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The social geography of new age spirituality in Vancouver Mills, Colin Ivor 1994

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THE SOCIAL GEOGRAPHYOF NEW AGE SPIRITUALITYIN VANCOUVERByCOLIN IVOR MILLSB.A., The University of British Columbia, 1990.A THESIS SUBMITThD IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OFTHE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OFMASTER OF ARTSinFACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES(Department of Geography)We accept this thesis as conformingrequ andardTHE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIAJanuary, 1994.© Cohn Ivor Mills, 1994.In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanceddegree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make itfreely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensivecopying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of mydepartment or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying orpublication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my writtenpermission.The University of British ColumbiaVancouver, Canada(Signature)Department of______/Date 2-DE-6 (2/88)11ABSTRACT -The Social Geography of New Ae Spirituality in VancouverIt was expected that by the end of the twentieth-century, due to humanachievement and technology, religion would be a mere fading memory in the minds andthe history books of modernized western people. This has been expressed through thesecularization thesis, which describes a “disenchantment” of western culture. Over thelast ten years, however, there has been a growing movement seeking to re-enchant thisculture by exploring and reconsidering religion, myth and spirituality. One of the mostpowerful expressions of this is popularly referred to as the New Age Movement. Thisthesis looks at the relationship between New Age and secularization theory, examiningthe reasons for an apparent turn away from secularization. By using Jacques Ellul’sinterpretation of the history of the sacred, this thesis proposes that far from being a timeof secularization, modernism ushered in an era where the sacred canopy of Christianitywas replaced by a new sacred expression in the form of science and technology. In recentyears, however, the perceived failure of modernism has generated a search for a new setof sacred expressions in western society. New Age and postmodernism are vehicleswhich people are using to initiate this search. Currently both phenomena are looking tothree sources in order to recover meaning and control over life: the past and the distant,nature and the self. The theoretical challenge New Age and postmodernism represents tothe secularization thesis is made concrete in the geography of the New Age Movement.This thesis makes a physical connection between the New Age and areas of gentrification,which contradicts the assumptions of the secularization thesis by proving that an areawhich should be highly secularized is in fact a place of spiritual exploration.111Table of ContentsAbstract iiTable of Contents iiiTable of Figures vAcknowledgements viiChapter One - Introduction 1General Introduction 1Methodology 3Introduction to Participants 11Chapter Two - An Introduction to the New Age Movement 30Defining the New Age Movement 30The Prevalence of the New Age Movement 39Describing the New Age Movement: New Age Beliefs 56Conclusion 72Chapter Three - Cultural Preparation for the New Age 73Introduction 73Jacques Ellul: The New Demons 75Enlightenment to Modernism 82Questioning Modernism 94From Modernism to Postmodernism 100Conclusion 101Chapter Four - Living the Postmodern 103Introduction 103Role of Narratives and Meta-narratives 104The Recovery of Meaning: The Distant and the Past 107The Recovery of Meaning: Nature 114The Recovery of Meaning: Self 119Jean Baudrillard and Shirley MacLame: Image and Reality 121Conclusion 127Chapter Five-Modernism, Postmodernism and New Age:A Common Purpose 129Modernism and Modernization 129The Characteristics of Modernism 130The Common Thread: Control 136New Age and Science: Proving the Connection 163Conclusion 175ivChapter Six - The 1960s Counterculture and the New Age Movement 177The 1960’s Counterculture 177Countercultures in Vancouver 207Conclusion 214Chapter Seven - Common Ground: A Voice for New Age in Vancouver 215Introduction 215Measuring the Growth 221Some General Observations 225New Age Finds Common Ground: Themes and. Trends 229Conclusion 253Chapter Eight - The Geography of New Age in Vancouver 255Gentrification 255Gentrification, Kitsilano and the New Age Movement 261Lifestyle, Kisitlano and Spiritual Geography of New Age 271Conclusion 294Chapter Nine - Conclusion 297References 306VTable of FiguresFigure 1.1 - Base Map of Vancouver and Surrounding Districts 7Figure 4.1 - Dominant Modem World View and Deep Ecology 118Figure 4.2 - Mobius Strip 124Figure 4.3 - T’ai-Chi 124Figure 4.4 - Figure from The Aquarian Conspiracy 125Figure 5.1 - Number of Listings in the categories “Events” and “Ongoing Events” 148Figure 5.2 - Natural Law Party Theory of Universal Governance 170Figure 6.1 - Age Distribution in Kitsilano and Vancouver, 1951 - 1986 211Figure 6.2 - Membership for all Protestant Churches, Kitsilano, 1951- 1986 212Figure 7.1 - Number of Copies of Common Ground Printed Per Issue 222Figure 7.2 - Number of Pages Per Issue of Common Ground 223Figure 7.3 - Advertisements in Common Ground: Number in Resource Directory 224Figure 7.4 - Advertisements in Common Ground: Number of IndependentAdvertisements 224Figure 7.5 - Advertisements in Common Ground: Total Number of Advertisement PerIssue 225Figure 7.6 - Number of Health, Psychology and Spirituality Listings 246Figure 7.7 - Percentage of Advertising in Health, Psychology and Spirituality 246Figure 8.1 - Social Status in Kitsilano: 1950 - 1980 263Figure 8.2 - Percentage of Kitsilano Population with a University Education 264Figure 8.3 - Location of Advertisers from: “Health, Healing & Bodywork”,Psychology Therapy & Counselling” and “Spiritual Practices”in 1983 265viFigure 8.4 - Location of Advertisers from: “Health, Healing & Bodywork”,Psychology Therapy & Counselling” and “Spiritual Practices”in 1987 265Figure 8.5 - Location of Advertisers from: “Health, Healing & Bodywork”,Psychology Therapy & Counselling” and “Spiritual Practices”in 1993 266Figure 8.6 - Changes in Advertising from: “Health, Healing & Bodywork”,Psychology Therapy & Counselling” and “Spiritual Practices”from 1983 to 1987 267Figure 8.7 - Changes in Advertising from: “Health, Healing & Bodywork”,Psychology Therapy & Counselling” and “Spiritual Practices”from 1983 to 1987 268Figure 8.8 - Change in Number of Specifically New Age Advertisers fromall Resource Categories, 1983 - 1987 269Figure 8.9 - Change in Number of Specifically New Age Advertisers fromall Resource Categories, 1987 - 1993 269Figure 8.10 - Absolute Numbers of Specifically New Age Advertisers inCommon Ground, 1983 270Figure 8.11 - Absolute Numbers of Specifically New Age Advertisers inCommon Ground, 1987 270Figure 8.12 -Absolute Numbers of Specifically New Age Advertisers inCommon Ground, 1993 271Figure 8.13 - Distribution of Participants 272Figure 8.14 - Base Map of Generalized Districts 273Figure 8.15 - Average Number of Years Participants have been OperatingCurrent Business 274Figure 8.16-Percentage of Votes for Natural Law Party, by District 276viiAcknowledgmentsI must begin my acknowledgments by recognizing the unparalleled support which wasfreely given to me by Letty, who was with me at the beginning of this project as mygirlfriend and was with me as my wife when I completed it. I could not have completedthis without her love along with her emotional, spiritual and financial support. This thesisexists because she believed I could do it.I must also extend gratitude to my senior advisor Dr. David Ley. His gentle correcting,seemingly endless well of insight, constant encouragement and patience were invaluable.Also I would like to thank Dr. Craig Gay who taught me about secularization and waswilling to take on the task of being the second reader of this thesis.Of course I must also extend my thanks to the members of my family. To my parents,thank- you for your support and faith in my abilities. To my brother, sister and brother-in-law thank-you for your proof reading and support.I would like to thank my parents-in-law, Lorette Woolsey and Ralph Hakstian whograciously and generously gave me unrestricted access to their computer equipment onwhich 1 did all my printing.I would like to thank Stephen Buckley who was a constant friend and support throughoutthis project. I thank him for his proof reading and for being a ready ear for my manyideas. Our many late-night discussions were most fruitful. Similarly I would like to thankAndrew Jinks and Frank Wallace who also did proof reading.I am perhaps most indebted to the thirty interview participants who offered their time andlife stories for my thesis. Thank-you all for being so generous, gracious and forthcoming.Finally I am anxious to thank the Lord God who granted me the talents and gifts to beable to create this work. It is my hope and prayer that in the future God will use this worktowards His own glory.1Chapter One -INTRODUCTIONGENERAL INTRODUCTIONAlmost everybody has heard about it, yet it seems that few people can define it.Everyone knows someone who they would consider to be part of it, yet few claim to bepart of it themselves. Many people know it is here, however, few seem to know where ithas come from. Associated with Hollywood and Southern California as a whole, theNew Age Movement and its philosophies appear in movies, television shows, books andnewspaper articles. Almost passé is the omni-present image of Shirley MacLame whichis presented visually and conjured-up mentally whenever the topic is raised in the mediaor in everyday conversation. The expressions “You create your own reality”, “Followyour bliss” and “Find the god within you” have become common-place. New Age ideashave entered into the school system, big business, politics and even traditional churches.Everyone comes in contact with it in one form or another yet it is rarely recognized, oftenbecause it is present in very subtle ways. But what is it? Where did it come from? Why isit here? And why is it here now?In this thesis I attempt to deal with some of these issues in detail. This chapter,(Chapter One) deals firstly with the research methodology used in the construction of thisthesis. This involves a description of the approaches taken in deciding whatphilosophical and methodological frameworks I used in discussing the New AgeMovement in general. I will also outline what methods were used in the gathering ofinterview and numerical data. Secondly this chapter introduces the reader to the NewAge practitioners who volunteered their time and their life stories in this research.In chapter two we encounter the New Age Movement, attempting a definition andidentifying where in society it is present. Also, some of the most fundamental beliefs aredescribed. In chapters three, four, and five we step away from the New Age specifically2and look at broader contexts of western culture. In doing this we will establish a culturalcontext from which the New Age Movement arose. This section begins in chapter threewith an examination of the secularization thesis, a valuable heuristic for exploring therelationship between religion and society. Given the nature of the secularization thesis,however, I opted to use the less well known work of Jaques Ellul in order to provide aperspective which allowed more room for the existence of the sacred in society than isprovided for in the standard body of secularization literature.In chapter four we will turn our attention to the contemporary academic project ofpostmodernism. Here we will look at the reasons for the perceived failure of modernismas well as the nature of postmodernism. Similarly we will see how postmodernism andthe New Age Movement are related to each other. This exercise will provide a furtherglimpse into the nature of the New Age Movement as well as providing furtherindications of the cultural context in which the New Age Movement exists.In chapter five we examine the relationships between New Age, modernism andpostmodernism, considering the most basic premises of each and finding a point of originwhich is the same in each of these movements. This chapter demonstrates that whileeach movement uses vastly different techniques to achieve its goal, in fact the goal ofeach movement is the same in some important respects. In chapter six we step away fromthe philosophical background of the previous chapter and begin to examine the realhistory of the New Age Movement. We begin this process by looking at the cradle of theNew Age, the 1960s counterculture movement. Here we will see the outworking of thetheoretical points raised in the previous chapters with a particular emphasis on how thiswas manifest in Vancouver. Similarly this chapter will provide some concrete linksbetween the New Age and the counterculture movement.Chapter seven concentrates on the New Age Movement and its particularmanifestations in Vancouver. This will begin with an analysis of Common Groundmagazine, the longest running New Age publication in Vancouver. Common Ground3will give us some insight on the growth of the movement in the Lower Mainland and willalso provide a tool for assessing the prevalence of the New Age ideas and belief systemsdiscussed in earlier chapters.This discussion will then turn, in chapter eight to a discussion of the geography ofNew Age in Vancouver. Using a variety of resources we will see how the New Age fitsinto the socio-geographical landscape of Vancouver, and is associated with the middleclass phenomenon of gentrification.METHODOLOGYBackground MaterialThe New Age Movement is a topic which, to date, is largely unstudied. Theredoes exist a large body of material coming from within the movement which deals withits various ideas, techniques and practices. These books, however, rarely stand back fromthe ideological position which they are promoting to consider what the New AgeMovement itself is and where it has come from. For the most part the literature which isavailable in New Age bookstores deals with special interests. Perhaps the mostsignificant departure from this is the landmark New Age book, The AquarianConspiracy,’ by Marilyn Ferguson. This document was designed to reveal the myriadmanifestations of the supposed forthcoming age of spiritual, social and personalenlightenment, which has been dubbed the Age of Aquarius, a name derived fromastrology. The book covers a wide range of topics but unfortunately is so fast paced thatit leaves the reader breathless, for it rarely dwells on any topic for more than a fewparagraphs. The result is a broad brush approach which displays the breadth of New Age,but fails to provide any detailed accounts of what the “Aquarian Conspiracy” is about or‘Marilyn Ferguson, The Aquarian Conspiracy: Personal and Social Transformations in the 1980’s,(Los Angeles: Houghton Mifflin, 1980.)4where it came from. Despite its shortcomings however, it remains the mostcomprehensive self-evaluation of the movement to have come from New Age circles.As valuable to my research as any of the New Age texts were the two local NewAge magazines, Common Ground and Shared Vision. These were invaluable resources,providing up-to-date glimpses into the changing world of the New Age Movement. Witharticles written about local and global topics relating to New Age, interviews withsignificant New Age figures and an endless list of New Age advertising, these twomagazines formed the bedrock of my New Age source material.Another body of literature relating to the New Age comes from evangelicalChristianity. While it is immediately apparent that most of the books written about theNew Age Movement from this perspective are critical, there is a surprising variety in theperspectives taken. This genre of literature ranges from the hyper-critical conspiracytheories, such as Dave Hunt’s The Seduction of Christianity: Spiritual Discernment in theLast Days,2 to more objective and factual books such as Understanding the New Age, byRussell Chandler3 the Religion Editor of the L.A. Times and the book, A Crash Courseon the New Age Movement by Elliot Miller4 and, Unmasking the New Age by DouglasGroothuis.5There are also a few which can only be categorized as brief and incompleteaccounts of the movement such as, From Nirvana to the New Age,6 by Mary Ann Lind.There are also accounts of individuals who have spent time in the movement, but haveleft to become Christians, (see The New Age Nightmare,7or Escape into the Light.8 ).For the most part the better books in this genre provide very good summaries of what the2David Hunt and T.A. McMahon, The Seduction of Christianity: Spiritual Discernment in the LastDays, (Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House, 1986.)3Russell Chandler. Understanding the New Age. (Dallas, Texas: Word Publishing, 1988)4Elliot Miller, A Crash Course on the New Age Movement. (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker BookHouse: 1989.)5Douglas R. Groothuis, “Unmasking The New Age”, (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1986.)6Mary Ann Lincl, From Nirvana to the New Age, (Tarrytown, New York: Flemming H. Revell Co., 1991.)7Randall R. Baer, Inside the New Age Nightmare, (Layfayette, Louisiana: Huntington House, 1989.)8Rabi Maharaj, Escape into the Light, (Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House, 1984.)5New Age believes and they may also provide theoretical frameworks for classifyingdivisions between different components of the New Age.Perhaps the most disappointing source of information and analysis on the NewAge was in formal academic research. One of the few books to be published dealing withthe New Age was a secular attack on the New Age entitled, Not Necessarily the NewAge.9 There were very few journal articles in any field, including sociology, dealing withthe New Age. One of the strongest academic bodies of literature on the New AgeMovement was seemingly available in the German language sources and was unavailableto me. Only one Ph.D. thesis was available to me, on New Age services in Californiaentitled, Consciousness shifts to psychic perception: The strange world of New Ageservices and their providers’0by Susan Fries Roberts. In short the material which dealtwith the New Age Movement from an academic perspective was thin indeed. As wasnoted by Roberts noted in her thesis: “There are very few qualified studies of the occultand none of the New Age.”Another genre of literature became significant in my exploration of the New Age.In discussing how and why the New Age related to contemporary North Americanculture, I explored in depth the large body of literature relating to the secularizationthesis. This is an area of study which explores the function of religion in western societyand its apparently decreasing significance since the time of the Enlightenment. Asidefrom the founding theorists such as Max Weber and Emile Durkheim, I used the morecontemporary works of Peter Berger and David Lyon as central texts. However, inresearching the secularization thesis in relation to the New Age Movement it becameapparent that the rise of the New Age Movement challenged the secularization thesisrather than supporting it. In consideration of this I opted to use more intensely a work by9Robert Basil (ed.) Not Necessarily the New Age: Critical Essays, (Buffalo, New York: PrometheusBooks, 1988.)t0Susan Fries Roberts, Consciousness shifts to psychic perception: The strange world ofNew Age servicesand their providers, Ph.D. Thesis, University of California, Berkley, 1989.1Robers, 294.6Jacques Ellul entitled, The New Demons,12 a work which provides a framework whichuses much of the substance of the secularization thesis, but which also provides atheoretical method which does not dismiss the New Age Movement as being a mere“blip” on the screen or an anomaly which does not really need to be explained. Ellulprovides a means of evaluating the New Age Movement as being a potentially significantevent in western culture.In chapter eight I deal with the geographical issue of the upgrading of inner cityneighbourhoods, otherwise known as gentrification. This is done in order to drawparallels between the culture of New Age and a particular segment of contemporarywestern culture. In order to do this I draw heavily on the theoretical and practicalresearch of David Ley. Fortunately, most of his research on gentrification is drawn fromCanadian, and specifically Vancouver case studies, hence making this segment ofgentrification research particularly pertinent to my thesis. Adding to the relevance ofLey’s research is the fact that he has also done work specifically relating to therelationships between gentrification and secularization.Common Ground Content AnalysisA significant component in my ethnographic research was to familiarize myselfwith the New Age community in Vancouver. One of the methods used to achieve thiswas through reading the local New Age magazine named, Common Ground, publishedquarterly since winter 1982/3. The staff at Common Ground were kind enough to provideall the back issues of the magazine, with the exception of issue number six, which wasunavailable. The magazine allowed me to read the things New Agers themselves werereading, to access what services were being offered, grasp New Age beliefs anddiscussion points and identify key figures in the New Age. In short, Common Groundprovided one window into the New Age scene in Vancouver.12Jacques Ellul, The New Demons, (Trans. C. Edward Hopkins), New York: Seabury Press, 1975.7Common Ground, however, served another important purpose. Given that themagazine has been publishing for approximately eleven years, it provided somewhat ofan historical - geographical perspective on the movement in Vancouver. By mapping thelocation of advertisers over the magazine’s history, I was able to assess how themovement has grown over the past eleven years. Doing this, however, was no simpletask. A minority of advertisers actually provided addresses, hence a map had to becreated using telephone prefixes as location indicators. Unfortunately, in Vancouver andNorth VoncouverWest VancouverBurnobyNew WestminsterRichmondPort CoquitlomDeltaSurrey/White RockFraser Valley___________Other B.C.the surrounding area there are no clear geographical boundaries as defined by telephoneprefixes, nor does B.C. Tel. provide to the public any maps that would aid in this effort,aside from the very simple map printed at