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Confessions of a Pagan Nun: A Novel by Kate…

Confessions of a Pagan Nun: A Novel (2001)

by Kate Horsley

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5181629,658 (3.77)53

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Gwynneve wants to be a Druid. She begins her training, including learning to read and write. Unfortunately, this is at the time Christianity has spread to Ireland. The old ways are in the process of being pounded out of the Irish people. This is her version of how St. Patrick's religion touched her life, and it is not a happy one. ( )
  a1stitcher | Jun 22, 2019 |
Confessions of a Pagan Nun - Kate Horsley
4 stars

As I understand it, the Druids left no written documents. If they had, if any one of them had, it might have looked like this small book. Or not. Whether or not it is historically accurate, Gwynneve has a compelling voice as she relates tells the story of her pagan childhood and her reluctant, ambiguous, conversion to Christianity.

It’s been a very long time since I read Confessions of St. Augustine, but the scribe, Sister Gwynneve, had read them. She is, to some extent, modeling her confessions on his work. Much more, Kate Horsley is drawing on her own Buddhist faith, which is surprisingly similar to pagan Druidism in this interpretation. I’m not criticizing, or even disagreeing with her depiction of early Christians in Ireland. Sister Gwynneve is a character placed in a time of major changes and her story is completely plausible. The Christians are not heroic characters. There is a certain agenda in this fictional memoir. Sister Gwynne is seduced by the promise of words, more stories, and the greater knowledge of the Christians. But, she is troubled by the fanaticism, the religious persecution, the sexual repression, and the oppression of women. It becomes a very depressing story.

There’s good food for thought in Sister Gwynneve’s rambling confession. I found myself wanting to highlight over and over again.

“It is noble to pity a man who is cruel because he is weak, but it is idiotic and dangerous to allow him to have power.”

“Power does not willingly give up its place to truth.”

“Teaching is a sacred art ……. The teacher, the bard, the singer of tales is a freer of men's minds and bodies, especially when he roams without allegiance to one chieftain or another. But he is also a danger to the masters if he insists upon telling the truth. The truth will inevitably cause tremors in those who cling to power without honoring justice.”

“I would live in a world of Christ-like humans, but not one full of Christians, may God forgive me.”
( )
  msjudy | Apr 1, 2017 |
Review: Confessions Of A Pagan Nun by Kate Horsley.

This was an interesting and fascinating book. The characters were well developed and the story line was written in a way that it was believable. I enjoyed all the historical references to this time period and the Irish culture. The story is about a person’s conflict between an orthodox Christian church and the tradition nature religion of the Druids.

The confessions are of a woman named Gwynneve who attempts to find her freedom. She goes on and tells of her life, hoping that explaining her conflict will give her some kind of solace. Her story is created in the early medieval period and described in detail.
Plus, life was hard in Ireland at this time and the poverty was shocking…

As a young girl her family tries to define her but later it is her husband who finally tries to make her knowledgeable while confining her to look no further. That’s when Gwynneve turns to the Christian church hoping to find freedom but finds herself begging for forgiveness for every thought which is unsuitable for the leaders. She let on that she was a Christian and was baptized when she was young so they accepted her which was not true.

As the story unfolds we see two lives reaching their destination. Gwynneve tells of her early life studies as a Druid and coming to terms with some acceptance as a Pagan nun but yet another older life of acknowledging the tragedy of a Christian life when she converts and becomes a catholic nun. It’s a tragic story of an intelligent pagan who tries her hardest to convert to Christianity, but in the end she cannot change her own heart and be satisfied.

The story is an account of a life of a spiritual journey entwined with the history of the Druids and the terrible ways people and animals were degraded throughout that time. Some of the scenes were awful to read about but as a reader I love reading about cultures, historic events and subjects I’m not familiar with. I thought this was a good story about conflict, emotions, and the thoughts of a complex mind that teeters on the edge… ( )
  Juan-banjo | Jul 29, 2016 |
It's been a long while since I read this book. My copy was lent (forever, as it resulted) to a woman I knew, a former nun (!) and I think I should get a replacement to read it again. However, it sticks with me over the years.

Why only 3 stars? It's not because of the book itself, which was well and effectively written. It wasn't about the subject matter, although I found it dark and painful (because that was the proper context for the story). I think I gave it three stars because, as much as I admired, understood, and respected the book, I cannot say "I really liked it" or "I loved it". Even saying "I liked it" is not correct. I hated it.

No, let me rephrase. I hated what happened to the main character. I hated the world in which she lived, the choices forced upon her, the limited options she had, and how she was regarded. I hated the misogyny she experienced, the rejection, the misunderstanding. I hated the beauty destroyed, the freedom captured and shackled, the love burnt and scattered. I hated all that.

I didn't hate the book. But I could not love it. ( )
1 vote Murphy-Jacobs | Mar 30, 2013 |
An amazing tale of the power of literacy on a life. I bought the book after reading it.

It is the story of a woman named Gwynneve, in the time of the Druids and the beginnings of Christianity. She has inherited the love of words from her mother who told stories to her. This is a wonderful book; one to be owned, read often and given to friends and daughters. ( )
  mysterymax | Feb 19, 2012 |
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I, Gwynneve, a sinner quite uncultivated and the least of all the faithful and utterly despicable to many, appeal to Saint Brigit or the goddess Brigit, whatever it is her wish to be called.
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"Cloistered in a stone cell at the monastery of Saint Brigit, a sixth-century Irish nun secretly records the memories of her Pagan youth, interrupting her assigned task of transcribing Augustine and Patrick." "Gwynneve writes of her village's pigkeepers and fishermen, their petty squabbles and lusty warrior sagas. She writes of her fiercely independent mother, whose skill with healing plants and inner strength she inherited. She writes of her druid teacher, the brusque but magnetic Giannon, who first introduced her to the mysteries of written language." "But disturbing events at the cloister keep intervening. As the monastery is rent by vague and fantastic accusations, Gwynneve's words become the one force that can save her from annihilation."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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