Wednesday, November 23, 2011


In Yorùbá religion, Sàngó ( also spelled, Sango or Shango, often known as Xangô or Changó in Latin America and the Caribbean, and also known as Jakuta[1]) is perhaps the most popular Orisha; he is a Sky Father, god of thunder and lightning. Sango was a royal ancestor of the Yoruba as he was the third king of the Oyo Kingdom. In the Lukumí (Olokun mi = "my dear one") religion of the Caribbean, Shango is considered the center point of the religion as he represents the Oyo people of West Africa. All the major initiation ceremonies (as performed in Cuba, Puerto Rico and Venezuela for the last few hundred years) are based on the traditional Shango ceremony of Ancient Oyo. This ceremony survived the Middle Passage and is considered to be the most complete to have arrived on Western shores. This variation of the Yoruba initiation ceremony became the basis of all Orisha initiations in the West.

The energy given from this Deity of Thunder is also a major symbol of African resistance against an enslaving European culture. He rules the color red and white; his sacred number is 6; his symbol is the oshe (double-headed axe), which represents swift and balanced justice. His dominance is over male sexuality and human vitality, in general. He is owner of the Bata (3 double-headed drums), as well as the Arts of Music, Dance and Entertainment. Shango can be deduced, in some regards, to be the essence of "strategy" (logic and passion drawn and fashioned precisely to achieve some end).

Shango (or Jakuta)[2] was the third king of Oyo in Yorubaland, and deified after his death; he (along with 14 others) burst forth from the goddess Yemaja's body after her son, Orungan, attempted to rape her for the second time. Of course, there are several stories regarding the birth and parentage of Shango. He is a major character in the divination literature of the Lukumi religion. Stories about Shango's life exemplify some major themes regarding the nature of character and destiny. In one set of stories Shango is the son of Aganju and Obatala. As the story goes, Obatala, the king of the white cloth was travelling and had to cross a river. Aganju, the ferryman and god of fire, refused him passage. Obatala retreated and turned himself into a beautiful woman. He returned to the river and traded his/her body for passage. Shango was the result of this uneasy union. This tension between reason represented by Obatala and fire represented by Aganju would form the foundation of Shango's particular character and nature. In further patakis Shango goes in search of Aganju, his father, and the two of them play out a drama of conflict and resolution that culminates with Shango throwing himself into the fire to prove his lineage. All of the stories regarding Shango revolve around dramatic events such as this one. He has three wives; his favorite (because of her excellent cooking) is Oshun, a river goddess. His other wife, Oba, another river goddess, offered Shango her ear to eat. He scorned her and she became the Oba River, which merges with the Oshun River to form dangerous rapids. Lastly, Oya was Shango's third wife, and stole the secrets of his powerful magic.

The story of Sango from Yorubaland goes like this; Sango was an Alaafin, the king of Oyo. He learnt the secret of magic from the Ibariba, his mother's people. He came back to Oyo and amazed with his ability to make fire come out of his mouth. He thus ruled with fear of his magical powers. He had two war generals, Timi and Gbonka. Timi Agbale Olofa-ina could shoot arrows of fire. Gbonka was equally powerful. Alaafin Sango sensed that he was not safe with these two powerful generals and tried to set them against each other.He sent Gbonka to Ede, another town in Yorubaland, to capture Timi. Gbonka was immune to Timi's fire arrows, because he also mastered the secrets of fire, and put Timi to sleep by chanting incantations. He brought Timi back to Oyo. Sango insisted they fight again in the public square. Gbonka repeated his feat,was again victorious and cut Timi's head off. Gbonka then asked to be burned alive. He was burnt to ashes, and miraculously re-appeared the third day.Gbonka then gave Sango the ultimatum to leave town. Sango sadly left town and committed suicide on the Ayan tree in a place called Koso. His followers quickly rallied and declared that the king did not commit suicide "Oba ko so". They then attacked anybody who said otherwise with lightning. That is why anyone killed by lightning in Yorubaland is buried by Sango worshipers, called Baba-mogba. One of the praise names of Sango is Olukoso- the one who did not hang.