the front of each telephone book. As a result,Base Map of Vancouver andSurrounding DistrictsVictoriaVancouver Island8the geographical areas which I created to accommodate this weakness are somewhatcrude and undetailed (see Figure 1.1). They do, however, I believe portray accurately thegeneral picture of the geographic growth and distribution of New Age in Vancouver.The difficulties associated with the mapping of Common Ground advertising werecompounded by the fact that not every advertiser is associated with the New AgeMovement. For many it appears that the magazine is merely a good vehicle foradvertising their product or service despite the fact that that product or service is in noway associated with New Age per Se. The result therefore is that for certain conclusionsto be drawn regarding the distribution or growth of New Age, the explicitly New Ageadvertisements had to be separated out from ones which were not New Age. This taskwas made exceedingly difficult by the inherently unclassifiable nature of the New AgeMovement (see chapter two). As a means of determining which advertisements qualified,I decided upon the criterion that the advertisement had to make reference to something ofa spiritual nature in order to be classified as New Age. This system had the unfortunatecharacteristic of being inclusive of spiritual traditions which in substance would not beordinarily classified as New Age, and similarly it was exclusive of products or serviceswhich were known (from other sources) as being explicitly part of the New AgeMovement. In extreme cases where it was certain that the adopted system wasinadequate, prior knowledge and information from other sources was used to makerevisions.Similarly, the data gathered from Common Ground were problematic in that therewas no way of determining what segments of the New Age do not advertise in themagazine. It is possible that certain people or organizations that could be consideredNew Age in nature might find the magazine too expensive, too radical or too conservativeor may simply not feel the need to advertise in it. In chapter eight, where the data areexplored in depth, these shortcomings are taking into consideration and other sources areused in an effort to increase the validity of my findings.9Interview SubjectsAs an ethnography, perhaps the most important component of my research lay infamiliarizing myself with the New Age Movement as it was manifest in Vancouver.While researching my thesis I attended free seminars and lectures, sat in coffee shops inKitsilano watching people, talked with bookstore owners, perused New Age gift stores,and read the two local New Age magazines, Common Ground and Shared Vision.Deciding, however to take-on the role of observer and not participant, at no time did Iever participate in any explicitly New Age activities, even when asked. My greatestresearch source, however, were thirty interviews I conducted between July and Septemberof 1993. The interviews were conducted with people who offered some sort of New Ageservice, or operated a retail outlet specializing in New Age products. All but three of theparticipants advertised in the Summer 1993 issue of Common Ground magazine.The interviewees were not chosen purely at random. Firstly all advertisementsthat did not make specifically spiritual comments were not considered. Secondly I triedto draw participants from a variety of the advertising categories which were listed inCommon Ground. Thirdly, I tried to have a broad ranging geographical distribution ofparticipants.I interview nine men and twenty-one women, which, if somewhat exaggerated,represents a pattern which exists within the New Age, a higher percentage of female thanmale participants.’3 The occupational distribution of the participants is as follows: ninewere involved in the retailing of New Age products, for example books, ornaments,videos, health foods, incense et cetera. Two were involved in New Age publishing.Three were part of the category “Intuitive Arts” which includes psychics, astrologers,Tarot and Runes. Six were involved in psychology, therapy or counselling and offeredservices such as past-life regression, channeling, re-birthing and breathwork. Seven13Roberts, 279.10offered services relating to the body such as herbal medicine, Reiki, Rolfing,Homeopathy, Trager, Reflexology or colon therapy. Three were involved with specificspiritual practices relating to a particular spiritual tradition.Even though many of the participants suggested that I could use their real names Iwill be using pseudonyms to hide their identity. Similarly, some details are repressed inthe text also to maintain anonymity. Throughout the thesis, I will be using verbatimstatements from the thirty interviews to develop my argument.In order to familiarize the reader with the respondents, a brief introduction to eachof the thirty participants follows. These are not meant to be comprehensive descriptionsof each person, rather they are a means of familiarizing the reader with the types ofindividuals who were interviewed for this project. Within these brief descriptions therewill be comments made about their childhood, how they became involved in the NewAge Movement and what it is they are currently doing in relation to the New AgeMovement. I also provide a general description of what area of the Lower Mainland theywork and/or live in. This geographical description is purposely kept very vague withdescriptors such as “a distant suburb of Vancouver”, or “Vancouver” to secure theanonymity of the participants.The interviews also demonstrated the difficulty associated with the classification“New Age”. While many of the interview subjects expressed discomfort with the termNew Age, but still recognized how others would classify them as such, other participantswere adamant that they were not classifiable as “New Age”. This posed a difficulty.While I did decide to exclude some of the potential candidates who I contacted on thisbasis, others (“Frank”, “John” and “Raj”) fit into a theoretical classification of New Agethough they excluded themselves from this categorization.11INTRODUCTION TO PARTICIPANTS“Barb”“Barb” was raised in a home where spirituality was not important. Although shehad vague ideas of there being a creator, she did not believe in God per Se. For manyyears this was the extent of her spiritual search, until 1986 when she read Out on aLimb,’4 by Shirley MacLame, a book which captured her interest and started her on aspiritual journey. Since she could not afford to attend most seminars and workshops atthis time, “Barb” continued to read, beginning in the area of positive thinking withauthors such as Louise Hay and Stuart Wilde, then moving to more spiritual issues withbooks written by authors such as Edgar Cayce and Emmit Fox. “Barbara’s” life changedsignificantly through reading and eventually she left her job, opening a New Age retailoutlet in a distant suburb of Vancouver in 1993.“Barbara”Raised in a United Church, until about the age of twelve or thirteen, “Barbara’s”interest in New Age type spiritualities began in about 1968 when, as a late teenager, shewas given a Tarot reading. For many years following “Barbara” was interested inreadings, but only became more deeply involved when she took a course in developingpsychic abilities in 1980. Since that time she has been actively doing readings for othersand has been meeting with a group of friends for meditation and communication with thedead. “Barbara” opened a retail outlet in an outlying suburb of Vancouver in 1993.14Sizirley MacLame, Out on a Limb, (New York: Bantam, 1983.)12“Becky”Few of the people interviewed demonstrated the breadth of experience that wasevident in the life-story of “Becky”. Born in Vancouver, Becky managed to travel widelyas a ski-instructor. Working in Canada, the U.S. and across Europe in the 1960s shebecame in her own words, “a cultural chameleon”. She worked the slopes with the jet-setin the winters, and in a travel bureau in Greece during the summer. It was during the1960s that she was exposed to the spiritual experimentation of traveling hippies inEurope. Having a spiritual up-bringing which was completely unstructured, “Becky”found it easy to explore many spiritual avenues. Eventually, in the late sixties, she joineda group of newly formed friends and traveled to Tibet on a “spiritual odyssey”, where shestayed in a Buddhist monastery. While many of her friends and acquaintances returned tothe west, she remained in Tibet training to become a Buddhist nun and teaching in themonastery. She traveled years later as a Buddhist missionary, setting-up Buddhist centresin Australia and other places. After being a nun for seventeen years she returned toVancouver, partially due to the failing health of her parents. After some more ski-instructing and some other jobs, she began her own spiritual practice in a Vancouversuburb, where she helps people with trance-channeling and meditation.ttBoristt“Boris” grew up in the Lower Mainland and, influenced greatly by poetry andinspired by the youth culture of the 1960s, he traveled around North America and joinedthe anti-Vietnam protests in Washington D.C., which were happening during that time.This was influential in his life, for much of “Boris’s” activities since then have beenrelated to political and environmental activism. Spiritually “Boris” derives much of hisinspiration from simplicity. Things such as prayer, meditation or simply creating musicform much of his “spiritual” life. He is aware of the Christian tradition with which hewas raised, but maintains a “...deep appreciation [for] many scriptures”. Professionally,13“Boris’s” career in New Age publishing arose ten years ago from the combination of anacademic interest and a desire to create a venue for publishing socially responsibleperspectives on issues which he perceived as being significant and urgent.“Carmen”“Carmen” grew-up in a small town in Ontario and had a childhood marked bysome significant challenges, such as a broken back, a serious eye injury, and anorexia.She was taken to the local Anglican church by her parents, but claims that the family wasin the category of “Winter Christians”, indicating that the spiritual implications of thereligion were not central in family life. Following a successful school career she held anumber of jobs, eventually becoming successful in sales. Eventually she left thisoccupation and traveled to Europe by herself and later arrived in Vancouver as anintended pit-stop on her way to Australia. She made it no further than Vancouver, saying“...as soon as I got off the plane I knew I was home.” Living in a Vancouver suburb, shebegan working in sales again and soon met a man who was marginally involved in NewAge-type seminars. They became romantically involved, eventually getting married. Shewas introduced, through her then boyfriend, to the world of New Age and after muchreading she began to pursue the dream of opening, “...some kind of centre [related] tobody, mind and spirit; the health of body, mind and spirit.” Eventually “Carmen” was ableto buy from another woman a New Age retail outlet in the neighbourhood where she hadbeen living. She has now been operating her business for two years. “Carmen” practicesTranscendental Meditation and other forms of meditation, she also draws meaning andinspiration from a variety of spiritual traditions, including Buddhism and Christianity,which she left quite consciously in her youth. She also has a particularly keen interest inissues related to New Age health-care.14“Celeste”Raised in a strong Catholic family in the interior of B.C., “Celeste” found manyconflicts between her experiences and Catholic teachings. In her teens she consciouslyrejected her Catholic background, but failed to find an immediate substitute. At the sametime she also was having significant psychic experiences which served more to confuseand scare her than to reassure her. Her only spiritual resource at the time was a copy ofthe book the Chrysalids’5 which she says was like a Bible to her. During her firstmarriage she removed herself from any spirituality, even suppressing psychicexperiences. Around the age of thirty she left her husband and resumed a career inacting. Through various contacts in this community she began exploring the spiritualityshe had, up until then, ignored since her childhood. Inspired by the feeling of having anew identity, “Celeste” officially changed her name to one she had been hearing inmeditation. After a number of self-healing experiences and a great deal of New Agespiritual exploration, “Celeste” had a synchronistic experience in which a persondescribed to her a geometric form which he had constructed, which exactly resembled aform she had been seeing during her meditations. Through a series of events, sheobtained the form and currently uses it in a group setting as an aid to spiritually enteringother dimensions and contacting spirit guides. “Celeste” does not operate this service forprofit.“Chris”Having considerable problems with what he was being taught in his localAnglican Sunday School, “Chris” did not really consider spiritual issues until he came toleave home in his teenage years. “Chris” was part of the 1960s youth culture and likemany in his generation began to separate the ideas of “religion” and “spirituality” from‘5john Wyndham, The Chrysalids, the Day of the Trffids.15each other. During this time he managed to live on a beach on Vancouver Island withsome other youths. “Chris” later began studies in massage and then later began studyingother health-care techniques and currently practices “Rolfing” and other procedures whichare popular in New Age circles. “Chris” began his career in Ottawa but found it toonarrow-minded there, so he moved to Vancouver where he has a successful practice.“Chris” remains areligious, but spiritual; he does, however feel somewhat drawn to ZenBuddhism.“Christine”“Christine” grew up in a very scientifically oriented home. With her father beinga rocket scientist and her brother a nuclear physicist she says that she was raised with “...ascience master on her shoulder.” With some experience in the youth culture of the 1960s,she developed an interest in esoteric philosophies which went against the grain of her upbringing. She challenges both science and Christianity, saying that they have much toanswer for in regards to current problems in the world. “Christine” draws inspiration andmeaning from a variety of sources including the 1-Ching, pagan traditions, the teachingsof “Christ-beings”, nature as well as the divine within herself. “Christine” gotprofessionally involved in the New Age in the early seventies, when she met and marriedthe owner of a metaphysical bookstore. She now runs her own New Age retail outlet in adistant suburb of Vancouver.“Claire”“Claire” is the owner of a New Age retail outlet located in an outlying suburb ofVancouver. In business for three years, “Claire’s” outlet grew out of her home where shesold similar products to friends and members of a Course in Miracles’6 group. Asidefrom a brief encounter with Christianity as a teenager, “Claire” was, “...not aware of‘6A Course in Miracles, 1975: (N.p., Foundation for Inner Peace.)16spiritual things,” until she began using some astrology, in her thirties, but even this, shesaid was done mostly out of a sense of boredom. A few years later “Claire” wasintroduced more seriously to the New Age through a re-birthing session, which changedher outlook on life significantly. This eventually led to the home group mentioned above.“Claire” says she has no dogma and finds much of her inspiration in nature.“David”“David” grew up in Vancouver in a family with an interesting and confusingspiritual background. His mother was from Vienna and was Jewish, but when she cameto Canada she attended and raised her children in a United church. Later in life she leftthe United church and became a Unitarian. “David’s” father had no use for religion, andaccused it of being a pretext for things like colonization and domination. “David” whogrew up in the era of the 1960s counterculture became very much a part of the youthscene at the time. Influenced by the spiritualities of the east and motivated by socialconcerns, “David” opened a retail outlet devoted to such things in the 1970s and currentlyowns and operates the same business.Unusually, despite the fact that “DC” was one of the oldest participants to beinterviewed, she was also one of the few participants to have been raised in anenvironment where New Age-type ideas were present. Born in 1929, “DC” recalls havingbeen a telepath from an early age. Her parents introduced her to all manner of religionsand philosophies and annually her family traveled to Montana from England for a monthof meditation with a large gathering of people. “DC” spent 45 years teaching piano,while also becoming an animal behaviourist. At one point in her life “DC” traveled as an17assistant to a hypnotist who had a performing act, an experience which opened her eyes tothe paranormal. “DC” also married a man with whom she explored the idea ofreincarnation and the practice of hypnotism. During the 1960s “DC” worked with EdgarCayce. After a debilitating accident in 1986, she traveled to the U.S. with a friend to aninstitute which dealt with out-of-body research and technological means of improvingmeditative states. This, combined with the advice of a psychic who she visited, caused“DC” to decide to train to become a registered hypnotherapist. Currently ‘DC” practiceshypnotherapy and is studying to complete a doctorate in hypnotherapy.“Debby”“Debby” was raised in a home where her mother consciously tried not to passdown the Anglican roots she grew up with. As a result “Debby” was not exposed tomuch religion in her childhood. Her introduction to New Age spirituality came when shewent for counselling to deal with abuse she had suffered from her grandfather. “Debby”eventually sought past-life regression to determine what karmic events had led her tochoose to be abused in this way. She also found some inspiration in the writings ofShirley MacLame. Having achieved a Master’s degree in Librarianship, “Debby” workedfor a while but soon was, “...given hints by the universe...” to leave this and pursue acareer dealing with New Age spirituality, which she did in March of 1993. “Debby”works out of her home in Vancouver and offers services in channeling, past-liferegression and hypnosis.“Frank”“Frank” is the interview subject who is the most difficult to confidently classify asbeing “New Age”. “Frank” is a high-priest in a particular denomination of witchcraft.While witchcraft itself is not “New Age”, the type of witchcraft he practices, the “StarSapphire” tradition, is perhaps closer to “New Age” than any other type of witchcraft.18“Frank” is adamant that he is not a New Ager, calling New Age a “fluffy” sort ofspirituality. Despite this, however, “Frank” does agree that his particular tradition is morelike New Age than most others would be, even to the point where in order to attract andaccommodate New Agers, Star-Sapphire Wicca will use the terminology, language andtechniques of New Age. The classifications associated with witchcraft and New Age arefurther complicated by the fact that witchcraft and many of the traditions associated withit are being used by many New Agers who are not practicing witches.“Frank”, was involved heavily with the l960s drug culture and was introduced towitchcraft in a rather unusual way. In the 1960s “Frank” met a magician who he befriended for a while, but with whom he became disillusioned after the friend decided toattack some witches who owned a bookstore in Vancouver. “Frank”, not havingparticipated in the attack that the friend boasted of, went to the bookstore and met thewitches. Impressed by their kindness, “Frank” became interested in Wicca and was laterformally initiated. In 1986 Frank had managed to become a high-priest. Two years ago,Frank’s wife opened a retail and service outlet for witches in a Vancouver suburb, inwhich “Frank” performs various functions relating to Wicca in the capacity of high-priest.veGeraldieHaving a non-spiritual up-bringing and spending most of his working career inheavy equipment operation and some time in the air-force, “Gerald” was not introducedto New Age ideas until he was in his 40s. Through reading some books on subjects suchas massage, reflexology, polarity therapy, biokinesiology and re-birthing “Gerald” gainedan interest in alternative medicines and healing techniques. After being part of a numberof workshops and groups, including a Course in Miracles17 group “Gerald” began to sellNew Age products. This led to the opening, three years ago of his New Age retail outlet,located in an outer suburb of Vancouver.17A Course in Miracles.19“Glory”“Glory” was raised in a fairly strict Catholic home, and attended Catholic schoolin Vancouver. For the most part her religious up-bringing was positive and she feels shefound out that she was a spiritual person in the Catholic church. Her early spiritualitywas also marked by the knowledge that she was psychic, which was something she didnot make known. As a teenager, however, in the late sixties and early seventies, likemany others “Glory” rebelled against her religious roots. Following an inspiring trip toAustralia, where she me someone she knew in a past life, “Glory” returned to Vancouverand began exploring spirituality by reading books recommended to her by her massagetherapist. Amongst them were the writings of Edgar Cayce and Shirley MacLame.“Glory” went on to train in a particular form of bodywork and currently operates apractice in Vancouver.“Herb”As a child, “Herb” was sent by his parents (who did not attend) to a United churchon Sunday mornings almost as a form of free baby-sitting. Largely uninfluenced by hischurch attendance, “Herb’s” first spiritual interest took the form of saving up enoughmoney as a high-schooler in the 1960s to take a Transcendental Meditation course.