I have just learned of the passing of NPR journalist, author of the important book Drawing Down the Moon and practicing pagan Margot Adler. Margot was a friend to me and to many. Her intelligence, warmth, humor and passionate curiosity were shared with any and all who knew her personally or who enjoyed her writings or reports on NPR.
Her son Alex posted this today on her Facebook page:
“Old friends, long time fans, today at 4am Margot breathed easily for the first time in two weeks. Later today, at 10:30am she was pronounced deceased.
Her condition had been getting much worse over the weeks and months and the brain radiation (which she had a treatment of scheduled today, tomorrow, and wednesday) was thought to help her double vision, since it was the cause.
Well, Margot and John both won’t be seeing double anymore, but they will be seeing each other for the rest of time.
With much love and difficulty do I write this,
I am grateful I got to spend some quality time with Margot last summer, when she visited my campsite at the Brushwood Folklore Center, where she, Lilith Dorsey and I sat and chatted for two hours over coffee (me still in my robe, as you can see from the photo). During that conversation, Margot’s eyes kept watering and I commented that maybe the pollen count was high; she replied, “No, it’s just emotions.” Margot had lost her beloved husband a few months earlier. She came out with a new book on vampires last year, which I reviewed here.
I find it very hard to share this horrible and deeply saddening news. I grieve the loss of this wonderful, wise and talented woman, whose work helped so many in the world understand the pagan movement. Her news coverage on NPR was always so recognizably “Margot”: her passion for stories about the environment, human rights, spirituality and unusual views of New York City, which she called home, were always a joy to hear on the radio. It gave me a nice feeling to think to myself as I heard her confident, friendly voice, “Hey, I know her.”
Reading Drawing Down the Moon: Witches, Druids, Goddess-Worshippers and Other Pagans in America Today changed everything for me; to have a leading NPR correspondent write such a revealing and comprehensive report on the burgeoning pagan movement, and to have her admit her own involvement in that movement: what a galvanizing moment for the pagan community and any who were curious about earth spirituality. The book has seen several revised editions, and I imagine now anyone who has not read it may finally see a good reason to do so, if only to honor Margot’s outstanding work.
I went to hear Margot speak at Smith College somewhere around 1987. The pagan movement was in full swing. I recall she spoke about one of my favorite books, beginning by saying “So have any of you read this terrible novel called The Witches of Eastwick?” Of course, she meant it was terrible because the witches were cruel, capricious and willing to use magic to harm any and all people who stood in the way of their selfish desires. I certainly saw her point! Her casual dismissal of a book by one of the USA’s great novelists was a bit shocking but also very ballsy of her. And I came to appreciate her straightforward and humorous commentary on many things over the years.
I knew her. I respected her. I was happy to have spent time talking and laughing with her. And I am very, very sad she is gone from us.