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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Agwu Possession: Belief and Experience in Traditional Igbo Society
Author:Aguwa, Jude C.U.
Geographic term:Nigeria
Subjects:spirit possession
Religion and Witchcraft
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/40341666
Abstract:This paper examines 'agwu' possession among the Igbo of Nigeria. Unlike a mere spirit force, 'agwu' exercises intellectual and volitive faculties and is believed to exert immense influence in human affairs. It is the patron spirit of the 'dibia' (diviner-cum-healer) and the inspirer of people of outstanding talent. Given that 'agwu' was believed to promote human welfare just as much as it could bring about misfortune, the effects it produced in society had wide ramifications. Through examining the issues of sickness as manifested in 'agwu' disturbances and possession this study seeks to appreciate how wide and deep was the 'agwu' influence in traditional society. The first part of the paper deals with the etymological, behavioural, symbolic, and mytho-social dimensions of popular beliefs or conceptualizations concerning 'agwu'. The second part describes the nature of 'agwu' possession. It discusses initial encounters with 'agwu', noting that a host of human experiences may be 'agwu'-related, such as muddling of the mind, inappropriate behaviour, hallucinations, etc., and that professional interpretation of these experiences is important. It also examines the special inspiration of 'agwu' (which provides excellence in several areas of human endeavour); the state of possession of the 'dibia', who is the real victim of possession; 'negative possession'; and the hereditary nature of the office of the 'dibia' and hence of possession. Bibliogr., notes, ref.