Shango for Witches
An Orisha In Diguise
All hail, your majesty!
Shango is an orisha it takes a long time to know. There are a lot of stories out there, and sometimes it takes witchy intuition to sift through them. To find the forgotten and pure orisha that once shone ever so brightly. It takes even more time if you doubt your senses and withdraw from him loving attention. Despite that Shango was moving through my life, graceful as a panther, a mostly silent presence. Powerful? Certainly, but with elegance, restraint.
Unlike Ogu, who keeps coming at you if resisted, Shango will retreat and study you. He knows that humans need time to adjust to his energy and presence. Especially when they are rather frightened that an orisha has reached out to them. After all, why is he reaching out? You can only trust in him for the answers you seek.
So maybe if you are here Shango has sent you. I can't find a single site that speaks of his better qualities, and it is high time he had one. Please keep in mind I am not an initiate of Santeria, but his altars are as correct as a non-initiate can make them. Since he is more than welcome in New Orleans Vodoun, the article may unknowingly reflect that view more. I'm including a few Hoodoo notes as he seems to surface there quite often.
But come meet the noble king. The king who did not die, but reigns forever. The peaceful royal who in not forever at war. For even warrior kings must rest. The bringer of justice, the orisha who plants the seeds of desire and thought into all heads and hearts. Come dance before the king and rejoice in his presence. For the king has returned.
PLEASE NOTE: All love and respect to the traditional stories of Shango, but I see him differently through personal interaction. No offense to any belief system is meant here. Also, practitoners of Santeria will notice a lack of terms in Spanish. Sadly I lack the ability to speak such a wonderful language, and it seemed wrong to use terms in writing I can't even pronounce. I have the greatest love and respect for the orisha and the people who work exclusively in Santeria.
Shango is Not - Don't Get Me Started
He is not a home wrecker. He'd never steal another man's wife. These stories come from misunderstanding his vital role in fertility. He must give his vital essence to all who need it, including the woods of his brother, so there. Without the rest, fertilization, and renewal the fire lightning strikes bring, woodlands would just die out over time. Shango is helping Ogun, not hurting him.
He doesn't hate his brother. Ogu needs Shango's fire, Shango needs Ogun's forge and skills. They hunt together, sleep together, have great adventures together. Each has skills his brother does not, and they sustain one another. I'm honestly wondering if the stories don't come from female jealousy. After all Ogun will fight by Shango's side and no one knows or loves a man as well as his brother. Kind of hard to compete with the boys hanging out together, am I right, ladies?
He is not some male floozy. I hate hearing that now, though I used to accept it as fact. Shango is not like that. He is a lot like Pan. You tell the average Stregha that Pan is nothing but a stupid goat god with only one talent and you'll find out how fast you can run. Both men bring culture, and come to think of it, they both love music and dancing. Shango even gets horns as a gift. Hmmm.
Shango is not stupid. Honestly, where does that come from? I guess being the patron of the arts isn't a real job to some folks. Or being the lord of fire, lightning, thunder and war. Or being a magician. The real magical kind, with all due respect to Sigfreid and Roy.
He is not a drunk. Wow, you know they say that about EVERY male orisha. They are all walk-on-their-knees drunks, every last one of them. Even poor Obatala gets blamed for things he didn't even do, because nasty peeople say he was drunk off his gourd. That is so ignorant. Since when do orisha even need earthly things like alcohol anyhow? Getting drunk on your tail is a human concept of fun, not a Divine one.
He is not vain. The veil is there because nobody can look at the king during a sacred ritual. The only people would be the ancestors in some villages, and that happens behind closed doors, at the king's private altar. He isn't being a snob, as long as a king is just he is carrying the power of the ancestors during sacred festivals. Remember in some areas all the orisha or ancestors are masked for the people's protection.
I was Terrible to Him
But he loved me anyhow
He's the most difficult of the orishas for me to relate to. I dismissed him as being everything I had heard. Violent, unreasonable, foolish, prideful, outright stupid. A drunkard, womanizer, a home wrecker, wife beater, a male hussy. Chango would come to me with his nicest manners, and I would quite rudely chase him off.
I told him I didn't need a lazy drunkard of a playboy hanging around. Why didn't he find a cheap floozy and get drunk, since that was all he was good for? Chango would laugh and tell me little leopards shouldn't believe every story they hear.
