Anima Sola, or, Prayer For A Lost Soul

Two images side by side of the Anima Sola, which translates as Lonely Soul. They are both variations of the same image depicting a white woman with long black hair flowing over her shoulders, with her hands in shackles attached to chains. These chains descend into roaring flames that surround her body, concealing the lower half of her body. Her arms are reaching upwards, in a gesture of someone asking for help.

“Anima Sola, also known as the “Lone Soul” prayer, is a Catholic prayer that is recited after an individual has died. However, it can be said for someone who is facing major life changes. According to tradition, this prayer was recited by a monk named Gregory of Sinai in an isolated monastery in the eleventh century. Animas Solas became a common prayer in many countries during the 15th century:

O Lord, I am so lonely and despaired.

I cry out for your help.

My soul is empty and restless.

Fill it with your glory, O Lord!

Anima Sola

Alone, I am lonely. Alone, I feel lost and afraid. Alone, I have no one to talk to. Alone, people do not understand me. Alone, there is no one to listen to my troubles and worries.

God, please help me find someone who will be my friend and companion for life!

Anima sola, anima Christi,

per quam tibi nos reconciliamur.

O Maria, Mater Dei et hominum,

terribilis ut castrorum acies ordinata,

tu ades cunctis in periculis nostris.

Oh God,

I am alone in this world.

It is you I must rely on, and only you.

Oh Lord, I call to you for help.

Alone I am,

and yet not alone.

I am surrounded by a thousand angels,

who wait for me to join them in the Kingdom of Heaven.

I wait for them as well.”

I came across the phrase Anima Sola through a recent edition of Phoebe Hildegard‘s newsletter (if ur into TTRPG’s, necromancy and Spiritualism, it’s VERY good, big recommend). I find the Anima Sola prayer super interesting. Firstly, as a tradition borne of the living working on behalf of the dead, (and specifically the ‘dead in need‘ too, something a lot of contemporary necromantic traditions generally shy away from) I find it to be, honestly, very moving. Secondly, it’s an unusual prayer in the sense that it puts the person intoning it into the shoes of the ‘lost soul’; to say the prayer is to experience their destitution as if it is ur own. On the one hand, this obviously makes it a potent prayer for those who’s experience of loneliness and despair does align with that of the anima sola. But also, it could in turn be a kind of declaration of care, and potentially even of friendship: as those performing the prayer could even be saying, “friend, let me take that load off you for a minute, I’ll help u carry ur burden”.

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Stills from the film ‘Ravenous’ (1999)

A scraggily looking white man with short but curly brown hair and an unkempt brown beard is cowering against the side of a tent looking frightened. Beneath him are subtitles that read: "he was - he was licking me."
A medium-shot image of an unkempt white man with ginger hair and beard, looking very muddy and spotted with blood, with bulging eyes look up towards a character slightly out of shot, over whose shoulder we see the ginger haired man. Below this are subtitles that read: "it's lonely being a cannibal"
A medium-shot image of an unkempt white man with ginger hair and beard, looking very muddy and spotted with blood, with bulging eyes look up towards a character slightly out of shot, over whose shoulder we see the ginger haired man. Below this are subtitles that read: "tough making friends"
A close up of the face of a gaunt white man, with shoulder length brown hair and a beard, looking very unwell and pale, with cuts and blood on his face and very dry lips. The man looks off in the distance despondently. Below this are subtitles that read: "the potency of someone else coursing through your veins"

I came down with a cold over the last two days and so lay in bed eating soup and crisps and watching films. Two of the films I watched were Anthony Hopkins Hannibal vehicles (Red Dragon, and Hannibal), and both were pretty bad (admittedly, Red Dragon was the least bad of the two), and really showed up how Anthony Hopkins Hannibal is like a one-dimensional cartoon character, in comparison to the genuinely terrifying black hole of Mads Mikkelsen’s iteration.

Anyway, the other film I watched, continuing the cannibal vibes, was the 1999 Ravenous, directed by Antonia Bird, written by Ted Griffin, and starring Guy Pearce and Robert Carlyle. I’d never heard of it until I listened to this podcast episode with Sasha Ravitch. The film is utterly bonkers, in a very enjoyable way, and has lots of overlaps with the classic vampire story cliche of turning people into vampires so you have someone who can actually relate to you, the desire to be seen and understood in your monstrosity, not shamed or shunned for it. It also brings in the First Nations, Great Planes, and Great Lakes indigenous folklore of the Wendigo:

“The wendigo is often said to be a malevolent spirit, sometimes depicted as a creature with human-like characteristics, which possesses human beings. The wendigo is said to invoke feelings of insatiable greed/hunger, the desire to cannibalize other humans, and the propensity to commit murder in those that fall under its influence”

Ravenous places this mythical creature as a blunt metaphor for the USA’s imperialist/colonialist expansion and consumption of people, land and resources, whilst offering an assortment of temporary boons and power to those who will exercise the nation-state’s will on it’s behalf (which in the film make the characters rapidly heal from potentially mortal wounds, and give them what Carlyle’s character repeatedly refers to as ‘VIRILITY’).

Interestingly, in the Wikipedia entry for Wendigo, Hannibal the TV show pops up again, as this is what Will Grahams hallucination throughout the series is in reference to:

An animated gif of a the inside of a dark and gloomy catholic church. Candle offerings are burning in the background. The floor is a beautiful mosaic. A strange creature moves awkwardly forwards. It seems to have deer legs and deer antlers, but no head, and possibly the body of a humanoid with their back arched

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Hélène Cixous – The Love of The Wolf, from Stigmata

A screengrab of a quote from Hélène Cixous' The Love of The Wolf, that reads: "As sson as we embrace, we salivate, one of us wants to eat, one of us is going to be swallowed up in little pieces, we all want to be eaten, in the beginning we were all formerly born-to-eat, wolfing it down, eating like a horse; we are starved, full of whetted appetites - but better not say it, or else we'll never dare to love. Or to be loved. Love is always a little wol-f-ishy [loup-che] - a little peckish, it's not nice to say, but..."

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Linda Gregerson on the History of the Sonnet

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