Hevioso and Atmospheric Phenomena

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The group of deities known as the thunder pantheon constitutes a duality of which the thunder gods are one term. The general term for this group of gods is So, and the head of it is called Sogbo, an androgynous being living in the sky who produced a number of children. The two eldest were twins, Agbe, a male, and Naete, a female.

Sogbo sent them to rule over the world below, with the sea as their home. Naete and Agbe produced children, one of whom was exiled by his father from the sea because of his penchant for sinking boats. A number of the children reside in lagoons. Other sons are responsible for the rising and falling of the tides, and one of them sometimes causes boats to sink and fishermen to die. Avrekete, a daughter, a messenger between gods and humans, is the repository of the secrets of her parents and therefore guardian of the sea's treasure. Other children of Sogbo live in the heavens and have various functions. One of them controls the nurturing rain; another has control of the temperature and has the capacity to create hailstorms. The voice of yet another can be heard in the thunder. Another draws the moisture from the waters of the sea to create rain. Gbade is the youngest of the children, and he has no particular function. A divine trickster, he does as he pleases and he can be heard in the booming sounds of thunder. More than any of his siblings, he is a killer. Sogbo presented him with Aido-Hwedo, the rainbow serpent, who accompanies Gbade to the earth when someone is to be killed. All of these gods have power to strike humans with lightning.

There is a clear distinction between the sky and the earth. It is the water, the rain that is showered on the earth from the sky, and the return of water to the heavens from the seas, that establishes a linkage between the two realms, providing a tie between humans and the gods. The water is necessary to the prosperity of the people on the earth, but the water is both creative and destructive. That destructiveness is seen in the flooding of the seas and also in the destructive powers of the gods as manifest in their control over the lightning. While Sogbo's children have enormous powers, including the power to destroy, they do not have the facility to give life. Only Sogbo possesses that power. And, even though it appears that she has little to do with the day-to-day activities of humans, she is generous and it is she who is in the end the life-giver. These life-giving qualities of Sogbo are matched by the death-dealing activities of her children, and so a balance is achieved between them. Humans live in a world in which life and death, the sky and the earth, are richly joined by the waters and the rains. See also: Aido -Hwedo, Gu, Mawu, Mawu-Lisa, Sagbata, Sogbo.


Subjects: Religion.

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