The Principle of Alignment and the Anam Cara (Soul Friend)

Rare Flower -Anam Cara
Rare Flower -Anam Cara

Alignment is a concept of spiritual significance that I’ve been working with for a long time and I thought that I’d share this concept here.  Alignment is when you fit with someone else–spiritually, physically, socially, intellectually, temperamentally, emotionally, mentally–in all ways.  It doesn’t necessarily mean that this person is a carbon copy of you; in fact, the principle of alignment would suggest that a carbon copy of you would not be in alignment because your deficiencies would be multiplied.  Rather, this is a person who is able to meld with you on the level of shared perspective, similar interest, and shared experience but also with whom your own deficiencies are negated by their strengths, and to whom your strengths help fill in their deficiencies.  In other words, its a person with whom you entirely and completely align.


In relationships, we have varying degrees of alignment with everyone. The spiritually sensitive among us might sense, energetically, the ways that people fit or don’t fit.  If you’ve ever met someone you knew you instantly were going to like and become great friends, that signals a potentially strong alignment with that person.  Similarly, if you met someone you instantly disliked, it can signal a sense that you will never be in alignment, that the sharp edges of your being will grate with the sharp edges of theirs, and no lasting friendship or connection can really be forged.  With most people, we have varying degrees of alignment; a close friend may be much more aligned, and that alignment is what caused bonds to forge.


Being in true alignment is a like an incredibly rare flower that you find hidden deep within a forest.  Last year, I went on a spiritual quest to seek “the source” of the river that flowed through the forest to which I belong (the forest that I grew up in, and that taught me much about healing). About 8 or so miles into my day-long quest, I came across a very rare form of lady’s slipper flower; one I had never seen before anywhere, much less in that forest, and one which I later learned was critically endangered in that area and almost never appears in “disturbed sites” like the forest that was previously logged and that I was hiking through.  Being in true alignment with someone else is like that rare flower–you come across it completely unexpectedly and it gives you such a sense of incredible awe.  In my experience, you are incredibly lucky if you experience true alignment once in your life.  Twice is an indescribable gift.


In my life, I’ve experienced such alignment once, and it occurred with someone who is no longer of this world. Everything that I lacked, he had.  Everything that he needed, I fulfilled. Our personalities meshed in ways I hadn’t even thought possible; we finished each others sentences, and every time we had a new conversation, I found myself always saying “I know exactly what you mean” while he would smile and nod and give me this knowing look. He had such darkness in him, and it was soothed by my own light (its not that I don’t have darkness in myself, but I’ve fought to overcome it–so I could understand the darkness within him, but not be overcome by it). As he battled with terminal cancer and the darkness threatened to overcome him, I brought in even more light and joy into his life, and he embraced this and our friendship.  We needed each other and understood each other on such a deep level, words were often not required. We grew and shifted together as his battle with cancer raged on–it was a terribly tragic and yet, looking back on it now, a strangely beautiful thing. We shared limited time together, but each of those memories–of days spent exploring the forests of western PA and northern WV, of those days where we browsed old libraries or sat laughing under the great sycamore tree on campus–are the most powerful and meaningful memories of my life.  The day he died, I knew instantly that he had died even though we were 2000 miles apart; even when we were far away I sensed his struggles and his pain.  In his death, he taught me the most powerful lessons I will likely ever learn–the importance of living each day to its fullest, of being completely and totally alive, of creative expression, of seeking truth and wisdom from the natural world, of never holding back, of the importance of family. It is because of him that I am the person that I am, the druid that I am, today.


The Ancient Irish had a term called “Anam Cara” or soul friend. This was a person who could truly accept you for who you are, always support you, always see the best in you, can support your weaknesses with their strengths….but more than that, its a person with whom your soul truly resonates.  This is a person with whom you share complete alignment.  If you find such a friendship, do not squander it.  Cherish every moment, for you never know when that friendship will be gone.

Dana O'Driscoll

Dana O’Driscoll has been an animist druid for almost 20 years, and currently serves as Grand Archdruid in the Ancient Order of Druids in America. She is a druid-grade member of the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids and is the OBOD’s 2018 Mount Haemus Scholar. She is the author of Sacred Actions: Living the Wheel of the Year through Earth-Centered Spiritual Practice (REDFeather, 2021), the Sacred Actions Journal (REDFeather, 2022), and Land Healing: Physical, Metaphysical, and Ritual Approaches for Healing the Earth (REDFeather, 2024). She is also the author/illustrator of the Tarot of Trees, Plant Spirit Oracle, and Treelore Oracle. Dana is an herbalist, certified permaculture designer, and permaculture teacher who teaches about reconnection, regeneration, and land healing through herbalism, wild food foraging, and sustainable living. Dana lives at a 5-acre homestead in rural western Pennsylvania with her partner and a host of feathered and furred friends. She writes at the Druids Garden blog and is on Instagram as @druidsgardenart. She also regularly writes for Plant Healer Quarterly and Spirituality and Health magazine.

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  1. I observe that nature seems to practice alignment, for instance bees and flowers.

  2. Excellent observation! So true. Thanks for the comment, Alex!

  3. I found my soul friend by texting a female friend I knew when she was 10’years….We share same 3 and only numbers in address…Truly amazing and life changing….We talk several times via text per day…Time seems supended as we talk about our weaknesses and strengths….A relationship beyond anything ive experienced so far…

    1. That is an amazing story, Roderick! Thank you for reading and sharing 🙂

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