73 Facts About New Age


New Age is a range of spiritual or religious practices and beliefs which rapidly grew in Western society during the early 1970s.

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Theologically, the New Age typically accepts a holistic form of divinity that pervades the universe, including human beings themselves, leading to a strong emphasis on the spiritual authority of the self.

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Typically viewing history as divided into spiritual ages, a common New Age belief is in a forgotten age of great technological advancement and spiritual wisdom, declining into periods of increasing violence and spiritual degeneracy, which will now be remedied by the emergence of an Age of Aquarius, from which the milieu gets its name.

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The New Age has generated criticism from Christians as well as modern Pagan and Indigenous communities.

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New Age phenomenon has proved difficult to define, with much scholarly disagreement as to its scope.

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Scholar of religion Wouter Hanegraaff adopted a different approach by asserting that "New Age" was "a label attached indiscriminately to whatever seems to fit it" and that as a result it "means very different things to different people".

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New Age thus argued against the idea that the New Age could be considered "a unified ideology or Weltanschauung", although he believed that it could be considered a "more or less unified 'movement'.

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The scholar of religion George D Chryssides called it "a counter-cultural Zeitgeist", while the sociologist of religion Steven Bruce suggested that New Age was a milieu; Heelas and scholar of religion Linda Woodhead called it the "holistic milieu".

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In 2003 Sutcliffe observed that the use of the term New Age was "optional, episodic and declining overall", adding that among the very few individuals who did use it, they usually did so with qualification, for instance by placing it in quotation marks.

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Those involved in the New Age rarely consider it to be "religion"—negatively associating that term solely with organized religion—and instead describe their practices as "spirituality".

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Conversely, both Heelas and Sutcliffe rejected this categorisation; Heelas believed that while elements of the New Age represented NRMs, this did not apply to every New Age group.

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New Age movement is the cultic milieu having become conscious of itself, in the later 1970s, as constituting a more or less unified "movement".

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New Age has been identified by various scholars of religion as part of the cultic milieu.

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Hammer identified much of the New Age as corresponding to the concept of "folk religions" in that it seeks to deal with existential questions regarding subjects like death and disease in "an unsystematic fashion, often through a process of bricolage from already available narratives and rituals".

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Sutcliffe, therefore, expressed the view that while the term New Age had originally been an "apocalyptic emblem", it would only be later that it became "a tag or codeword for a 'spiritual' idiom".

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One of the earliest influences on the New Age was the Swedish 18th century Christian mystic Emanuel Swedenborg, who professed the ability to communicate with angels, demons, and spirits.

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From a historical perspective, the New Age phenomenon is most associated with the counterculture of the 1960s.

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In October 1965, the co-founder of Findhorn Foundation, Peter Caddy, a former member of the occult Rosicrucian Order Crotona Fellowship, attended a meeting of various prominent figures within Britain's esoteric milieu; advertised as "The Significance of the Group in the New Age", it was held at Attingham Park over the course of a weekend.

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Nevertheless, York asserted that while the New Age bore many similarities with both earlier forms of Western esotericism and Asian religion, it remained "distinct from its predecessors in its own self-consciousness as a new way of thinking".

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New Age noted that as this happened, the meaning of the term New Age changed; whereas it had once referred specifically to a coming era, at this point it came to be used in a wider sense to refer to a variety of spiritual activities and practices.

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In doing so, the "New Age" became a banner under which to bring together the wider "cultic milieu" of American society.

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The exact origins of the New Age movement remain an issue of debate; Melton asserted that it emerged in the early 1970s, whereas Hanegraaff instead traced its emergence to the latter 1970s, adding that it then entered its full development in the 1980s.

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Stores that came to be known as "New Age shops" opened up, selling related books, magazines, jewellery, and crystals, and they were typified by the playing of New Age music and the smell of incense.

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Core works in the propagating New Age ideas included Jane Roberts's Seth series, published from 1972 onward, Helen Schucman's 1975 publication A Course in Miracles, and James Redfield's 1993 work The Celestine Prophecy.

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New Age ideas influenced the development of rave culture in the late 1980s and 1990s.

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In Britain during the 1980s, the term New Age Travellers came into use, although York characterised this term as "a misnomer created by the media".

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The term New Age came to be used increasingly widely by the popular media in the 1990s.

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In 2001, Hammer observed that the term New Age had increasingly been rejected as either pejorative or meaningless by individuals within the Western cultic milieu.

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New Age noted that within this milieu it was not being replaced by any alternative and that as such a sense of collective identity was being lost.

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MacKian suggested that the New Age "movement" had been replaced by a wider "New Age sentiment" which had come to pervade "the socio-cultural landscape" of Western countries.

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New Age shops continued to operate, although many have been remarketed as "Mind, Body, Spirit".

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In 2015, the scholar of religion Hugh Urban argued that New Age spirituality is growing in the United States and can be expected to become more visible: "According to many recent surveys of religious affiliation, the 'spiritual but not religious' category is one of the fastest-growing trends in American culture, so the New Age attitude of spiritual individualism and eclecticism may well be an increasingly visible one in the decades to come".

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Australian scholar Paul J Farrelly, in his 2017 doctoral dissertation at Australian National University, argued that, while the term New Age may become less popular in the West, it is actually booming in Taiwan, where it is regarded as something comparatively new and is being exported from Taiwan to the Mainland China, where it is more or less tolerated by the authorities.

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Nevertheless, within the New Age, there are differences in the role accorded to voices of authority outside of the self.

