International Anamcara

Anamcara Project Video

Anamcara Information

Becoming an Anamcara

Drawing on the classical healing traditions of antiquity, Sacred Art of Living Center has developed the Anamcara Apprenticeship Program.  This two year training will create a new generation of caregivers in the dual role of the traditional anamcara: namely, the sacred art of living and the sacred art of dying.

Program Goals:

SACRED RELATIONSHIPS have the potential to transform suffering and bring meaning and healing to oneself and others. How we are with ourselves, with each other, with the earth, and with the Divine, however we define it, affects everything that we do and are in the world. When the heart and soul of the caregiver are aligned with clinically-proven best practices, “the art, science and practice of sacred relationship” becomes a transformative model for healing.

ANAMCARA APPRENTICESHIP offers a contemporary model of training for care providers of every background, lay and profession. The purpose of the program is to deepen the quality of relationships and enable caregivers to become ‘compassionate companions’ through all the stages of living and dying. The Apprenticeship Program applies the tools and lessons from the world’s art of living and dying traditions in all aspects of life, particularly aging, loss, serious illness, and the end-of-life. As a result of this program, apprentices will re-introduce time-tested wisdom and skills within the modern culture of health care including hospice and palliative care. Work of the Apprenticeship can also be applied in faith communities of all traditions— as well as in our educational and social institutions.

ANAMCARA [pronounced aun-im-KAHR-ah] is an ancient Gaelic term meaning “soul friend” [Anam = soul; Cåra = friend]. The Anamcara draws from many wisdom traditions but especially from Celtic mythology and spirituality. Historically, the role of the Anamcara was essential for every person’s well-being. More than a millennium ago, the Anamcara legacy helped to create the Ars Moriendi, or the “sacred art of living and dying” — the world’s first health care, palliative care and hospice movements. The Anamcara tradition continues to offer a timeless, holistic approach to suffering, healing, and wellness in terms of the whole person: body, mind, emotions, and spirit.

This program is open to persons from all spiritual and cultural backgrounds. While the Anamcara Program draws significantly from the historical Celtic and Ars Moriendi lineage— it also builds upon the common ground between psychology and spirituality, between the mystical and the scientific, and between Western and Eastern healing practices.

The work of an Anamcara is ultimately for the transformation of the individual person and society. The essential vocation for the apprentice is the bringing together of one’s own soul and role.

“The highest calling for a human being is to be an Anamcara for another.”

The Celtic Book of Living and Dying

Four Spiritual Foundations of Anamcara


The spirituality that supports the work of anamcara is rooted in the common language of the world’s great mystical traditions. Mysticism is a universal approach to Mystery that both respects the wisdom of the ages but also requires people to trust their own experience. A principal requirement for anamcara is the commitment to some form of daily contemplative practice. All spiritual traditions teach that quiet listening enables us to better understand the working of Spirit in our own lives before attempting to guide others.


Historically the anamcara was never a sole practitioner but remained connected to a community of spiritual support and on-going formation. The Sacred Art of Living Center, founder and sponsor of the Art of Living & Dying series, is committed to providing a venue of continuing education and mentorship for anamcara practitioners. Although its offices and staff are physically located in Bend, Oregon, The Anamcara Project is international community of prayer and a network of support for the vital work of anamcara in our day.


The anamcara tradition has a powerful reputation because of the tools our ancestors tested over centuries of experience. The Art of Living & Dying series teaches only those skills that are validated by contemporary psychology and, wherever possible, supported by medical research. The Anamcara tradition never imposes a standardized solution to spiritual suffering. Instead, The Anamcara Project teaches basic principles that anyone can access in providing individualized support and guidance. All program tracks offer historical foundation and theory for anamcara practitioners-as well as opportunities for supervised, hands-on practice.


No two sets of soul-friends look alike; however, all anamcara practitioners are required to maintain an on-going relationship with a mentor-supervisor. A commitment to continuing spiritual formation and regular opportunities for supervision are the key to a fruitful and ethical anamcara practice. The Art of Living & Dying program will be an on-going laboratory for applying the anamcara tradition in a variety of formal and informal settings. Mentors will coach, challenge and encourage the apprentice as they apply this tradition to real-life situations.

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