Then he'd ruffle my hair, tell Ogun he had a leopard for a daughter, and stroll off. Ogu (mine likes his brother) would tell me to get off the warpath before his brother's goodwill and amusement wore off. Did I think he'd let him near me if he was everything folks said he was? Besides his brother was refined royalty and deserved better treatment. When I shot back that Americans do not bow before royals he shook his head in despair.
He wasn't asking me to bow. I certainly had nice enough manners to give a respectful head bow to him and Legba. Be nice for once. Listen for once. His brother was a genius, yes a poet and a singer and drummer like himself. Let him come close. After all Chango had lavished me with blessings.
So I'd behave, though Chango would roar with laughter because I have no poker face whatsoever. "The little leopard fell into the stream today, did she?" He would ask with glee. "My how angry she looks with her ears flattened and tail lashing." I'd realize belatedly I was using my leopard form from the astral realm on him. Then I'd hiss, and he'd laugh again.
Despite all the hatred I had for him in my heart, since I believed all the stories about him hurting my precious daddy, I made him a spirit bottle and bade him welcome as Ogu instructed me to. (See photo.) Though he knew the moment Ogu turned his back I'd ignore him as if he wasn't there. Why my father, the orisha/lwa/angel of truth was lying to me and saying his brother never did an ill thing to him I did not know. Ogu of course can't or won't lie, I just refused to let Shango close.
Still Chango was nothing but kind to me. He never shouted, acted wild, or rudely. He behaved as a king should. He called me his daughter. Which puzzled me, but Ogu insisted he was as much my father as he was. Although I absolutely hated and barely tolerated it, Shango gather me into a warm embrace of greeting.
I'm ashamed to admit it, but there were always signs of his graces and generosity in my life. I either ignored them, coldly thanked him, or wrote them off as him plotting something or other. Never occoured to me that the orisha of justice could be nothing other than justice himself.
Shango - Arrives
Shango has always been very good to me. I've always loved thunder and lightning storms. I'll go outside to admire them and find comfort and strength in them. They can lull me to sleep, energize me, take away my problems. There is something so utterly natural as if I were part of the storm myself. Of course I always though this was an Odin thing after I had learned of him, but it could be Shango. Well OK, it was Shango. But after my first exposure to the stories about him, I sure hoped it wasn't.
Come to think of it but I've always kept lightning struck wood near, even though local superstition says it will cause a house to burn down. As a child I swore I'd hear a soft male voice assuring me the house would be protected, not burnt. To be calm and unafraid because storms were a good thing for me.
To be clear I am not Shango's daughter. I practice Vodoun, not Santeria and belong to Ogu Balendjo. But I think the spirits share parental responsibility at times. As my fathers put it, they are two halves of the same man. To hate one is to hate the other. He and his brother never fight. They need one another to survive.
There is also Shango's tree in front of my house, right next to Ogu's. Lightning has struck that tree at least twice, and a whole ton of magical goodies came from the felled wood. The tree has always sheltered the house, perhaps even acting as a lightning rod. You can clearly feel Shango there, Oya too and some others.
I can talk to and see the spirits, though not in a movie type of way. I sort of see them in my mind's eye. Not like seeing another person, but projected. Just like with ghosts I have to at times close my eyes to "see" them clearly. Apparently that could be a gift from Shango too, though I always thought it was from Legba, or a Baron.
Although I refused to admit it at the time, he helped Legba rescue me when I went astray and wandered into Met Kalfou's clutches. He was a very brave warrior then, every inch the king he is. I think that is what softened me towards him. He risked himself to help me, even though I'd been nothing but unkind to him.
That's also when I set out to find out about the good things people had to say about him. Sadly, you could carry the good words people spare him in a thimble. That strikes me as strange since everybody always wants this or that from him. The art comes from Collective Xango
St. Barbara Statue
My statue looks pretty similar to this one. Many of the attributes such as the mortar, tower and being associated with lightning fit both the saint and orisha.
Shango is not some cheap male floozy. Sex and fertility were sacred at one time in Africa, just like in Europe. Orisha like Shango, heck, almost every male orisha, had the sacred duty of impregnating either the earth with his lightning, the Divine female, lady orishas, or women in general.
