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Margot Adler is Dead

And all I could do was pick elderberries.

Like most of the Pagan community, I knew Margot was ill, had been ill for a while. And now she is dead, gone to Tir Nan Og, passed into the West. She was best known, I suppose, for her terribly important book "Drawing Down the Moon," and for her love of vampires and for her smart reporting from NY on NPR.

I made a memorial candle and took it to our Beloved Crone Antiga's house tonight and we talked about Margot and watched the candle burn and celebrated her brightness.

So, I'm moping about a bit, but remembering, too.  I've decided to tell you the tale of the last time I saw Margot.

It was the Association for the Study of Women and Mythology a few years ago.  The conference was in the Poconos and I had submitted a paper for consideration.  It was accepted and Beloved Crone Antiga decided she'd best come along.

Antiga has been around in the women's and Goddess movement for many, many years. She's old now--hence Crone--and she has some physical limitations, including low vision and slightly wonky mobility.  We drove to the Poconos over a couple of days and settled in a little rustic room, off the dining room.

The conference was filled with notables--our friend Pat Monaghan was one of the creators--and I was nervous about the paper but excited to have been asked to create a Brigid healing altar in one of the conference buildings.

Was it the second day or the last?  I can't remember that but I do remember it was a bright and early morning. I woke and looked across to the other narrow bed in our rustic room and there was no Beloved Crone in evidence. Hmmm...bathroom? dining room?  was she okay? 

As these thoughts wandered through my head, I 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.

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H. Byron Ballard is a ritualist, teacher, speaker and writer. She has taught at Sacred Space Conference, Pagan Unity Festival, Southeast Her essays are featured in several anthologies, including “Birthed from Scorched Hearts“ (Fulcrum Press), “Christmas Presence“ (Catawba Press), “Women’s Voices in Magic” (Megalithica Books), “Into the Great Below” and “Skalded Apples” (both from Asphodel Press.) Her book Staubs and Ditchwater: an Introduction to Hillfolks Hoodoo (Silver Rings Press) debuted in June 2012. Byron is currently at work on Earth Works: Eight Ceremonies for a Changing Planet. Contact her at,


  • Carol P. Christ
    Carol P. Christ Tuesday, 29 July 2014

    Thanks for this post. She will be missed, but her spirit will live on in the communities she inspired.

  • Kate Laity
    Kate Laity Tuesday, 29 July 2014

    Beautiful words, my friend.

  • Byron Ballard
    Byron Ballard Tuesday, 29 July 2014

    Thanks to you both.

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