General Aztecs Maya Tocuaro Kids Contact 19 Sep 2017/8 Reed
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Animal masks by Mexican mask maker Sr Pozos

Los Nahuales - Animal Companion Spirits

We are delighted to present here a modern Mexican story that introduces the ancient Mesoamerican concept nahualli or nagual - this has myriad translations (avatar, companion spirit, animal spirit guide, alter ego, shape-shifter, spirit helper, other self, animal familiar...) and will be known to readers of JK Rowling’s Harry Potter books and Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials. This gentle and appealing tale, based on true life, was written by a good friend of ours, Carlos Leonardo Baresh, and is reprinted by permission of the author from his much recommended book (see last link below...) Hummingbird Hill Ranch, available on Amazon. Our thanks too to Steve Radzi for the set of super colour illustrations.

Pic 1: ‘A simple wooden hut... from which bellowed whitish puffs of smoke’
Pic 1: ‘A simple wooden hut... from which bellowed whitish puffs of smoke’ (Click on image to enlarge)

IT WAS LATE AFTERNOON in mid-October. The heat of the day was giving way to the early evening cool air. The bright sky was slowly disappearing behind thickening haze sneaking up from the lowlands of the distant seashore. Suddenly, we could feel the damp breeze. The rain would be here before long.
We pushed up the remaining half kilometer of the roughly cobbled trail. A few giant igera trees towered over the narrow path, obscuring loose stones and dark patches of slippery moss. Just as the going was getting difficult, we glimpsed the outline of a simple wooden hut nestled in a cranny between two rounded hills. The hut looked like a sleepy, squat dragon with a long, upright snout, from which bellowed whitish puffs of smoke. The dragon’s eye, a small window, was dimly lit, and we could smell the fragrance of his breath. The sweet smell of burning huisache (sweet acacia tree).
Old Señor Pozos opened the hut’s door on the first knock, and we quickly slipped into the warmth of his simple but hospitable cabaña (cabin), escaping from the enclosing, foggy darkness.
“Buenas noches,” Tisha said and extended her hand. “How are you, Señor Pozos?”
“Bien...bien, gracias.” Señor Pozos smiled. “Y ustedes?”
“Very well, gracias a Dios,” I said and shook Señor Pozos’s calloused hand.

Pic 2: ‘Old Señor Pozos opened the hut’s door on the first knock’
Pic 2: ‘Old Señor Pozos opened the hut’s door on the first knock’ (Click on image to enlarge)

“Please...sit down, sit,” said Señor Pozos, motioning to a set of low, handmade chairs arranged by a cozy wood stove.
I had always wondered why the mountain people here had such low chairs in their cabins until I sat on one. The chairs are surprisingly comfortable, and they are quite close to the ground. Since there are no tables in these modest rooms, it’s convenient to set your cup of coffee on the floor, or, if you happen to be shelling corn from the pile of cobs heaped up on the floor, the grain basket for the seeds is right at hand. Also, the cabin’s low ceiling seems to be much higher from this low-chair perspective, giving you the feeling of ample space.
“Coffee?” asked Señor Pozos almost automatically. Before we could answer, he took down a couple of blue enamel cups from the roof beam nails and dipped them into the gently bubbling pot on the stove.
¿Café de olla?” asked Tisha (coffee from the pot, a traditional, often spicy folk brew).
“Fresh one.” Señor Pozos smiled and handed us the cups.

Pic 3: ‘The room was instantly filled with the delicious smell of boiled coffee...’
Pic 3: ‘The room was instantly filled with the delicious smell of boiled coffee...’ (Click on image to enlarge)

The room was instantly filled with the delicious smell of boiled coffee, cinnamon, and piloncillo (dark, flavorful sugar cones made from sugarcane syrup). The smell of the coffee mixed pleasantly with the fragrance of a few beeswax candles, which were set in old glass jars decorated with worn-out images of St. Maria Guadalupe. Obviously remnant containers from some religious offerings. The yellowish flames flickered in the occasional whiffs of air pushed through the gaps between the wallboards, thus creating a mysterious dance of light and shadow on the rough-cut wood. I couldn’t help but stare at the rows of papier-mâché masks hanging from the wallboards. In the flickering light, the masks seemed to watch me in a mesmerizing, forbidding way.
“Yours are right there,” said Grandpa Pozos, pointing to a group of beautifully crafted animal masks off to one side.
“They are gorgeous,” Tisha said and got up to examine them.
“Glad you like them.”

