In this painting a Maya spiritual guide communicates with nawales, or protective spirits, at the altar of the dog or wolf.
Nawal, also written nahual, is the Mayan word for a guardian spirit. The Maya believe that each person is born with a guardian spirit or nahual, usually an animal or bird that is determined by the person’s astrological birthday. This energy and spirit is found throughout the world, in all things. Thus, a mountain has its guardian force or spirit, the wind has a spirit, and all living plants have a spirit. Although this idea is foreign to Christianity, it is consistent with modern physics where on a subatomic level everything is energy. This energy present in everything, including inanimate objects such as rocks, comprises its spirit or nahual.