Parapsychology Journalism: The People, The Theory, The Science, The Skeptics
Here’s the Wikipedia definition of the New Age:
The New Age (also referred to as the New Age movement, New Age spirituality, and Cosmic Humanism) is a decentralized Western social and spiritual movement that seeks “Universal Truth” and the attainment of the highest individual human potential. It includes aspects of Occultism, astrology, esotericism, metaphysics, alternative medicine, music, collectivism, sustainability, and nature. New Age spirituality is characterized by an individual approach to spiritual practices and philosophies, and the rejection of religious doctrine and dogma. (…)
The modern New Age movement emerged in a distinct form in the late 1960s and early 1970s, although its roots can be traced back to the 19th and early 20th centuries. It gained momentum in the 1980s and strengthened with the Harmonic Convergence event in 1987. Diverse individuals from around the world practice New Age spirituality.
I think that this is a pretty accurate description. I also think that when historians look back on this it will be seen as a much more fundamental shift than it now appears to be. I was in the middle of it as much as anyone can be. I was practicing psychic healing at the time, holding classes and attending New Age events, which were all over the place in the San Francisco Bay Area, where I live. Now that many years have past and I am older and wiser, it struck me recently just how unique this experience was.
Above all, there was no central person or organization that personified this movement. The theme was rather loose and not completely defined and most importantly, the people who were involved with the movement were perfectly OK with that. This was a group of people who simply accepted the inclusion of all sorts of different beliefs regardless of whether they agreed with them. There was no attempt to separate and polarize. People who were involved understood the idea of the New Age without it having to have a specific form.
This is a theme that one finds over and over again with psychic people. While psychic people have no problem with examining things in detail, the ability to understand the idea of something without it having a specific form is fundamental to a psychic’s thinking process. So was the New Age movement a sort of large coming out party for psychic people? I think it might have been.
Above all, the New Age movement dealt with consciousness, the real world of psychic people everywhere. And whatever else the New Age crowd was into, they all had that in common; they took consciousness seriously and paid attention to what was going on in the mind. No one disagreed with this aspect of it.
Telepathy was taken for granted, as was the power of thoughts in our lives. People shared different techniques for dealing with stress and other disagreeable people. Among the most popular was the white light of protection. This article though, demonstrates one of the failings of the New Age movement and lent a great deal of ammunition to its critics. This is how the white light of protection is validated as real:
This meditation has been used as a spiritual protection technique for at least 2 centuries that I am aware of. It has been used by magicians, alchemists, sorcerers, spiritualists, spiritual healers, and by the psychics and shaman of all cultures.
Many different aspects of consciousness are still endorsed this way. Almost invariable it is described as the ancient technique of some indigenous people and handed down through the generations. I don’t believe that the intention of this claim was to deceive; but it is entirely unsupportable all the same. No one has done the research to back up such a sweeping statement. It falls under the heading: “truthiness.”
The people who sell ear candles have advertised this as a Hopi Indian thing, (which the tribe strongly denies) presumably because this lends a certain ancient mysteriousness to the procedure. It is precisely this sort of thing which furthers the gullible people myth about psychics and believers.
Most people I knew didn’t really care how this information was validated. They would try it out and if it worked, great, if not, no harm done. There was no one in charge and no right way to do it and more importantly, no wrong way. One of the more interesting aspects of this was that it was very hard to know what the best practices were. This still isn’t common information even today. (For the record, the road map for getting the most out of life using the principles of consciousness have been effectively laid out by Louse L. Hay in her books. Her messages and methods are absolutely spot on and the depth of her understanding exceeds anyone else I’ve encountered. She understands this stuff and she’s gotten it right. Ditto with The Course in Miracles.)
The real importance of the New Age Movement though, lies in how it defied structure the entire time, allowing people to explore consciousness in a wide variety of ways without any particular method being chosen as the only one. These were not people looking for someone to lead them and they weren’t willing to all pull in one direction. In this sense, it could be described as a spiritual movement, but not a religious one and with no specific agenda.
No corporation, individual or political organization successfully exploited this group for their own purposes. The people with the best messages did not try to lead and those who were only concerned with their own ambition never got any traction. Perhaps the reason for this was that anger and fear were not the driving force in this movement, like they are for the current media darling, the Tea Party Movement. The spirit of acceptance and inclusiveness made this movement nearly impossible to manipulate. For a group of seeming airheads and flakes, that is an amazing display of both an ability to stay on message and bullshit detection.
Looking back on this time, I grow more amazed at it. The lack of commercialization, the sense of acceptance, inclusiveness and the pursuit of joy and the healing of the heart. It was a wonderful thing and I’m glad I was a part of it.