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Drawing Down the Moon: Witches, Druids, Goddess-Worshippers and Other Pagans in America Today

4.01 of 5 stars 4.01  ·  rating details  ·  5,415 ratings  ·  154 reviews
For nearly two decades, Drawing Down the Moon, the only detailed history of a little-known and widely misunderstood movement, has provided the most authoritative look at the religious beliefs, experiences, and lifestyles of the neopagan culture. "A healthy corrective." -- The New York Times Book Review
Paperback, Revised and Expanded Edition, 595 pages
Published July 20th 1997 by Beacon Press (first published 1979)
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Apr 01, 2015 Eli rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Don't read this ('86) edition. Get the '06 version.
One of the grandmamma books on modern Paganism. There's a lot of fascinating history in this book, but it's much more of a snapshot of 1979 Pagan America and England, plus a tiny bit of updating for the new edition. But the new stuff felt less like the reconsidering the subject deserves and more like "where are they now?" tack-ons to the original material. Many of the groups Adler profiled originally have dwindled or died entirely, and several groups and movements I know were active in '86 are i ...more
Cathy Douglas
A clearly written history of paganism in America, including witches, druids, heathens and the whole ungainly lot of us. The book was first published in 1979, and has undergone a couple major updates. I could wish that the revisions were better incorporated, but it would be almost impossible to keep up with the rate of change in the pagan community. She's made a fair attempt to keep current; still, half the internet links I looked up are now defunct. Some of the groups she covers in-depth sound p ...more
I am sure there are far better reviews out there for this book than I could write but I'll say that you can believe the hype about this book. I had heard about this for many years but never actually took the time to read it and boy do I feel silly now after completing it. This is probably one of the best resources for Pagans and non-Pagans alike in terms of accurately representing the cultural resurgence of Goddess and Nature oriented religions. After reading this I truly feel proud to call myse ...more
This gets 5 stars for influence.

A couple of years prior to this read I had a spontaneous spiritual emergency as I came out of a meditation sitting in the sand at Alki Beach in Seattle.

I was familiar by this time with Starhawk and Reclaiming and had met people at the pagan bookstores and had taken a class or two with some pagans.

This book was a matter of fact reading about who's who in the pagan subculture, some history and an introduction to paganism in general. I liked that it was a survey of a
It's important to get the most currently updated version. I found the references section to be one of the most useful. It's not a "how to" book, or a B.O.S, it's more of a social study of paganism, the culture, history, beliefs, etc... It's definitely a worthwhile read, but it can be a difficult read. There is a lot of useful information to be found in it. As I said before, definitely get the most updated version you can find.
Princess Kristin
Excellent history of the pagan movement in America through the early 1980s. While Wicca receives a sizable portion of the book, other paths are well-represented.
Chris Godwin
I really enjoyed this book and became inspired by some solid arguments for a case against monotheism, which I hope to use to help produce a sound theory around. One thing I found interesting was that Margo Adler supports the idea that monotheism, as a minority practice, has been with humanity since the inception of religion.

I was really surprised how much of the Wiccan myth I didn’t know about. Authors like Margaret Murray and works like Aradia were unknown to me before I read this book. I didn’
Kitty Snaev
Oh my god, I loved this book. So full of information in a fresh light, even for it being 40 or so years old. I learned so much, it opened my eyes and made me feel closer to my Path than ever before. This is something everyone interested in Paganism/Witchcraft or knows someone who is and is unsure of what that other person really means. The unity of disunity is what makes the Craft such a lovely thing, which was emphasized in this book- everyone is different and Paganism gets that, it understands ...more
Steve Cran
This book is a classic, written in the 1980’s and has had several editions put out later. Due to the age of the book there may have been many developments in the Pagan arena , so some of the information might still seem dated. The authoress herself passed away on July 28, 2014.

Since Gerald Gardner birth the modern witchcraft revival, the Witch Craft Pagan community has grown by leaps and bounds. The most popular facet of the Pagan movement is the growth of Wicca, Gerald’s child. The face of the
Julie Decker
Adler's book on the Earth religions of the past and the present is one of the most commonly recommended books for anyone on a Goddess path or Pagan path, even though it was written decades ago and spotlights certain groups/movements with a perspective we wouldn't consider quite the same if we looked at it in the larger context today. What's really interesting is the diversity; Adler did a ton of research and physically put herself into the groups she discusses for interviews and perspectives, an ...more
Marcelle Warren
This is an excellent resource for any beginners to Paganism. Adler gives brief descriptions of several Pagan traditions, but also consistently maintains the message of all Paganism, that there isn't and shouldn't be any real dogma, so that no one is immediately misled by her opinions, which she also limits persistently, to my appreciation. This is useful because it gives one a taste from each item on the smorgasbord and allows one to gravitate naturally to those philosophies which feel more cons ...more
An excellent look at alternative spiritual paths in contemporary America that are inspired by ancient pagan practices.
Kelly Weisner
I really liked that this was written by a journalist. I normally can't take reading new age-y stuff because I feel like it's propaganda. This book takes a truly critical account of Paganism in America during the 70's and 80's. The best part is Margot Adler was not an outsider to the world of Paganism, personal accounts about her own experiences make for a more interesting read. I'd love an updated version!
This was a good overview of modern paganism, I think, but I am using the term modern relatively. It's true, she did update the book in the 2000s, but most of the information in the bulk of her chapters was from the seventies with only minor updates at the end about how things were totally different now. I feel like as highly as this book was recommended, there really needs to be something similar done that truly is modern, not from decades ago. It just isn't accurate anymore.

