IyaAgba Odu in Igbo Cosmology
Iyagba Odu is the heart of the Oracle of Ifa. Contrary to what many believe there are several stories about her in ethnic groups other than Yoruba. She is found in the Tikar of Cameroon, Edo, Ewe, and more. The Igbo recognize her as the source of their oracle Which is a 4 leg king of Opele system utilizing the Odus like The Edo. What is interesting is the Igbo’s were original inhabitants of Ife in pre Oduduwa times. Also in Ife were the Obatala priests/Obas who were Igbos. When the war with Oduduwa, the founder of Oyo Yorubas, ended, many of the Igbo’s moved to Olokwumi in Igboland. Pierre Verger documents a cosmology between Odu and Obatala in his Iyami work. These things point to a common origin about Odu that is more ancient. Nevertheless, here is a story of Odu in the Igbo tradition. It’s reminiscent of the story of Odu in Ose Yeku where Odu is an elder woman and ready to die and leaves the oracle for her children on Earth.
The excerpt is from John Umeh’s After God is Dibia Volume 1:
“The Igbos have a very interesting history of the origin of Afa Ugili/Akpukpala. There was a very brilliant Igbo lady who made accurate prophecies and inspired utterances and accurately read the minds of God, spirits, ancestors, men and women, stars, planets and all that exists and saw clear and accurate visions of what was, what is, and what will be. Additionally, she heard, with the help of her mystical third ear, what was, what is, and what will be.
She was consulted on all problems which she solved with precision and complete satisfaction. She lived to a very ripe old age, serving humanity and God with her clear vision and uncanny audition. When she finally died, humanity was thrown into a great wailing, chaos and confusion.
A delegation was therefore sent to Chukwu (God) with a request that He kindly send a replacement or make it possible for all to have the vision and audition of the dead wise old lady sage. God consoled the delegates and sent back, through them, His merciful words of consolation to humanity.
He instructed them on how to bury the old, dead divination sage with a promise that an Ugili, sacred tree, will sprout and grow from her head and that its fruits, when they ripe and fall, should have their shells broken into two and arranged four on each of four strings, which when cast and interpreted will tell with accuracy, what was, what is, and what will be.The delegates left home for the human world with the good news, divine words of consolation and instruction on the new divination system that would replace the uncanny vision and audition of the lady sage of divination. God’s instructions were obeyed to the last letter. The result was as promised”