Soul Friends

Friendship is at the heart of Quakerism and for many Quakers they see each other as Soul Friends.

The concept of Soul Friends began in early British and Irish Christianity when St. Brigid, a sixth century saint from Ireland wrote “a person without a soul friend is like a body without a head”.

The Irish word ‘anamchara’ and the Welsh word ‘periglour’ soon came into existence both meaning Soul Friend; a particular way of befriending that intentionally honours and nurtures the life of the soul.

Celtic Christian Early Church

The Celtic Christian practice of the early church found that walking a path of faith is well nigh impossible without a true friend and companion. In the 15th chapter of the Gospel according to John, Jesus tells the disciples “you are my friends if you do what I command you”.  He has just commanded them to love one another as he has loved them.

Following this biblical command, the Celtic Church encouraged soul friendship as a relationship formed in Christ and was often symbolised in the form of a knot (a modern version is pictured above). In the early church across Ireland, Wales, Scotland, Brittany, Cornwall and the Isle of Man, Soul Friendship was a practice of mutual encouragement, confession and of penance.

Each person is called to tell the truth in love. A Soul Friend is a person who will allow you to tell the whole truth of yourself; to encourage you to seek healing and restoration. A Soul Friend also has the fine gift of being able to share in joy, a gift that can be hard to find in today’s highly competitive modern culture.

Friends embrace Soul Friendship as a way of kindness, mercy and mutual vulnerability. A Soul Friendship is marked by a kind of deeply respectful intimacy and familiarity.

For Friends, this is a creative and subversive force. A Soul Friend will be a hearth where we may sit in silence and be warmed. A Soul Friend will be a place of belonging and rest.

Most of all, a Soul Friend will help to kindle the divine fire within your soul.

Saint Brigid of Ireland

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