The religious ritual of Sango was possibly designed in order to help the devotees of Sango gain self-control. Historically, Sango brought prosperity to the Oyo Empire during his reign. After deification, the initiation ceremony dictates that this same prosperity be bestowed upon followers, on a personal level. According to Yoruba and Vodou belief systems, Sango hurls bolts of lightning at the people chosen to be his followers, leaving behind imprints of stone axe blade on the Earth’s crust. These blades can be seen easily after heavy rains. Worship of Sango enables- according to Yoruba belief- a great deal of power and self-control.Sango altars often contain a carved figure of a woman holding a gift to the god with a double-bladed axe sticking up from her head. The axe symbolizes that this devotee is possessed by Shango. The woman’s expression is calm and cool, for she is expressing the qualities she has gained through her faith. The orisha, or gods, are Yoruba ancestors or incarnate natural forces. Some of them are ancient, created in the beginning of time by the Great God, Ollorun. Orisha may be considered natural forces such as rivers, mountains, stones, thunder, or lightning. There are two categories of Orisa, which are grouped according to personalities and modes of action. This group of gods mostly consists of males, but there are a few females. Sango’s wife, Oya is also included as a “hot Orisa”. She is the queen of the whirlwind. This Orisa tends to be harsh, demanding, hostile and quick to anger. Other “hot Orisa” include Ogun, god of iron and Obaluaye, lord of pestilence. The second category of Orisa are the Orisa funfun—“the cool, temperate, symbolically white divinities”. These are the gentle, calm, and mellow Orisa. They include: Obatula/Orisonla, the divine sculptor; Osooli/Eyinle, lord of hunting and water; Osanyin, lord of leaves and medicine; Oduduwa, first king of Ile Ife.
Orisa are divine but also deified ancestors of Yorubaland. Sango fits both of these descriptions, for his is not only the embodiment of thunder, but also a hero of the Oyo Empire.
The ibori is the symbol of a person’s inner spiritual essence or individuality known as iponri. The ibori is cone shaped and repeats throughout Yoruba culture. The top of an ibori is called the oke iponri. This tip is made from the person’s placenta and symbols of deities or ancestors. The deity, Sango, is represented by lightning and thunder.