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

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  7,232 ratings  ·  261 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 fin
Paperback, 672 pages
Published October 3rd 2006 by Penguin Books (first published 1979)
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Valerie These days, the idea of 'witchcraft' is trendy and increasingly dumbed-down/simplified/commodified: "buy this crystal!" or "cast a circle!" with no ex…moreThese days, the idea of 'witchcraft' is trendy and increasingly dumbed-down/simplified/commodified: "buy this crystal!" or "cast a circle!" with no explanation for why these authors speak so authoritatively about 'the way.' So for a reader like me, Drawing Down the Moon is appealing based on its description alone: a "detailed history of the burgeoning but still widely misunderstood Neo-Pagan subculture." And this deep-dive approach won't be everyone's cup of tea! I find it refreshing that Drawing Down the Moon establishes a very clear and researched foundation for understanding the worldview, modern history and many manifestations of paganism - basically, it could be the textbook for your college course on "Witch 101." "Cold and critical/distant" are not words I would use to describe what I see as an academic tone and approach, but agree that it is unlike most books about paganism and witchcraft for that very reason.(less)

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 ·  7,232 ratings  ·  261 reviews

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May 02, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  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
Heidi The Reader
Margot Adler talks to adherents in different traditions all across the United States, and a few in Europe, in order to banish some of the mystery and misconceptions surrounding neo-pagan groups.

"Since Pagans are a very diverse group, it is wrong to say all Pagans believe this or that, but here are some beliefs that many people in this book share: The world is holy. Nature is holy. The body is holy. Sexuality is holy. The imagination is holy. Divinity is immanent in nature; it is within you as we
Mar 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Cathy Douglas
Jun 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 11, 2011 rated it really liked it
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.
Mar 20, 2008 rated it really liked it
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....
Steve Cran
Sep 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Gabriel Clarke
Nov 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is the 2006 revision of a book I first read in 1984. It's a book that stayed with me in the back of my head through thirty odd years of spiritual dabbling and wandering and, given where I am now, has an additional fascination.
What strikes me most is how the tone of the book feels so much more personal than it did when I was 22. It's not an academic tome (though the research is thorough, the biases are clearly and reflexively pointed out and Adler goes to great trouble to present alternativ
Jun 28, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
May 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Collin Powell
May 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Adler's "Drawing Down the Moon" is a fantastic anthropological overview of Neo-pagan religions in the United States since the 1970s. Written in a very engaging and approachable fashion, the prose is simple yet sufficient. Adler is able to remain objective whilst analyzing various aspects of the Craft and other pagan traditions despite being involved with them herself. She also frequently acknowledges where the study, conclusions, or data may be lacking finesse. Overall, a monumental piece of wor ...more
Kerr Cuhulain
Jan 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Great resource on the history of modern Wicca.
Jun 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: spritituality
An excellent look at alternative spiritual paths in contemporary America that are inspired by ancient pagan practices.
Leo Walsh
Jun 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
DRAWING DOWN THE MOON by Margot Adler is good survey of the contemporary American neo-Pagan movement. Unlike much that sprang from the 60s and 70s (they did a lot of dope and acid back then), the movement is chaotic, creative and often playful. The core tenants are pretty straight forward. Honor nature, since neo-Paganism is an earth-based religion. Do no harm to others, but other than that, you're free to enjoy life. Etc.

Like a good survey book, it introduces a ton of pagan traditions. There's
Rachael Quinn
Feb 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
When I started looking at Wicca again, this book came up in list after list.  It was on lists for beginners and it was on lists for "people looking to get back into paganism."  When I started reading about Wicca and the occult way back in 1998 it was on all of the lists and that was before it got an updating.  I bought the book and it sat on my coffee table through a pregnancy AND a maternity leave and then it was moved to my bookshelf.  It just looked so big and I always have so many books to r ...more
Kashka W. R.
Feb 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Although starting the discourse from America (as the title suggests), Margot Adler offers a wide perspective that comes from various cultures around the world that ultimately reached and affected American Pagans. I didn't think about it and was gladly surprised, although it's something you should expect, since America's various ethnicity itself. Then, I personally think that "Drawing Down The Moon" is a book of interest to everyone studying the subject (as a practitioner or anthropologically or ...more
Sep 28, 2018 rated it liked it
A relatively casual participant-observer investigation into neo-paganism and new age spirituality in the Western world. First written in the late 1970s, republished twice with updates. I read the 2006 updated version.