“Herb” was involved in the drug culture and read widely, including works by Baba RamDass and Herman Hess. In the 1970s, he joined an ashram led by a woman who claimedto be the incarnation of the Virgin Mary. After leaving this group, “Herb” complete aMasters and a Ph.D. in health-sciences, while maintaining an interest in religion andspirituality, periodically studying Sufism, Taoism, and western alchemy amongst others.He is now a practitioner and educator in the field of Herbology and has a flourishingpractice in Vancouver.20“Janice”Aside from having a Catholic mother and Protestant father, combined with someexperiences with a friend in a local Anglican church when she was young, IJaniceu grew-up without any real contact with religion. In the late 1960s, however, she had a friendwho was studying to be a Baptist minister. The contact with him inspired her to read theBible, and also generated an interest in such things as Zen Buddhism. This period ofspiritual interested lasted until her late twenties when she became too busy with otheraspects of her life to continue exploring. In her forties, however, this spiritual fascinationwas rekindled while she was in the middle of a successful professional career. “Janicebecame increasingly interested in all manner of spiritualities, and eventually left hercareer and its financial success, coming to the Lower Mainland and in 1989 opening aNew Age retail outlet in a distant Vancouver suburb.“Jewel”“Jewel” has always had a feeling of spiritual closeness with nature, while herimpressions of religion were negatively tainted by her father’s emphasis on guilt, sin andpunishment which he derived from the Bible. Similarly, she was put off church when shewitnessed certain “hypocrisies”. For many years she removed herself from all forms ofspirituality, but while in her twenties this changed when she began attending Unitychurch. It was here, after attending for about ten years that “Jewel” attended an eveningpresentation where she heard about the Course in 8 “Jewel” decided to read itand soon after, in 1983, she got involved in a New Age company called the New WorldNetwork, where she became more familiar with the ideas and concepts of New Age. Shewas later introduced to breathwork and re-birthing amongst other ideas. Since 1983,“Jewel” has been providing services in Vancouver relating to bodywork.18A Course in Miracles;21“Jill”“Jill” was sent to Sunday School as a child but portrays her family as being,“...almost hedonistic”. Influential in her spiritual development was a grandfather of herswho was at one time a Presbyterian missionary who left the mission field and came tobelieve that missions were extremely arrogant. Also in her childhood, she was opened toalternate spiritual experiences when she contacted and asked questions of a sister of herswho had died. “Jill” went on to school and completed a graduate degree in ReligiousStudies, eventually coming to teach in a University setting for a while. She also traveledto India in the early 1 970s where she learned a particular style of meditation and similarlytook up TM for a while back in North America. Her spiritual interests, having alwaysbeen broad began to encompass other areas more closely associated with the New AgeMovement, when at a Women’s Conference in the United States she was given a crystalby a woman who said she had worked with them before and would work with them again.“Jill” began working with crystals, doing crystal therapy and found that it came naturallyto her. This experience led her into many other fields associated with the New Ageincluding channeling, Reiki, sound therapy, aroma therapy, re-birthing, breathwork, thetawork, and past-life regression. Over the past twelve years she has been practicing one ormore of these techniques and currently offers services related to bodywork andchanneling.“John”“John” was raised in an unorthodox Jewish home, where the family religion washeld only nominally. Aside from the religion of his birth and an innate sense ofspirituality, “John” did not really become interested in spirituality until he becameinvolved in the 1960s counterculture movement. During this time he did someexperimenting with drugs, including some LSD and also read a lot of the works of22popular spiritual teachers. In about 1978 “John” got involved in a cult-like group whichrevolved around a single leader. After several years he left this group and becameinvolved in a group which promoted a particular spiritual tradition which has its roots inTibetan Buddhism. In 1983 “John” officially became a part of this group. Currently“John” is the information distribution person for this particular group in Vancouver, aservice which he volunteers for and performs outside of his regular employment, which isunrelated to any New Age activities. “John” operates this service from his home inVancouver.“John”, does not consider himself to be part of the New Age Movement becauseof his involvement in a group which derives directly from a long-standing Buddhisttradition. He does, however, agree that there are some similarities between his beliefsand those of New Age, despite his difficulties with what he perceives the New AgeMovement to be about.“Leslie”“Leslie” is an astrologer who has been in full-time business for about three years,an occupation she chose partly by necessity following being laid-off from her twenty-fiveyear professional career. She has been practicing astrology, however, for about twenty-one years, mostly as a hobby and a side-line. Born in England and raised in theMethodist tradition, “Leslie” was introduced to astrology while in the United States in1972 and found it immediately appealing. She has also experimented with macro-biotics,Taoism, Herbalism, Numerology, Tarot, various meta-physical arts, and all manner ofphilosophies. Finding value in all beliefs and traditions “Leslie” is continuouslysearching, although she emphasizes that astrology is a constant in her life which she hasnever left. “Leslie” lives in and works from a secondary suite in Vancouver’s westside.23“Lisa”“Lisa” was raised in foster homes and was the victim of a step-father who, in herwords was a “rageaholic”. Despite some good spiritual experiences with her foster-grandfather, she left home at sixteen and ended up in an unhappy marriage relationship.She left this relationship in 1978, with her two children, depressed and in a lot of pain.At this time she read a book entitled, The Nature of Personal Reality,’9 by Seth whichchanged her perspective on life by suggesting she take more personal responsibility overher life. She soon began going to Unity church and there learned affirmations sherepeated to herself regularly. She entered into a new relationship with a man who was anAstrologer and she herself became an Astrologer. She then took some re-birthingsessions and soon after decided to quit her regular job and become a re-birther. She alsolearned bodywork techniques and also began teaching bodywork. “Lisa” also learned towork with crystals and has read the Course in Miracles20 for many years. Currently“Lisa” practices and teaches bodywork, along with selling various New Age health-oriented products.“Lorrie”“Lorrie” grew up in Montreal, in a Catholic family, but says that the Catholicreligion never held any attraction for her. In contrast to “religion”, which “Lorrie” saysleads a person, she suggests that New Age “spirituality” allows people to lead themselves.Her introduction to the New Age occurred at about age twenty when she went to apsychiatrist for hypnotherapy relating to severe insomnia. During her hypnotherapysession she began regressing into previous lives, which she discovered were the cause ofher insomnia. Although the sessions solved the problem of insomnia, she began having19Jane Roberts, The Nature ofPersonal Reality: A Seth Book, (Englewood California: Prentice-Hall,1974).20A Course in Miracles.24nightmares relating to her previous lives. When this happened she began to regressherself, soon discovering that she had been Gwinevere, (named Gwinifar) from theArthurian time period. Due to the disturbing nature of what she was seeing whileregressed, “Lorrie” waited six years until she began to explore these experiences in depth.During this time she explored meditation, Astral-Projection and other New Agetechniques. In about 1990, she received a message from a spirit-guide whom she hadchanneled that she was to leave the business which she owned at the time and she shouldbegin to offer channeling full-time. Following this advice she left her business, and nowoffers channeling, past-life regression therapy and sexual abuse therapy in Vancouver ona full-time basis.“Marina”“Marina” was born in Ontario and recalls a deep connection with nature ever sincechildhood. The connection was further strengthened by the fact that her father was thepresident of the Canadian Audubon Society. Her parents were connected with the localPresbyterian congregation, but attended almost exclusively to sing in its choir. “Marjna”began a degree in geography, but left after one year to spend time with a friend on anisland in B.C. in the early 1970s. During her time in B.C. “Marina” was introduced toAstrology, which marked her introduction to spirituality. She completed her B.A. andalso studied as an apprentice in Astrology. “Marina” is currently considering applying tostudy for a Master’s degree at a university and in a subject which is open to the concept ofspirituality, and specifically the Astrological interpretation of reality. “Marina” currentlyworks full-time as an Astrologer, spending most of her time outside the Lower Mainland,but coming monthly to conduct sessions in the city.25“Peter”“Peter” was raised Roman Catholic, but found at an early age that the spiritualitywhich he had a strong sense of did not fit within Catholicism or any other form ofreligion. Much of “Peter’s” energies were focused on completing his education,culminating in a Ph.D. in psychology. In the end, however, “Peter” believed thatpsychology did not fully meet people’s needs and consequently he pursued theintroduction of spirituality in psychotherapy. Seeing the omens of a giant spiritualawakening in humanity, he aimed to aid people in being, “...freed from gurus and cults...”,and, “...create a bridge to their higher spiritual-self.” Beginning his career in theMaritimes, “Peter” moved to the more spiritually hospitable climate of Vancouver in themid- 1980s where he worked for a while with the mentally handicapped, later opening acounselling practice in Vancouver which he still operates.“Raj”“Raj” was born in India to a Hindu family, but came to Canada as a child with hisfamily. In his youth he paid little attention to spiritual issues, concerning himself morewith sports and other forms of entertainment. In high school he found his first solaceagainst the difficulties of the world in poetry. “Raj” went to U.B.C. and completed anArts degree. This was followed by a year in the Canada World Youth Program, withwhich he went to Africa to do relief work in 1978 and 1979. After coming back he wasinvolved in OXFAM, the Red Cross and the Anarchists at various times. It was at thispoint, in the 1980s that “Raj” began reading books such as, The Tao of Physics,21 TheDancing Wu Li Masters,22 and Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance,23 which21Fritjof Capra, The Tao ofPhysics. (Oxford: University Press, 1983.)22G. Zukav, The Dancing Wu Li Masters, (Rider and Co.fHutchinson and Co. 1979.)23Robert Pirsig, Zen and the Art ofMotorcycle Maintenance: an Inquiry into Values, (New York: Morrow,1974.)26introduced him to the philosophical side of New Age. At the same time he beganexploring the physical side of New Age, in the form of Yoga, which “Raj” enjoyedgreatly and soon began to teach. His spiritual journey was also greatly influenced with atrip to a naturopath who help cure him of a childhood struggle with asthma. It wasthrough his contact with the naturopath that “Raj” met an elderly Chinese man whointroduced him to a Buddhist and it was then, through a member of this group that “Raj”was introduced to the spiritual organization with which he is currently involved. “Raj” iscurrently the “centre-head” for the facility devoted to his religious organization. Hisposition involves various administrative and some spiritual responsibilities“Raj”, like “John” and “Frank” is involved in a specific spiritual tradition whichpredates the New Age Movement and therefore “Raj” sees the New Age Movement assomewhat external to his own tradition. Having said this, however, “Raj” is very open toreading New Age material, meeting with New Agers and adopting ideas and practiceswhich come from the New Age Movement. “Raj”, in his own spiritual quest, was veryinfluenced by the New Age Movement and has integrated much of it into his personalbelief system.“Rose”“Rose” was raised in Ontario, in a Lutheran family. She participated in churchactivities including studying the catechism, but became disenchanted with the churchafter seeing a lot of hypocrisy. She left the church as a teenager, in the late 1960s. For along time after she was uninterested in spirituality, until she was struck by a severe illnessin the mid 1980s. After traditional western medicine proved unable to help she went to anaturopath, despite the fact she was very suspicious of his prescriptions. Within a month“Rose” was feeling dramatically better. Three weeks after starting to see the naturopath,“Rose” heard a voice which told her to go to her roof-garden where she received amessage from God to go and receive “The Benediction”. Following this she phoned a27priest who she asked if he would bless her with the biblical passage, “May the Lord blessyou and keep you, may he make his face shine upon you and give you peace.” Followingthat event “Rose” gained an interest in spirituality and began exploring New Age booksas well as stopping taking prescription drugs and becoming a vegetarian. “Rose” movedto Vancouver in 1992 from Toronto, feeling a need for a change. She moved intoGastown and soon after moved to Kitsilano (where she currently resides). Her choice ofdistricts in the city was based on the results of Dowsing24 she had done on a map ofVancouver while still living in Toronto. Currently she offers services related to aparticular from of bodywork.“Sally”Sally was raised in Ontario and at age twenty-one, quit nursing school anddecided to come to Vancouver, for no explicit reason. She believes that her spiritualjourney began the moment she set foot in Vancouver. After a brief stay in the YWCA,“Sally” found accommodation in a rooming house in Kitsilano. Soon after she met theman who would later become her husband and it was he who introduced her to a Guru,who they began to follow. Moving to Ontario and later New Hampshire, “Sally” wasinitiated into the group formed by this particular guru. In 1980 after being in the groupfor six years, “Sally” left her husband, taking her two year old child and returned toVancouver, supporting herself through a variety of jobs. “Sally” maintained her spiritualinterests, taking “est” courses, and a variety of other personal growth workshops.Working as an employee in a New Age retail outlet, “Sally” began to book Vancouverappearances of well-known New Age figures, a job which ended up being financially24Dowsing is an ancient spiritual art where an individual uses a “dowsing stick” or some other instrumentto identify the location of phenomena, most frequently water. Dowsing is most commonly practicedwith the dowser walking on the land to identify the specific location of the phenomena. A dowser,however, can also locate their target by using an “occult pendulum” on a map of an area regardless ofhow far they may be from that location. (see John Weldon, “Dowsing: Divine Gift, Human Ability orOccult Power?”, The Christian Research Journal, 14 (4), 1992, pp. 8-13, 34.)28very profitable. She then took a six month creative leadership program in California withNew Age figure, Shakti Gawain, during which time she was inspired to get involved inNew Age publishing in Vancouver. Upon returning to Vancouver, “Sally” beganpublishing and despite significant set-backs and difficulties along the way she currentlyowns and operates a successful publishing business in Vancouver.“Sara”“Sara” was, “...raised to go to church”, however when she went to university she,“...saw that as conflicting with intellectualism” and hence dropped any contact she hadwith the church. As a youth in the 1960s and 1970s, “Sara” spent a lot of timehitchhiking around North America and eventually made it to Vancouver from Toronto,and decided to make it her home. In the early 1980s “Sara” met a friend who wasinvolved in and introduced her to the idea of a food co-op and to meditation. “Sara” soongot involved in re-birthing and also began studying the Course in Miracles.25 Currently“Sara” is involved in bodywork and is located in Vancouver.“Stephanie”“Stephanie” was raised in a family environment which was largely unhappy.After her father’s death when she was six months old, she lived with other families untilshe was four on account of her mother’s nervous breakdown. “Stephanie” has two sisters,both of whom are also professional psychics. “Stephanie” was exposed to a variety ofreligious traditions as a child and a youth, but was very impacted by her own sense ofclairvoyance as well as some psychic readings her mother performed occasionally forpeople. “Stephanie” completed a university degree and, during the sixties, as a youth, didsome drama. She traveled in Europe during her early twenties. After a bad marriage shewas working as a secretary and, in order to raise some extra money, she began reading25A Course in Miracles.29tea-cups in a restaurant, exercising psychic abilities she had left largely unexplored sinceher teenage years. This eventually grew into a full-time career which she has been doingnow for twelve years. Although primarily located in Vancouver, “Stephanie” travels a lotaround North America and has regular clients across the continent.Chapter Two -AN INTRODUCTION TO THE NEW AGE MOVEMENTDEFINING THE NEW AGE MOVEMENT“New Age [often n- a-] 1 of or pertaining to a culturalmovement popular in the 1980’s, characterized by a concernwith spiritual consciousness and variously combining beliefin reincarnation and astrology with such practices asmeditation, vegetarianism, and holistic medicine. 2designating or of a style of popular instrumental musiccharacterized by simple, repetitive melodies and intended toeffect a serene mood.”As with any cultural phenomenon, a dictionary definition of the New AgeMovement is somewhat less than adequate. The problem, however does not lie in someshortcoming of Webster’s powers of explanation, rather the problem is found in theinherent ambiguity of the movement itself. The term, “New Age” is not a description butrather an umbrella term, under which stand many diverse and frequently unrelatedconcepts. Despite the apparent popularity of the movement, the label “New Age” issometimes given to groups or individuals who would never have adopted it themselves.There are no specific ways one can classify what is New Age and what is not. There is nocentral mission statement, no creed, no scripture, no press release and no authoritativeindividual who would be able to pronounce absolutely what is and what is not New Age.Not surprisingly many of the books which deal with the New Age Movement failto provide an actual definition. In short, as one writer put it: “There is no reallysatisfactory definition, either of the ‘New Age’ or the ‘New Age Movement’... “2Even those who are actively part of the movement can be at a loss for self-definition. When asked to define the New Age Movement, “DC” responded: “I don’t1”Webster’s New World Dictionary’ (Third College Edition) (Ed. Victoria Neufeldt) (New York:Websters New World: 1988): 912.2john 3. Reilly, “New Age, New Rage”, This World, Winter 1988, pp. 119-123: 120.31think I know how to answer that. I don’t think I can grasp enough threads to give you asensible answer.” In her response, however, “DC” demonstrated, at the very least theknowledge that the New Age is made up of many different threads which have beenbrought together somehow. The difficulty for “DC” and for anyone who is trying todefine or describe the New Age Movement is in determining what the threads are andwhat is it that brings them together.There are, indeed many threads which come together in the New Age. Threads ofspirituality, traditional religion, psychology, social action, politics, health-care,mythology, occultism and science. The New Age has touched and been touched byalmost every realm of human existence. It is this overwhelming variety of manifestationswhich simultaneously makes it both so difficult to describe and so appealing to so manypeople. In being so diverse in scope it ends up having very little, if any focus. Incontrast, however, by being so flexible, it can attract just about anyone, and indeed, manywho are part of it may not even know it. “...[I]ts effectiveness rests in its lack of firmdefinition or rigid organizations.”4New age has no official organization, no official dogma, no official leaders. It ismore of a collection of seemingly unrelated ideas.“Stories of hauntings, predictions, premonitions, ghosts,mysterious happenings psychic powers and ESP appear tobe a disjointed collection of stories and ideas that serve noparticular purpose. Yet to look only at these individualstories is like looking at a Rembrandt with one’s nosetouching the canvas. Only by standing back can the wholepicture be appreciated.”5The New Age is a “Rag Bag of ideas”6 , despite this, however, the very fact that itis exists as a concept, to both those who study it and in the minds of the general public3Caroline Sutherland, “The New Age”, Vancouver, Nov. 1989. pp 54-60: 54.4Reilly, 120.5lrving Hexham and Karla Poewe-Hexham. “The Soul of the New Age”, Christianity Today, Sept. 2, 1988.32 (12)pp. 17-21: 21.6Hexham, 19.32seems to suggest that there is indeed something which we can look at in order to bringclarification to our discussion. As the above quotation suggests, the way to approach thisis to stand back from the details and look at the broad brush strokes. In order to get asense of what the movement is about we must attempt to bring some coherence to what itis that binds together the threads that “DC” mentioned. In general the following themesinevitably arise in any discussion of the New Age: i) New Age is concerned with humanspirituality; ii) New Age derives much of its philosophy from eastern mystical traditions;iii) New Age is concerned with the concept of unlimited human potential; iii) if there isany organization in the movement it is found within the concept of the “network”; iv)generally speaking, the New Age goal is to usher in a new era of peace andenlightenment; v) the New Age has arisen from the combination of counterculturaldissatisfaction with the western world, the influx of eastern spirituality, the revival ofwestern occultic and pagan practices and the human potential movement.Before we continue, however, it is important to address an issue which inevitablyarises when discussing the New Age, and indeed any new religious group: is the NewAge a cult? Overwhelmingly the opinion of people who have researched the movement isto assert that the New Age is not a cult.7 The New Age, as a whole is not organizedenough to implement the practices of mind-control which would give it the stamp ofbeing a cult. The levels of personal freedom and ability to dissent from popular opinionswithin the movement indicate that the primary processes of mind-control are not presentin the New Age Movement. Having said this, however, it is important to point out thatthere have been more than a few cults which have (and still do) operate within the NewAge Movement. Just as many cults have sprung from the Christian tradition, many havesprung from the New Age belief system. Groups such as “The American BuddhistSociety”, a small group led by “Zen Master Rama” (Dr. Frederick P. Lenz), have beenaccused of mind-controlling and abusive activities. Others such as the Church Universal7see Russell Chandler, Understanding the New Age, (Dallas: Word Publ., 1988.): 17.33and Triumphant,8led by Elizabeth Claire Prophet has been under investigation for sometime for the purchase of illegal fire-arms and mind-controlling activities. Similarly morefamous groups like Hare Krishnas,9Transcendental Meditation,’° and Rajneesh” haveattract considerable attention and many accusations of cultic activity.Nothing New Under the Sun: New Age/Old AgeBoth the proponents of New Age and its critics recognize that in at least one sensethe term “New Age” is a misnomer. It is commonly recognized that in fact, much of whatmakes up the New Age is in fact very old. As will be described in detail in subsequentchapters, the New Age finds much of its substance in the past. Ancient civilizations,mythology, religious traditions, ancient ceremonies and much more are being“rediscovered” by New Age leaders and their followers.