Pic 4: ‘“I really love the wolf. It’s fearsome...and still, it’s kind of cuddly”’
Pic 4: ‘“I really love the wolf. It’s fearsome...and still, it’s kind of cuddly”’ (Click on image to enlarge)

WE WERE LUCKY to find old Señor Pozos, a well-respected mask maker on our side of the mountain. We had met him thanks to his grandson Danny. During midsummer I had written a children’s play to be performed by our small theater group at Xico’s Winter Festival. The play was about a petulant princess who was transformed into a squirrel for her snappish behavior. She served her sentence in an enchanted forest, full of magical animals, many of them also punished children.
When we were trying to figure out how to represent these animals, Danny, one of our actors, said that his grandfather was an excellent mask maker and that he would certainly be happy to help us out. Fortunately for us, it happened just as Danny promised.
“I really love the wolf,” gushed Tisha over the animal masks. “It’s fearsome...and still, it’s kind of cuddly.”
“I love the squirrel,” I said, taking the mask down from the board. “I am sure Erica will be very happy with it!”
“Erica is the girl who will play the princess squirrel,” said Tisha to Señor Pozos. “I am quite sure she will love her mask.”
“Señor Pozos, you have done such an excellent work,” I added. “How can we thank you?”

Pic 5: ‘“You know about nahuales, no?” Señor Pozos asked, and he limped toward the animal masks’
Pic 5: ‘“You know about nahuales, no?” Señor Pozos asked, and he limped toward the animal masks’ (Click on image to enlarge)

Señor Pozos smiled proudly in the corners of his eyes, but on the surface, he remained modestly indifferent. Then he waved his hand. “I wanted to bring the masks down to your ranch, but...”
“What happened?” asked Tisha, noticing Señor Pozos’s limp.
“Ahhh, some silly stuff.” He paused for a second, as if deciding how to put it, but then continued. “Two nights ago, my nahual got caught in some old barbwire. Now my leg is giving me trouble.”
Tisha and I looked at each other, not sure how to respond.
“You know about nahuales, no?” Señor Pozos asked, and he limped toward the animal masks.
Tisha and I looked at each other again, and then we nodded.
Señor Pozos smiled. “I thought so. Your theater play is about nahuales. So you must know about them,” he said with an uncanny certainty.
“Sort of,” I said cautiously, thinking of how my play, a spinoff of an old Czech fairy tale, could be interpreted here, in the Mexican mountains, as a play about nahuales.

Pic 6: ‘My nahual is a vixen...’
Pic 6: ‘My nahual is a vixen...’ (Click on image to enlarge)

“And your nahual, it got hurt?” I asked even more cautiously, knowing well that talking about one’s nahual is a strict taboo.
Señor Pozos nodded. “Yes, she did. Poor thing.”
“SHE did?” asked Tisha. “Don’t men have male nahuales?”
“Not always,” answered Señor Pozos, and he took down a very realistic yet very magical fox mask. “Mine is a vixen.”
Tisha and I were unsettled. Such a direct revelation seemed unheard of. It was like giving your credit card with your PIN to a stranger. When we glanced at Señor Pozos again, he was smiling. Obviously he had noticed our discomfort.
“Don’t worry. I am an old man,” he said easily. “I don’t mind talking about these things.”
He motioned us to the chairs again. We sat by the stove, the blue cups refilled with the fragrant café de olla. Each one of us was holding a mask. I had the squirrel, Tisha the wolf, and Señor Pozos his vixen.
“You two, you have nahuales?” asked Señor Pozos without any hesitation.
“I don’t,” I said quite directly. “At least as far as I know.”
Señor Pozos nodded. I was starting to like this old man.
“I was born in Bohemia, in Europe,” I explained. “We don’t seem to have any nahuales there.”

