The New Age Movement

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The New Age Movement

We are often asked what does the term New Age mean so we have included this information from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

New Age spirituality often incorporates aspects of the Earth, Moon, and outer space; the term New Age refers to the coming Astrological Age of Aquarius.

The New Age (also known as the New Age Movement, New Age spirituality, and Cosmic Humanism) is a decentralized Western social and spiritual movement that seeks “Universal Truth” and the attainment of the highest individual human potential. It includes aspects of cosmology, astrology, esotericism, alternative medicine, music, collectivism, sustainability, and nature. New Age spirituality is characterized by an individual approach to spiritual practices and philosophies, and the rejection of religious doctrine and dogma.

The New Age Movement includes elements of older spiritual and religious traditions ranging from atheism and monotheism through classical pantheism, naturalistic pantheism, and panentheism to polytheism combined with science and Gaia philosophy: particularly archaeoastronomy, astronomy, ecology, environmentalism, the Gaia hypothesis, psychology, and physics. New Age practices and philosophies sometimes draw inspiration from major world religions: Buddhism, Chinese folk religion, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism; with particularly strong influences from East Asian religions, Gnosticism, Neopaganism, New Thought, Spiritualism, Theosophy, Universalism, and Western esotericism. Additional terms for the movement include All is One and Mind-Body-Spirit.

The modern New Age Movement emerged in a distinct form in the late 1960s and early 1970s, although its roots can be traced back to the 19th and early 20th centuries. It gained momentum in the 1980s and strengthened with the Harmonic Convergence event in 1987. Diverse individuals from around the world practice New Age spirituality.

The term New Age was used as early as 1809 by William Blake who described a belief in a spiritual and artistic “New Age” in his preface to Milton: a Poem. The Freemasonry journal of the 1800s was titled The New Age.

Some of the New Age Movement’s constituent elements appeared initially in 19th century metaphysical movements: Spiritualism, Theosophy, and New Thought; also, alternative medicine movements chiropractic and naturopathy. These movements in turn have roots in Transcendentalism, Mesmerism, Swedenborgianism, and various earlier Western esoteric or occult traditions, such as the hermetic arts of astrology, magic, alchemy, and Kabbalah. The term New Age was used in this context in Madame Blavatsky’s book The Secret Doctrine, published in 1888.

A weekly journal of Christian liberalism and socialism titled The New Age was published as early as 1894; it was sold to a group of socialist writers headed by Alfred Richard Orage and Holbrook Jackson in 1907. Other historical personalities were involved: H. G. Wells, George Bernard Shaw, and William Butler Yeats; the magazine became a forum for politics, literature, and the arts. Between 1908 and 1914, it was instrumental in pioneering the British avant-garde from vorticism to imagism. After 1914, publisher Orage met P. D. Ouspensky, a follower of G. I. Gurdjieff, and began correspondence with Harry Houdini, becoming less interested in literature and art, with an increased focus on mysticism and other spiritual topics; the magazine was sold in 1921. According to Brown University, The New Age “… helped to shape modernism in literature and the arts from 1907 to 1922.”

Popularisation behind these ideas has roots in the work of early 20th century writers such as D. H. Lawrence and William Butler Yeats. In the early to middle 1900s, American mystic, theologian, and founder of the Association for Research and Enlightenment Edgar Cayce was a seminal influence on what later would be termed the New Age Movement; he was known in particular for the practice some refer to as channeling. Former Theosophist Rudolf Steiner and his Anthroposophical Movement are a major influence. Neo-Theosophist Alice Bailey published the book Discipleship in the New Age (1944), which used the term New Age in reference to the transition from the Astrological Age of Pisces to Aquarius. While claims of racial bias in the writings of Rudolf Steiner and Alice Bailey were made, Steiner emphasized racial equality as a principle central to anthroposophical thought and humanity’s progress.Any racial elements from these influences have not remained part of the Anthroposophical Society as contemporary adherents of the society have either not adopted or repudiated these beliefs. Another early usage of the term, was by the American artist, mystic, and philosopher Walter Russell, who spoke of “… this New Age philosophy of the spiritual re-awakening of man …” in his essay “Power Through Knowledge”, which was also published in 1944.

