In the Celtic tradition, there is a beautiful understanding of love and friendship. One of the fascinating ideas here is the idea of soul-love; the old Gaelic term for this is anam cara. Anam is the Gaelic word for soul and cara is the word for friend. So anam cara in the Celtic world was the “soul friend.” In the early Celtic church, a person who acted as a teacher, companion, or spiritual guide was called an anam cara. It originally referred to someone to whom you confessed, revealing the hidden intimacies of your life. With the anam cara you could share your inner-most self, your mind and your heart. This friendship was an act of recognition and belonging. When you had an anam cara, your friendship cut across all convention, morality, and category. You were joined in an ancient and eternal way with the “friend of your soul.” The Celtic understanding did not set limitations of space or time on the soul. There is no cage for the soul. The soul is a divine light that flows into you and into your Other. This art of belonging awakened and fostered a deep and special companionship.
In this love, you are understood as you are without mask or pretension. The superficial and functional lies and half-truths of social acquaintance fall away, you can be as you really are. Love allows understanding to dawn, and understanding is precious. Where you are understood, you are at home. Understanding nourishes belonging. When you really feel understood, you feel free to release yourself into the trust and shelter of the other person’s soul… This art of love discloses the special and sacred identity of the other person. Love is the only light that can truly read the secret signature of the other person’s individuality and soul. Love alone is literate in the world of origin; it can decipher identity and destiny.
The heart learns a new art of feeling. Such friendship is neither cerebral nor abstract. In Celtic tradition, the anam cara was not merely a metaphor or ideal. It was a soul-bond that existed as a recognized and admired social construct. It altered the meaning of identity and perception. When your affection is kindled, the world of your intellect takes on a new tenderness and compassion… You look and see and understand differently. Initially, this can be disruptive and awkward, but it gradually refines your sensibility and transforms your way of being in the world. Most fundamentalism, greed, violence, and oppression can be traced back to the separation of idea and affection.
From the 1997 masterwork Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom by the Irish poet and philosopher John O’Donohue (January 1, 1956–January 4, 2008). Pub. Harper Perennial.
Shared with the permission of Mark A. Greene, author of Atheopaganism: An Earth-honoring path rooted in science, from his blog at https://atheopaganism.wordpress.com/
Since the beginning of the shelter-in-place order in response to the coronavirus pandemic, it has been utterly gorgeous here.
The skies are clear and the green mountains stand out crisply. The mustard is golden in the vineyards, and the forests are growing bright new leaves.
The silence broken only by birds’ calls, the scant traffic on the roadways and the clean, perfumed spring air remind me of how beautiful this world could be if we could just find ways to stop mucking it up.
We’re all sheltering inside, of course, except for those of us on necessary errands or—like me—working in essential industries. We’re going stir crazy, having brain fog and sleep disturbance and all the many symptoms of a human who feels trapped.
But outside our walls, Life carries forward. The good Earth turns, the Sun burns, the trees awaken from dormancy and unfurl new leaves, the leaves perform the alchemy of light into sugar and fuel the many forms Life takes.
It’s the 50th Earth Day, and perhaps there is no better way to see our way forward than to notice what happens when humanity just stops its headlong rush for a little while.
So even if you’re sheltering in place, take a step outside today. Breathe the air and listen for what’s missing. Hear what has been drowned out by cars and other human noise. Gaze off to the horizon and notice how clean the air is, all of a sudden.
The Earth can bounce back. Life is tenacious and adaptable.
Even now, when it seems so late, there is hope.
Happy Earth Day, everyone.
emergency medical technicians
personal care aides
food delivery drivers
grocery and drug store workers
UPS and all parcel delivery people
restaurant workers who prepare takeout
field workers who plant and harvest
psychiatrists and psychotherapists
Thank you so much.
CDC: Wash your hands again.
CDC: Stop touching your face.
CDC: Wear a face mask.
CDC: Disinfect all surfaces.
CDC: Cancel everything and stay home.
CDC: Stay six feet away from everyone.
CDC: Stop kissing your cat.
Me: Aahh, if I die I die.
Drawing by Kliban
A car pulled up next to me at a stoplight. Their radio was really loud and clear. The radio announcer was saying, “Woman your car is so dirty. Why don’t you wash your dirty car. Your car is so dirty, ugh. Your car needs washing.” I looked over and that man’s car window was closed. And he was giving side-eye to me and my dirty car.
When you get a reading, listen hard. Remember I have no idea what I am talking about, because I do not know you. Or maybe I just barely know you.
So here I am looking at pictures on cards and seeing all kinds of things about you. Listen and pay attention. There is no time to waste in a reading that is under an hour, it’s going to be busy busy busy with no time for bullshit. I never know what I’m going to see and once in a while I do get creeped out, just because when I see the client make that nervous little giggle, I know they are repressing their own little creep out about how much I can see.
Please do not get a reading if you are unwilling to be seen. I mean it, please don’t. Let me do my job.
Sometimes I see things that I can’t identify. I have never been to a monster truck rally. I’ve never seen a ferret. I’ve never felt the pressure on the body of deep sea diving. I’ve never killed an animal with my bare hands. I’ve never kissed a ray of laser light, or piloted an airplane, or worked in higher mathematics, or been to Japan. I might not know what I’m looking at. I might not know what I'm talking about. I will just tell you what I see.
Lately I’ve been checking into what it is you actually believe about yourself. Correct me if I’m wrong, but you believe you are the only person who can talk directly to God, and there is only one God. Did I get that part right?
Next, I started looking at the things you say to God every day. There are well over an hour’s worth of things, and your job requires you to say them. Yah, the same things every day. Those things all fall into one of three categories. Those categories are 1) Telling God what his powers are, 2) Telling God how awesome adorable and chill he is, and 3) Asking God for favors.
Fine so far, and none of my business, but don’t you think God gets bored with this? He is not allowed to hear from anybody else. He doesn’t have any equals with whom he can hang out and just shoot the shit. You have been hectoring him with the same agenda for (I looked into this too) 1695 years now. Wouldn’t one assume that God already knows what his powers are, and he has sussed that you’re kissing his ass because he can get things done for you? One would like to think that God is smarter than I am, and I can figure out this much, so.
So I don’t know this part here. Please fill me in. When you are talking to God, do you do any listening? And if so, does he tell you he is bored, and would like to hear from some other people, and would like to bring in some more supernatural beings to play some DnD tonight, with brewskies or maybe even shots, and you can stop kissing up to him because he finds it distasteful? I’m just wondering if that’s ever something you hear. But and so IF you heard that, would you pass it along to the cardinals for their opinions? Or would you just make it happen straight off, or would you ignore it?
Eagerly anticipating your response,
Gretchen Williams, Santa Rosa, CA
Because I like to know that we both are serious about this. At a later date, she will go back and reflect upon what we talked about. She won’t be distracted by trying to take notes while I’m reading. She won’t be relying on her own selective memory. Not even a speck of the message will fall to the ground.
When I see that cell phone set up on the table, and I see that sly little tap on the red button, I know I’m on. I like it. There’s nothing better.
I’m putting up the Judgment card here, which is heavy for this topic I’ll admit. Who gets heavy about cell phones. Stay with me here.
The Judgment card says one is reflecting upon oneself and evaluating one’s life purpose. It has something in common with the Seven of Pentacles, in the sense of gathering up one’s investments, but the Seven speaks only of seasonal temporary things. The Judgment card speaks of the Soul’s journey toward enlightenment. And how is that going. How are one’s actions in alignment with one’s highest goal. Even the person who is really staying on track should be getting goose bumps at the Judgment card. It asks, Where are you going after this? After this wave of time washes over you and is gone, who will you be?
Not every reading speaks to such a large question. But every reading deserves to be recorded, because every reading contains something for one to reflect upon. That is my hope.
It's okay if you don't.
We think of totems as things like bears wolves eagles lions and large scary beings who were in competition with early humans. But little magical creatures like hummingbirds butterflies and squirrels can also carry psychic power.
The Dragonfly is a totem animal. Mine, in fact, dear reader. It says to me, the material world is an illusion. The great Hindu teachers call it Maya. If the material world is something along the lines of a lucid dream, then with practice one can learn to deliberately create it the way one wants it to be. I appreciate that dragonflies are carnivorous, that they shimmer in sunlight, that they metamorphose, that they are older than the dinosaurs, that when they are newborn they have gills and breathe underwater. What could be more dreamlike than that.
A dragonfly will appear to me when I need to be reminded that my experience is not just happening to me, without my volition, but that I am attracting experiences that make my beliefs true for me. And my belief is nothing more than a thought I continue to think. And I can think whatever I please. So take that, reality.
Inserting the truth of the Dragonfly is a great thing to do when you get one of those bummer cards like the Five of Cups or the Five of Pentacles. The Aquarian deck I use doesn't have a card with a dragonfly on it so we'll just do it for ourselves.
Photo by Karen McDonald.