Carlos Castaneda What Is A Nagual

By Ina Woolcott

The term Nagual has several definitions – one who is good in talking, shape shifter, witch and animal co-essence. Co-essence is the name of a being, which has its origins in ancient and widely accepted Mesoamerican beliefs that one part of our soul (or figures baring resemblance to humans i.e. gods) uncovers itself as a kind of animal, or a remarkable occurrence such as a loud clap of thunder or a strong gust of wind, of a spiritual nature. This belief is still current today in a lot of parts of Mesoamerica.

Shape-shifting can be perceived as a change in the physical form or shape of a person or animal. Sometimes this is referred to as metamorphosis, morphing, transformation, transmogrification, Therianthropy, mimic or by other terms.

Witches allegedly have supernatural or magical powers. They are of either sex and practise witchcraft. Male witches are generally called sorcerer, wizard, warlock or most commonly magician.

Carlos Castaneda used the term Nagual in his books to depict a person who has the skills to guide people to new areas of awareness and alternate realities just as valid as ours. Don Juan Matus, the shaman teacher of Carlos Castaneda often called himself the Nagual of his apprentices. Don Juan, describes the Nagual in one of Castaneda’s books to “… Turn everything into what it really is: the abstract, the spirit, the Nagual.” The Nagual is something hard to define or even name. It cant be known through words alone, it must be experienced to understand the true essence of what Nagual is.

The Nagual is also a state of awareness, where an alternate dimension of everyday reality is experienced. Some say Nagual is All That Is, and that it is concentrated into a shape known as the Tonal. The Nagual and Tonal being dual expressions of reality and existence, are seen either in the First Attention, where we experience the Tonal, or the Second Attention where we experience the Nagual.

Nagual’s in Carlos Castaneda’s system are a direct line to All That Is, and pass their knowledge on to their apprentices helping them obtain what some call ‘total freedom’. The apprentices goal is the Second Attention or Nagual awareness. In some traditions psychoactive plants are used to induce this state, and other states, of awareness. When able to perceive the Second Attention, one is regarded as a ‘seer’.

Modern beliefs based on Castaneda’s work see reality as multi-dimensional. It can be said that people only see a limited view of the multi dimensional reality for the duration of any given experience.

2 thoughts on “Carlos Castaneda What Is A Nagual”

  1. I was briefly a crow, then another time a wolf. I was fortunate in that I was prepared for this sudden shape-shifting from having read many of Carlos Castaneda’s books. I once met a woman from the crow tribe. She told me her grandmother shape-shifted all the time. The woman would always see a crow watching her everywhere she went. When she returned home her grandmother would tell her everything the young woman had done and every place she had gone.

  2. I flew through a rabbit hutch , it was bigger than the galaxy. when I got back , I was already gone. the rabbit hutch was empty…….they were hopping in the field.

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