“There is nothing New Age about anything anybody isdoing. All we are doing is rediscovering what has alreadybeen done on the planet thousands of years ago. If you careto investigate the Gnostics, they’re the place to go. Becausethey know. The Rosicrucians know. The Free masonsknow. The knowledge is there....” (“Celeste”)“I don’t see it as the so-called ‘New Age’. I see almosteverything that we are talking about has been around for along time. In fact some of it for thousands and thousands ofyears...“I don’t think that any of this is that new, I thinkwhat it is is suppressed, for whatever reason. Now it iscoming to the surface again.” (“Gerald”)“It is getting back to more of a balance, I feel. I feel wewere very unbalanced. We were getting out of touch withwho we were and getting caught up in getting things andbeing a certain way and having a certain image in the world8Steve Hassan, Combarting Cult Mind Control, (Rochester, Vermont: Park Street Press, 1988.): 40.9Hassan, 155.10Hassan, 87.11Hassan, 4034and living the American dream and all that. I think we weregetting just unbalanced in life. We weren’t getting theemotions, spiritual and the physical, we were getting mostlythe physical. So I think the New Age is going back to morea balance, the way the native people were.. .It is getting backto remember who we are. It’s like.. .mythology I find is Ohso powerful.. .It’s like we’ve got away from mythology. Theonly mythology we have now is Star Trek and Star Warsand that kind of thing... We’ve got away from teachingchildren the stories of life, the magic. We’ve forgotten themagic of life...” (“Claire”)“New Age is a reawakening of some of the spiritual values,I feel that we always had before science, the success drivenmotive of science came along and sort of painted over a lotof the stuff we had been involved in before. It is also abringing up-to-date those older spiritual values as well. Ofcourse some of them are not useful in the context of amodern society where science has had its hold on us foralmost two-hundred years. I mean a really significant hold.”(“Marina”)“It just sticks in a little box that term. I just believe it is anattaining of higher consciousness. Very simplisticly. It isnot that new really, it’s old, has been going on for centuriesand will probably go on forever. They say New Agebecause they need something to put words to it.” (“Jewel”)“...as my husband says, it really like “Old Age”, we’regetting back to the old values. Lets say you think of a newterm and drop “New Age”, then that will become old...”(“Sally”)As will be more fully developed later, the New Age is as much Old Age, as“Sally” says, since it finds much of its inspiration in the past.Don’t Call It That: The Dislike of the NameThe term “New Age” is a term which is somewhat disliked by New Agersthemselves. This derives from the fact that many New Agers feel that the term is plaguedwith bad connotations.35“It is not a very well defined term and I think a lot of timesit conjures up fear in people.. .It tends to alienate rather thanbring people together and I’m not exactly sure where thefears comes from, but from what I see it is because there isan image of occult or darkness or supernatural things thatpeople are afraid of, so that’s why I don’t like it.” (“Janice”)“Since about ‘87 the term ‘New Age’ has had quite acheckered history. It’s a very old term that was, I think firstcoined in Britain in the last century. There have beenmagazines called “New Age” and all sorts of things, longbefore the current cycle...“The term ‘New Age’, more often or not, now, forme, becomes an pejorative term that I hear people using,because it was so associated with Shirley MacLame andsome others who were discovering certain mystical states.and whatever and using crystals and channeling. Those Iwould say.. dead people of more sensible natures to say,‘This is crap’ or ‘New Age rhymes with sewage’. So becauseit was associated that New Agers all wore purple runningshoes and were always positive, and always optimistic oralways up in the air, didn’t really have their feet on theground...“New Age. Yea, it tends to be as a term, more thebutt of jokes in a way.. .And yet many of the beliefs and soon.. .there’s a lot of different types of bookstores and I gointo places and there are a lot of quote ‘New AgeBookstores’ and I go into them and there is this feeling likethey are not quite here, they are not really here.” (“David”)The distancing of New Agers from the term, “New Age” is also evident indecisions made by some publishers and bookstores to eliminate the category “New Age”in favor of redistributing the books that would have been in that category into sectionssuch as philosophy, religion, self-help and psychology.12This was confirmed by “David”a New Age bookstore owner who has seen some organizations change their names inresponse to the apparent inadequacy of the term “New Age”.“And there are. ..there is for example an organization calledthe ‘New Age Publishers and Retailers Association’ and they12Wi1I Nixon, “The Flight from ‘New Age”, Publishers Weekly, Dec. 7, 1990. pp. 21-32.36recently decided to change their name to ‘New Alternativesin Publishing and Retailing’, because the sense of what’stransforming is not pigeon-holable...”It is also reasonable to assume that such decisions are also affected by the negativeconnotations the term raises in peoples’ minds.Don’t Call Me That: The Distancing of Self from the MovementThis uncomfortable feeling which the term “New Age” ellicits is taken one stepfurther with some peoples’ discomfort with the concept of the “New Age Movement.”Predictably the variety of people which the New Age attracts means that under theumbrella will be people who are, at the very least, uncomfortable with each other. As aresponse to this, many of the people interviewed consciously distance themselves fromothers within the New Age Movement.“I refuse to have.. .refuse to be trapped by the New Age rulesof seven astral planes, seven mental planes, seven.. .spiritualplanes, they have numbers for everything, so for me allthere is a critical oneness awareness that my planet is alive,that I’m here, that we’re all doing the best we can and we areall doing OK.” (“DC”)“There was a point where I looked at the [New Age]community in Vancouver and said, ‘You guy’s are full ofshit. You have gone off the deep-end.’ But the same waythe Catholic church went off the deep-end for me a longtime ago. I just felt so much judgment, comparison,competition, jealousy and I just said I don’t want to be a partof this. You guys! ‘New Age,’ I hate that word. (“Celeste”)“[New Age] is also greatly distorted in many ways. Thereare a lot of New Agers, quote New Agers, running aroundwho are doing a lot of damage to the whole concept of NewAge.“One of the phenomenon too that has beenassociated with what is going on is, quote, the channelingstuff and I think there’s a lot of truth to it in the sensethat...inspiration has been one of the guiding forces of manfrom early history...music, good writing. A good writer will37often say, ‘I don’t know where that came from, it just flowedright through me’. But now it has been labeled channelingand there is a lot of stuff coming through, but there is a lotof hocus pocus coming through. And again, I don’t want tomention any specific authors, because I don’t want toalienate people, but there’s a lot of.. .like one of my favoritesayings is, just because they’re dead it doesn’t make themsmart. Just because something appears to be coming, quote,from the other side doesn’t make it the truth but a lot ofpeople will grab onto...jump onto the bandwagon. Whetherit is their own psychological selves that are talking oraspects of their own consciousness or.. .you just don’t know.There is so much that is very hard to really determine whereit comes from and yet it just gets taken on a superficial leveland gets carried to extremes and really distorts it. But Ihave no doubt that there is a really true phenomenon goingon a real energy is making its presence felt.” (“Christine”)“[New Age is] a bowl ofjello with a whole bunch of fruit init and you push down in one place and other places move.But I think there is a awful lot of sour fruit in it. So I meanthere’s an awful lot of people running commercial typeventures that really have nothing to do with New Ageism, itis just a venue to sell their product.“Then there are people who are so fanaticallyinvolved in it that they don’t have any basis in reality. Iwould often try to distance myself from New Agephenomenon because there are people who have got such astrange bent and zealousness on it. It is a black or white, allor none type situation. I’ve had patients that I’ve had foreight years, very close ties with these patients and all of asudden they see me in a restaurant eating ribs and it is, ‘Ohmy God, how can you not be a vegetarian, I can’t go to youany more.’ That kind of phenomenon seems a bit bizarre andabsurd to me.. .there is an awful lot of rigidity in it. So someof the jello has hardened and there is rigidity in places.Instead of being a religion that’s supposed to flow with theenergies of the universe, sometimes it is a little too rigid forsome people. They take things and fanaticize them.“Also, because of the nature of it it is easy to createall kinds of ‘charletisms’ around different types of psychicphenomena. It is hard to tell who is real and who’s not.. .it ishard to separate the wheat from the chaff sometimes. Alsosome people tend to float away a little bit too much. Theyare a little bit too airy fairy...” (“Herb”)38Others have distanced themselves from the movement in general responding to theirdiscomfort with how the New Age Movement is perceived by the general public.“I think it is wonderful. Unfortunately I think the wholename ‘New Age Movement’ has gotten bad name, if youwill, because a lot of people I find in the New AgeMovement become very spacey. The reason for that, itseems to me is because they are focusing very much onlifting their energy and becoming very spiritual and theylose their connectedness with their bodies and what is goingon here and so they become very La Di Da, very airy,spacey types and they tend to give the rest of the people inNew Age spiritual growth a sort of flippant style. Peoplelook on them as, you know, ‘one of those’.” (“Lorrie”)“First of all, I hate the term. I hate it because it has come tohave a certain connotation and picture that is conjured upwhen that term is used. ..but I don’t like the picture that’sconjured up. When I think of New Age and I think when alot of people think of New Age they have this vision, youknow of middle aged hippies...doing very flaky stuff thathas no place in an organized society. People who are just alittle off the beaten track and maybe a little crazy, youknow, and not professional...all of those things. And alsothey are also placed in certain neighborhoods and blocks inthe city, such as Broadway and MacDonald. So personally Isteer as far clear of being a member of that New Agecommunity as I can. And I think that there are a lot offlakes out there. I think there are a lot of people who arejust looking for something to hang their hat on in the sameway that people might have done with religion twenty,thirty years ago.” (“Leslie”)“It is a very negative term for me, it has a lot of creation ofhope for people in a way that, if it ain’t true, that it isdoomed to let people down. It is very mental, it brings up alot of mental creation of wishful thinking and fantasieswhich are not grounded, not grounded with the earth. Idon’t mean that in an esoteric way. I mean our everydaylives of shitting and eating and having arguments with yourfriend, you know? It isn’t always some love enlightenedthing. there’s something unreal about it. A lot of ideasgoing on, people don’t know how to separate their beliefsfrom what may or may not be true. Rounds and Chakras39and Blah Blah Blah and this colour and that colour andhalos and whatever kinds of therapies are out there. I don’tknow which is true and which isn’t, but I just have thisdefinite taste in my mouth that it is stuff that has beendrummed up by people. It is very up in the clouds and it’snot grounded with one’s everyday lives.” (“John”)“I’m very not-New Age as well. Do you think when I leavehere I listen to tinkling music like Steven Halpem? He’sdisgusting. I like things with a beat, or I like to go to thingswith my husband that have some action in them. It’s like Ireally balance my life because I’d go nuts always doing thisstuff. I have to get away from all this stuff.” (“Sally”)THE PREVALENCE OF THE NEW AGE MOVEMENTA correlate of the difficulty associated with defining the New Age Movement ishow hard it is to determine the prevalence of the New Age Movement. There is noreliable way to determine how many New Agers there are. The Canadian census does nothave a category for such a system of belief, nor would the existence of such a categoryguarantee an accurate means of determining the prevalence of the movement, since, as wehave seen, many people who adhere to New Age beliefs do not categorize themselves asbeing New Age. In determining the prevalence of the New Age Movement it is possibleto look at two significant indicators. Firstly there is the degree to which the New Age hasentered into the public sphere in the form of New Age oriented programs, courses etc.Secondly there do exist some statistics on the degree to which New Age beliefs have beenadopted by the general public.The Prevalence of New Age Type StructuresThe degree to which New Age thought has entered into public life is difficult tomeasure in any quantitative way, yet there are many indicators that its influence is notsmall. In order to touch or be touched by the New Age, one does not have to enter into aNew Age bookstore, visit a channefler, or attend a New Age seminar, one simply has to40be part of North American society. There are manifestations of the New Age in any andevery aspect of daily life. These manifestations, however, are not always obvious. NewAge-style principles can often be found deeply imbedded in the underlying principles ofsomething which would, at a glance, appear “normal”.As will be developed more fully in subsequent chapters, the New Age puts a greatdeal of emphasis on the individual recovering control of one’s own health-care frommedical professionals. New Age health-care is generally termed holisitic (or wholistic)medicine, a label which emphasises the New Age method of treading the individual as awhole being who needs full attention. “Essential to a holistic philosophy is anunderstanding that the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual aspects of a person aredynamically interelated and inseperable...”3This is as opposed to the western scientificmedical approach of seeing the patient as a broken machine whose component parts aretreated in isolation from each other.A basic assumption in New Age holisitic health is that the individual has withinthem the power and ability to self-heal, if only they would recognize that power. Thismanifests itself in the form of all manner of ancient, naturopathic style medicines andmedical practices which firstly puts the responsibility of well-being on the individual andsecondly looks to ancient traditions for healing techniques and substances. Theprevalence of this is firstly evident in the explosion of New Age style health-carefacilities which are available to the general public. For example, in Common Groundmagazine there are listings for 50-60 different health-care practitioners per issue,including Reiki, Trager, Hellerwork, Rolfing, Homeopathy, Feldenkrais, Ayurveda,Reflexology, Yoga therapy, Acupuncture, Colon Therapy, Aromatherapy, Breathwork,Groundwork, Essential Oils, Bio-Kinesiology, Accupressure, and Herbal Medicine.Beyond these health-care outlets, there are also a handful of institutes in B.C. which offertraining in these healing arts.13Chris Shirley, “What’s the Holisitic Approach?’, Common Ground, Issue #32, Fall 1990, p. 78.41Secondly there is some incorporation of related practices into the traditionalhealth-care system. For example, Therapeutic Touch, a method of balancing a person’senergy and achieving “mind-body harmony” through hand movments over the body isnow a treatment registered nurses have the option of learning and applying in hospitalsacross Canada.’4In recent years, there has also been a shift within the world of business. More andmore private companies are starting to invest in the well-being of their employees sinceultimately this increases productivity. As a result, amongst many other things,corporations are sending their employees to seminars and workshops, some of which arebased on New Age principles. Seminars such as “Krone Training”, “est” (ErhardSeminars Training), “WISE” and “Sterling Management” are classes to which companiessuch as Proctor and Gamble, Ford and Polaroid have sent their employees.’5Based on theprinciples of eastern mysticism and combined with the techniques of humanisticpsychology, these seminars introduce their subjects to New Age style thinking and topractices used in the New Age such as; “...meditation, hypnosis, encounter groups,chanting, biofeedback, isolation, as well as tarot cards, psychic healing, channeling, firewalking, floatation tubs and the intervention of spirit guides”.’6The New Age frequently appears within the realm of social activism. Notably inthe realm of the environmental movement. Arising from New Age ideas of the inherentlyspiritual nature of the natural environment, some environmental groups rely heavily onthe notion of Gaia, the Mother Earth, wherein the natural environment is seen as asentient being. The ultimate connectedness of humans to the web of life which makes upthe world as we know it translate in both the reverence for and worship of mother earth.14Robin Brunet, “The Bodyworkers: A User’s Guide”, Common Ground, Issue #20, Fall 1987, pp. 5, 55: 5.t5Annetta Miller and Pamela Abramson, ‘Corporate Mind Control”, Newsweek, May 4, 1987, pp. 38, 39:38.16Steve Rabey, “Karma for Cash: A ‘New Age’ for Workers?”, Christianity Today, June 17, 1988, pp. 69,71, 74: 71, 74.42In mentioning psychology and counselling, there needs to be more than just adiscussion of where the New Age has entered into this realm, it needs to be said that herewe also find one of the strongest roots of the New Age Movement. Going back to the1960’s one of the most significant tributaries of New Age thinking was the HumanPotential Movement. Led by Erich Fromm, Abraham Maslow, Carl Rogers, Paul Tillich,and Rollo May, Human Potential changed the world of psychology and counsellingsignificantly. Human-Potential fundamentally changed the philosophical approach tohuman problems, changing the notion of “original sin” into one of “original virtue”17With the emphasis on a philosophy of “selfism”, the Human Potential Movement soughtto achieve its goals partly through the introduction of Eastern spiritual techniques.’8TheEastern based philosophical ideas and the Eastern spiritual practices which HumanPotential introduced to psychology have maintained a strong presence within present-daypsychology and counselling. Given this background the transition from more traditionalto overtly New Age psychology and counselling is one which can be made almostseamlessly.While perhaps the most vocal opponent to the New Age Movement, the Christianchurch is also frequently a great ally. In general there is a dividing line which can bedrawn between the liberal and conservative wings of the church. Most of the literaturewhich takes a critical stance on the New Age Movement comes from the conservativewing of Christianity. The New Age, however has found some sympathetic ears within theliberal camp. For example, among extremely liberal Catholics there is Matthew Fox, apriest whose “creation-centered spirituality”, falls in line with many New Age teachingsand thus has created some turmoil within the Catholic church.’9 There is also aninteresting phenomenon in the world of extreme conservative Protestantism called the17Jane Howard, “Inhibitions Thrown to the Wind”, Life, July 12, 1968, PP. 48-65: 57.18Paul C. Vitz, Psychology as Religion: The Cult ofSelf-Worship, (Grand Rapids Michigan: William B.Eerdmans Publ.: [1977] 1991).19Mitchell Pacwa, S.J. “Catholicism for the New Age: Matthew Fox and Creation-Centered Spirituality”,The Christian Research Journal, Vol. 15, #2, Fall 1992, pp. 14-16, 18, 19, 29-3 1.43Faith Movement. Although not considered part of the New Age Movement, the FaithMovement which finds its focal-point in American televangelism, teaches ideas regardingthe meaning of “faith”2° and the deification of humans2’ which have be criticized forbeing New Age-like.The degree to which the church has been impacted with New Age is exemplifiedby findings which suggest that in Canada, 53% of the people interested in New Agethought also identify with Roman Catholicism, while 28% identify with Protestantism.22Similarly, one can look at the degree to which relativism is accepted amongst churchgoersas a possible indicator of the acceptance of New Age ideas within the church. Not allrelativists are New Agers, but the acceptance of relativism as a position would indicatethe level of openness towards New Age or other spiritualities. In Canada, 58% ofchurchgoers agree with the statement; “everything’s relative”,23 demonstrating that there isan open door to New Age style thought in many Canadian churches.In education there are a number of New Age type influences. At the most publiclevel there are private schools which are constructed around New Age type principles.For example the Kirpal Ashram School:“Just as there are many rivers that flow into the ocean, therea myriad paths that contain truth. All spiritual disciplinesare respected, add the children begin each day withinspiring stories from great teachers such as Christ, Buddha,Thoreau, Saint Francis, Yogananda, Mother Theresa,Ghandi... Through sharing uplifting stories of thesespiritual teachers the students are encouraged to awaken totheir higher selves.”2420Hank Hanegraaff, Christianity in Crisis, (Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House, 1993): 67.21Thid, 106.Regina1d Bibby, Unknown Gods: The Ongoing Story ofReligion in Canada, (Toronto: Stoddart,1993): 51.23Bibby, 68.24Judy Shannon. “Ashram Shool Encourages Service”, Common Ground, Issue #4, Fall 1983, pp. 35, 39:35.44The number of private schools offering New Age oriented education is, however, verysmall. More prevalent is the introduction of New Age thought into the public schoolsystems. With the introduction of certain types of meditation, visualization and guidedimagery, New Age principles can be taught to children. Laura Silva explains thereasoning behind children participating in New Age activites.