by Antoine Gouder
Thursday, 04 December, 2003
The term New Age is used to describe various activities related to spiritual exploration and mysticism, such as aromatherapy, astral projection, meditation and relaxation techniques, crystals, divination, and alternative healing techniques, amongst others. Rather than being one religion, New Age is a collection of religions, practices, philosophies, or concepts, some of which originating hundreds or thousands of years ago.
The phrase "New Age" originates from an astrological theory which states that roughly every 2,000 years a new age of world history begins under the auspices of a different constellation of the zodiac. According to New Agers we are currently leaving the Age of Pisces and on the verge of entering the Age of Aquarius, as age which will be characterised by a heightened degree of spiritual or cosmic consciousness.
Modern New Age thought traces its roots to the writings of Madame Blavatsky, founder of the Theosophical Society in 1875. Most of the principles of the movement in those days are equally valid for New Age practitioners today.
It was in the 1960s, however, that a renewed interest is alternative spiritual concepts gained more acceptance. It was a time when young people sought new answers to pervading spiritual questions. Some ventured east in pursuit of these answers and brought with them ideas which were to have a profound effect on current beliefs.
New Age is influenced heavily by eastern spiritual concepts and European occult. From the east the movement borrowed from Buddhism, Hinduism, Zen Buddhism, and Taoism. From European Occult it borrowed principles from Freemasonry, paganism, and astrology, amongst others.
While New Age believers and practitioners are numerous and diverse, there are certain principles which unite them. Central to the New Age movement is a belief that we are one with the universe, and all is one (monism). Moreover, each element of that one is as divine as the whole (pantheism). New Age philosophy also holds that not only living creations, but also inanimate objects contain the spark of divine consciousness and are therefore worthy of our devotion (animism). Other principles which unite New Age believers and practitioners are relativism, Shamanism, the concept of Gaia, reincarnation and divination.
In New Age practice there is no central authority or church, rather the movement is characterised by decentralisation and a lack of organisation. And as with other religions, philosophies, or movements there are those who are sincere in their actions, truly believe in what they are doing, and seek to do good, and others who seek to make a quick buck from naive and gullible people.
This article is brought to you by NAGA Ethnic Art of 119, Sta Lucia Street, Valletta where you can find a selection of incense, Ethnic CDs, wooden carvings, Asian silk, and Buddhist and Hindu statues. Copyright Antoine Gouder 2003. E-Mail: [email protected]