Tonal and Nahual

If we want to understand what will happen in 2012 and our role in this cosmic mechanism, we must understand that the four movements also govern the most essential of all human aspects, namely our consciousness and perceptions.

Nahui ollin, the Four States of Perception and the Five Bodies

These figures represent the four forces that sustain the universe, whose interactions result in the perennial movement. As explained above, time comes from this interaction. Where do these forces come from, however? They come from the subtle worlds, where the physical and material universe comes to an end. They come from the mysterious world of the nahual, our consciousness of the sleep and spiritual state.

These figures encapsulate the highest form of knowledge of human nature ever achieved by pre-Columbian civilizations: how four energy bodies in movement (tonal, teyolia, nahual and ihiyotl, which will be discussed shortly) can give rise to a physical body (tonacayo) that is never the same, which is constantly self-renewing, and which changes and moves forward from moment to moment. In this physical dimension, traditionally these four subtle bodies are referred to as ‘eggs’ in the Aztec tradition and as burbuja (‘bubble’) in the Andean tradition, and more generally as ‘aura.’ 

These bodies are vehicles through which we can explore realities located well beyond the limits of the physical world. Their eternal movement is like a cosmic dance, which invents us and then reinvents us, which creates us and makes us continue onwards. The interactions among these four energy bodies create both the physical body (tonacayo) as well as these four perceptual states:

• waking state: this state is characterized by sensations stemming from physical perceptions, when we are present to everything that is going on;
• dream state while awake: in its movement, this state is characterized by ‘light’, ‘medium’ and ‘strong’ variations. Light movements refer to when thoughts take us away from the present moment, medium movements correspond to the moment we enter into meditation or become involved in visualizations, and strong movements to when we enter into a deep state of trance and we begin to perceive the subtle worlds;
• sleep state: when our consciousness finds itself in an imageless state of dream, in which it penetrates only into the darkness of the moyocoyani, ‘the prime essence of being’ in the ancient Nahuatl language, and also called amomati, ‘the empty mind’;
• sleep state with dreams: namely the existence that we experience through our nahual in the Temictli, ‘the place of dreams’; this has an influence on the creation of our tonal, the physical reality  which we experience through the tonacayo, the ‘physical body’.

These are the four common states of perception, which we are all familiar with; later we will discuss the non-ordinary state of ensoñación, or dreaming while awake. Human beings are made up of these four ordinary states and of the following five bodies:

• tonacayo, or physical body;
• ihiyotl, the ‘essence’ or ‘divine breath’, the life force that comes from the subtle worlds and keeps matter alive. This energy comes into contact with us via the liver, an organ to which we must pay special attention in that, according to this tradition, it is from here that Miquiztli, ‘the force of death’, having previously found its way in via the navel, extracts the ihiyotl; this is not a highly evolved, or sophisticated type of death, but incidentally it is the most common. Together with our nahual, the ihiyotl is the body, or vehicle, with which we move about both in the heavens and in the underworlds;
• teyolia, ‘the energy around the heart’, which protects the journey of our hummingbird, the journey of our soul: the memory and the number of all the lives that we have spent both in a physical as well as in a non-physical body (we can actually exist in the nahual without being present in the tonal). The Mexica tradition explains that if at death we exit the body via the liver, we are then forced to come back either as humans (namely in the case of an ordinary, less evolved type of death), or to proceed to the underworlds.

If we are unable to ‘blossom’ in life (meaning, if we are unable to discover and master the secrets of the flower that represents the universe), we will die exiting the body via the liver and we will have another opportunity to be born on the following day (or under the following glyph), and so on and so forth, until the cycle is completed.

Unfortunately, however, the teyolia energy is not infinite: for instance, if people experience a great deal of suffering in their lives, they can use up much more energy of this type than in three or four peaceful lives. Once the whole energy of the teyolia body has been completely used up, if we have not yet been able to ‘blossom’, and have not learned at the very least how to die by exiting through the heart–which still does not constitute the highest place through which we could exit the physical body–we will not have any further opportunity to come back as humans, and will be forced to progress to the underworlds (i.e. the worlds that lie below), where everything is much more difficult and painful.

This is why all practitioners of this tradition, both in the past and nowadays, try their best to ‘blossom’ in this life, as nobody knows the amount of energy that they have left in their teyolia, and whether they may have one more opportunity to experience a human life.

The above does not mean that we only live up to a maximum of 20 human lives, as this cycle can be repeated: it all depends on the amount of energy that we are left with. And it goes without saying that the tradition also teaches us how to preserve our energy and gather more, which would naturally be channelled towards an attempt to ‘blossom’.

