Stobart, Henry - A view from the Bolivian Andes – The Animu and soul loss
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
Bodies of sound and landscapes of music: a view from the Bolivian Andes – Henry Stobart
….when discussing the terminal illness of an elderly friend, whose lower body was paralysed, it was explained that this inability to move his limbs meant that part of his animu had already gone to alma llajta –the 'land of the souls'.
This hidden realm is said to lie to the west, just out of sight. It is constantly green, with many weeping willow trees, and, although inaudible to the living, the souls constantly sing and dance the waynu music of the rainy growing season. There is a sense, confirmed in several conversations, that the animu enclosed within a living body also takes the form of music - bodies are animated from their core by music.
Apparently, the fortunes of deceased souls are looked after by santa animas, in precisely the same way as those of the living are overseen by the sapiri - the unique local mountain spirit which takes the form of a condor. Thus, when an aysiri (shaman) was called to help my elderly paralysed friend, he called upon santa animas. The aysiri tapped three times on the patient's chest, 'as though knocking on a door', for the animu to return from the sound-filled land of the souls and re-enter the body.