became president of Llewellyn Publications in January 1960, a date that pretty much coincided with the beginning of what we've ever since called the "New Age." Later, Donald Michael Kraig and Scott Cunningham, then young college students, referred to me as the "Father of the New Age."
A fun thought, but not true.
Actually, the term was used by mystics, occultists, and Theosophists as early as the 1800s, and a New Age, a New World, a New Atlantis, a New World Order, etc. has been a dream of thinking people forever. But it was the psychedelic sixties that made the "New Age" familiar, and in the early seventies the book industry adopted the term as a shelving category to bring together subjects previously spread throughout bookstores. As the popular interest in subjects like Meditation, Astrology, Yoga, and Wicca increased, the term "New Age" became synonymous with things that were "far out" and provided much fodder for the evening talk shows and the popular press.
But, like women's fashions (with cycles of heel heights, skirt lengths, skin exposure, and places to pierce), always proclaimed as fads by the media, some people thought of the New Age and its subject matter as a passing fad, missing the enduring drive behind these changes. "Fads" are rarely as simple as them seem to be at the time but rather are symptomatic of very important things happening in the Unconscious.
Several times in the last half-century big retailers have proclaimed the New Age dead, but readers and specialty stores have seen it differently. While some prefer the word "metaphysical," most find that too narrow in definition to encompass all that the New Age has come to embody.
Some people think of the New Age as a "movement," not unlike the nearly coincidental Women's Rights, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties movements—again missing the enduring drive to increasing individual human freedom and right to control personal destiny that is part of an actual change in human consciousness.
More importantly, for some bizarre reason, many people assume that human evolution stopped in the distant past. Yet, most of the great religions, philosophers, mystics, and occultists believe otherwise. We are evolving not just technologically (from fire to nuclear energy, from horses to horseless carriages) but mentally, psychically, and spiritually. Just as Jesus taught that "[t]he works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do" (John 14:12), we do find increasing paranormal skills one measure of this continuing personal growth.
More extensive education has been a key factor in our development, but still many fail to see the accompanying growth in mental capacity that has occurred. Intelligence scores increase with education and family income. Because organized religions look backward to their source, they miss seeing and encouraging our increasing psychic and spiritual development. Some even seek to suppress it, believing that empowered people are competition to their historic founders and saints and a threat to their authority to impose rules on the believers they perceive as flocks of sheep to be herded towards a heavenly reward after a "judgment day."
Some associate our evolution and higher levels of consciousness with an actual increase in the Earth's "pulsed heartbeat" (Schumann Resonance) from 7.8 cycles per second to 8.6 in the late twentieth century and to an anticipated 13 by 2012. The human body resonates to the Earth's vibrations and the increase may bring new capacity to the human brain and the body's energy systems.
The New Age is Real—despite the fluff!
Things do not happen in isolation, not even evolution. There are trigger mechanisms that initiate a new phase. The reality is that we are experiencing entry into a new and expansive level of consciousness. Still, it remains for each person to develop their innate powers into actual skills and to accept responsibility for their expanding awareness and abilities to actively influence change—whether in the environment, or in new social realities, or in health parameters.
There is an unfortunate human proclivity to bring nearly everything down to some common level. First we idolize the new celebrity on the block, and then we find all her flaws. We proclaim the newest political idea as a panacea, then pick it apart and kick out the best right along with the worst. When one kid shows natural math aptitude, we slow him down to the general level of his class.
Every commercial success in publishing attracts imitators who read a couple of books, attend a couple of classes, and then become instant authorities and write "me too" books that should really be called "know nothing" books. But the worst is still to come! Even practitioners and writers who do know something envy their success and write "copycat" books filled with what we then call "fluff." The market becomes flooded with books popularizing color and crystals as the solution to everything, or numbers as the easy alternative to more complex divination systems, or a simple wish in place of a complex magical spell, or simply date someone with their Mars on top of your Venus and you will have found your Soul Mate.
Even subjects as powerful as Kabbalah, as deep as Ritual Magick, as rich as Tarot essentially become bowdlerized to fit the short attention span of the 15-year old (or 65-year old) who wants easy party entertainment rather than Enlightenment or spiritual growth.
Then, instead of looking at the serious works in the subject, critics read this fluffy stuff and pronounce that astrology claims that 1/12 of the human race are all alike, that Witchcraft is a sick fantasy, and that only lunatics would believe in lunar gardening.
And too often it is only the fluffy stuff that is stocked by the major booksellers whose buyers (the ones that purchase inventory for resale to consumers) know nothing about the subjects involved. They believe that anything serious is too hard for their customers unless a celebrity like Madonna endorses it. And then, of course, knowing nothing about the subject they blindly order books that will later remain unsold and returned to the publisher for full credit.
The Real New Age
The Real New Age is not about books and subjects, nor celebrities and their fads. The New Age is a fact of consciousness and is a matter of attitude and desire to become more than one is now. It is the belief in human potential and the drive to realize all that one can be. Yes, for some of us it is a movement, but it is also a process of continual realization.
Yes, books and subjects are useful for study—books for beginners, advanced books for serious study, reference books, and more, but the real work is that of making Conscious what is Unconscious, thus expanding Mind and Spirit. Universal Consciousness is the Source and Creator-will acted to derive from it first Energy then Matter from which the Universe and its richness and diversity of Life continues to evolve fulfilling a Great Plan.
The Mayan Prophecy says the World, as we know it, will end on December 21, 2012, but since we are part of that world it may still seem the same to us the day after. It is we who must change, learning from books and courses, willing growth in ourselves and bringing about a true New World Order for the Ages to come.
The New Age is our own expanding consciousness and capacity to act with knowledge and responsibility, becoming co-creators in the Great Plan. Your Destiny is glorious.