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Anam Cara – The Friend of Your Soul

In the Celtic tradition, there is a beautiful understanding of love and friendship. One of the fascinating ideas here is the idea of soul love; “Anam Cara” may sound like some new French perfume, but it actually refers to the Celtic spiritual belief of souls connecting and bonding .

In Celtic Spiritual tradition, it is believed that the soul radiates all about the physical body what some refer to as an aura. When you connect with another person and become completely open and trusting with that individual, your two souls begin to flow together.

Should such a deep bond be formed, it is said you have found your “Anam Cara” or soul friend.

Your “Anam Cara” always accepts you as you truly are, holding you in beauty and light. In order to appreciate this relationship, you must first recognize your own inner light and beauty. This is not always easy to do. The Celts believed that forming an “Anam Cara” friendship would help you to awaken your awareness of your own nature and experience the joys of others.

Happy St. Patrick's DayThe “Anam Cara” was originally someone to whom you confessed, revealing the hidden intimacies of your life. With the “Anam Cara”, you could share your innermost self, your mind and your heart. This friendship was an act of recognition and belonging. When you had an “Anam Cara”, your friendship cut across all convention, morality and category. You were joined in an ancient and eternal way with the “friend of your soul”. The Celtic understanding did not set limitations of space or time on the soul. There is no cage for the soul. The soul is a divine light that flows into you and into your Other.

This art of belonging awakened and fostered a deep and special companionship. When you love, you open your life to an Other. All your barriers are down. Your protective distances collapse. This person is given absolute permission to come into the deepest temple of your spirit. Your presence and life can become their ground. It takes great courage to let someone so close. Where a friendship recognizes itself as a gift, it will remain open to its own ground of blessing….. When you are blessed with an “Anam Cara”, the Irish believe, you have arrived at that most sacred place: home. This bond between friends is indissoluble: “This, I say, is what is broken by no chances, what no interval of time or space can sever or destroy, and what even death itself cannot part”.

~ from “Anam Cara…Wisdom from the Celtic World“, by John O’Donohue

My St. Patrick’s Day wish for you is that you have found your Anam Cara. Like an ice cold pint of Guiness – everyone should have one!

41 Comments

  1. Bob

    Very nice thought!

    Bob

  2. That was a lovely post – thanks for sharing!! Happy Saint Patrick’s Day to you and yours!!

  3. Happy Irish Day!

  4. Ah that’s sweet… of course I’m depressed now because I don’t have one, so thanks… thanks a lot… I guess I can go hug my motorcycle…

    ;)

  5. Happy St. Patrick’s day… a beautiful idea in the Celtic tradition, hopefully an idea that manifests itself everywhere!

  6. Very cool, and yes, I did have a guiness last night!

  7. Sara

    Hi there. Just a quick note to say that you’re in the running for MKE’s blog of the week. (I think you were nominated last fall, too.) Sorry to leave a comment randomly, but I couldn’t find an e-mail address for you. The blog poll voting page with more information is at ww.mkeonline.com/people/blogcontest.asp Good luck!

  8. I know it’s a late response, but this is probably one of the most meaningful things I’ve found in a blog. THank you for sharing this!

  9. lucilda

    :)Very very beautiful and touching.

    A very nice day to you!

  10. John Doe

    It was a nice thought, that’s why John O’Donohue used so many of the exact same phrases in his published work Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom. If you’re going to try to pawn another person’s words off as your own you should probably try to do it in a less public manner, or at the very least use some citations for legal reasons.

    Ps. Guiness is best served warm, some Celt you are.

  11. Right. Perhaps if you read the entire post, you would note the citation. :-b

    As for Guiness – I prefer it cold…unlike my visitors, I prefer them warm and friendly.

  12. :)A beautiful thought and certainly what an anam cara is all about…….especially if you are lucky enough to have one…..

    Definarely Guiness is warm!!!!!!!!

  13. FALCONER

    Today I found the Anam Cara. First the White Hart. Second the Lady of Light. Third the Anam Cara. Who would have thought such things still could be.

  14. hodja

    what happens when the ‘other’ opens you up, reveals your soul to you, and your response turns out to be one of revulsion(at the sight of your own soul), fear of such a real thing, and you run, from them and ultimately from yourself?
    is there such a thing as a last chance? will the human mind let you forget your weakness? how cold will the nights get after that?
    i’ve tried, but, unfortunately, the answer is not in the guiness…

  15. Trish

    Is the “Anam Cara” not what each of us ultimately seeks? Perhaps it is the wisdom of age, but I believe that this bonding of souls is what would complete the cycle of life. Now, the question is how in the world to find him/her.

