Tonight’s review is for an older book, but one that is arguably one of the more influential books in the Pagan bibliography.


Drawing Down the Moon, by Margot Adler has probably had more impact on the understanding of modern Paganism than has any other to date. When I look at a book, and try to understand who the author is, what they really know, how much they’ve studied in writing about a particular topic, the first place I look to is their bibliography. If the book is about modern Paganism, and it was written within the past 20 years, and it has a bibliography, it almost undoubtedly has Drawing Down the Moon as an entry.


The reason for this is quite simply that Margot Adler has constructed what is without a doubt the most well-researched and extensive modern history of Neo-Pagans in America. She managed to meet and interview the leaders of the Neo-Pagan community as it was being built. From Gwydion Pendderwen to Gavin and Yvonne Frost, to almost anyone you would have liked to speak to in person, Margot managed to interview for this book. While there are some notable exceptions such as Scott Cunningham, almost all the major players are represented in this single volume. And while Scott isn’t spoken about in the text of the book, he is listed with his books “Wicca, a Guide for the Solitary Practitioner” and “Living Wicca” in one of the appendixes.


Truthfully though, had this book been much more exhaustive it would have been unassailable as anything other than an academic reference work. The 1986 edition, from cover to cover is over 580 pages, and it’s not light reading. Also, at the writing of the first edition, writers such as Cunningham, Grimassi and others were not well-known, so their absence can be forgiven.


For those of you who think the name Margot Adler is just a bit familiar, think National Public Radio. She has been a correspondent for NPR for quite a few years. Until June of this year, she hosted the weekly program “Justice today”, and can be heard frequently on such programs as Morning Edition, Weekend Edition and All Things Considered.


Ultimately, this is perhaps the only single resource to which one can go to find an exhaustive study of the early Neo-Pagan movement in the United States. From its origin with Gerald Gardner and Aleister Crowley, through the first legal Neo-Pagan churches in the United States, along with the most colorful and influential personalities through the 1970’s and 1980’s, this is the single, most comprehensive contemporary history in existence.


If there is any single book that belongs on every neo-pagan’s bookshelf, this is the one. Even if it’s not read from cover-to-cover, which admittedly is somewhat of a commitment, it is an essential reference, and one which I don’t think will ever be out-dated.


ISBN-13: 9780140195361

It’s out of stock at some places, but still available at