My undergraduate degree is in journalism. I’d like to say that I studied journalism because I was inspired by Margot Adler, but that wouldn't be true. I studied journalism because I grew up watching way too many movies that had intrepid war-correspondent-journalists as side characters, and I also wanted to be April O’Neil from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
But my explorations in Paganism came at the same time I was exploring journalism, and I remember this time fondly. I remember sitting beneath a tree after class, trying the exercises from The Spiral Dance by Starhawk. I remember sitting in my Principles of Journalism class with my brand-new tote-bag featuring a lovely spiral Goddess, and I’ll never forget the confusion of my well-meaning classmates asking me “is that a chili pepper?” I remember sitting in the library drawing spirals around the words “I am a witch. I am a witch. I am a witch” because I read somewhere that if you wrote these words or said them three times, then they was true. After doing this, I remember praying to Odin and Gunlod for inspiration, words, and strength as I walked over to the student newspaper offices to write my first article for the college campus. I told him that if he could help me get through my anxiety that I’d write to honor Him and other Gods and Goddesses, and these prayers to Odin for inspiration, words, and strength are ones that have never left me and this is the same prayer and promise that I offer to this day.
So as a Pagan and a professional, I’ve always deeply respected Margot Adler. Wasn't it so cool that she was a Pagan and a Journalist at the same time? Being a journalist-Witch in West Texas wasn’t very easy, and even though the city paper never ran my story on local Paganism and my classmates thought I just really liked chili-peppers, I managed to survive. If Margot Adler could survive this world, so could I.
Drawing Down the Moon is a book that is commonly referenced in other Pagan books, and the Pagan book club I’m part of picked it up a few years ago when we decided to read all of those Pagan books that are referenced in other Pagan books. Clearly it’s an important title if everyone has read it and references it. Upon finding out that this prolific Pagan writer was also an NPR correspondent, I was in awe. Though my background is in print journalism, not broadcast, I still have a deep love and appreciation for NPR. NPR correspondents in my mind are all cool, hip professionals out there in the trenches getting all the best scoops and presenting them from all of the important angles. I’ve always been deeply impressed with Margot Adler’s professionalism. I feel like so many Big Name Pagans look like bone fide nutjobs to the rest of the world, but not Margot Adler. She was a professional. She worked for NPR. She wrote a book. Woah.
I just loved hearing her stories on the radio. I’d think “she’s like me! She’s a journalist… and a witch!” And I’m not sure if it was her intention, but in my mind she was a real role model, an example that yes, Pagans are just regular people. Yes, we have jobs and we have hobbies and we have pretty normal lives. (Well, pretty normal lives that can also be fantastically beautiful and magically spectacular!) But she didn't own an occult shop or try to run a church or a temple and she didn't make money doing tarot card readings or selling fancy oils or herbs. She was a journalist.
When I got word that Margot Adler had passed, I was deeply devastated. Just a few weeks before, one of my study groups had talked about the recent deaths of so many beloved Pagan elders and vanguards. Margot Adler was someone who I loved and respected very much, so I took a moment to light a candle, offer a prayer, and to cry.
This blog post is just a tiny, insignificant gesture when compared to the impact and power of Margot Adler's work over the years, both as a Pagan and as a journalist. So many people have shared loving memorials and memories, and this little post isn't going to do her any justice. But I can continue to try and live my life as she did – as a proud Pagan, as a talented writer, and as a professional.
Endless blessings to you, Margot Adler, and may your memory continue to inspire in this life and in the next.
Thank you, shining lady. )O(
This is an email shared from one of Margot’s NPR colleagues, Ken Barcus:
Many of you have asked about ways to honor Margot’s memory. After discussions with a few of her closest friends, it’s been decided that collecting donations toward buying a memorial bench in her name in Central Park is the best plan. It’s something she spoke of in her final days. As you know, she lived on the edge of the park nearly her entire life and walked through it daily. She bought a bench for her husband John, when he passed away, and one for her mother years earlier. Both are situated in the park, close to her condo. The cost of doing this through the Central Park Conservancy is $7,000. If we raise more than that, the excess will be put toward planting a tree in Central Park in her name. If anyone wants to donate toward this, I’ll be collecting the money and then forwarding it to the conservancy. Checks should be made out to: Margot Adler Memorial Fund and mailed to this address:
Ken Barcus NPR
3109 Mayfield Rd. #207
Cleveland Heights, Ohio 44118
3109 Mayfield Rd. #207
Cleveland Heights, Ohio 44118
Margot traveled in so many different circles, that I’m sure I’ve left many people off this email who would like to know about this effort. Please feel free to forward along this note to them.
Thanks - Ken