13 Popular Gods of Igbo Culture

1. Ala (Ani, Ana): Ala is the female god representing the earth, fertility, creativity and morality. She is the most respected god in igboland. She is considered the wife of “Amadioha”, the sky god and commands authority in Igboland. Ala was the first Alusi created by Chukwu the Creator God. Her name literally translates to ‘Ground’ in the Igbo, denoting her powers over the earth and her status as the ground itself. All ground is considered ‘Holy land’ as it is Ala herself.

The water that flows in and out of her represents the fountain of life and fertility she gives. With human fertility, Ala is credited for the productivity of the land. In Odinani, Ala rules over the underworld which holds the deceased ancestors in her womb. It is believed that in her stomach is were the dead and the living reside. Ala uses the snake as one of Her messengers. As the goddess of morality, Ala is involved in judging human actions and is in charge of Igbo law and customs known as Omenala. Taboos and crimes among Igbo communities that are against the standard of Ala are called nsọ Ala.

2. Amadioha: Amadioha is the God of thunder and lightning. He is also known as Kalu Akanu, Kamalu, Kamanu, Ofufe. Amadioha means “free will of the people” He represents the collective will of the people. Amadioha is among the most popular of Igbo Alusi. He is often associated with Anyanwu, who is the God of the Sun. His day is Afo, which is the second market day of the Igbo four day week. His (skin) color is red, and his symbol is a white ram. He is the Igbo god of thunder/lightning.

He is therefore considered “Owner of the Sky.” Amadioha is presumed to be a gentle deity who gets violent only when provoked. Amadioha is first and foremost known as a god of justice. He speaks through thunder, and he strikes with lightning.

3. Ikenga: Ikenga is a horned Alusi. Ikenga (“place of strength”) is one of the most powerful symbols of the Igbo people and the most common cultural artifact. It is mostly maintained, kept or owned by men and occasionally by women of high reputation and integrity in society.

It comprises someone’s Chi (personal god), his Ndichie (ancestors), Ikenga (as right hand), ike (power) as well as spiritual activation through prayer and sacrifice. Among the Isoko people, there are three types of personal shrine images:
Oma, which represents the “spirit double” that resides in the other world; Obo which symbolizes the right hand and personal endeavor and the lvri which stands for personal determination. The two-faced Ikenga is the oldest concept of Ikenga.

It is a two-faced god of Time, with one face looking at the old year while one face looks at the new year. This is the basis of the oldest and most ancient Igbo calendar. As a god of beginnings, it has the praise name of Ikenga owa ota.

5. Agwu Nsi: is the God of health and divination, and medicine men. He is used to understand good and evil, health, sickness, wealth and poverty, and fortune and misfortune. Agwu is a trickster alusi, The trickster is capable of being either sex at anytime, or neither sex.

Respected and feared, Agwu is capable of sowing confusion in the mind of even the clearest reasoner. Agwu, however, can also clarify confusion, even when it is caused by human stupidity, the finite capacity of the human mind, or the evil actions of other persons or gods.

If it pleases Agwu to protect or “work with” a thinker, unparalleled lucidity may be attained. But if it pleases the god to sow confusion in someone’s mind, there is nothing anyone can do about it — except work with Agwu to lift the curse or devise a technique of information gathering that overcomes the external confusion wrought by Agwu. Agwu is most dreaded by Dibia whose success as diviners depends on clarity of mind.

Dibia are therefore taught ritual sacrifices that they must make to Agwu at the beginning of every divination session.

6. Igwekala: Igwekala is visited every 4 years as a masquerade around the December period. It is a feared and respected deity in Igbo land, as no one can come close to it once it enters the community. Its shrine can be found in Umunoha, a town in Imo state near Owerri.

7. Anyanwu: Anyanwu is a believed to dwell in the Sun. Anyanwu means “Eye of the Sun” (Anya = Eye, Anwu = Light or Sun). Some people call Her Anya Oku meaning Eyes of the Fire or Eye of the Light. She is a messenger, visionary and worker. Anyanwu carries two staffs symbolizing Fire and Light. Anyanwu was seen as the perfect image of what a human should be.

