The small town of Geyserville is both an unlikely location and a perfect one for the Isis Oasis Temple and Sanctuary.
As High Priestess deTraci Regula points out, “We are very precisely lined up with the top of Geyser Peak, and the church was built to make the most of that alignment, perhaps indicating knowledge of a "ley line" or energetic pathway here.”
The land has been considered sacred ground for well over a century, first by the Pomo, then by the Baha’is and now by followers of the Egyptian goddess Isis.
Isis Oasis was founded in 1978 by the late Loreon Vigné and the Temple of Isis was formally recognized as a church in the state of California in 1996. It is dedicated to the goddess Isis, who, in modern terms, equates with Mother Earth. Followers adhere to the principles of the Fellowship of Isis, which was established during the vernal equinox of 1976 at Huntington Castle in Ireland.
In the center of the 10-acre spiritual retreat stands a majestic fir tree that once caught the eye of renowned arborist Luther Burbank. Estimated to be more than 500 years old, the Great Tree has literally saved both the oasis property and the town of Geyserville.
Thanks to its official designation as a heritage tree, protected by Sonoma County Ordinance 3561, it not only spared the oasis from developers; it also prevented the highway from being routed through the center of downtown Geyserville, which had been the original plan.
According to priest and spiritual director Justin Howard, historical letters indicate Pomo women set up birthing huts around this tree. They stored acorn grinding stones on the property until the 1920s and also did basketry there, using sap from the tree to make their baskets watertight.
Today, they hold temple priest and priestess ordination ceremonies under their Great Tree, and it has been the backdrop for many Wine Country weddings. Regula says it is not unusual for couples to return on their future anniversaries to visit.
Before moving north, Lady Loreon, whose husband was beat filmmaker Dion Vigné, had been a successful San Francisco artist and business owner for more than 20 years, specializing in enamels and stained glass.
She also kept a collection of exotic ocelots in her home on Isis Street. Once regulations came out against citizens owning exotic animals within the city and county limits, she began looking for a home in the country rather than part with her beloved cats.
When she found the Geyserville property, she learned it had previously been home to the Baha’i School for more than 70 years. Enthralled by the natural beauty, the huge fir trees and the lovely surroundings, she was particularly drawn to the church building, which she saw as a potential temple.
Don Peron, former assistant to the late San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk and author of the first marijuana legislation, was the actual owner, but the owner of record was naturalist John Muir’s grandniece, Alexis Muir.
As fate would have it, Muir owned a restaurant directly across the street from Lady Loreon’s Victorian home in SOMA, so she literally walked across the street to negotiate the purchase of the soon-to-be Isis Oasis property.
Lady Loreon’s work with the goddess Isis led her to transform the Geyserville property into an Egyptian-themed retreat center dedicated to the divine feminine. Her artistic touch is evident throughout the grounds, from her personally designed and hand-crafted stained-glass windows to the large ankh labyrinth in the garden.
According to Regula, the labyrinth is visible on Google Earth, as well as to airplanes.
Lady Loreon’s beloved ocelots inspired what is now an animal sanctuary, hosting more than 100 animals such as rescued alpacas, goats, emus, servals, parrots and a variety of birds, including two crown head cranes. The sanctuary is a natural extension of Isis in ancient Egypt, who was associated with birds of prey, cows, cats and many other creatures.
In addition to the large Egyptian temple, there is a smaller temple, a large theater and hall and separate paneled heritage houses with Egyptian decor. The small temple is always open for private meditation time, while the grand temple can be rented for larger events.