Anniversary of the publication of The Spiral Dance and Drawing Down the Moon

On October 31, 1979, two books were published which defined the course of the development of Neo-Paganism for the next 20 years, The Spiral Dance: A Rebirth of the Ancient Religion of the Goddess by Starhawk and Drawing Down the Moon: Witches, Druids, Goddess-Worshippers and other Pagans in America by Margot Adler.

Starhawk (1951-present) is an eco-feminist, activist, Neopagan witch, and author.  Her book, The Spiral Dance, is the most widely read introduction to Neo-Paganism and has sold over 300,000 copies.  Starhawk was initiated in multiple Pagan traditions, which was not uncommon in the West Coat Neo-Pagan community of the 1970s.  In the book, she brought together Robert Graves’ mythology, with eco-feminism, Jungian psychology, and Neopagan witchcraft.  Neopaganism had been around for a decade before The Spiral Dance, but the book brought together many of its disparate influences and helped to define the course of Neopaganism for the next two decades.

Margot Adler (1946-present) is a Wiccan priestess, author, and NPR correspondent.  Adler is also the granddaughter of Alfred Adler, who together with Jung and Freud, founded the psychoanalytical movement, and she draws on Jungian theory to defend Neo-Paganism in Drawing Down the Moon.  The book is a journalist’s account of the Neo-Pagan community in the late 1970s.  Adler herself became converted to Paganism in the process of researching the book.  The breadth of the work is matched only by the appeal of its journalistic style.  The book has gone through several revisions in 1986, 1996, and 2006.  Until Chas Clifton published Her Hidden Children in 2006, Drawing Down the Moon was really the only book on the subject.  The book, while ostensibly descriptive, also came to have an important prescriptive effect on the development of contemporary Paganism.  Together with Starhawk’s work, Adler’s book marked a shift in Neo-Pagan claims to authenticity away from claims of historical continuity with the past to one based on Jungian claims to psychological universality.

Adler’s book was published on same day as Starhawk’s The Spiral Dance, October 31, 1979.  The two books are very different: where Starhawk’s book is visionary and poetic, Alder’s is factual and analytic.  However, the two books are often cited together as the two books having the most influence on the growth of contemporary Neo-Paganism.

2 Comments on “Anniversary of the publication of The Spiral Dance and Drawing Down the Moon

  1. Pingback: What to look forward to in October at HP | Humanistic Paganism

  2. Pingback: PBP 2014: “C” Is For Critical Thinking | Experiential Pagan


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