I miss you already Margot

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Margot Adler (1946-2014)

We’ve had  a lot of deaths of prominent Pagans in the last few years, the recent death of Morning Glory-Zell this year and Issac Bonewits’ death in 2010 to mention just two.  In addition, Mary Daly, author of Beyond God the Father, and Merlin Stone, author of When God was a Woman, passed away in 2010 and 2011 respectively.  (While neither was Pagan, both were prominent in the Goddess Spirituality movement and important influences on the Pagan movement.)  But none of these has struck me so hard as the death of Margot Adler.  And I know I am not alone.  Many eulogies and tributes to Margot have already been posted.  Here are just a few:

“Remembering Margot Adler” by Jason Mankey

“Shocking and Sad: Rest in Peace, Margot Adler” by Peg Aloi

“Thank you Margot Adler” by Thalassa

“Margot Adler 1946 – 2014″ by Jason Pitzl-Waters

NPR of course covered Margot’s death here and here.  And HuffPo announced Margot’s death in this way: “Margot Adler: Pioneering Pagan Activist, NPR Journalist Dies At 68″. I was fortunate to be able to attend Margot’s chant workshop at Pantheacon earlier this year and to sit near her in other workshops.  I’ve written a fair about about Margot over the years, including Carl Jung’s influence on her ideas and the influence of Margot’s own writing on Neo-Paganism (she was the Emperor card in my “Neo-Pagan Celebrity Tarot”. But I think Thalassa summed it up best for me when she wrote, “Margot Adler is the reason that I never thought that I had to live “in the broom closet”.  I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that I might not be a Pagan today if it were not for Margot’s book, Drawing Down the Moon.  It was Margot’s vision of Paganism that made me want to be a Pagan.   In her epilogue to Drawing Down the Moon, Margot discusses the figure of George Mylonas, director of the excavations at Eleusis, where the rites of the Eleusinian mysteries were held for some two thousand years.  Margot concludes:

“Mylonas is, then, a potent symbol.  We are all searching among the ruins.  He is all of us who have admitted our spiritual impoverishment, hoping that objects, words, and inscriptions will give us clues to things that can be learned only through experience.  What Mylonas (and most of us) have been denied is the experience of being ‘tricked’ into this initiatory process.  We are forced to rely merely on our intellectual tools, which will not allow us to enter certain hidden chambers.  The secret that Neo-Paganism seems to have begun to learn over the past ten years is this: If the methods for creating such experiences have been lost, the way to find them again is to create them again.” (from Drawing Down the Moon, emphasis added)

(Here is a link of Margot talking to NPR about being a Wiccan.  And here she is talking to Unitarian Universalists about why she was a UU Pagan.) Last night, when the new moon set, I lit a candle for Margot and sang one of the chants Margot loved to sing:

Amazing Grace, how sweet the Earth that formed a Witch like me. I once was burned, but now I thrive, was hanged but now I sing.   T’was grace that drew down the moon, and grace that raised the sea, the magic of the people’s will, will set our mother free.

(I know she will forgive my faltering voice.)  I then poured a libation in Margot’s memory. I can think of no better was to conclude than with Margot’s own words on what death meant to her:

“My husband had what I would call the ‘high tech view of death’; it was to be avoided at all costs. He was a runner; he was in perfect health; he took various supplements and anti-oxidants. He drank a glass of wine for resveratrol, never smoked, was fit, and, unlike me, he never did any drugs in his youth. He thought he would live to be 100, preferably even older. A science journalist, he followed all the discoveries and advances of aging research. And he thought that when he did die, he might have his ashes flown up in space. His attitude was definitely, ‘rage, rage, rage against the dying of the light.’ “I, at that same moment, had more of an Earth-centered Pagan perspective. “We are all part of the life cycle. Like a seed we are born, we sprout; we grow, mature and decay, making room for future generations who, like seedlings are reborn through us. As for the persistence of consciousness, deep down, I thought, ‘How can we know?’ Perhaps we simply return to the elements; we become earth and air and fire and water. That seemed alright to me. In fact, I remember reading a book by the feminist author Barbara Walker, in which she said that the ancient meaning of the four elements was the way we went to die: we were left for carrion in the air, we were buried in the earth, we were burned on the pyre, and we were buried in the depths of the sea. That also seemed alright. Although, there was a part of me, deep down, that was on his wavelength and wanted to live forever.” (from a sermon given by Margot at the Judson Memorial Church)

  • http://www.wiccanfamilytemple.org formerjewnowwiccan

    There was a total of 3 major Pagans that were lost this year. This first was Donald Michael Kraig, Morning Glory Zell and now Margot Adler. Unfortunately as the Elders to our varied traditions grow older, it is understandable that they will be passing, but it is how we honor and acknowledge them, that is important. These were our Pagan Pioneers. May the Gods keep you in their arms and watch over those that you had to leave behind.

  • JasonMankey

    I broke down on Monday and actually cried over Margot’s passing. I rarely cry in such instances but she was just such a huge part of my Paganism. Through Margot and “Moon” I first became interested in Paganism as a historical discipline and had my eyes opened to the entire breadth and beauty of a Pagandom much deeper than just Wicca. She did all of that while being the most friendly and down to Earth “celebrity” I’ve ever met.

    We were truly blessed to have her in our tribe.

    • Luminous Cryptic

      The combination of the loss of Judy Harrow (not mentioned on this page – ahem….), and then Margot this week, knocked the wind out of me, too. I was crying for quite a while, and actually could not stop shaking for about an hour. The flame is being passed…..

  • Luminous Cryptic

    John, the Chant Workshop at Pantheacon – did anyone record that? Is this music lost now that Margot is gone? Was it improvisational or specific songs? Who else would know?

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/allergicpagan/ John H Halstead

      I don’t know if anyone recorded it. But Margot did send me a document with 50 chants, including the ones that she used. I can email it to you if you’re interested. My email is allergicpagan [at] gmail [dot] com.


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