She presided over one of the most intriguing of places in a county that has long embraced the unconventional, artistic and alternative.
Loreon Vigne, who died July 15 at home in Geyserville of heart failure at the age of 82, regarded her Isis Oasis Sanctuary as her personal canvas, 10 eclectic acres artistically rendered with an Egyptian theme on which she lavished her creative and spiritual visions and invited others to share it.
It is a cultural and event center, exotic animal sanctuary, inn and retreat center and spiritual home for The Temple of Isis, a legally recognized church honoring the ancient Egyptian goddess Isis, who represented Mother Earth.
“She believed the world had gotten out of balance and the best way to restore this balance was to bring back the worship of the divine feminine. She believed it would bring about a more peaceful and harmonious world, and a more beautiful one,” said Detraci Regula, one of 500 priests and priestesses who have been recognized in the church since Vigne founded it in 1996.
She had a long and deep fascination with Egyptian art and culture, and before her hair grayed, she kept it in a jet black bob like Cleopatra.
“She was like a modern-day Cleopatra, incredibly compelling and always beginning a new project. She continued with that until the day she died,” Regula said.
Always involved in the community, last month she hosted the Geyserville Chamber of Commerce dinner with her usual playful flair that included a surprise snake dancer wrapped in a 20-foot snake.
She frequently welcomed school groups to visit her exotic birds and animals, many of them threatened in the wild, everything from bobcats and servals, to alpacas, emus, macaws and toucans.
It was her devotion to ocelots that prompted her to buy a former Baha’i school site in Geyserville in 1978.
A native New Yorker raised in Southern California, she attended the Kann Institute of Art and the California School of Art. She found herself in North Beach during the beat era and met her then-husband, filmmaker Dion Vigne.
She had long raised ocelots in her San Francisco home. But when the city imposed new regulations against exotic cats, Vigne closed her enamel art studio and fled to the country.
She turned the site into a striking other world with an Egyptian motif that included a pavilion, a vivarium for insects and reptiles, a temple and gallery, as well as a theater and a lodge to provide income to support her spiritual work. It was the site of plays, concerts, weddings, baptisms and family reunions.
“She was always finding ways of making everyday life more beautiful. She thought it was good for the soul, Regula said.
Details of planned celebrations of her life will be posted at isisoasis.us.
Vigne is survived by her sister Caryl Joy Campbell of Hawaii, her nieces Leslie Campbell of San Francisco and Jaime Campbell of New Mexico and her nephew Bruce Campbell, also of Hawaii.
You can reach Staff Writer Meg McConahey at email@example.com or 521-5204.