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New Age

Definitions and Scope of New Age – Scholars have various interpretations of New Age, such as a revolutionary period, a cult, a manifestation of perennial […]

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Definitions and Scope of New Age
– Scholars have various interpretations of New Age, such as a revolutionary period, a cult, a manifestation of perennial tradition, or a monistic worldview.
– New Age is described as an eclectic mix of beliefs, practices, and lifestyles focused on transforming human and planetary conditions.
– The term lacks a central authority, and many individuals within the movement reject the label ‘New Age.’
– Definitions of New Age vary widely among scholars, leading to disputes about its scope and categorization.

Religion, Spirituality, and Esotericism in New Age
– New Age is considered both spirituality and religion, with some scholars classifying it as a new religious movement.
– It is viewed as a conscious cultic milieu critiquing Western values and a form of Western esotericism.
– Scholars debate whether New Age should be defined as a religion itself or as part of a cultic milieu within Western esotericism.
– The movement draws on ideas from earlier esoteric groups and critiques dominant Western values.

Beliefs and Practices of New Age
– New Age embraces a holistic divinity pervading the universe, emphasizing the spiritual authority of the self and belief in semi-divine entities like angels.
– Healing, alternative medicine, and unifying science with spirituality are core aspects of New Age practices.
– Practitioners vary in their dedication to New Age beliefs, from adopting ideas to fully embracing them.
– The movement views history in spiritual ages and has faced criticism from various religious communities since the 1990s.

Influence and Impact of New Age
– New Age beliefs and practices have influenced alternative medicine, healing practices, and the integration of science with spirituality.
– The movement has had a significant impact on individuals, sparking debates and criticisms from various religious and academic communities.
– Despite being diverse and disputed, the New Age movement has persisted since the late 1970s.
– Practitioners often reject the label ‘New Age’ and identify with terms like ‘spiritual seekers.’

History, Antecedents, and Influential Figures of New Age
– New Age has roots in Western esotericism and was influenced by figures like Swedenborg, Mesmer, and Spiritualism.
– Influential figures like Helena Blavatsky, Carl Jung, and Swami Vivekananda shaped the New Age movement.
– The movement emerged in the late 1950s and expanded during the counterculture of the 1960s, with key events like the Harmonic Convergence raising public awareness.
– New Age has antecedents in occultism, UFO religions, and responses to scientific rationality, leading to its development and growth since the late 20th century.

New Age (Wikipedia)

New Age is a range of spiritual or religious practices and beliefs which rapidly grew in Western society during the early 1970s. Its highly eclectic and unsystematic structure makes a precise definition difficult. Although many scholars consider it a religious movement, its adherents typically see it as spiritual or as unifying Mind-Body-Spirit, and rarely use the term New Age themselves. Scholars often call it the New Age movement, although others contest this term and suggest it is better seen as a milieu or zeitgeist.

New Age meditation group at the Snoqualmie Moondance festival, 1992

As a form of Western esotericism, the New Age drew heavily upon esoteric traditions such as the occultism of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, including the work of Emanuel Swedenborg and Franz Mesmer, as well as Spiritualism, New Thought, and Theosophy. More immediately, it arose from mid-twentieth century influences such as the UFO religions of the 1950s, the counterculture of the 1960s, and the Human Potential Movement. Its exact origins remain contested, but it became a major movement in the 1970s, at which time it was centered largely in the United Kingdom. It expanded widely in the 1980s and 1990s, in particular in the United States. By the start of the 21st century, the term New Age was increasingly rejected within this milieu, with some scholars arguing that the New Age phenomenon had ended.

Despite its eclectic nature, the New Age has several main currents. 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. This is accompanied by a common belief in a variety of semi-divine non-human entities such as angels, with whom humans can communicate, particularly by channeling through a human intermediary. 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. There is also a strong focus on healing, particularly using forms of alternative medicine, and an emphasis on unifying science with spirituality.

The dedication of New Agers varied considerably, from those who adopted a number of New Age ideas and practices to those who fully embraced and dedicated their lives to it. The New Age has generated criticism from Christians as well as modern Pagan and Indigenous communities. From the 1990s onward, the New Age became the subject of research by academic scholars of religious studies.

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