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Nahuales, sacred animals with nocturnal powers

Our pre-Hispanic history is full of magic, secrets and many supernatural living things. However, within the mystical repertoire of creatures, the nahuales deserve all our attention.

What is a nahual?

The name comes from the nahuatl, Nahualli, which means hidden or disguised.

While many think Nahual is a completely different entity to what we know, it is actually a human. But it is capable of becoming into fantastic animals.

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This power is not learned or inherited, but acquired at birht. It is like a sacred gift that only a few will be able to develop during their lives.

Nahuales, have a guardian known as the lord of the night, called Tezcatlipoca. So transmutation only happens at night. Darkness is the one in charge of welcoming the forces to make the transformation.

Transformation levels

Some become into coyotes, jaguars, eagles or dogs. During their night tours, Nahuales may fight each other or anything that wants to do evil on the villages. Some say, they steal seeds and chicken from the inhabitants.

In some ancient cultures, it was believed that each human had an animal to protect them. They guide them and looked out for them as spirits. Some even appeared on their dreams like a specific animal.

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However, as we mentioned before, only a few got control over their creatures.

Nahuales, mythical creatures

In ancient times, most shamans had this ability, but their capabilities went even further. Their Nahuales advertised them if a disaster was coming. And they healed illness and handled water and land.

In addition, their senses were highly developed. Legend says they had eagle eyes, ocelot ears and wolf’s smell. Unfortunately some didn’t use their gifts for good. Hence the eternal fights between nahuales.

In Mexico, this belief still exists in some far away towns. The villagers say sometimes animals have been murdered late at night, and at sunrise, they appear as human corpses.

In Tuxtla, for example, they believe that nocturnal birds are actually dangerous nahuales that seek evil for somebody.

True or not, the mysticism in our traditions is worth keeping. Besides, we cannot deny that animals have always had a special role in myths and people’s lives.

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Barbara García

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