History of the Anamcara

History of the Anamcara

Ancient Lineage – Anamcara (pronounced ahn-im-KAHR-uh) is an old Gaelic word meaning “soul friend.” In ancient times the Celts created the role of Anamcara as a life counselor and spiritual guide. By the 6th century AD, after the arrival of mainland European missionaries, women and men continued to develop the anamcara tradition inherited from their Druid ancestors. For centuries these anamcara became mentors and companions to persons from all walks of life who yearned for a deeper relationship with the Divine. As the legendary Brigit of Ireland wrote, “Anyone without an anamcara is like a body without a head.”

Spiritual Midwives – By the year 1000, Irish anamcara extended their influence throughout the mainland of Europe, especially among the newly established hospices. Anamcara earned a reputation for their extraordinary skills as spiritual midwives to the dying, especially in diagnosing and relieving spiritual pain. The earliest Western hospice tradition called the Ars Moriendi or sacred art of dying owes part of its spiritual legacy to the anamcara spirit.

Universal Spirituality – We admire these extraordinary soul friends who brought peace and comfort to countless generations of our ancestors, regardless of culture, social status or religious belief. It is worth noting that centuries ago – when intolerance was the norm – Jews, Christians, and Muslims collaborated to apply the wisdom of the anamcara in caring for persons at the end of life. Part of the genius of the anamcara tradition is that one does not have to be Celtic or subscribe to any particular spiritual practice to benefit from its wisdom. The insights of this great tradition transcend – yet respect – culture and spirituality.

The anamcara tradition speaks of  “Christ Consciousness” in an inclusive way that can speak to the Christian tradition as well as anyone who is a spiritual seeker.

Living Tradition – Anamcara represent a refreshing option to “assembly line spirituality” and the alienating and depersonalizing tendencies in modern society. The soul-friend is not interested in immediate results, but commits to be unconditionally present for the needs of their companion. Anamcara do not offer easy answers or a quick fix to spiritual suffering. Instead, these spiritual coaches provide a mirror back to their companions in hopes of nurturing a deeper relationship with the Great Mystery.