List Of Top 50 Igbo Deities (Names and Powers) – The Igbo’s origins, like those of many other West African ethnic groupings, are hidden in legend. The greatest available historical data yields two opposing perspectives. According to one set of historians, including Elizabeth Isichei, the Igbo are indigenous to the region of southern Nigeria where the bulk of them currently dwell. A second group, however, maintains that the Igbo, as well as several ethnic groups in Zimbabwe, are derived from Jews, citing linguistic and even genetic evidence to support their assertions. J. B. Danquah and Jacob U. Egharevba draw parallels between Igbo and Hebrew traditions and religious rites, such as the circumcision of the male infant eight days after birth, marriage and inheritance systems, and notions about ceremonial purity and impurity.
The List Of Top 50 Igbo Deities (Names and Powers)
A lofty deity called Chukwu (or Chi Ukwu) transcends the variety of gods in Igbo theology, and his name might be translated as “The Great Spirit.” Chukwu, according to Igbo religionists, is an all-powerful, all-knowing divinity who created the world as well as all the minor gods that comprise the Igbo pantheon. Chukwu is not thought to have human characteristics, although he is frequently referred to as “He.” Chukwu is said to dwell the sky and is frequently connected with the Sun, which is thought to represent God’s “eye” on Earth. Chukwu’s key bond with the Sun is reflected in the people’s cosmology and traditional prayers. “Among the Igbo of Awka, a man who gets at a moment in his life when he wants to put up a shrine to his chi [personal deity] will ask a priest to undertake a ceremony of bringing down the spirit from the face of the Sun at sunrise,” writes Chinua Achebe. Following that, it is physically represented in the man’s compound until the day of his death, when the shrine must be dismantled.” In many prayers, the Sun is referred to as “The Face of God,” “The Great Carrier of Sacrifice to the Almighty,” and “The Single Eye of God,” like in Achebe’s Anthills of the Savannah (1987) prayer:
Chukwu is also known as Chineke, a shortened form of “Chi-na-eke,” the God who produces, implying that Chukwu is the spiritual and physical creator of Nature.
In contrast to Chukwu as a masculine deity linked with the Sun, the Moon is feminine and strongly related with the goddess Ala—Earth. Chukwu is in charge of creation, whereas Ala is in charge of preserving what has been produced. Ala is the enforcement of the law, whereas Chukwu is the provider of moral law. Ala is also the “womb,” holding, nurturing, and renewing as required. The agrarian Igbo worship her as the “mother” of all crops. They perform days of ceremonial rites before planting and harvest to please Ala so she will encourage the growth of good crops or to thank her for making the plentiful harvest possible. When there is a drought or other agricultural calamity, the people go through religious practices to figure out how they may have upset Ala and led her to withhold her favors. After looking for human misconduct, they explore scientific causes for crop failures. When religious and natural explanations disagree, legendary narratives are utilized to reconcile the differences.
Duality. Chukwu and Ala are believed to reflect the gender differences and complementarity in Igbo culture. Minor gods are also subject to the duality principle. Some of these deities are “man” gods linked with masculine rituals like circumcision or male-dominated occupations like iron smithing and carving. Others include “female” deities, such as those linked with guarding vegetable sellers and textile weavers—both of which were traditionally controlled by women in the Igbo traditional culture.
Agbala is Ala’s priestess. She is in responsible of implementing punishments against those who do behaviors that the society considers immoral, in addition to directing the community’s ceremonial offerings to Ala. (such as murder, witchcraft, and perjury). These and related offenses are considered sins against the earth goddess.
Chi, the spirit believed to dwell each human, is the most significant god in the Igbo theological worldview after Chukwu and Ala. Chi is thought to be the fractal depiction of Chukwu that each human has. Chukwu can be interpreted as both “The Great Chi” and “The Great Spirit.” Because everyone’s Chi is a direct descendant of the Great God, everyone shares the divine personality. The Ikenga, a statue that any adult may install in his or her compound as a reminder that in everyday thought and deed, one’s soul must always be lifted toward God, symbolizes this involvement in the divine. Chi is sometimes referred to as a person’s “soul,” but it is also probable that the right translation is “mind,” because another term, obi, better approximates the English sense of “soul.”
