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Stobart, Henry - A view from the Bolivian Andes – The Animu



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

Bodies of sound and landscapes of music:  a view from the Bolivian Andes – Henry Stobart

Animu is attributed to all living things, including the sap-filled stems of plants and the seeds of food crops - which are said to 'weep like babies' if not cared for appropriately. Certain rocks, such as the bell stones, wak'as and illas on the mountain peaks, which are said to ring or emit mating noises like domestic animals during the full moon, are also considered to contain animu. Similarly the earth itself - with its body-like transformations, hydraulic movements and winds - is thought to be full of animu, as are bright celestial bodies such as the sun, moon, stars and lightning.

Animu, as energy, is expressed as sound, movement, light, scent or auto-resonance. From this perspective, sound is equivalent to life and its shaping in music may be seen as the shaping of life.

The word animu has been borrowed into Quechua from Spanish; the Spanish animo is typically translated into English as 'soul' or 'spirit'.

Today's word animu seems to build on the existing Quechua word kama (cama), which has been discussed in detail by Gerald Taylor (1976). He has pointed out a passage by the early colonial writer Garcilaso de la Yega (1539-1616), a native Quechua speaker, whose description of cama is highly suggestive of my hosts' use of the word animu. Also, a direct analogy is once again drawn between the animation of the body and the cosmos:

cama, which is to give energy; the verb is arrived at from the noun cama, which is spirit: Pachacamac means he/she who gives spirit to the entire universe, and in its true and whole meaning, it means he/she who does with the universe like what the spirit does with thebody.

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