The story of Shango and Oba carries the familiar refrain, "all that glitters is not gold". As has been stated Shango had three wives, Oba, his first and legitimate wife, Oshun, his second wife, and Oya his concubine and the only one of his wives that he made his queen. At that time and in that place they would live in a compound. In that compound, Shango had his own house and each wife had her own house surrounding his. He would then visit his wives in their houses to eat and to sleep with them. Obahow she kept Shango so happy. Oshun, being asked this, was filled with resentment. As children of the first wife, Oba's children would inherit Shango's kingdom. Her children would not have nearly the same status, being born from his concubine. She decided to play a trick on Oba, out of jealousy. She told Oba that many years ago she had cut a small piece of her ear off and dried it. From this she made a powder she would sprinkle on Shango's food. As he ate it, she told Oba, Shango would desire the food and Oshun all the more. Oba, excited by this information, ran home to prepare Shango's amala, his favorite meal. Once it was done she decided that if a little piece of Oshun's ear produced such an effect her whole ear would drive Shango mad with desire for her and he would forget Oshun forever. She sliced off her ear and stirred it into Shango's food. When Shango came to eat he sat down and began eating without looking at his dish. When he finally glanced down he saw an ear floating in the stew. Shango, thinking Oba was trying to poison him, drove her from his house. Oba ran from the compound, crying, and fell to earth to become a river, where she is still worshipped today. As an Orisha she is the patron of matrimony and is said to destroy marriages that abuse either partner.

Veneration of Shango

The religious ritual of Shango was possibly designed in order to help the devotees of Shango gain self-control. Historically, Shango brought prosperity to the Oyo Empire during his reign. After deification, the initiation ceremony dictates that this same prosperity be bestowed upon followers, on a personal level. According to Yoruba and Vodou belief systems, Shango hurls bolts of lightning at the people chosen to be his followers, leaving behind imprints of stone axe blade on the Earth's crust. These blades can be seen easily after heavy rains. Veneration of Shango enables—according to Yoruba belief—a great deal of power and self-control.[citation needed]

Shango altars often contain an often-seen carved figure of a woman holding her bosom as a gift to the god with a single double-blade axe sticking up from her head. The axe symbolizes that this devotee is possessed by Shango. The woman's expression is calm and cool, expressing the qualities she has gained through her faith.

From: Wiki
Shango, Yoruba God of Thunder and Lightning

Shango was the forth king of the ancient Oyo Empire, the West African center of culture and politics for the Yoruba people. The Oyo Empire thrived from the fifteenth century until 1835. Today, there are about 30 million Yoruba people in West Africa, most in Nigeria.

Shango was a powerful king, but some of the people in the Oyo Empire thought he was unfair. When two of his ministers challenged him for the throne, Shango fled into the forest. He wandered in the forest for a long time and eventually hung himself from a tree.

After Shango died, his enemies' houses were set on fire, probably by Shango's friends. But some people believed Shango had gone up into the heavens and was sending fire down to Earth. That’s how Shango became known as the god of thunder and lightning.

As the god of thunder and lightning, Shango has some powerful energy. In artwork he is often depicted with a double ax on his head, the symbol of a thunderbolt, or he is depicted as a fierce ram. Shango’s thunderous energy became a symbol of the resistance of the Yoruba people during the 19th Century when many Yoruba people were taken from Africa to the Americas as slaves.

From: here
Chango (also spelled Shango, Sango, or Xango) is the Spirit of Thunder and Lightning and the wielder of the Double Bladed Axe in the Yoruba pantheon of Orishas or "Seven African Powers". He is said by some to have been the fourth king of the Yorubas.

Chango rules over all forms of fire, including fevers, and is a being of passion and power. He is celebrated for his virility and his risk-taking, for he is a womanizer and an inveterate gambler. Children of Chango are known for their high energy, inventive intelligence, and their pride, which, when they are opposed, can develop into arrogance; they may have strong tempers and are easily provoked to anger. The twin-bladed thunder-axe of Chango can both create and destroy.

Chango's colours are red and white, and his numbers are 4 and 6. Typically his necklace is made by alternating groups of 6 red beads and 6 white beads. The 4th day of each month is a good day to perform the works of Chango, as is any Friday. In addition to the axe, Chango is symbolized by other weapons, including the dagger, the mace, the sword, and the machete -- and he can be represented by a pair of ram's horns.