Mmo spirits may not necessarily belong to someone in particular, but are said to travel around either protecting or causing mischief to humans. Often, wandering ghosts are linked to deceased relatives whose funerals were either not properly done or were completely ignored. The mmo have no option but to float in limbo between this world and the next, unable to “cross over” to ani mmo, the country of the dead or the land of the spirits. These homeless spirits are either kind or wicked, depending on their personalities while they inhabited human bodies, but they are always sad due of their traveling status. Chukwu may also send unpleasant spirits to chastise or torture those who have performed wicked actions, or to defend the innocent. A ghost can also find a “home” by possessing or inhabiting a nonhuman entity like a tree, serpent, or river. Because of this view, some researchers have labeled Igbo traditional religion as animistic.
Mbari, the supernatural protector of a ritual type of art vital to Igbo religious existence, is closely related with Ala. The deity Mbari, who is regarded a close friend, if not a heavenly messenger or personal part of Ala, is best described by explaining the creative rite that bears her name. Unlike other religious ceremonies related with battle or hunting, Mbari painting is considered a feminine effort. Mbari is a peace ritual and an expression of the love of play, including the satiric and humorous, as well as the love of the beautiful. Mbari is only open to adult Igbo and consists of many months of isolation during which the participants spend all of their time to create artworks. These works may be constructed from wood, linen, or ink, but seldom from clay. The end result is sculptures that illustrate the breadth of each artist’s expertise and imagination: everyday things like tables and chairs, as well as individuals from diverse professions. Indeed, the purpose of Mbari artists appears to be the recreation of an average person’s everyday experience in the larger community. As a result, a Mbari home may include an assortment of things designed to resemble a tiny fictional Igbo community. Mbari’s primary goal is to showcase artists’ abilities, such as their ability for observation and contemplation, as well as their aesthetic sense of the beautiful. After several months of isolation, the Mbari home is offered to the public for viewing. People, like visitors to a museum, are intended to recognize themselves in the artistic—sometimes caricatured—representation of their everyday communal life. Visitors in turn reward the artists with gifts, parties, and accolades. Unlike museums, Mbari dwellings are demolished (or left to degrade) at the end of each season. The divine patron of Mbari is the Earth goddess Ala, who is also the fertility deity. Mbari artists must return to the beginning and replenish their creativity each year because, like the natural cycle, they see art as both highly creative and spontaneous. Thus, it appears that the Igbo appreciated the artist’s spontaneity and technical processes of creating more than the products generated. Some Mbari art pieces, particularly masks, have been saved from destruction and are utilized in ceremonies from year to year.
Amadioha is the Igbo deity of thunder and lightning, similar to the Yoruba god Shango. As a result, he is known as the “Owner of the Sky.” When lightning strikes a person or an item, it is typically interpreted as a sign or “message” from Amadioha. Dibia, or priests, are so tasked with determining what wrong the victim or owner of the thing has committed. A god battling with Amadioha is sometimes thought to have “entered” the person or thing. Amadioha, on the other hand, is thought to be a kind divinity who only becomes aggressive when provoked. Because white is Amadioha’s favored color, a white ram is the chosen sacrifice for him.
