What does the New Age Movement really mean?
By Anette Ignatowicz http://newagemess.blogspot.com/
THIS ARTICLE AND ALL FOLLOWING ANTEDATE THE FEBRUARY 2003 VATICAN DOCUMENT ON THE NEW AGE BY EIGHT YEARS AND MORE- MICHAEL
Other names for NAM:
Higher Consciousness Movement, Occultism, Eastern Mysticism, Eastern Spirituality, Ancient or Perennial Wisdom, Age of Aquarius, Holistic Health Movement, Mind, Body and Spirit
Other names for the Higher Self:
Oversoul, True Self, Real Self, Inner Self, Inner Teacher, Inner Guide, Inner Light, Inner Essence, Inner Source, Inner Healer, Soul-Self, Inner Wisdom, Christ Self Superconscious, Divine Center, Divine Spark, Atman, Creative Intuitive Self.
Any name that smacks of some latent source of inner knowledge and mystical power can be used.
Craig Branch – “The Watchman Exposition”:
The New Age Movement is both a religious and a social movement. In fact, Western culture is currently experiencing a phenomenal, spiritual, ideological, and sociological shift. It is a religious world-view that is alien and hostile to Christianity. It’s a multi-focused, multi-faceted synthesis, in varying degrees, of the Far Eastern, mystical religions, mainly Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, and Western Occultism, adapted to and influenced by Western, materialistic culture. It sometimes appears in secularized forms.
It is comprised of hundreds of groups and individuals who have gained significant influence, affecting almost every area of the culture – sociology, psychology, medicine, the government, ecology, science, arts, education, the business community, the media, entertainment, sports, and even the church. The movement expresses itself in widely divergent and various mutated forms, from the blatantly obvious to the subtle. It is expressed in organized religious forms such as Christian Science, Unity, and even forms of Witchcraft. Yet, it shows up in secular forms as well, in various human potential seminars, and much in between, i.e., transcendental meditation, some alternative holistic health practices, and certain curriculum in public (and private) schools.
The most central and commonly shared beliefs among New Agers are various combinations of Gnosticism and occultism.
Gnosticism is an ancient world-view stating that Divine essence is the only true or highest reality, and that the unconscious Self of man is actually this essence. It is through intuitional discovery, “visionary experience or initiation into secret doctrine” (not the plenary revelation of propositional truth in the Bible), that man becomes conscious of this true Self.
Occultism is a “general designation for various theories, practices, and rituals based on esoteric knowledge, especially alleged knowledge about the world of spirits and unknown forces of the universe”.
The term “New Age” is an informal term derived from astrology, which indicates that this earth, if not the cosmos, is on the verge of an evolutionary transition from the Piscean Age (rationality) to the Aquarian Age of spirituality, bliss, and harmony of all things. Even though it is undergoing a significant revival, the “New Age” is hardly new. In fact, it is very old.
Randy England in his book “The Unicorn in the Sanctuary”:
“The New Age Movement is a worldwide phenomenon ostensibly dedicated to the powers of the human mind. In the New Age, knowledge supersedes faith and heralds a break with Western values and thought. (…) The New Age Movement is as old as mankind, and though its beliefs have probably never been without adherents, it needs no human continuity to maintain its ancient tenets, for all its essential elements flow straight from Hell. (…) In every imaginable fashion these ideas are woven into endless patterns, along with enough truth to fool nearly anyone. They are found in doctrines of reincarnation and the divinity of man. In the New Age, the wages of sin is not death, but just another go around in another life. Nothing really matters. There is no personal Creator-God to interfere with the attractions of pride and sensuality – no one to whom we must give account.”
Douglas R. Groothuis in his book “Unmasking the New Age – Is there a New Religious Movement Trying to Transform Society?” talks about a “new world view”:
“A new world view is in the offing; a revolution in consciousness beckons. All is one – both good and evil. We are all god (…) the mind controls all (…) This reality, this “New Consciousness” is hoping to bring about a “New Age” of hope and human fulfillment. New Age advocates argue that the West has been locked in a prison of ordinary and dimensional, separated from the mystical vitality of a universe of harmonious dancing energy.” Groothuis makes a great point about the effect of world view on culture. He quotes psychologist Erich Fromm outlining that some religion or another will govern society. As Fromm puts it “The question is not one of religion or not but which kind of religion” He goes on to say that the human species need “a map of our natural and social world – a picture of world and of one’s place in it”. Without it we would be condemned to perpetual indecision and vertigo.”
