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The Llewellyn Encyclopedia
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New Age

This article was written by Carl Llewellyn Weschcke on November 30, -0001
posted under New Age

A phrase adapted by certain occult writers to describe:

  1. A belief in a new level of consciousness coincident with the Aquarian Age.
  2. A social movement of diverse spiritual and political elements directed toward the transformation of individuals and society through heightened spiritual awareness obtained through practices of meditation, yoga, ritual and channeling.
  3. A cultural phenomenon often associated with the psychedelic and mind-altering substances widely available in the nineteen sixties.

It is an ideal of harmony and progress that includes feminist, ecological, holistic and organic principles expressed through an alternative lifestyle that developed its own music, fashions, communal living, open sexuality, and political activism. 

It became a commercial category, particularly in the book trade, which brought together subjects related to self-understanding, self-transformation, and self-development including acupuncture alchemy, ancient civilizations, angels, anthroposophy, aromatherapy, astral projection, astrology, Atlantis, auras, bio-feedback, Buddhism, channeling, chanting, chakras, Chinese traditional medicine, complementary healing, creative visualization, crystals, divination, dream interpretation, Egyptology, energy healing, ESP, extra-terrestrial life, ghosts, Gnosticism, handwriting analysis, herbalism, hypnosis, Kabbalah, magick, martial arts, meditation, natural foods, numerology, occultism, organic gardening, Paganism, palmistry, paranormal phenomena, past lives, psychic healing, psychic powers, reiki, reincarnation, runes, self-hypnosis, sex magick, shamanism, spiritual healing, Spiritualism, Tantra, Tarot, Theosophy, UFOs, Wicca, Witchcraft, yoga, Zen, etc.

The New Age movement is inclusive of a resurgent Paganism and rejection of formalistic religion in favor of Nature Mysticism and personal spirituality. While it generally includes roles for ministers and spiritual counselors along with those for priest and priestess as in Wicca, the religious aspect is participatory rather than hierarchical, ecstatic rather than puritanical, initiatory rather than theological, and inner-directed rather than outer. Divinity is found both within the person and in Nature, directly experienced rather than requiring an intermediary, and self-responsible rather than authoritarian.

While there are numerous organizations and groups, they are mostly informal, usually centered around lectures and workshops, and are non-restrictive.


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