Agwu, also known as Agwusi, is an Igbo trickster deity who is related to the Akan god Ananse and the Yoruba god Esu. It is unknown if these deities are masculine or female. Rather, the trickster is said to be capable of being any sex at any time, even both sex at the same time, or neither sex at all. Agwu, respected and feared, is capable of confusing even the most logical thinker. Agwu, on the other hand, can clear any misunderstanding produced by human ignorance, the finite capacity of the human intellect, or the bad conduct of other people or gods. Unparalleled clarity may be obtained if Agwu chooses to protect or “work with” a thinker. But if it pleases the deity to seed confusion in someone’s head, there is little anybody can do about it but work with Agwu to relieve the curse or invent a method of receiving knowledge that overcomes Agwu’s exterior confusion. Dibia, whose success as a diviner is dependent on mental clarity, fears Agwu the most. Dibia are therefore taught ritual offerings to make to Agwu at the start of each divination session. As a result, Agwu is the patron deity of diviners.
Ekwensu, the Igbo Evil Spirit, is feared as much as Chukwu. He is similar to the Devil in other faiths. Possession by Ekwensu can cause a person to commit heinous crimes against Chukwu or mankind. Possession by Ekwensu is a typical explanation when an inexplicable act of evil is perpetrated by someone thought incapable of such a crime. Without condoning the individual’s actions, attributing the roots of such criminal depravity to a superhuman power allows the Igbo to accept that there are some degrees of inhumanity that people cannot achieve on their own—the polar opposite of acts of good that are deemed “miraculous.”
The ancient Greeks were polytheistic, which means they worshiped several gods. Their greatest gods and goddesses dwelt on Mount Olympus, Greece’s tallest mountain, and tales chronicled their lives and acts. Gods frequently interfered actively in the daily lives of mankind in tales. Myths were employed to explain the unknown and, on occasion, to convey a lesson.
Zeus, the king of the gods, for example, carried his favored weapon, the thunderbolt. The ancient Greeks thought that when it rained and there was thunder and lightning, Zeus was expressing his rage.
Homer’s writings contain several accounts concerning how the Greek gods behaved and interacted with humanity. He wrote two epic poems: the Iliad, which described the Trojan War, and the Odyssey, which described the adventures of the hero Odysseus. These two poems have been passed down orally through several generations.
Sacred power manifestations (hierophanies) create foci of meaning, order, worship, and ethics in human religious experience. Humans have long felt that genuine existence is in direct contact with holy force, which is frequently experienced in the form of divine entities. Thus, the ideas and experiences of these goddesses and gods are more existential concerns, circling around the fundamental human problems of existence in this world. The way heavenly entities are conceived and experienced, as well as the specific types, functions, and personalities of divine beings, are determined by the cultural background of the particular group of people.
Gods and goddesses are best suited to polytheistic civilizations, in which the divine truth has not been consolidated into monistic or monotheistic systems. Monistic worldviews retain goddesses and gods as manifestations or emanations of a single divine reality, but a monotheistic worldview absorbs their roles as qualities of the one God or reduces them to assistance such as angels or saints.
This essay will focus on the primary sorts of gods and goddesses in Igbo civilizations, which have been a mystery to younger generations. But first, let’s obtain a good understanding of the Igbo people and their culture.
Igbo Culture and People – Igbo Deities
Igbo, also known as Ibo, people who mostly live in southern Nigeria and speak Igbo, a Benue-Congo branch of the Niger-Congo language family. The Igbo are divided into five cultural groups: northern, southern, western, eastern or Cross River, and northeastern. Prior to European colonialism, the Igbo were not a unified people but instead lived in autonomous local groups. By the mid-twentieth century, however, a strong feeling of ethnic identity had emerged, and the Igbo-dominated Eastern portion of Nigeria attempted to split from Nigeria as the independent republic of Biafra in 1967. The Igbo population had reached 20 million at the turn of the century.
Most Igbo have historically been subsistence farmers, using yams, cassava, and taro as major crops. Corn (maize), melons, okra, pumpkins, and beans are among the other crops grown. Men are mostly responsible for yam production, while women are responsible for other crops. Kinship groupings possess land collectively and make it available to people for cultivation and construction. Some livestock is retained as a source of prestige and to be used in sacrifices. Palm oil and palm kernels are the main exports. Trading, indigenous crafts, and wage labor are also prominent in the Igbo economy, and a high literacy rate has enabled many Igbo to become public officers and company owners in the decades after Nigeria’s independence. It is noteworthy that Igbo women engage in trade and have clout in local politics.