Offerings to Chango include bitter kola, palm oil, pomegranates, and pumpkins. His favourite foods are cornmeal and okra porridge, bananas, red apples, and red wine. His animals include roosters, rams, bulls, turkeys, and Guinea fowl. Herbs connected with Chango are sarsaparilla, cedar wood, laurel, plantain, rue, and rose of Jericho.

The name Chango Macho -- "Male Chango" -- may seem almost redundant when applied to such a manly being, but in the African Diaspora it helps to distinguish the masculine African Chango from his female Diasporic Catholic "cover," Saint Barbara. The synthesis of Chango with Barbara arose because Barbara is dressed in red and white, Chango's colours, and holds a sword, Chango's weapon. Furthermore, the men who killed Barbara with that sword were immediately struck dead by lightning, Chango's supernal attribute. Thus, in the New World, the Feast of Saint Barbara, December 4th, is celebrated as a festival of Chango-Barbara...

From: here
Traditional Colors: Red and white, gold also
Number: 4 (or 6)
Areas of Influence: Life, Virility, Justice, Protection, Magick, The Element of Fire, Lightning and Thunder, Drumming
Entities associated with: St. Barbara
Symbols: Double headed axe, thunderstones, drums, lightning bolts, necklace made of alternating red and white beads
Offerings: Alcohol, chili peppers, hot/spicy foods, tamales, corn bread, okra, tobacco
Feast Day: December 4th
Astrology: Leo, the planet Mars
Tarot: The King (or Knight in Thoth deck) of wands, the Prince of Wands
Chakra: 2nd Chakra
Gemstones: Fire opals, carnelian, gold, diamonds
Animals: Cats, both large and small, Cardinals, Golden Tamarin Monkeys, Red Siamese fighting fish, Turtles
Entities of Similar Energy: Mars, Thor and Other War Gods
Plants associated with: Hibiscus, marijuana, chili peppers; sassafras, china berry and red oak trees

From: here
CHANGO (Jakuta, Obakoso)
Saint: St. Barbara.
Day of the Week:
Saturday. Friday is also popular. Huge parties are held in Chango's honor on December 4th, St. Barbara's day according to the Catholic calendar.
Colors and Collars (Ilekes):
His colors are red and white. The collar is made up of six red beads followed by six white beads. Then, a red bead alternates with a white bead six times. The sequence is repeated until the desired length is obtained.
Sacrificial Animals:
Roosters. Complicated Ebos may require sheep, small bulls, pigs, goats, deer, rabbits, and oxen. A horse is required to remove a very strong curse or to change an oracle predicting death.
Sacrificial Foods:
Chango is a glutton. He loves huge portions of corn meal and okra. Apples are his favorite fruit, and he likes pitahaya (cactus fruit). All his food should be heavily loaded with corojo butter. Chango drinks red wine in large quantities. His water should come from a pond.
arabo rojo, cordoban, vacabuey, siguaraya Banyan tree, kapok tree, poplar, sorghum, clematis, hog plum, Cuban spurge, cashews, ironwood, mugwort, bran, climbing vines, bull's testicles, American spurge, leeks, pitahaya, plantains and bananas, red hamelias, Bermuda grass, royal palm, pine, lignum vitae, amansa guapo, pine nuts and apple trees among others.
A sword, a knife, a machete, an ax, a dagger and a spear, almost always made out of cedar. Chango is also represented by the image of a warrior holding a large double edged hatchet in one hand and a sword in the other. Both images, the warrior and St. Barbara can be found on the same altar.


Obakoso, in Yoruba, means "the king that did not hang himself." This is the story of how Chango came by that name.

Chango has always been a womanizer. Back in the days when he was a king in Africa, he had two wives. He ruled his women hard and he ruled his kingdom hard, for his temper had not mellowed yet with age.

"You are always yelling and stomping in this house," said Wife Number One.

"That's right," said Wife Number Two, "You never have a kind word for anyone."

"All you care about is your stomach," said Wife Number One.

