💥 Igbo #SummerSolstice = Summer Soul Anyanwu She Be The Eye of The Light: Anyanwu the Feminine version of RA, The sun is one of the most universally revered objects in human history. Just about every culture on the planet honors it for all the different gifts that it brings to our planet, bringing both the light and heat that make life on our planet possible.
For one, our method of keeping time is based on it, as for the majority of human history, our clocks were sundials. Most of our modern calendars (including days of the week ala Sun-day), are based off it, and lot of our major holidays originally started as solar equinox or solstice celebrations (such as Easter and Christmas respectively). Even western astrology focuses on a person’s sun signs. Needless to say, our lives revolve around the sun…literally.
Amongst Ndi Igbo, the Sun was referred to as Anyanwu (An-yan-wew). 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.”
With the multiple appearances of this “all seeing eye”, one question will naturally arise: Exactly whose eye is it and why is it portrayed in that way? The answer will be revealed throughout this post.
The sun is a symbol of both physical and spiritual awakening. In most societies, peoples sleep cycles closely followed that of the sun. They would wake up around the time the sun rose, and go to sleep soon after the sunset. Many plants and animals also follow this trend.As an agriculturalist, I have been taught that the best way to save seeds is to keep them dry and in the dark, as they will germinate (awaken) if exposed to moisture and sunlight.
When spiritual awakening occurs, its usually referred to as enlightenment. If one has a good eye, they will notice that many of the holy men and women throughout history are quite often portrayed with a sun disc behind their head. Even their titles and epithets reveal as much. The Buddha, for example, name literally means “The Awakened One.”
It is no coincidence that Alaigbo (Igboland) was referred to as the land of the rising sun. Many of the most enlightening spiritual teachings and examples in all of Africa had been found in that land in what is now southeastern Nigeria. One place in particular was so highly developed that people considered it to be one of the major cultural epicenters of modern Igbo civilization. This place was known as Agwukwu-Nri
Indigenous Afrikan Spiritual Science ( Spirituality didn’t Start in a Book ) – Haki Kweli Shakur
Anywanu played a very large role in life of the Umunri. “Nri 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 or Chineke (The big God or the Creator God). The Holy Spirit chose its human and nonhuman agents only by their merit. It knew no politics. It transcended religion and culture, and of course, 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.” (Anuobi, Chikodi. Nri Warriors of Peace. Page 210).
Nri 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.” (Anuobi, Chikodi. Nri Warriors of Peace. Page 203-204).
Anyanwu bestows many gifts to 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.
Returning back to the previous examples of the Sun manifested as an eye, it should be clear by now that the eye that is being symbolized is YOUR OWN. It represents YOUR enlightenment, YOUR sight, YOUR vision. This is is reiterated by the usage of a hawk to represent Ra.
ones eyes are their first oracle. For this reason, he said, he was unable to consult Afa Ugili/Akpukpala (divination apparatus) if he were outside, as Agwu (the Igbo spirit of divination) would be working primarily through his eyes. In fact, in his book, After God Is Dibia Vol. 1, legendary Dibia John Umeh proclaims that “As Ose Obala, Agwu is the God of Light, Anwu, whose eye is the Sun (Anyanwu). ..As the God of Light, Agwu is an integral part of Ose Ora (Uche Chukwu), the universal Consciousness of God…which is the completeness awareness of what was, what is, and what will be…..God of Light whose blze or Divine Light disperses and/or extinguishes danger, evil or darkness.” (Page 114).
If you wish to gain access to the infinite wisdom, joy and love of Anyanwu, you can start by greeting her every morning as our ancestors used to do. If you decide to do so, ask yourself: Are you ready to be awakened?
Reference Source Igbo Shrine Omenka Egwuatu Nwa-Ikenga
The Igbo Nation – Introduction
The Igbo, like every other people, have observed their environment and interacted with it.
The Igbo have had to live in very close proximity and intimacy with nature.
In order to understand the Igbo world, it necessary to accept that the Igbo recognize three types of reality, namely, the physical, the spiritual and the abstract.
The Igbo mystical writing
Source: J.A. Umeh, After God is dibia, 1999
Uli sacred writing at Eha-Alumona of Nsukka by a 90 year old lady who learnt it from her own mother.
Onwa Zenke (the shining moon)
The Igbo sign of life.
