General Questions about Igbo Culture:
What is the difference between Odinani and Omenala?
Omenala are customs and traditions, and Odinani is the study of the sacred sciences of nature; both inner (human nature) and outer (the world as we know it). In essence, Omenala is what is done, and Odinani is part of the reason why its done.
How old is Odinani?
As old as humanity itself
How many people study it?
More than you think. There are ALOT of people who study Odinani behind closed doors because of the negative stigma that is currently attached to it. But this is rapidly changing as more people are challenging the status quo.
Is it practiced in the Diaspora?
While there are no fully functioning Igbo derived systems in the Diaspora, vestiges of Odinani and Omenala can be found in Haitian Voodoo, Jamaican & Trinidadian Obeah, African American Hoodoo/Rootwork, Cuban Abakua, African American Fraternal Organizations, Carribean Jonkonnu and Carnival festivals, etc
Is Odinani really about Devil worship?
There is no such thing as “The Devil” in Odinani
What about human sacrifice?
Human sacrifice is something that has been observed in all societies in one form or another. There are three main kinds of human sacrifice. The first and most prominent involves sacrifice as a form of capital punishment. The second was the sacrifice of slaves/P.O.W’s at special ceremonies such as royal funerals or festivals. The third type is a ritual murder in order to gain money or power. The last two are condemned by every society on the planet. Omenala condones capital punishment.
What about animal sacrifice?
Omenala typically involves ritual animal sacrifice, but so does Thanksgiving :)
What is the name of God in Odinani?
The word that is used for God in Igbo is Chi. It is a reference to the individual spark of divinity that exists within everyone. The collective spirit of everyone and everything is known as Chukwu. It is a contraction of two words: Chi (God) and Ukwu (great or large in size). Literally, Chi-Ukwu or Chukwu means the Great God or the Great Spirit.
What are the practitioners of Odinani known as?
Ndi Igbo (Igbo people) did not refer to themselves as servants, followers or slaves of any spirit or deity. Instead, they considered themselves to be Umu (children) of the Mmuo (Spirits). Since the Universal Spirit was known as Chukwu, the most appropriate name for practitioners of Odinani would be Umuchukwu (Children of the Great God). A singular form of this would be Nwachukwu (Child of the Great God).
Is there a Heaven or Hell in the Igbo afterlife? What happens after one dies? The first law of thermodynamics states that energy cannot be created or destroyed, it just changes forms. Likewise, there is no such thing as an “afterlife” in Igbo cosmology, as the spirit world is seen as the unseen part of the physical world. When you “die”, you just transition the same way that liquid water makes its transition to water vapor when its heated at a high enough temperature. If one chooses to, you can return to the earth plane, the same way that water vapor condenses to rain. Furthermore, Heaven and Hell are seen as states of mind that are experienced while you are “alive”, rather than after you “die”
Did the Igbo people come from Israel or Egypt? Igbos did not come from Israel or Egypt. The only people that say that they come from Israel are Christians (including the Christians who masquerade as Igbo Jews). Please scroll down to see the section dedicated to this for more information. In regards to the second question, Igboland has been occupied since pre-dynastic times, so no.
What does Igbo cosmology say about the first incarnated family? Did we all come from 1 man & 1 womb-man or were there 7 pairs of incarnated humans?
Questions about Igbos and Jews:
Many statements have been made in recent years about the similarities between Igbo people and the Israelites/Hebrews/Jews of the Bible. What we want to do to correct some of these misconceptions, is to put each statement made about these alleged similarities to the test and see if they hold up:
Does the Igbo traditional diet mirror that of the Levitical Code?
Animals that part of the traditional Igbo diet that explicitly were deemed unclean in Leviticus: snail (ejuna), lizard (ngwele), bush pig (ezi ofia/ohia), crayfish (isha/usha), crab (igbeni, nshiko), beetle (ebe), rabbit (ewi), Animals that part of the traditional Igbo diet that were not named, but would have been deemed unclean by the standards set in Leviticus: squirrel (ssa/osia, uze, ukpepe), dog (nkita), hyena (edi), snake (agwo), porcupine (ebinitu)
SOURCE: “Igbo Traditional Food System: Documentation, Uses and Research Needs” by Onyeka et all (Department of Home Science, Nutrition and Dietetics, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Enugu State, Nigeria)
Do Igbos really circumcise their males after 8 days, just like the Jews do?
The delay (which could range from 1-8 days after birth) of both the circumcision and naming of the child in Igbo culture was done mainly because of the high infant mortality rate in the days before colonialism, and that practice was shared amongst many African groups. There is no covenant whatsoever mentioned when the rite is done, and the foreskin is not even preserved, as it often is in the Jewish rite. Furthermore, the burial of the umbilical cord (Ili Alo) actually has far more significance than circumcision and actually does represent a covenant, between the child and Ala (the Earth deity), as well as the ancestors
Do Igbos have a history of observing the Shabat (Sabbath) Day of Rest?
There was no such thing as a Shabat (Sabbath) in Omenala. In fact, Igbos didn’t even have a 7 day week, they had a 4 day week (comprised of Eke, Orie, Afor, and Nkwo respectively). The “sacred day” not only differed by town, but also was particular to the deity in which a person was dedicated to. For example, devotees of Amadioha or Anyanwu would perform certain rituals on Afor day. Titled men and women also had their respective days of rest and meditation.
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Feel free to ask more questions!