    HODJA, of course the answer if not in the guiness. Within you lies the beauty of an untouched soul. You alone must first come to know yourself, love yourself, then you will seek your “Anam Cara.” Take with you the power given you to do that. Look deep within; it lies there; it is yours for the asking. “Buena suerte,” good luck in doing so!

  16. Colleen

    I was lucky enough to find my Anam Cara – the experience opened so many doors in my soul. It is beautiful, scary and awe-inspiring. I am still here (my life cycle did not end, nor did theirs); still exploring even though my ‘soul friend’ is not physically with me, we are forever linked. Home is always there, waiting for my return.
    I feel blessed to have found a name for this overwhelming connection.

  17. Lisa!

    It’s funny, because I found a reference to anam cara recently and it totally described a friendship that started 3-4 months ago.

    And your post describes it even more fully.

    Thanks. Awesome.

    J

  18. JayJay

    thank you. you have just answerred a queston that has been bothering me for a long time. I never knew what anam cara was till i read this and it explains the freindshi i share with someone for the past 17 years.

  19. It is great to see a person in business offering or stating their role outside business, which they are as a person… that personal role, intimate.

    Anam Cara has been with me for about 12 years, ever since an ex girlfriend gave me a necklace, the Celtic wheel of life.

    I have found that is not just about souls meeting souls in the state of people. It can be about your soul meeting a person’s soul, meeting the soul of the earth plants, animals and nature, meeting the soul of music.

    It’s a very hard thing to explain unless you have experienced it and yes as people have mentioned here it maybe comes about when you get older.

    And for me it has more to do then just meeting of souls but of kairos moments when you connect with people and the world.

    These are by far the blissful moments, maybe only lasting minutes when you feel absolutely connected with that person, nature or the world in general.

    I am also not talking about only a partner or sexual connection. One such a relationship I have with my best friend who is male, another with my sister therefore anam cara is about the soul not attraction or sexual orientation.

    Coming from being depressed in my younger years, I never thought I would see such joy or connections.

    But I now realize that life is more about seeking the right things and asking the right questions rather than being on the wrong road.

    In hundreds of years to come, humans will finally come to realize that acceptance and relationships are what really make us happy, fulfilled and content.

  20. Sue

    Three years ago I had a dream which was so realistic I woke in the middle of the night and wrote down the words and drew the image given to me. The very next morning I saw the words ‘Anam Cara’ and entwined double S and beneath that … Sue and Stephen. At the time I didn’t know what Anam Cara meant and I searched the Internet and found the book by John O’Donohue, purchased it and read it; a book that will stay part of my inner self throughout this life and the next. For 2 years I waited in vain for a ‘Stephen’ to come into my life who was my Anam Cara. It was not until I got married last March and we were driving through Hervey Bay, Australia, where I now live, that it finally sunk in. It was not Sue and Stephen, but Susan Stevens, my Anam Cara was who I would find here in Australia. A new life, a new husband and a new spiritually minded me.

  21. Bec

    I’m so glad I found this here today. Yesterday my best friend of 22 years passed away and I was looking for just the right word to describe what it was we’ve had for so many years… BFF, Kindred Spirit, Soul Sisters…. Words just don’t do justice to the connection we shared but you have described it perfectly. Next to my husband my beautiful friend and I shared something that I know I never will share with any other woman in this life time, it was a friendship that you only know once in a life time if ever at all. I know I have been blessed beyond what most people could ever hope for in a life time to find and connect with both my husband who is undoubtably my soulmate in ways that go beyond any written description and my beautiful friend who I will hold in my heart forever.
    Thank you for such a wonderful piece.

  22. steve magill

    ive read anam cara and eternal echos numerous times but you have summed it all up beautifully in a few paragraphs. i tried to say the same thing in a poem but it did not fare so well. i wanted to say that a true friend doesnt stand beside you they are all around you and their only purpose is to make you, you and their only reward is being allowed to watch. Anam Cara by stephen magill at poemhunter.com. interesting site if you havent seen it, only problem is, as with all of the net, you can get lost for ever in it. steve

  23. George

    Well,since I am not very fluent in english I am going to be short…It is really really strange for me even now after so many years that since I was a child I dreamt of a connection between two people where words were no longer necessary for comunication…It wasn’t clear for me waht kind of connection it was exaclty, but when I found it I knew that it was what I was looking for…Anam Cara…My soul friend…The relationship between us could not be described in words…At least I can’t do it…What is even stranger for me is that my Anam Cara and I described us as two shreds of smoke entertwind yet distict , exactly as it is described in the book, and we had at that time now idea that this book existed or what Anam Cara means…Also, I always dreamt to go and visit Ireland…Somehow I was atracted to it…Who knows? Perhaps in another life I was irish….:d

  24. bree

    Hae,uhm, Im 14 (turning 15 this year) and my friend sort of told me a bit about an anam cara and sugested that my boyfriend right now is mine.so i was just wondering, is it possible to hav that kind of connection with someone at such a early age?