Pic 7: ‘“Vodník,” I repeated. “An old Czech water spirit.”’
Pic 7: ‘“Vodník,” I repeated. “An old Czech water spirit.”’ (Click on image to enlarge)

The grandpa looked at me with his foxy eyes. Yes, that was it! He sure had foxy eyes, now that I knew about his nahual. Maybe he was now thinking about where this Bohemia place might be?
“Yes, you do,” he said suddenly. “You have them for sure. It’s just that you don’t think about them like that.”
“I don’t know.” I shook my head. “I have read that nahuales were something very Mexican. They don’t seem to have much to do with Central Europe.”
He smiled broadly as he got up. “Bueno, you say Mexican.” He limped to the wall and took down another mask. “And what about this?” he asked, putting the mask over his face. A sudden chill ran down my spine. My hair stood on end.
“That’s vodník,” I blurted out.
“It’s what?” asked Tisha.
“Vodník,” I repeated. “An old Czech water spirit.”
“You see?” Grandpa Pozos laughed, pleased with his effect.
“How did you?” I looked deeply into his greenish eyes.
“Never mind,” he said. “You see, nahuales can have many forms. It’s not all fairytales.”

Pic 8: ‘He got up again and brought a mask of a strange-looking bird’
Pic 8: ‘He got up again and brought a mask of a strange-looking bird’ (Click on image to enlarge)

I just nodded, transfixed by the vodník mask.
“You know,” continued Señor Pozos, “they exist in many places. Where we exist, they exist.”
“I don’t think I have a nahual,” said Tisha, now completely drawn into this magical encounter. “And I am a Mexican.”
“You know, dear,” said Señor Pozos, touching Tisha’s hand, “the nahual is kind of a gift.”
“A gift?”
“Sí, a gift from your parents. Or it’s a gift from nature spirits.”
“I didn’t know that,” said Tisha, caressing the wolf mask.
“But you know what nahuales are, no?” he added.
“Well, they are kind of animal spirits. Something like our spiritual animal companions.”
“Or some people can change into them,” I added. “Like the werewolves, bats, the shapeshifters?”
Señor Pozos looked at us for a while and then smiled patiently, as if he had in front of him a pair of first graders.
“Yes, it’s something like that.”
He got up again and brought a mask of a strange-looking bird. As he was sitting down, I glimpsed the edge of a blood-stained bandage under his right trouser leg.

Pic 9: ‘”I am talking about the Aztec signs”’
Pic 9: ‘”I am talking about the Aztec signs”’ (Click on image to enlarge)

“You see, many people think that nahuales are something bad. They think the people who have nahuales are some kind of witches.”
I nodded, reflecting on the readings I had done in the past.
“But that’s not true.” He shook his head. “Nahuales are spiritual animal forms. They are our guardians. They are not bad, and they are not good. They are the same way wild animals are.”
“They are neutral?” I asked.
“It’s just...you see, the way they are depends on us. How we think, what we do.”
“You mean,” I tried to clarify, “it’s like, if we are good, the nahuales are also good?”
“And if we have bad thoughts, the nahuales are bad, too.” He nodded. “Your nahual can be a little lamb, but if you are a bad person, your lamb could be a killer.”
Tisha nodded. “That makes sense. But how is it with that gift?”
“Look, when you are born, you are born under the sign of your birthday.”
“Something like the horoscope signs?” I asked.
“No. I am talking about the Aztec signs.”

