Whether you are looking to find your soul mate or just want to better understand the one you have, the “twin souls” belief can guide you toward clarity and a better understanding of your closest companion.
You may have heard the terms soul mates, twin flames, or mirror souls, but they all mean (mostly) the same thing, with minor variations: a pair of bodies sharing two pieces of one soul. Not only can a belief in twin souls guide us to a better understanding of ourselves and our companions, but it can teach us about love and destiny in different cultures.
The belief of the “shared” soul exists across multiple religions, mythologies, and belief systems. We’re going to dig into those beliefs and see not only how they’re different but also what they all have in common.
Plato’s Twin Souls Hypothesis
Plato is, if not the originator of the “soul mate” concept, at least one of the first and most popular proponents of the concept in Western philosophical history.
In Plato’s magnum opus, Symposium, Plato writes at great length about how love comes in various forms. In the book, Plato offers this idea of how Hephaestus, god of the forge, suggests that human happiness (whether we know it consciously or not) may depend upon the forging of two souls into one:
Suppose Hephaestus, with his instruments, to come to the pair who are lying side by side and to say to them, 'What do you people want of one another?' they would be unable to explain. And suppose further, that when he saw their perplexity he said: 'Do you desire to be wholly one; always day and night to be in one another's company? for if this is what you desire, I am ready to melt you into one and let you grow together, so that being two you shall become one, and while you live live a common life as if you were a single man, and after your death in the world below still be one departed soul instead of two—I ask whether this is what you lovingly desire, and whether you are satisfied to attain this?'
Plato also said that perhaps this wasn’t a unique quirk or desire, but rather that the gods (Zeus, specifically) cursed us to ever search for the half of our soul that was split from us upon birth.
Plato may have been saying that not only were we born with an urge to find our natural soul mate but that it may have been something humanity chose to provide both purpose and happiness.
He even implied that a joining of not just two souls, but of all souls, may be our ultimate goal:
And the reason is that human nature was originally one and we were a whole, and the desire and pursuit of the whole is called love.
Plato was one of our greatest philosophers, and his popularization of the twin souls belief has stayed with us for thousands of years.
Twin Soul Beliefs in China: The Red Thread of Fate
China has a few beliefs that comport to the idea of the twin soul or joined soul. The most popular (which also spread to Japan and Korea at some point) is the concept of the “red thread” or the “red string of fate.”
The Red String of Fate
The idea is that there is a red string, woven by fate, which is tied to your ankle on one end, and to the ankle of your soul mate at the other end. It is said that this string will lead these two souls together, serving as a guide and ephemeral tether, ensuring that no matter what happens, the two will meet.
More modern versions of the belief place the red string around the fingers of the two soul mates, but the concept is the same. There are a few stories that appear to be the origin of the “red thread of fate” myth, though they are remarkably similar. The first is a tale about a young boy who is told about the red thread of fate by an old man, who claims that the boy’s thread is tied to the finger of a girl in his town. The boy throws a rock at the girl in an attempt to avert fate but finds that the woman he ultimately falls in love with has a peculiar scar above her eyebrow—perhaps from a thrown rock.
The second version of the story involves an emperor who learns that a local witch can actually see the red thread of fate. The emperor engages the witch to find his soul mate. The witch takes him to a peasant village and claims the thread is attached to the finger of a newborn baby. The emperor, enraged and humiliated, pushes the mother, which causes the newborn baby to hit the ground, injuring her forehead. Fast forward to the future, where the emperor meets a charming young woman with a scar on her forehead.
The central thesis of both, of course, is that there is no way to escape fate, and that fate punishes and mocks those who try. But the idea that there may be a soul mate out there, tethered to you, waiting, can certainly sound like an attractive proposition.
Just, you know, don’t throw a rock at their head.
The Dragon-Phoenix Children
A lesser-known Chinese myth, the concept of the long feng tai (龍鳳胎) is a fascinating twist on the soul mate concept.
The legend states that if a pair of twins are born with different sexes, that is a sign that they were actually soul mates and lovers in their previous life; their soul bond was so strong that they transcended death and were born together as halves of the same soul.
Twin Soul Beliefs in the Jewish Faith: Shidduch and Beshert
In the Jewish faith, the idea of twin souls is not only accepted but has suffused how traditional Jewish culture approaches relationships for thousands of years.
The terms bashow, beshert, and zivug play a huge role in traditional Jewish coupling, and they all relate not only to the concept of the twin souls belief but also to how that belief is bolstered by the community.
Finding your beshert: The word beshert translates as “inevitable” and has roots in the word “gift,” but the basic concept is “romantic soul mate.”
Meeting in bashow: In the Jewish belief structure, bashow is a kind of “observed date,” when two potential besherts meet in the presence of designated chaperones. The nature of the date is irrelevant—it could be a meal or a movie—what matters is that the chaperones stay to observe the entire early courtship.
Keeping your zivug: Another Hebrew word, zivug expresses a similar idea: that of the life partner who will stay with you forever. It comes from the same Greek word that the term “zygote“ originates from: zogen. What’s interesting is that your beshert (inevitable) and your zivug may not be the same person (though, hopefully, they are).
Who you are destined to meet and who you are supposed to end up with in the long run may be different people. This is something to keep in mind when a romantic match seems “unavoidable” but ultimately doesn’t work out. You didn’t necessarily mess it up; instead, your beshert may be necessary to your growth but is not your ultimate zivgu.
The ideal circumstance is that you find your beshert during your bashow, and they become your zivug for the rest of your life. This level of harmony within the marriage is called the shalom bayit.
Twin Soul Beliefs in Celtic Mythology: Anamchara
Anamchara, sometimes written as “Anam Cara,” anamchara translates one-to-one as “soul friend,” though the less literal definition is “confessor.”
In Celtic lore, an anamchara represents a paired soul, one who can safely hear your most dire confessions and still love and trust you. Your anamchara is not necessarily your romantic soul mate—though that can be true—but rather a sort of deeply intertwined friendship. It’s a beautiful thought, mostly because, unlike a romantic relationship, there is no real social benefit. You’re not together to make children or to unite houses in the classical way marriages are often seen.
Instead, an anamchara is a stranger to begin with, the other half of your soul flung out into the world to find on your own. And when you meet, there is no direct worldly benefit. Instead, you find friendship, an eager ear to listen to your struggles, and a companion to spend time and go on adventures with.
Irish poet and Celtic-spirituality guru John O’Donohue wrote one of the most comprehensive modern books about the topic, titled Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom. In his book, he says the following about the beauty of an anamchara friendship:
“Your noble friend will not accept pretension but will gently and very firmly confront you with your own blindness. Such friendship is creative and critical; it is willing to negotiate awkward and uneven territories of contradiction and woundedness.”
A Pair of Souls and a Single Life
Whether you’re looking for the perfect friend or the ideal romantic mate, cultures, traditions, and religions across the world have all trusted the idea of the twin flame.
When looking for your own soul mate or long-term companion, consider reaching out to a real, live psychic to help guide you. As the old story goes, there are some who can see the thread of your romantic fate; your only job is to not throw rocks at them.