Drawing Down the Moon: Witches, Druids, Goddess-Worshippers, and Other Pagans in America by Margot Adler
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
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 craft has changed a lot since it’s inception, especially here in America. Using interviews and research Margot Adler gave us an accurate picture of the Pagan movements growth. In the beginning Wicca centered around the God and Goddess and one had to be initiated into a coven in order to practice.
Once the craft moved over to the United States of America things began top change radically. The first change as marked by the Susan B. Anthony Coven founded by Z Budapest represented the feminine version of the craft which is wholly Goddess centered. This is called Dianic Wicca. In terms of participation Wicca and Paganism have become les coven centered and more festival and group oriented. There was also a movement away from tradition towards being eclectic but now that is reversing.
The book not only covers the current trends in Wicca but also covers the history of witches and how people perceive them. The most noted controversy regards the birth of the craft. Some people say that Gerald made it all up and that there were no witches stretching back to the beginning of time. Some like Margerite Murray feel that it was around. In ancient sources there are mentions of Witches working Hekate and ISIS. Practitioners like Isaac Bonewits feel that there may have been pocket of groups that worshipped the Goddess, but not certainly all of them. The medieval witches may have been a figment of the inquisitors imagination. In any case there are three types of witches. The first type of witch is the Family Traditional Witch. Many of these are non coven based and very individualistic. Their practice is not entirely pure as it has been contaminated with modern ideas. The second type is the gothic witch who model themselves after the Inquisition witch. The third is the modern Wiccan.
In terms of Wiccans there are many branches or schools. The first is obviously the Gardnerians and then the Alexandrians. But there have cropped up other types like the Algards which combine the first two. There are also Georgians and they have their own way of doing rituals. Other orders that are new creations have popped up in San Francisco like the New Order of the Reformed Golden Dawn. One of it’s founder Aidan Kelley has since moved back to Catholocism. He believes the Goddess most pof the Pagans are worshipping is actually the Virgin Mary. She has the compassion.
In addition to covering witchcraft there is also coverage of Druidic and Egyptian orders in the Pagan Sphere. Some have found their own path to the Gods like the Church of Aphrodite and Ferfaria. The Church of All Worlds was creted with inspiration from Stranger in a Strange Land.
By and large Pagan if they wish to call themselves tend to be rather well educated city dwellers who have a strong ecological bent. Many will want to use the term witch due to negative connotations while other’s wish to reclaim the word. Some believe in secrecy to avaoid trouble while others are out in the open about things.
A great book for those just getting started into paganism
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