Saturday, April 14, 2007

Ancient's Guide to New Age

As part of the April A-Z blog challenge on all things mystical, here' the letter N...

Clarice had a perceptible touch of free spirit, yet didn't flit about waving crystals at him or using the lingo of some other New Agers he'd had the curious experience of meeting.
--Excerpt from VISIONS

For many, the term "New Age" evokes images of tutti-frutti hippie types who wear bangle bracelets and tie-dyed skirts, slap tambourines, and worship crystals. But what IS New Age, really? Is it really "new?"

First off, New Age is a belief system--and yet it is not one. It is not organized like Judaism or Christianity. Rather, it is an umbrella term for those who follow their own spiritual path through a variety of means. New Age followers tend to have forged their paths by drawing from a spectrum of diverse beliefs: Shamanism, Eastern and Western beliefs, Paganism, and Kabbalah, for instance. So while New Age in and of itself is considered a "new" practice, the principles from which it is derived date back as far as ancient times.

Skeptics and critics of the movement often argue that a self-guided spiritual path without a sacred book to guide it is invalid or immoral. However, many modern religions are hybridized from a series of earlier beliefs. (Tomorrow's blog will discuss one of these--Oestara or Ostara.) Scientists also criticize the movement because some practitioners have cited scientific examples to demonstrate mystical principles.

Defining New Age to an exact degree is difficult because it lacks a standard set of beliefs and practice in order to claim membership. However, there are several attributes commonly seen among those who are part of this movement. Here are just a few:

--Environmental concerns and reverence for all life and matter
--Acknowledgement that all things are connected by a spiritual energy, for which God can be a name
--Belief that feminine forms of spiritual and/or divine energy exist
--The mind has abilities that exceed the natural and taps the supernatural, such as in psychic power
--Crystals and rocks contain energies with special attributes, which can be channeled for healing and other uses
--Meditation is a valuable practice for a number of physical, emotional, and spiritual ends.

A "New Age" individual needn't necessarily subscribe to all these common threads nor adhere to stereotypes, but they typically follow at least some of these ideas.

Do you believe any of the above? Perhaps YOU are a New Ager and just never realized it!

For more information on New Age beliefs, visit these sites: