Monday, September 10, 2007

Book Review: Drawing Down the Moon (Witches, Druids, Goddess-Worshippers, and other Pagans in America Today) by Margot Adler. Beacon Press 1986.

I picked this book up in a local thrift store for $1.99, intrigued by the beautiful red and black cover design with a mysterious witch standing against the backdrop of an ocean expanse, within a circle of flames. The title of the book was equally enigmatic to me, not knowing the relevance or meaning of it within Pagan history or practice. Flicking through the pages I noticed that there was some discourse on the RDNA (Reformed Druids of North America), the ADF and Isaac Bonewitz, and I guess that this was the crucial factor in deciding to part with the best portion of two dollars in return for some practical knowledge.

Before I read this book I saw modern Pagans as crack-pots, foundationless cults, weirdo’s and overgrown hippies. I was at a stage where I could accept the slightly eccentric but practical spirituality of ‘OBOD’ and the AODA but found even the notion of polytheism beyond my understanding. My mind was absolutely closed to this book in the beginning, the 1 ½ inch’s of solid paper suggested a good door-stop and I lay it down in a corner of the room where it gathered dust for several months. Visions of naked feminist witches haunted my dreams, strangely effeminate men on LSD staring into glass globes on a wayward camping trip whispered profanities behind my back. I secretly made private jokes about people with names like ‘Ferret-Raven Wolf Prancer’ and ‘Moon-Swirler.’ !!!!

This book actually scared the hell out of me, literally. I clearly saw the book for what it was; a genuine account of modern American Paganism and this frightened me, maybe because I didn’t want to come to the realization that such a thing actually exists. I was too wrapped up in the comfort of a semi-gnostic, spiritual haven of abstract and unspecific wandering. I began reading with a heavy sigh, expecting complete penta-grammatic nonsense. After reading the three chapters of the first section; Paganism and prejudice, a religion without converts and the Pagan world-view I began to feel a sense of shame for my previously held beliefs.

This is a first hand experiential account of modern Paganism. The author didnt sit in a silent room of academia pondering the subjective and objective implications of alternative theology... she went out and got totally involved, met totally intriguing and often eccentric people, participated in rituals and 'walked the walk.' I am glad I forced myself into this, otherwise I would be a complete and utter ignoramus!

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