How can the energy be preserved and how can we gather more?
We preserve the teyolia energy by limiting our emotions, our pleasures and our suffering; we then gather more energy by learning how to ‘go hunting’ for it, both in the waking and in the sleep states. This type of training can only be given directly and cannot be consigned to the pages of a book, because first students must learn how to transform those ‘heavy energies’ that they go hunting for into a type of energy from which to benefit. Furthermore, if the energy that is accumulated through this kind of ‘hunt’ were not to be used to ‘blossom’ in this life (which once again would force us to exit the body through the liver), it would be totally used up in experiences of the kind that would noticeably drive us to that type of death.

In any case, it is preferable to use up the energy that has been gathered through this ‘hunt’ rather than the teyolia energy, as in this way at least less energy will be dissipated in the course of this life.

Being reborn under the same glyph, having accumulated knowledge and experience for at least 19 lives (if not longer), does not mean that we will be reborn under the influence of the same solar wave–which as you may recall is represented by a number ranging from 1 to 13–nor within the same cluster of 20 earth days; equally the time of day and the position at birth in relation to the

Venus-Moon cycle and so forth will be different too. The initial conditions, therefore, will be totally different, and we will have a brand new opportunity: what will matter is whether we have accrued more experience as a result of the energy loss… which in any case is what happens regularly in each life of ours. We start off with plenty of energy and no experience, while at the end we have tons of experience but unfortunately there is no energy left!

The path that follows the wheel of the different glyphs will come to an end when we learn to die a ‘glorious death’, e.g., exiting the body at least through the heart to merge directly with the Sun, or when the teyolia energy runs out and we enter the Mictlan, the ‘place of the dead’.

• Tonal, the ‘heat’, is directly associated with the Sun. The whole physical universe, with all its forms and distances, is an illusory idea that has been engendered by our tonal, namely by that energy that is located around the head in the waking state, and which anyone who has trained in extrasensory perceptions can visualize easily: it covers the head and its colour is a matt amber-gold (although at the start of the training it is only visible as a golden light that surrounds the head). The tonal, however, swaps locations with the nahual when we are asleep, or in a state of trance: it then moves downwards from the head to the belly, while the nahual goes up starting from the belly and ends up reaching the head, which from the outside is perceived as an energy movement, and from the inside as the radical perceptual change that we experience when we move from the reality of the waking state to the dream state, or to an altered state of consciousness.
• Nahual comes from a Nahuatl root formed by nehuatl, ‘I’ and by ni ye, ‘I am’, and therefore it means ‘who I really am’; it also comes from the word nahualli, meaning ‘what can be extended’. It is a cold energy, which moves in circular movements and resides in the navel area outside the physical body during the waking state, whereas when we fall asleep it moves to occupy the location of the tonal around the head, leading our perception to all kinds of subtle worlds, i.e. to realities that transcend the physical dimension. This is the sleep state consciousness, or the consciousness of the state of trance, that state that, for instance, in Spanish is called ensoñación, that dreaming while awake state which will be explained later. It is equally that part of our energy that we can extend to the point of reaching some other place and which, following the correct type of training, can create an ‘energy double’.

At this stage I would like to take the opportunity to clarify that the term ‘nahual’ does not mean either good or bad sorcerer or mystic, namely the type who can either heal or cause fear and panic among the people, or who goes around saying to his disciples that the ‘nahual is the privilege of the few’, as this could not be further from the authentic tradition. The nahual is the governing energy during the sleep state, and therefore we all possess a nahual. ‘Nahual’ is however also the term used to refer to whoever develops the power of this energy: the union of the energy of tonal and nahual creates certain states of consciousness through which it is possible to gain access to the subtle worlds while awake, and to develop full mastery of lucid dreaming while asleep.

The ‘nahuales’ [plural of nahual, translator’s note] can thus unify the dream world, which is totally malleable, with the world of apparent reality, where they manage to manifest themselves in  different forms just as in a dream; they can then change this reality as easily as the actions occurring in a dream. This gives them the amazing power to influence and change matter. The sages of ancient Mexico were ‘nahuales’: to become a ruler it was necessary to know the cosmos, the cipactonalli, the ‘language of what is known’ [where ‘known’ refers to the waking state, translator’s note] and the cipacnahualli, the ‘language of the unknown’, and to know who you were here (the tonal) as well as who you were there (the nahual). Many of them would then become healers.

The cipacnahualli is the symbolic language of dreams, which can be learnt in exactly the same way as the language of the tonal: it is like another universe in which it is necessary to learn how to move about. The cipacnahualli is full of symbols, places, colours and beings, all different from the reality of the waking state; we all perceive them in our dreams–although we have no recollection of them–but only mystics and visionaries are capable of bringing these experiences back with them when returning to the tonal and turning them into something useful.

