Now that the New Age Movement is over, what’s next?
U.S. Navy Photo World Trade Center 9/11/2001
Did the movie The Secret, mark the end of the New Age Movement? The movie’s apparent victory for the New Age with its box office success, disappointingly left a marketing hard sell after-taste in the New Ager’s mouth. Up until The Secret, there was a steady outpouring of New Age films like: What the Bleep Do We Know?, Celestine Prophecy, Conversations with God, Indigo Children, Peaceful Warrior plus thousands of books and seminars. After that sales-pitch of a New Age film, what followed was a drizzle of Louise Hay’s, You Can Heal Your Life documentary and a Spiritual Cinema Circle ?mostly reruns and nothing really new (not that the modern New Age Movement is anything “new” in any case).
The New Age Movement actually began at the turn of the century, on the tail end of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s, Transcendentalist movement; with New Thought authors like Napoleon Hill of Think and Grow Rich, Wallace Wattles of The Science of Getting Rich, and Thomas Troward, whose writings inspire present day AA members. The movement’s beginnings were supported by the famous sleeping-prophet Edgar Cayce and his Association for Research and Enlightenment and Alice Bailey’s Theosophy with Rudolph Steiner’s Anthroposophy. It was carried up until present day with Ernest Holmes’ (who studied Troward and Emerson), Science of Mind and the Unity Churches and Mary Baker Eddy’s, Christian Science, which along with Edgar Cayce marked the beginnings of the New Age Movement’s alternative medicine and healing modalities. The list goes on.
The New Age Movement sort of merged with the Human Potential Movement of the Esalen Institute’s East/West connection in the 60’s and The Findhorn Foundation and its Devic-grown vegetables in Scotland in 1962; which birthed hundreds of authors, books, lectures and fed the 60’s counterculture. The late 60’s and 70’s we were introduced to the innovative Jane Robert’s, Seth Material, A Course in Miracles, and for the sake of space let’s hop over to Jose Arguelles’ 1987 Harmonic Convergence in Sedona, Arizona and Shirley MacLaine’s, Out on a Limb series and UFO’s. That brings us up to Deepak Chopra with his degree in “medicine”, Wayne Dyer’s degree in psychology and for a final touch, we can add a dash or two of a hundred or so gurus and self-proclaimed ones at that.
Momentum builds (thanks to Oprah). More and more people attend workshops and buy crystals and healing brews and elixirs. Astrology attempts to use psychology to back its claims (Liz Greene’s, Sun Signs), alternative medicine continues to gain momentum, (thanks to Deepak Chopra) and quantum physics gets picked up by the obscure Ramtha and others.
We start to notice the New Age Movement started to rely less and less on the turn of the century’s “faith in the Divine” as it moved more towards the Human Potential Movement’s “self-realization and narcissism” to a “quantum leap” right into science’s lap.
The pivotal year of this mix of science and mysticism was 1975 with Berkeley physicist, Fritjof Capra’s The Tao of Physics that documented the parallels between physics and Eastern Mysticism and Marilyn Ferguson’s bestseller, The Aquarian Conspiracy and “Brain/Mind Bulletin.“
From Elaine Woo’s, New York Times article on Marilyn Ferguson’s death in 2008:
“After a dark, violent age, the Piscean, we are entering a millennium of love and light — in the words of the popular song ‘the Age of Aquarius,’ the time of ‘the mind’s true liberation,’ ” Ferguson wrote. Aquarians, by her definition, were people who sought a revolution in consciousness, to “leave the prison of our conditioning, to love, to turn homeward. To conspire with each other and for each other.”
After The Secret and Ferguson’s dealth, all those turn of the century author’s books were suddenly reprinted once again. Was this a desperate final attempt to salvage a movement running out of steam? Or were the boundaries of science and spirituality actually blurred? (For instance, the Large Hadron Collider’s search for the “god particle” and Intelligent Design’s attempt to defame Darwin’s, On the Origin of Species.)
Are science and spirituality merging? Or did the New Age Movement walk obliviously into the mouth of the “tiger of science” to its death?
“that the Pisces world where religion is the opiate of the masses will be replaced in the Aquarian Age by a world ruled by secretive power-hungry elites seeking absolute power over others. Families will dissolve completely, or family ties will be hidden. Zoller also believes that knowledge in the Aquarian Age will only be valued for its ability to win wars; scientists may even be able to precipitate earthquakes for military means, and the danger in the Aquarian Age is that knowledge and science will be abused, not industry and trade. Zoller sees the Aquarian Age as a Dark Age wherein religion will be seen as offensive.
Neil Spencer provides another sobering overview of the Age of Aquarius stating:
that the rise of scientific rationalism combined with the fall of religious influence is possibly an indication of the Age of Aquarius. The growth in demands of human rights since the 1780s, though remaining unfulfilled, is another indication of Aquarius. Spencer points to the exponential growth of technology, especially of computers and the Internet, plus the growth in flight and space travel as examples of the dawning of the Age of Aquarius. Possible negative examples of Aquarius include dumbed-down media and consumerism and rapacious international corporations.”
As Zoller and Spencer reveal the “Aquarian” shadow side in opposition to the oversimplistic and naive New Age ideals, Ken Wilber suggests that most New Age thought falls under the guise of what he terms a pre/trans fallacy:
According to Wilber, the non-rational stages of consciousness can be easily confused with one another. One can reduce supposed “trans-rational” spiritual realization to pre-rational regression, or one can elevate pre-rational states to the trans-rational domain. For example, Wilber claims that Freud and Jung commit this fallacy. Freud considered mystical realizations to be regressions to infantile oceanic states. Wilber alleges that Freud thus commits a fallacy of reduction. Wilber thinks that Jung commits the converse form of the same mistake by considering pre-rational myths to reflect divine realizations.”
Definitely looks like the New Age Movement was the tiger’s breakfast. Welcome to the Age of Aquarius or rather? the “shadow side” of Aquarius…a demi-Dark Age…before the dawn of a more integrated and hopefully less naive view of reality.
Flashback: From the movie version of the musical Hair released in 1979 and primarily filmed in New York City’s Central Park and Washington Square Park. The story is about the journey of a young man who gets involved with a tribe of politically active hippies of the “Age of Aquarius” who live a counter-culture, bohemian life in New York City.
“Aquarius” Hair (1979)
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Photo Credit: A New York City fireman calls for 10 more rescue workers to make their way into the rubble of the World Trade Center (Text by U.S. Navy) U.S. Navy Photo by Journalist 1st Class Preston Keres