Warning: long post
I made this as a thread on a forum. I only posted it in one place and I gave it some thought that it may be helpful to my witchy and shamanistic friends. If you’re into any kind of magical workings that involve dreaming and the otherworld, this post is for you. It’s based on my own experiences, experiences of others whom have told me, and some cultural things that helped me on my own path. It does have a overall Hindu cosmological scheme. But I see no reason why someone couldn’t utilize it anyway. It’s pretty much a FAQ/Guide thingy. It will also aide in interpreting dreams.
I am fairly knowledgeable in dream working and using the nahualli, or fetch as my Nordic friend has called it. I wanted to make this thread so I could share my experiences and knowledge with people, and coach them on it if need be. Me and a friend ran the academic sources (Mine from the Aztec side of things, hence the term “nahualli” or nah-wah-lee, as it is said in Nahuatl, and him for the Nordic side of things. In his case he uses the term “fetch”.)
Notes: Nagualism is the modern terminology for it in Mexico, and nagual is the modern word for it. You may remember it from people who write about Toltecs and Carlos Castenada. For this thread, I am going to use a combination of academia from what I have gathered and experiences to help people. (Since we have many threads asking for help against dream invaders. I may talk a little about my magic system here as well.)
As stated before me and a friend compared notes and the Aztec version and the Nordic is pretty much the same with different terms. I would go out on a limb and say this is a form on shamanism. Now, I am not as knowledgeable about Nordic systems, but I believe this system here throughout is utilized by many different cultures. All with unique terms for what they experience, which is pretty much the same.
In classical Nahuatl, the language spoken by the Aztecs, “nahualli” also meant sorcerer. But we aren’t going to refer to it in this manner because we have English words denoting the difference. The other meaning of the word, the one we are using in this thread, has not an English equivalent. A fetch or nahualli is an animal that shares your soul with you. This is quite different from a familiar which may just be an animal who works with you, or a spirit animal/totem which is an animal who is there to help you learn.
For modern witches in Mexico, this spirit animal is usually coyote. Another thing, I don’t know if I ever met anyone who is offended if you use the term “nahualli” if this is your preferred term. I have used it for years and no one calls me out for it. I doubt modern Nahuatl speakers care.
Another big note, this concerns more of a cultural specification, is that modern shamans or curendos as they are called, and brujas in Mexico are trained. They have a lineage based system similar to trad Wicca. I am untrained, but I have read enough ethnographic material and had over a decade of experiences to help. So, let’s get started, shall we?
What is a fetch/nahualli/nagual?
The fetch/nahualli is an animal that shares your soul with you. Everyone has one. Even the gods have nahuallis; The Aztec god,Tezcatlipoca’s main nahualli is a jaguar for example. They can be anywhere from ducks to eels, to all sorts of strange animals. Some people can use theirs to fly, even. You see, in the dream world, you can turn into yournahualli and do all sorts of magical things.
The nahualli connected to your soul is very important and has to do with symbology, your nature, and your personality. It is a part of you. This is why you have to protect it from the mal-intent who want to “steal” it. This is why many rural people do not reveal their main nahuallis to anyone. For myself, I am not scared of others and have enough protection to make sure I am safe, so I do not mind revealing mine.
In native thought there are 3 tiers of animals:
1. Common tier. Those commonly seen, such as cows or horses. (These are thought to be “commoner type people”. Though I disagree a bit of the social system here, more on that later.)
2. Mid tier. These animals are occasionally seen by humans. Coyote is a good example of this ideal. They represent the “middle class”. But as with all animals are highly important to the scheme of things.
3. Top tier, which are animals rarely seen by people who represent the leaders or nobility. Animals such as puma, or bear could be said to be this. Usually large wild animals, but not always. In Mexico, the highest of all animals and the lord that rules them all is the jaguar which is sacred to many people there. Sorcerers with jaguar nahualli are also feared because there is a chance they could be “evil”, likened to Tezcatlipoca the god of nahualli.
One of the biggest bits of information though, is that people can have more than one nahualli. They do so by obtained the animal through ritual consumption, (Hunting and killing it, then eating it.) stealing someone else’s, or being given one as a gift from the gods or another being. But these other nahualli they obtained will never share their soul with that person like their main nahualli does that they were born with. (The other nahualli will be connected to you in spirit though and you can turn into them.) Remember this, as it is very important to remember if you plan on getting more than one. Tezcatlipoca, has four nahualli including a turkey and a feathered coyote, but they are not the ones he was born with like the jaguar, Tepeyollotl.
