When I first decided to learn about witchcraft and paganism, I did what most newbie witches do and bought some books. Sure, I could find a lot of information online, but there has always been something so… immersive about physical books.
I think I went a little overboard on by first occult book buying trip. I don’t remember every one I got, but I know it was at least ten books including a book of pagan rituals, tarot card reading, a witches almanac, and Margot Adler’s Drawing Down the Moon. I read a few of the books and quickly figured out that they were mostly full of misconceptions and misinformation, so they were shelved for a time and slowly made their way back to Half Price Books as I made room for new purchases.
However, every time I went through my books to decide which ones to get rid of, I could never bring myself to give away Drawing Down the Moon. I tried to read it initially, but afpter finding the first few chapters mainly focused on Wicca, I lost interest. But I still felt like it was one that I needed to eventually read, so I kept it.
Well… I finally read it!
And yes, the entire first part of the book does focus on Wicca beliefs and rituals. However, after being somewhat involved in the online pagan community for a few years, learning about Wicca was actually more interesting to me than it used to be. Adler explains the general beliefs of Wicca in great detail and goes through some of the history and founders of the different Wiccan traditions.
In the second and third parts of the book, she describes several different movements in modern Paganism and discusses their connections to each other, as well as how their founders wanted to break away from the pack by adding their own ideas and beliefs in. While Adler does discuss how several of these movements drew in a lot of criticism from the wider Pagan community, she still provides enough of an overview and resources about each to create a great starting point for anyone staking the first steps on their path.
That was probably my favorite part about this entire book: the research that evidently went into it. Adler includes over 100 pages of references, further readings, and research that she did herself to write this book. She provides a great first step for newbie witches and Pagans to learn about several different sets of beliefs and lists other resources where they can go to continue learning and delving deeper into the subjects that interest them.
Overall, I think this is a great book for anyone starting out and even for those who have been on their path for many years. Sometimes we need to go back to our beginner research to re-evaluate the beliefs we’ve developed and widen our view of the world around us.