A problem I have wit
coming from a christian background, i was amazed at the different categories of alternative spiritualities in this book. was that pc enough? anyways..where else would i learn about a group of men called "radical faeries"!
This was an incredible journey into Neo-paganism in America. The most comprehensive, structured and well written primer I have yet read about these emerging religions, and is a must read for anyone interested in American religion. Adler made this not only informative, but entertaining and intriguing and inspires the reader without being overly preachy. Yes, there is a level of bias here, but never did I feel alienated or talked down to. My only complaint, which stops this from being a 5 star rev ...more
I liked this book because it really gave a clear picture of different pagan groups to help the mainstream gain understanding. I wonder though how much has changed since its publication....
This is a great read for anyone who is interested in the progression of Wicca and other associated paths which have spread throughout the United States during these past couple of decades. It is full of fundamental information about the different people who have helped spread knowledge and to create updated information to help their communities and their views become main stream, also how new cultures have helped to inform more conservative groups about their true identities and not just lumping ...more
Kerr Cuhulain
Great resource on the history of modern Wicca.
Veronica Bolts
Let me start with the pros - the first chapter of this book was informative and captivating. It covered the background history of Paganism and its reformation as Neo-Paganism aka Wicca. Also the chapter on feminism and Wicca was my second favorite bit. Overall Wicca holds onto traditional male/female roles and it was refreshing to hear a different perspective on it.

As far as the cons - this book was written in the late 1970's and as interesting as it was to understand the supposed "resurgence"
One of my many, many reading lists is suggested readings in Celtic lore. Many of these books are the type you can only find in the occult section of your book store, or in a specialized occult shop. I’ve never really let that bother me. These books often offer multiple versions of the same bit of folklore, or they offer conflicting interpretations of various symbols, and then I get to have a little fun doing the research necessary to determine which is the more widely-accepted one (or which is t ...more
Aaron Meyer
Hmmm what to say about this book. Well it's pretty much an essential book to have on ones bookshelf if you are into the history of Neo-pagan resurgence in the UK and USA. Yes it is dated, including the updated and revised edition, but that shouldn't count much against it because it is impossible to have a constant updated work in print. The work goes into detail of early wicca and a number of the other alternative religious viewpoints. The chapter on the Feminists I pretty much skipped after rea ...more
Nov 11, 2007 Bex rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone interested in learning about modern witches
I read Drawing Down the Moon my first year of university, disillusioned with the sneakily-backward Southern Baptist youth group at Florida State University, and with conservatives in general. At the sections about animism and heathenism, a light went off for me: I'd found a new world, even if I didn't have the community yet. This was one of the first non-fiction books I devoured; it has changed my field of possibilities.

In February 2007, I was lucky enough to stumble upon Margot Adler giving a p
Christina Richardson
Margot Adler does a fantastic job of clearly delineating various trends of thoughts in the vast world of neo-pagans and other folks who don't like to be categorized. A scholarly work, but quite readable. I feel a tremendous fondness for this book, because I could see myself in it, and it really was the best introduction for me to self-identify as a pagan.
Honestly i couldn't finish the book. Its more of a who said what and who was who in the 1970's. I only made it halfway through before deciding to move on to books that arent written like text books with massive amounts of quotes from others. I was really looking forward to this book and am so disappointed.
Rachel McBain
Likely the most comprehensive study of Wicca and Neo-Pagan movements in the 20th century. Adler has provided an exemplary framework for understanding Wicca and Neo-Paganism. Exhaustively researched by an insider with the ability to exercise skepticism when necessary.
Jun 30, 2008 Barrett rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Barrett by: Stefanie
after watching enough Buffy (a crude farce, i know) and reading about a local lady who fought for Pagan headstones in Arlington Cemetery, i realized i had zero knowledge of the subject. and that irritated me. thanks to Stefanie for lending me a copy; thus far it's pretty intriguing -- this lady obviously did her research.


i've been chipping away at this book for a while now, but i think i finally have to put it down -- there's simply too much here to read. i do definitely recommend this to a
Bryn Donovan
This was actually a re-read for me--I first read it maybe 20 years ago, when I had a much different perspective. Because this edition dates to the mid-80s, it is something of a historical document, but still very informative.
An important work in understanding the Neo-Pagan community, this book functions as a clear-eyed social history and a catalogue of the diversity among those participating in Wicca, Witchcraft, and earth-based spiritualities.
Myrrdin Greyoak
One of the first books I ever read on alternate spiritual paths, and now I've been a Wiccan for twenty two years, so I would recommend this book to anyone starting their explorations of the various Pagan paths Thank you Margot
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“The first time I called myself a 'Witch' was the most magical moment of my life.” 92 likes
“Still, his question, “If there is only one model of individuation, can there be true individuality?” 1 likes
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