NEW AGE MOVEMENT One of the most recent branches of the alternative realities scene in the western world, the New Age movement took shape in America in the 1950s in the UFO-contactee scene, a network of people who believed they were in touch with aliens from other planets by way of trance mediums. All through the 1950s and 1960s, contactees had been bombarded with claims that an apocalypse was about to occur and usher in a new age of the world. During the 1970s, several groups in the network began to suggest that, instead of waiting for the new age to dawn, people ought to start living as though it already had. By living their lives as though the promised Utopia had arrived, they suggested, people could inspire others to do likewise and show that a living alternative to the status quo was possible.
These concepts caught on rapidly, and during the Seventies the movement attracted avant-garde thinkers from the scientific community. As the movement expanded, though, it became a focal point for any imaginable form of alternative thought, and the original momentum of the New Age idea faded. By the middle 1980s, nearly every form of rejected knowledge, from alternative healing and perpetual motion to conspiracy theories and the hollow earth, found a welcoming audience there. A surprising amount of what makes up the New Age movement today is anything but new, and the Theosophical Society in particular contributed a huge amount to the current New Age scene. The whole New Age movement has been described as “Theosophy plus therapy,” and though this is not strictly accurate, the fusion of nineteenth-century occultism with today’s alternative healing methods and psychological theories does characterize a great deal of New Age thinking.
It is hard not to sympathize with the desire to create a better world through personal example and living one’s life in harmony with one’s ideals, and to the extent it has fostered this project the New Age movement has contributed much to the world. In recent years, though, it has become a hunting ground for proponents of increasingly paranoid conspiracy theories, and a growing number of people who identify with the New Age have turned from radiating love to collecting guns and circulating rumors about the New World Order. While this transformation may seem surprising, much the same change occurred in the alternative spiritual scene of early twentiethcentury Germany and helped lay the foundations for the Nazi movement of the 1920s and 1930s.
- Ages of the world
- Unidentified flying objects (UFOs)
- Hollow earth
- Rejected Knowledge
- Theosophical Society
- National Socialism
- New World Order
The Element Encyclopedia of Secret Societies : the ultimate a-z of ancient mysteries, lost civilizations and forgotten wisdom written by John Michael Greer – © John Michael Greer 2006