I was in the car this morning, on my way to work, when I heard that Margot Adler had died in her home yesterday.  She was 68, and had been battling endometrial cancer for three years.  If you don’t know who Margot Adler is, its either because you don’t listen to NPR (she was a correspondent there for some 30 years), or its because you’ve never read Drawing Down the Moon (a book which, IMO, should be required reading for Pagans in the US).

If you are an American Pagan, you should know who Margot Adler is.

I first discovered Margot Adler in the summer of 1991 at the public library.  It is thanks to Mercedes Lackey that I had heard of Wicca, but it is due to Margot Adler that I learned what it was…and so much more.  I took the book home and read it (and its not exactly light reading for a kid in junior high) from cover to cover in 3 days.  If you haven’t read Drawing Down the Moon (or DDM as it is sometimes abbreviated), you’ve missed out on a critical piece of Pagan history–part ethnography, part journalistic review in long form of the Pagan community by a journalist that is also a Pagan, Drawing Down the Moon was probably the most accessible material about Paganism as a family of religious traditions availible in a time of a nascent internet (and dial-up at that).

I checked that book out four times that summer, until I had enough babysitting money to buy my own copy.

Margot Adler was my gateway to an entirely new world, by introducing me to an entirely new outlook on the world that surrounded me.  Her words were…they were like a plow, preparing the fertile ground of one that had already made a complete rejection of Christianity, and preparing it for the seeds of inspriation that would come from other books and a lifetime of experiences.

We are not evil. We don’t harm or seduce people. We are not dangerous. We are ordinary people like you. We have families, jobs, hopes, and dreams. We are not a cult. This religion is not a joke. We are not what you think we are from looking at T.V. We are real. We laugh, we cry. We are serious. We have a sense of humor. You don’t have to be afraid of us. We don’t want to convert you. And please don’t try to convert us. Just give us the same right we give you–to live in peace. We are much more similar to you than you think.

~Margot Adler

Many in the Pagan communitites across this country (and the globe) live in places where they fear to be open about their beliefs.  When I realized that the *something* I was religiously actually existed and had a name, there was no Pagan “coming out day” and no real online communities (and offline communities were not accepting of minors or even easy to find in the first place)— the only way to learn about Pagans was to read books or hang out in AOL chatrooms (using dial-up).  The only Pagans I “knew” were a friend’s mom that was Wiccan and Margot Adler.  Margot Adler was my impetus to take the idea of being Pagan seriously. Not just to take myself seriously, but to demand (nicely, of course) that I should expect my religious beliefs to be taken seriously, regardless of how unorthodox they might seem to others.

Margot Adler is the reason that I never thought that I had to live “in the broom closet”.

To some, she’s been a voice on a beloved news outlet (whether by voice or print), to many she’s been a friend, and she’s been a wife and a mother.  I’ve never met Margot Adler, for me, she’s only been a voice in my head from one of the books that have shaped my life.

Thank you, Margot Adler.

May the Lord and the Lady bless you and keep you.

May you be reunited with your beloved husband in the Summerlands.

We are all part of the life cycle. Like a seed we are born, we sprout, we grow, we mature and decay, making room for future generations who, like seedlings, are reborn through us. As for the persistence of consciousness, deep down, I thought, ‘How can we know?’ Perhaps we simply return to the elements; we become earth and air and fire and water. That seemed all right to me.

~Margot Adler (quote source)