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Changó is the king of Santería – the orisha of passion, virility, drumming, dancing, fire and lightning.

Changó (also spelled Shangó, Ṣango, or Xango) is one of the most popular orishas in Santeria and is the king of our religion on earth. Chango is the orisha of drumming, dancing, thunder, fire, male virility, and leadership. He was once a living king on earth as the fourth Alafin of Oyó in Yoruba land. Chango was not a particularly effective king when he was alive, but he worked miracles after his death and elevation to the status of orisha. (It is considered offensive to discuss the nature of Chango’s death.) He is known for enjoying in revelry, drinking, eating, having many female lovers and being a skillful dancer and drummer. Chango was the first to divine with diloggun, and was the original owner of the Opón Ifá (table of Ifá) before trading it to Orunmila for the batá drums. Chango is a powerful sorcerer who crafts indomitable spells in his Odó (mortar) including the magic that allows him to spit fire. Chango makes his residence at the top of the royal palm tree. His is the power of fire, lightning and thunder. He wields the double headed axe as his favorite weapon. Chango teaches us to live a full life, enjoying all it has to offer, while at the same time cultivating diplomacy and royal grace.
Chango is the essence of masculinity. His patakis (stories) tell us about his love of women, drinking, dancing and partying. His legitimate wife was Obba, but he quickly cast her aside when he grew bored of her and had passionate love affairs with both Oyá and Oshún. He even took it upon himself to defile poor Yegguá, the virginal daughter of Oduduwa, because he saw her chastity as the greatest temptation to conquer. Chango fathered the Ibeji – the first twins. (Their mother is Oshún.) He also fathered Boromú and Borosia, Yegguá’s twins born of her rape. There are many patakis that talk about Changó causing problems for people, and of the orishas complaining about his unruly manner when he was young and impetuous. Through trial and error, and a healthy dose of reality checks from Obatalá, Changó eventually matured and learned the fine arts of diplomacy, royal grace and charm. Changó teaches us that there is still a chance to change and redeem oneself after a lifetime of mistakes. Changó is a loving and fiercely protective father orisha to his children. He is the chief orisha in the Santeria Church of the Orishas, the tutelary orisha of Rev. Dr. E. (our founder), and he works miracles in our lives every day.
Changó does not have caminos or “paths” like some of the other orishas, because he is singular in nature. He was one man that was elevated to being an orisha through the miracles he performed to save his people after death. Chango is one of the “four pillars” of Santeria, along with Obatala, Oshun, and Yemaya. As such, every olorisha that is initiated in Santeria will receive his shrine in their initiation whether  they are his child or not. He is central to every initiation performed in Santería, and all of our kariocha initiations are based off of the style of initiation performed on the Alafin (kings) of Oyo – just as Chango was initiated when he was a king. The obá oriate acts as a representative of Changó, running every ceremony in Santería (Lucumí/Lukumi). He is one of the most celebrated and loved orishas in Santeria because of his generosity and the protection he confers upon his followers.

Symbols, Numbers, Colors and Attributes of Changó

Chango’s eleke is made with alternating red and white beads. This eleke for Chango uses elaborate alternating patterns and cowrie shells for decoration.

Number: 6 and 12

Sacred Place in Nature: the royal palm tree

Colors: red and white

Tools: double headed axe, sword, single headed axe, thunder stones

Temperament: bombastic, outspoken, assertive, charming

Syncretized Catholic Saint: Saint Barbara

Changó’s Caminos (Avatars or “Roads”)

Chango is singular in nature and has no roads or avatars. Before being elevated to the status of orisha he was the Fourth Alafin of Oyó – the chief of his people – and as such he is singular in temperament.

Offerings for Changó

Changó has quite an appetite and enjoys all kinds of hearty food fit for a king. He loves dry white wine, cornmeal porridge with okra, bananas, mangos, ram, rooster, quail, and guinea hen. On rare occasions he enjoys eating tortoise meat. All offerings for Changó should be marked through diloggún divination for best results.

Amalá Ilá for Chango (Cornmeal porridge with okra)

Amalá ilá is a wonderful offering for Changó and is one of his favorite things to eat. It is prepared using yellow cornmeal and 6 pieces of fresh okra. Start by bringing three cups of water to a boil. Season the water with a healthy pinch of salt. Measure out one cup of cornmeal. Cut up the okra into pieces and set them aside. While continually whisking the boiling water, slowly add in the cornmeal with your hand. It is important to whisk the mixture constantly so that it doesn’t clump while it incorporates into the water. Once all of the cornmeal has been added, toss in all of the okra except for 6 pieces and reduce the temperature and cook it on low. Stir it regularly or it may burn on the bottom. Cook the cornmeal for about ten minutes. You may need to switch to a wooden spoon as the mixture will thicken quickly. Serve in a bowl and decorate the top of it with the six remaining pieces of okra. Place Changó’s batea (pot) on a grass mat (estera) and place the bowl of amalá ilá next to him. Leave the offering there for the time indicated by your divination before hand, and once the time has come, remove the amalá ilá and dispose of it at the foot of a palm tree with 6 pennies.

Sweet Amalá (a variation)

You can make a variation of amalá that is sweet as a treat for Changó especially if your divination comes in a particularly hot and dangerous osogbo. Make the recipe as above but omit the salt and okra. Once the cornmeal is cooked, sweeten it with honey to taste and serve in a bowl in the standard way.

Baked Apples for Changó

Here’s another delicious treat you can offer Changó. You’ll need 6 red delicious apples, 1 tablespoon of cinnamon, 1/2 cup of brown sugar, 6 tablespoons of butter and a 1/2 cup of rum. Core the 6 red apples but leave them whole. Place them in a baking dish with the holes facing upward. Put some of the brown sugar and a healthy dash of the cinnamon in each apple, top them with 1 tablespoon (1 pat) of butter on each apple. Drizzle the rum over the apples. Bake the apples uncovered at 350°F for about half an hour. Baste the apples with pan juices from time to time. When done, remove the apples from the oven and allow them to cool a bit. Serve them on a platter. Place Changó on a grass mat (estera) and place the platter of apples beside him as an offering. Leave the addimú in place for the required time then dispose of it in nature with 6 pennies as determined through diloggún divination.