“In our program [The Silva Method] we show both adultsand children how to create their own personal guides. Wecall them counselors. Everybody creates a male and afemale.“Children.. .are able to create two people who willalways be with them when they go into the spiritual modeor when they go within themselves to meditate. If they havea problem or a question or a project.. .they can get additionalhelp by asking their guides what to do. It’s a tool to tapmore information from the subjective dimension...“When you allow a child to go within.. .close hiseyes, take a deep breath, relax, meditate and then ask, ‘Howam I going to solve this problem?’. ..and he opens his mindto anything that comes, he is suddenly opening up a wholenew world that’s filled with more information than we havein this physical, limited world.”25Although Laura Silva is speaking specifically about the context of parenting, it is theinfiltration of these same principles into public schools which pleases some while causinggreat concern on the part of others.26A frequent source for the dissemination of basic New Age ideas is in the form oftelevision programs and movies. As one author put it, “[tihe lifeblood of the new age isthe media”27 and nowhere is this more evident than with the “Empress of the New Age”28,Shirley MacLame. In 1987 North America’s eyes were opened to the New Age withMacLame’s docu-drama mini-series, Out on a Limb, which documented her own spiritual25Angele Castoguay, “Visualization & The Answer Within”, Common Ground, Issue #38, Spring 1992, pp.17, 74: 17.26see Groothuis, 13,14.also, Bent Kjos, Your Child and the New Age, (Wheaton, Illinois: Victor Books, 1990.)27Tj Peters, The Cosmic Sef A Penetrating Look at Today’s New Age Movements, (New York: HarperCollins, 1991): 8.28 From the cover of, Vista, June 1989.45journey into the New Age. With the popularity of her books and her media exposureShirley MacLame has greatly increased public awareness of the New Age Movement.Possibly perpetuated by personalities such as MacLame, Hollywood has jumpedon the New Age bandwagon. With movies such as Star Wars, Star Trek V, The LastTemptation of Christ, and, Made in Heaven. Hollywood makes commonplace many ofthe principles of the movement. Similarly through television shows such as Star Trek theNext Generation, and Twin Peaks, New Age ideas are disseminated. Even PBS hascarried New Age specials such as, The Power ofMyth, a series of interviews with JosephCampbell conducted by Bill Moyers, and a series entitled “How Then Shall We Live?”.Celebrities like Linda Evans29 (romanitcally involved with New Age MusicianYani), Joyce DeWitt,3° Willie Nelson31, Richard Gere, Sharon Gleiss, Eric Estrada,Anne Mortifee amongst many others have associated themselves with the New AgeMovement. So too Oprah Winfrey a self-professed New Age proponent frequently hasguests who are in some way or another connected with New Age Thought. Similarly,musicans such as John Denver, Tina Turner32, Carly Simon, and k.d. Lang (whobelieves she is the reincarnation of Patsy Cline, hence her band’s name “k.d. Lang and theRe-Clines”) are connected with some aspect of the movement.New Age politics seeks neither to be right or left, but rather calls itself radicalcentre, “...not neutral, not middle-of-the-road, but a view of the whole road...”33 In generalthe New Age approach to politics can be termed the “politics of transformation”34wherein politics is to be transformed into a balance of power based on a belief in29Chandler, 23.30Ibid, 23.31Elliot Miller, A Crash Course on the New Age Movement, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker BookHouse, 1989), 185.32John Weldon, ‘Nichiren Shoshu Buddhism: Mystical Materialism for the Masses”, Christian ResearchJournal, 15 (2), 1992, pp. 9-13.33Marilyn Furguson, The Aquarian Conspiracy: 229.34Theodore Roszak, Quoted in Furguson, 190.46individual self- determination leading ultimately to autarchy where each person is incomplete control of self.In Canada, the New Age has made a dramatic entry to the world of real-lifepolitics with the presence of the Natural Law Party, the political wing of TranscendentalMeditation, led by the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Although criticized as being a means ofgaining tax benefits, free public exposure, and a greater sense of credibility for TM, theNatural Law Party has gained followers across Canada and in at least nine othercountries.35 In the 1993 Canadian general election, the Natural Law Party had candidatesin 231 out of a possible 294 ridings, making it the party with the fourth largest number ofcandidates. The New Age has even had an impact within the realm of conservativepolitics. U.S. vice-president Al Gore gained notoriety in the New Age community withthe publication of his book, The Earth in Balance, which advocates Earth based religionsas being a model for achieving harmony with nature, amongst other New Age typethemes.36 So too there are the events associated with Ronald and Nancy Reaganfrequently consulting an astrologer in regards to political and personal decision making.37The Prevalence of New AgersPerhaps more difficult than evaluating the degree to which New Age ideas havepenetrated the culture is evaluating how much of the population is actually involved inthe movement. One pollster writes, “If you try to gauge it by membership in groups, youwon’t see it. Because they aren’t much for joining, the people involved in this innersearch are hard to pin down statistically.”38 As mentioned earlier, there is no Censuscategory for New Agers and even if there were, the entry would probably be wildly35Steve Chase, “Free Advertising for the Marharishi”, Alberta Report, October 25, 1993. pp. 12-13.36A1 Gore, The Earth in the Balance, (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1992).37Chandler, 21.38William McCready of “National Opinion Research”, Quoted in Furguson, 364.47inaccurate. Despite this, some figures for the United States estimate that 5% to 10% ofthe population are involved in the New Age Movement.39Reginald Bibby in his book, Unknown Gods,4°provides some of the best statisticsfrom survey data on how many people are involved in the New Age in Canada. Hereports that 30% of the population are familiar with New Age ideas, 8% being somewhatinterested’, and only 3% of the national population is ‘highly interested’ in New Agethought. This 3% is paralleled by 3% claiming to be involved in New Age activities.4’Less than 1% of the population identifies exclusively with the New Age Movement, andof this group, 40% live in B.C. and 30% live in Ontario.42 Other indicators demonstratethat a significant proportion of Canadians are oriented towards New Age style thought:9% of Canadian adults believe “definitely” that they will be reincarnated, while 17% saythey “think” they will be reincarnated.43 Astrology is believed “definitely” by 8% of thepopulation and 26% “think” it is true.”Consistent with what we discussed earlier, this data indicates that while very fewpeople are willing to identify themselves as being “New Agers” many people are involvedat some level in New Age style activities. While accurate data are not available it seemsthat between 10% to 20% of the Canadian population is open to New Age thinking whileslightly fewer people would be actually practicing some sort of New Age activities. Aswe will see in chapter eight there is a distinct demographic and geographic pattern ofdistribution to both New Age thought and activity.39John Naisbitt, and Patricia Aburdene, Megatrends 2000, (New York: Warner Books, 1990): 280. Citedin Bibby, (1993): 49.40Bibby, (1993).41Bibby, 1993,51.42Bibby, 51, 52.43Bibby, 127.Bibby, 132.48BackgroundsWho then become New Agers? Again, it is a difficult question to determine theanswer to. While there are some studies which look at who is likely to become part of acult,45 there is little reason to assume that the same applies for the New Age Movement.In fact it seems that New Agers are derived from all kinds of religious traditions, familybackgrounds, and socio-economic levels.In total, of the thirty people interviewed for this study, fourteen came fromChristian backgrounds, including seven Protestant, four Roman Catholic and three whoidentified themselves loosely as coming from a Christian background. For many fromthis group, the affiliation with a church was nominal.“...‘Weekend Christians’, I used to call us actually...youknow, we had a cottage.. .or it was ‘Winter Christians’, that’swhat we were, because in the summer-time we never wentto church, we went to the cottage. Because that was morefun, and then...so I got confirmed, went to Sunday-school,taught Sunday-school a bit when I was in my teenageyears.” (“Carmen”)For some the church experience is one which they maintained while they were part of thefamily but dropped when they were given the chance.“I guess, like a lot of people my age, I’m 46, so I’m a BabyBoomer child, I was raised to go to church. Any churchwould do, so my father was Catholic but I went to a littleAnglican church down the street. Said my prayers everynight. Raised with values that it was important to be a goodperson, be honest. As a teenager I saw that as conflictingwith intellectualism, when I went to university. So I sort ofdropped going to church or any kind of spiritual discipline.Didn’t really think about it much at all.” (“Sara”)For others the experiences were much more negative and they left church, andChristianity as a reaction.45Hexham, (understanding).49“...we’ll go back to the actual history of my life which isbeing brought up with religion in a ‘form’. Not being realimpressed with that, especially around age eleven. So... .myfather was really into heavy duty guilt, sin and punishmentout of the Bible and his own interpretations of that. I saw alot of hypocrisy in my family around so-called ‘religious’beliefs and principles and actions taken out of that, so therewas a real dichotomy around that. As a result of that Ididn’t want to have anything to do with anything like thatfor years.” (“Jewel”)“I was raised Lutheran and studied the Catechism, which is,for me, like memorizing things and a lot of it didn’t evenmake sense, but it was a set way that you answered thequestions and then you were confirmed at thirteen. I justbecame disenchanted with everything especially when Istarted to see so much hypocrisy in the church I was in. SoI would say, probably when I was fourteen or fifteen,actually probably closer to sixteen, I just was sodisenchanted with what I saw, I just didn’t go to church atall, for the longest time. I guess I just didn’t think aboutGod for quite a while.” (“Rose”)“I can remember I was very young, before six, and I wasbeing drilled for the first Holy Communion and I canremember being in tears at night with my mother trying toremember the answers to these two-hundred questions. Itwas a booklet and my mother was told that in order to havethe experience I had to know the answers to these questions.And they were only going to ask one or two, questions butyou didn’t know which one or two, so you had to know theanswers to all of them. Here I am, this tiny little thing and Idon’t understand why I’m supposed to be doing this. I amreally tired and I want to go to sleep. I want to talk to mynight-time friends and I have to answer all these stupidquestions. Just being in tears and just being really afraid.Wanting to please my mother but know that this wasstupid...“When I was in my teens I became very rebellious. Ijust• basically told my mom and dad that I thought thechurch was full of shit. That it may have served some goodpurpose for somebody, but it couldn’t answer my questions.If it couldn’t answer my questions then I wanted to go findsomebody who could.” (“Celeste”)50“[There’s J not much in the Catholic church. I really thinkthat makes a lot of people ill. They just get all caught up inguilt and that, but the kindness, you still here that.“I always say, ‘Were you brought up Catholic by anychance?’ ‘Yes.’ All tied up in the guilts, and you’re notallowed to have pleasure and always put the other personahead of you and now we find out that is very co-dependentbehavior if you are always looking after other people butnot your own needs, so...I don’t have that much to say aboutthem.” (“Glory”)Only one person came from a background which practiced anything whichresembled New Age Spirituality.“My father was interested in all manner of religions orphilosophies, so I got a very wide education. My familywere vegetarians back in the 20’s, by 1936 we were goingdown to Montana too for a month every year to meditate...It was quite a large gathering of people.” (“DC”)Five people came from what could be termed an eclectic spiritual background.“I was very fortunate in that my mother was a historyteacher and as we were growing up she enabled us to be,(we were christened Protestant), but she enabled us to goand explore different theosophical [sic] ideas. She didn’tfreak when one week I was going to be a Bahá’I, and thenext wanted her to get the Mormons come in so as I couldhear about them. She enabled me to go into a JewishSynagogue, a Ukrainian Catholic cathedral, I mean, so I feelfortunate.” (“Stephanie”)“I was not heavily imprinted with forced beliefs in myfamily. My mother was Jewish from Vienna who had lefther faith of birth behind when she came to this country andbrought us up in the United church. That was tremendouslytelling. She later became Unitarian. My father had no usefor religion and still doesn’t. He says it is rather a nuisance,often being the pretext for so much colonization anddomination and so on. So I was pretty much left to find myown way in that sense.” (“David”)Four people recalled no family spiritual connection.51“My up-bringing was very loose. There was no religious•acknowledgment or structure in the family.. .with myparents. So, I was basically quite open ended, quite openminded. I didn’t have an aversion to anything religious orwhatever.” (“Becky”)Four people did not reveal their spiritual up-bringing. One person camefrom a Jewish background, but stated that his family was very unorthodox and thefaith was not a significant factor in the household. One person came from a Hindufamily. Additionally, three participants mentioned experiences of ESP or relatedexperiences in their youth, but mentioned feeling the need to suppress it.New Age ConversionEven more complex than the background of the interviewees, is thediversity of the routes which they took in becoming part of the movement. Thesheer variety of entry points is a testimony to the great diversity and prevalence ofthe movement. Marilyn Furguson provides a four point model of how someonebecomes part of the so-called “Aquarian Conspiracy”, (read: “New AgeMovement”). The first stage is the “entry point”:“Entry can be triggered by anything that shakes up the oldunderstanding of the world, the old priorities. Sometimes itis a token investment, made out of boredom, curiosity ordesperation -- a ten-dollar book, a hundred-dollar mantra, auniversity extension course. I For a great many, the triggerhas been a spontaneous mystical or psychic experience, ashard to explain as it is to deny.”46Within the sample group there is a wide range of entry points into the movement.For many , becoming a New Ager was a process marked by many experiences andthe assimilation of a lot of information. For others there was one dramaticexperience which changed their perspective on the world. Nine of the respondentsindicated the experience of the 1960’s counterculture as being significant, five46Furguson, 89.52mentioned religious groups or communes as being entry points. Three gotintroduced to New Age via personal counselling, while three pointed to New Agehealth-care as their entry point. Seven respondents indicated reading books asimportant, two were exposed to New Age through Astrology and one throughTarot card readings. Three respondents talked of psychic experiences as childrenas being important in their spiritual journey, while two people were introducedprimarily through physical journeys to the east.To exemplify the process of New Age conversion we will follow the livesof two of the interview subjects: “Lorrie” and “Jewel”. We begin with the entrypoint.“So it started mostly for me when I went to a psychologistwhen I was twenty. I had severe insomnia for most of mylife and my doctors didn’t come up with any answers for meand they recommended a psychiatrist to do hypnosistherapy. I went through hypnosis therapy and learned itfrom a psychologist and I ended up going into a previouslife, and there was the cause of my insomnia. It drasticallychanged my life. I slept for the first time in my life a fulleight hours that very night.” (“Lorrie”)“I guess in my twenties, mid-twenties I began going to achurch called Unity and they had some. ..more along the lineof positive thinking or positive thought. Principles and Godthrown in there and the word God always plugged me inmajor because I had all these connotations. About 10 yearsof that and The Course in Miracles came into my life viathat church through somebody who came to speak onenight.” (“Jewel”)The second stage is “exploration”, where the individual will seek-out informationand experiences related to their point of entry.47“So I started studying and researching it on my own, takingmyself back to previous lives.” (“Lorrie”)47Furguson, 92.53“Just hearing about It I decided I would buy that book, orthose books and I did that and then suddenly it was like awhole different view-point into my awareness and I thinkbecause I was ready and also open minded enough to gopast some of the terminology and words that are in thosebooks that kind of related to my negative up-bringingaround religion.” (“Jewel”)The third stage is “integration” where the individual will trust an “inner guru” andhave their life permeated with their new system of belief, having resolved many of the“sharp conflicts between new beliefs and old patterns.”48“Then when I was twenty-one I started having nightmares ofa previous life of my own where I was Guinevere in theArthurian time period and it was a lot of violence and I wasnot very happy with what I was experiencing. And Iregressed myself and found myself being called Gwinifar, aCeltic name and calling people Arthur and I thought, wellthis is just a little too far fetched for me.. .And I found itvery upsetting, so I put it away for years. I just starteddoing a lot of meditation, reading about astral projection,started having a bit of out-of-body experience. I met aman.. .who became my real mentor and teacher for years andhe helped my by giving me some books on meditation andhelping me to find my power. So I focused on that for yearsand practicing on some friends regression and therapies,with them as guinea pigs.“Then the nightmares started for me again when Iwas 27. ..I decided I just wasn’t ready.. .yet. So I put thataway again and I started focusing on other things. Throughthat time period I worked as an accountant. I had my ownbusiness.. .downtown... So I have sort of a double life, thislogical life dealing with a lot of people in the money world,stock market and things like that. On the other side I wasalso studying opera and I was planning to be an opera singerand dabbling in past life and meditation and the spiritualityside of things. But at that time it was more for me, it wasn’tfor teaching, for anyone else.” (“Lorrie”)“Then having read those books I got involved in a New Agecompany called New World Network and that was in 1983.And through continually reading and practicing theprinciples out of those books...Yea I just got a whole new48Furguson, 93.54awareness of what spirituality is as compared to religion.”(“Jewel”)Fourthly there is “conspiracy” where, “..he discovers other sources of power, and ways touse it for fulfillment and in service to others.”49“Four and a half years ago I was looking for a channeler andI found a channeler who had come to town. She was what Icall a psychic channeler who brings the spirits in front ofher but not fully into her body. What came through thatsession was that I was a channeler as well and so I learnedhow to channel my own spirit guides. They came throughme and told me to do this work full-time, to close down mypersonnel agency and get to work, basically and do thehypnosis therapy that I had learned and past-life therapy andstart working one-on-one with people and channel as well,full-time and they told me not to worry about the money,the money would come, people would come and they did.”