Images by Danilo Lejardi at Lejardi.com
Chango is one of the most talked about and most favorable orisha of Santeria. Chango also know as Shango, Sango, Alufina, Xango in Brazil, was a great warrior. He is the orisha of the thunder and thunderbolt. He is the thunderbolt that falls from the sky upon the land. When you hear the loud sound of thunder roaring through the heavens, it is Chango that is riding his white horse looking to serve justice. Chango is seen as a tall handsome man with an extreme physique. He is always dressed in satin outfits with his tiger skin wrapped around him. His crown is always firm on his head and it is always shining. His colors are red and white and in the home of a priest, he lives in a wooden batea (vessel), where his secrets and implements are kept. Chango loves to dance and he knows how to hype up a party. When he arrives, the party has just begun as he will dance and impress everyone that is there. He is also the owner of the bátá drums (the double headed drums in Santeria). When he finishes his dance, he is quick to grab the drums to show his skills.
Chango is a womanizer. He loves to flirt with all women. His dance is very seductive in which he uses to seduce his woman onlookers. Chango had many relations with females from every village. Maybe out of all the orishas he had the most with all and any woman. He had 3 wives that he loved dearly, each for their own special characteristics. Ochun, Obba and Oya. He loved Ochun for her flirtatious and cunning ways, as she kept the lust between them. Whenever Chango needed that spark for lust he will look for Oshun sometimes at a festival where should we be dancing and flirting amongst all the orishas. Oshun would bedazzle him with her exotic dance.
Obba he loved dearly for she was the way a wife is idolized. The relation he had with Obba was so pure that he made her his legitamate wife and queen of his village in Oyo. She was the one who tended to his every need and made sure that the king was satisfied as the way he should be as well with her cooking as she knew how to get to a mans stomach. She kept the castle clean and organized and for that Olofi created the first marriage to be recognized. Due to a trick by his jealous mistress Oya (before Oya and Chango were married), Obba did something so disgusting that the king never forgave her and that ended their marriage.
Last Oya, who he stole from his brother Ogun, loved because she did not fear anyone. Oya was the one that gave him that life and spark that he needed. She always surprised him. She was a warrior that could stand right next to the king Chango. She would go with him into any and all battles that Chango had. It is said that Oya would ride on her horse first before any battle that Chango had. If you look today, when a storm is approaching, lightning which is also Oya, flashes across the sky, then soon after you will hear the sounds of Chango’s horse galloping through the skies which is the thunder. If you’re lucky enough, you will also see Chango throwing a thunderbolt down to the earth.
Pataki of Chango
One day the great orisha Chango was playing the bátá drums in a nearby village. Chango as usual was beating the drums and he had the party going. He would take a heavy drink of his oti and beat harder and faster on the drums. Everyone was dancing and enjoying themselves. Yemaya came to the festivities and she was dancing and enjoying herself alongside with everyone present at the party, while Elegua who was already there was talking and playing tricks on the villagers. Elegua left the party for a moment and arrived back as it was finishing with some gossip that he had seen. When the party finished he called his good friend Chango over and told him the gossip that he saw.
Elegua told Chango that he left and stopped at Obatala and Yembo’s house to see how they were doing. He told him that he was talking to Osun (the last orisha received alongside with “The Warriors” represented by a rooster standing on a silver stick) about situations that were occurring in Obatala’s house. Elegua as devious as he is started to give Osun oti to see if he could keep talking. Just as he planned, Osun talked and talked and told Elegua what was going on. He told him that Ogun would come to the house drunk when Baba (another form to call a father orisha) was not there and speak rough to his mother Yembo. Osun went to say that this has been happening for awhile now and that today out of all days, Ogun came very drunk. As the two were conversing Ogun came by staggering and swaying his machete. He walked right past Elegua and Osun and did not even see them. He barged into the house and grabbed Yembo. He started to rip off her clothes and threw her onto the bed where she and Obatala lay. Yembo who was helpless, screamed and called for help. Right before Ogun could mount her, the great Osagrinan (a path of Obatala) appeared. He screamed out to Ogun to stop and to get out. Ogun out of shame left to the woods never to stop working for his actions that he did. Elegua who saw this was very upset that Ogun violated Yembo and the great Obatala.
Chango hearing all of this from Elegua was in a rage and he knew that his friend Elegua wouldn’t lie about this as he knew that Elegua knew all. His rage turned into fury to hear the disrespect Ogun did to there mother Yembo. He immediately jumped on his horse and rode to the house of Ogun. When he arrived he saw that Ogun was not there but he did see the beautiful Oya wielding the new sword that her husband Ogun made for her. He has seen her in many festivals and at the marketplace but never spoke to her because of the relationship she had with his brother Ogun. Chango had a spark in his eye and proceeded to walk up to Oya. When Oya saw Chango she kept her eyes off of him as she too was infatuated with Chango but never dear follow the situation, because she was faithful to Ogun. Chango fixed his shirt and moustache and approached Oya with a great swag.