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Various creation myths have been articulated in New Age publications outlining how this Ultimate Source created the universe and everything in it.

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The New Age worldview emphasises holism and the idea that everything in existence is intricately connected as part of a single whole, in doing so rejecting both the dualism of the Christian division of matter and spirit and the reductionism of Cartesian science.

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New Age angelology is nevertheless unsystematic, reflecting the idiosyncrasies of individual authors.

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Prominent examples of New Age channeling include Jane Roberts' claims that she was contacted by an entity called Seth, and Helen Schucman's claims to have channeled Jesus Christ.

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The academic Suzanne Riordan examined a variety of these New Age channeled messages, noting that they typically "echoed each other in tone and content", offering an analysis of the human condition and giving instructions or advice for how humanity can discover its true destiny.

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New Age thought typically envisions the world as developing through cosmological cycles that can be identified astrologically.

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New Age noted that they were highly ethnocentric in placing Western civilization at the centre of historical development.

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Participants in the New Age typically express the view that their own spiritual actions are helping to bring about the Age of Aquarius, with writers like Ferguson and Arguelles presenting themselves as prophets ushering forth this future era.

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The general New Age ethos is that health is the natural state for the human being and that illness is a disruption of that natural balance.

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The inter-relation of holistic health with the New Age movement is illustrated in Jenny Butler's ethnographic description of "Angel therapy" in Ireland.

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New Age is essentially about the search for spiritual and philosophical perspectives that will help transform humanity and the world.

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In much New Age literature on reincarnation, it is claimed that part of the human soul, that which carries the personality, perishes with the death of the body, while the Higher Self—that which connects with divinity—survives in order to be reborn into another body.

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New Age nevertheless suggested that over 10 million people in the U S had had some contact with New Age practices or ideas.

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In 2006, Heelas stated that New Age practices had grown to such an extent that they were "increasingly rivaling the sway of Christianity in Western settings".

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Sutcliffe noted that although most influential New Age figureheads were male, approximately two-thirds of its participants were female.

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New Age suggested that the movement appealed to many former practitioners of the 1960s counter-culture because while they came to feel that they were unable to change society, they were nonetheless interested in changing the self.

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New Age believed that although the adoption of New Age beliefs and practices by some fitted the model of religious conversion, others who adopted some of its practices could not easily be considered to have converted to the religion.

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The New Age movement has been centered around rebuilding a sense of community to counter social disintegration; this has been attempted through the formation of intentional communities, where individuals come together to live and work in a communal lifestyle.

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New Age centres have been set up in various parts of the world, representing an institutionalised form of the movement.

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Bruce argued that in seeking to "denying the validity of externally imposed controls and privileging the divine within", the New Age sought to dismantle pre-existing social order, but that it failed to present anything adequate in its place.

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New Age spirituality has led to a wide array of literature on the subject and an active niche market, with books, music, crafts, and services in alternative medicine available at New Age stores, fairs, and festivals.

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New Age fairs—sometimes known as "Mind, Body, Spirit fairs", "psychic fairs", or "alternative health fairs"—are spaces in which a variety of goods and services are displayed by different vendors, including forms of alternative medicine and esoteric practices such as palmistry or tarot card reading.

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The sociologist of religion Steven Bruce noted that the New Age provides ideas on how to deal with "our socio-psychological problems".

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New Age believed that in contrast to the conventional political focus on the "institutional and economic symptoms" of society's problems, his "New Age politics" would focus on "psychocultural roots" of these issues.

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Some New Age spokespeople have called for greater decentralisation and global unity, but are vague about how this might be achieved; others call for a global, centralised government.

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York identified "key New Age spokespeople" including William Bloom, Satish Kumar, and Starhawk who were emphasizing a link between spirituality and environmental consciousness.

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The earliest academic studies of the New Age phenomenon were performed by specialists in the study of new religious movements such as Robert Ellwood.

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Sutcliffe and Gilhus have expressed concern that, as of 2013, 'New Age studies' has yet to formulate a set of research questions scholars can pursue.

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The New Age has proved a challenge for scholars of religion operating under more formative models of what "religion" is.

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The most successful such publication was Frank E Peretti's 1986 novel This Present Darkness, which sold over a million copies; it depicted the New Age as being in league with feminism and secular education as part of a conspiracy to overthrow Christianity.

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Cardinal Paul Poupard, then-president of the Pontifical Council for culture, said the "New Age is a misleading answer to the oldest hopes of man".

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Various differences between the two movements have been highlighted; the New Age movement focuses on an improved future, whereas the focus of Paganism is on the pre-Christian past.

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New Age often adopts spiritual ideas and practices from other, particularly non-Western cultures.

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New Age has been accused of cultural imperialism, misappropriating the sacred ceremonies, and exploitation of the intellectual and cultural property of Indigenous peoples.

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Indeed, if we were to examine some of the social and political threads that run through the aery fabric of New Age thinking, we would find certain themes that resonate with the necessary conditions for a left version of progressive individualism.

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The New Age "person" is in many respects an individual whose personal growth is indissociable from the environment; a link fleshed out in a variety of ecotopian stories and romances.

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One political scientist said New Age politics fails to recognize the reality of economic and political power.

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Criticism of New Age often made by leftists is that its focus on individualism deflects participants from engaging in socio-political activism.

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Journalist Harvey Wasserman suggested that New Age activists were too averse to social conflict to be effective politically.

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