Pic 10: ‘”“I was born under the sign of Cozcaquauhtli, the Vulture”’
Pic 10: ‘”“I was born under the sign of Cozcaquauhtli, the Vulture”’ (Click on image to enlarge)

“I see.”
“So your parents know this day, and they know your sign. If they don’t know this, they talk with a shaman. On the fourth day of your life, they make a special ceremony for you, and they give you your guardian. That’s your birth sign.”
“And from there on, this is your nahual?” asked Tisha.
“Not always.” Señor Pozos shook his head and lifted the bird mask. “I was born under the sign of Cozcaquauhtli, the Vulture. When I was older, my parents told me who my nahual was. I didn’t like it. I didn’t like that sign.”
“When did they tell you?”
“They tell you when they think you are old enough to be responsible for your actions.”
“Because when you are too young, you would blame all your mischiefs on your nahual, right?” Tisha laughed.
“Something like that.” Señor Pozos nodded, and we all laughed. “You see, when I learned that my nahual was the vulture, I didn’t like it. You know what people think about them, no?”
“Yeah.” I nodded. “Particularly in Western culture. To be called a vulture isn’t very flattering. And to have a vulture for a personal protector? No, thanks.”

Pic 11: ‘”The vulture nahuales are very wise, and they are very brave”’
Pic 11: ‘”The vulture nahuales are very wise, and they are very brave”’ (Click on image to enlarge)

“I know better now,” Señor Pozos said mildly and looked into the hollow eyes of the vulture mask in his hand. “The vulture nahuales are very wise, and they are very brave. Very brave. In the Aztec language, we call them Cozcaquauhtli - the Necklaced Eagles. I didn’t know that when I was young. So I rejected this birthday nahual they gave me.”
“You can reject your nahual?” asked Tisha, surprised.
“Yes, you can. When you are told who your nahual is, you can accept it or you can reject it.”
“How does the nahual feel about that?” I asked, imagining a scorned, furious animal spirit.
“I don’t know,” said Señor Pozos. “I never thought about that.”
“Could their feelings be hurt?” asked Tisha.
“I don’t think so. The way I know it is that the nahual must want you. And you must want the nahual. If one of you is not sure, or if you don’t want this, it won’t happen.”
“Then what?” I asked.
“Bueno,” Señor Pozos said slowly. “You can stay without a nahual all your life, or you might find a new one. Or a new one may find you.”
“Is that possible?”

Pic 12: ‘”I’ll tell you what my grandpa told me...”’
Pic 12: ‘”I’ll tell you what my grandpa told me...”’ (Click on image to enlarge)

“Sure is.” Señor Pozos smiled and lifted up his fox mask. “It happened to me. I always liked the foxes. Then, one day...my nahual found me.”
“How did that happen?” I asked, forgetting the sensitive nature of this dialogue.
He shrugged. “It’s rather complicated. Let’s say that she first came to me in my dreams. Until one early morning I met her in person. I was sixteen then. I was going to milk my grandpa’s cows.”
There was a moment of silence as we reflected on the significance of these words. Meanwhile, Señor Pozos put down the mask and added few pieces of wood into the stove.
“More coffee?” he asked, as if this were the end of the conversation.
“No, thanks,” I answered, feeling already buzzed. “If you don’t mind, can I ask you where these nahuales came from? I mean, how did people get them?”
“Sure, I don’t mind. I’ll tell you what my grandpa told me.”
“Gracias.” Tisha breathed in anticipation.

Pic 13: ‘”Long time ago, there lived gods here. There lived simple people, and there lived gods. This was a very long time ago”’
Pic 13: ‘”Long time ago, there lived gods here. There lived simple people, and there lived gods. This was a very long time ago”’ (Click on image to enlarge)

Señor Pozos just nodded and continued. “You see, my grandpa was very knowledgeable about this. His own nahual was the lynx. That’s a very wise animal spirit.”
“Your grandpa told you about his nahual?” asked Tisha. This was all new to her.
Señor Pozos nodded. “He told me many things. I didn’t have a father. My father was killed on the railroad work. When they were building down in Chiapas. Before I was born. So my grandpa told me everything for my education. He was a great man.”
The silence filled the room again, save for the crackling of the fire and the occasional wind howls outside the hut. A few light drops started to descend on the tin roof.
“Maybe you know this,” started Señor Pozos, “but I tell you anyway. Long time ago, there lived gods here. There lived simple people, and there lived gods. This was a very long time ago.”
“Yes. In some cultures, they call this the First Time.”
“First Time,” pondered Señor Pozos. “That’s a very good name.”

