The nagual

nagualThis is a traditional story about a creature called a nagual, a malevolent being that has characteristics of both humans and animals. Most commonly, the nagual was said to take the form of a jaguar (tigre ‘tiger’ in the local Spanish), and in Totonac the word for nagual is the word for “jaguar” misín. The belief in naguales is still strong in many Totonac communities, and people say that they are really human sorcerers that have learned to take on animal form.

i’xkuénto misín

tza’má misín mat xka:wamá:lh lakstín mat helhachaxantzá walh. he: pus wamá: wan tza’má chi’xkú’,
— he: kima’hwaho:’lhtzá tzamá: kis’á’ta’ tzej chu:wá na’ka’ntama:ní naxtéj, ja: lakmín, mat wan.
pus mat a’lh tamá:.
ali:stá:n mat taxtúchi’ chu:wá tza’má misín.
mat ma:lh tza’má chixkú’ pus mat lakamusú:, lakamusú: palh, palh ni:ní:’ ho: chi’ chu:. mat wamá:, le’h mat ta:’lá misín lakamusú:. li:’wá’ mat ka’ks ma:nílh, mat ja:tzá’ jaxa:nán.

ali:stá:n mat tante’há kuká:lh.
— xa:tzéj wajnanú nakte:wá naklé:n a’ktzunáj, wa:tzá ja:’k ti’wálh chu:nú: kati:wálh namín, mat wan misín.
le:má:lh, mat ali:stá:n chu:wá tzukúlh tanxa:má:.
tza’má, — chi’ kuka:níya’?
— ja: kaxá:ma: mintéj, ja: kaxá:ma: mintéj, mat waní.
he: mat tanxa:ma:te:lhá.
mat a’hxta:ma:xtúka’ tza’má kí’wi’ mat i’xya:wa:ní:’ chu:wá. chu:wá, tantamaknú:lh tza’má kí’wi’ tza’má misín. he: mat ma’hawán. ali:stá:n chu:wá tankuka:ma’hánka’ tza’má chi’xkú’. mat a:chula’tzá’ telhtelh li:tati:tá tza’má misín. tamaknu:hó:lh kí’wi’. li:ma’hní:lh.

ali:stá:n mat milhtzá ka:waní tza’má,
— kma’hní:lh kit misín ti: i’xmín ka:wá lakstín. i’kma’hní:lh, mat wan.
— mat, wachí wamá: wa:káx xle:há’lha’ tza’má misín.
— bueno, tu: li:má’hni:’?
— ja: tu:, tzaj kí’wi’ ktanma:nú:lh. he: la’hní:lh, mat wan
— ja: ti: i’s’awí.
— i’kli:s’awílh chu:n pu:la’hpuxwi:lí:lh tza’má kí’wi’, mat wan.

taa’lh tala’htzín mat xaní:n tza’má misín.
— pus chu:wá nawayá:uj, mat tala:waní.
tzukúka’ xu:kán tza’má misín. mat tawálh tza’má misín.
— ali:stá:n chu:wá naminpalá i’xkumpañéru?
— ja:tzá’ kati’mílh palh naminpalá, chu:ntzá nalhawapalayá:j, mat tala:waní.
ali:stá:n tawahó:lh tza’má misín. ali:stá:n chu:wá tawalhtzá’ wamá:, chi: tu:má: tu:tu:má:.

Manuel Romero Morales


The story of a nagual

The nagual, they say it was eating children. they say it ate six. And then this man says,
— Well, it ate all of my children. So now I’m going to lie down in its path, where it walks, he says.
So he goes to lie down.
So then, they say, now the nagual comes.
So it licks his face, it licks his face (to see) if he was dead or what. It really gets close to him, the nagual kisses his face. He deliberately lies still, he doesn’t even breathe.

Then it carried him off by the feet, head down
— I’d better go eat him over there. I’m going to carry him a bit, I won’t eat him here because someone could come by, says the nagual.
It’s carrying him, so then he begins to feel around its buttocks.
This one, — what are you up to?
He goes along feeling its buttocks.
— Don’t touch your destination! don’t touch your destination! it says to him.
But he still goes along feeling its buttocks.
He pulls a stick out from under his arm. Now he puts the stick up the nagual’s anus. And he makes it scream. Then it threw off the man, who went head over heels. The nagual went bouncing along on its buttocks over and over. The stick went all the way into its anus. That’s how he killed it.

Then he comes and says to them,
— I killed the nagual that was coming to eat the children I killed it, he says.
— The nagual was as big as a bull.
— Well, what did you kill it with?
— Nothing, I just put a stick up its anus, and that’s why it died.
— No one could defeat it.
— I defeated it because the stick ripped out its insides, he says.

They go to see that the nagual is dead.
— Well, now we’ll eat it, they say to each other.
They begin to skin the nagual. They eat the nagual.
— Is another one going to come later?
— It won’t come now, it if comes we’ll do the same to it, they say to each other.
So they ate up the nagual. So then they ate it up in two or three days.