Friday, 16 August 2013

Anima Sola and Il Capitano: Calling on The Dead through bone and fire. Part 1: The Anima Sola.

 Well it's been a while, so many spirits so little sometimes life gets in the way. So apologies, I'd like to get back into this blog and what better way to start with two interesting spiritual entities of Italian origin that capture my imagination and heart. The Anima Sola and The Captain.

These two entities are related as both are part of Italian style worship of the dead in Southern Italy.

The Anima Sola:

The image of the Anima Sola is probably familiar to you if your frequent botanicas, a pretty young lady stood admist flames holding her hands and head up in supplication. "Anima Sola" is Italian for "Lonely Soul".

The two most popular images of The Anima Sola

The image represents all the lone souls who have died in venial sin and therefore after death atone for said sins in the flames of purgatory. These poor souls are too good for Hell and are destined for Heaven, however they must suffer in fire so they can be purified before entering Paradise, as there can be no bad things in Heaven.

Now, the catholic cult of The Holy Souls of Purgatory is far beyond the scope of this blog as its traditions, beliefs, theologies, rituals and customs are truly vast. So this post will focus on the folk aspects of this image and how the Anima Sola can help you.

I'm unsure of where the two main popular images above come from, I'm guessing they are Italian as they are found in and around Naples as well as the art style (particularly the image on the right) is typical of modern Italian religious art.

However Italian or not the image is popular in many cultures and spiritual traditions, especially Hispanic and south american ones.

The Anima Sola has also been syncretised with many spirits:

In Haitian Voodoo she is syncretised with the fearsome Marinette Bwa Che a powerful and much feared Lwa (Voodoo Spirit) associated with fire and werewolves.

In Lucumi she is syncretised with Eshus Alaguana (a devilish tricky crossroad spirit who is a camino of the Orisha Elegua).

In Puerto Rican Sanse she is considered a Misterio, where she may take possession as a benevolent entity who will give healing and guidance.

In some traditions the image is taken to be Maria Celestina Abdenago, who may be a pious Jewish woman trapped in purgatory or an evil witch in Hell (depending on who you ask.....more on her later.)

In some Italian forms of black magic she may be syncretised with the damned souls of suicides, these spirits are souls burning in Hell (not Purgatory) for the sin of self murder. They are employed by a sorcerer/sorceress in dark rites who will turn them against an enemy causing their enemy to commit suicide themselves and so increase the legions of lost infernal souls. 

The list goes on, as she provides a mask for many fiery "hot" spirits.

Some people confuse the Anima Sola with "The Intraquil Spirit" it is important you recognise these are not the same entities.

Folk Customs relating to the Anima Sola

The Anima Sola is amongst the more mystical and magical of the folk saints (if something that doesnt dwell in heaven can be called a saint).

An image of the Anima Sola can be placed in the house and offered water to quieten unhappy ghosts and help them pass on.

An Anima Sola spirit package made by me as a gift for a family member.

The image can also be used as a focus for pretty much any petition to the Holy Souls in Purgatory. Suffering the intense flames of purgatory The Poor Souls welcome all prayers and in return bestow large favours and graces in gratitude for those willing to trouble themselves with prayers to cease their suffering and get them into Heaven faster.
In the spirit of the Anima Sola being willing to grant any request an interesting little folk tale has grown up around her:

On the day of the crucifixion as Jesus of Nazareth was carrying the cross to Golgotha, he fell to the ground from thirst, a young woman was in the crowd holding a gourd of water. Jesus begged the young woman for a sip of water to wet his lips so he may continue his journey and die for her and all humanities sins. 
The young woman scoffed at him and refused him a drink. When the young woman died, God in his mercy did not damn her to Hell. Instead he condemned her to purgatory until the day Jesus returned to Earth, whilst in purgatory she was ordained to help, as best she could, any living human who asked her a favour, no matter how big or small, to atone for the sin selfishness towards someone trying to perform the ultimate act of selflessness.

Another version of this folk tale is found in parts of South America, where the name of the Anima Sola is given as Maria Celestina Abdegno. A pious woman who went to Golgotha to offer water to the crucified, she gave water to the 2 thieves but not Jesus out of fear of The Saviour.
Other folk tales tell of Maria Celestina Abdegno actually being a witch who spat in the face of Jesus as he passed her in the street on the way to be crucified. In this guise she is often invoked in black magic spells along with another Anima Sola or Damned Soul (depending on tradition) called Juan Minero, who, legend has it, is currently busy mining coal on the celestial planes to keep the fires of Hell and Purgatory burning.

