This is the concluding part of the Igbo peoples theological spirituality.
Alusi of bargains, chaos, and change.
Ekwensu was a Trickster God (Alusi) of the Igbo people who served as the Alusi or God of Bargains. Crafty at trade and negotiations, he was often invoked for guidance in difficult mercantile situations. Like most Trickster Gods, the deity was a force of Chaos and Change, thus in his more violent aspects, Ekwensu was also revered as a God of War and Victory who ruled over the wicked spirits and the chaotic forces of nature. His companion was Death. With the advent of Christianity, the more beneficent aspects of the deity were supplanted by missionaries who came to misrepresent Ekwensu as Satan.
He was the testing force of Chukwu, and along with Ani the Earth goddess, and Igwe, the Sky God, make up the three highest Alusi’s of the ancient Igbo people. Ekwensu is also the Igbo word for the Tester.
Chi is the personal spiritual guardian of a person (mmadu). Chi as a personal providence is a divine agent assigned to each human (also call mmadu) from cradle to the coffin. Chukwu will assign ones Chi before and at the time of birth and which remain with the person for the rest of his/her lives on Earth (Uwa). Chi simply means an Arushi (supernatural being) that is assigned to a human being for care, guardians and providence; which remain with a person till the end of his or her lives on Earth. Unlike Chukwu that is genderless, Chi can take either a famine or masculine. It is an ocean Chukwu’s divine love that takes form on the lower world. It is the sparks of Chukwu and the right of any Mmadu in the main stream.
Chi determines a person’s successes, misfortunes and failures throughout his life time. It serves as an intermediary between mmadu and Chukwu. The Igbo believe that their success in life is determined by their Chi, and that no man can rise past the greatness of his or her own Chi. In this respect, a person’s Chi is analogous to the concept of a guardian angel in Western Christianity, the demon of Greek myth, and the genius of Roman myth.
To survive spiritually, one must establish a special relationship between him and his godly guardian. This places the human person at the forefront of interlinked activities that involve other cosmic forces. But not so fast: He who walks before his godly guardian runs the race of his life (‘Onye buru chi ya uzo, ogbagbue onwe ya n’oso’).
The Igbo know that the Almighty Chukwu (God) cannot be manipulated in any way. Our lot is etched on the palm of our hands as destiny. You can’t decode it but you can derail it. Chi; the personal godly guardian, can be coerced to help here:‘onye kwe chi ya ekwe’(whoever believeth, achieveth).
Chi as the lower force of Chukwu is the only means through which one can get connected. One spiritual law here is that“no one reaches Chukwu directly or gets favor directly from the same supreme force except through Chi”. In this sense, dictation ones Chi marks the beginning of the person’s spiritual journey on Earth. This is one of the major practices of the Igbo people.
Many of the times is people receiving prophesy that the major cause of their failure is a spirit of their home town. This is not a general spirit for everybody but rather one’s personal Chi. If you receive such a prophesy, it means that Ọdịnala is calling you of which to some people, it is a problem. The only solution to such problem is to dictate your personal providence, Chi; identify it by name and know what the spirit want and how to placate/negotiate with it.
This may be difficult if the Dibias (priest in Ọdịnala) are not there. The Dibia can through divination identify a person’s Chi and give more idea on how to placate it. For such spiritual purposes, please visit any of the real temples of Ọdịnala eg Ukoma/Duruojikeeme Temple, Umunumo Amandugba, Isu, LGA, Imo State, Nigeria. There are many other temples around Igboland and diaspora.Inouwa
Inouwa or Ilouwa is the Igbo belief in reincarnation in their mythology, which translates to English as to come back to the world. Reincarnation is believed to occur between immediate and extended family and sometimes the person who is reincarnated notifies the family, before their death, who they will come back to the world reincarnated.
Hence relatives identify the reincarnated ancestor by checking the newborn for body markings/birthmarks or physical features the ancestor had. Statements as well as the behavior of the baby similar to the deceased ancestor is made to confirm the identity of who the child was in their past life. Oracles can also confirm the identity of the baby in their past life.
Ọdịnala spirituality is the concept of ‘life after life’. There are two cycles of life here. One cycle of this life is on earth while the other is in the spiritual world i.e. the other side of the realm. There are also two major calls in these cycles:
(a). The inner call (which is to co-work with Chukwu in the spiritual world) and
(b). The outer call (which is your destiny).
The final goal in Ọdịnala is anchored on answering the two calls once and for all in this life time with no too much hassle. Upon dictation of our personal providence (Chi), we are on our ways to our destiny (akalaaka).
