The Osun-Osogbo Sacred Grove”

  1. Hello and it always fascinates me how little we know of the belief systems that existed long before Christianity spread all over the world. I find it so interesting that OBOD teach rituals such as naming ceremonies -my tribe place great importance in the choosing of names too.

    When I was a toddler I would run into the edge of the forest with my brother and cousin and my mum would tell us to be careful of the dwarves that love there and this is not just folklore these little Ghanaians truly exist, they are associated with magic and the initiation of priests and priestesses.

    I can also remember long ago before coming to England walking over a bridge from the forest to to my village -there is a river there. I remember looking into the water one day to see a woman under the bridge staring up at me. I couldn’t look away-her skin was pale and she hard dark long hair-she was as pale as someone who spends their time out of the sunlight and under the sea. I was mesmerised and it was only when my brother and cousin called out to me that I was able to run away but not before I saw her dark fish like tail I told the old folk in the village and they were saying I’d seen a mermaid.

    I also read a section of a book by an anthropologist called Rattray once and he said that much of west Africa before the colonial period was very similar to medieval Europe-it is interesting to me that many of our old legends are so similar.

    I very much enjoy your very important and uplifting website and blog

    Stay blessed


  2. Wow, what an amazing place! Makes me happy to see places like this one being preserved and cared for. Also encourages me to do even more in my own sacred places.

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