Being patient, involving ceremony, and self-reflection is key to discovering a proper Nahuatl name. When you are searching for an Indigenous name it is very important to become educated on the language, history, and pronunciations as much as possible. I know one can get very excited as they uncover their Indigenous self, and as such , are very anxious to take on a Nahuatl name to express their reclaimed Indigenous identity to the world.
Keep Ego Out of the Process
I highly suggest keeping the ego out of your process. Lengthy & exaggerated Nahuatl names with incorrect grammar combos are quite common these days and often the butt of jokes to those more experienced. There should not be a need to impress or show off to anybody. Indigenous ways are based on Nature/Cosmos, thus your name is already there, naturally. Enjoy the process learn to develop a deeper relationship with yourself, your purpose, and how you relate to the world. Not everyone can be an “angry shimmery obsidian warrior jaguar king with jaded plumes of star serpents.” LOL.
More Important than a Nahuatl Name
More important than a Nahuatl name is how one carries themselves. Unfortunately, it is all too common for people in the Indigenous community (at least in Los Angeles) to dress themselves up verbally and/or visually while negating their integrity. How one carries themselves, treats others, and the service they devote to the community is much more defining than any name. Better to have a European name and be of great integrity & service to the Four Circles than to boast about having a flowery Indigenous name and taking on the oppressive traits of the colonizer. But even way better to have both an Indigenous name AND be of good service and integrity!
Other Mexica Languages
Most Chican@s & so-called Latinos who identify as Mexica are most likely not of direct Mexica-Nahua lineage but are from various Indigenous Nations such as the P’urehpecha, Zapotec, Apache, Maya, etc. Mexica Identity is a Reclamation Point for us, which is fine. But I do recommend one to learn the languages and tradition variations of your respective nation as well. I feel this will open up options and tools for you to get in deeper touch with your Indigenous-self.
Common Ways to Get a Nahuatl Name
More popularly known as the Aztec Calendar, an aspect of it’s use is to record “the passing of days.” This revolving combination of days is what I can best describe as the “vibrational creative potential & personalities of each day.” So to keep it simple for now: Each day, week, month, year, and year bundles have certain number and glyph combos associated with a variety of deities which influence the name that can be chosen for you.
Be mindful that there is some debate about which Calendar count is the “correct” one. My personal preference is the Arturo Meza count because I have correlated it with many weather, cosmic, and personal events over the course of about 3-4 years. The Tonalpohualli count and Birthdate is an entirely different topic tho. In time we will post content to assist with understanding and calculating one’s Tonalpohualli so that you may get a feel for what could possibly be options for your Nahuatl name.
Elders or Ceremony
Quite often Elders can give you a Nahuatl name. If you vibe well, trust, and have a non-emotional confidence with an Elder and their ceremony this would be a good way to go about getting a Nahuatl name. Albeit, this ideal route is not always an option for some people, in which case employing the Tonalpohualli and/or Self-reflection route would be ideal.
Often there are certain nicknames we acquire from our family, friends, or community that are symbolic of our personality or an aspect of it. This is a very common happening amongst communities of color. Neighborhood nicknames or Hip Hop aliases are an example of our Indigenous inclinations to give deeper meaning & purpose to our lives via symbols and metaphors within a modern context. If this scenario applies to you, I would definitely factor this to choosing a name.
Take Your Time, Pray On It
Don’t be in a hurry. Your Indigenous name should be feel right. It took me a good 4-5 years to finally settle with a name that I knew was right. Give yourself time to develop a good relationship and understanding of the language(s), the Tonalpohualli, and how you relate to your community. Put occasional prayers down for it, but like I said before, take your time. With that suggestion I decided to create a prayer which you can feel free to edit for yourself.
Prayer for a Nahuatl Name
Tlazocamati Ometeotl –Relatives, Ancestors.
Tlazocamati for this moment to be awake, I come to you in a good way,
Tlazocamati for my life, health, and all my blessings..
My heart wishes to know myself better so as to be
of the best service & medicine to my family and community.
Please guide me in learning & discovering symbols- essences that are
revealing of my personality, vibe, and purpose for which you have sent me.
I desire a name that empowers and reveals me to me,
one that aligns me and serves as reminder to my purpose.
One that will lead me onto a path of self-knowledge,
one that will serve as guide to the best me, for service to all my relatives.
Creator, Ancestors.. guide my thoughts & actions with a strong heart & mind,
that I may know & represent this medicine you’ve gifted me to it’s fullest
I ask this in a good way.
A’ho , Tlazocamati.
Examples of Nahuatl Names
Just a reminder that Indigenous names are poetic and carry much symbolic depth.
- Aketzalli – Precious Water
- Acoatl – Water Serpent
- Ahuiliztli – Happiness
- Axochitl – Water Flower
- Ayotli – Turtle
- Cacalotl – Raven
- Calatzin – Froggy
- Cayo – Rooster
- Cemelli – Joy
- Chapulin – Grasshopper
- Citlalli – Star
- Coatl/ Cuate – Serpent/Twin
- Coyotl – Coyote
- Cuauhtemoc- Descending Eagle
- Huitzilin – Hummingbird
- Huilotzin – Dove
- ItzCoyotl – Obsidian Coyote
- ItzPapalotl – Obsidian Butterfly
- IztaXochitl – White Flower
- Mapachin – Racoon
- Mazatl – Deer
- MetzliXochitl – Moon Flower
- Miztli – Puma
- Papaplotl – Butterfly
- Paquini – Happy
- Patox – Duck
- Quetzalli – Beautiful
- Quiahuitl – Rain
- Tecolotl – Owl
- Tlacuilo – Painter
- Tlalli – Earth
- Tlazohtli – That which is loved
- Tochtli – Rabbit
- Topilli – Messenger
- Xipalli – Turquoise
- Xochitl – Flower
- Yollohtli – Path of Heart