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Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom [Paperback]

John O'Donohue
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Oct. 8 1998
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

  • The human heart is never completely born

  • Love as ancient recognition

  • The body is the angel of the soul

  • Solitude is luminous

  • Beauty likes neglected places

  • The passionate heart never ages

  • To benatural is to be holy

  • Silence is the sister of the divine

  • Death as an invitation to freedom

Frequently Bought Together

Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom + To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings + Eternal Echoes
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Product Description

From Amazon

Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom offers an exploration of the secret universe we all carry inside us, the connections we forge with the worlds of our friends and loved ones, and the products of our worlds reflected in the things we create outside of ourselves. Anam Cara, Gaelic for "soul friend," is an ancient journey down a nearly forgotten path of wisdom into what it means to be human. Drawing on this age-old perspective, John O'Donohue helps us to see ourselves as the Celts did: we're more than just flesh, blood, and bone; we comprise individual worlds. The comprehension of the sublime architecture of the worlds we are born with will engender a new appreciation for the outside world and the way we contribute to its evolution. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

The Gaelic title refers to the "soul-friend," a lovingly stern companion to whom you can, in stringent honesty, unburden your heart as you move toward enlightenment. O'Donohue positions himself to be that soul's companion for readers who yearn for a spirituality that is accepting of bodily wisdom but does not deny the power of the Christian vision. The Celts--well, the Irish, anyway--grappled with that yearning more than a millennium ago. Irish traditional ways were never subjected to the kinds of discouragement--racks, skewers, lions, and the like--practiced on the continent and so were able to wed pagan sensuality to the ethical challenges of the new creed. Reperforming that marriage, O'Donohue is as much at ease with Heidegger as with Yeats, with Rilke as with Jung, as he discourses on solitude, work, love, and death and works snippets of ancient Irish poetry seamlessly into the fabric of his text. Eloquent and learned, O'Donohue is more than just another Paddy-come-lately cashing in on River Danceera Celtophilia. He is the real thing: a poetic priest with the soul of a pagan. Expect demand! (HarperCollins does, to the tune of a 150,000-copy first printing.) Patricia Monaghan --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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"If you have ever had occasion to be out early in the morning before the dawn breaks, you will have noticed that the darkest time of night is immediately before dawn." Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tremendous Nov. 27 2008
This was a wonderful book. I am very thankful to both Fr. Jim Link and Fr. Paul Quinon for recommending it to me. I must admit that I did not get it all, but much of the Celtic Spirituality presented touched my spirit, my mind, my intellect and my soul.

It is a book about the Celtic worldview and way of life. It has made me even more homesick for the land of the Celts; it aroused a desire to return to Ireland or Scotland. Yet I realized that I would need to learn to live the Celtic way/mode here before I could even consider going back across the pond.

The book made me realize how much I needed to simplify my life, and prompted me to take a semester off school to help establish a new pattern of living and of being. It prompted me to reestablish a stronger pattern of work, bible study, prayer, reading and pursuing God and his will above all else, to try to live each day to the full, to live to be a good and true friend, and to learn to be better at being.

