Nothing is “New” in the New Age

The New Age is not a Movement

            Groups such as the I AM Movement, Rosicrucians, the Lemurian Fellowship, Theosophy, and Doreal’s Brotherhood of the White Temple Church are occult groups that transitioned from the nineteenth century into the twentieth century. These groups were the precursors to other ideologies and forms of mysticism that took hold in the twentieth century, now known collectively as the New Age Movement. The New Age is the latest phase in the occult, a persistent tradition that has been the constant companion of Christianity through the centuries.

There are four phases for which people are coerced into New Age groups:

  • First, an initial interest or intellectual curiosity creates tension within the individual.
  • Second, this creates spiritual experiences and emotional convictions that drive the person to meet like-minded individuals.
  • Lastly, there is social support of a community that performs collective rituals.

            It may be argued that the New Age is not a movement at all. The New Age has none of the characteristics of a movement – a social system with a minimum of structure, a recognizable hierarchy, points of reference in the natural landscape, and activities they follow. In addition, the New Age is not organized centrally but around teachers, texts, interests, and commercial products. Bonds between New Age believers are weak and voluntary because of the emphasis on the individual, not the group. Therefore, the New Age may be described as a local event organized around specific issues with fluctuating membership. New Age adherents are usually concerned with civil, not political, affairs. Thus, people pursue change at a social and institutional level as well as at a personal level.

            Additionally, the New Age movement lacks racial and ethnic diversity. Most working-class people do not join the New Age because there is a disdain for economic striving and a want of material objects. Thus, those of the working class who need financial security do not find New Age beliefs compatible with their own. Most New Age participants are middle-aged white females, meaning there will be a diminishing population of adherents if younger people are not actively recruited. Some social controls will be necessary to preserve ideas. Otherwise, the ideas of the New Age will gradually accommodate the cultural norms of the dominant culture. There must be a conscious effort to produce a shared identity to pass on to a younger generation.

            New Age adherents are preoccupied with individual and societal transformation. There is an almost narcissistic overtone in that a person believes that they are unique rather than a normal person. The New Age rejects modernity, avoids party politics, and emphasizes the self and personal consumption. New Age beliefs thrive in consumer economies like the United States, Britain, and Australia because products, services, and training are sold for fees. The commodification of the New Age beliefs is acceptable because it reinforces the autonomy of the consumer. Committed New Agers are very entrepreneurial because they establish themselves as an expert within a field. They work as self-employed practitioners, not as part of a regulated profession.

Further Reading

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