Pic 14: ‘”The most famous ones were four brothers: two were Tezcatlipocas, then Quetzalcoatl, and then Huitzilopochtli”’
Pic 14: ‘”The most famous ones were four brothers: two were Tezcatlipocas, then Quetzalcoatl, and then Huitzilopochtli”’ (Click on image to enlarge)

He paused and sipped from his cup. “There were many gods here,” he said, “but the most famous ones were four brothers: two were Tezcatlipocas, then Quetzalcoatl, and then Huitzilopochtli.”
“The sons of the Creator Ometéotl,” I piped in, trying to show my knowledge.
Tisha gave me a secret kick and frowned at me: don’t butt in!
“Sí, the children of Ometéotl,” agreed Señor Pozos with a slight smile. Obviously he had seen Tisha’s kick. “Those were hard times. The spirit of good and the spirit of evil battled over the worlds. Life was not safe. The people were frightened They wanted protection.”
“Didn’t they have the gods?” blurted out Tisha.
“They did,” said Señor Pozos, obviously not minding the interruptions. “But they wanted some guardian that belonged directly to them, you see.” He lifted the animal masks. “Some guardian that was strong and smart. That had the power they didn’t have.”
“An animal spirit,” I chimed in.
“A nahual,” added Tisha.

Pic 15: ‘“The Jaguar is a powerful nahual,” said Señor Pozos’
Pic 15: ‘“The Jaguar is a powerful nahual,” said Señor Pozos’ (Click on image to enlarge)

Señor Pozos smiled again. “Do you know where the word nahual comes from?”
“I imagine from some Aztec word,” ventured Tisha.
“Correcto. The word is nahualli. It means a being of double projection, or something like that.”
I nodded. “Like having a double.”
“Could be,” said Señor Pozos. “D’you know that the gods had their own nahuales? Yes, they were quite famous for that. I mean, for having nahuales. And they could change into their form.”
“Black Tezcatlipoca had a Jaguar as his nahual,” said Tisha.
“Better say HAS a Jaguar,” corrected Grandpa Pozos.
“Well...yes,” admitted Tisha, allowing for the notion that the gods still existed.
“The Jaguar is a powerful nahual,” said Señor Pozos.
We nodded. I loved jaguars. Sleek, fast, languid...but ferocious.
“Black Tezcatlipoca is also the keeper of the nahuales. He’s their protector.”
“Doesn’t he also have a coyote?” I asked.
“Yes, That’s the trickster side of him, the deceiver. The Smoking Mirror.” He nodded.

Pic 16: ‘“How many signs are there?” I asked. “Twenty”’
Pic 16: ‘“How many signs are there?” I asked. “Twenty”’ (Click on image to enlarge)

“And Quetzalcóatl?” I asked.
“You know that, no?” Señor Pozos winked.
“I know the Feathered Serpent. Some people say that he also has the coyote.”
“I don’t think so.” Señor Pozos shook his head. “I never heard that. That’s Tezcatlipoca who has the coyote, not Quetzalcoatl.”
“Okay...”
Entonces, one day, the people came to Tezcatlipoca. They came to ask him for help. They wanted him to give them their own nahuales. Just like that.”
“And he did?”
“For sure, he did. He made a sacred calendar. In that calendar, every day has a sign. He told the people that on the day they were born, the day sign would be their nahual.”
“How many signs are there?” I asked.
“Twenty.”
“Only twenty?”
“Yeah, twenty. And not all are animals,” said Señor Pozos.

