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Symbolic Nagual Bird Lords: Honoring Aztec Symbols as Oracles

Symbolic Nagual Bird Lords of the Aztec Book of Days
Symbolic Nagual Bird Lords of the Aztec Book of Days

In the Tonalamatl (the Aztec “Book of Days”), there are 20 sets of trecena, or sets of 13-day periods and thirteen “hour” days.

Each of these thirteen time units was governed by a deity.  And, each deity was associated with a Nagual (also spelled Nahual, each pronounced na’wall). 

What’s a Nagual?

We could say Nagual’s are an alter ego, or the representation of an animalistic aspect of Mesoamerican man or deity.   

The Nagual is a facet of consciousness that still runs untethered in the jungles, still beats its wings against moist clouds – the wild part of being that is still wholly primitive, free and unscrupulous.

The Nagual birds are partnered with one deity for each of the thirteen phases in a trecena.  Here’s a list of symbolic associations:

Aztec Symbols
The Nagual Birds of the Thirteen Lords of Days
Day Name of Deity Rulership Associated Nagual Bird
1 Xiuhtecuhtli Lord of Fire Diamond Blue Hummingbird
2 Tlaltecuhtli God of the Earth Emerald Green Hummingbird
3 Chalchiutlicue Goddess of the Waters Royal Hawk
4 Tonatiuh God of the Sun Beneficent Quail
5 Tlazolteotl Goddess of Love Expansive Eagle
6 Teoyaomiqui God of the Fallen Warrior Mighty Screech Owl
7 Xochipilli God of Maize Brilliant Butterfly
8 Tlaloc God of Rain The Golden Eagle
9 Quetzalcoatl God of of Wind The Proud Turkey
10 Tezcatlipoca God of Bounty The Horned Owl
11 Mictlantecuhtli God of the Underworld The Mighty Macaw
12 Tlahuizcalpantecuhtli God of Sunrise The Long-Tailed Quetzal
13 Ilamatecuhtli Goddess of the Skies The Rainbow Parrot

I offer these symbolic Aztec associations because I found the correspondences helpful in my ever-growing construction of symbolic framework’s

What do I mean by that?  Certain symbolic systems (like the Tarot for example) stand up by themselves, on their own symbolic merit.  This Aztec set of deities and their associations can offer cracks of clarity into otherwise hazy events in our lives.

For example: Let’s say the Quail is continually entering my awareness, and I want more clarity or meaning as to its presence.  I can garner more information from this occurance by referring to the Aztec list Nagual bird lords. 

In this example, I see the Quail is associated with the Aztec Sun god, and also the number 4.   From here, I can explore other avenues of  what I call “in-vision” by peering into systems such as elemental symbolism (fire, earth, air, water) or numerology, etc.

Essentially, these Mesoamerican insights provide more symbolic breadcrumbs for me to follow on a Path to deeper symbolic understanding.

I’ve also crafted my own oracle/divination set from thirteen rune-like bits of wood based on this list of Nagual bird lords.   It’s been tremendously helpful (as have been the deities) in unearthing tricky meanings of various ilk.

You can create & utilize your own Nagual Bird oracle too.  Here’s how:

  • Collect thirteen (shooter-marble sized) bits of material that appeal to you (wood, stone, chestnuts, etc). 
  • Engrave, carve or paint the numbers 1-13 on one side.
  • If you wish, you can also add a symbol representing each god-bird on the other side.  
  • Put them all in a clean, recycled soup can (or something similar).
  • Draw a small’ish chalk circle or lay a thread/string circle down on a flat surface. 
  • While contemplating a concept or question, shake your rune can and toss out your Nagual bird bits into the circle (think Yatzee!).
  • The bits that land in the circle are your oracle.  Study the Nagual birds/Aztec deities/numerals, etc. that correspond to the rune bits that landed in your circle.

Of course, you’ll find your own special way to honor the Aztec deities, as well as your own unique method of divining meaning from these fabulous archetypal figures. 

Just approach the process with honor and respect.  Have a genuine heart (Aztec energies don’t abide ulterior or non-virtuous motives well).

Let me know what kind of discoveries you have!

Some other links of interest:

Mayan Symbolism

Bird Symbolism

Nature Symbolism

Number Symbolism

Symbolism of Thirteen