It sounds strange to us women, but our ancestors knew that although a female spirit may bless you with fertility you needed the male blessing too, at the very least, the man needed it. Shango's role may have been to excite women via ritual, to remind them to join in the sacred dance, and to provoke them, good naturedly.
What has become crass and disgusting in the tales about him, would have been in the purest form, sacred. If he danced with a woman she could rely on his promise of children. Just like we pagan ladies used to line up in spring and get lashed with willows or other branches both in Africa and European cultures by young men.
Being abundant with fertility it was his job, just like the Horned God's, to see to it that every female was happy. Divine or otherwise. Now this is not to imply that they had sexual rites in Africa, we have no proof of that; Stregha they were not.
But the dances would have been sacred and vital. Without Shango and the other male orishas like Eshu and Ogu, no fertilization would happen. Somehow in the West the modern view of sex as dirty and sinful crept in. What used to be a joy and blessing, became a shame.
An orisha many would have praised for seeing to all women would become hated. Now my Shango certainly loves women, but he respects them. He doesn't just paw them, or drool all over them. He is a king and behaves like one. While more than happy to be with women he doesn't see us as mere objects.
That doesn't mean of course that some of the dances Shango does wouldn't make a Playmate blush. He is fertility, and does make, uh, offers to the ladies. He was grabbing himself centuries before Michael Jackson, OK?
Shango is justice. That all folks seem to agree on. Then they will tell you how unjust he is, and you'd better hide if you see him coming. Now I know some folks need that. They like the idea of big scary orisha who will kill anyone who moves. Because, they think, they have said orisha in their pocket and the spirit will never hurt them. Just anyone they don't like or agree with.
While he is justice, he is Divine Justice. Not earthly retribution. He comes, we are told from Jakuta, the stone thrower, a solar spirit, who punished evil folks with his lightning bolts. Or some say, he was an orisha who came to earth several times as a king or other man to help people.
But he is always just, and wise. Shango is no fool. The Shango I know is capable of tempering justice with mercy. He put up with my resistance to his friendship and familial love for years. Because he is a just and gracious orisha, much more paitent then he is given credit for, I assure you.
I'm not saying he wouldn't act violently in some cases. When angered over injustice he will act swiftly. He hates men who abuse women, or others around them. Shango was never like that, and mine hates to hear those cowards call themselves "real men". He also grits his teeth when people depict him that way. There is nothing, he will say, in those stories but lies. Shango just does not abuse people. He is justice, remember?
He despises greedy people, as it is not his way. Shango is abundant and yes, just, in his blessings. He favors those who help the poor, take care of others, are kind to animals. He likes people who fight for true justice for all, not just one favored group.
I am not implying that Shango will grant you a million dollars if you care for your elders. He expects you to anyhow. But if you work hard, are kind to others, respect your elders, and share what you have, he will like you. He expects it even for house pets. Don't laugh. My spirits speak fondly of the African way of sharing things with everyone in the village or family. That includes caring for your animals the best you can.
We tend to forget in our sue-happy society that money and justice are not the same thing. Yes Shango will help you in court, but you'll likely get what he thinks you deserve, not what you'd like to hear. He will also advise you to seek peace before war then you won't need to ask him for justice when things get too hot for you.
He will also give to you what you give to others. If you yourself cover up your injustices with excuses, Shango will make you face them when it comes your turn to need him. People who bust up the tent cities of the homeless without offering clean, dignified, and safe housing for them instead are not his idea of civil rights.
Shango can also be spelled Xango, Sango, Chango. Some also call him Jakuta, though they were separate beings at one time.
His colors are red, or red and white, some include gold. I've noticed some photos where purple is also worn by the possessed.
His numbers are four and six. Though some folks insist he also shares three and seven with his brother Ogoun. In Hoodoo he also picks up 12 and the sixth and twelfth of each month are sacred to him.
Chango rules over fire, lightning, justice, homes, fertility, fortune telling, warriorship, and more.
He sacred trees include palms, banana trees, and all pines.
His offerings can include fruit such as bananas (male virility) and apples. Also yams, pumpkins, red wine, spicy cologne, and roosters. Small castles and images of St. Barbara, St. Michael or St. George depending on the path. He also uses a mortar and pestle. (You'll never see the pestle in icons, but I've never seen a mortar that crushed hebs on its own. ) Hoodoo includes okra, cayenne pepper, and hibiscus flowers.