Pic 17: ‘”Tezcatlipoca...gave permission to other animals to be people’s nahuales”’
Pic 17: ‘”Tezcatlipoca...gave permission to other animals to be people’s nahuales”’ (Click on image to enlarge)

“You mean, you could also have something else for a nahual, not just an animal?” asked Tisha.
“You can have anything. Stone, water, cloud, cabaña...anything you like.”
“Is the fox one of those twenty signs?” I asked.
Señor Pozos started to laugh. “I thought you would ask that. No, the fox isn’t. The vulture is.”
“So?”
“I think that after some time, Tezcatlipoca noticed that some people weren’t happy with their birth sign nahuales.”
“Just like you?” I said.
He nodded. “Yeah, I didn’t want my vulture.”
“But you wanted a nahual, no?” I said.
“I did.”
“And Tezcatlipoca?” asked Tisha, wanting her story.
“You know, he is smart,” said Señor Pozos. “He wasn’t angry. He just changed things. He gave permission to other animals to be people’s nahuales.”
“And those nahuales you have to choose yourself, right?” asked Tisha, hoping to get to the bottom of this.
“Yes, those you choose. Remember what I said. It also depends on the nahual. Both of you must want this. You must connect together, and you must choose.”
“So, how can I choose a nahual?” I asked rather timidly, hoping to be initiated into the secret.

Pic 18: ‘”The mountain goats are on a ledge. They are having a tea picnic there, and I am climbing up just beside them”’
Pic 18: ‘”The mountain goats are on a ledge. They are having a tea picnic there, and I am climbing up just beside them”’ (Click on image to enlarge)

“You know what? It’s not difficult,” replied Señor Pozos. “Maybe you already have a nahual.”
I shrugged. I couldn’t imagine what it could be.
“Do you have some special animal you like?”
“I like animals...and I like nature.”
“Something special? Something that makes you feel good?”
“I love trees...and I like horses...” Suddenly an image popped into my mind. “I really love mountain goats,” I said enthusiastically.
Chivitos,” said Señor Pozos.
“Most of my life I used to climb the mountains, whenever I had some free time,” I added.
“And?”
“It made me feel really good. Kind of free.”
“Did you see any chivitos there?” asked Grandpa Pozos.
“Many times,” I said. Just the thought of them warmed my heart. “They are so beautiful...so daring. I think they also have very kind hearts.”
Señor Pozos was smiling. Later, Tisha told me that he was staring at me with kind of X-ray eyes. I didn’t notice that. I was imagining my favorite mountain goats.
“You know,” I said suddenly, “many years ago, my first wife gave me a picture for my birthday. She had drawn it herself. It’s a small picture. It shows a mountain ledge with some mountain goats on it. They are having a tea picnic there, and I am climbing up just beside them.”
“I think your first wife was a very sensitive woman,” said Señor Pozos. “Maybe she could see your nahual. So she made this picture.”
I nodded, trying to put it all together. Here at our ranch, we keep a flock of sheep. I really like them. And they seem to like me. They come to me to pet them, almost like friends.
“You have some sheep, no?” asked Señor Pozos.
“Yes, we do,” I said. This foxy old guy. I think he knows more than he shows.
“Well, think about that,” he said, and he got up.

Pic 19: ‘”You can tie them up right here.” He pointed to the sturdy roof beams...’
Pic 19: ‘”You can tie them up right here.” He pointed to the sturdy roof beams...’ (Click on image to enlarge)

I looked at my watch. It was already ten o’clock. Tisha got up as well. The night behind the little window was damp and foggy. The wind was still whistling through the boards, and the occasional raindrop resounded on the tin roof.
“Are you walking down the mountain?” asked Señor Pozos, motioning to the windows.
The night outside seemed quite forbidding. I felt kind of silly, but I had to say: “Bueno. I brought our hamacas with us. Just in case.”
Señor Pozos laughed. “Maybe I am not the only fox here.”
“That is, if you don’t mind?” I added.
No, está bien. You can tie them up right here.” He pointed to the sturdy roof beams.
I opened my packsack and pulled out the hammocks. I had even brought some tie cords, just in case. Tisha seemed uncomfortable. Maybe because we were taking over Grandpa’s small cabin?
“Don’t worry, Doña,” said Señor Pozos, as if reading her mind. “I sleep over there.” And he pointed to a small door partially covered by a wool blanked.
“Gracias, Señor Pozos,” said Tisha. “You are very kind.”
“The latrine is outside...and there is a tub of fresh water,” he added, heading for his room.
“Gracias, y buenas noches,” I said.
De qué.” He smiled. “Sleep well.”

