On July 28, 2014, Cherry Hill Seminary lost Board of Advisors member Margot Adler, and the entire world lost a rare individual. Following are comments by our students and faculty in response to Margot’s passing.
I first met Margot when she got in touch with me years ago asking about the words to a Pagan chant. Over the years we had wonderful email conversations about Pagan music and liturgy, so when we greeted each other for the first time one year at Pantheacon, it was like meeting an old friend. I confided to her that all day long I had been seeing Alison Harlow walking the halls (Alison had died a year or two before). Margot said she had seen her too, and showed me a necklace she was wearing, a special gift to her from Alison. We were both moved to tears at how the Beloved Dead continue to weave through our gatherings long after they are gone. I am sure I will see Margot again many times, in this same fashion. But right now all I am feeling is the enormous loss of her passage. What is remembered, lives.
Anne Hill, D.Min.
Sometime around 2000, both the late Judy Harrow and I both became involved with the incipient Cherry Hill Seminary, thanks to the machinations of Cat Chapin-Bishop. Margot was Judy’s Gardnerian teacher/initiator/elevator. In addition to being a well-respected and –loved Witch in the Northeast and beyond, Judy was also Craft mother to another of the founders of CHS, Laura Wildman-Hanlon, So I’m assuming, although if I knew at the time I don’t recall now, that that is the route by which Margot came to support the seminary. However, it happened, Margot has been a consistent voice in support of CHS. For the past several years she has served on the Board of Advisors, where I’m currently proud and honored to serve with her. [Ed. note: yes, Judy invited Margot to serve on the Board of Advisors.]
Aline O’Brien (M. Macha NightMare), Chair, Board of Advisors
I never had the pleasure of meeting Margot personally, but I had several conversations and email exchanges with her while she was updating her seminal Drawing Down the Moon, and about Wiccan/Pagan/Military issues over the years. I was interviewed by her for NPR during the height of the Barr Wars in ’99. Her contributions to the pagan community and to the greater community as well are incalculable. She will be sorely missed.
David L. Oringderff, Ph.D., Chair, Department of Pastoral Counseling and Chaplaincy
I met Margot when she was first considering doing research for Drawing Down the Moon, and as most know, the result of that book had profound benefits for our community. Over the years our paths crossed many times. I was interviewed by her years ago on the history of the Craft and later did a segment with her on NPR’s Justice Talking on Paganism in Prison. We had many great conversations and many many laughs over the years. She was an amazing woman with many talents and will remain an icon in Pagan history for generations to come. I will miss her!
My personal relationship with Margot goes back to 1996, in Boulder, CO, at the Conference on World Affairs, at which she was a regular and much loved speaker. We discovered our shared spiritual heritage, history and relationships in New York City. Despite her enormous fame and pace of life, Margot always answered emails graciously and shared of herself. I had a brief, but moving visit with Margot once more this spring. She was as warm, kind, funny and wise as ever, amazingly energetic and focused, despite the grueling schedule she’d been keeping amidst her illness. The breadth, historical importance and scope of her work were equaled by her vibrant, aware and compassionate nature. A gaping hole has been opened in the world and in so many hearts at her premature passing.
Francesca C. Howell, Ph.D., M.Phil.
I met Margot at a May Day gathering in New York in the early 90s. It was an honor to be in sacred space with her, and I recall feeling a little star struck. As a young priestess in the community, her work had been an inspiration and reminder of the history, power and presence of others committed to a life-affirming path. I will always cherish that day and her everlasting contribution to my life and work.
Chandra Alexandre, Ph.D.
Margot Adler will be missed and she will be remembered. About a decade ago, I was hanging out with her at a festival and sheepishly asked if she would sign one of her books. When I pulled out a tattered, old (1st edition) copy of Drawing Down the Moon (handed down to me by my Priestess mother who had recently passed) she got all excited, exclaiming, “I haven’t seen one that old in awhile!” We ended up talking for quite some time and she was fascinated to hear my story of growing up in an out Pagan family in Wisconsin in the 1980s, and if I ever write my personal autobiography it will have begun in that conversation.