Oya could not resist his swag and she looked at him directly into his eyes. She was in a trance as she noticed the gleam in the irresistible Chango. Chango asked for his brother in which Oya told him that he has not been home for hours. Chango asked Oya for a drink of oti and Oya immediately ran and gave it to him. She knew that he was a king and whatever the king wanted he must have. Oya gave him his drink and Chango took a sip of it and placed in on the table. Oya asked him if there was anything else that he requested. Chango smiled and grabbed Oya very softly and gave her a kiss. Chango’s passion rose from within him straight to his lips that now caressed the lips of Oya and she fell at that moment in the arms of Chango. The great king made passionate love to Oya in Ogun’s house. The same disrespect that he tried to perform on his mother Yembo would be the same disrespect he would perform in the house of his brother Ogun.
Hours later Ogun arrived to his house, ashamed of his actions toward his mother and father. He was picking up his tools to begin work as that was his punishment he put on himself in front of his father Obatala and Olofi. He noticed that the house was empty and his wife Oya was no where in sight. He called for her but there was no answer. He noticed that there was an empty cup on the table with some left over oti in it and wondered whose it was. Ogun baffled, went to his room and noticed the bed was in a mess. Since he had been drinking heavily he did not register on what he was seeing. When he came out of the room, he saw his friend Elegua sitting by the door. He asked Elegua what happened and Elegua with a stern voice reminded him on the shameful act that he did today. Ogun who was hung over did not want to remember what happened earlier but wanted to know what happened to his wife Oya. Elegua smirked and told him a tooth for a tooth and an eye for an eye. Ogun did not know what Elegua was saying asked him what was he talking about. Elegua told Ogun that where ever Chango is at, Oya is very near. Ogun now put the pieces together, grabbed his machete and charged out of his house running to the house of his brother Chango.
Ogun ran and ran all the way to the gates of Chango’s castle. He demanded to be let into the kingdom. Chango’s guards notified Chango of the noise that Ogun was making outside. Chango stepped on his balcony and asked Ogun what was the ruckus and disrespect he was doing outside of his house. Ogun said the disrespect was he Chango coming to his house and taking his wife Oya. Chango brought Oya onto the balcony and showed her to her husband. Ogun’s rage grew more and demanded Chango to release her. Oya told Ogun that she was not there by force but on her own will. Ogun stated to her that she was under a potion that Chango gave her. Oya told Ogun that Chango did not give her a potion and this was a day that she yearned for since the first time she saw Chango. Ogun repeated to her that Chango did something to her. Ogun turned and looked at Chango and asked him why did he disrespect him for, come to his house and take his wife. Chango with a roar told Ogun that the same way he barged into the house of his parents and violated his mother, this was pay back. And with that said and done Chango leaped from the balcony that was high up in his castle straight to where Ogun was at. Before Chango touched the floor a thunderbolt landed right next to Ogun that made him fall back quite a few feet. Chango and Ogun started a battle that lasted for hours. As Chango’s guards watched in confusion because they did not want to get involved between these 2 brothers wrath. The 2 orishas fought against each other. Chango threw thunderbolt after thunderbolt hitting the ground where Ogun’s feet were. Ogun with each leap got close to Chango and swayed his machete hitting Chango. These 2 orishas gave each other bruise after bruise. Oya seeing all of this wanted this to stop, so she blew her winds so far and fast until her cries reached to the ears of Obatala. She then glided on towards them both.
Obatala who heard Oya’s cries came fast on his horse to see what was going on. When he reached Chango’s castle he saw the 2 orishas fighting each other with Oya in the middle. Oya stood in the middle of them both trying to stop the battle but they both did not listen to her. The great Obatala approached them both and as he is the king and orisha of peace, his soft voice brought a silence over the kingdom of Chango. He demanded both of them to stop the brawl. Chango seeing his father threw himself at the great orisha of the white cloth in homage. Obatala lifted Chango up and gave him a hug. Ogun asked his father Obatala that why he was being so nice and humble to Chango when it was Chango that started all of this. Obatala asked Ogun in what way did Chango disrespect him. Ogun went and told him that Chango went to his house and took his wife Oya from him and now she is with him. Obatala turned and asked Chango if this was true and Chango proclaimed that it was. Chango then turned and told Obatala that it was revenge. Ogun screamed revenge and brought his machete high over his head to strike Chango. Immediately Chango raised his oshé to strike back. Obatala raised his hands and both orishas brought down there weapons. Chango told Ogun that it was revenge for him going to there fathers house and taking advantage on there mother Yembo. Chango said the same way you went in and took advantage, I went to your house and took advantage on your wife in which now she is mines.
