Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom
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Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom

4.26 of 5 stars 4.26  ·  rating details  ·  2,884 ratings  ·  241 reviews
Discover the Celtic Circle of Belonging John O'Donohue, poet, philosopher, and scholar, guides you through the spiritual landscape of the Irish imagination. In Anam Cara, Gaelic for "soul friend," the ancient teachings, stories, and blessings of Celtic wisdom provide such profound insights on the universal themes of friendship, solitude, love, and death as:




Light is generou...more
ebook, 256 pages
Published March 17th 2009 by HarperCollins e-books (first published May 1st 1996)
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Jan Marquart
This small book by the Celtic priest John O'Donohue is a staple in my bookcase. I've lost three copies, one to mold, one to formaldehyde and one to water damage. I quickly bought another. This book will change your life. It is not a religious dictate. It is far beyond that. I'm going to give you the first few lines and you can decide for yourself:
It is strange to be here. The mystery never leaves you alone. Behind your image, below your words, above your thoughts, the silence of another world a...more
Luna Lindsey
Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom is truly a work of art. Over the past three years, I have been working on discovering myself through self-help books, 12-step programs, religious study, and personal introspection. This book summed up everything I have learned (the hard way) during this time, and presented it in a beautiful package that was invigorating and thought-provoking to read. It was a pure joy. I began reading it in January, and have only just finished it last night, because each sentan...more
Stephanie
This is one of the best books and best written books I've ever read. Two months after I met the author, he died in his sleep at age 53 while on holiday with his fiance in Avignon. The whole world cried when John died. There was no one like him and there never will be again. John had a brilliant mind that was married to a wide open heart.
Gail
I remember thinking, years ago when I first read (for months) Eckhart Tolle's The Power of Now, thinking, "Oh, so that's what's meant by someone being a *Master*." Tolle writes from an Eastern perspective. So now I have had my first experience with John O'Donohue, and think again: "So here is another *Master*." However, O'Donohue writes from a Celtic spiritual perspective. This book is not a quick read because Mr. O'Donohue is a spiritual master and a philosopher. He considers deeply concepts of...more
Todd
Jan 14, 2008 Todd rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Jill, Karen, Summer,
Catholic Scholar John O'Donohue has a warm sense of humor and an incredibly lyrical prose style. He looks at the pre-Christian Celtic tradition and breathes a new life into spiritual awareness. This is a great book for people struggling to create a working spirituality for their lives and it offers amazing insights into our relationships with the sensual world, the world of soul and our interpersonal relationships.
Sharon
Anam Cara, the words translate to 'Soul Friend' in Gaelic. O'Donohue is absolutely brilliant in his delivery. The depth, variety, history and beauty of this book is like no other I've experienced. Philosophy, spirituality, poetry through landscape of imagination reinforces my belief that everyone is born an artist. For me, it blew open new pathways to examine my inner self. I've read it 3 times and have yet to capture every nuance, each reading brings forth additional richness to consider in bot...more
Anne Hamilton
If I'd read this book two years ago, I'd have given it six stars. But, as it is, I've only given it half that.

It was while reading Jo-Anne Berthelsen's Soul Friend: The story of a shared spiritual journey that I came across the references to Anam Cara and thought: 'Just my type of book.' It sounded deep and profound, wise and thoughtful.

And although I've got more than a dozen bookmarks jutting out of pages to mark intriguing thoughts, overall I found the book rather shallow. O'Donohue mentions...more
Lynda
This is not a book one reads just to check off a list. It is a book of very deep reflections, invoking the reader to slow down, be mindful. It is a book about the human soul, love, spirit, wisdom, relationships and more. I refer to this book several times a week, just to re-read a few pages or a chapter. It's always on the table, next to the sofa, for quick reference and solace.