Carl Gustav Jung was an early articulator of the concept of the Age of Aquarius. In a letter to H. G. Baynes, dated 12 August 1940, he wrote in a passage concerning the destruction of the temple of Karnak by an earthquake in 26 BC: “1940 is the year when we approach the meridian of the first star in Aquarius. It is the premonitory earthquake of the New Age.”

The subculture that would later be called New Age already existed in the early 1970s, based on and adopting ideas originally present in 1960s counterculture. The Findhorn Foundation an intentional community near Findhorn, Moray, Scotland founded in 1962 played an instrumental role during the early growth period of the New Age Movement; it continues to operate the Findhorn Ecovillage.

Widespread use of the term New Age began in the mid 1970s (reflected in the title of monthly periodical New Age Journal) and probably influenced several thousand small metaphysical book and gift stores that increasingly defined themselves as “New Age bookstores”. As a result of the large-scale activities surrounding the Harmonic Convergence in the mid 1980s the term was further popularised by the American mass media to describe the alternative spiritual subculture including practices such as meditation, channeling, crystal healing, astral projection, psychic experience, holistic health, simple living, and environmentalism; or belief in phenomena such as Earth mysteries, ancient astronauts, extraterrestrial life, unidentified flying objects, crop circles, and reincarnation. A range of New Age publications appeared by the late 1980s such as Psychic Guide (later renamed Body, Mind & Spirit), Yoga Journal, New Age Voice, New Age Retailer, and NaPRA ReView by the New Age Publishing and Retailers Association.

There were several key moments in raising public awareness of this subculture: the publication of Linda Goodman’s best selling astrology books Sun Signs (1968) and Love Signs (1978); Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical (1967) with the opening song “Aquarius” and its memorable line “This is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius” the broadcast of Shirley MacLaine’s television mini-series Out on a Limb (1987); and the Harmonic Convergence (1987) organized by Jose Arguelles in Sedona, Arizona. Also influential were the claims of channelers Jane Roberts (the Seth Material) and J. Z. Knight (Ramtha), as well as revealed writings A Course in Miracles (1976) by Helen Schucman, The Celestine Prophecy (1993) by James Redfield, and Conversations with God (1995) by Neale Donald Walsch. Relevant works also include the writings of Eckhart Tolle, Barbara Marx Hubbard, Marianne Williamson, Deepak Chopra, John Holland, Gary Zukav, and Wayne Dyer; also, The Secret by Rhonda Byrne, which was based on the writings of Esther Hicks and Jerry Hicks.

While authors J. Gordon Melton, Wouter Hanegraaff, and Paul Heelas have emphasised the mentioned personal aspects; Mark Satin, Theodore Roszak, Marilyn Ferguson, and Corinne McLaughlin have described New Age as a values-based sociopolitical movement.

While there is no unified belief system, many spiritual practices and philosophies are common among adherents of the New Age Movement.

Theism
There is a general and abstract idea of God, which can be understood in many ways; seen as a superseding of the need to anthropomorphize deity. Not to be confused with pantheism.

Spiritual beings
Gods, angels, Ascended Masters, elementals, ghosts, faeries, Spirit guides and extraterrestrials can spiritually guide a person, if they open themselves to their guidance.

Afterlife
Consciousness persists after death as life in different forms; the afterlife exists for further learning through the form of a spirit, reincarnation and/or near-death experiences. There may be a belief in hell, but typically not in the traditional Christian sense or Islamic sense of eternal damnation. Universalist views of the afterlife are common.

Age of Aquarius
The current time period is claimed by some astrologers to be the dawning of the Age of Aquarius correlated to various changes in the world and some claim that the early 1960s was the actual beginning of the Age of Aquarius, though this claim is highly contentious. Common claims about the developments associated with the Age of Aquarius include, but are not limited to, human rights, democracy, innovative technology, electricity, computers, and aviation. Esoteric claims are that the Age of Aquarius will see a rise in consciousness.

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