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Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom

4.29  ·  Rating Details ·  4,583 Ratings  ·  348 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 gene
...more
Kindle Edition, 258 pages
Published (first published May 1st 1996)
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Shrikanya This book is for everyone. I am a non-Christian. Everytime I read this book, the perceived meaning changes. Everytime something starts making sense.…moreThis book is for everyone. I am a non-Christian. Everytime I read this book, the perceived meaning changes. Everytime something starts making sense. This is good for those who are going through the phase known as the 'dark night of the soul'.(less)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Jan Marquart
Apr 27, 2011 Jan Marquart rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 20, 2008 Stephanie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 27, 2011 Gail rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Gearóid
Aug 06, 2015 Gearóid rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I found this a very moving and beautiful book to read.
This writer was some philosopher and a really great writer.
There was so much to this book and the Celtic element and
the descriptions of the great scenery and light of the
West of Ireland really made me appreciate my heritage.

There is so much wisdom and understanding of human nature
and how we are losing touch with what is really important
in this modern busy world that was very refreshing to
read.
I can see myself reading this book over and over a
...more
Todd
Jan 14, 2008 Todd rated it it was amazing  ·  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.
Tim
Jul 29, 2012 Tim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Sharon
May 23, 2012 Sharon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Dayna
Jul 16, 2009 Dayna rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-own
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
Lynda
Mar 21, 2009 Lynda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Katie
Mar 22, 2017 Katie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I don't usually highlight books. But I highlighted so much out of this book. There is so much wisdom and insight into life, love, friendship, living, death, and much more. Some of it gets a little more mystic than I connect with, but for the most part, this book was such a delight to read. It is one of those that I want to share with people and discuss and then read over again.
Erika
At the closing of my visit to four generations in Philadelphia, my daughter Sylvie offered this book to me. I am passionately reading and enjoying this book at the close of my visit to the US.
Tiffany
Jan 31, 2013 Tiffany rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: metaphysical
This Irish poet/former Jesuit is quite an amazing human being, may his soul rest in peace.

I bought this CD because I thought his voice would make this book more palatable. I read it about 15 years ago and found it syrupy, and in the intervening years I have changed a lot so I assumed my reading of it would be different and the richness would be more palatable, and yet there was still something slightly saccharine to me about it.

A brilliant man who quotes from Hegel, Meister Eckhardt, Wittgenst
...more
Ellen
Oct 19, 2013 Ellen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 04, 2012 Jason rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Libby
May 09, 2009 Libby rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
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.
Kirsten
Dec 31, 2016 Kirsten rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book confounds me. It changed my seeing as I read and I felt like I was inside a poem, with such a heightened awareness, and yet the language is overall simple, abstract, and even perhaps, empty. Somehow O'Donahue transmits pure substance into language, but it's invisible to me how he does it.
Steve Nobel
Nov 09, 2012 Steve Nobel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have met John a couple of times in London before his death. Such a poetic soul and wonderful writer. All his books are worth reading. They put you in touch with the poetic and spiritual Celtic traditions of Ireland.
Valentina Fyorh
Feb 24, 2013 Valentina Fyorh rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book went far beyond my initial expectations. I have fallen in love with it , and it gives a new perspective on the way one can think. It is absolutely beautiful and I would recommend it to anyone who is interested in a spiritual book full of wisdom.
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.
Trilety
May 14, 2008 Trilety rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Leslie
Jan 17, 2017 Leslie rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Meh
Lucie
Jan 22, 2017 Lucie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very nice and thought provoking book about life.
Georgia
Dec 23, 2016 Georgia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Powerful reflection on human nature and thought. Impressive that it avoids being abstract while discussing principles that don't easily fit into words.
Mariah
Mar 14, 2009 Mariah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 :)
M. Allen
Apr 21, 2014 M. Allen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beautiful, illuminating, poetic, death- and self- and other-embracing book. This will give me food for thought for the rest of my days.
Dominic De Souza
Nov 05, 2016 Dominic De Souza rated it it was amazing
Some utterly beautiful and inspirational meditation. I loved this line, "presence is the texture of the soul." The author explores many themes relating to the inner worlds of our souls, how we relate to nature and to the mystery of the other.

While an interesting mishmash of pagan, pre and post-Christian thought, many of his insights are evergreen to the human experience, and provide a gentle introduction to the soul of the Celtic people. If St John of the Cross were to have ever waxed rhetorica
...more
Michael
Jun 25, 2017 Michael rated it it was amazing
John brings us ever so gently to meet our true souls and selves

From a lifetime philosopher, who at one time received the appropriate degrees and taught the subject, Anam Cara has topped my list of favorite philosophy books since I first read it five or six years ago. I'm in the middle of a re-reading, and it's poetic depth and beauty about our deepest questions stands out even more.
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Huntsville-Madiso...: Staff Pick - Anam Cara by John O'Donohue 1 4 Dec 06, 2016 09:30AM  
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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...

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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.” 1030 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.” 573 likes
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