Chango's traditional sacred days are Fridays and the fourth of every month. His feast being December 4th, or St. Barbara's feast day.
All weapons with blades belong to him. Machetes, knives, swords, any type of blade. The double headed ax (or twin-bladed thunder axe in one description) is his alone and represents his power to create or destroy. When he hurls this axe to earth as lightning his otanes, or thunder stones, are left behind. These look like axe heads and are sacred to him. Most folks keep the sacred otanes in a special bowl or covered jar.
Shango is a healer and his herbs contain ewe, used to heal. A good botanica can point you to an experienced healer, or sell you the herbs for baths at home. His specialty is in breaking fevers.
In Hoodoo he is considered an alchemist, using his expertise in warfare to make, you guessed it, warrior tricks. These include war water, hoot foot powder and any attacking trick. Shango must be petitioned for if he feels a trick is unjust he will bring the result back home to you.
Some say he was a true earthly king and ancestor. Others believe these stories are legends, or that Shango was an orisha who came to earth as a king.
Although a traditional greeting and a way to ask for help, all women do not have to lift their breasts to him. Remember the orisha like the lwa can be cosidered ancestors, or at least pure. No disrobing.
Like all orisha Chango has different paths. Each has his own name, likes certain things and has certain powers.
His lover/wives are said to include Oshun, Oya, and his mother Yemaya. Keep in mind in most creation stories only sons are born at first.
Shango is said to love a good party. He's also said to be able to drink anyone under the table. So in some houses he gets plenty of tambors or parties, with tons of good food and drink.
Just don't have anything lit around him there. Chango will happily eat lit cigars and other hot items just to prove he can. This might be the same as the Vodoun petro lwa showing they can survive such things, because they were done to slaves as punishment.
In hoodoo he brings balance of the male and female, or cool and hot energies in all people.
Chango LOVES to Eat
Just like his children Chango loves to eat. Some favorites include apples and bananas. Now I don't know if it is done in Santeria, but my Shango will bless the food and insist I take a portion. Yes he gets his own under a pine tree or on his altar.
Mine also likes all cooked meat, he is fond of chicken prepared with vegetables, steak, jerky, any game animal, that sort of thing. Not exactly traditional, but he rarely passes up food if he likes it. Although he isn't offered much in sweets in a traditional house, he seems to like them too.
Though honesty, if you know of a food connected with virility try it and see. The worst he will do is refuse to eat it. Mine does not drink alcohol for whatever reason, so he enjoys juices, coffee, even hot chocolate (said to be an aphrodisiac).
He loves yams. So make a huge can of them. For your family and yourself, but him too. You can make from fresh as that is more traditional. Pumpkins are an offering, though I'm not sure if he would eat them. He also likes apples, and I've found mine enjoys sweet things like colas.
The traditional alcohol is said to be palm wine or red wine.
The apples in the photo are a sample offering. There are five (you can offer what you have) in his red bowl he got when his living room altar was set up. The bowl used to hold an incense I made him, but he'd used the vitality so well that the scent was gone when crushed. So the herbs were returned to the Earth and the bowl washed then dried. Since tomorrow will be his fest day (Dec 4) I set out the apples early.
Depending on the religion Chango has a huge family of sisters, wives, brothers, fathers, and more. Keep in mind this list is only partial and no disrespect or exclusion is meant.
Aganju- Father to Chango, and leader of the African resistance to slavery. He fights for freedom and protects the downtrodden. Although most say he was displeased when Chango at last tracked him down, he and his son later bonded very closely. Said also to be a legendary king in his own right. He is the orisha of volcanoes. Some say his is the brother of or a path of Chango, as in Xango Aganju.
Ara- In some parts of Africa, Shango is seen as female. There she is the wife of the thunder god Ara. Ara may have all of the male Shango's attributes. This female path is just as valid as any other. In other areas Ara, which means thunder, is the messenger of Shango.
Eshu- The trickster orisha is also brother to Chango. They are said to be great friends, and the closest of all the many siblings. Eshu controls communication, and loves to play tricks on people with words. He rules roads after Ogun builds them. In Vodoun as Legba he also rules gateways, and his beloved crossroads. A phallic sun orisha at one point, he ruled fertility too. Some folks claim he rules the internet and all computers as well. Though the humbly agree so does Ogun.