As an aside there are two more books by O'Donohue that follow the same spirit: Eternal Echoes and To Bless the Space Between Us both of which I attempted to read on a number of occasions but was unable to make it through. One of his books of poetry Conamara Blues ' I ended up reading a number of times.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Pearls of Spiritual Wisdom June 19 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a book brimming with wisdom expressed with words of beauty that ignite the soul. Reading it is a source of deep delight and reading it once is not enough. Finding this book has been a precious discovery!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unbelievably Enlightening April 26 2003
By A Customer
Powerful, insightful and incredibly thought provoking. I have read many books on celtic wisdom and spiritual enlightenment, and have come across nothing like this. It opens the mind and body to the heart and soul, it encourages you to look within, not without, to improve yourself, and although this books does not make you do anything, it almost forces you to take a damn good look at yourself and really assess everything you think you are. You will be surprised at the results you get!
There are so many self help books out there, but none come close to this! Well worth every penny, and please take time to read it, and read it over and over again, each time will show you something new. My copy is full of notes in the margin, underlined phrases or paragraphs, and serves as a useful place to turn when life gets you down!
I think the only thing I didn't like was the slightly Christian accent from the author's point of view, especially as it relates to the Celts. This is not a big deal and can be overlooked for the quality and insight of the writing itself.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Colors are the wounds of light Feb. 16 2002
In the Prologue, the author describes this book as "a phenomenology of friendship in a lyrical-speculative form." That is exactly what it is. It is one of the most compelling and lyrical works that I have read. It describes the "soul-friend" but more significantly it actually suggested the possibility of me becoming my own soul's friend. It is a powerful book, weaving Celtic mystical thought with a very accessible form of approaching self and soul -- all done in a rich, poetic language. It reads very well and John O'Donohue's erudition, poetic language and abiding compassion radiate every page.
This book gave me strength and deep insight at a time when I was searching for both of these. I greatly appreciate this book's contribution to my own understanding of self and highly recommend it to you if, like me, you recognize that you are on a spiritual journey.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars celtic spiritual guidance June 19 2009
For those with a Celtic background as well as a soul who looks for spiritual guidance in a noisy and busy world, this is the book to be absorbed and cherished. John O'Donohue explores Celtic beliefs and spirituality so deeply that I had to read and re-read, take notes even,
and finally place this book within my personal reference library as a staple for daily encounter. A must read for the searching Celtic soul.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Each sentence is a ponderable morsel. May 9 1998
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 sentance was a ponderable morsel. Sometimes I would read a phrase five times over in order to fully grasp and apply it's meaning to my life. This is not a 70 mph trip through the McDonald's drive-thru, this is a seven course meal in Vienna, and every bite demands that you hold it in your mouth to savor it.
Anam Cara is one of the best non-fiction books I have ever read. I plan to read it again in a year or so, because I know I will get new things out of it. I am already loaning it to a friend, and have a couple of others in mind I'd like to loan it to. I can't keep this from the ones I love.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Talking as the voice of Celtic insight Jan. 5 2012
By Brian Griffith TOP 500 REVIEWER
This book is not an explanation about Celtic wisdom. It is the author's own expression of Celtic wisdom -- about friendship and love, our bodies and souls, inner growth, aging, and death. O'Donohue rambles through these subjects with a propensity for poetic flight. He addresses you directly, in a voice so tender it made me uncomfortable. He sounds roughly like a cross between Celtic bard and Jungian psychotherapist.

Is this wisdom particularly Celtic? The illustrative quotes and poems come from almost anywhere -- Aristotle, Cicero, Pablo Neruda, Kahlil Gibran, Meister Eckhart, Yeats, or Irish poets such Yeats or Brian Merriman. Maybe multi-culturalism is a time-honored Celtic tradition. But woven through the background are themes of Irish folklore, with pagan and Catholic heritage assumed to be one. O'Donohue makes no contrast between the old Celtic church and Roman Catholic orthodoxy. There's no church history, or any history. He just addresses the reader's life, drawing on whatever seems good and beautiful from every corner of his Ireland-based world community.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars It will bring fresh magic moments...
If you are familiar with the story of "The Elephan Man", you surely will love John O'Donohue words. Celtic art leads to meditation, love and understanding of nature. Read more
Published on Jan. 9 2003 by Jorge Escolan-Suay
2.0 out of 5 stars not what I thought
At the beginning of the book, I thought I was going to enjoy it because of how it started. But as I got in further, even his poet writing style couldn't save me from wanting to... Read more
Published on Jan. 8 2002 by Kelly Burgess
5.0 out of 5 stars A simple but powerful book
This book has a wealth of wisdom. If man held these beliefs, the world would be a much better place.
Published on July 11 2001 by Dean Robinson
5.0 out of 5 stars The Clay of My Clay
I was truly caught up in the beautiful way this book was written. It is very lyrical, gentle, and poetic. Read more
Published on April 3 2001 by Carol A. Chester
5.0 out of 5 stars Echoes in clay ...
To all questions, there are answers...My 'personal' journey started a few years ago by reading Johnathan Livingstone Seagull by Richard Bach - Jonathan set me off on a flight of... Read more
Published on Feb. 9 2001 by Sue
5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely, brillant book
I was in Hodges Figgis in Dublin and this book caught my eye; I bought several copies to bring back as gifts and I have heard nothing but wonderful comments about this book.
Published on Jan. 12 2001 by Courtney Shea
2.0 out of 5 stars Repetitive
This book really wasn't worth the effort. Author O'Donohue repeated simplistic assertions such as "The body is made of clay" or "Silence is good" ad naseum,... Read more
Published on Nov. 21 2000
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