8. Njoku Ji: This is the guardian deity of yam in Ala Igbo. In many parts of Igbo land, rituals were made in honor of the goddess of yams, also known as ifejioku. She is prayed to, for productivity during the farming season.

Children who were dedicated to this goddess were called Njoku, and were expected to be prosperous in life. Ahanjoku festival is celebrated a full moon before the new yam festival.

9. Idemili: Idemili is a River goddess of Nnobi in Anambra state. Idemili is also known as Eke Mili meaning “Python of the Sea”. A story relates that when a child is born in Idemili, the short python crawls to the place where the baby is kept and curls around the child harmlessly to the admiration of the parents of the little child.

It is said that visit of the snake to people’s homes could mean different thing as the snake is said to have the power to bring good or bad tidings. For instance, a noble person is about to pass on, a python could visit a relation of the person by dying in the house of the person.

Its shrine can be found in that community and is one of the oldest shrines in igbo land It is a secret shine & the worship of pythons (eke) happen. Hence the killing of pythons in that area is forbidden.

10. Ogbunabali: Meaning “one who kills at night” is a traditional Death deity. His name has already described his functions He kills his victims at night. His victims are criminals and those who have committed an unspeakable taboo. He is the companion of Ekwunsu. There’s been debate about Ogbunabali being a deity. It’s been said that two brothers who’s name are OGBUM-NU-ABALI , and their mother is GADÀ began the history of this god.

11. Ekwensu: EKWENSU is A God of War, an Alusi (Deity) of Bargains, and a Trickster. Feared as much as Chukwu is respected, Ekwensu is the Igbo Evil Spirit, much like that of the Devil in other religions.

Many people mistake him as Ajo Mmuo (Devill or Evil Spirit) because the white European missionaries that invaded our land mistook Ekwensu as Satan.

When they couldn’t defeat us they tried to know what kind of power our ancestors had that killed their British armies when the Igbo people refuse to surrender and to be colonized by them.

It was after the missionaries demonized it and our people destroyed it that was when they could cheat and defeat us. Ekwensu is the father of all magics, his tricky lifestyle and cunning ways are the reason he is called a Tortoise.

12. Chi Chi: After Chukwu and Ala, the most important divinity is Chi, the spirit believed to inhabit each individual. Chi is said to be the fractal representation of Chukwu that resides in each person. In fact, Chukwu may be translated as “The Great Chi” as well as “The Great Spirit.” Because every person’s Chi descends directly from the Great God, all humans share in the divine character.

This participation in the divine is symbolized in the Ikenga, a statue that every adult may enshrine in his or her compound as a reminder that in everyday thought and action, one’s spirit must constantly be elevated toward God. Some call Chi the “soul” of the person, but it is equally possible that the correct translation is “mind,” because another word, obi, best approximates the English meaning of “soul.”

13. Chukwu: Chukwu Transcending the multiplicity of gods is a high god called Chukwu (or Chi Ukwu), whose name may be translated as “The Great Spirit.” Chukwu is an all-powerful, allknowing divinity, the maker of the cosmos as well as all the minor gods that make up the Igbo pantheon.

Chukwu is not believed to have human attributes, but is often referred to as “He.” Chukwu is believed to inhabit the sky and is often associated with the Sun, which is believed to be God’s “eye” on the Earth.

The central relationship between Chukwu and the Sun is evident in the people’s cosmology and traditional prayers. According to Chinua Achebe, “Among the Igbo of Awka a man who arrives at a point in his life when he needs to set up a shrine to his chi [personal god] will invite a priest to perform a ritual of bringing down the spirit from the face of the Sun at daybreak.

Thereafter, it is represented physically in the man’s compound until the day of his death when the shrine must be destroyed.” In various prayers the Sun is called “The Face of God,” “The Great Carrier of Sacrifice to the Almighty,” and “The Single Eye of God”.

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