"In everyone's life, there is great need for an 'anam-cara', a soul-friend. In this love, you are understood as you are without mask or pretension...Where you are understood, you are home." — John O'Donohue
I read a lot of books. I listen to even more, and of all of the books in my physical and digital libraries, John O'Donohue's are by far my favorite. O'Donohue was a wildly talented Irish poet, philosopher and scholar. His words (and voice) captivate you, they pull you out of your everyday and walk you through a spiritual landscape with fresh eyes. He leaves you marveling and in awe of things you rarely stop to ponder. His work "Anam Cara," is no exception.
The book Anam Cara, Gaelic for "soul friend," is an exploration of friendship, love, work and death. It's an experience that stretches your reach as you grasp to follow his Irish imagination and Celtic wisdom while pondering and dissecting core aspects of our life in this world and after. He especially digs deep on friendship, what it is, what it can be and why. I was so taken with this idea of a soul friend, as he describes this "friendship cut across all convention, morality, and category. You were joined in an ancient and eternal way with the 'friend of your soul." As I read the description, I knew immediately who my soul friends were and that I wanted to give them something that captured the mystery of our friendship.
I wanted it to speak to the ancient wisdom of the Celts that he draws on throughout the book. I wanted something that felt like a sacred secret that we could each wear and be reminded of daily. I landed on the words themselves, spelled out, "Anam Cara" in Ogham, an ancient script used to write the early Irish language from 300-800 AD. This Ogham alphabet was composed of a series of slash marks that were usually carved into stone, vertically or from left to right. These inscriptions would oftentimes denote a name or ownership of sorts.
The idea behind each Anam Cara piece in our collection is that you would wear it to remind you of your anam cara, or "soul friend," or gift it to your anam cara as next-level friendship jewelry.
Below is a more detailed description by O'Donohue, quite simply because no one tells the story of the anam cara better than he does.
"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; the old Gaelic term for this is anam cara. Anam is the Gaelic word for soul and cara is the word for friend. So anam cara in the Celtic world was the 'soul friend.' In the early Celtic church, a person who acted as a teacher, companion, or spiritual guide was called an anam cara. It originally referred to someone to whom you confessed, revealing the hidden intimacies of your life. With the anam cara you could share your inner-most 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.
"In this love, you are understood as you are without mask or pretension. The superficial and functional lies and half-truths of social acquaintance fall away, you can be as you really are. Love allows understanding to dawn, and understanding is precious. Where you are understood, you are at home.
"Understanding nourishes belonging. When you really feel understood, you feel free to release yourself into the trust and shelter of the other person’s soul… This art of love discloses the special and sacred identity of the other person. Love is the only light that can truly read the secret signature of the other person’s individuality and soul. Love alone is literate in the world of origin; it can decipher identity and destiny."
I wear my Anam Cara ring daily to remind myself of the friends of my soul. They are my companions, my teachers, they are where my soul is recognized and belongs. Time with them truly is a kind of homecoming I never take for granted.
Whether you're looking to surprise your Anam Cara or just want a wearable reminder, each piece in our collection is a way to celebrate your soul's friend.