I think it was very helpful in understanding how neo-pagans and Wiccans conceptualized themselves, their spiritualities and histories at the times this book was written and updated. Very good insights on this front.

But I think that is perhaps where the usefulness ends, as I think
Edric Unsane
Jun 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: pagan, occult
A very meaningful and heartfelt deep-dive into the history of the many branches of paganism in America.

What I liked:
The layout of the book flowed really well.
Contained diverse experiences and perspectives.
Covered the history of the beginnings of the Craft, and did so well.
Both the author and those interviewed were fascinating and relatable.

What I wasn't a fan of:
I wasn't a fan of the overall length of the book (it's a big one).
The book was written like research, and may not be suited for everyon
Deanna MacDonald
Jul 15, 2019 rated it it was ok
Interesting and I learned a lot, but gets very repetitive and seems to throw a lot of bits of information around without drawing any comparions or conclusions. Could use a heavy editing hand. 2.75 stars if I could give it that
Feb 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
I didn't understand neo-pagan religions at all. Very interesting.
Mar 06, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Somewhat dated even in the latest edition, but a thoughtfully researched and sympathetic commentary on the history of the Neo-Pagan movement in the United States.
Vicky P
Absolutely excellent piece of journalism/biography/modern history/bias-acknowledging badassery in writing. I highly recommend this book.
Apr 13, 2016 rated it liked it
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
Chris Godwin
Feb 10, 2012 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’
Nov 29, 2018 rated it did not like it
Another one that did not live up to the write up that got me interested in it in the first place. While the content is about the growing movement of Witches, Druids, Pagans and Goddess worshipers in modern society it really is hard to follow. It seems more a collection of chapters that are always falling back to snippets of interviews with one person or another or critique of someone else's book. Every chapter became just more snippets of interviews so I found it a bit incoherent. I was often as ...more
Feb 24, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: witchy, adult, nonfiction
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
Zaida Fernández
Apr 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Maybe not the best book if you are completely new to the Wicca, Pagan movement. Although a thorough investigation into the world of Pagans in America, the book can be hard to read and hard to keep up with. Although, as the book states in many cases, it may simply be that the movement is really hard to clarify, with tons of different branches, rituals, beliefs and rules.

Having said this, the book is definitely worth reading if you want to get an idea of what’s out there, or at least where it sta
Jul 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Isobelle Fox
This is a wonderful book. I learned a great deal that I did not know about Wicca and other Pagan traditions in America. The writing was inspired, the reading was easy, and the whole was a joy.

It was truly amazing to follow the development of this spiritual and religious movement through its many phases, to see so many different sides of it and the people who live it and give it life. There is much here for pondering, and though the revised edition was published in 1987, the issues and ideas rais
Jul 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book should be mandatory when starting on this Pagan path! I had the honor of meeting Margot a few weeks before her death and I didn't know who she was at the time. She was a wonderful, insightful and magical woman though and I immediately went out and got this book. She goes through many of her personal choices and her history with nature based religion. However, the information doesn't end there! She really details the different branches of this religion and has an entire section of resou ...more
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Book Witches: * ***OCTOBER 2018*** "Drawing Down the Moon" by Margot Adler 24 27 Oct 21, 2018 02:10PM  

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Margot Adler was an American author, journalist, lecturer, Wiccan priestess and radio journalist and New York correspondent for National Public Radio (NPR).

Born in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1946, Adler grew up mostly in New York City. Her grandfather, Alfred Adler, was a noted Austrian Jewish psychotherapist, collaborator with Sigmund Freud and the founder of the school of individual psychology.


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