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

4.01  ·  Rating Details ·  5,880 Ratings  ·  175 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 liked it
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
Mar 21, 2013 Tim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pagan-related
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
Jul 04, 2007 Mikol rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 11, 2011 Tempest rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Aug 20, 2013 Kristin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, 2013, new-age
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.
Jun 03, 2015 Chris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: spritituality
An excellent look at alternative spiritual paths in contemporary America that are inspired by ancient pagan practices.
Sep 24, 2015 Kimi rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult, nonfiction, witchy
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
Chris Godwin
Jul 24, 2012 Chris Godwin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 31, 2015 Kitty Snaev rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, love-love-love, pagan
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
This kinda felt like reading an NPR episode, which is fitting because Adler was a host. Sometimes the book dragged, but there were some really intriguing parts of the book, I particularly liked Adler's reflections, and the reflections and opinions of Devlin.

I read the most recent edition of Drawing Down the Moon, and I'm glad I did, as it would have been really out dated had I read a second hand edition. This edition allows the reader to see where Adler views the craft in 2006, compared to wher
Mar 04, 2016 Stephanie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a very good book for feminist spirituality, but Adler suffers from the oft-seen problem of Wiccan dogma. You don't have to cross all the "T's" and dot all the "I's" with Paganism. The intent is the important part. Communicate with the Goddess in the manner that you feel She will understand. Always remember that you ARE the Goddess!

Adler has many good points about gathering power, though and I feel she's more than adequately outlined a good starting point, but experienced Witches know tha
Steve Cran
Sep 22, 2014 Steve Cran rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 17, 2014 Marcelle Warren rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Kelly Weisner
Mar 16, 2009 Kelly Weisner rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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!
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"!
Jun 09, 2014 Sue rated it really liked it
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
May 28, 2008 Terri rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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....
Sandra Guerfi
Dec 30, 2014 Sandra Guerfi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
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.
It took me about 5 months of on and off reading to finish this. As a piece of journalism you couldn't really fault it. The research, particularly the hands on research was excellent. The problem was simply that there was too much of it. If you're like me, ignorant of Neo-paganism and wanting to know a little more, then this book isn't for you. This book is really for the initiates who find the subject to be absolutely fascinating and can't get enough of all the details about these silly, made-up ...more
Christy Baker
It's difficult to review a book I've read off and on for years and that is so dense with information. The original impetus to read this was as requirement for the Unitarian Universalist ministerial fellowship's reading list, though it is a rich resource to keep on hand for myself. Overall, I feel I have a far greater understanding of the breadth of neo-pagan and wiccan communities and the challenges in scholarship to relate them to traditions from historical earth-centered traditions as well as ...more
Jul 20, 2016 Jade rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: spirituality
Drawing Down the Moon is an almost academic historical overview of the development, growth, and beliefs of pagan groups in the 1970s, both in the United States and the United Kingdom. Margot Adler, author, journalist and a Wiccan priestess herself, does her very best with this book to give the reader a solid overview of the many spiritual leaders, cults, practices, festivals and other interesting titbits that gave the pagan movement its second wind in the 70s.

It includes personal stories and a
Apr 07, 2016 D.M. rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've been carting this book around for something like 30 years, and only finally got around to reading it now. It wasn't really worth the wait, but still a satisfying read.
The idea seems simple enough: Adler has decided to put together a book exploring the then-new (in the 70s) burgeoning 'neo-pagan' scene. Simple enough, but unfortunately she found that the 'scene' lacked focus as much as its members; this shows in the book, as well, which loses its focus about halfway through. She starts stron
Erik Akre
Aug 04, 2016 Erik Akre rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: any and all pagan practitioners, or anyone interested in paganism
This book is packed, in its entirety, with fascinating and illuminating stories and investigations. It is an amazing, thorough exploration of pagan practices. It should be read by all and any person who has an interest or practice in paganism. A Must Read. Even apart from the information, research, and brilliant journalism, the book is extremely well-written. Adler writes so smoothly, her prose so engaging, that the book flows and flows through its stories and information. I might even say that ...more
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"
Aug 19, 2007 Rebecca rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mythology
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
Jun 02, 2011 Aaron Meyer rated it liked it
Shelves: occult
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 it was amazing  ·  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
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“The first time I called myself a 'Witch' was the most magical moment of my life.” 118 likes
“If you are a woman and dare to look within yourself, you are a Witch. You make your own rules. You are free and beautiful. You” 2 likes
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