Monday, March 18, 2013

Nagualli Animal Oracle

A few days ago, I was chatting with my FB friend Luis Gomez, who was telling me that he was studying to achieve his transformation for his Nagual (pronounced na-wal) religious studies. I had not heard of that term before, so was grateful to Luis for pointing me in the direction of his meso-American religion.

In this Shamanistic folk religion, the Nagual (alt. Nahual) is a human who can transform themselves into the form of their animal totem or familiar.  The religion is linked to the Meso-American Calendrical system, and the birth date of the person is used to define whether they have the ability to be Nagual, and which particular animal their totem will be. The religion derives from the Meso-American belief in Tonalism, where all humans have an animal counterpart to which their life force is linked.

As we were discussing his beliefs, I asked Luis if there was a Tarot deck associated with Nahualism, but he was not aware of one. Knowing the Olmec/Mayan/Aztec propensity for wonderfully colourful artwork, I figured such a deck would be an amazing collection of vivid illustrations. A quick search by Yours Truly on the amazing Aeclectic Tarot site turned up, not a Tarot deck, but a Nahualli Animal Oracle deck of 40 cards, and, yes, they are as colourful and symbolic as I was expecting them to be!

As Luis continued to educate me, I figured that, if I were lucky enough to have a chosen Nagualli totem, I would want it to be a Panther. Luis' own Nagual is the Jaguar, and, in the Americas, the Panther is genetically a Jaguar with a dominant melanistic allele, resulting in its black colouring. It is interesting that, in the Nahualli Animal Oracle card shown above, the Jaguar is actually represented in the black form - i.e. as a Panther!

The Nagual tradition allows for many other animals to be totems, such as coyotes, eagles and deer. (Not sure about bats, though, but I will research and let you know!!) With the current interest in vampire, werewolf, and demon romances, not to mention the success of the Grimm television series, it's nice to be able to relate back to an earlier and much more powerful belief and tradition than these recent regurgitations, and know that, for some of us at least, these are more than just pretty fairy stories to flutter a young girl's heart - they are a way of life, and a means whereby their acolytes can learn and grow into the leaders that their people believe in and are guided by.

Thank you, Luis, for your insight, and for teaching me about your wonderful, colourful religion!


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