(“Lorrie”)“Well doing my own healing by myself through thatcompany that I worked for. Using that particular methodand having gained a lot of values and having turned my ownlife around completely to deciding that I wanted to helpother people to do that. So I did training for that and wentahead and started doing it.” (“Jewel”)To the extent that Furguson’s model is correct, it is apparent that most if not all of theinterviewees for this thesis have traveled fully to the fourth stage as each one has integratetheir beliefs into their lives and now are in a mode of providing services to others basedon those beliefs.The process of actually becoming a New Age service provider seems also to be asvaried and interesting as becoming a New Ager. It appears that for most the decision wasnot based on economics. Frequently the people interviewed had left positions which weremore financially profitable in order to operate their current businesses. “Carmen” isindicative of this.49Furguson, 93.55“I actually had a really great job. I really enjoyed it too, butI knew that this was what I wanted to do. I mean, I tell you,the first year...I mean the job I was at... I was bringinghome so much money I was laughing. I could basically dowhatever I wanted. I was taking nice trips, got a house. Butit wasn’t what I wanted to be doing. Long term I knewthat....“.. .What I really wanted to be doing versus what Iwas doing, for money, to survive or whatever it was. Sothen I just started to pursue that, which was I wanted tohave a center, some kind of center and I wanted it to relateto body, mind and spirit. The health of body, mind andspirit. And it turned into a bookstore.”Previous occupations of the 30 respondents ranged from computer consultants to oilindustry executives to home-makers. The reasoning behind the decisions also variedgreatly. Some seemed just to fall into it, where part-time hobbies gradually became moreserious, eventually becoming full-time occupations.“...out of the blue I thought to myself, ‘I wonder if I couldperpetuate any money at all reading tea cups and palms?’And so I approached a restaurant and I told the fellow whatI wanted to do and he agreed, and that was it. That washow I got into it. I sort of fell into it. I had no design in mymind that I was going to be a psychic...” (“Stephanie”)Others. like “Leslie” started their practice as a survival technique, having lost theirprevious job.“My background is in computer consulting. I was in thecomputer industry for twenty-five years and I also didastrology on the side since the ‘70’s and it has always beenmy main love in life and for the past, I’d say ten years I’dbeen thinking, ‘...God if only I could do this for a living, itwould be great.’ I got laid off from my job about three yearsago we were very slow...and I looked at this as being thebest thing that ever had ever happened to because I lookedat it as my opportunity, finally...and I am still building to apoint where. ..it isn’t easy making a living at this, and I’m notat the point where I can say I am making a living at it.”A few were led to their current professions by more spiritual oriented events.56“...eventually it got to the point where...I started gettinglittle hints from the universe, that.. .‘this isn’t where you needto be anymore. We need you to be somewhere else now.Are you going to move on your own choice or are we goingto have to force you there? If you don’t make the choice foryourself it is going to be made for you, which one do youwant?’... (“Debby”)“...I was led to go to a women’s conference down in theStates where I met a woman who gave me one of herpersonal quartz crystals and told me I’d be giving crystalworkshops again, she used the word ‘again’ and I said,‘What ever you are talking about I am a teacher and trying tokill time, and that’s a pretty rock.’ ‘No’, she said, ‘you haveworked with crystals before and it will return to you easilyand you will be doing this work.’ It was as if she gave methe blue-prints to the second half of my life. She was right.I found as soon as I started working with the crystals that Iknew how to work with them and knew how to teach peopleto work with them.” (“Jill”)While some of the interviewees had seen great financial profit, the majority were notgetting rich from their business. Although occasionally a move based on survival, thedecision to get involved in the New Age as a profession was most frequently one ofconviction in what they believed in and wanting to share that with others.DESCRIBING THE NEW AGE MOVEMENT: NEW AGE BELIEFSThe difficulty in defining the New Age is paralleled by the difficulty involved indiscovering what it is New Agers believe. As we have already seen, the movement ismarked more by diversity than by unity, thus suggesting that the same belief systems arenot going to be shared by all New Agers. There is some considerable variety in thebeliefs held by New Agers. Despite this, however, it is possible to describe some of themost central and widely accepted beliefs. The following is a description of the mostcommonly accepted beliefs among people in the New Age Movement. The57categorization used comes partly from the book, Unmasking the New Age, by DouglasGroothuis.5°All is OneIn the New Age world-view the universe is seen as monistic. This is the beliefthat all is One, and One is all. There are no actual differences between any two tangibleor intangible things. Differences between things are only apparent, not real. “Ultimatereality of God is seen as impersonal unity or pure consciousness, where there is nothought, no distinctions, no objects, no-thing-ness, then there also is no good or evil.Good and evil, right and wrong, true and false and distinctions made between objects, area product of the mind, of rational, logical thinking.”51A significant manifestation of this belief is in the realm of environmentalism. Thenatural environment is something which is becoming more of an issue for people fromjust about all philosophical and religious backgrounds. Most people are realizing theimportance of “ecology”, “conservation”, and a host of other environmental buzz words.The goals, and the practical methods of achieving them have remarkable consistencyacross the board, although the motivations behind the actions differ widely.Since most people involved in the New Age Movement are monists they believein the essential oneness of all things. This means that the natural environment, andthemselves as human beings are essentially the same thing. Much of the concern for theenvironment from this point of view comes from J.E. Lovelock’s Gaian hypothesis52which brings scientific, and biological support to the belief of essential connectednessbetween humans and the natural environment. New Age environmentalism is intimatelyconnected with what is now known as “Deep Ecology”. George Sessions states,50Douglas R. Groothuis, “Unmasking The New Age”, (Downers Grove: Illinois, InterVarsity Press, 1986).51Linda Christensen, “The New Age Movement’, Unpublished paper, U.B.C. Dept. of Religious Studies,1990a: 11.52J• E. Lovelock. Gala: A New Look at Life on Earth, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1979).58“As we are now beginning to realize, the key tocontemporary ecological consciousness is to see thediminishment of man and the diminishment of the planetand its non-human inhabitants as essentially one and thesame problem.”53This minimalist view of the environment is not simply physical; it has definitespiritual implications. It involves,“...an awareness of the equal right of all things to live andblossom into their own unique forms of selfrealization. ..Ecological consciousness recognizes a spiritualrecipro-city [sic] between humans, animals, and the land.”Deep ecology,“[r]efers to the understanding that the extent to which wediminish any aspect of the environment we diminishourselves. The earth, our ecosystem is an extension of ourbody, mind and spirit, and our actions toward the earth areviewed as reflections of ourselves.”55This belief then creates a world which is animate and sentient, part of the Universal One.The natural world is endowed with a value equal to that of humans, the outcome of whichis often a deepened respect for the environment, as is demonstrated by “Glory”.“I have learned with the natives, learning more about natureand to honour nature. That’s a big thing, to honour nature.If you go out to pick flowers, ask the plant’s permission.Ask the tree’s permission. To really honour that. If youpick a stone or a shell of the beach, ask permission that youcan take it with you.”Monism, also creates a perception of physical existence as being illusory. Sinceall is one, and distinctions are unreal, then the differences between things are onlyillusions. Physical reality is only an illusion. This idea is reiterated by “Lorrie”:53George Sessions. “Ecological Consciousness and Paradigm Change” in, Tobias, Michael. (ed.) DeepEcology. (San Diego, California: Avant Books, 1985): 28.541b1d, 39.55John Clancey. Et al. A New Age Guide: For the Thoroughly Confused and Absolutely Certain.(Eastsound, Wa.: Sweet Forever Pub!., 1988): 6.59“Since that experience [of astral travel] I have felt like I wassort of walking on the earth. My feet almost felt like theyweren’t quite touching the ground. It was a really lifechanging feeling for me. It felt like I was here but I wasn’tcaught. I didn’t have to get caught in all the stress orturmoil around, I could just watch it and know that it isbasically an illusion. I look at this whole experience as anillusion.. .but what is important in my teaching is to helppeople to realize the illusion can feel very real and veryemotional and we need to heal that, we need to heal theemotions and when we heal ourselves we can come to agreater understanding that it is an illusion and reality isinside of who we really are, that we are spirit. That this isall really a school that we are all here to learn.” (“Lorrie”)All is God and Humanity is GodAll is God“Once we admit that all is one, including god, then it is a short step to admittingthat ‘all is god’. This is pantheism.”56This is the belief that everything is a part of theOne, or rather part of god. There is nothing which is apart from the One, or apart fromgod. The unifying fact of existence is that everything is connected to the Source, the One,a universal energy which encompasses all of reality, which is otherwise termed, “god” .5Humanity is GodNext, since there are no distinctions between things, and there is also nodistinction between a person and god, it is therefore only logical to assert that a person isgod. Every person and everything is god, free to create its/their own reality and live inthat reality how they please with no one to judge them, save themselves. This philosophy56Groothuis, 20.57Some call this source “God’ but the New Age concept of the One is very different from the Christianconcept of God, since the One is an impersonal energy force, and the Christian concept of God is of apersonal being.60is appropriately summed up by Swami Muktananda who says, “Kneel to your own self.Honor and worship your own being. God dwells within you as You!”58The New Age world view not only encourages, but demands the deification ofself. There is a presupposition that all humans are god. This rightfully translates into aworship of self. “To be as God is to love no thing more than you, to hold no thing greaterthan you, and to see no thing as more divine than you.”59 The deification of self wasconfirmed by many of the interviewees.“I think a lot of people are discovering the God withinthemselves and the God-essence. They are finding out whothey truly are and changing the way they look at things, andchanging the way they look at themselves and feel aboutthemselves, causing more dramatic changes around theworld.” (“Rose”)“I guess it is just a feeling that.. .like when I say that innature I see the divine in a tree. ..I’m beginning to realize,I’m just beginning to realize if there’s the divine in a treethat the divine is also in me. I have always known this, butI am now beginning to feel it. Beginning to feel the sacredexperience that life is, period. My inspiration comes fromthat feeling, like... Wow!” (“Christine”)Under this system a person is able to pursue whatever they desire and this caneasily be seen as a license for a spiritualized hedonism. If a person is god, then it isnatural that they will see themselves worthy of anything and everything. “To be as Godand to live as God, all you have to do is be yourself and live only for your own happinessand joy.”’° This can include the desire for money, which is apparently a major pursuit ofsome of the New Agers. Joseph Murray lauds and applauds this pursuit in these words:“It is your right to be rich. You are here to lead theabundant life to be happy, radiant and free. You should,58Barbara Marx Hubbard. The Evolutionary Journal. (San Francisco: Evolutionary Press, 1982): 157.Quoted in Groothuis, 21.59Steven Lee Weinberg. Ramiha: An Introduction. (Eastsound, Wa.: Sovereignty Inc., 1987): 189.60Weinberg, 189.61therefore, have all the money you need to lead a full, happy,prosperous life...In this book you will learn to make friendswith money, and you will always have a surplus.”6’Or, as Stuart Wilde writes, “Money isn’t real. It’s just energy. When you can open yourheart to energy, the money finds you.”62 Money, however, is not the only pursuit of theperson-god, but whatever the pursuit, that person cannot be denied it. There are no moralgrounds to convict a person for a particular pursuit. Other pursuits include personalpower, physical perfection, spiritual perfection, career perfection and perfection inrelationships or even perfect service. As will be more full developed in subsequentchapters the pursuit of “self”, as related to the concept of the deified-self, is a majorpreoccupation of the people involved in the New Age. Philosophically, the New Agermay able to take any path they desire.A Change in ConsciousnessOne of the key aspect of New Age is its recognition of the importance of thesupernatural. In order to realize one’s own god-hood it is necessary that a person have afundamental shift in consciousness. “The mystical view of consciousness is based on theexperience of reality in non-ordinary modes of awareness, which are traditionallyachieved through meditation but may also occur spontaneously in the process of artisticcreation and various other contexts.”63 The entry into altered states of consciousnessthrough meditation allows one to achieve a higher order. 64 These higher orders involvecontact with the supernatural. The dilemma of humanity is an ignorance of divinity,which keeps us from a true change of consciousness.6561Joseph Murray. The Collected Essays ofJoseph Murray. (Marina Del Rey, Calif.: De Vorss & Co.,1987): 60.62Common Ground, Spring, 1992, 23.63Fritjof Capra. The Turning Point. (New York: Bantam, 1982): 297.64Furguson, 79.65Groothuis, 26.62While New Agers believe that all people are essentially god, they suggest that notall people realize it. A person must come in contact with their higher-self, ascend to ahigher plane of consciousness before they are able to realize their god-hood. In Kitsilanoone can find many methods of entering into one’s higher consciousness, which include:Zen meditation, channeling, Zen Buddhist meditation, Zuru Ling Tibetan BuddhistMeditation, Mindlinking, Yoga, Chanting, Vipassana Meditation, Karuna Meditation.There is a consistency of purpose amongst all these methods exemplified by MaharajSawan Singh, who teaches, “...a system of meditation enabling one to experience innerLIGHT and Audible Life Stream, the key to Self-knowledge and God-realization.”66The interviewees frequently confirmed the belief in the necessity to alter one’sconsciousness in order to realize one’s innate perfection. For example:“In essence there is nothing wrong with anybody, there areno problems, there is nothing to be learned or there isn’t anything missing, except a willingness and an openness toreceive that.” (“James”)[I look] to myself. To myself. I do the Reiki. . .and this islike getting in-touch with my higher-self. And this is whereI’ll get my answers. You know, we have all the answers.It’s to believe that and I’ve gotten to that stage where I don’tfeel I have to go outside. I don’t go to readers anymore, anyof that stuff. I really believe we have all the answers andthis is what I tell all my clients; they have the answers. It’sjust to love yourself unconditionally. Trust your instincts.”(“Glory”)RelativismViews of Other ReligionsNew Age being essentially an unorganized collection of religious ideas is hard tolabel as a religion in itself. It recognizes that there are different religions in existence, but66Common Ground, Issue #30, Spring 1990: 59.63it states that essentially all religions are the same. It is believed that there are commontruths amongst all religions and that these common truths overrule any differences. RalphWaldo Trine says, “The sacred books, the inspired writings, all come from the samesource- God.”67 While differences are recognized amongst religions, it is believed thatthese differences are , “...cultural forms or packages of essentially one and the samething.”68 The basic belief is that no one religion has an exclusive view of truth andhumans are free to choose which manifestation of the truth they want to follow. It is asupermarket style belief system, where the participants are free to choose from theshelves of religion which ever aspects of spirituality they want.69Due to the monistic view that it espouses, New Age cannot condemn any religionas being incorrect, for all things are the same, therefore all religions, although showingsemantic differences, are united by basic overarching truths. This means, “...a Jew canworship equally as well in a Catholic cathedral, a Catholic in a Jewish Synagogue aBuddhist in a Christian church, a Christian in a Buddhist temple.”7°Again this is a themewhich was reiterated by the interview subjects.“Every religion has its own definition of God. Everyreligion has its own definition for the same thing, it can’t besomething else.” (“Becky”)“The truth is found in all of them. ‘I am in all religions as astring through a set of pearls’. I really like that. I see thatstring or that flow of truth in all religions and in allphilosophies. Although religions and philosophies can getcarried away with their dogma. Even the original string canget distorted or lost.” (“Christine”)67Ralph Waldo Trine. In Tune With the Infinite. (New York: MacMillan. Reprint, 1986. (first editon,1908)): 156.68Linda Christensen. “The Issue of Religious Pluralism: Any One Religion True?”, Unpublished paper,,U.B.C. Dept. of Religious Studies, 1990b: 1.69See, Reginald Bibby, Fragmented Gods: the Poverty and Potential ofReligion in Canada. (Toronto:Irwin, 1987)and Bibby, (1993).70Trine, 155.- 64New Age MoralityNew Age relativism is also evident in the peculiar world of New Age morality.Given that everything is perceived of as being relative, it is therefore true that moraldecisions are relative in nature. There are no absolute standards, no moral imperatives inthe world of the New Age. The existence of absolute standards or moral imperativeswould be to deny the points we have already discussed. Absolute standards wouldsuggest that right and wrong did in fact exist, therefore contradicting the idea that “all isOne”, and differences between notions of right and wrong, good and evil were no longerjust illusory. Similarly to think that a person could do something wrong would be anotion in conflict with the assumption of personal deity and ultimate self-perfection.“It’s more the way I live my life, the guiding principles. Irun my life totally by my own ethical and moral code. Myown internal code as opposed to society’s, whatever that is.Sometimes they coincide and sometimes they don’t. But Ilive, I think, very ethically. Like, I would never belie myprinciples. Well I think there is a difficulty for the generalpublic in a lot of these things because it is hard to knowwho is ethical and who isn’t. Ethics are extremelysignificant to me. When I do a reading I want to give theperson the absolute best reading I can give them. And makesure they have value for money that I tell them truthfullywhat I see in the chart and that I leave them with a positivefeeling. That they can walk out of here feeling bettersomehow...“Difficulty with the general public is how do youknow this person is on the up and up? how do you know ifthey are just after my money? how do you know if they aretruthful? To me the answer to that is not to regulate and testand really put an old system to work, against what is really anew way of looking at things, but to, in general our wholesociety need to open up to their intuitive sense and to reallyaccess that right brain. We all have intuition, we all havethe power to know if this is right or this doesn’t feel right,you know, this gut feeling. I think this is part of our life,that we are never trained to access or use.” (“Leslie”)65“Basically we come from a premise wherein ‘harm none, dowhat you will’ is our law, so as long as you are not hurtinganyone else and you are following your own will then youare living sort of the way we do. We don’t put rules onpeople, you can’t do this and you shouldn’t do that. Wedo.. .by saying harm none.. .If you look at that law, it is allencompassing, it covers the Ten Commandments plus. Itjust doesn’t get into the moralistic. I mean, I can’t go intoyour bedroom and say, ‘don’t sleep with little boys.’ I mean,I’m not advocating that, but I’m not into getting intopersonal lives and stuff. That would be, what I just said, aninfringement on the other person. So you know as long asyou’re not infringing on other people then we’re fine.”