New Age

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New Age,

a term popularized in the 1980s to describe a wide-ranging set of beliefs and practices that are an outgrowth of the counterculture of the 1960s and 70s in the United States. Adherents of the New Age movement believe that a spiritual era is dawning in which individuals and society will be transformed. The movement encompasses a wide range of ideas, including personal spiritual growth and self-realization, holistic medicineholistic medicine,
system of health care based on a concept of the "whole" person as one whose body, mind, spirit, and emotions are in balance with the environment. Stressing personal responsibility for health, a holistic approach may include conventional medicine and various
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 (including the use of crystals for healing), reincarnationreincarnation
[Lat.,=taking on flesh again], occupation by the soul of a new body after the death of the former body. Beliefs vary as to whether the soul assumes the new body immediately or only after an interval of disembodiment.
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, astrologyastrology,
form of divination based on the theory that the movements of the celestial bodies—the stars, the planets, the sun, and the moon—influence human affairs and determine the course of events.
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, and the mystical energies said to be induced by pyramids. Many critics of the movement regard it as anti-intellectual. In music, the term refers to meditative, relaxing, usually instrumental styles.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

New Age

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

A modern term given to a spiritual movement originating in the 1960s that embraces meditation, belief in reincarnation, creation of one's own reality, nonconventional religion, channeling, astrology, tarot, holistic medicine, use of crystals, various healing techniques, and many of the arts and sciences previously listed under the heading of "occult." As a label, it serves a useful purpose in attracting seekers and querants who might otherwise be repulsed by the occult heading.


The Witch Book: The Encyclopedia of Witchcraft, Wicca, and Neo-paganism © 2002 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

New Age


an Indian English-language weekly, the central organ of the Communist Party of India. Founded in 1953, the newspaper is published in New Delhi.


Kruglov, E. V. Kommunisticheskaia pechat’ Indii. Moscow, 1966.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

New Age


As a social movement held together by specific ideas, the New Age can be traced to the late 1950s. The following four essential ideas came to distinguish the movement. None are particularly new ideas, their distinctiveness lying in their being brought together in a new gestalt.

  • The self as Divine. Within the New Age one theological affirmation has found popular support: the identification of the individual as one in essence with the divine. Underlying this notion, which takes a wide variety of forms, is a monistic world in which the only reality is “God,” usually thought of in predominantly impersonal terms such as “mind” or “energy.”
  • The possibility of personal transformation. The New Age movement offers the possibility of personal transformation in the immediate future. The transformative process is most clearly seen in the healing process, and transformation often is first encountered as a healing of the individual, either of a chronic physical problem or a significant psychological problem. Healing has become a metaphor for transformation and adoption of a healthy lifestyle, a prominent concern of New Agers.
  • The hope of broad cultural transformation. The New Age movement offered hope that the world, which many people, especially those on the edges of the dominant culture, experience in negative terms, would be transformed and enter into a golden era. It is, of course, the millennial hope of the coming of a golden age of peace and light that gave the New Age movement its name.
  • The transformation of occult arts and processes. The New Age movement embraces the familiar occult practices, from astrology and tarot to mediumship and psychic healing. Yet in the New Age movement the significance of these practices has been considerably altered. Astrology and tarot are no longer fortunetelling devices, but tools used for self-transformation.

The New Age movement has tended to latch onto several aspects of the faddish interest in dreams in contemporary culture. For example, new dream dictionaries, containing interpretations of specific dream images, have been composed to express a New Age perspective. Betty Bethard’s The Dream Book: Symbols for Self-Understanding (1983), is a useful example. As do the occult arts, the New Age sees dreams as tools for transformation and healing, as discussed in Patricia Garfield’s popular book The Healing Power of Dreams.

Some New Agers have also shown interest in lucid dreaming, the practice of becoming conscious during one’s dreams and learning to control their direction. Of note in this field are the works of Stephen LaBerge and Carlos Castaneda. Various forms of dream yoga from Eastern religions have also influenced New Age thought. As with other kinds of dreamwork, lucid dreaming is viewed as a potential tool for healing and self-transformation.

The Dream Encyclopedia, Second Edition © 2009 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.

New Age

a. a philosophy, originating in the late 1980s, characterized by a belief in alternative medicine, astrology, spiritualism, etc.
b. (as modifier): New Age therapies
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
Perhaps we shouldn't be surprised to see a spaceship in the backwoods of Madison County, North Carolina; after all, the New Agers who have taken over nearby Asheville write books on the alien activity in the area.
YWAM and Christian Direction have co-operated in projects, including a mission to New Agers. Alongside astrologers, tarot-readers and flying saucer enthusiasts, they have a booth at a twice-yearly psychic fair in Montreal.
It has poked fun at greedy medical professionals, trendy New Agers and emotionally challenged men who enroll in sensitivity training workshops.
More critical words appear in his attack on purveyors of pseudoscience, such as homeopaths and New Agers, who espouse nothing short of "drivel," writes the author.
It follows that in such a dynamic, chancy universe, the Holy One cannot be the cuddly Super-Therapist proposed by New Agers. Spirituality acquires a new context.
The readers are, consequently, treated to new agers, healers, psychologists, hypnotists, dietary specialists, et cetera, but also to wine-testing, cigar-testing, shopping trips to the German border, and various sporting events, none of which inspire the narrator to move toward a more satisfying life.
I once had a dreadful vision of new agers traipsing around Wounded Knee in 1890, collecting pretty bits and bobs of spiritual regalia from the frozen bodies of Indian women, children and Elders, to the tune of "Tiptoe through the tulips..."
The Maya themselves never thought that the end of the long count would mark the end of the world, but some modern New Agers fear the apocalypse when the last hour of the last day on the Mayan calendar ticks away.
To the delight/terror of many it seems the New Agers are now here to stay, as the many shops flogging trinkets and books unlocking Mystical Powers exemplify.
Spring Air's Four Seasons collection, ready to roll out on retail floors, seeks to push the right buttons of environmentally conscious New Agers. A promotional flier features a father and his young son sitting in a golden field of grain, communing with nature, with the headline: "The pursuit of a more natural way of life." Mattress materials include organic layered fibers, 100 percent natural latex, wool, silk and down.
New Agers may be intrigued by the number and behavior of the angels; Judeo-Christian tradition sees their importance not as distinct personalities but as bearers of a divine message.
The social profile of New Agers is known: urban educated middle-class and middle-aged, a majority of whom are women (Champion 1993; Rose 1998).