How do I find out what my fetch or nahualli is?
This will take some time and will occur in the dream world. For myself, I asked the Irish goddess Badb for help back when I did not know what a “nahualli” actually was. She revealed it anyway. But if you are an atheist and not willing to believe in helpful archetypes, what good will that do?
To know your nahualli you must be attempting to get to know what it is through the dream world. You will turn into that animal, and it will feel like you physically turned into it. You’ll know. You may have to ask the spirits for help, but it is entirely possible to find it by yourself. You may also turn to “surface” magick, or magick done outside of the other world of dreams for help. Meditations and trances would help.
A word of advice, your fetch may not be the animal you think it is. It is not the animal you are “most attracted” to. It’s usually an animal you like but did not expect. I did not expect mine at all, but I do love it.
Why should I discover my animal power?
Your fetch is going to be what you use in your dream workings and in the other world, including traversing. (More on the other worlds later.) If you are a bird or bat, flying is very advantageous, you can travel great distances in a short amount of time. You probably heard of old European legends of witches turning into bats, owls, or creatures of the night. If you want to obtain a flying nahualli because you are a ground type of animal or water type, do not worry! You can definitely obtain one as I mentioned the methods above.
Another thing is the powerful symbology behind the nahualli and it’s senses. For example, a coyote person would be a trickster and very cunning. They may have a good sense of smell. An owl person would be associated with the underworld, death, and have super excellent hearing on top of the good nocturnal eye sight. (Contrary to popular belief, owls’ strongest sense is hearing.) A jaguar person would be very stealthy and be a natural at sorcery. When you discover your animal, it is good to take it upon yourself to look up world mythology and symbology on the creature. Also, it may be good to see what its biological advantages are. Remember, no matter how small, even a mouse is important in the scheme of things.
You may also use your nahualli to escape from enemies or attack them. If you are an animal such as a bear or a goat, it may be easy to attack other people or non-human spirits in that realm. If you are a tiny mouse it is good to use this form to escape. Some words to the wise, common animals are great nahuallis and stronger than most people give them credit for. Since they are commonly seen it is easy to trick other beings in the other world with them more often than rarer animals such as owls. Stealth plays a part in most animals’ lives and for their survival. Unless your animal is something like a bear, you may want to devise tactics on how to attack, hide, or run away from enemies.
The best reason though, is through your fetch you can find out more about yourself than you ever thought possible.
Please, explain the “dream working” & the “other world”?
Dream working is the type of magic that you work in the otherworlds. The otherworlds are worlds you can usually get to, though not all, through astral projecting and dreaming which is a form of this projection. There are many other worlds. Most traditions honor the earth, heavens, and underworld. With the latter two being places you obtain through dreaming.
Some layers of the heavens or certain worlds cannot be accessed even by some of the most skilled. They may be home to the gods, spirits, or another type of other worldly being such as the asura. There are layers of reality in all, and the invisible plane known as the “astral plane” inhabits all other worlds, including here.
It is thought that the beast form or nahualli of higher being such as gods reside in the astral sphere when they are not turned into theirs. Attacking some beings there could result in their deaths if you are strong enough. (Though I would only advise to do that against malevolent beings that prey on people such as the asura/mazoku.) Attacking a human on the astral plane could result in making them crazy or mentally unstable, but rarely death. This is because the spiritual beings born without bodies are tied with their mental projections of themselves on our plane of existence when they manifest and in the other worlds when “physically” manifesting, since we have physical bodies it is a different set of rules for us. Thus, it is not as important to us when we are attacked astrally, but if attacked physically we get wounded horribly or die. It is the opposite for them. (And yes, you will meet at least one entity that preys on someone when you are dream working.)
It is important to note all the other worlds are connected to this main one and it’s reality. What you do in your dream has a lasting effect on physical reality in the here and now. IN the other worlds, time and physical limits are not as bound, you may be able to do things that would be physically impossible to do in “real” life. The other worlds, at least the basic ones, are world of ideas and the spiritual beings born without physical bodies have a lot do to with ideas because it helps make them who they are.
What do I need to know to start getting to work on dream working?