Obba- She studied martial arts under Ogun, becoming his perfect student. She fights in wars, is fearless, and will die in defense of her beloved Shango. A firm believer in the whole foods movement, she was green before it was an in thing. More than match for Shango she has the perfect warrior's mind, body, and spirit. Plus she is fertile. Sadly modern women do not like her subservient ways and poor Oba is now largely forgotten. If you wish to salute her she likes pink and white. Kitchens are her sacred space, menfolk and kids eat first. Goddess Bless Shelloya for posting an article on this largely neglected orisha.
Obatala- King of the white cloth, and one of the most beloved of the orishas. He is gentle, cool, kind, peaceful. But if pushed too far Obatala will take his own children from the face of the earth. Luckily his heart is huge and any child of his willing to repent and pay the proper respects will be taken back in. Some say he was once ruler of divination and it cost Oshun dearly to learn his secrets.
Ogun- In Santeria and in Africa they are considered brothers. Some say they are the same spirit called different names, or are both faces of Obatala. My Ogun in loyal to his brother and will come to his defense every time. Ogun is Obatala's son, at least mine is. Some say his mother is Yemaya, or Obatala's female form. Either way he is a hard worker, despises liars, and fights for justice like his brother. In Vodoun he controls the things Chango rules over like fire and lightning. In fact there is an Ogu Chango (Ogoun Shango). His colors in Santeria are green and black, though each distinct pat has his or her own colors.
Oshun- Helpless she is not. Although she is indeed dainty and prefers to use her wits instead of her muscle, Oshun is the favorite among women the world over. A loyal wife to both Chango and some say Ogun, it is her job to spread joy and a longing to procreate among all living things. she is also as brave as a lioness and women can draw great strength from her patronage. Oshun makes sure no one orisha, male or female gets out of balance or too powerful.
Oya- The favored wife of Shango, and orisha of winds and storms. She has powerful magic of her own and is considered the strongest of all witches. She shares Chango's ability to breathe fire, and fights many battles by his side. When she dances her skirts whip up storm winds. She is also a wife to Ogun as well.
Yemaya- Mother to Chango, Ogun, and a whole host of others. Some say she is Obatala's wife, others say she is Obatala himself, in the female forms he wears. She is the mother of oceans, and protector of women everywhere. Some say that she is a Mother Goddess and her sons are her lovers/consorts/husbands as well.
How Shango Became and Orisha
There are many stories people use to explain Shango's attributes, the following is just one of them. Though it is often told, mine is a bit different from personal perspective. Please note: I've added characters and details as this story is often recounted in one or two sentences. I needed to make sense of the story for myself.
Shango was once the mightiest king on earth. He had many warriors, wives, and children. Being a wise king he used his resources well and his kingdom flourished. He was so successful in fact, that he had people who handled mundane tasks for him. Thus the king, even though he loved his people, could study the magical arts in peace.
As always happens when a person is successful Shango had many enemies, even among his own people, who hated him. Why should he be king when they could do a better job? Why should Shango, who some called ugly due to his battle scars, be allowed to have many wives? Shango ignored the talk because he was sure the orishas would always help him.
Now there was a reader of shells in the kingdom and he came one day to see Chango because he was loyal to both the orisha and his king.
"Greetings and all hail, you majesty!" He bowed low before continuing. "Thank you so much for seeing me. I am sad to say you are in great danger. The orisha themselves warned me through the shells that you must leave the palace immediately. Your enemies have massed a huge army, and are coming this very minute for your head."
Shango was troubled for soon it would be time to pay homage to the ancestors. And a king could only do so in his private rooms. Did he leave and show disrespect to the ancestors who gave him his throne, or did did he stay and perhaps anger the orishas? Trusting the reader he left, but not before laying all his kingly vestments at the foot of his private ancestor altar. It was the best he could do, and he hoped they knew what was in his heart.
For days the enemy lay siege to his palace. To Shango's horror, his own people turned on him and let the invaders in. How could they? A man claiming to be still loyal to their king would bring him reports. A new king wore his vestments, loved his women, and had killed all his children.
