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Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom

4.22  ·  Rating details ·  7,212 ratings  ·  514 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 generous ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published October 21st 1998 by Harper Perennial (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. T…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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Jan Marquart
Apr 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
”The Celtic understanding of friendship finds its inspiration and culmination in the sublime notion of the Anam Ċara. Anam is the Gaelic word for soul; Ċara is the word for friend. So Anam Ċara means soul friend.”

John O’Donohue doesn’t view the word ‘friend’ as casually as one might use it, and certainly not in this combination. A joining that is ancient and eternal, a place where you belonged.

”Since the birth of the human heart is an ongoing process, love is the continuous birth of creativi
Luna Corbden
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 Barko
Mar 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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.
No review here.
Reading this book has been a very personal and important experience for me and therefore I cannot and do not want share my feelings about it.
Mar 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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
I can see myself reading this book over and over a
Jan 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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.
Jul 16, 2009 rated it it was ok
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
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
Glenn Murphy
Oct 16, 2009 rated it it was ok
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
Jul 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 31, 2013 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
May 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is intended to be an oblique mirror where we might come to glimpse the presence, power, and beauty of both inner and outer friendship.[1]

John O'Donohue was born in Ireland and spoke Irish as his native language. Anam is the Gaelic word for soul, and ċara is the word for friend. So anam ċara means soul friend. In the Celtic tradition, the anam ċara was a person to whom you could reveal the hidden intimacies of your life.[2]

John O’Donohue writes that friendship is a c
Steve Payne
Jun 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
Anam is the Gaelic word for soul, and cara the word for friend – hence, ‘Soul Friend.’ The book is subtitled ‘Spiritual Wisdom from the Celtic World.’ It was written by the late poet, philosopher and former priest, John O’Donohue.

As dawn approaches, ‘The first fingers of light appear on the horizon; ever so deftly and gradually, they pull the mantle of darkness away from the world. Quietly, before you is the mystery of a new dawn, the new day.’

I first became aware of this book about twenty year
Apr 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
It would be hard to describe all the different ways this book impacted me. O’Donahue’s style took a little getting used to; it’s radio-esque, with short sentences and seeming pauses for effect, and because of that some his deeper points were a bit difficult to follow.

But his notes on friendship and the role of a person’s soul and the intensely careful care it needs are so important that I had many moments of needing to stop and think. It was a helpful book to read in the middle of grief, especia
Monette Chilson
Oct 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Few books stick with me as this one has. I read it slowly—a snippet or two every day for months. In truth, the density of its words seemed to require this. I could sit with one sentence all day, rolling it around like a fine wine on my tongue, picking up the undertones that weren't at first blush apparent. Reading it, you will find yourself immersed in Celtic spirituality, learning by exposure to rather than exhaustive explanation of the Celtic worldview. I is a book that invites the reader into ...more
Oct 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Victoria, Christine, Elizabeth, Michael, Molly
I meant TEN STARS! Is this the new gorgeous Bible yet? Is it poetry hiding as prose? Is this religion hiding as beauty? Is this a guide on how to live hiding as love? You don't read this book; it reads you. You float on it, you dive into it, you are cleansed by it. I read fast like a fiend and this book I had to eat slowly. Every line is a meditation.

No one I have ever met who has read him is not head over heels. He is our favorite PhD in philosophical theology.
Mar 21, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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.

Steve Nobel
Nov 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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.
Feb 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: spiritual
It couldn't be more beautifully written.
Justin Wiggins
Sep 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is the second book that I have read by the Irish poet, philosophizer, and scholar. While I was reading it, I felt as if I was at a pub with him somewhere in Ireland, listening to him expound on the rich joy found in Celtic wisdom, which is even more needed in our superficial manic busy us vs. them society. Celtic wisdom is about finding beauty, joy, goodness, and truth in the context of our own experience, worldview, and in the complex society in which we live, and it can be done, thank goo ...more
Cara Devine
Feb 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
One of my all-time favorite books - I have been reading this for 2 months because of my need to process all the beauty of this book. My mother gave this to me over 15 years ago and I picked it up recently. I wish she was still alive so we could talk about it. More than ever I want to go wandering around Ireland and talk to some of the locals.

The literal meaning of Anam Cara is Soul Friend. The author talks about friendship in the traditional sense, but also talks about our fundamental need to be
Joe Bartmann
Feb 15, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This book is so far out of my comfort reading zone that I looked at it for six weeks before I read the first page. Then I read a couple pages and put it down not because it was horrible but I needed to absorb what I read. I am typically a very fast reader but this is not a book to breeze through. It invites reflection and meditation, not something an escapist reader like myself finds comfortable.

I find this book impossible to review.

One aspect that I particularly liked was how the author brough
Oct 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Feb 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The human face is the subtle yet visual autobiography of each person.

... if we look really well. Often it's easier to judge a book by its cover. I approached this book a bit cautiously, because a topic like that often attracts that kind of esoteric new age treatment filled with empty phrases and hopeless truisms that sound wise but are actually useless in real life. On a closer inspection, I was happy to find out that John O'Donohue, a careful philosopher goes through his Celtic heritage with a
Apr 22, 2018 rated it liked it
John O'Donohue was a beautiful soul. We need more of him in every field. I love his poems so tried this book.

There are some nuggets of wisdom here. First is the view of Celtic culture that we're all interwoven with each other and nature. Second is the advice throughout the book, in different forms, that the best self-help we can perform is to be both kind and gentle to ourselves. And then consider some of these excerpts:

-Respectability and security are subtle traps on life's journey. Those who
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Goodreads Librari...: Missing cover Spanish edition 5 17 Oct 19, 2018 08:14AM  
Huntsville-Madiso...: Staff Pick - Anam Cara by John O'Donohue 1 9 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.

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You know the saying: There's no time like the present...unless you're looking for a distraction from the current moment. In that case, we can't...
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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.” 1163 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.” 620 likes
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