Actualizing ones destiny entails relating spirituality to humanity on Earth, thus answering the first call. The pattern of life chosen after meeting your destiny point will determine your level of acceptability after death as an ichie (a hallowed ancestor spirit or saint) in the spiritual world. In this case those who did good things on earth after meeting their destiny point; respect the laws of the land (iwu ala); died at ripened age and buried according to the traditions of the Igbo people are usually accepted in the spiritual world to answer the final call.
Mmuo is the spirit of ancestors who lived, died, and moved on to the great unknown, the other side of the realm. Hence, mmadu (human beings) must die to become mmuo (spirit being). If a man was good while alive, upon his departure he could become an ichie or nna-mmuo a hallowed ancestor spirit or a saint. Ancestor spirits are more commonly known by the collective term”Ndiichie.”
A respected, living elder can therefore be called ichie—a living saint. Ndiichie is also used for a group of accomplished and distinguished elders who uphold the morals of the society, dispense unquestionable justice, and preserve the culture of the community.
A woman who has lived a distinguished life becomes nne-mmuo. Those who have lived horrible lives, and those who committed unpardonable sins (ajo njo) or alu (abomination) against Ani — the Earth Deity, become ajo mmuo (evil spirits). The male ajo mmuo could be akaliogoli (a roguish spirit); the female counterpart could become either a mermaid (owummiri) or a bloodsucking amaosu (vampire) or some other gender-specificevil spirit. Some mmuo are so restless they come back to be born-again (ogbanje), not to make amends but to torment a mother, her family, and the community. [This must not be confused with the desired and celebrated”inouwa”or reincarnation.]
Alusi of yams
Njoku Ji is the guardian deity of the yam for the Igbo people of west Africa. In parts of Igboland there are still annual rituals in honor of the yam deity known as Ifejioku, in some parts children who were dedicated to the service of the deity were named Njoku. As adults such children were expected to become prosperous yam farmers which made them noble.
In Igbo mythology, Ahia Njoku, also known as Ifejioku, Aha Njoku, is a goddess worshipped by the Igbo people of west Africa. She is responsible for yams, which is the most important food amongst the Igbo people.
Uwa is our world, or “Mother Nature. This is the world we live in, the visible universe that directly impacts our life. Uwa is made up of two distinct parts: Igwe and Ala.
Igweis the firmament, and it constitutes of the following:
Ikuku(the winds)—the totality of winds and airs that hold the earth in place and help to make it everything it is.
Ndichie, are the deceased ancestors deified into Alusi. In Odinani, it is believed that the dead ancestors are invisible members of the community; their role in the community, in conjunction with Ala, is to protect the community from epidemics and strife such as famine.
Alusi of the Sun
Anyanwu (Igbo: Eye of the Sun) is an Igbo deity that is believed to dwell in the sun. Anyanwu was one of the principal spirits for the Igbo, often associated with Agbala, the holy spirit as they both dwelled in the sun. This deity is the perfect image of what a human should be.
Amongst the Igbo people of west Africa, the Sun is referred to as Anyanwu (Anya-anwu). This is a combination of two different words. The first word, anya means eye. The second word, anwu, means light. Together, the phrase reads as“eye of light.”
Anywanu played a very large role in life of the Igbo people. The Igbo people believed that the sun was the dwelling place of Anyanwu (The God of Light and Agbala (The Holy Spirit). They believed Agbala to be the collective spirit of all holy beings (human and nonhuman). The Holy Spirit was a perfect agent of Chi-Ukwu (The Igbo people’s supreme God). The Holy Spirit chose its human and nonhuman agents only by their merit. It knew no politics and it transcend gender. It worked with the humble and truthful. They believed Anyanwu, the Light, to be the symbol of human perfection that all must seek. Anyanwu was perfection and Agbala was entrusted to lead us there.
Nri is said to be responsible for the development of the Ozo title system, the artifacts of Igbo Ukwu, the cult of Ikenga, the creation of the Ofo stick, amongst many other things. The people were so serious about their veneration of Anyanwu, that they would wear it on their faces. This facial scarification was called ichi. In standard Nri scarification, the artist would carve the first line to run from the center of the forehead down to the center of the chin. They would then carve a second line to run across the face, from the right cheek to the left. The second line met the first at the center of the nose, making it a perfect cross. The second cross was drawn with one line running from the left side of the forehead down to the right side of the chin and another line running down the opposite direction. This sequence and pattern was repeated until the pattern looked like the rays of the sun. Altogether, it took sixteen straight lines, eight crosses, for a full face scarification that mirrored the rays of the sun. It was their way of honoring the sun that they worshiped. But it was more than that. It was the face and service and another way of losing one’s facial personality.
Anyanwu bestows many gifts to the Igbo people, one gift is the one of sight. When the sun is out, things that were once in darkness are brought to light. This is meant both in the physical as well as metaphysical sense. Darkness is often used to symbolize something that is hidden or unknown, while light in this sense represents something that has been revealed.
By Ejike Iloduba
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