Within every structured and unstructured spirituality, have the concept of reciprocity on a universal level. The idea that to receive you must be willing to give is deeply rooted in every religion and spirituality as a way to create balance.
In other words, Sacrifice means to offer, to give up in total obedience and worship. Sacrifice also is an act of selfless giving and humility to a higher power in other to receive, atone or ward off. Sacrifice can also be defined as the rite of offering a living or a non-living item, object, or life stock to a divinity to maintain, establish or restore a relationship between a deity and a human.
In Igbo cosmological thoughts, we believe in the world of moving forces and all forces play a part to maintain an equilibrium between man and nature. These forces exist to manifest intentions from the source. To create an intention a sacrifice, must have been made to the source to manifest and give the right direction.
One way to achieve this is through “Bloodletting”, which is the sacrifice of live stocks. Our ancestors believed that blood is an essential part of our existence and by definition an important driving force.
Reasons for sacrifice.
Sacrifice in Igbo spiritual and cosmological thought is regarded or seen as a form of acknowledgment. Ndi-Igbo believes in the existence of collective energy or spirits known as “Ezumezu Mmuo”.
This includes an aggregate of Chi, Agwu, Ndi-ichie, Alusi, etc. They exist and perform diverse aligning functions for the betterment of the individual as mandated by Chukwu ( The All-Father). This acknowledgment also extends to the dead or the unseen element of our ancestors, this means the essence of an ancestor remains with us the living as far as they are acknowledged.
This was portrayed in the Mexican movie “COCO”- Day Of The Dead. As part of remembering our ancestral lineage, during Igo-Ofo it’s pertinent to include the names of one’s ancestors. This could have some spiritual significance but it also keeps the memories and names of the dead, which are passed from generation to generation(Family Genealogy).
During celebrations or rituals, blood is given to the members of the family that are deceased as a way to include/acknowledge them in an offering. It’s also important to note, that blood is liquified life in the ancestral world view, hence the offering of blood is symbolic because we have an abundance of it and they the ancestors have a lack of it.
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Activation Of A Sacred Item.
Ndi-Igbo believes in the consecration of energies by giving a physical manifestation to such abstraction, this is known as Okpensi, a vessel of intention. Through blood sacrifice, a vessel can be infused with life (Iwake Okpensi), such that it becomes a beacon to attract, channel, and manifest intentions.
To explain further; during the ritual of Chi, Agwu, Ikenga, or Ofo consecration, originally the effigies or artifacts bought are ordinary wood even though they were carved out from sacred trees. It hasn’t been given a purpose or function.
During the rituals, those artifacts along with other items bought for this ritual would be consecrated and activated using “Uriom Okuko (Chick)”. The use of this Uriom is quite symbolic!
Note there are other forms of activating sacred artifacts or rituals, in some situations a sacred artifact could be activated with just a hot drink, ram, etc.
Clearing Of Path
Ndi-Igbo believes strongly in the concept of reincarnation, we believe that death is not final but a pathway to ascension into Ndi-Ichie No Na Obi Chukwu. With each reincarnation comes the re-entering of a consciousness known as Aka.
Each reincarnation comes with remnants of Karmic debt which need to be cleared upon reincarnation. Most times these debts impede progress and fulfillment. These debts can be owed to a person, deity, family, or self, and until it is cleared the individual would constantly lead an unfulfilled life.
To Ward Off Evil Eye:
Situations such as Amosu, Akaoheli, Uke, etc. are warded off with sacrifices. Most of the sacrificial items used in these situations are predominantly dead items which are usually activated with blood(Lifeforce). This creates a ripple effect, making these malevolent entities or energies benevolent.
Check out this video on dead items used in performing sacrifices.
The concept of sacrifice is highly hinged on give and take, give to receive. Therefore in offering sacrifices to a higher power the rationale is to receive or get an equivalent measure in return.
What determines the success of a sacrifice is usually what the individual gets in return, hence the need to show appreciation to that higher power.
Attitude Towards Sacrifice
Like I said earlier, to give an offering to a higher power requires a great degree of humility and holiness of heart and body, especially while interacting with marine/feminine entities. In Igbo cosmology, these higher powers weigh the state of our hearts and these determine the weight of their response.
Most of them thrive on songs and praise, so before making any offering and supplications, it’s essential to start with praises (Ikponite mmuo). This would make them keen to listen and ready to discuss with you and manifest your intention. Another important thing to note is that these higher powers are particular with their requirements. A deity or entity may require just kola as a form of sacrifice to be given to it and out of pride you offer a cow, this higher power would certainly reject it and punish you for that (Igba-Uchu).
In conclusion, “Sacrifice(Aja) And The Importance of Blood Sacrifice In Igbo Spirituality” is the process of creating intent through giving, a viable means of communication between man and cosmic forces.
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