The Igbo, with the exception of the northern communities, reside in rainforest country. The majority of Igbo live in villages with dispersed compounds, however in other locations, communities are tight. The complex is often made up of huts, each of which houses a different family. The settlement was traditionally held by a patrilineage (umunna).
Prior to the arrival of colonial administration, the village group, a federation of communities with an average population of 5,000 people, was the greatest political entity. Members of the group had a common market and gathering site, a tutelary god, and ancestral cults that maintained a common ancestor or set of ancestors history. A council of lineage chiefs and important and affluent individuals wielded power in the village group. These communities tended to create bigger political groupings in the eastern areas, such as centralized kingdoms and states.
Traditional Igbo religion includes belief in a creator deity (Chukwu or Chineke), an earth goddess (Ala), and a plethora of other deities and spirits, as well as ancestors who protect their living offspring. Divination and oracles seek to reveal the will of the deities. Many Igbo are now Christians, with others following a hybrid of Christianity and traditional traditions.
Igbo Culture’s and Igbo Deities
A variety of concerns have arisen throughout scholarly debates over gods and goddesses. One question concerns the relationship between gods and human culture. Even if the goddesses and gods of a particular civilization must represent the values and traditions of that community, clear correspondences between the mythical divine realm and humans cannot be assumed. A society’s emphasis on a mother goddess, for example, does not imply that it was initially a matriarchy.
Myths about gods and goddesses do not appear to be direct representations of human historical events. Simultaneously, thorough examination of the evolving views of heavenly entities may reveal certain aspects of the processes of social change within a specific group of people. A shift in dominance from one god or goddess to another, for example, may indicate the developing authority of a certain group within society, with its mythological concerns. A shift in the role of a specific goddess or god might also represent new wants and worries on the side of the people.
In Igbo culture, there are over a hundred gods, both tiny and huge, however there are nine popular gods (Alusi). The following is a list of gods in Igbo culture:
1. Ala (Ani, Ana):
Ala is a female god of the ground, fertility, creativity, and morality. She is the most revered deity in Igboland. She is the wife of “Amadioha,” the sky deity, who controls power throughout Igboland. Chukwu, the Creator God, created Ala as the first Alusi. Her Igbo name literally translates to “Ground,” indicating her control over the soil and her status as the ground itself. As Ala herself, every earth is regarded ‘Holy soil.’
The water that flows in and out of her symbolizes the source of life and fertility that she provides. Ala is attributed for increasing land production through human fecundity. Ala governs over the underworld in Odinani, where the departed ancestors are held in her womb. It is thought that the dead and living coexist in her stomach. The serpent is one of Ala’s messengers. Ala, as the goddess of morality, judges human activities and is in charge of Igbo law and traditions known as Omenala. Taboos and crimes committed by Igbo communities that violate the Ala norm are referred to as ns Ala.
The python (Igbo: éké), Ala’s messenger and living agent on Earth, is greatly worshipped in many Igbo societies. Ala is frequently shown in art as a royal woman seated on a throne, surrounded by her family. In the past, such figures took the shape of life-size mud sculptures in Mbari, or unique celebratory temples devoted to the deity.
Ala is in charge of preserving what has been created. Ala is the enforcement of the law, whereas Chukwu is the provider of moral law. Ala is also the “womb,” holding, nurturing, and renewing as required. In Igbo tradition, Chukwu and Ala are intended to reflect the differences and complements between the sexes.
Minor gods are also subject to the duality principle. Some of these deities are “man” gods linked with masculine rituals like circumcision or male-dominated occupations like iron smithing and carving. Others are “female” deities, such as those linked with guarding vegetable dealers and textile weavers – occupations that were traditionally dominated by women in the Igbo traditional culture.