(“Frank”)“A lot of the people who are in the, quote, so-called, ‘NewAge Movement’ have been working in that area for the lastten, twenty years and learning what they need to learn andare now beginning to refine it, integrate it, really be able toreach-out into a wider community with this information andmake it available and offer it to say, ‘If you want it, it ishere’. We’re not going to force anybody to believe whatthey don’t want to believe. You don’t have to believeanything I say, I don’t care if you do or not. It is irrelevant.That’s what I believe. You know? You believe what youbelieve. I believe what I believe and, hey, as long as we arenot hurting anybody else or ourselves, fine.” (“Celeste”)The belief in relativist morality, however, inevitably leads to point of ultimatecontradiction. Each one of the quotations above demonstrates the inherentlycontradictory nature of New Age morality. “Leslie” speaks of having her own morality,her own ethics but then speaks of there being some universally desirable characteristic inthe concept of truthfulness. “Frank” and “Celeste” each speak of believing what you wantto believe and doing what you want to do, yet qualify this with an appeal to the goldenrule, “...hey, as long as we are not hurting anybody else or ourselves, fine.” This type ofinconsistency is very prevalent in New Age thinking. There is a standardized appeal tothe right to believe and do anything you want, yet there is also an implicit, and sometimesexplicit set of rules and absolute moral standards, such as the golden rule.66New Age and Social ConcernsOne of the obvious results of a philosophy which asserts that ultimate meaning isfound in the self is that attempts to deal with social justice and related issues can seemsomewhat awkward or strained. It is of little doubt that most New Agers are indeedconcerned for the plight of the less fortunate, but it is evident that their belief system isoften times strained to come up with reasonable responses to such situations. Regardingthe New Age response to oppression in its various forms, one observer notes:“When personal consciousness is the single determiningfactor in social change, then all social problems, includingthe specters raised by racism, imperialism, sexism, andhomophobia, are seen as the result of personal failures andshortcomings.”71A consciousness of the problems of society and their sources can at times be profoundlylacking in the New Age mindset. New Agers frequently turn to the idea that to changethe world one must begin with one’s self.To care for one’s self first is done in order to become a person more able to be atpeace in the world and therefore be part of creating a better more peaceful existence forall. Ram Dass explains this logic as it applies to his own life:“.. .next week I leave for Burma for three months of sittingmeditation. That’s specifically to do that. Not to retreatfrom the world but to do that in order to come back to theworld in a quieter way to hear truth more clearly in order tobe able to serve with less attachment so I will create lesssuffering in the universe.”72While this is obviously a commendable thought, it is apparent that few if any New Agershave in fact finished with themselves and hence it seems only a few have been able tomove beyond the self. The call to be God has left many in the relentless pursuit of71Andrew Ross, Strange Weather. (London: Verso, 1991), 70-71.72DeBeck: 38.67perfection (of body, mind and spirit) and it is this endless chase which is pulling manyfrom more socially oriented pursuits. One particularly harsh critic writes:“Underlying all the hugging and humming, all thetherapeutic touching, psychic reading, holistic healing andshamanic counseling is a notion that life’s confoundingrealities can be rubbed away like an ache in the elbow.Self-absorption masquerades as self-improvement. Analyzethe spiritualistic jabber about peace and harmony and one isapt to find nothing but jabber itself. After all, who has timeto work for peace and harmony if he is spending threenights a week doing crystal therapy of life regression?Volunteer at a soup kitchen? Visit the elderly? Press forcivil rights? Demonstrate for nuclear disarmament? Noway. Better to sit cross-legged in a geodesic dome andmeditate oneself toward the millennium. “flWhile these comments are on one extreme, there are not without some validity. Thecomments of New Agers can occasionally seem quite callous, self-absorbed, or simplyuncaring.“You look at the world and it’s very beautiful. The worldisn’t the oil crisis or some guy shot at the 7-11. The worldis the sunset and the child running across the play groundwith its chubby little legs, laughing. There’s so much thatpeople miss and don’t see and their lives become tight andmean and lacking.”74While the intent of this statement is evidently the affirmation and recognition of thepositive aspects of life, it is presented with a denial of its harsh, and painful aspects.Furthermore, with the New Age self-absorption, there is no recognition of the fact that“some guy at the 7-11” is more than just “some guy” to someone, or that someday that“guy” might be a friend, relative or even one’s self.The New Age over-emphasis of self can also make well intentionedcontemplations of crisis situations appear embarrassingly irrelevant. The following is an73FrecI Bruning, “Easy Solutions in the New Age”, MacLean’s, March 21, 1988: 9.74Joseph Roberts, “Money. Love & Power: An interview with Stuart Wilde”, Common Ground, Issue#38, Spring 1992, pp. 8-9, 23: 23.68excerpt from an interview with Eileen Caddy, a teacher/writer associated with the NewAge community of Findhorn, Scotland.“1 had an interesting experience during the time when allthese people were dying in Ethiopia and the beginning ofBand-Aid and so on. ..They were dying like flies and I foundmyself sucked into all this disaster that was going on...“I turned the television off and said, what can I do? It camethrough clearly, ‘Turn the picture the other way round.’.. .1turned the picture the other way round and looked at all thegood things that were coming out of this.“It was quite a revelation to me to realize that what wasactually happening was that humanity’s heart was beingopened up for probably the first time in their lives...“...Then I began to think, what about all those people thathave died? I thought, well that’s a bit hard on them, isn’t it?Then I thought, what is death? Death to me is just movinginto light. They’ve really sort of sacrificed themselves toopen up humanity’s heart.“I thought, isn’t that wonderful! What I needed to say wasthank you.”75Caddy derives comfort from the death of the Ethiopians. This comfort arises out of herperception of death, (“Death to me is...”). The Ethiopians, according to Caddy, whostarved to death as a result of political turmoil and drought, sacrificed themselves so thata few million people sitting in their living rooms watching TV would for a few briefmoments watch the same program, feel the same guilt and remorse and then send a few oftheir expendable dollars to a cause they would have forgotten about by dinner time.Instead of being mobilized into self-sacrificing action, Caddy, in response to her ownquestion, “what can I doT’ is motivated to “turn the picture around” and see what it isdoing for her. In her final analysis her ultimate response is to say “thank-you”, and “isn’tit wonderful”. The self-oriented New Age mindset can quickly turn genuine concern forothers into questions of, “what can I (learnlgainlbenefit/get), from this?” The result isthat the object of the initial concern is, in the end, left out of the answer.75Michael Bertrand, “Choose to Change: An Interview with Eileen Caddy’, Common Ground, Issue #23,Summer 1988 pp. 6-7, 52: 52.69While Common Ground frequently publishes articles dealing with social issues,they are not well represented in the advertising. Advertising categories such as, “Globaland Social Change” and “Environment”, (places where one might expect to findopportunities for community, national or global improvement orservice) have a minimalnumber of advertisers, with the categories frequently not appearing in the magazinebecause of an absence of advertisers. As with the rest of society, there is much talk aboutwhat needs to be done, but there is little evidence of it actually happening.To conclude, however, that the New Age is void of any social concern is indeedfalse. It is perhaps significant that Common Ground is primarily an outlet for advertisersand hence the profitable side of New Age is over-emphasized while non-profit agenciesand service organizations with their limited budgets cannot afford to advertise. Despitethis, service oriented groups like “Seva” manage to advertise in most issues of CommonGround.Similarly it is fair to say that many of the people interviewed appear to be activelyinvolved in some type of self-sacrificing service. It is also true that articles in CommonGround are devoted to issues such as nuclear disarmament, environmentalism, racism andhuman rights abuses, and certainly these articles can be categorized as social servicesthemselves in so far as they educate people and promote social justice.The difficulty with the New Age is, however, that within a system whichpurposefully has no unified belief, there is no moral imperative to pursue social justice.As might be expected, the moral relativism which the New Age actively supports andpromotes has been used for both good and ill. Many feel drawn toward the concept ofservice and fight actively for social justice. On the other hand there is no prescribedreason why this course is in fact any better than any other. The hedonist and theegocentrist can also find a home in the New Age. It appears that although the New Agecreated a society of self-creating and self-acknowledging gods, the moral relativism of theNew Age does not require those gods to be benevolent.70New Age Logic: EmotionalismDisregarding the exceptions to relativism described above, it is generally the casein the New Age Movement that decision making becomes a function of intuition. Thelogical appeal to an absolute standard ceases to be an option, as it would be under a strictreligious system or even a system based on utilitarianism. The result of this is that peoplesimply do what feels right.“[I do]...what feels right within me. If something feels rightwithin me then I’ll follow that. If it doesn’t feel right withinme I won’t do it, no matter what it is, on any level ofexperience. And that is a part of discernment which is alsovery important to me.. .1 don’t have any judgment on any ofthat and I also know that I have stopped denying myself. Ihave stopped denying myself. I have stopped denyingthings that I see, things that I know, things that I have and Isimply accept. I need no reason, I need no logic to supportanything that I believe or anything that I know or anythingthat I see. I simply accept that it is. I don’t even necessarilyneed to understand. As long as it feels right to me. That’sthe most important thing.” (“Celeste”)Similarly, at a free lecture entitled, “The Synchonicity Experience”, where “BrotherCharles” spoke and later sold his meditation tapes, the person introducing Brother Charlesbegan by saying, “Turn your mind off. Just experience. If you try to analyze you will bevery confused.”76Fitting with the rejection of the logical mind as being too dominant in westernsociety, the New Age Movement frequently encourages that people leave the realm oflogic and move into the realm of experience. Hence the role of intuition, feelings,emotions, experiences becomes greatly amplified in the process of decision-making.76Brother Charles, ‘The Synchronicity Experience”, Free Lecture at the H.R. Macmillan Planetarium,Vancouver, September 21, 1992.71View of the FutureThe term “New Age” originates in a belief that the world is moving between twosignificant astrological periods. The period which has dominated for the past 2000 yearshas been one of dogma and institutionalized religion, namely Pisces. At some point nearthe turn of the century we will be moving into a period of universal unity, namely the Ageof Aquarius. The age of Aquarius is, “...the age of an open world, a time of renewal whena fresh release of spiritual energy in the world culture may unleash new possibilities.”77The assumption is that humans are evolving towards perfection which will ultimatelyresult in heaven on earth.The cosmic optimism which New Agers believe in, leads them to strive foruniversal unity. Perhaps one of the most popular aspects of this is found in the teachingsof the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the founder of Transcendental Meditation, His promise islarge and utopian:“With this scientifically validated knowledge, it is no longernecessary for any individual of any nation to continue withproblems or suffering. Every government can now raiseevery area of national life to perfection through Maharishi’sMaster plan to create heaven on earth, which utilizesMaharishi’s Vedic Science and Technology to apply theunified field of natural law for the glorification of allaspects of life -inner and outer.”78This overall theme of the perfection of humanity is evident in many areas of theNew Age. In Vancouver, the “Hug for Peace”, held on St. Valentine’s Day was to sendthe energy of thousands hugging at one time around the world.79 The Peace concert heldearly in 1990, had a similar purpose. Many of the services allude to a change in the worldorder. Such things include, “...[plans] for Peace and Sharing.. .inspiring humanity totransform all of its structures - political, social and economic.”8°Robert Aiken, a local77Furguson, 42.78Globe and Mail, March 1, 1990: A9.79Taken from wall poster advertising the “Hug for Peace”, March, 1990.80Shared Vision, Issue 18, February, 1990: 24.72counselor and Astrologer is hopeful of the time when, “._suddenly everyone will want tofind his/her inner peace...”, which he tentatively says would be foreshadowed on Feb. 2,1993, the time of a specific astrological convergence.81“The final goal is to transform society and the world.”82 The goal is to realizedwhen everyone finds, “...peace and harmony within...”83 By finding our true-selves, theconflicts between people will cease.CONCLUSIONWhile no description of the New Age appears fully comprehensive, it is apparentthat the movement does not completely defy description. While being purposely difficultto label, the New Age Movement is not so amorphous as to be completely void ofdistinguishing characteristics. Indeed, when one looks closely enough, much of whatNew Age looks like it is only part of the process involved in coming to understand thiscontemporary cultural movement. To gain a more full understanding it is also necessaryto ask: Where did it come from? Why does it exist now? and Why does it exist in thisculture as opposed to others? In the remaining chapters we will look at these questionsamong others in order to gain a fuller appreciation of what it is the New Age is saying,and what it means to this culture.81Robert Aiken. “World in Transition: Part IP. Shared Vision, Issue 18, February 1990: 14.82Sutherland, 60.83Aiken.Chapter Three -THE CULTURAL PREPARATION FOR TIlE NEW AGE MOVEMENTINTRODUCTIONIn my view the New Age movement is not the inevitable outcome of the spiritualevolution of the planet, as many New Agers themselves propose.1 The New AgeMovement has arisen in a particular place, North America, at a particular time, the1970’s and 1980’s, and as we will see later, primarily amongst particular segments of thepopulation. Despite the fact that the New Age Movement has extended its boundariesfar beyond North America and it draws inspiration from cultures and belief systemsextending far into history, the central fact remains that the current cultural phenomenonwhich has been given the title the “New Age Movement” is somehow a product of theculture in which it began. Insofar as this is true, an examination of this culture wouldprovide a good basis for explaining the reasons for the existence of the New AgeMovement.Part of the solution to this, I believe lies in the understanding of what is known asthe secularization thesis. It is generally understood that over the past few hundred years,and even in the past few generations of North American society, the Christian church hasplayed a decreasingly important role in the majority of people’s lives. Many people willview their parents or grandparents as being more religious than themselves, and similarlymight have a mental image of the local church as being the milieu of elderly people.These folk images are to a certain degree supported by statistics gathered by peopleseeking to provide evidence for these generalized observations.2To a certain extent,anyone who would generally agree with this statement could be said to have an1Marilyn Furguson, The Aquarian Conspiracy: Personal and Social Transformations in the 1980s,(Los Angeles: Houghton Mifflin): 70.2For example see, Reginald Bibby, Fragmented Gods: The Poverty and Potential ofReligion in Canada,(Toronto: Irwin, 1987.)74understanding of the central observation of the secularization thesis. To go one stepbeyond this, however, and begin to provide reasons for why this is the case becomesslightly more difficult.Given that the literature around secularization is so rich and the discussions sovaried, the inevitable danger is that the focus of this thesis - the New Age Movement -will be lost in an expanded discussion of secularization. There is no conceivable way totouch upon even a small fragment of the topics that secularization opens up, or be able torepresent all the view points and significant players who have contributed to this debatein the context of one chapter. With this in mind, the objective of this chapter is to.provide an understanding of the concept of secularization, with a view to providing areasonable explanation for why the New Age Movement has taken root in NorthAmerica at this time.Drawing on almost all aspects of society, secularization theory attempts toexplain why the fabric of western society has changed so drastically in the last twocenturies. If one were to radically simplify secularization theory, might be brieflysummarized as follows: At one time religion bound western society together culturally.It explained the world, it organized social institutions and it organized people’s thoughtsand beliefs. However, with the Enlightenment march of technology and science, religionstarted to fade. People began foregoing the church and its way of thinking in favour ofthe more rational approach to the world offered to them by industrialization and modernscience. As a result the church as an institution and organizer of society began itsinevitable descent from power, which would lead ultimately to its complete demise.3The problem with this general thesis is, however, that in light of recent history,including the advent of the New Age Movement, the resurgence of conservativeChristianity, and the current rise in other religious groups, it appears that secularization3Based on a summary in, David Lyon, The Steeple’s Shadow, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: W.B. Eerdmans,PubI., 1985.): 675is slowing down, if not being reversed.4The inevitable demise of religion which manysecularization theorists predicted is not happening in any regular manner. In fact, thereverse, a sacralization appears to be a more accurate portrayal of the current situation.If we accept that there appears to be a certain level of re-sacralizing occurring insociety, we must then look at secularization theory and conclude that, in regard to theinevitability of the demise of religion, it is at the very least in question. This, however, isnot to say that secularization theory is not without merit and cannot be an aid infurthering our understanding of the changes which have occurred in society over that lastfew centuries. Given this it would probably be to our advantage to look at secularizationfrom a different vantage point. For that reason, in the next section of this chapter wewill look at the history of western society from a perspective which looks at the changesin a slightly different light to that provided by the secularization thesis.JACQUES ELLUL: THE NEWDEMONSThe primary theoretical map that I will be using to guide us through the history ofthe sacred belongs to sociologist I theologian Jacques Ellul. Specifically, I will bedrawing from his 1975 work, The New Demons5. It is here that Ellul provides apoignant and powerful account of the changes which have occurred in western societyfrom the time of the Enlightenment (and before), changes which have otherwise beencategorized as secularization. I shall be interpreting the transitions between preEnlightenment society and enlightened I modern society and then the transition frommodem to postmodern society based upon the model which Ellul provides. This modelis based in some of the prime findings and assumptions of secularization theory, butinterprets them quite differently.4Colin Campbell, “The Secret Religion of the Educated Classes”, Sociological Analysis, 39 (2), 1978, (pp.146-156): 146.5.Jacques Ellul, The New Demons, (Trans., C. Edward Hopkins), (New York: Seabury Press, 1975).76Challenging the givenEllul begins his work by challenging a presupposition, which has gone largelyunchallenged in the western world. The assumption, which most people (intellectualsand the general population alike) make, is that we are living in an areligious society, asociety which has parted ways with myth and the sacred. It is generally assumed that dueto the fact that we are in a post-Christian, post-Constantinian6era, then ipso facto we arein a post-sacred society. Ellul recognizes that indeed society has been de-Christianizedand laicized7,and that “secular” thought, has been propelled to the forefront of our socialand political institutions. He disagrees, however, that this necessarily implies that all isprofane and nothing is sacred in this era.Ellul puts some of the blame for the assumptions of desacralization on Americanarrogance. The U.S. began as a country dedicated to devotion to God and godliness.Everything up until, and peaking in, the 1930’s, had the ring of Christianity to it.“The President was always calling upon the Lord. TheBible was in all the hotels. Advertising was based onChristian maxims.. .There was an identification madebetween the American way of life and Christianity.”8This did not last, for “...suddenly the whole thing toppled and fell apart”, with scienceand technology as the displacers9. The Americans then panicked, generalizing andtotalizing the situation, assuming that this was happening the world over. It wasassumed that if it was happening in America, then the whole world was losingChristianity. Furthermore the assumption was also made that to lose Christianity was tolose religion. The process of generalization meant that Americans,“...[passed] from the statement that ‘modem man no longerbelieves in Jesus Christ’ to ‘modem man is atheistic’, from‘modem man is no longer Christian’ to ‘modem man is no6 That is, an era which has shed the marriage between church and state which Constantine initiated.“Laicization” is the process of removing the church from the state.8Ellul, 41.9lbid.77longer religious’, from ‘modern man no longer reads theBible and no longer listens to sermons’ to ‘modern man isrational and takes no part in mythical discourse.” 