There is many ways to get into dream working. This includes through trances or meditations, guided and not. Sleep is the more preferred method. Also, may include psycho-active drugs but I do not condone this method here. (Just mentioning it as a lot of tribal “shamans” use those things to travel.) Sometimes long trance rituals can take places to help which include many potentially dangerous things such as sleep deprivation, inducing extreme pain, or fasting for example. (Also, not saying this is necessary.) My most preferred method however, is just before you go to sleep and right before you just wake up. Important point is that the only dreams you remember are the ones you wake up from!
You need to protect yourself in the dream world and out. You may have to do rituals outside before you dream to help you do things or protect yourself. Sympathetic magick is extremely good for this. Say you may have problems with possession, while a house usually symbolizes your body when dreaming. Try making a circle of salt around your abode. This may also help if you are attacked a lot mentally by a dream invader. (Salt is very good to use for purification and protection against otherworldly beings.)
A big thing you need to know is how to ascertain different types of dreams. A lot of this is entirely experience based, but you will still have mundane dreams that are not real important even when you have begun your dream working journey.
There are 3 types of dreams:
1. Purely psychological. Everyone has these dreams and they are entirely you. They may be important to figuring yourself out or maybe just a manifestation of fears such as losing all your teeth. They vary in importance to you.
2. A mix of the supernatural and psychological. This dreams will at least be pseudo-important and are probably some of the most common types you will encounter when you start your journey. They may have symbols in them that are important to you and only you, but they may also contain things such as your nahualli or Loki or another deity.
3. Purely supernatural. This is the good stuff, when you start dreaming of places you have never been. You may converse with gods or the fae. But you will be in some place you could never possibly conjured up. You may even dream of places like heaven or more likely the underworld.
Keep a dream journal by your bed, if you are having trouble remembering. This can really help because dream working gives you a lot of information in the form of “puzzle pieces” that you cannot always remember. You will be able to see what is going on by recording it. You will be able to see the bigger picture.
Remember that you can meet other magick users in the other worlds as well that you may meet, some of them are far from friendly. Using elemental magick and incantations to defend yourself is a good idea because it manifests like Hollywood magick. For example, one can easily call forth the light spirits to leave a dream or simply light a place in the darkness of their dream. Or use spirits of literal darkness to conceal yourself besides your nahualli. (These elemental spirits are low beings and are not generally that intelligent, but they can make things for you. It’s a concept of animism.)
Also, reflective surfaces, particularly mirrors and water, are portals to the other worlds in the other worlds and beyond. You do best to keep that in mind as some spirits can use the same surfaces as portals. (This is especially handy if you have a haunting.)
Dream invaders, evil spirits, and the like?
Well, I gave outlines earlier about this sort of stuff such as sympathetic magick, as cited above, using elements, or elemental spirits, and the like, I need to talk about the different kinds of yokai. (The Japanese word for mysterious supernatural beings or phemonea.) By yokai I am using more generally here and not using it specifically to Japanese folklore. There are so many different otherworldly beings to encounter it is tiring to classify them all and probably impossible because they are diverse. However, yokai is the appropriate term for that which is unclassifiable and seems similar to the modern usage of the word fae or faeries. Either term will suffice, it’s a matter of preference.
For the ones with more conclusive terms with have different kinds. I am only putting out the most commonly encountered for the purpose of this thread.
1. Monsters/Mazoku/Asura(Possibly Jotun), these guys do not have much concern for the goodness of mankind and actually see us humans as prey. They hate “good” things such as logic, justice, courage, valor, love, etc. This is because these beings were formed, from chaos, as anti-thesises to the gods who represent more positive ideals. (As above, so below, eh?) It is also because these entities feed on the energy generated from negative emotions, so they look to make humans suffer. They tend to have one or more form, but their beast or monster form, as in their “real selves” reside in the astral plane and will be invisible to humans. The mental projection however, which usually can take the form of an animal, person, or thing, will not be. Usually for most of them, something will be “off” in their imitations. Especially, if pretending to be human. Such as their behavior will be extremely off to be a human.
The higher ranking or more powerful a mazoku, the harder it will be to tell if they are human or whatever they are imitating or not. The most powerful mazoku (s) being able to mimic gods and to be the most dangerous to humans. However, I would not worry about these ones so much, because there is not much most people can do about them. (The gods must take care of that thing.) They usually own the lower ranking mazoku in a master/follower relationship and are not commonly seen, because they are the type of mazoku to start wars with the gods and such, and have more important things to do then bother a few humans. (I.e. the opposite of the evangelical Satan archetype.) High ranking mazoku usually have territory in certain underworlds in the otherworld.