--lynda
Ellen
This is one of the most beautifully written spiritual books I have ever read (and I’ve read many). I saw “Gravity” while reading it and the movie echoed some of the book’s words in a visual way:

“In a vast universe … All of our life, everything we do, think and feel is surrounded by nothingness… This cosmic loneliness is the root of all inner loneliness…
There is the infinity of space that reaches out into the depths of the cosmos… the inifinity that haunts everyone and which no one can finally qu...more
Jason
I love this book. It is a bible and a guide for living a truly deep life and recognizing our belonging in the universe. It teaches love in the deepest sense: encountering the sacred in others and in ourselves. Every paragraph and every reading reveals another gem, which is why this just might be one of those books to carry everywhere: it is multifariously deep. There are times I am impatient and look for a practical guide to help me 'get there'. At times like that I may be too impatient for this...more
Dayna
There were parts of this book that really spoke to me. A passage would leap out at me in an almost Biblical way, and I would think, "That was really good." It took me quite a while to get through the whole thing; I read it in fits and starts. It was kind of spooky that a phrase would be exactly what I needed for encouragement or clarity in the exact moment that I happened to pick the book up and read a few pages. Mostly it was just okay. I found myself rereading sentences, wondering if I had got...more
Glenn Murphy
If you're not spiritual or religious, this book is probably not for you. The Anam Cara, or “soul friend” is a Celtic/Christian concept, and that fusion of Celtic mysticism and Christian theology is at the core of O'Donohue's writing.

I wanted to like this book more, but I just couldn't get into O'Donohue's writing style. He tried way too hard to be “poetic”, and it just didn't work for me. I also thought that he used too many quotes from other authors, didn't work those quotes into the text very...more
Tim
I'm reading this again. I never stopped reading it. When I got to the end I started all over again, fitting for the Celtic belief in life as a circle. What a fucking beautiful book. Seriously. I want to read it over and over again and glean every last morsel. The author's untimely death in 2008 was a serious loss to us all. But the Celts believe he's not really gone here's still here, just not writing any more books. So many parts of this book I say to myself, "Huh. Wow." I read and reread a pas...more
M. Allen
Beautiful, illuminating, poetic, death- and self- and other-embracing book. This will give me food for thought for the rest of my days.
Libby
One of my all time favorite books! I can't believe I didn't add this sooner! I can't remember what year I read it, though.

This book is beautifully written and I carried around with me for almost that whole year.

I love all things Irish and stumbled across this while browsing Amazon years ago. I'm not sure how I ended up finding it, bu I'm thankful I did. I want to re-read it now so I can write a "proper" review.

This is one book I consider a favorite and one that means a great deal to me.
Amanda
To be fair I am rating this book poorly because it was not the book I thought it would be. The back cover was vague, the chapter list looked interesting, even the first few pages were thought provoking. But it didn't go anywhere. The author just talked in circles, without ever really having his words mean anything. And often I felt like he was trying too hard to be profound and wise. Not to mention thst several Celtic stories seemed to be deliberately twisted to suit his purposes...not altered i...more
Susan Keegan
This isn't a terrible book... I liked it very much - however, I found little Celtic spirituality in it that isn't common knowledge by anyone with even a cursory interest in Celtic heritage. Unlike some other reviewers, I enjoyed the poetic quality and style of the author, as well as the use of quotes by famous poets to further illustrate a specific idea that the author was illuminating. I would have appreciated a more in depth approach to Celtic Spirituality specifically and I kept thinking "her...more
Trilety
Oh - what didn't I learn from this book. I underlined nearly 30% of it - definite must read - guides you into changing your perception - leading you away from the same window out of which you have stood looking for so many years - and interesting take on the nature and spirituality of erotica
Jane
Dec 15, 2007 Jane marked it as triedtoread  ·  review of another edition
I thought this was mostly drivel.
However, there are some wonderfully marvelous blessings, like "Blessing for the Senses" and "Blessing of Solitude".
Actually, the whole chapter (section?) 3 - "Solitude is Luminous" captivated me.
Mariah
This book was written from a Celtic-Christianity point of view, but I still found the message and ideas very thought-provoking and inspiring. So says the pagan :)
Erin
Anam Cara is a book of Celtic wisdom for those wanderers looking for guidance and nourishment as they explore new paths in their life. Full of dream-like imagery and connections deeply imagined with others and the self, I would especially recommend this book for those who feel exhausted with the surface of everyday living and are looking for something to inspire their creativity.

