In the mid 90s, while I was in college, I began to doubt my Christian background. I no longer believed in a jealous god, a being who demanded worship and would send non-believers to hell. But I didn’t know what religion to study. I spoke with my religion professor, Church of Christ minister Stephanie Curran, and told her about my views and how I saw God as something that flowed through all of nature. She gave me Drawing Down the Moon: Witches, Druids, Goddess Worshippers, and Other Pagans in America Today by Margot Adler which was originally published in 1979.
After the preface the book begins, “In the last twenty years, alongside the often noted resurgence of ‘occult’ and ‘magical’ groups, a diverse and decentralized religious movement has sprung up that remains comparatively unnoticed, and when recognized, is generally misunderstood.”
I wasn’t so sure about the occult aspect but I was hooked with the word magical. I’d had magical experiences since childhood. I had been taught how to use earth, air, fire, water, and spirit by a spirit guide. I had memories of past lives. Once in the woods I picked up two sticks, drew a circle in the earth and held the sticks upward feeling energy surge around the circle and through my body. A deep male voice spoke, “You don’t know what you do.”
Drawing Down the Moon, or DDTM as it is fondly called, is hundreds of pages worth of phenomenal social reporting. Margot Adler spent years traveling the US interviewing people in various organizations and leaderless groups who are now considered our Elders. She herself became an elder in her own right. Margot Adler was also known for her journalism work, especially NPR. She was a regular speaker at festivals such as Pantheacon.
DDTM was one reason I became a Neo-Pagan. It was a map that helped me on my religious quest.
Though I did not know her personally, I was saddened when she passed away recently from cancer. She was one of my mentors in ink. That day I lit a candle and burned scented oil for her safe passage.
Good-bye, Margot Adler. Those who are remembered live and I will always be grateful and remember you.