Anam Cara

Anam Cara card from Brightwing Tarot.

If you’re just joining me in these recent posts, I am taking a trip through the Fool’s Quest, the soulpath laid out in the stages of the Major Arcana of the Tarot cards. My use of the tarot as a tool for deep inner understanding and spiritual growth and development has recently caused some shifts in my life. What people do not understand, they often demonize, and my use of the tarot has caused people in my community to doubt my truth and goodness. Instead of giving in to the scandal and shaming, I have decided to publicly explore the rich terrain of this tool for inner wisdom that I have been studying since 1992.

The sixth card on the Fool’s Quest is the Anam Cara, traditionally known as The Lovers. While I am completely comfortable with the simple meaning of this card as a reminder to look to the balance of romance and sexuality in one’s life, I think this card is much more layered. We humans are complex and multi-faceted, and reducing the love balance in this card to sexuality and romance feels too simplistic.

The Irish poet (and former priest) John O’Donohue began using the term anam cara, or Soul Friend, to express the deep level of friendship that extends beyond the surface, that meets emotional needs, but also enriches and nurtures emotional and spiritual growth. Hopefully you have one or more of these people in your life, people who integrate you, make you feel more whole and complete, not because they fill a void within you, but because they believe in your capacity to be always more fully yourself. And people for whom you can reciprocate.

At this stage in the Quest, after the Fool has learned skills and mysteries and knowledge, you (for you and I are the Fool) draw to yourself the Anam Cara, the friend who can spur you to deeper understanding of yourself in the world, one who listens and engages and challenges you. Blessed are you if you have found such a person or community in your life. The Anam Cara, I think, is different than a loving teacher. That was our last card. This is someone who is on the journey with you, experiencing it with you. You teach each other, smooth each other’s sharp edges, share openly about your bitters and sweets. You love deeply and openly, reciprocating, sharing, mirroring.

This person may indeed be your lover, but might as likely be a friend or group of friends. How can you nurture these sorts of deep, give and take, committed relationships in your life?

Can you be your own Anam Cara? To some degree, I think that’s part of the point of this quest, to meet that deep inner self that gets hidden under all the masks and veils of everyday existence. Perhaps it’s only in truly meeting and knowing my own inner Anam Cara that I can be openly available to engage others at that deep level as well. And, as Aristotle pointed out, friendship is a mirror in which we see ourselves, so having strong, loving, soulful relationships helps us to see ourownselves more clearly and deeply, so the path outward–toward another–is in this case the path inward–toward deep inner knowing.


Gratitude List:
1. Soul Friends, mirrors, companions on the journey
2. Lunch with two former students yesterday. What marvelous humans! Their lasting friendship is inspiring. I’m so grateful they included me in their time together, so grateful our paths crossed so many years ago, and again today.
3. I signed the papers! It’s official. I’ll be teaching at The Janus School this fall as a Humanities teacher. I may be teaching some science and social studies (thank you, Waldorf School, for that experience), as well as language arts–using my background in reading and writing instruction. Classes are small. The philosophy feels like a good match for me. I love that this is a position that will both draw on my skills and offer me new challenges to learn and develop.
4. The travelers. So many of my online friends are traveling these days! Lots to various places in the UK, some to mainland Europe, others throughout the US. Because I can’t be traveling to those places at this point, I am delighted to be an armchair traveler, exploring the world through their eyes.
5. Faces in the Green. Do you ever find yourself idly gazing at a tree or a group of trees, and suddenly see the faces? I can’t often intentionally start looking for faces in the woods, but when I’m not thinking about it, I’ll suddenly see a face or series of faces, and when the breezes are blowing, like now, they seem to be talking. There’s a name for it, which I always forget, for noticing faces in objects and environments.
May we walk in Beauty!


“And suddenly you know: It’s time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings.” —Eckhart Tolle
*****
“We are called to assist the Earth to heal her wounds and in the process heal our own—indeed, to embrace the whole creation in all its diversity, beauty and wonder. This will happen if we see the need to revive our sense of belonging to a larger family of life, with which we have shared our evolutionary process.” —Wangari Maathai


“When will our consciences grow so tender that we will act to prevent human misery rather than avenge it?” ―Eleanor Roosevelt


“Do you not see how everything that happens keeps on being a beginning?” —Rainer Maria Rilke


“Every soul innately yearns for stillness, for a space, a garden where we can till, sow, reap, and rest, and by doing so come to a deeper sense of self and our place in the universe. Silence is not an absence but a presence. Not an emptiness but repletion A filling up.” —Anne D. LeClaire


“To me, every hour of the day and night
is an unspeakably perfect miracle. ” —Walt Whitman


“Sometimes the most important thing in a whole day is the rest we take between two deep breaths, or the turning inwards in prayer for five short minutes.” —Etty Hillesum


“Am I killing time, or is it killing me?” —The Middle Brother Band

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