The God of Thunder and Lightning is Amadioha. Kalu Akanu, Kamalu, Kamanu, and Ofufe are some of his other names. Amadioha means “free will of the people,” and he represents the people’s collective will. Amadioha is one of the most well-known Igbo Alusi. He is frequently linked with Anyanwu, the Sun God. His day is Afo, the second market day of the four-day Igbo week. His skin tone is red, and he represents a white ram. He is the thunder/lightning god of the Igbo people.
As a result, he is known as the “Owner of the Sky.” Amadioha is thought to be a peaceful divinity who only becomes aggressive when provoked. Amadioha is best famous for being a deity of justice. He communicates with thunder and strikes with lightning.
He summons thunder and lightning by hurling “thunderstones” into the soil. “Amadioha magbukwa gi” – You will be punished by Amadioha. Amadioha punishes those who are found guilty by either lightning (which leaves a black mark on the forehead) or a swarm of bees.
The victim’s possessions is frequently stolen by the priests of Amadioha, and the body and victim are left unburied and unmourned because the punishment is deemed just from God. Oaths are frequently pledged to him, and if broken, can result in death.
Amadioha can only be appeased by transferring the curse to a live goat and releasing it outside the community’s borders. [Scapegoat] The ram is a popular sacrifice for him. Umuamadi, which translates to “children of Amadioha,” are the priestly clan of Amadioha.
Amadioha is a god of love, peace, and unity who is prayed to for crop growth, children in the family, and generosity. Amadioha is also regarded as a creation god in certain cultures.
He created humans by sending a bolt of lightning down to hit a silk cotton tree, which split and revealed a man and a woman. Amadioha is frequently shown as the husband of Ani, the Earth mother.
While Ani is the lawmaker in Igbo culture (known as Odinani), Amadioha is the enforcer and defender of the law. According to certain Igbo legends, the couple were the first Alusi created by Chukwu. Mbari dwellings are frequently dedicated to the two.
An Alusi with horns. Ikenga (“place of strength”) is one of the Igbo people’s most potent symbols and the most frequent cultural relic. It is usually maintained, kept, or owned by males of good repute and integrity in society, with the exception of a few women.
It is made up of a person’s Chi (personal god), Ndichie (ancestors), Ikenga (right hand), ike (power), and spiritual activation via prayer and sacrifice. There are three sorts of personal shrine images among the Isoko:
Oma signifies the “spirit twin” who lives in the other world; Obo represents the right hand and personal work; and lvri indicates personal drive. The earliest Ikenga notion is the two-faced Ikenga.
It is a two-faced Time god, with one face staring at the previous year and the other at the new year. This is the foundation of the most ancient Igbo calendar. It is known as Ikenga owa ota, the deity of beginnings.
5. Agwu Nsi:
is the God of health, divination, and healers. He is utilized to comprehend good and bad, health and illness, riches and poverty, as well as fortune and misfortune. Agwu is a trickster alusi, which means he may be either sex or neither sex at any time.
Agwu, respected and feared, is capable of confusing even the most logical thinker. Agwu, on the other hand, can clear any misunderstanding produced by human foolishness, the finite capacity of the human intellect, or the bad conduct of other people or gods.
Unparalleled clarity may be obtained if Agwu chooses to protect or “work with” a thinker. But if the deity wishes to sow confusion in someone’s head, there is little anybody can do about it — except work with Agwu to lift the curse or invent a method of receiving knowledge that overcomes the exterior confusion produced by Agwu. Dibia, whose success as diviners is dependent on mental clarity, fears Agwu the most.
Dibia are therefore taught ritual offerings to make to Agwu at the start of each divination session.
Every four years, a masquerade is held in Igwekala during the month of December. It is a feared and revered divinity in Igbo nation, as no one can approach it once it has entered the society. Its shrine is located in Umunoha, an Imo state town near Owerri.
