This video shows the four spiritual elements that make the human soul according to Igbo spirituality. These are Chi, Eke, Mmuo and Onyeuwa. This is important to understand if you’re building a foundation in Odinani (Igbo Cosmology/Spirituality), and to add insight on the nature of the human soul. This video also touches on how to determine your destiny, predestination, how reincarnation works in the Igbo world view, and how these parts work together to make you who you are.
“Otu nne na-amu mana obughi otu chi na eke”
One mother can beget many children but all the children will their own Chi and Eke
Welcome back to the 13 steps. You are now ready to begin step 2. In the first step, you learned the importance of ncheta, which is remembrance. You will see why this is indeed the foundation of all other steps. For this step, we will again return to a common experience that all humans share. You’re not going to remember it but we have this reminder on our bodies. In the months that you were being carried in your mother’s womb, you were literally connected to her, and dependent on her for your sustenance. However, there came a time when you had to leave that place and begin a new type of existence. And so you emerged from her womb, but were still physically connected to her.
However, for you to ever be a fully functional human being, that connection had to be severed. And in doing so, the physical connection to your mother was cut. You are reminded of it every time you look at your stomach and see your belly button. An Igbo custom (ili alo), which was also shared amongst our neighbors, was the burial of a newborn’s umbilical cord & placenta, usually near a newly germinated tree.
This tree, which would be known as nkwu alo, was a child’s tree of life, and had significance for a child’s future. One belief was that the nkwu alo would become fruitful in proportion to the fame of the child’s subsequent achievements as an adult. And during the obi umuaka (hearts of children) rite, the tree is used as a location for teenagers to be reminded of their relationship to Ala (the earth mother), their ancestors and their community.
Well similar to the severing of the physical connection to your mother, another, more traumatic severing happened, but this was not a physical severing, but a mental one. And the question that’s likely running through your mind right now is who or what was that mental separation from? Well the answer to that question is what Igbo people called “Chi na Eke” (Chi and Eke).
If you’re of Igbo descent you may have heard the shortened form “Chineke”, and been told that it means “God the creator.” Unfortunately, this definition came from the Igbos who were among the first to convert to Christianity, who by the way, were usually the people who literally knew and understood the least about Igbo customs and metaphysics. To be honest with you, a series of books would need to be written to do justice to what Chi na Eke are, but for the purposes of this 13 step program, we will define each as the following: Chi is your potential energy, and Eke is your kinetic energy.
“Eke na chi wo otu mana eke siri na chi bia”
“Eke and Chi are one, but Eke came from Chi“
If you recall from your science classes, energy is neither created nor destroyed, but simply changes forms. And two of the major forms that energy can take would be at rest (potential) or in motion (kinetic). According to Igbo belief, it is your Chi that created your physical body, and it remains with you all your life. As a newborn, your connection to both Chi and Eke were still fresh, but as time passed, and without reminders, you began to get out of sync. This explains why as I reminded you in “Step 1”, that as a child you seemed to be more confident and full of life than you probably are now. However, and I cannot stress this enough, this loss of connection was ONLY in your mind.
Unfortunately due to you being born in this time and place, various physical memorials were not setup to remind you of your connection to your Chi na Eke. You likely didn’t have the rite of ili alo done, nor do you have an nkwu alo to perform the obi umuaka rite with. That’s the bad news. However the good news is that you can create your own reminders that suit you. And even better news is that just as you happen to have a Chi na Eke, every other human being you encounter also has one.
What does this mean for you? Well If you have ever played a musical instrument of any kind, you know that something magical happens when multiple instruments are played in harmony. What would happen if you not only got your Chi na Eke in tune with one another, but also found other people who did the same thing? What kind of reality could you create?
Step 2: I recognize that Chi na Eke, the greater power that can help me overcome my negative feelings, resides in myself and in others. I can create my own reality and can do anything within reason, but cannot do it by myself or at the same time.
Action item: Start to write your own personal prayer that says something similar in your own words. Choose a time and place to say it on a daily basis. And stay tuned for step 3, which is coming out on the next new moon, October 16.
Igbo uses the word OBI to describe different things:
Makes you think. Igbos are quite similar to the Greeks. According to the Stoic theory in Ancient Greece, there are eight parts of the soul, the ‘commanding faculty’ [hêgemonikon] or mind, the five senses, voice and (certain aspects of) reproduction. The mind, which is located at the HEART, is a center that controls the other soul-parts as well as the body, and that receives and processes information supplied by the subordinate parts.
So, Igbos similarly see the heart as being the nucleus or control center that directs the soul. Today, popular culture puts a lot of emphasis on the brain and its “fruit”. But we know from science that the brain actually predominantly creates and responds to perception. But what we call soul is a thing more mysterious. It understands and responds to things outside of our knowledge of understanding. Many think it lives on after we (and our brain) die, and carries with it data about who we truly are.
