Since the recent passing of John O’Donohue, famous for his wonderful book, Anam Cara, Spiritual Wisdom From The Celtic World, I have wanted to post and share some epitaph words about this but found I failed to.
I think this is because the body of John O’ Donohue is now on its way to rejoin nature, and that’s a personal thing. John’s spirit though his writing lives on just as before, so nothing really has changed.
A Book I Treasure
John’s Anam Cara book is a very easy read. It introduces the reader to several paths of wisdom. This is a book you can randomly open anywhere and start reading, and, by what seems a miracle, it seems relevant.
My copy of the book was the first gift from my singer harper partner, Claire. Often, during the moment I am thinking of something she is on the phone and her first words are talking to me about the same thing.
Today, I was in the middle of writing another article, and suddenly I was inspired to stop writing that article as the words were flowing through me to write this article.
First, I picked up the Anam Cara book, read the words Claire had hand written within it, “bring, bring”, and it’s Claire on the phone. Claire had just come out of a bookshop where she had just bought another copy of Anam Cara for a friend.
Anam Cara Means “Soul Friend”, Who Is Your’s
On our tours and retreats our travellers often discuss who their “soul friend” is, and they usually mention some human being that they feel carries this honour in their spirit.
Now from what I mentioned about what seems to be a frequent telepathic connection between Claire and myself , an experience many readers here will relate to with people close to them, I find it hard to call another human being a “soul friend”.
The turning point in my own life was a set of experiences when I was 6 years old. My childhood experience at this time was very hostile and dangerous. I was hospitalized then more than once. There is a ancient passage cairn near where I lived that became my refuge, my den. It is within a wooded valley always full of flowers during spring and busy buzzlies through summer.. It was here I believe I met my “soul friend”.
The joy of this spirit was just like part of the “Beannacht” poem that opens Anam Cara
And when your eyes
the grey window
and the ghost of loss
gets in to you
may a flock of colours
indigo, red, green
and azure blue
come to awaken in you
a meadow of delight
May the nourishment of the earth be yours
may the clarity of the light be yours
may the fluency of the ocean be yours
may the protection of the ancestors be yours
And so may a slow
wind work these words
of love around you
an invisible cloak
to mind your life
I always came from that ancient cairn, those woods, the heather meadow, warm, secure, loved, blessed, and not afraid. I stood my ground on issues said not to be worthy of a 6 year old, such as refusal to eat meat for which I was constantly shouted at, locked up, deprived food, beaten. As my “soul friend” was with me I was not afraid as I believed what I stood for was honest and true.
When our travellers today tell me passionate stories of their Christ, their goddess, their angel, their Brigid, their spiritual guide such as an native American chief, Celtic shaman or Chinese medicine man it makes me think, feel and smile at my “Soul Friend” because they are sharing their soul friends with us.
Your Close Friend, Your Soul Friend?
I love and share the old tales of Ireland that tell of the old High Kings being chosen not by heritage or by family but by “the goddess” through a sacred stone.
The Queen was essential for every male King, not for the bearing of a son to be king, but as his medium, his pathway to “the goddess”. The High Kings, therefore, had to treat their Queens as “goddesses” because how they are with their queen is a mirror of their relationship and connection as steward to the goddess. This did not give the goddess the upper hand because the goddess also needs good stewardship to accept and distribute life, so balance and flow were, and still is, the intent.
There is a lovely Scottish Hebrides Imbolc tradition that is also alive in north west Ireland and parts of north west Mayo. I have mentioned the Bhrideog or Brideog doll tradition in other blogs. This tradition is of the Bhride’s Day that provides a day where the men honour the women. Much of this tradition has flowed into Valentine’s Day now.
From my own experience and inspired by the legends of these ancient kings, it is so wonderful to be at one with our soul friend through our closest friends. I well and truly feel this when I am in Claire’s company, present at one of her concerts, on another route when I see or think of my children. When none of these people are present, there’s always the spiritual “phone call” at a wonderful cairn, stone circle, sacred well, or spectacular view in the heart of wild nature. I now think the US folks are more correct to call their “anywhere phones” as “cell” phones rather than “mobiles”.
The best thing about your “soul friend” is that it is purer and more loving than any physical being can be, and it will never let you down and never be dishonest with you.
However, I feel that touching your soul friend through close experience with another human is one of the most wonderful gifts our earthly life provides us with.
Somehow I don’t think its a bad thing to take an apple offered by a snake, as long as you can do what it takes to ensure that the snake always has apples to give.
Why I wrote this
Today, a local storyteller, Tony Cuckson, introduced himself to me.
There’s a lot that does that is parallel to what I do so, especially how reading Anam Cara inspired a lot of what he does today.
You can check out and order Anam Cara from here .