Anyanwu is said to live in the Sun. Anyanwu translates as “Sun’s Eye” (Anya = Eye, Anwu = Light or Sun). Some people nickname her Anya Oku, which means “Eyes of Fire” or “Eyes of Light.” She is a dreamer, a messenger, and a worker. Anyanwu wields two staffs that represent Fire and Light. Anyanwu was regarded as the ideal representation of a human being.
8. Njoku Ji:
In Ala Igbo, this is the protector deity of yam. Rituals were performed in numerous regions of Igbo nation in honor of the goddess of yams, also known as ifejioku. She is prayed to for increased output throughout the growing season.
Children who pledged themselves to this goddess were known as Njoku, and they were supposed to flourish in life. The Ahanjoku celebration occurs a full moon before the new yam festival.
is the River Goddess of Nnobi in Anambra State. Idemili is also known as Eke Mili, which translates as “Sea Python.” According to legend, when a kid is born in Idemili, the short python creeps to the spot where the newborn is kept and harmlessly wraps around the child, much to the delight of the child’s parents.
It is stated that the snake’s visit to people’s houses might imply a variety of things since the snake is thought to have the ability to bring either good or ill news. For example, if a noble person is going to die, a python might visit a relative of the person by dying in the person’s home.
Its shrine is located in that community and is one of the oldest in Igbo territory. It is a hidden glow, and python worship (eke) occurs. As a result, killing pythons in that region is prohibited.
A traditional Death god whose name means “one who murders at night.” His title already describes his functions. He executes his victims at night. His victims include criminals and individuals who have broken an unfathomable taboo. He is Ekwunsu’s buddy. There has been some disagreement on whether Ogbunabali is a divinity. It is stated that the history of this god began with two brothers named OGBUM-NU-ABALI and their mother GAD.
EKWENSU is a Trickster, a God of War, and an Alusi (Deity) of Bargains. Ekwensu, the Igbo Evil Spirit, is feared as much as Chukwu. He is similar to the Devil in other faiths.
Because white European missionaries who invaded our area misunderstood Ekwensu for Satan, many people confuse him for Ajo Mmuo (Devil or Evil Spirit).
When they couldn’t beat us, they wondered what type of strength our forefathers possessed that killed their British troops when the Igbo refused to surrender and be colonized by them.
They could only cheat and defeat us once the missionaries vilified it and our people destroyed it. Ekwensu is the father of all magics, and he is known as the Tortoise because of his complicated lifestyle and crafty methods.
When he’s at battle, he appears jovial and laughs a lot. He enjoys violating norms, bragging, and fooling both people and gods. Because of his ferocious retribution. Ekwensu is feared and shunned, and is only called when the situation becomes too much for the people to manage. He does not create hurt, suffering, or problems to anyone like Ajo mmuo.
However, ownership by Ekwensu might cause a person to commit heinous crimes against Chukwu or mankind. Possession by Ekwensu is a typical explanation when an inexplicable act of evil is perpetrated by someone thought incapable of such a crime.
Without excusing the individual’s actions, attributing the origins of such criminal depravity to a superhuman power allows the Igbo to acknowledge that there are some levels of inhumanity that most humans cannot achieve on their own, which is the polar opposite of acts of good that are considered “miraculous.” Ogbunabali is his companion.
Chi, the spirit believed to dwell each human, is the most significant divinity after Chukwu and Ala. Chi is thought to be the fractal depiction of Chukwu that each human has. Chukwu can be interpreted as both “The Great Chi” and “The Great Spirit.” Because everyone’s Chi is a direct descendant of the Great God, everyone shares the divine personality.
The Ikenga, a statue that any adult may install in his or her compound as a reminder that in everyday thought and deed, one’s soul must always be lifted toward God, symbolizes this involvement in the divine. Chi is sometimes referred to as a person’s “soul,” but it is also probable that the right translation is “mind,” because another term, obi, better approximates the English sense of “soul.”
