The deep sea of awareness, the boundless, that which surrounds, the space between, these and more are attributed to this Nahuatl word about the world that is not tonal. Its origins are deeply connected to the practice of shape shifting in a shamanic sense where ones nagual was the animal one became in the dream time. The ancients were masters of projecting their awareness into the “other world” and flying, hunting, or seeking the necessities for the tribe. If the tonal is the bright vibrational energies of all we know, the nagual is that which surrounds the tonal and more.
Where the tonal is easy to define, because it is the essence of the defined, the nagual has become in this tradition a most elusive word. At times it is used to denote a place beyond. At times it is used to denote a person. At times it is used to denote energy. At times it is used to denote the indefineable. In all cases it has an air of mystery. Its elusiveness seems beyond grasp, quicksand in the dreaming of our nighttime places.
Science continues to profound us with discoveries. The deeper they go into exploring the fabric of the universe, the more their descriptions sound like ancient ancestor’s poetry. Dark matter and dark energy are now proposed to be over 95% of the stuff within the universe at large. Untouchable, incomprehensible this is the very thing that is keeping the universe together. That means 5% of the universe is the tonal and 95% nagual if we are to stretch a bridge between these mental constructs. And herein is the essential brilliance of many of the writings on the Toltec path. These warrior-travelers have been working with this long before a scientific justification came along.
It is out of the nagual that the tonal coalesces, the areas where density sparks the fire of the stars and the solidity of matter. We are literally swimming in the nagual all the time distracted by the pretty lights. The shaman, the artists, the scientists, the mystics of old went out into the nagual all the time. They are constantly bringing back a view, an energy, a new resource or mystery we have not considered. Often they turn the bright light of awareness on a new band or energy and we all leap into a new paradigm.
Everyone of us is nagual. Everyone of us is tonal. The path is about fluidity and the ability to swim between seeking the profound in the midst of the mundane. There are no words in the nagual. We must create and recreate them all the time. And we must release the concepts within the tonal to be able to leap deeper into its vast ocean of possibilities.
When we say that a person is the nagual, it means they connect us to this wordless motion and aid us in activating other bands of awareness. Having the great fortune to know a benefactor, a nagual of extreme discipline, he shared that the nagual can come from any direction, any source. He always maintained that nagual was not him; it is not personal for that is the tonal speaking.
We like to use terms like spirit or energy for this. Yet in reality these terms have become the melba toast of our day. When we understand the rich tradition of a term like nagual, even though its foreignness or “otherness” excites us, we come to respect a tradition of seeking knowledge in the unknown, the deep sea of infinity. And it is more than just a singular word from a limited cultural context. Its roots as a word speak to a global understanding.
There is no map to the nagual. We are mapmakers when we swim in its potential. There are no symbols or structures. There are no bright lights. But there is access to other bands of awareness… other tonals. We can create in that energy bands of attention… dreams of realities interesting and strange. Choice is the key.