"And you don't care about us, " said Wife Number Two.

"You never buy us presents," said Wife Number One.

"You never take us anywhere," said Wife Number Two.

"You don't love us," wailed both wives in unison.

"I don't stomp around the house," shouted Chango, stomping around the house. "I was having a pleasant morning, thinking about how nice it would be to have a little wild duck and you two have ruined it."

"Do you hear that?" said Wife Number One to Wife Number Two. "I told you all he cared about was his stomach."

"That's it!" shouted Chango. "I'm getting on my horse and riding into the forest. At least no one will nag me there."

"How long are you going to be gone?" asked Wife Number One.

"I'll be back when I'm good and ready. Don't bother looking for me or coming after me," snarled Chango.

"As if we would," sniffed Wife Number Two.

Chango stormed off through the palace, slamming doors and kicking cats. No one paid him any attention, since this was his normal way of walking through the castle. All his subjects were used to Chango's tantrums.

No one waved as Chango rode off into the forest.

"He's in one of his moods," said the groom to a kitchen maid. "He'll be back in a little while." He rubbed the top of his head. "I hope he comes back in a better mood and does not hit me again."

A week passed and Chango had not come back.

"He's with a new woman," some said.

"He is on adventure," said others.

"He's drunk somewhere," said Wife Number One.

A month passed. Chango's wives would burst out crying without reason. His subjects missed the noise of the slamming doors and the screeching cats.

"Where can he be?" They asked.

"he's been gone way too long," said others.

"We have to go and look for him," said Wife Number Two. "I can't stand this any longer."

A well organized search party was sent out into the forest. It returned a week later.

"Well?" asked Wife Number One.

"Nothing," said the captain of the search party.

Rumors began to fly in the palace.

"Chango went into the forest and hung himself because he was ashamed of what a bad king he was," said some people.

"He tied a rope around his neck and jumped off the top of a large Banyan tree because his mistress abandoned him," said others.

The rumors and the search parties kept coming and going. Chango was not to be found. It had been six months since he had ridden off into the forest.

A new massive search was organized. Everyone in the palace, from the youngest child to the oldest woman, set out into the forest. They looked under every stone. They climbed every tree. Slowly, they made their way into the center of the forest.

Hundreds of voices cried out, "Chango! Where are you Chango?" And the echo came back, "Chango."

Women beat their breasts and smeared their bodies with ashes. "Where are you, Chango?" they shouted. "Tell us if you have hung yourself."

Deep in the deepest part of the forest, up on top of the tallest and oldest banyan tree, Chango woke up from a nap. He heard the hundreds of voices that had awakened him. "Chango, Chango. Where are you, Chango?"

Chango was furious. He hated noise and he specially hated it when it woke him up from a nap.

"What is that racket?" he shouted. "Who are all you people?"

Then, he saw that it was hundreds of his warriors and thousands of his subjects beating the bushes, scaring the animals and destroying the peace and quiet of the forest.

Chango's got angrier, as most people do when they are rudely awakened from a nap. He stood up on the topmost branch of the banyan tree and roared, "I am here! I did not hang myself and I will never hang myself."

The forest was silent. A thousand heads looked up to Chango, standing proudly on top of the banyan tree.

"Come down, Chango, come down!" shouted his subjects.

"Quiet," yelled Chango. He waited for all the murmuring and muttering and crying to die out. "I'm not coming down," he said. "If I come down, if I go back to the palace, my wives," he pointed a stiff and slightly dirty finger at them, " Who are now friends, crying over my loss, will start fighting with each other again. What's worse, they'll start fighting with me again."

"No, we won't," shouted Wife Number One.

"You get yourself right down here," said Wife Number Two.

"Come down, Chango. Come down." shouted all his subjects.

Chango sat on the branch and thought about what he should do. He thought and thought until all the shouting had died down again.

"Are you coming down now?" asked Wife Number One. "It's almost time for dinner," said Wife Number Two.

Chango came to a decision. He stood on the branch atop the banyan tree. He raised his arms and shouted, "My people!"

"Come down, Chango." they all cried.