Chukwu. Chukwu (or Chi Ukwu), whose name translates as “The Great Spirit,” is a lofty divinity who transcends the multitude of gods. Chukwu is an all-powerful, all-knowing divinity who created the universe as well as all of the minor gods that comprise the Igbo pantheon.
Chukwu is not thought to have human characteristics, although he is frequently referred to as “He.” Chukwu is said to dwell the sky and is frequently connected with the Sun, which is thought to represent God’s “eye” on Earth.
Chukwu’s key bond with the Sun is reflected in the people’s cosmology and traditional prayers. “Among the Igbo of Awka, a man who gets at a moment in his life when he wants to put up a shrine to his chi [personal deity] will ask a priest to undertake a ceremony of bringing down the spirit from the face of the Sun at sunrise,” writes Chinua Achebe.
Following that, it is physically represented in the man’s compound until the day of his death, when the shrine must be dismantled.” The Sun is referred to be “The Face of God,” “The Great Carrier of Sacrifice to the Almighty,” and “The Single Eye of God” in numerous prayers.
Chukwu is also known as Chineke, a shortened form of “Chi-na-eke,” the God who produces, implying that Chukwu is the spiritual and physical creator of Nature. Chukwu arose in the late 1600s, following the establishment of Arochukwu.
Chukwu was initially worshiped by the Aro and their immediate neighbors, but the notion quickly spread across Igboland, and by 1900, Chukwu was well known. However, Chukwu does not necessarily refer to the Aro deity; any superior god might refer to Chukwu — “the Great God.”
Everyone had an idea of Chukwu, but it was never the same god. Prior to that, everyone had their own deity. The God Chukwu was erected in the Ibini Ukpabi Shrine.
Conclusion and Discussions – Igbo Deities
Another difficulty is whether it is feasible to distinguish between “primordial” gods and lesser spirits or deified people, or whether it is conceivable to discern the “original” role of specific goddesses and gods in contrast to additional or accumulated functions. While these distinctions can give useful information, they can also be deceptive. Although some primary duties, such as creator, warrior, or fertility giver, may stand out, a given goddess or deity frequently exhibits a number of functions, and it is impossible to decide which should be regarded the original or primordial. In truth, most supernatural creatures are quite complex and are thought to satisfy people’s needs in a number of ways.
To fully comprehend the proportions of gods and goddesses in diverse cultures across the world, it is necessary to analyze both the cultural history and the morphology of human engagement with what they regarded sacred entities. Historically, all of the many god forms that have evolved must be understood and tied to the cultural places in which they reside. People in each culture select some holy modalities as powerful and effective, and these modalities determine the goddesses and gods as they are experienced and defined in that society.
Even in archaic societies that appear to change very little over extended periods of time, there is always a continuing process of revaluation of the gods and goddesses. The sacred modalities are dynamic, with one form losing prominence or being absorbed by another, while fresh experiences strengthen other forms of the holy. People’s perceptions of the gods and goddesses reflect their social, political, economic, and cultural experiences in a live process.
When analyzing the morphology of goddesses and gods across cultures, the modalities through which the holy is perceived are ingrained in the architecture of nature and human existence. Almost every major fact in human experience has been viewed as the site of a sacred manifestation in one culture or another: sky, earth, sun, moon, mountains, water, hunting, planting, sexuality, washing, birthing, eating, rulership, war, death, and so on. There are certain similar cross-cultural elements in how people throughout the world have imagined gods and goddesses.
Because their power intersects with human existence in the most fundamental and critical aspects of life, humans encounter these divine manifestations in real, compelling forms. The goddesses and gods thus unveiled are thought to possess potent power, personality, and volition. The fact that divine beings have personality and will is rooted in the fact that human existence is related to the sacred pattern created or structured by the will of the gods and goddesses, rather than being aimless and haphazard.