John O'Donohue's friendly and welcoming voice comes through loud and clear in his writing, inviting the reader to div...more
Charles Boogaard
A very settling philosophy with some truly wonderful ideas . This author was probable a great man to have a up lifting conversation with. By the end of this book life and death seem so natural, wonderful, and of course simple to understand .
Unfortunately with me I do not except anything as the final truth for I know nobody knows but, am willing to be a adventure with different philosophies trying each on in my mind for a time ..... With that said I hope this author is right on!!!

May you have a...more
Al Kutil
This really cemented my spiritual, social, ecological, and personality view on how one should view life. Concepts near the front can be a little hard to understand, but it gets easier to understand as one gets further into the book. Highly Recommended Reading! Gave to my wife to read so she can understand her life better.
Casey Landerkin
I thought I was going to love this book, but I ended up not finishing it because of how poorly I perceived the writing to be. It was written like how a high school senior would write about spirituality. It proclaims to have a very fixed set of answers for all your philosophical needs, when in actuality there are none.
Ruth Chatlien
Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom by John O'Donohue

In this book, the late John O'Donohue explored Celtic wisdom about friendship, the senses, solitude, work, aging, and death. At first the book was difficult for me because I learn best from concrete stories about actual people in specific situations, and this writer didn't do that much. However, the more I read the book, the more I found it to be a healing and helpful experience. O'Donohue emphasizes the lack of duality in Celtic thinking, and...more
Mary
The pieces on love and friendship are so incredible. If you are looking for some emotional guidance or understanding of how you relate to your partner, friends, life --- I recommend it.
Giedra
In Anam Cara, which is Gaelic for "soul friend," John O'Donohue writes about old Celtic customs, legends, and blessings, and their melding with later Christianity to provide insights into the mystery of human life. I would agree with some of the other reviewers that complained that some sections didn't flow very well and O'Donohue overused quotes/poems from other people that weren't well integrated into the text, but on the whole I found the book beautiful and full of things to think about. It's...more
Ernie
This is one of my all time favorites!! I have two copies. One to loan to friends and my hardback copy that I keep close by for needed inspiration.
Damian Papworth
Thank god it's over. Wasn't sure I'd get through it... just didn't click with the writers style
Margaretflynn
This is beautiful read...timeless and mystical. It's a keeper. I have my own copy now to be read again and again. Rest in Peace John O'Donohue you beautiful soul.
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John O'Donohue, Ph.D., was born in County Clare in 1956. He spoke Irish as his native language and lived in a remote cottage in the west of Ireland until his untimely death in January 2008. A highly respected poet and philosopher, he lectured throughout Europe and America and wrote a number of popular books, including Anam Cara and To Bless the Space Between Us.
More about John O'Donohue...
To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings Eternal Echoes: Celtic Reflections on Our Yearning to Belong Beauty: The Invisible Embrace Divine Beauty: The Invisible Embrace Conamara Blues: Poems

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“One of the tasks of true friendship is to listen compassionately and creatively to the hidden silences. Often secrets are not revealed in words, they lie concealed in the silence between the words or in the depth of what is unsayable between two people.” 803 likes
“Every friendship travels at sometime through the black valley of despair. This tests every aspect of your affection. You lose the attraction and the magic. Your sense of each other darkens and your presence is sore. If you can come through this time, it can purify with your love, and falsity and need will fall away. It will bring you onto new ground where affection can grow again.” 487 likes
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