Other moons, planets, stars, etc are also depicted.
Some of these mystical symbolism adorn the walls of houses as shown in these pictures.
Source: G.E.K. Ofomata, A survey of the Igbo Nation, AFP, 2002.
The Sun in the Igbo cosmology
The supreme being Chukwu is commonly identified with the sun (Anyanwu) so that the supreme being is often described as Anyanwu Eze Chukwu Okike (The sun, the Lord God, the creator).
In Nsukka area, almost every household has a shrine of anyanwu in his compund as a round pottery dish sunk into the ground bottom upwards at the base of an ogbu tree.
There can be little doubt that this pottery dish is used as representing the sun’s disc.
Offerings are usually made at sunrise or sunset.
Among the Jukun of the Benue basin there is the same partial identification of the Sun with the Supreme Being.
And it is noteworthy that the Jukun words for Sun and Supreme Being viz: Nyunu (Anu) and Chi-do embody the same roots as the terms used by the Ibo.
In the Okpoto groups the Sun is called Enu and the Sun-god Olenu.
In some cases the anyanwu (sun-god) shrine is a mound of sand. And among the Jukun today the Sun-altars are two mounds of sand.
A Village shrine in Nsude, Enugu State of Nigeria. Photograph was taken in the 1930s by the late G.I. Jones. (Source: Museum of Archeology and Anthropolgy, University of Cambridge.)
Jones posing in front of the village shrine in Nsude. (Source: Museum of Archeology and Anthropolgy, University of Cambridge.)
The Igbo lunar calendar
In many places in this region, the general life of the community still largely hinges on the lunar calendar and the people look up to the king-priests who determined agricultural seasons based on the lunar calendar.
In Nsukka area these priests known as Atama are often the most influential men in the towns as the keepers of the calendar for their communities.
These priests examined the motions of the sun, moon and planets, in some cases, to come up with the calendar.
Each lunar month has a name, a ritual associated with it and also an economic activity specially connected with it.
Each moon (month) has seven market weeks (Izu asaa) and each izu is four days, that is Eke, Oye (Orie), Afor and Nkwo.
The Igbo year consists of twelve lunar months (354 days) and as this falls short of the solar year by eleven days it is necessary to add a thirteenth month from time to time so as to make the year correspond with the seasons.
The thirteenth month, when introduced is usually a “nameless”, “void” or “lost” month.
The calendar of Umuawulu (Anambra State) is as shown.
|Onwa Mvu (I)||Ogugu Aho||Afor before moon appears (May/June)|
|Onwa Ibo (II)||Onwa Ibo feast||Afor (June)|
|Onwa ito (III)||Akwali, Iba na Akwu-Ozo||(July)|
|Onwa Ano (IV)||Ikpa unwu||(August)|
|Onwa Ise (V)||Fejioku, Okike onwa ise||Oye, Eke (September)|
|Onwa Ishi (VI)||Nshi ji, Ikpo ngu||Afor, Oye (October)|
|Onwa Isa (VII)||Mgba ajana||Nkwo (November)|
|Onwa Asato (VIII)||Okike onwa asato||Eke (izu ise onwa) (Dec.)|
|Onwa Iteghete (IX)||Olili Onwa teghete (women feast)||Afor (izu n’ato onwa) (Jan.)|
|Onwa ili (X)||Okpukpo oye feast||Oye (izu n’ato onwa) (Feb.)|
|Di Okpala onwa ili (XI)||Obele ede (Women feast)||Eke (March)|
|Onwa Uwhoro I (XII)||Nnukwu ede||Afor (April)|
|Onwa Uwhoro II (XIII)||Nnukwu ede||Afor (May)|
The yam-planting controls the timing of all festivals in Igboland.
In the Umuawulu calendar, for example, Onwa mvu (first moon) is the beginning of the farming season for the community. It must be properly synchronised with the coming of the rains, or else the whole clan would be ruined for the year.
Approximate period for onset and end of rainy season
In the old Nsukka Division, the Attama Ugwu-Eka of Amube (Enugwu-Ezike) is reputed as the most note-worthy attama in the area.
As the keeper of the calendar in the parts of the district, he worked in conjunction with the rain-maker (Onyishi Igwe of Iheaka) to whom he gave secret instructions as to the date at which rain-producing or rain-stopping rites might be performed with a reasonable chance of success.