"Quiet!" shouted Chango. I've come to the conclusion that it is just too much of a bother and a problem and a headache to try to govern all of you."

"Are you calling us a problem?" shrieked Wife Number One.

"Are you saying we're a headache?" screamed Wife Number Two.

"From now on," said Chango, as he dodged a couple of well aimed rocks thrown by his wives, "I will still rule you, but I will rule you from far away." Another rock whizzed by his head. "From very far away. I'm going to rule you from the sky."

Ignoring the shouts and tears of his subjects and the curses and stones from his wives, Chango grabbed a thick chain that led from the top of the banyan tree to the sky. He pulled himself up link by link. When he paused for breath and looked down, his subjects were tiny. He could not distinguish his wives. He looked up. The chain disappeared into the blue sky.

He climbed and he climbed and he climbed until he reached the sky. There, he stayed.

He is now an Orisha among the Orishas. Chango looks at the actions of his people down here on earth and is swift in his punishment of the unjust and of those that do not follow the religion or make the sacrifices.

He hurls down deadly thunderbolts on those people. He makes whole cities explode, or he blows them away in terrible tropical storms. His angry words make whole trees go up in flames and his annoyed snorts create wind storms that sweep all that displeases him away forever.


Chango is the most popular and the most widely known Orisha in Santeria. He rules violent storms and thunder. He also reconciles these forces into peace and understanding. Like a tropical storm, Chango's attacks are sudden and devastating, but are soon over. During "golpe de Santos" (Santeria ceremonies), Chango descends among the participants and dances with his followers holding his feared two edged sword. When he possesses someone, the "caballo" dances round and round like a top. The possessed Santero will take food to all the other participants in the ceremony. Chango will then demand a sacrifice from those who have eaten.

Chango loves good music, dancing and drumming. He likes to have fun, but is a braggart who provokes violent situations. He loves women and encourages clandestine sexual adventures among his "children".

Chango has three wives, Oba, Oya (who used to be Ogun's wife), and Oshun. Yemaya is his adoptive mother. When Chango becomes aroused, it's necessary to beg his three wives and his adoptive mother to intervene.

The only Orishas respected by Chango are Elegua and Olodumare.

Chango's "children" are recognized at birth by the image of a cross on their tongues. These children cannot have their hair cut until they are twelve, or they will lose their power to see into the future. They are known as the Bamboche, the messengers of Chango.

From: here
Changó - santo of war and thunder

Changó is one of the most popular santos in Cuba. He is the very symbol of what a Cuban male would like to be. He is strong, dances wildly and passionately and knows the art of captivating women. Changó is furthermore fond of telling stories, though they will often surpass reality.

Natural elements
Changó owes part of his strength to the fact that he is the guardian of thunder and lightning. His power is often symbolised by a sword and an axe. The axe is also found in Nigeria, but the sword comes from the Catholic saint of Santa Barbara.

Personality traits
Changó is not only the santo of natural elements such as thunder and lightning, but also of human qualities such as strength and sensual appeal. He is also considered the divinity of dancing and music.

Catholic saint and day of celebration
It may seem strange that Changó is linked to a female Catholic saint, Santa Barbara, as he is the very manifestation of manly qualities. The explanation may lie in one of the old stories about Changó, in which he had to dress up as a woman to flee from an enemy that wanted to kill him. Both are celebrated on 4 December.

Dwelling place
It is said that Changó lives in the royal palm, which is also Cuba's national tree. In the devotee's home he lives in a wooden receptacle called batea, which is placed with the tureens on the altar.

Changó's favourite dishes are cooked ocra, goat, cock and green bananas. In addition he enjoys a cigar and a little rum.

Personality traits of initiates of Changó
As their father Changó, his devotees are considered to be both strong and wild. Like him they are fond of dancing and flirting, and tend to exaggerate when telling stories.

Usual restrictions for initiates of Changó
If you are initiated to Changó, you should stay away from foods that are red, as these are things you can sacrifice to Changó when life is difficult. You are also often warned against big crowds where you might get yourself into trouble.

Changó's colour is red. The necklaces people wear when they seek his protection or wish to show they are a son or daughter of only this strong divinity, have alternating red and white beads.

From: here
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