what are sacred spiritual gardens?
In African philosophy, genuine Spiritual Gardens represent the intermediate point of connection between human and Orisa (Eternal energies created by God). This intermediate point, or physical Orisa, reflects its own accumulated ase’ (eternal energy), as well as the energy of EVERY prayer and offering that has ever been made to it. The Sacred Orisa Gardens at Ola Olu, the only complete Sacred Orisa Gardens in the Western Hemisphere, where literally thousands of ceremonies, ebbos and offerings have taken place, have accumulated the most intense energy vortex within the physical Orisa, allowing your own potent connection and empowerment to take place.
The Two Women Responsible:
Half a lifetime ago, Susanne Wenger dedicated herself to reviving the traditions of the pre-Christian Yoruba gods, “the orisas”, and left Austria to make Nigeria her home. When she arrived, she found traditional culture in shambles, all but destroyed by missionaries who branded it “black magic” or “juju”, words Wenger always detested. Friends paint a picture of a dedicated, tough and far-sighted leader who helped revive a culture thought destroyed by Christian and Muslim evangelists, and secured protection for one of the Yoruba tradition’s most sacred sites To her final days, a then frail 93-year-old artist, with one seeing eye, was a driving force in Osogbo, where she was in charge of the sacred grove, a place where spirits of the river and trees are said to live.
Susanne was a very spiritual and religious person, religious in her acceptance of a different, mystical dimension that is inherent in all that exists. In her own words: "creative thinking and art are not measurable since they are testimony of the truth, and this truth, the only truth, has many faces. Who can count the faces of truth? All religions are ultimately the religion of mankind. Art is ritual."
It was in the early 1990’s that Iya Vassa and Susanne Wenger began an ongoing relationship that continued until Susanne’s death in January 2009. While Vassa was aware of, and in awe of the power, of Wenger’s work, she had embarked upon her own sculpture work for the Sacred Gardens of the Ifa Foundation of North America, Inc. In a world where there truly are no accidents, a mutual friend of both had recently visited Wenger in her home in Osogbo and shown Susanne photographs of Vassa’s Orisa creations. What had been a one sided admiration assumed mutual duality as Susanne was enamored with the creativity and expression of Vassa’s work. In addition to asking her friend to express this to Vassa on his return, she designed, and made, a unique opele (divining chain) for him to take back as both an expression of her appreciation for Vassa’s work, as well as to acknowledge Vassa’s own status as a female Ifa Priest.
As Susanne aged, and Vassa matured, the relationship continued, and increasingly made itself clear in her later works. Today, in a very real way, she feels the responsibility of carrying on the living art as ritual to the Orisa that guide us. The result is the Sacred Orisa Gardens at Olu Olu in Central Florida. A Sacred space for those of any spiritual path to connect with the vibrational reality of the Yoruba Archetypal eternal energies they embody.