Makes you think… What do you think the soul is?
Ndu bu ahia. Ahia ka anyi biakwuru iz n’elu uwa nke a
“Life is a marketplace. We have come into this great wide world to buy and sell”
Nnọọ (welcome) to the 13 steps. Each step is designed to help you rediscover yourself and remember what you came to offer to the world. A journal is strongly encouraged for you to keep track of your progress through each step.
Step 1: Ncheta
Do you remember what it was like to successfully make your first step as a baby? Well if you do not, let me take you on a trip down memory lane. After being carried in your mother’s womb for 9 moons, you arrived into this world and spent a lot of time being carried in the arms of other people or on the back of your mother.
When you were not being carried, you were crawling on all fours. Despite your situation, you knew intuitively that you had the ability to do more. As you attempted to go from crawling to walking, you fell hundreds of times.Yet, you did not let that deter you. You did not give up. One day, you finally did it…you stood upright and made your first step, and then another, and then another. Soon afterwards, walking was second nature, followed by running.
Flashing forward to today, despite being far more capable, you likely are full of more doubt than when you were a baby. You’ve probably felt crippled by fear, frequently finding yourself frustrated, and wondering what your life purpose is. You’re less likely to step outside of your comfort zone and when you do try new things, you probably quit if you don’t get immediate results. What happened to you? How did you get this way? And most importantly, what can you do to make a change for the better?
The answers to most of these questions can only be answered by you. However, for the last question, I can be of some assistance. If you’ve gotten this far, you’re ready to make another first step. And that entails that recognizing that your negative feelings of powerlessness, of limitation, of self doubt, of aimlessness, etc, are due to beliefs that are not based on reality.
Your false beliefs about yourself are due to your own forgetfulness; due to you not remembering the very things you knew when you came into this world. Maybe you forgot while trying to “fit in”, or maybe you were forced to forget due to religious and educational indoctrination. Regardless of the how or why, the key thing is that you did indeed forget what was real, and as a substitute, took on beliefs that were not. By doing so, you decided to outsource the control of your life to others.
Well today, you can take another first step, which we will call ncheta, which means remembering in Igbo language.
Step 1: I admit that my negative thoughts, feelings & actions have mostly been due to false beliefs about myself, and I aspire to remember the things I already came into this world knowing.
Action item: Seek out people, places or things that trigger some of the happy memories from your childhood. Recall your sense of imagination, your curiosity, and your intuitive confidence. Remember the things you were good at, what brought you joy, as well as some of the things that both scared but intrigued you at the same time. Take the first step and get ready for step two on the next new moon, September 17. Stay blessed.
This month marks the 10 year anniversary since I began this blog, and to celebrate, I’d like to take you on a journey through time, highlighting the past, the present and giving you a glimpse of the future.
A decade ago, I was sitting in class, halfway paying attention to my thermodynamics professor, and halfway counting down until the end of the lecture. All of a sudden something triggered a portion of a dream I had the night before, and things haven’t been the same for me since.
In my dream from the previous night, I had a conversation with a goddess. The figure was tall and very majestic looking. Her face was covered in white and she wore a regal hairstyle. I recognized her as Ala, the earth goddess, and the most important spirit to Igbo people.
In our conversation, I remembered her explaining to me that her symbol was a lozenge. I was surprised by this revelation. I had surmised that the symbol of the Earth mother would have been a circle engulfing a cross. I went home and found out that the lozenge was indeed the symbol of not just Ani…but of the Mother goddess in other parts of the planet.
After that revelation, other symbols began to make sense to me almost intuitively. I was understanding so much so soon that I felt like I’d go crazy if I didn’t share it all. Hence, that was the genesis of Igbocybershrine.
In the time since that first dream, I’ve had several other inspirations, and even managed to inspire others to write down their insights too. When the site first launched, there weren’t many resources for finding authentic information about Igbo culture or spirituality. However, now there are countless videos and articles that are related to these topics, including quite a few that directly or indirectly reference this site.
However, my friends, I must confess that there was a time when I was feeling unmotivated and nearly walked away from it all, but what brought me back was getting a few emails from readers asking me where I was, and letting me know how important this site had been for them. I’ve realized that in the past 10 years, a community has been growing full of over 1000 subscribers and a couple of content creators. The site gets hundreds of views a day and we get messages from people all over the world. This cyber shrine has become the center of a digital village.
One challenge I’ve faced over the years has been presenting practical information that would be relevant to people today, especially those who live outside of a village environment. Most of what I was learning had to do with the beliefs and practices of people who lived in a time and environment that no longer exists. But I would constantly ask how many of the lessons could be applied to the issues of today, and how they could prepare us for tomorrow.