Obatala turned to Chango and told him that 2 wrongs don’t make a right and that was wrong on what he did. He continued to tell him that he shouldn’t have gone and barged into Ogun’s house and take Oya from him. Elegua who was present as usual bowed his head to Obatala and told him that Chango did not barge in that Oya let him in with no problem. Oya stated that it was true. She turned to her former husband Ogun and told him that she always loved and respected him but that Chango brought to her a wild fire passion that she has been yearning for a long time and it is with Chango she is going to stay with. Obatala told Chango to take Oya inside and he told Ogun to go back home and think of all the defects that he did today. Chango asked Obatala why was he so easy on his brother Ogun. Chango asked where was his punishment in which Obatala said Ogun already has received his punishment. Chango turned and took Oya inside and peace was brought back to the kingdom of Chango.
Chango’s feast day is December 4th. He is the owner of fire and passion as well. Chango loves to drink, dance and eat. His sacrificial animals are rams, roosters, turtles, cornish hens and guinea hens. His favorite food is cornmeal with okra and he loves red apples and green bananas. He is the orisha that brings justice to mankind. Chango rides day and night looking to bring justice to his father Obatala and Olofi. The drums beat in his heart. He loves everything perfect and nothing deformed. His children are very outgoing people. They love to drink and party and they have a passion and fire on their tongues that they conquer all battles when they use their head. Chango is friends to all the orishas except to his brother Ogun that they are constantly in battle whenever they are in front of each. But never the less, Chango aides and loves the children of Ogun and vice versa. Chango is a great friend and ally to have in your corner. He keeps a close eye on his children and he protects them to the fullest from everything.
Chango is able to breathe fire from his mouth. He found out the secret from the herb orisha Osain who gave him Abocun which is the secret of the fire. Chango keeps Abocun deep in his mortar locked in a safe room. When Chango is going to battle he first goes to Abocun to gain the secret of the fire. He puts it on his tongue and is instantly able to blow fire from his mouth. He then rides out with his daughter Aiña, who is the heat of the fire. Abocun was found by Oya who was snooping around Chango’s castle and saw the lock door. As the air we breathe she passed right through and put the secret of Abocun on her tongue and from that day she was able to breathe fire from her mouth.
In the religion Palo Mayombe, Chango is represented by the palo deity Siete Rayos who share the same characteristics as the orisha Chango. They are not the same but the share a lot of similarities.
While a storm is going on where there is lightning and thunder, you should always salute Chango with his salutations. “Kabi O Sile” The great king. If you see a thunderbolt hit the ground, after the rain has subdued, go to where the bolt hit and dig a hole. It is said that he leaves traces of his thunderbolt through a black stone that is called and odu ara (lightning bolt stone). He loves this stone and all of his followers wear this stone around their necks or on them to represent the orisha.
Dada y Ibañi
Dada and Ibañi are the orisha of new born children. Dada and Ibañi are siblings to the orisha Chango. Dada was the orisha who raised her little brother Chango when he was thrown out by Obbatala due to the ordeal that Ogun caused on Yembo. Dada is used to ensure the crown of the priest or priestess. She is received to reaffirm your crown so you do not lose it. She is accompanied by Ibañi, who sits as a crown that was given back to her brother Chango when he lost his head and crown due to hot head. Dada is represented in a wooden vessel similar to the one used by Agallu where her secrets are kept. Her mysteries take a lot of things that are placed inside of this wooden vessel. Ibañi is represented by the crown that sits on top of Dada that is adorned with shells and beads. Her colors are red and white as Chango but they have a specific order in which they go. 2 white followed by 2 red until completion with shells. 6 braids of a girl is also used to adorn the crown of Ibañi. These braids must be from a virgin girl and must be black. On top of the crown, priest adorned it with African grey feathers which show royalty. Inside of Ibañi, the priest will pack it with different secrets and mysteries pertaining to Dada and the guardian angel that originally is crowned on the priest/ess head.
It is said that Dada is a orisha that shouldn’t be given out to everyone because of the simple fact that you are giving your crown to someone else and ultimately you will fall. Especially if you have a specific sign in that you definetly cant give it. This orisha lives on top of Chango 6 months or for the remaining of your life depending on the sign or oddun that you bring with Dada. Her sacrificial animals are the same foods that Chango eats. In some houses, Dada’s mysteries are born but are fed with Obatala and Osun which he is the owner and ruler of all heads whether you are initiated or not. Both procedures are correct. Dada does have children but he is not crowned on the head actually. If there is a child of Dada which is rare and has not been seen in ages, they are initiated into Chango’s realm and are given Dada and Ibañi’s secrets aside and live on top of Chango forever.