Alison Beyer (Artemis Namaste)
My teen students were tasked with asking a panel at Brushwood Folklore Center questions regarding the direction of our religious and spiritual future. Margot sat on that panel and treated my young students with respect and love, giving them answers that would help them forge their own paths. I thank her for her frank and thoughtful advice.
Margo Wolfe, Ph.D.
The magical thing about Margot is that every person that she spoke with got her full attention, her full self, and she let you know that she valued those interactions. I only had a few “real” conversations with her, but she had a major impact on my life, as a role model for how to hold my ground in a challenging world. One afternoon she taught me an invaluable life lesson that I hope I never forget- life can be ridiculous and you shouldn’t take it so seriously all the time, but when something serious needs to be done, don’t let anything stop you. I will think of her every time I see a hula hoop, and her life will continue to resonate for me as an example of powerful aging and womanhood.
Tracy Wharton, Ph.D.
I never met Margot Adler, but “Drawing Down the Moon” opened a new and wonderful world for me. She helped spark the growth of Paganism into what it is today. I also remember many times listening to her warm and humane voice on the radio, as she infused her caring and passion into her reporting for NPR.
I was once interviewed by our local NPR station on Paganism and Wicca, and Margot was my “co-panelist” streamed in from NYC. She was so lovely and kind to me! I enjoyed talking and listening to her immensely.
Candace Kant, Dean of Students
Margot Adler gave me very solid ideas and situations on how to crack the curtains of the media. She also very, very, very helpful in helping me become a better Witch. We met in 2012, and in two short years, I learned a lot from her.
[At a conference] I woke and . . realized there was singing coming from the other room. I rose, padded out in my sleep clothes and bare feet and followed the bright voices. Sitting at one of the tables was Beloved Crone Antiga–and Margot Adler. They were sharing songs–sometimes singing together, sometimes asking–do you know this one? and teaching a perfect song. Other women soon gathered around and we sang and laughed for a long time. And it was very good. I sit here now thinking of those who have gone before, women who were at that conference–Pat Monaghan, Diane Wolkstein, and now Margot. It seems to me, tonight, sitting here with storm clouds gathering in the north, that the world is a little dimmer for their absence. I haven’t even been able to add her name to the Samhain list. Not yet. Too soon. But that singing…I hear it still.
Margot’s book “Drawing Down the Moon” was the second Pagan book I read and set me on a path of spiritual discovery. When I actually met her in person at Florida Pagan Gathering one year, I was thrilled. She sat around the fire, drank, and sang with us. Later at Pantheacon, I talked to her about her vampire interest and Gypsey Teague’s vampire book. She was excited to find out about my spouse’s book and downloaded it to read while she was traveling. I was quite surprised to find out that she had mentioned Gypsey’s book in her book. She was a down-to-earth person who personified the good and friendliness in people. I was quite saddended to hear of her death.
Marla K. Roberson
The world received very sad news about the death of Margot Adler today, July 28, 2014. We are all in shock and mourning to hear of her passing. Her seminal book, “Drawing Down the Moon,” arrived on the Pagan scene back in the 1970’s, with updates made to it over the following decades. Her documentation of the early pagan scene is still a fascinating and amazingly useful book for anyone who wants to understand where we came from and how we got to be where we are today. It is still a primary resource for members of ADF who are pursuing the ADF Dedicant Path. I only had the privilege of meeting Ms. Adler once, when we served together on a panel at the Sirius Rising Festival at Brushwood Folklore Center in New York State a couple of years ago. Her energy was enormous, as was her presence. She had the ability to see right to the core of an issue, and was obviously a prodigious intellect. With her death, modern paganism has lost a strong, passionate, and intelligent advocate and chronicler. She will be greatly missed.
Kirk Thomas, Archdruid, ADF
“Drawing Down the Moon” was the first book I knew of that wrote about ‘us Earth-worshipping hippies’ in a tone acknowledging our legitimacy. Decades later it is still the most comprehensive survey of modern Paganism available, even though it leaves out some traditions that should be included. Margot herself trained or helped train several of the important people in my personal journey. I never knew her well, in person, but her work, her writings, her friendships continue to have an impact on my life and my spiritual practice.
Maggie Beaumont, former Dean of Students
Neither our Pagan world nor public radio will ever be quite the same. Blessings on your new journey, Margot.
Holli Emore, Executive Director