Anam cara

Love as seen through the Celtic spiritual belief of bonding souls.

Who hasn’t lifted their eyes to the skies above and become lost in themselves?  Whether the drama of a turbulent daytime sky or the deep mystery of an endless, clear night, sky?  Doesn’t matter who we are or where we have or haven’t been in our lives, experiencing that shift from ‘reality’ to a place of souls is familiar to all.

Right at the front of Richard Bach’s lovestory book The Bridge Across Forever, there’s this quotation from E.E. Cummings:

 – how fortunate are you and I, whose home

is timelessness: we who have wandered down

from fragrant mountains of eternal now

to frolic in such mysteries as birth

and death a day (or maybe even less)

Then on page 9, Richard Bach writes as part of his introduction:

We think, sometimes, there’s not a dragon left. Not one brave knight, not a single princess gliding through secret forests, enchanting deer and butterflies with her smile.

We think sometimes that ours is an age past frontiers, past adventures.  Destiny, it’s way over the horizon; glowing shadows galloped past long ago, and gone.

What a pleasure to be wrong.  Princesses, knights, enchantments and dragons, mystery and adventure …. not only are they here-and-now, they’re all that ever lived on earth!

Our century, they’ve changed clothes, of course.  Dragons wear government-costumes, today, and failure-suits and disaster-outfits.  Society’s demons screech, whirl down on us should we lift our eyes from the ground, dare we turn right at corners we’ve been told to turn left.  So crafty have appearances become that princesses and knights can be hidden from each other, can be hidden from themselves.

Yet masters of reality still meet us in dreams to tell us that we’ve never lost the shield we need against dragons, that blue fire voltage arcs through us now to change our world as we wish.  Intuition whispers true: We’re not dust, we’re magic!

Copyright (1984) Richard Bach.

Richard Bach’s hugely popular lovestory is widely summarised, thus:

‘Did you ever feel that you were missing someone you had never met?’.

Haunted by the ghost of the wise, mystical, lovely lady who lives just around the corner in time, Richard Bach begins his quest to find her, to learn of love and immortality not in the here-after, but in the here and now. Yet caught in storms of wealth and success, disaster and betrayal, he abandons the search, and the walls he builds for protection become his prison. Then he meets the one brilliant and beautiful woman who can set him free, and with her begins a transforming journey, a magical discovery of love and joy.

Just pause and listen. Hear your intuition whispering to you: You are not dust, you are magic!


Now let’s turn to another author: John O’Donohue.  WikiPedia has an entry that starts:

John O’Donohue (1 January 1956 – 4 January 2008) was an Irish poet, author, priest, and Hegelian philosopher. He was a native Irish speaker, and as an author is best known for popularizing Celtic spirituality.

His death in January 2008 just a few days past his 52nd birthday was a huge and tragic loss.  Not just to his family and all who knew him, but to all those in the world who dream the spiritual bonding with another person.

John O’Donohue’s book is no better appreciated than by hugging the meaning of that Celtic phrase anam cara, assuming you aren’t a Celtic speaker!  A quick web search finds an explanation typically like this:

In the 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 and become completely open and trusting with another person, your two souls begin to flow together. The forming of that deep bond is described as having found your anam cara or soul friend.

Your anam cara always accepts you as you truly are, holding you in beauty and light. Inevitably, 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 awaken to your own inner light and beauty, as a pathway to experiencing the joys of others.

According to John O’Donahue, an accomplished Irish poet, philosopher and Catholic priest, “…You are joined in an ancient and eternal union with humanity that cuts across all barriers of time, convention, philosophy and definition. When you are blessed with an anam cara, the Irish believe, you have arrived at that most sacred place: home.

Do you sense how the writings of Richard Bach and John O’Donohue are two hues from the same rainbow?

Take a few minutes and explore the John O’Donohue website that has much to remember about this wonderful man.  Embrace such profound insights on the universal themes of friendship, solitude, love, and death as:

  • Light is generous
  • The human heart is never completely born
  • Love as ancient recognition
  • The body is the angel of the soul
  • Solitude is luminous
  • Beauty likes neglected places
  • The passionate heart never ages
  • To be natural is to be holy
  • Silence is the sister of the divine
  • Death as an invitation to freedom

I’m going to offer two videos.  They are both of John O’Donohue.  One is 51 minutes and one is 5 minutes.  Do watch them both but if for whatever reason you cannot do that, then please watch the shorter one.


Now read this quotation from the book.

Your beloved and your friends were once strangers. Somehow at a particular time, they came from the distance toward your life. Their arrival seemed so accidental and contingent. Now your life is unimaginable without them. Similarly, your identity and vision are composed of a certain constellation of ideas and feelings that surfaced from the depths of the distance within you. To lose these now would be to lose yourself.

and recognising this post is day three of writing about love, here’s another quotation:

If you send out goodness from yourself, or if you share that which is happy or good within you, it will all come back to you multiplied ten thousand times. In the kingdom of love there is no competition; there is no possessiveness or control. The more love you give away, the more love you will have.


Are Jean and I touched by the spirit of anam cara?  Leave you, dear reader, to judge that.  In fact, leave you with the sign that is on our front gate!


13 thoughts on “Anam cara

  1. Loved that Book by Richard Bach and have a collection of his upon my shelves…. And loved these words

    “”If you send out goodness from yourself, or if you share that which is happy or good within you, it will all come back to you multiplied ten thousand times. In the kingdom of love there is no competition; there is no possessiveness or control. The more love you give away, the more love you will have.””

    And that gate sign says it all…….. 🙂 Brilliant! Sue 🙂


  2. Paul I just watched the first 5min Video… Big Smiles…. as his thoughts so resonate with my own….. I have saved the longer one to watch at my leisure. Have a beautiful Day


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