Killed his beloved children? His legacy? The princes and princesses he loved dearly? With a roar of rage Shango called down lightning, destroying the entire kingdom he had built. Only a few managed to escape. One who did was an old loyal servant.
He arrived at the cave Shango was living in. Seeing Shango with the man who often visited him, his face went pale. "Oh no, your majesty. Say it isn't true. You didn't listen to this man, did you? He is the son of the king who tried to take over your kingdom. When your wives and subjects refused to submit he was sent here to trick you."
The wicked young man laughed at the king, calling him a fool. Shango killed him for he was the only one he could take vengeance on. Now at least two kingdoms were over. But his heart was destroyed. He had killed his own wives and children, believing a lie. He pushed off the loyal old servant in a daze and walked out of the cave. Days later the servant and the few survivors loyal to the king found him in a tree. They gently took down the king's body and buried him.
As it often goes, the wicked enemies of the king laughed at him after his death. They heaped abuse on him, then dared slander his right to kingship. That was a mistake. For these were wicked men indeed and they shouldn't have attracted an angry king's wrath.
Lightning came out of a bright blue sky, killing the men instantly. His loyal followers cheered. "The king did not hang! The king did not die!" Thunder rumbled and boomed and a great storm came in, cleansing the land. For his goodness on earth, and giving up his life to atone for his actions, Shango had become an orisha.
Now even today when lightning is seen and thunder heard, loyal followers will rise and greet Shango. "The king did not die!" or "All hail, your majesty!"
Some folks feel this story is inccorrect. They say Shango was already an orisha and was sent down by God to set the wicked folks straight. Sadly he failed, and hung himself in despair.
But is he an orisha?
Wow, did you just make every omo Shango mad. But it is a valid question. You see in Santeria, a lot like in the Catholic Church, people fight over who is a saint or not. Saint being a valid word some use instead of orisha.
Some folks deny Shango sainthood for the following reasons. Who or what it is that appears worldwide claiming to be Shango, they don't say. First, if you take the stories of his life as gospel, he doesn't sound worthy of being the orisha of anything.
In every single story he is either fighting with people, beating the defenseless or crippled, cheating on his wives, busting up marriages, or something. If you grew up with a Western sense of morals that just doesn't sound saintly, does it?
Secondly he practices magic. According to some points of view all magic is evil. Therefore, Shango is evil. We modern witches don't like that one bit, but the view is still held in many parts of Africa. Witches are blamed for causing droughts, wars, everything bad. Sadly most of these modern "witches" are children. I don't need to tell you what happens to them, do I? I didn't think so.
Thirdly, and a major sign Christian influences are creeping in, he hanged himself. While I and many others see that as a sacrificed king story, some see suicide as a major sin. Even if they don't use these reasons, some folks say he is simply a mythical king, no more real than Author Pendragon. Put those athames, down, I didn't say that, they did. Or do.
For me he has shown up and taken part in my life, therefore it stands to reason that he is real. While I respect that not everyone shares that view, I stand beside Shango as a real orisha.
Why is St. Barbara used to represent him?
His statue on my hearth
Some say he IS St. Barbara, in the way that any orisha is the saint used to represent them. Slaves had little choice to become Catholic or else, the Catholic Church thoughtfully endorsing slavery, so the slaves used what they had.
St. Barbara wears red and white, Shango's colors. Most often she holds a cup, Shango owns a mortar and pestle. She has a tower or castle in her icons, Shango lived in a castle on earth and some say he still has a palace as an orisha. She often has a sword, another attribute of Shango. As you can see from the prayer card, she is also appealed to for justice.
Also, those who killed St. Barbara were instantly struck and killed by lightning, an attribute Shango is known for. Plus it echoes the story of his own death and justice from above. We forget in our time, but good men can choose to willingly die for the betterment of mankind. Can you think of another well-loved man who hung from a tree (read: cross) and arose again later? I knew you could!
Today some are moving away from this as being insulting to Shango's virility and use Macho Shango. A statue or picture of Shango as a warrior, or holding an apron full of gold to shower on those he favors.
Folks also feel this is more in keeping with African pride, as there is no reason to be ashamed that your sweet orishas came from Africa.
