Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Drawing Down the Moon

Drawing Down the Moon: Witches, Druids, Goddess-Worshippers and Other Pagans in America
© 1986 (revised) Margaret Adler
646 pages including appendices

A few weeks back I read a book on Wicca and found the religion itself to be interesting. Continuing in my current habit of reading in comparative religion and religious pluralism topics, I decided to look into the broader theme of Earth religions. The book is quite broad, and its first section is mainly background and explanation in which Adler focuses on what these groups have in common, where they came from, and how they are adjusting themselves to a culture that by and large rejects them -- for even though they outnumber religions like the Quakers and Unitarians s while sharing most of the same values, the terms of the nature religions have such connotations that the groups are largely marginalized, according to Adler.

The next two sections focus on the religions themselves, with Wicca getting the lion's share of the attention: it merits its own section while the rest are grouped together. The definitions used for Wicca, witch, and pagan are broader here than in Wicca for Beginners because Adler is attempting to write a general survey of these groups. Adler's epilogue is the last chapter and concentrates specifically on how pagans and similar people live within society. Because the approach is so broad, impressions are as well -- although there are some general statements that can be made. For instance, these movements are by and large urban movements, filled with people from all social classes and which see themselves primarily as life-affirming. For many, the gods are not literal: they may be Jungian archetypes, or they may be flavors of Deity. There's a lot of diversity here, but the wealth of information is generally accessible. The people interviewed explain their terms well.

The book is useful as a general reference, I think.

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