Making sure that the nahual can become useful in the tonal requires that the two become united, and this specifically necessitates an ancient form of training, which is gradually re-surfacing in Mexico due to the influence of the guardians of the tradition. This enables us to train in controlling various states of consciousness, such as the dreaming while awake, an altered state of perception that is brought about by dances and breathing exercises, without having to resort to sacred plants like the peyote; from this state we can perceive the worlds of subtle energy, whilst remaining awake and fully conscious.

Another state in which tonal and nahual are united is the sleep-dream-wake, or lucid dreaming, from which we can exert complete control over dreams as a way of creating reality by means of the ‘sowing of dreams’, the subject of Chapter 6, which talks about the thirteen heavens. The passage from the temictli, ‘uncontrolled dreaming’, to the temixoch, the ‘blossoming of dreams’, the ‘controlled and lucid dreaming of a master’, who possesses the capacity to sow dreams and make them ‘blossom’, is what everybody should do in this life because, in the words of an ancient Mexica proverb: “He who does not remember his dreams is one of the living dead, as he does not have any control over his own life.” This gives us a sense of the importance that the dream state held for the Mexican civilizations before the Conquest: the scions of noble families and those destined to become warriors had this dream state control inculcated in them since childhood.

There is yet another state, called dream towards the outside while awake, from which it is possible to exert influence over others by altering their perceptions and, if really so inclined, altering their reality… And this is really what a nahual is able to do. As time goes by and as the influence of the Sixth Sun keeps growing, we shall recover these abilities and we will be able to see much further afield, but this journey of conquest of ours will not be directed towards the outside: the time has come for us to return to the obsidian mirror and set off to conquer ourselves.

The few oral and written sources available have preserved some of the sayings of the ancient nahuales or nahualli, the ‘sages who united sleep and wake’; the main written source is the Florentine Codex, whereas others belong to the oral tradition called mah toteotahtzin mitzmopieli, ‘the tale of our Venerable Land’. Here are some examples:

• “The nahual is not weakened by emotions. It is not weakened by Coatzin’s venerable snake, ‘sexuality’”. This saying seems to refer to the two different ways of becoming a nahual, one of which was through sexuality, while the other was through abstinence.
• “The word of the nahual is wise, he is the master of his liver, he serves the community, he is serious, frank and free of any excesses”; here the expression ‘master of one’s liver’ might refer either to the ability of controlling one’s anger, as the liver is viewed as the place where anger is created, or to the ability to travel to the heavens or to the underworlds by means of the ihiyotl, the life essence, the subtle body that is anchored in the liver.
• “The good nahual, reliable guardian, the one who observes, preserves, helps and does not damage anyone.”
• “The nahual is tlamatini, ‘a sage’, mictlanmatini, ‘sage of the underworlds’, ilhuicatlmatini, ‘sage of the heavens’.”

Given that it is also possible to develop one’s nahual for misguided purposes, such as exerting control over others, another saying goes:

• “The evil nahualli is a spell holder, he casts a spell over people, he possesses spells to seduce people, he cheats people, he casts evil spells over people, he acts as an evil sorcerer against people, he makes fun of and upsets people.”

The Subtle Bodies are not Exclusively Human

Thinking that this body that acts as the vehicle in the worlds of dreams, of death and of the subtle energy could be the exclusive domain of human beings would constitute a very arrogant mistake! All that exists comes from the highest heavens, therefore everything (sun and stars, day and night) is governed by the same order and is kept alive by a particular energy and spirit; it all possesses a measurable structure that can be observed within a specific cyclical calendar wheel, which describes both its presence inside the universe, in the waking world, and its counterpart in the worlds of sleep and death.

The extraordinary thing is that an expert in both the dream state and of those states in which perceptions are widened is even able to encounter the nahuales of the Sun and the Moon, of the Earth and of the animals in the subtle worlds; they can encounter the essences, or energies, of everything that lives in both the physical and subtle universes, and interact with them on an equal basis, in an exchange of power and knowledge, and thus influence the collective and individual reality of the waking state.

Amongst the disciples that I have had the honour to train, many have begun to unite tonal and nahual, thus transforming themselves into ‘warriors of the sleep and waking states’; in their dreams they have encountered the essence of the Sun, Moon, Wind and Water, and upon requesting some form of change or healing, they have managed to obtain the requested result in the physical world.

For instance, I remember a woman from the United States who was taking part in one of my teaching tours around Mexico: in these tours, among other things, we work with dreams, and that night this woman had a dream in which the Sun appeared to her as a yellow-eyed Aztec calendar; this particular colour of the eyes is precisely one of those codes that stand to signify a dream encounter with the Sun.

The Sun invited her to contribute to the spread of this ancient knowledge and, notwithstanding the fact that this lady was in the process of planning her retirement, she decided to establish a centre devoted to the practice of this wisdom; later on she acknowledged that this project had given meaning to her life.

Excerpted with permission.
Copyright 2012, Edizioni Amrita, srl
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