Pic 20: ‘Around midnight, I could hear light scratching on the wall below the window...’
Pic 20: ‘Around midnight, I could hear light scratching on the wall below the window...’ (Click on image to enlarge)

After a quick wash outside, we climbed into our hammocks. The room smelled smoky and safe. It was our cozy enclave amid the wild, mountain night. After a few minutes, I could hear Tisha’s regular breathing. She is like that. She can fall asleep anywhere.
It started to rain again. I couldn’t sleep. I don’t like sleeping in a hammock. It makes me feel claustrophobic. On top of it, my head was full of nahuales and of all kinds of imaginary, mystical creatures. I just lay there, listening to the night behind the thin pine boards and to the drops on the roof. The rain and the fog muffled most of the sounds, but that made the night even more mysterious.
Around midnight, I could hear light scratching on the wall below the window. I turned, slowly, and I could swear that I saw a fox face staring in from the dark. Just as I looked at it, it disappeared. Maybe...just maybe, it was Señor Pozos, checking up on us. Making sure everything was OK before he ran off on his nightly errands.

Notes on and sources of the images:-
• Main picture: photo of masks made by the real Sr. Pozos by and courtesy of Carlos Leonardo Baresh
• Pix 1,2,3,4,5,19 and 20: Colour drawings produced specially for Mexicolore by Steve Radzi (mayavision.com)
• Pic 6: Photo of a vixen in England by and courtesy of Paul Cecil (Everything is Permuted / www.permuted.org.uk)
• Pic 7: Photo by Karelj of a stone vodyonoy (Czech water spirit) in the small village of Peklo in the Metuje river valley, eastern Bohemia, Czech Republic - from Wikimedia Commons
• Pic 8: Photo by Ian Mursell/Mexicolore of a ceramic late Classic Period anthropo-zoomorphic figure from Jaina, Campeche, Mexico (original in the Museo Regional de Campeche), depicting the merging of a human with their owl spirit helper
• Pic 9: Image from the Codex Borgia (fol. 53) showing multi-layered links between animals, humans and calendar signs - image scanned from the ADEVA facsimile edition of the Codex (Graz, Austria, 1976)
• Pix 10 & 16: Colour illustrations produced for Mexicolore by © and courtesy of Felipe Dávalos
• Pic 11: (L) Image (detail of fol. 13) scanned from the ADEVA facsimile edition of the Codex Magliabechiano (Graz, Austria, 1970); (R) Photo of a king vulture at Smithsonian National Zoological Park, Washington DC, USA by Eric Kilby - from Wikipedia (King Vulture)
• Pic 12: Photo by Ian Mursell/Mexicolore of a clay figure of an elderly Huastec man with child from the Gulf Coast of Mexico - original in the Musée du Quai Branly, Paris
• Pic 13: Colour drawing by Lowell Houser scanned from The Bright Feather and Other Maya Tales by Dorothy Rhoads (New York, 1932)
• Pic 14: Colour drawings by Gwendal Uguen (follow link below)
• Pic 15: Photo by Ian Mursell/Mexicolore of a ceramic late Classic Period whistle figure from Jaina, Campeche, Mexico (original in the Museo Nacional de Antropología, Mexico City); the seated high status Maya figure embraces a feline creature - very possibly his jaguar spirit helper
• Pic 17: Image (p.17) from the Codex Borbonicus (original in the Bibliotheque de l’Assembée Nationale, Paris) scanned from our own copy of the ADEVA facsimile edition, Graz, Austria, 1974
• Pic 18: Drawing by and thanks to Marta Nielsen.

‘Nahual or daemon?’

‘Aztec Gods - A Gallery’

Study an Aztec stone coyote figure

‘Witchcraft and Sorcery in Ancient Mexico’

For an academic, in-depth study of ‘nahualism’ written by the American scholar Daniel G. Brinton and read before the American Philosophical Society, January 1894, click here
Visit the author’s website for details of his books...
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