One pataki says that Chango had lost his crown due to his stubbornness and a king is not a king without their crown. His sister Dada who she always was with Ibañi, saw the way Chango was not respected as king. Ibañi told Chango that he would be his crown and he will make his crown more fundament. Chango placed Ibañi on his head and walked back into his kingdom where he was noticed as the king once more. Dada helped raise Chango alongside with Maselobi. You can say she was like his nanny but in reality she was his sister.
Oggue is the orisha that represents the horns of animals. He lives with Chango or alongside of him. He was a gift that Oya gave to Chango. Oggue is represented by a set of bull horns. He does not mount or get initiated. He was given to Chango because one day Chango’s enemies tried to poison the orisha with a pigeon. When Chango was about to eat the pigeon he grew weak and Oggue knew something was wrong. So Oggue offered to eat the pigeon and when he did he noticed that it was indeed poisoned to kill Chango. From that day forward Chango does not eat pigeon. Who eats pigeon is Oggue for Chango due to that pact that they have. He rumbles over all obstacles that lay in Chango’s path and the path of all initiates who have him. His dance is represented by placing your forefingers on your head and imitating the movement of a bull.
The Ibejis or the divine twins are 2 of the most adorable orishas in our community. They are small but very powerful. These orishas are given to priest/ess to overcome difficulty within our everyday lives. They are represented by 2 small vessels that are the same and 2 dolls that are also the same. One usually a male and the other a female. The girl is dressed in blue and the boy is dressed in red and white. They both have the necklaces of the 5 major orishas that are given to every new initiate. They love to be kids and toys should be put to them. The Ibejis just at Elegua love cakes and parties and they are summons when something is really hard to obtain. That’s by either throwing them a party in their name or just attending to them.
They do not have children that they are crowned to but it is said and believed that when a mother gives birth to a set of twins, their guardian angel is either Chango or Yemaya. You usually will bring the guardian angel of one of them and if it comes out Chango, the other twin is automatically a child of Yemaya and vice versa. The next child the mother bears following the twins is usually a child of Oshun, due to that Ideu is the third child that Oshun bore after the divine twins.
The twins are children of Oshun with Chango. Oshun became pregnant and stepped out the scene of the orishas to tend to her secret pregnancy. After the twins were born she secretly rushed to her sister Yemaya’s house. Yemaya who was wondering where her sister Oshun was for such a long time greeted her and there is where she found out why Oshun was lost. Oshun told Yemaya that she was too young to nurture for her twins and that Yemaya would be a better mother that can give them all they needed. So Yemaya took them as her own. Oshun as a gift to her kids gave them a necklace of hers.
These twins were said to have defeated Olosi (the devil) by making his life impossible. Olosi was walking the earth planning to attack the humans on earth and the twins who saw Olosi decided to have some fun with him. They attacked him with the sounds of the drums and playful tricks. Every time Olosi would try to chase one, he would disappear and the other one would come out from where he was hiding. Olosi did not know that they were twins, he believed that there was only one. Olosi grew so tired of chasing that he retreated back to where he came from and the twins were praised.
Another story says that one time Obatala’s enemies were trying to kill him for always changing the ways that they were living. His enemies went to Obatala’s cook and bribed him to be on their side. They offered him a better pay and a better life for him. Obatala’s cook gave in and agreed. Obatala is allergic and does not like salt in his foods and that’s how his enemies were going to get rid of Obatala. The twins overheard this and told Obatala what was planned for him. Obatala did an ebbo and found out that it was true what the twins were telling him. For their courageous efforts, Obatala gave them a white bead each in his name.
Their sacrifical foods are male chickens and pigeons. What you give to one you must give to the other. Their sacrificial foods are cooked and served to them on 2 plates. When you want to resolve something with them, you can make a shrine for them and throw them a simple party where other kids are at with cakes, foods, toys and your everyday party favors. But make sure what you serve to the other kids at the party, you must place the same for the Ibejis.
Aiña is one of Chango’s children. She is a girl that represents his fire. Not the secret but she represents his fire. She is said just to be like her father and when Chango goes to war, she goes alongside of him burning everything in her path. She eats the same as her father Chango. She lives in a red vessel with her secrets and mysteries. She also takes a guiro where her other secrets are placed. This is said to hang in the house of Chango’s followers but not where anybody walks under. You should keep a glass of water next to Aiña so she can keep the fire out of your house and path. When one is at war, you place Aiña next to Chango and you wear her ceremonial necklace that is made up of fire red beads.
This orisha is said to live with either Chango or Orisha Oko. Irawo is represented by a shooting star or comet. It is said that Chango rode Irawo to earth. If you look up in the dark sky of ara onu, you can see Irawo soaring across the sky.
He is one of Chango’s guards. He is represented by a wooden statue with an oshé on top of his head. This statues is painted or dressed in red and white and sometimes he is riding a horse. He has his own tureen that sits next to Chango.
This is the orisha that is the secret of Chango’s fire that he lets out of his mouth when he is at war or upset.