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Irunmale (Spiritual Entities) of Yoruba Traditional Religion

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Abstract:

The hierarchy inherent in Yoruba pantheon reflects the political ideals and structure of Yoruba. Hence, the Supreme Being (Olodumare) is supremely deferred and cannot be directly approached. Other Spiritual beings/entities/divinities (Irunmale), who are his lieutenants, are ministers, functioning as intermediaries between the Supreme Being and humans. This religious worldview has another significance for modern Yoruba studies: In spite of the domination of Islam and Christianity, this traditional worldview is still prevalent and even pervading the Abrahamic religion. To give a thorough analysis of this religious worldview, this paper examines the similarities and differences between the spiritual entities, the problem of their number, their ontological status and relationship to the Supreme Being (Olodumare). This study will give background knowledge not only to the religious worldview of Yoruba, including their forms of Christianity and Islam, it will also shed light on the political behaviour of an average Yoruba person.

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