  25. Gerry

    Anam Cara .. is one who inspires and can trancend time , space, morality and brings you to love yourself. John O’Donohue by virtue of his writings IS an Anma Cara to many. Read his works. Beauty , the invisible embrace , To Bless the Space Between us Eternal Echoes. If you don’t have an Anma Cara that you have met , He will inspire you to reach your soul , to love yourself and to be in touch with your Devine purpose in this life.

  26. =d>Dear Lisa,
    I know your first article was written in 2006. Well, I just discovered a few things. My Best Friend in the World and I shared a home for 30 Years. Not as Gay Gals…such deep and best Friends witjout sex. She passed away this past Feb. @age 80, Anam cara was the exact description of our Friendship.
    Just a couple of weeks ago, while on a Soul Sabbitical Retreat, My daer Friend and Retreat Guide introduced me to the term Anam Cara.
    I think, that with the Depth and Sacredness of your Soul Friend that you REALLY only have one or two maybe in your whole Lifetime. Maybe not though…I certainly don’t want very many people knowing “my faults”
    Yet I know there are one or two folks I want to know the “Real”
    me. The funny thing is my friend who passed on and I knew this Other wonderful Spiritual Being…It was like one had to change form in order for the other to be recognized…Think it’s true? If so, I think the Human part of us can handle only one Anam Cara at a time. Thanks! I really appreciate what you wrote and isn’t it wonderful for the Soul to be able to merge and communicate with one another on such a God-Level?

  27. Dear Lisa,

    No reason at all for any pink-“excuses”, especially not in an adulterated “alpha”-world… lol

    Yep, always sense, think and act pink! With Love and Soul-Light.ness….

    Cos: “The day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” (Anais Nin)

    That’s why I do cherish all warm-,openhearted and honest SOULS…..forever!

    Especially those with an empathic look, sagacious smile and heartwarming spirit…

    If they once “touched” and inspired me, I do treasure this rare gift forever…. and to each of these soul-personalities I do dedicate a special secret place in my heart…..

    Whatever happens, even if they leave me, even if we can’t agree or are at dissent, even if I lose sight of them, even if our life paths divert, even if I get disappointed or hurt by them, even if I don’t hear from them anymore….

    Cos “This, I say, is what is broken by NO chances, what NO interval of time or space can sever or destroy, and what even death itself cannot part”. John O’Donohue

    In every me is always another you – and vice versa……

    And it is always the BEST in OTHERS which makes US SOAR….

    Though if we ever start to concentrate on others’ negative sides, wrong habits, curl-ins and lashing-outs, our selves get only entangled to the muddy ground of humanity…..

    “Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage…..” (Anais Nin)

    ….. to love unconditionally! :)

    Anam Cara,

    (((( Lighthouse4U ))))

  28. Badness

    What if you meet your Anam Cara but you’re already married and have children who you love? Do you give that up to be with that person?

  29. Jennifer

    I met my Anam Cara a few months ago. We hit it off immediately, were instantly comfortable around each other..like we’d known each other for years..even though that day was the first time we’d ever met. Recently a friend of mine told me the guy told a friend of his that I make him happy..which is exactly how I feel about him.

    Hopefully soon, we can meet up another time, and get to know each other even better.

    He’s a beautiful man with a beautiful soul..and being near him makes me feel beautiful too. :)

  30. Charlie

    I met my anam cara a few months ago, and since I\’m Irish I have been calling him \’m\’anam chara\’ without realising the Celtic significance behind it. I nearly wept reading this article, it describes the initial experience of meeting very aptly. Neither of us are particularly spiritual but both voiced within twenty minutes of conversation that it was as if our souls were connected. There was also a series of freaky events that lead to our meeting. It\’s a mind-blowing experience and enriches your life if you are fortunate enough for this to happen. Your souls friend can be in any human body, it transcends all norms of age and nationality.

  31. Ashley

    I met my anamcara a year ago through a very bizarre way. Our relationship was immediately intense and emotional and we both have bared our souls to one another. We have a significant age difference and are both committed to other people. Our souls are forever linked and we provide a unique emotional support to each other. Our friendship does not cross sexual boundaries and we are very mindful and careful with our committed relationships. However, we can’t live without each other and always feel at home. It is truly a remarkable and spiritual experience to realize that you are connected to someone’s soul, to be on the inside of their walls and to be able to say or do anything without fear of judgement. To be able to love and feel love that is truly compassionate without strings attached is the most wonderful experience ever. I thank God every day for putting our paths together. I am blessed beyond measure.

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