Anam Cara, Soul Friend

David Price
4 min readSep 14


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 everyone’s life, there is a great need for an anam cara, a soul friend. 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…

— John O’Donohue


In order to be initiated in this way, we must slow down, return into the earth and the mud and the ground, and somehow cut into the urgency to enter into the next phase while the current one is still being illuminated. To take some time to mourn the reassembling of our world, to grieve all that we will inevitably lose as we heal and awaken. To set aside what we will get, what is coming next, and attune to now.

To tend to the pieces of soul, the shards of the heart, and the fragments of the psyche that are being dissolved, to honor the role they have played, for standing by us for so long, and providing refuge during difficult and transitional times. To grieve the loss of their companionship and allow them to continue into whatever realm is next for them, permission to travel and experience new things.

— Matt Licata


Growing up without at least one “soul friend” leaves an emptiness, a lack, for which we don’t always have a name. It’s more often the case that we sense that we don’t quite measure up and we don’t know why. If we are praised it’s for how we perform or appear to conform to social standards. If we have a place where we can be frankly and simply who we are, we’re lucky.

Always having to perform, or feeling that you do, doesn’t give you a chance to explore what you have in you that needs to grow and become real in the world. You don’t get to discover yourself and what needs to flourish in your lifetime. It’s common not to realize your specific genius…

David Price

I write about creativity, loving, language learning and psycho/spirituality. I’m a longtime painter and reader.