One of the most interesting things that have come out of the folk cult of the Anima Sola is the prolific use of the image in love magic.

The Anima Sola can be used in spells to return a lover, the flames in the image are seen as flames of passion not punishment, she is seen not suffering from penal fire but tortured by the heated pangs of love. Petitions of this nature request the Anima Sola causes the estranged lover to burn with desire for the jilted partner.

Another, much darker, practice of love magic involves the Anima Sola in one of the most desperate of love spells. Folk Legend has it the woman depicted in the flames of purgatory is a woman who shunned the eternal love of God for the temporal love of a man on Earth, landing her in purgatory when she died. Suffering horrifically day and night with flames continuously burning but never consuming her, she will out of desperation cause anyone to fall in love with you. For a price.
Upon entering a contract with her, she will deliver unto you your hearts desire, though your part of the bargain is that once you die you must take her place among the flames of purgatory and suffer the rest of her sentence ontop of your own, making you the new Anima Sola.

How to work with The Anima Sola.

There are lots of ways to work with the Anima Sola. Heres a few ideas;

Print yourself out a nice picture of the Anima Sola and frame it, or even better get a statue. Lay out a white cloth and place a crucifix at the back and place the image in front of it. You may also like to put images of St Michael and Our Lady of Mount Carmel on the space too (both saints associated with assisting the Poor Souls). Place a white candle on the shrine along with a cool glass of water to soothe the spirits sufferings and give them a medium to travel through. Pray to God for their release from purgatory.  Offer them white flowers and kananga perfume. Pray to God often for them also talk to them offering them kind words of encouragement and asking them to pray to God for you as you have prayed for them.
Temporary shrine for spiritual working.

If you would like something more dramatic and "heated" to gain a more intense relationship with them build a large shrine decorated with red, orange and gold cloths. Place broken chains and skulls on the shrine along with red and orange candles. Have a crucifix and the images of the saints mentioned above along with a large dramatic image of the Anima Sola. Other saints associated with the holy souls may include St Gertrude or San Paolo Della Croce of the passionists. Add a large brass censer and offer up incense with your prayers, perhaps keep a lamp burning with Anima Sola oil in it.

Some say Monday is a good day to pray for them, other say you should offer hard spirits like rum and cigars. Do what your personal tradition dictates.

Prayers to the Anima Sola.

Hear mortal men, the cries of the imprisoned soul, alone and abandoned in a dark prison.
O Anima Sola, soul of peace and war.
Soul of sea and of land.
I desire that all that I have lost be returned.
O Anima Sola, you who are alone and abandoned,
I accompany you in your grief.
  I take pity upon you.
  For I know of the grief and suffering you must endure within your harsh and long imprisonment.
I offer you this prayer and glass of water because I desire to lessen your pain and quench your thirst.
Sad Soul, Lonely Soul, no one calls you, But I call you. 
No one looks for you, but I seek you out. 
No one loves you, but I adore you. 
No one remembers you, but I keep you in my heart. 
I offer you this lit candle so that you may find your way into the light.
In this moment I offer to you my meritorious labour, and all that I have suffered, suffer and will suffer in this life, even though it can never compare to yours.
I humbly pray that you finish paying for your mortal sins of the flesh so that you may find the grace of God, and be lifted from your imprisonment,
With your grace you shall be my benefactor. 

Eternal rest, grant unto them O Lord
and let perpetual light shine upon them.
May they rest in peace.

Anima Sola of Heaven and Earth,
Anima Sola of sky and sea,
As you are in the midst of the Blessed Virgin put me in the heart of N, N.  

May s/he not drink, or sleep, or take enjoyment in pleasure without me. 
I turn to you in faith and hope, may you look down on me in good grace. 
By Jesus Christ at the foot of the cross on Maundy Thursday. 
N, N I conjure you again and again,
  so you do not take any pleasure in this world with any man/woman other than me,
under the divine protection of Jesus Christ.
Anima Sola we are united as we are both Lonely Souls.
Grant me my petition, I implore you as you understand the measures that I can not at this time achieve myself