Aviario: The Archivists
What Is An Anima?
Put bluntly, an anima is the result of an animalistic spirit from within a ley line being spiritually fused to a human soul, most often a member of The Organization. A human with an anima usually identifies with some mythological quality of the creature – much like Native American totem spirits. Mostly, it provides a direct link to the energy innate through all living things that manifests itself in the ley lines, but the anima can also lend shapeshifting capabilities.
The earliest age at which a human is deemed eligible for an anima varies by culture. Also, certain spiritually and magically inclined cultures – Aborigines, the Zulu, Amazons, Iroquois, et cetera – will take on an anima outside of the Organization’s jurisdiction.
Organization members who have reached the rank of Enforcer are able to manifest small physiological changes that reflect their anima and give them some sort of advantage. Feline anima are most likely to be able to call forth claws, or night vision, ants give enhanced strength, dogs a keener sense of smell or hearing, and so forth. These changes, however, are extremely painful when first used, as they require a biological change to the person’s body. Cases such as claws and wings are especially painful, because the bones of the human skeleton adapt, grow, and change to accommodate the new form – and the body must heal itself when the changes back to a normal human physique are made. That is why only highly experienced anima-users will manifest large visible changes – they have trained themselves to weather the physical backlash that comes with transformation.
Even after being bonded to a soul, an anima is still a separate consciousness. (Those looking for a comparison may reference the daemons in Phillip Pullman’s Dark Materials Trilogy, though only to some extent.) Once a member of the Organization reaches complete understanding and accord with their anima, they are able to completely shift into the animal’s form, and achieve what is known as True Balance. It is not nirvana, because there is a difference between being at peace with a single spirit and being at peace with the world. Those with True Balance receive a sort of low-grade immortality, as well: illness and age will not kill them, and their appearance is “frozen” at the age when their balance was achieved. Some members have their anima for decades before they reach True Balance, others take only a matter of months.
Risk & Consequence
The largest danger to those with anima is a loss of will. If the will of the anima is stronger than the person, or if some trauma causes the person to lose the sense of self that drew their anima to them in the first place, the anima will take control, rendering the person wild. Once this occurs, unless it is caught early on, the anima is permanently bonded to the person’s soul and can even completely overtake it. If this happens, and the person in their wild state is uncontrollable or harmful, a Division Leader must petition to have the Wild One executed, by means of having the anima (and, usually, as extension, the damaged soul) torn from the body. On rare occasions, the anima can be extricated before it has fused to the soul, but the person left behind is heavily damaged, and highly unlikely to ever host another spirit again. Anima which are torn from their hosts are sealed away, either within magical vessels, or back into the ley lines themselves.