History of the modern New Age Movement
By Anette Ignatowicz
The New Age Movement is extremely difficult to describe.
The term New Age was used as early as 1809 by William Blake who described a coming era of spiritual and artistic advancement in his preface to Milton a Poem by stating: “… when the New Age is at leisure to pronounce, all will be set right …”
The author Nevill Drury claimed there are “four key precursors of the New Age,” who had set the way for many of its widely held precepts.
The first of these was Emanuel Swedenborg (1688–1772), a Swedish scientist who after a religious experience devoted himself to Christian mysticism, believing that he could travel to Heaven and Hell and commune with angels, demons and spirits, and who published widely on the subject of his experiences. The second person was Franz Mesmer (1734–1815), who had developed a form of healing using magnets, believing that there was a force known as “animal magnetism” that affected humans.
The third figure was the Russian Helena Blavatsky (1831–1891), one of the founders of the Theosophical Society, through which she propagated her religious movement of Theosophy, which itself combined a number of elements from Eastern religions like Hinduism and Buddhism with Western elements. The fourth figure was George Gurdjieff (c. 1872–1949), who founded the philosophy of the Fourth Way, through which he conveyed a number of spiritual teachings to his disciples. A fifth individual whom Drury identified as an important influence upon the New Age movement was the Indian Swami Vivekananda (1863–1902), an adherent of the philosophy of Vedanta who first brought Hinduism to the West in the late 19th century.
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. Between 1908 and 1914, it was instrumental in pioneering the British avant-garde from Vorticism to Imagism. Orage met P. D. Ouspensky, a follower of Gurdjieff, in 1914 and began correspondence with Harry Houdini; he became less-interested in literature and art with an increased focus on mysticism and other spiritual topics; the magazine was sold in 1921.
Popularisation behind these ideas has roots in the work of early twentieth-century writers such as D. H. Lawrence and William Butler Yeats. In the early- to mid-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.
The psychologist Carl Jung was a proponent of the concept of the Age of Aquarius. In a letter to his friend Peter Baynes, dated 12 August 1940, Jung wrote a passage: “… This year reminds me of the enormous earthquake in 26 B.C. that shook down the great temple of Karnak. It was the prelude to the destruction of all temples, because a new time had begun. 1940 is the year when we approach the meridian of the first star in Aquarius. It is the premonitory earthquake of the New Age …”
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. 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 … Man’s purpose in this New Age is to acquire more and more knowledge …” in his essay “Power Through Knowledge,” which was also published in 1944.
The subculture that later became known as New Age already existed in the early 1970s, based on and adopting ideas originally present in the counterculture of the 1960s. Two entities founded in 1962: the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California and the Findhorn Foundation—an international community which continues to operate the Findhorn Ecovillage near Findhorn, Moray, Scotland—played an instrumental role during the early growth period of the New Age movement.
Widespread usage 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 1987, the American mass-media further popularized the term as a label for 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. Several 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 Publishers and Retailers Alliance.
Several key events occurred, which raised public awareness of the New Age subculture: the production of the musical Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical (1967) with its opening song “Aquarius” and its memorable line “This is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius“; Categories: new age
publication of Linda Goodman’s best-selling astrology books Sun Signs (1968) and Love Signs (1978); the release of Shirley MacLaine’s book Out on a Limb (1983), later adapted into a television mini-series with the same name (1987); and the “Harmonic Convergence” planetary alignment on August 16–17, 1987,
organized by José Argüelles at Sedona in the U.S. state of Arizona. The claims of channelers Jane Roberts (Seth Material), Helen Schucman (A Course in Miracles), J. Z. Knight (Ramtha), Neale Donald Walsch (Conversations with God), and Rene Gaudette (The Wonders) contributed to the movement’s growth
Categories: new age