Most dream workers only need to concern themselves with low ranking mazoku, who prey on individuals and are much more personal, and cause chaos in the humans’ lives both in and out the otherworlds. All mazoku are heavily connected to the otherworlds. It is possible to fully exterminate a lower ranking mazoku via the other world. They are weak against magic from the gods, from high ranking mazoku, or astral magick.
They can also be defeated by sheer willpower if the will of a person is greater than the mazoku’s they can be harmed. Likewise, they are weak against positive emotions and particularly disdain logic from my experience. (Healthy skepticism really helps in fighting them.) As mazoku are the opposites of holy spirits and gods, they are typically trickster spirits. If gods have a trickster god or two for every pantheon, then mazoku are almost entirely made up of trickster spirits with one or two actually being blunt. They are also very much associated with uncleanliness and “unholiness”.
While I prefer the Japanese “mazoku”, when I encountered them and tried to identify them they made known themselves as “monster” which is a broad term that can refer to anything that looks scary and unnatural. “Mazoku” is more specific since it was invented as the Japanese term for the Asura of Hinduism. “Ma” means “demon” or “evil” and “zoku” means “race” or “clan”. The mazoku are definitely monsters, their beast forms represent that, but they are only a certain type of monster.
I also think mazoku are extremely misidentified in Western cultures as various things. The lower ranking ones’ most common identification is Christian “demons” or “Satan”, but they are neither fallen angels nor really directly related to Satan. (Demon can also mean malevolent spirit, and they do fall under this category.) Mazoku based energy magick is good for curses and attacking or offensive endeavors, despite being impure. The type of energy they have can be amplified with negative emotions and it is good magick to use in a bind. It typically falls under “unjustifiable magick”, which is good or bad depending on the situation. God energy based magick would be it’s opposite.
2. Souls of dead people. Pretty common and probably one of the common ancient usages for dream working. You will likely meet all sorts of different people who are dead. Some may even try to employ your help. Others may attack you, depending on what type of person they were in life.
It is not your business to help everyone to pass on. Especially in the other world, where some of them may already be passed on! For the ones that do attack or act hostile, elemental magick is successful at making them leave with out decimating them. It may also be wise to purify the area. Others if they ask for your help, you must decide on a case by case basis. While still other ghosts may be friendly and help you traverse the other worlds.
3. Demons or daemons. I am not using the “demon” word here in such a way to mean “evil spirit”. But closer to it’s original usage of daemon. There are half humanish demons, such as mermaids, or the completely monstrous ones such as Lamashtu with little human characteristics. It is important here to note that daemons can be good or bad, and sometimes their origins lie in being created to serve the gods or another being, or even mazoku. It’s impossible to ascertain unless mythology is an indicator.
Tlaloc, an Aztec god, has many little spirit servants that look like him called the Tlaloque, they would be considered “demons” though people can use them in rituals or work with them as they do the sidhe. There are so many example and there are even daemons who were came from chaos or the like. As said before, they can usually be good or evil. In ancient Mesopotamia, even bad demons such as the owl spirit Lilitu, who killed babies, had good sides. (We do not know her beneficial nature to humans, we just know it existed.) You will definitely see many spirits such as these. It’s mostly trial and error, because while one daemon species may be hostile to humans in general, it may not be hostile to you.
4.Other magick users. You would be surprised how many dream workers see each other in the other world. Now dream working, can be done by anyone of any belief system. So you will see, Christians, Wiccans, Islamics, Satanists, pagans, and the like in certain parts of the other world. That being said, dream working attracts the goodand bad people. I personally, have met some vampires who would prey and pick on people in the other world. I promptly took care of them and would stop them from doing that.
There are certain vampiric people that will attack others, but they are not the only ones. There have been bad “witches” who just seem to want to cause people chaos. (Humans are fairly neutral in the scheme of things so they can go either way.) There have been people who just like to abuse their power over people. While they may not do that irl, they will certainly do it in the other world. As mentioned in the mazoku part, there is different sorts of magick you can utilize against them. But I suggest not resorting to that if you do not have to. I’d also say the most dangerous magick and their users is those who case the evil eye, and I would be wary of those people. Though I think it is rare to encounter such a user since the eye can be difficult to cast.
It would be good to learn a bit of trickery in all your endeavors in dream working in case you meet enemies such as the ones I have outlined.
Anyway, this is what I got so far. I hope someone can find it beneficial.