Margot Adler was a Wiccan priestess and the author of Drawing Down the Moon: Witches, Druids, Goddess-Worshippers, and Other Pagans in America Today, first published in 1979 and revised in 1986, 1996, and 2000. She was also an NPR correspondent, and her book is a journalist’s account of the Neo-Pagan community, the breadth of which is only matched by the appeal of its style. Until Chas Clifton published Her Hidden Children in 2006, Adler’s book was really the only one of its kind on the subject. Drawing Down the Moon was published on the same day as Starhawk’s Spiral Dance. The two books are very different: where Starhawk’s book is visionary and poetic, Adler’s is factual and journalistic. But the two are often cited together as having the most influence on the development of Neo-Paganism.
Adler is the granddaughter of the psychologist, Alfred Adler, who, along with Freud and Jung, was one of the founders of depth psychology. Her writing shows these influences. Drawing Down the Moon marked a shift in Neo-Pagans’ conception of religious legitimacy, from one based on claims of historical continuity with the past to one based on Jungian psychological claims to universality:
“Much of the theoretical basis for a modern defense of polytheism comes from Jungian psychologists, who have long argued that the gods and goddesses of myth, legend and fairy tale represent archetypes, real potencies and potentialities deep within the psyche, which, when allowed to flower, permit us to be more fully human. These archetypes must be approached and ultimately reckoned with if we are to experience the riches we have repressed. Most Jungians argue that the task is to unite these potentialities into a symphonic whole.”
“The Jungian conception that images of divinity and the sacred are representative of archetypes within the Collective Unconscious has given the neo-Pagan movement a conceptual framework within which it has been possible to accommodate polytheistic religious belief.”
While it is a descriptive work, Drawing Down the Moon was also to have an important prescriptive effect on the development of Neo-Paganism for decades after its first publication.