Shango

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In the 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, Undergod of thunder and lightning. Sango was historically a royal ancestor of the Yoruba as he was the third king of the Oyo Kingdom prior to his post-humous deification. 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, the symbolic ancestors of the adherents of the faith. 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 colors red and white; his sacred number is 6; his symbol is the oshe (or 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 also be deduced, in some regards, as the personification of the essence of "strategy" (both logic and passion drawn out and fashioned precisely to achieve some end).

Contents

Personal history

Shango (or Jakuta)[2] was the third king of Oyo in Yorubaland; he (along with 14 others) is said to have burst forth from the Undergoddess Yemaja's body after her son, Orungan, attempted to rape her for the second time. It must be stated here, however, that there are almost as many distinct stories regarding the birth and parentage of Shango as there are clans of the Yoruba tribe.

The king 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 when in female form. As the story goes, Obatala, the king of the white cloth was travelling and had to cross a river. Aganju, the ferryman and Undergod 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 unusual 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 or stories of the faith, we find that 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 tend to revolve around dramatic events such as this one. He has three wives; his favorite (because of her excellent cooking) is Oshun, a river Undergoddess. His other wife, Oba, another river spirit, was conned by Oshun into offering their husband her ear to eat. His anger was greatly kindled by this, and she is said to have fled from his presence to subsequently become the Oba River, which merges with the Oshun River to form dangerous rapids that are believed to be the physical manifestation of her life-long hatred for her fellow royal consort. Lastly, Oya was Shango's third wife, and was the one out of the three who managed to learn the secrets of his powerful magic to use in later life.

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