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

4.0 of 5 stars 4.00  ·  rating details  ·  4,816 ratings  ·  134 reviews
Now fully revised-the classic study of Neo-Paganism

Almost thirty years since its original publication, Drawing Down the Moon continues to be the only detailed history of the burgeoning but still widely misunderstood Neo- Pagan subculture. Margot Adler attended ritual gatherings and interviewed a diverse, colorful gallery of people across the United States, people who find...more
Paperback, 672 pages
Published October 3rd 2006 by Penguin Books (first published 1979)
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Drawing Down the Moon by Margot AdlerWicca by Scott CunninghamThe Spiral Dance by StarhawkThe Triumph of the Moon by Ronald HuttonA Witches' Bible by Janet Farrar
Best Pagan Non Fiction Reads
1st out of 134 books — 139 voters
Wicca by Scott CunninghamThe Spiral Dance by StarhawkDrawing Down the Moon by Margot AdlerDemons of the Flesh by Nikolas SchreckThe Triumph of the Moon by Ronald Hutton
The Best Pagan Books
3rd out of 199 books — 124 voters

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May 02, 2008 Eli rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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...more
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.
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’...more
Julie Sondra 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
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!
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....
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.
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"...more
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
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...more
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.
Jun 30, 2008 Barrett rated it 4 of 5 stars
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...more
This is high on the list of many bibliographies and recommended book lists from pagan authors for a reason. It provides a sociological study of practicing pagans that many people new to paganism (especially those that are solitary) can't get elsewhere. In doing so, it provides any seekers a much needed critical thinking support for future reading and practice. Even if it's now dated, it keys you in to how faceted neo-paganism was, let alone what it is today. This is a great first book for anyone...more
Janie Hepler
I'd like to see an updated version with an expanded section on cultural appropriation.
Plant Girl
I just started reading this and have been learning a lot, especially about how Pagans in America view polytheism, pantheism and animism. Very interesting. I'm glad I picked this one up!

UPDATE: Finally finished, although I skipped a few chapters I wasn't interested in. It was a great read. It seems that Adler thoroughly researched the Neo-pagan movement in the U.S. I like that she actually got involved with covens and attended rituals as a participant. It of course is rather dated by now, but sti...more
Denise M
An enlightening introduction (even though it's a brick-sized book) to the Neo-Pagan movement in the US since the last 40 years or so. If you're curious about any of that, start with the internet for short reads, and if you;'re really interested, pick up this book. It's fascinating. I became aware of this book via university courses on religion. My approach to studying religious history/culture is multi-cultural/comparative. If your mind is open, you will likely enjoy this book.
It took me a long time to finish with this book, primarily because it is very dense reading. It provides an excellent history and overview of the many forms paganism can take. I found it to be very helpful in distinguishing the nuances and history of Wicca in particular. The updated sections were OK, however it was the original material that was most helpful. I'd recommend this book to anyone wishing a better understanding of these spiritual alternatives.
The definitive text tracing the history of North American neo-pagan and witchcraft movements. A particular strength of this book is how it illustrates the diversity of individuals and groups within the magical subculture. An essential read for American witches and pagans.
This book is still a wonderful classic despite its inaccuracies and Adler's confession that some of her research data was inflated. The main themes of the book, how pagan religion works, who practices it, and how they synthesize their lives still remain relevant. If someone was looking for a first time Wiccan/Pagan book, I would probably reccomend Ronald Hutton's "Triumph of the Moon" over this, however it is still a valuable and prominant Pagan text.
Matty B
Nov 18, 2008 Matty B rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people who feel like punk is like a religion
What stands out to me about this book is less the sociological approach to describing a movement than the over all theme of mischievious grandma's passing down rituals in and "superstitions" in household contexts. These grandma's teach ancient unwritten recipes and sustain pagan holidays through domestic traditions and understated utterances just like my grandma served homemade italian food and taught me to shoplift. Long Live The Grandma.
Oct 26, 2012 Natiaz rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people of all ages & all gender sorts
After reading this book, you'd definitely have a different view on how to literally go build relationships and treat people. You'd be less prejudiced, and a lot of times, feeling guilty of such "crimes" that you have "immorally" done. It's up to you then to translate these words. But for me, I know now that I should change to keep the world balanced. My world balanced, first and foremost to keep everything on the "right" rhythm. Love this book!
This one took me a while to get through. Mainly because my copy is badly edited, another being I'm not really feeling the writing style. BUT, if you can get through it, there is some really interesting stuff in here, and I did learn a lot from this book about Pagan religions. Which is quite impressive since I had already studied a lot of it for a couple years before I read this. I did like it, it was good, but hard to get through.
Ok overview of paganism in American although pretty boring and meant for people already in the scene. I was expecting some kind of journalistic interview thing, but its more of wondering, scholarly essay on the history and current status of different occult movements. She kept saying "When I wrote this book 20 years ago..." which got annoying, but understandable because I read the 5th or 6th edition or whatever.
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