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The phrase New Age represents a movement or wave of new ideas, based upon one’s own experiences, acceptance of the old ones with new rationale, or as reactions to the traditional beliefs and practice. The new age started emerging since the late 20th century.
This new age wave is a confluence of many individual currents of thoughts, beliefs and ideas, some of which merge their identity with the wave while others stubbornly maintain it. What lends uniqueness to the New Age movement is that it is not regimental or autocratic in nature like many organized religions, where non-conformists views are treated as heresy and suppressed with a vengeance.
It is an eclectic approach aimed at spiritual exploration where, speaking figuratively, each one is wielding his spade or a shovel to dig out the spiritual mine.
The New Age is marked by its unity in extreme diversity.
It is a kind of new religion which is like wikipedia or a blogger’s website to which everyone can contribute his views without forcing anyone to accept or reject them. It is most democratic movement where the positive views of all the participants are duly registered and become a part of the mainstream. Its extreme diversity does not qualify it for a denominational identity.
Most of the ideas of the New Age are an amalgam of the older elements of occidental and oriental spiritual and religious beliefs and traditions. The effort is made to rationalize these ideas on the principles of modern sciences especially psychology and ecology. Like every other social, religious or political movement, the New Age ideas find expression in multiple artistic media such as music, films, theater, arts and crafts.
The New Age has given birth to a comprehensive and wide ranging literature on spirituality which has taken into its sweep the mystical religious traditions, alternative medical systems, paranormal, psychic and metaphysical practices like
- tarot cards,
- environmental considerations,
- Hinduism and much more.
New Age from Astrological/Psychic and historical perspective
According to Astrology, there are 12 zodiac signs or circular divisions of the ecliptic, the rotational path of the Sun which moves across the sky spanning 360 degrees in course of a year.
The sun takes about 25,920 years to complete its orbit. This period is called the Great Year or Platonic Year. Going by this data, each of the 12 zodiac signs, therefore, takes about 2160 (25,920 divided by12) years on average to cover 30 degrees—each degree, obviously takes about 72 years.
The period taken by the passage of each astrological sign is called Astrological Age.
So when the astrological age of one zodiac sign ends, the NEW (astrological) AGE named after the succeeding sign begins.
Interestingly enough the astrological ages, according to astronomers, make a retrograde progression, that is, move in opposite direction. In effect, it means that the Astrological or New Age starts with Pisces and not with Aries. Currently, therefore, the age of Pisces has ended and the New Age (of Aquarius) has begun.
It is difficult to assign the exact date of the beginning of the New Age. According to some experts, it started dawning about five centuries back as is evident from the writings of several eminent thinkers and philosophers including, for example,
Emanuel Swedenborg (1688–1772), a Swedish scientist turned mystic, who claimed that he could “travel to Heaven and Hell and communicate with angels, demons and spirits.” He was followed by Franz Mesmer (1734–1815), who dabbled in magneto-therapy, a form of alternative medicine.
The third eminent personality was Helena Blavatsky (1831–1891), a Russian theologian, who drew upon the influences of the Eastern religions, particularly Hinduism and Buddhism and tried to integrate them with Western thoughts.
The credit of the use of the term New Age, however, goes to the famous English poet William Blake who wrote the famous mystical poem: The Tiger
Tiger, tiger, burning bright
In the forests of the night
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?
He is reported to have used the term in 1809 in one of his writings.
The famous American mystic and psychic Edgar Cayce who was known for trance and channelling practices contributed to the advent of the New Age movement in the early to mid- 1900s.
It was the eminent scholar and psychologist, Carl Jung who actually named the New Age after Aquarius.
The term New Age, however, made definite and palpable appearance in the second half of the 20th century with the publication of the journal of the same name, New Age Journal, in mid-1970s. Several other books and magazines on important New Age subjects and ideas such as alternate medicine, psychics, spirituality, mind, body, yoga and spirit also appeared in the coming years. All these ideas cumulatively became the corner stones of the New Age movement.
The New Age movement embraces all the progressive ideas from every stream of thought and discipline such as psychics, science, theology, Hinduism, Paganism, Christianity, Witchcraft, Islam or Sufism, psychology, Kabbalah from Judaism, Taoism from Chinese. It has become the most democratic, liberal and pluralistic movement of thoughts and ideas, howsoever contradictory and contrarian they may be.
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