Lesson 2: The 20 Nahuales and the 13 Numbers

According to Mayan cosmovision, a spirit world exists alongside the material world. Twenty spirits called nahuales from that world exert a powerful influence on people and events in this world. Called Lords of the Day, the nahuales determine each day’s energy –- its potential, the sort of things that work best on that date. A person’s nahual is the key element of a Mayan day sign.

The nahual is preceded by a number from 1 to 13, which tells the intensity of the nahual’s energy. A person whose Mayan day sign is 7 Eagle will usually exhibit stronger Eagle characteristics than a 2 Eagle.

Cosmic Meanings and Personality Traits of the 20 Nahuales

These are the key meanings and traits of the nahuales. Mayan names are in (Ki’che’/Yucatecan). For more in-depth information, see The Mayan Calendar Users Guide.

Crocodile (Imox/Imix)

Turbulence and instability, nurturing, new foundations.

Emotional, nurturing, creative, sensitive; cunning, devious.

Wind (Iq/Ik)

Wind (Iq/Ik)

Breath of life, creativity.

Sociable, imaginative; impulsive, fickle.

Night (Akabal/Aqabal)

Night (Aq’ab’al/Akabal)

Looking within to find answers.

Charming, intelligent; using words to hurt people.

Net (K’at/Kan)

Gathering and collecting, piecing things together.

Problem solvers, artistic; promiscuity, problems with debts. (This nahual is also called Lizard.)

Snake  (Kan/Chicchan)

Truth, justice, wisdom.

Intense, sexual; quick to lose temper and control


Transformation, change.

Patient, intuitive; lying, vengeful.

Deer (Kej’/Manik)

Balance, support.

Independent, tenacious; demanding, selfish.

Water (Toj’/Muluc)

To pay, give offerings, make sacrifices.

Imaginative, emotional; possessive, enjoys taking risks.

Dog (Tzi/Oc)

Guidance, counsel, authority.

Loyal, sensual; mean, sexually depraved.

Monkey (B’atz/Chuen)


Active, cheerful, likes to be center of attention; arrogant, insensitive, tricky.

Road (E/Eb)

Travel, destiny.

Practical, organized, industrious; restless, insecure.

Corn (Aj/Ben)

Harvest, success.

Lucky, good with money; inflexible, stubborn.

Jaguar (Ix/Ix)

Feminine energy, all things related to earth.

Brave, strong, intelligent; immoral, arrogant.

Eagle (Tzi’kin/Men)

Flying high, ambition, vision.

Aggressive, friendly, good at business; overly ambitious, irresponsible.

Vulture (Ajaq/Cib)

Taking it easy, patience.

Introspective, cautious; jealousy, envy. (This nahual is also called Owl.)

Earth (Noj’/Caban)

Thought, ideas, logic.

Creative, analytical, inquisitive.

Knife (Tijax/Etznab)

Suffering and loss, healing.

Active, intelligent; emotional unstable, violent.

Storm (Kawoq/Cauac)

Trouble, strong woman, domestic life.

Affectionate, family-oriented; bad temper, drug and alcohol abuse.

Sun (Ajpu/Ahau)

Illumination, growth.

Enthusiastic, amiable, brave; short-tempered.

The Thirteen Numbers

People with higher numbers are more intensely influenced by their nahual than others. This also applies to personality traits. So a 7 Eagle will be more aggressive than a 2 Eagle. The Ki’che Maya of Momostenango, Guatemala, say that the odd numbers are feminine energy; the even numbers, masculine.

The ancient Maya associated each number with a god. Some Maya today say each number has a unique meaning, but they do not agree on all of them. For example, some feel that 5 and 7 can bring challenges, others say 6 is the problematic number. These are the numbers for which there is a general consensus.

1: Unity, beginnings

2: Duality, relationships

3: Creativity

8: Best-balanced number

9: The Divine Feminine

11: Strife, challenges, the unexpected

For more information, see The Mayan Calendar Users Guide.


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