Setting Up an Altar
For his first altar Shango got a gold cloth (gold said to be one of his colors) his spirit bottle, a small hand drum, and a St. Barbara card. A tiny castle, a few pieces of jewelry. You know, just enough to make Ogou happy. I didn't exactly hate Shango at that point, but I did like him much either.
But he proved to be kind, honest, compassionate. I could see for myself he wasn't hurting my father in any way. So for his second altar, Shango fared much better. For an altar I used a fifteen inch castle to represent Chango as it is one of his attributes. The altar cloth is red, the lace white, and a red and white cloth on top of everything else. A red offering bowl with a bunch of bananas, since I was also opening the altar to welcome him. There is a chalice like St. Barbara's cup. A red candle, a small statue dressed in red. I've also seen eagles used to represent him as well, though there are none on the new altar as of yet.
You can add things as you see fit, but there are a few thing to avoid. First, most will advise that unless blessed and given to you in ritual don't put collars of Shango here. I don't think the energy works too well for those who don't receive him through ritual. You can work with him, even ask him to charge jewelry, but the collars have a long-held tradition you should respect.
Why? Because by putting on that collar you are saying some things. First, you are saying you know the hard work, sacrifice, and obligations you must honor. Seeing the collar some aspects of Shango may expect the proper greetings, songs, and so forth. Secondly you are saying you are a student of Santeria, which if you are not, may lead to tough interaction with Shango. Santeria is a very different mindset from Wicca.
Also, unless you understand or are told it is OK to do so, be wary of other Chango items that are clearly meant for ritual use. The beaded axes for instance may only be accepted through ritual, though your Shango will certainly let you know. The only exception being if Shango asks for a ritual tool and is insistent on having it, without you going through the initiations.
Practitioners will disagree on what you should or should not have outside of Santeria. Some feel anything, including collars and ritual items are harmless not having been blessed in ritual. Like a common knife, they have no properties invested in them. But as the knife becomes the athame, so too do these items transform after blessing.
Today it is hard to tell what is to be seen as sacred anymore, when you can buy items online once only received in rituals or sold to serious initiates. But all agree you should be very wary of resold items. Like witches, holy items may be passed on or destroyed in ritual to release energies.
Anything ending up for sale as used is strange, considering most folks would willingly risk life and limb to protect sacred items.
I hope it goes without saying, but here goes: non-initiates must not offer blood. You do not want Macho Shango possessing you or anybody else present without an elder in the religion present. You also don't want an angered Shango coming after you for the insult of offering blood in a manner he will find disrespectful.
The only way to make such offerings is to find a good house to take you in. A good godfather or godmother will not even let such things happen until you are ready spiritually and emotionally. Some say the orisha are faces of God. Therefore blood belongs to them and must be given in a sacred manner.
The castle is part of his living room altar (Read: coffee table) along with his mortar, which yes, is a glass whatever it is supposed to be.
Mythical or Hsitorical
In the book Sango, one of the authors points out several types on Shangos. Two of them are mythical and historical. The mythical one was in the religion long before there was any idea of any earthly king. He was sent down with the original orishas, of which he is one, and helped make the earth fit for humans. He was and still is, fair, just, and dependable.
The historical Shango, one the other hand, was based on the legend of a nasty human king. His cult, more or less, was filled, with folks that hated him. Convinced the earthly king would kill them from beyond the grave, they would pay his followers a lot of money or possessions to appease him. In that versions the king's own followers elected themselves priests.
According to the book this view of Shango, as a violent, short-tempered king is the one that caught on and survives in the writings of the religion. The true spiritual Shango lives on only in oral tales, mostly still in Africa. Or nifty lenses like this one.
SÃ ngÃ³ in Africa and the African Diaspora (African Expressive Cultures)
I don't agree with everything in this book, but a great resource if you are just starting out and want a collection of myths and theories on Shango on hand.
- New African Spirituality
Chango and the power of intention
- CHANGO - Africa's Greatest King
Pages of Shango information and stories.
- Today is a day for Xango - A Pagan's Blog
- Apples Bananas & Red Wine for Shango
All TopicsReligion and PhilosophyAfrica
- Personality of Orishaoko
Not the most positive story about Shango, but you meet yet another brother.
- Shango as king
Roughly the story translated: Shango was sent down by God to be a king because people were very wicked. Shango took charge, but the people rejected goodness, you know the rest.