Sango in the Ifa Religion

Double sided ax representing Sango

Sango (Shango or Chango) is a prominent and respectable Orisha within many African spiritual practices. He is one of the ancestral fathers and Orishas of the Yorubas. However, devotees also venerate this deity within other diasporic traditions practiced in the Americas and other parts of the world. As a highly revered deity of thunder and lightning, Sango is consummately associated with justice and balance.  

As a strong ruler during his earthly sojourn, Sango brought wealth to his people. He was a powerful man with a colorful personality. Reportedly, he emitted clouds of flames and smoke through his mouth. When he desired more power to defeat his foes, he went to a Babalawo. Thereafter, he developed the ability to manipulate lightning. 

According to one account, Sango developed a charm that allowed him to summon lightning from heaven, and he walked up a hill near the city to test its effectiveness. The enchantment was too effective – a storm erupted immediately, and the lightning struck Sango’s palace, thereby destroying it. The fire killed most of Sango’s wives and children, and he was so severely damaged that he committed suicide on an Ayan tree from which the axes were made.

Sango’s Attributes and Symbols 

Many other legends exist about Sango. However, most of them center around his tyrannical rule and his passion for vengeance. In which case, this Orisha is aptly associated with virility, masculine energy, power, and strength. Likewise, he represents dance and music and the importance of enjoying life to the fullest.

Historically, Sango’s rule was the great wealth of the Oyo Empire. He is connected to the holy ram as well as the colors red and white. Sango, also known as Jakuta in Yoruba folklore, is possibly one of the most prominent Orishas in Yorubaland. He is characterized by many emblems and symbols that signify his greatness in the Ifa tradition.

Chief among these symbols is Sango’s carved double ax. His ax symbolizes power and authority. In some instances, Sango is depicted holding two axes. The ax represents his power and superiority over other Orishas in the Ifa pantheon.

This energy is likewise represented in popular culture as other battleax-carrying deities such as Thor, a famous character from the Marvel comic book and movie series. In this way, the world has come to know Sango as one of the mightiest warrior energies in the spiritual realm. As such, the Yoruba pay great homage to this Orisha.

Learn more about African deities in this episode of the African Spirit Reintegrated + Reimagined: