Having a soul-friend or "anamchara" is central to the Celtic spiritual tradition. For many, your "anamchara" is your life partner, your husband or wife. But this does not have to be the case. Many of the Celtic monks were celibate, but it was still very important for them to have an anamchara.
John O Donohue, the late Irish philosopher and poet, teased out the idea of "anamchara" in his writings. Most of us have grown up with the idea that our soul is in our body. When we die, our soul leaves our body and goes to heaven (hopefully).
What John explains is that in the Celtic tradition, the soul is not in the body. rather, the body is in the soul. Try and imagine this.
Your soul is not confined to time or place, but your body anchors it in this world. It is a bit like a kite flying in the sky with a string attached. While you are alive, your soul is anchored to a time and place but not confined to a time and place.
Some people live in the past, some people live in the future, some people live in the present moment. Your soul can travel to these places, even while your body remains stationary.
Now think of your anamchara. When you find your anamchara, your soul envelopes this person completely. It does not just surround their body, it passes through their body so that you know what is inside as well as outside. When you are together, you are completely wrapped and immersed in each other's souls. You may or may not be wrapped in each other's arms.
But what happens when you are apart? Well, your soul is not limited by time or space, so it travels with your anamchara. No matter where your anamchara is, your soul continues to wrap itself around him or her. You remain immersed in each other's lives even though there may be thousands of miles between you.
The Celtic tradition of anamchara also explains what happens after the death of your anamchara. At death, the earth anchor of the body is gone, but the soul remains and so the relationship remains. Long after death, you and your anamchara can remain entwined, immersed and enveloped in each other. It can last forever.
Copyrighted. Dara Molloy. All rights reserved.