I was saddened to hear of the passing of Margot Adler at the end of July. Her book, “Drawing Down the Moon: Witches, Druids, Goddess-Worshippers, and Other Pagans in America Today“, was one of my first introductions to Paganism. I read the original edition from my high school library and later bought the “revised and expanded edition”. Though I haven’t re-read it in many years, it still has a place on my bookshelf. In fact, when I did a purge of all my Pagan books a number of years ago, it was one of the first that I moved to the “keep” pile.
I have never owned a copy of the first book about Paganism I ever read – Robin Skelton‘s “Practice of Witchcraft Today: An Introduction To Beliefs and Rituals”, found at the community library – and I sold and donated a lot of the other Pagan books I owned. They had played their part and I was not going to re-read them. On my religion/spiritual bookshelf, my Pagan books are either sentimental books – local authors, autographed books, etc. – classics like “The Spiral Dance”, and a small handful of reference books. My copy of “Drawing Down” fits in both of the latter categories.
When I went to pull my copy and read through the introduction in remembrance of Margot Adler, I had a look at what else was on the shelf and reflected on what and who has influenced me. Most of my books are about labyrinths, community living, prayer (from a variety of religions), Eastern philosophy, Jungian thought, deep ecology, and a few new age books. The greatest influences on my current form of Paganism are probably “Cosmos” by Carl Sagan.
Pagans are good at integrating wisdom and beauty from many sources into our traditions. Maybe that’s why Pagans don’t quote Pagans*: we’re quoting the original sources before they’ve gone through our filters and creative reworkings. It’s an honest practice. But as we combine and create and recreate, our own wisdom emerges, such as, from “Drawing Down the Moon”: “Paganism is a gift of life to life herself. … It’s planting gardens, loving the planet, being concerned with truth and honesty, and reclaiming parts of ourselves that have been cut off.”**
Thank you Margot.
* My other response to that post is my collection of Pagan memes on Pinterest.
** “Drawing Down the Moon: Witches, Druids, Goddess-Worshippers, and Other Pagans in America Today; Revised and Expanded Edition”, Margot Adler, 1986; page 454.