I stopped being a Christian when I was sixteen. It was a conscious decision. I was raised in the Lutheran church. My parents insisted that I go through catechism class, at which point they considered me a spiritual adult and I could make up my own mind.
Even at the time I saw a lot of good in the Christian religion. The problem was that I struggled to find a personal connection inside that religion. I wanted, more than anything, to really feel that God was part of my life. I never got that feeling from praying or worshiping in a church.
From the time I was sixteen until I was twenty two, I described myself a spiritual seeker. I read about and practiced many faiths for a time. I meditated with a Zen Buddhist group in Iowa City. I studied Taoism, Shinto, Hinduism, several New Age groups. I learned a great deal from all of them and I had a deep respect for all of them as well. But none gave me a sense of personal connection to the divine. I despaired every finding such a thing in real life.
In 1992 I was working at a summer camp for the disable just outside of Des Moines, Iowa. One weekend between sessions, I went to the public library and stumbled across Margot Adler’s Drawing Down the Moon. I read it over the course of the next week. I was struck, forcibly, by a sense that she was talking about people like me. It’s almost cliche in pagan circles, but I felt a sense of homecoming.
The next weekend after the campers and staff left (I was one of the few live in staff) I hiked deep into the back forty. I pondered and prayed over her suggestion, that the divine was originally female. I asked the mother goddess to show herself to me. A sense of presence came over me, the feeling you get when someone walks into a room only many times greater.
Over the years, the Goddess has shown herself to me many times and in many ways. But I attribute a lot of my start in paganism to that one book.
Margot Adler’s soul slipped out of it’s mortal coil yesterday. She was sixty eight and had been battling cancer for more than three years. In addition to being a pagan writer and elder, she had a long successful career as a journalist, working for NPR.
She will be missed by many. May the Goddess welcome her with open arms.