After taking alot of time to reflect, I came up with a framework that I feel can be very beneficial for people today. I decided to base it off the “12 step” programs that I had seen many people utilize to transform their lives for the better. I took time and utilized Igbo principles as well as some of my own spiritual experiences to map out each step. And to keep it in line with Igbo culture, I added an additional step, bringing the total to 13, which is the number of months in the Igbo lunar calendar.
So umu nnem (brothers and sisters), I’d like to invite you to join me as I spend the next lunar year delving into each step, and detailing how you can apply the lessons in your life right here and now. The first step will be covered during the next new moon, which will fall on the 18th of August. Stay tuned and stay blessed!
Who is Oshimmiri? (Nne Mmiri)
This video explains the Arushi of the Waters. What her powers are in the physical and spiritual world, and how to determine if you are a water element.
“First principles is…boil things down to the most fundamental truths…and then reason up from there.” -Elon Musk
But this concept has been in IGBO from the times of our ancestors. In the book After God is Dibia, it is explained that:
I have always found that proverb interesting. Simplified, it means “whatever one agrees to, their ‘Chi’ will move in accordance with.” It is a fascinating proverb that brings to mind question of what exactly the nature of this “chi” is. We have been educated to believe that ancient Igbos practiced a polytheistic religion, and worshipped idols and spirits represented by totems.
I believe “Chi” is not a religious concept, but a concept that has been seen in Western philosophies yet rejected and perverted in the forms presented in traditional philosophies of African cultures. Western culture looks at African cultures through warped, propagandized lenses. Western culture promotes the idea that historically Africans were (barbaric at best and mentally deranged at worst) people who practiced superstitious, fake magical false religions.
“It seems that as a result of Western influences, we have become caricatures of our ancestors.”
I don’t believe “Chi” is a magical statue. I don’t believe “Chi” is the concept of some “god” (in the religious sense of the word) that controls a person’s destiny. I believe that the idea of “Chi” is actually similar to the biopsychological philosophy of the “soul” that Aristotle attempted to describe in 350 BC.
Aristotle referred to it as the psyche, or ψυχή. Sigmund Freud later tried to describe it in psychological terms using the concepts of “id, ego and superego.” Ultimately, these were all bastardizations and an attempt to unspiritualize the idea of the human being. Sigmund Freud actually stole the word and idea of “ego” from Buddhism and then perverted it to some kind of weird concept of a person’s understanding of their identity.
In actuality, Buddhism talks about the “ego” as a subjective identity as characterized by who a person begins to believe they are which is shaped by culture and environment. It goes much deeper than that, but that is the extent to which I will describe it, because this is not a lesson on Buddhism and I, quite frankly, am not a Buddhist. However, that idea is important to understanding “Chi” as I understand it to be.
Neuroscience has shown that a person can be trained to believe ideas that do not serve them. A person can be trained to have habits that can destroy them. A person can be shaped to become anything using the right psychological and scientific tools (eg. propaganda, peer pressure, conditioning, etc.).
I believe, the “Chi” is that part of a person that has a sense of the way a person should go. The Chi directs a person towards things beneficial, but it also changes its course in alignment with a person’s persistence. I think some may think of it as the instinct, but it I think it is a little different from the instinct, because the instinct can be led astray. I think the Chi can not be led astray or suppressed like the instinct, but can be redirected. I think the “Chi” always knows what is best for a person. However, the person himself, his physical body, may be deceived or led into a dangerous path or a trap by his enemies.
You get a sense of it when you consider the Igbo proverb that states: “A na-agba onyeìsì egbe, chi ya a’na ezere ya mgbọ.” (When a blind man is been shoot at, his Chi/personal god avert bullets for him.)
When Westerners, say “trust your instinct” in a way they are talking about your “Chi,” but they do not understand what they are saying. Your “Chi” can not be destroyed by setting your family statue on fire. However, it can be suppressed if you convince yourself (via your brain) that what your enemy (or society) is showing you, is more true that what you know (or things of this nature).
Someone left the following comment for me on the post I mentioned:
“You are mistaken. The western minds understands chi more than you do. The angels you hear in the Bible is what we call chi.. the difference between them and us is that they are trying to do away with old mentality and as such they keep growing. But we are holding on to the old and yet keep complaining that we are been cheated. Political infulence apart, we are too divided within us than we are United within us. The white is as well divided but they have one common interest which we lack.”
He is correct that other nations have a common interest and vision for themselves and African nations currently do not. However, I believe that everything else this person is speaking is from his own conscience, and that this was said with shallow understanding of the Bible, the Chi and world history.
To be continued…
A guest video post via The Medicine Shell: