Anamcara  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 Saint Brigit wrote, “Anyone without an anamcara is like a body without a head.”

The Modern Anamcara

Today’s anamcara stands on the shoulders of a great tradition. Our generation is experiencing a renaissance in the world’s great contemplative traditions including Celtic spirituality. There is a renewed interest to apply the wisdom of our ancestors for today’s needs. In a pluralistic society there can be many ways to offer this unique kind of spiritual support for persons who are in a state of change or crisis.  In addition to the spiritual dimension of the Anamcara Apprentice, this training will also include many practical tools and skills inherited from the ancient books of living and dying.  The Anamcara Project is committed to combining the best of the ancient with clinically proven best practices.


 Job Description

“The anamcara traditionally had dual yet inter-related roles…”
– John O’Donohue
Date:         The next Anamcara enrollment will begin in July 2019
Location:    Education and Research Centre, Our Lady’s Hospice, Dublin 



Support using the classical tools of spiritual discernment.

In our days more and more people are seeking assistance from those who are a few steps ahead on their spiritual journey. The anamcara is a true soul friend who honors the uniqueness of each person’s path. The role of spiritual director or companion reflects a similar tradition.

For many people a religious belief system provides guidance when encountering “dark nights of the soul.” The anamcara builds on and never competes with a person’s faith tradition. For some persons, spirituality is experienced outside of an institutional structure, but it is nonetheless a key for providing meaning and direction in life. The anamcara is trained to offer support that is tailored to each individual’s needs – free from personal agenda.

Spiritual midwife for the dying

The anamcara tradition has always been associated with end-of-life care. Modern medicine has eliminated much of the physical pain associated with the dying process, but our ancestors also had access to a rich heritage of practical tools to address the unique kinds of emotional and spiritual distress that show up at the end of life.

The anamcara is trained to know how to apply the “wisdom of the ages,” both to complement the professional health caregiver and support the needs of each individual. Because the anamcara believes that death is not an end but an opening to another state of awareness, there are unparalleled opportunities for healing and hope at the end of life.

Creative Presence

Traditionally the two roles of the anamcara were interconnected: in other words, a soul-friend relationship often spanned a person’s lifetime. Most people today find themselves at the end of life without a previous relationship with a spiritual companion. As this tradition renews itself in our times, there are creative possibilities for introducing an anamcara throughout the cycles of living and dying.

Program Structure

The Anamcara Apprenticeship consists of two program experiences. Year 1 is required for all Apprentices. Anyone who completes Year 1 is eligible to participate in Year 2 but is not required to do so. Year 1 is a nine month experience beginning with a three-day retreat, and ending with a two-and-one-half-day retreat. There will be two Saturday webinars and monthly three-hour small group study meetings (Ceili De). Year 2 will begin with a three-day retreat, followed by nine monthly 2.5-hour Saturday webinars and monthly three-hour study group meetings. Participants choose from a variety of specialized Study Tracks with nationally acclaimed mentors.

〈This programme has been delivered with sponsorship support from the Irish Hospice Foundation〉