Gran Ibo : The Wise Woman Of The Swamp

Gran Ibo : The Wise Woman Of The Swamp March 18, 2018

Ibo ritual mask photo by Jean-Pierre Dalbera. Licensed under CC 2.0

Deep in the damp mystery of the sacred swamp lies a powerful and strong Lwa, Gran Ibo. Revered as the great mother of the Ibo people she teaches how to free yourself from your chains and rise again. She holds a special power over the herbs and plants that are in her healing garden. This is a deity that comes from Africa originally, but who has taken her rightful place in the universe of Haitian Vodou and New Orleans Voodoo.

Gran Ibo, The Roots and Wings of the Ibo People

The story of the Ibo people is legendary. Referred to as the “Flying Ibo People” the tale has it’s roots in both physical, and also spiritual history of Africans in the U.S. In the dissertation Flight: an epic journey in the legend of the flying africans by Darlene D. Thomas we learn “When the Flying Africans (Igbos) rebelled at Dunbar Creek, they invoked the protection of their supreme Great Chior God Chi-ukvm/Chukwu, then collectively marched into the water while still chained together, surrendered their souls to the water Spirit that brought them across the waters, and sang the customary hymn from their native Ibgoland. “The Water Spirit brought. The Water Spirit will take us home. Orimiri Omambala bu anyi bia. Orimiri Omambala Ka nyi ga ejina.”

Reknowned anthropologist Milo Rigaud, who focused on Haitian Vodou,  wrote about Gran Ibo, including this sacred song in his 1953 text Vodou Songs :

Panyen kouvri panyen, nanchon Ibo !

Panyen kouvri panyen, 

Men Panyen, Gran Ibo!  men panyen

Panyen kouvri panyen, nanchon Ibo

Baskets cover baskets Ibo nation!

Baskets cover baskets.

Here are baskets, Gran Ibo! Here are baskets.

Baskets cover baskets Ibo nation!

Some refer to the Ibo story as simply the myth of the “Flying Africans” Here is author Toni Morrison on the subject :



The legends of the Ibo people were strong and persistent. Led by Gran Ibo maybe some of them even made it back home.  Some associate Gran Ibo with Mami Wata, another of the female ancestor spirits of the Ibo people. No matter how you view her, Gran Ibo is a powerful foremother who has something to tell you, if you are strong and patient enough to listen. For ways to honor this and other goddesses please see my book 55 Ways to Connect to Goddess.

As always if you have enjoyed what you read here please remember to share, share, share !

About Lilith Dorsey
Lilith Dorsey M.A. , hails from many magickal traditions, including Celtic, Afro-Caribbean, and Native American spirituality. Her traditional education focused on Plant Science, Anthropology, and Film at the University of R.I, New York University and the University of London, and her magickal training includes numerous initiations in Santeria also known as Lucumi, Haitian Vodoun, and New Orleans Voodoo.Lilith Dorsey is a Voodoo Priestess and in that capacity has been doing successful magick since 1991 for patrons, is editor/publisher of Oshun-African Magickal Quarterly, filmmaker of the experimental documentary Bodies of Water :Voodoo Identity and Tranceformation,’ choreographer/performer for jazz legend Dr. John’s “Night Tripper” Voodoo Show, and author of Voodoo and Afro-Caribbean Paganism, 55 Ways to Connect to Goddess, The African-American Ritual Cookbook, and Love Magic. You can read more about the author here.
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