10The generally held belief was that if Christianity fell, all religion ceased to exist, thatnothing other than the Christian God was sacred, and therefore non-Christian is non-sacred.11 Ellul does not ignore the Enlightenment as being the seed of the shift awayfrom Christianity but he points out that it was not until popular America began to feel thebrunt of the change that it became a completely pervasive assumption. The strugglesbetween Christianity and scientism, its successor and deposer, began in theEnlightenment and many battles had been fought and settled since then. Unable toaccept that there could be a sacred, other than what had been, the American declarationwas that society “...no longer believed in the sacred.”12It is also true that this assumed death of the sacred is partially attributable to thesecularization theorists themselves. It has been pointed out that proponents of thesecularization thesis state that secularization is a necessary and factual result ofimproved science and technology.13 There seems to be little discussion amongstsecularization theorists regarding the possibility that secularization may be neitherfactual nor inevitable, and hence through their influence they promote the belief in thedeath of religion.Identifying the SacredThe perspective one takes regarding secularization is very much dependent uponone’s definition of religion and what constitutes the “sacred”. Traditionally there arethree basic views on this. One equates religion and the sacred with organized churchesand specifically religious groups. 14 The second expands on this first definition to include‘0lbid.1tJbjd, 42.12Jbjd13Lyon, 31, 32.14Jbjd, 10.78“common” or “folk” religion. This includes fringe beliefs, superstitions, and “old wives’tales”.15 This does not require any organized religion and becomes much more definedby the culture, traditions and individual beliefs and experiences. The third commonlyaccepted definition of religion and the sacred, sees anything which gives meaning to apersons life as being sacred.16 This can mean a sport, a hobby, an individual or anythingwhich forms the direction of one’s life is sacred.For traditional secularization theorists the first two definitions are mostfrequently adhered to. For Ellul however it is the third definition which is central in hisevaluation of the concept of secularization. He is not satisfied with the declaration thatsociety is no longer interested in the sacred and therefore asks:“...I think the first order of business is to find out whetheror not we live in an age that has thrown religion aside.What if the analysis is wrong?” 17What if religion and the sacred do still exist, but have simply changed their form? Inorder to answer this question fully Ellul recognizes the need to define the function of the“sacred”. He realizes that,“If, after examining everything which those primarilyinvolved agree to call religion or myth, I discover afunction (complex) on behalf of man and society; if, then, Idiscover phenomena not expressly called religion or mythbut fulfilling exactly the same function, I would be entitledto say that, while the vocabulary has changed, thesubstantial reality is identical, and I find that I am really inthe presence of a religion or a myth.” 18In defining the function of the sacred, his first and most important observation isthat, “...the sacred is not one of the categories of religion. Religion, rather, is onepossible rendition of the sacred.”19 The implication of course is that to be sacred‘5lbid.16Jbjd17E1Iu1, 19.18Jbjd, 47.19Jbid, 48.79something need not be part of a “religion” (in the traditional sense of the word). Thesacred is in fact the standpoint from which everything is viewed. It is the point fromwhich all limits and boundaries are drawn. Keeping this in mind, Ellul points to threeareas in which sacredness can traditionally be identified: 1) peoples’ relationship to theuniverse, 2) sacred time, and 3) peoples’ relationships with others.An individual’s relationship to the universe is arguably the most obvious andimportant of the three. Sacred value, Ellul argues, is attributed most often to that whichprotects and that which threatens. That which provides a refuge, which guaranteeslogical, rather than illogical space, and which affirms the existence of an order becomessacred.20 This represents the provision of points of reference21 an assured method tointerpret one’s own existence, and to “...be oriented in the world and know where andhow to act.”22 This provides order, however, it also exposes and warns of disorder. Thesacred provides discernment for what is or is not permitted, and why. With the “true”comes the “false”. The sacred therefore is that which bestows meaning.23Secondly, Ellul presents the role of sacred time. This is not a concept of themeaning or purpose of abstract time, but rather is an exploration of the importance ofspecific moments in time, best represented by festivals or ceremonies. These aremoments of permitted disorder amidst the order, and are in stark contrast to the order.“It is a time between the times, a silence between words, aplunge into the absolute origin, which one must come outof in order to begin.” 24It is a time where chaos is passed through in order to give, “...force, virtue andvalidity...”25 to the order. Ellul does not provide any concrete examples of what such asacred time might entail, but it appears that his allusion (however unclear), refers to20Ibjd, 50.21Ibjd, 51.22Ibjd23Jbjd, 52.24Jbjd25Jbjd80times where that which threatens is faced and challenged, but not necessarily defeated.Sacred time strengthens the existing order when the participants emerge from the time ofexposure and disorder still intact, ready to live once again under the protection of thesacred. Here then, the sacred, in the form of sacred time, is that which tests and showsthe boundaries of the order.The third signifier of the sacred is found in peoples’ relationships with each other.The sacred relationship is founded upon, “...integrating the individual into the group.”26The sacred is necessarily communal if it is to survive. The sacred is made so bynormalizing actions and concepts through group justification. When an individualadopts a behaviour which has been, or is being, normalized within the group, theindividual becomes integrated, and in the process adds greater credence to the sacrednessof that which is, or is becoming, sacred. To challenge, or stand against the sacred is toeither eliminate oneself from survival in the group, or to “...prove that the order is not anorder.”27 If the desacralizer survives, then the entire order is put in a position of possiblebreakdown. The final function of the sacred ,then, is to legitimize and justify a groupand its actions.Given Ellul’s description of characteristics which define sacredness, it is logicalto assume that any social context where these identical characteristics are found mayquite reasonably be termed “sacred”, even if quite far from the traditional, religion-related concepts of what is sacred.Desacralization and SacralizationGiven the ideas presented above, our next logical step is to combine the conceptthat modern (post-Christian) society may not be areligious with the assertion thatsacredness is identifiable by its dominant characteristics, regardless of the label it has26Jbjd, 53.271b1d, 54.81been given. The product of this combination is the following question: “has Christianitybeen replaced with a new sacred, and if so, what is it?”Before we enter into a discussion of this question we must first establish theprocess by which changes occur. The first question we must deal with is: how doesdesacralization occur, or, in other words, how does that which is sacred lose itssacredness? Simply put, sacredness is lost when the functions of the sacred lose theirability to bestow meaning, to justify actions and to continue as reliable tests for reality.This is when the characteristic functions of the sacred are successfully challenged.28This is the point where a seemingly better order deposes the position of the sacred.29What then happens is that which had the power to exile the sacred, immediately becomessacred itself.3°Ellul takes examples from history, reminding us how the church in preReformation times succeeded in desacralizing nature, only to become sacred itself. Thenduring the Reformation, scripture was used to desacralize the sacredness of church anddogma, with the outcome being the Bible as sacred text.Ellul also asserts that once a sacred order has been experienced and rejected, itcannot be revisited, at least in the same form that it was.3’ What then is the newsacred? What is it that has deposed Christianity? How did the process occur, and when?Is there something to come after this sacred? The new process of desacralization andsacralization, which Ellul argued in 1975 that we are a part of, and which I will argue weare moving beyond, is a process of “dereligionizing”.3228Jbid, 58.291t is perhaps appropriate to point out that while this theory bears some similarity to Kuhn’s concept ofparadigm shifts, the two are in fact different. Not insignificant is the fact that Kuhn’s model was designedexclusively to interpret change within the realm of the natural sciences, while Ellul specificallytailors his model to broad social criticism.30Ellul, 58.311b d, 64.32Jbid, 59,82ENLIGHTENMENT TO MODERNISMFor the purposes of this discussion, I will be considering the Enlightenment asthe starting point for the major shifts which form what is commonly considered to be themodern era. I will be considering the “modernists” and “modernism”, as a series ofparallel movements centered around the arts, architecture and science. This period,however, will be presented as a continuation of the secular currents which began in theEnlightenment.Sacred Reason: The Enlightenment and the Modern EraIt would be very difficult for anyone to deny that the key word when discussingthe shift from pre-Enlightenment to Enlightenment times is “reason”. It is generallyasserted that the major thrust of Enlightenment thought was to establish reasonedthinking as the primary method of decision-making. One of the major proponents of thisperspective was Immanuel Kant who described the Enlightenment as, “. ..the momentwhen humanity is going to put its own reason to use, without subjecting itself to anyauthority. ..“33 It appears that it did not take long until Kant’s concept of Enlightenmentbegan to be played out in society. Science, which based its conclusions on “objectivereason”, started to become an authority which informed people’s decision making.Similarly in politics and philosophy it was the abstract individual (a hypothetical beingwho derived all its decision-making from reasoned self-interest), who captivated people’sminds. The problem which arose from this was that science and philosophy were inapparent conflict with religion and the current ecclesiastical authorities.34 This, ofcourse, did not mean that everyone immediately threw religion out the window andbecame areligious. In fact, to some degree the opposite occurred. People did not receiveinventions and the products of science with great acclaim, because they were perceived33MicheI, Foucault. “What is Enlightenment?” in, The Foucault Reader. (Ed. P. Rabinow), (New York:Pantheon Books, 1984): 38.34Ellul, 60.83to be violating that which was sacred.35 The Victorian moral code, which derivedauthority from the adult male, the church, the Bible, the state and the family, remainedstrong well into the 1900’s. Yet despite this apparent lingering authority, it is evidentthat real authority was shifting towards a new set of institutions.Carl Raschke reminds us of an important trend in nineteenth century Europewhich contributed to the growth and acceptance of the processes of desacralization. Hepoints out the disenfranchisement of the intelligentsia from their traditional aristocraticpatrons.36 Hence it was at this time that scholars and artists began to depend on themarket place and the masses for their financial support. The result was that they nolonger had to kowtow to aristocrats, or the church which the aristocrats were still in closecontact with. They became “cultural rebels”, distinguishing themselves from themasses, and at the same time criticizing “bourgeois complacency and hypocrisy.”37 Thisallowed them to pursue endeavors which were essentially anti-traditional in nature withlittle fear of financial repercussions.The pre-Enlightenment sacred was found primarily in two locations, firstly in thechurch and secondly in nature. The life of the pre-Enlightenment individual wasstructured by the moral codes of the church, representing an absolute authority, and bythe rhythms found in the natural environment. The Enlightenment, however, throughscience, technology and complementary strains in philosophy, desacralized both ofthese. Reason and the scientific method eliminated for many the need for a God bywhich to explain the universe. The myths and stories found in the Bible paled incomparison to the seemingly endless powers of explanation which were offered byscientific discovery and reasoning. Beyond that, science made religion not onlyunnecessary, but appeared to prove it incorrect. The evidence supplied by the scientistsseemed to contradict what religious authorities had been saying on a host of topics.35Ibid, 61.36CarI A. Raschke, The Interruption ofEternity, (Chicago: Nelson-HaIl, 1980.): 82.37Ibid, 82.84Most prominently we can cite Darwin’s, Origin of Species,38 and Mendel’s paper on thegenetic breeding of peas (although much less recognized at the time), as conclusiveworks that seemed to negate the Christian perspective on reality. The new rationalitywhich was created was perceived to be without the irrational concepts of myth andreligion. Some, like Feuerbach, Marx and Neitzsche, saw the consequential loosening ofthe grip of religion as a point of celebration.39 Stephen Kern points out that inNietzsche’s declaration of the death of God that the distinction between sacred andprofane is eliminated and that consequently, “...any place can become sacred.”40Running parallel with discoveries and progress in science was the process oflaicization. Beginning with John Locke’s, Essay Concerning Human Understanding,41(1690), and later with works such as John Stuart Mill’s, On Liberty,42 (1859), andsimilarly with the work of Immanuel Kant it became apparent that Liberalism as apolitical system was on the rise. The overwhelming spirit was the autonomy of theindividual. Hobbesian Utilitarianism, which gained much attention “... grew out of aneffort to apply the methods of science to the understanding of man and was both atheisticand deterministic.”43Religion, however, was not dead. Robert Bellah points out that biblicalChristianity and Utilitarianism shared the center stage of American perspectives onreality from the time of the civil war until the 1960’s. Utilitarianism revolved primarilyaround the concept of “interest”, where a neutral state encouraged and preserved theindividual’s right to pursue their own concept of the “good”.44 Biblical Christianity wasprimarily concerned with “conscience”, where the state promoted community, charity38Charles G. Darwin. On the origin ofspecies by means ofnatural selection or, The preservation offavoured races in the struggle for life (New York: Heritage Press, [1963].)3Stephen Kern, The Culture of Time and Space. (Harvard Univ. Press, Cambridge Mass., 1983): 178.40Ibid, p. 179.41John Locke, An essay concerning human understanding, (Oxford : Clarendon Press; 1979.)42John Stuart Mill, On Liberty, (1859), (London: Penguin Books, 1974).43Robert, N Bellah, “New Religious Consciousness and the Crisis in Modernity”. The New ReligiousConsciousness. (Ed. C. Glock and R. Bellah) (Berkley: Univ. of Calif. Press, 1976.): 335.44Ibid, 335.85and Christian virtue.45 The incompatibility of the two meant that they never achievedany kind of harmony.46In most situations the result of a combination was a corruption ofthe biblical tradition as it became consumed by utilitarian individualism, “...so thatreligion itself finally became for many a means for the maximization of self-interest withno effective link to virtue, charity, or community.”47 Eventually, in the 1960’s, theUnited States went through what France, Russia (U.S.S.R.) and most other westerncountries had experienced earlier; a process of laicization. Technology, science andbureaucracy took over the role of the church in providing the guiding principles insociety.Not only was the sacred position of the church in society greatly challenged byEnlightenment thought, but the sacred connection which people had with nature was alsobeing eroded. The root of this particular desacralization can be closely linked with 18thcentury urbanization.48As people moved into cities from the countryside, society and itsinventions began to replace the functions previously reserved for the naturalenvironment. Respect and deference towards the “...phenomena of birth and death, ofgermination and the lunar cycle, etc...”49 were lost and replaced by utilitarianimplementations of new, “rational” social structures, technology and created order. Thenatural world was replaced by the controlled, artificial and systematized world of theurban. Similarly, nature was desacralized via the new patterns of work that the urbanexperience entailed,50 and by the growing levels of pollution which this new lifeproduced. In the country, people’s work enabled them to interact with the sacred realmof the natural environment. But in the city, the new work was regimented by “reason”.Work no longer was permitted to contain any, “...mystery or depth.”5’45Ibid.46Ibjd47Ibid, 336.48E11u1, 62.49Ibid, 62.50Ibid.51Ibid, 63.86“Work had once been filled with those secret things, withthose hidden participations in a unitary world from whichone snatched a fragment and became a Prometheus in sodoing. Now, by contrast, work is a process of the globalseizure of a world which, the more it is worked the more itis robbed of its depth.”52This theme is picked up by Marxists, who criticize the capitalist mode of production foratomizing and de-humanizing the worker. Under a mechanized, production-line factorysystem the “...workers can no longer grasp the totality; they can no longer see beyondtheir immediate fractionalized job...”53 In rural settings farmers and craftspeople wereable to follow a task through from inception to completion, infusing their own creativetalents into the product. As factory workers who performed one task repeatedly they lostany concept of what it was they were making or why they were making it. The vision ofnature, and its sacredness was lost from the new urban societies. The mechanical worldof the factory and the mine, which is so prevalent in any discussion of industrial Europe,invaded the mythical connection with the environment and made it into a world whereefficiency and order, guided by reason and organization, became the chief ends. It was,and still is, a world where,“[elverything is completely explicable. No longer is itnecessary to appeal to some mystical body, to somemiraculous charisma, on behalf of the authority of the lawor the sovereignty of the administrative power. Power is amatter of system. Again, organization is all that isneeded.”54Charles Dickens was more than aware that nature was becoming separated frompeople and that human systematization was providing the rhythm of life, as this passagefrom Little Dorrit demonstrates.“It was Sunday evening in London, gloomy, close andstale. Maddening church bells of all degrees of53Michael Burawoy, The Politics of Production, (London: Verso, 1985): 33.54E]luI, 63.87dissonance, sharp and flat cracked and clear, fast and slow,made the brick-and-mortar echoes hideous. Melancholystreets, in a penitential garb of soot, steeped the souls ofthe people who were condemned to look at them out ofwindows, in dire despondency.. .No pictures, no unfamiliaranimals, no rare plants or flowers, no natural or artificialwonders of the ancient world -all taboo with thatenlightened strictness...”55For Dickens, the world of the city was devoid of nature and consequently devoid ofbeauty and brightness. Similar in nature to the passage cited above, at the beginning ofBleak House, he writes of the rain being soiled by soot and the sun as being dead, killedby smoke.”DesacralizationTechnology and the pursuit of utilitarian reason became the desacralizers of theEnlightenment era. Consequently, if we follow Ellul’s model, the next step is theimmediate sacralization of those very things which caused the desacralizing. Thesedesacralizers became newly manifest as sacred in the forms of science, technology andutilitarian individualism.The role of science and technology as the new sacred is not so difficult to see, forit is a sacred which is still around us to a large degree. Magic and mystery have becomethe, “marvels of modern technology”:“The Television set presents an inexplicable mystery, anobvious miracle constantly repeated. It is no lesssurprising than the highest manifestations of magic, andone worships it as one might worship an idol, with thesame simplicity and fear.”56Even though Ellul goes on to point out that through vast repetition any miracle can wearthin,57 the television still presents one of the most outstanding examples of the sacred55Charles Dickens, Little Dorrit. (1857), (Suffolk, Engl.: Penguin Books, 1985.): 67.56E11u1, 72.57Ibid.88potential of modern technology. The real sacredness, however, does not lie in anyindividual invention, but rather in the worship of technology as a whole and in what itwill do in the future. After God has been eliminated, the future falls directly into thehands of humans. Salvation moves from the realm of faith and morality into that ofhuman ability. Human ability has become a deity, for it enables us to deny finitude. Itallows us to assume we can solve any problem given enough time and effort, henceproblems become the responsibility of the physical and social engineers.58Technology has also been characterized as, “...the instrument of liberation for theproletariat...” ,59 the tool which will free people from their labour. This notion was heldby Stalin who believed that “[e]very advance in technology is an advance for theproletariat”.60Technological advances are not just limited to the proletariat and not justto labour. It is that which can free all people from pain, transport us vast distances,allow us to communicate when not physically together, and it entertains us. In short itallows us to control the harshness of nature and eliminate its restrictions, on us as finitehumans.Nowhere is technology more evidently embroiled in a pursuit of deity than in thenever-ending quest of modern medical technology to postpone or even defeat death.Presently we feel so confident in our ability to avoid death indefinitely that we no longerask the questions of the meaning of life which death has traditionally forced humans toface.61 Technological optimism has led to the notion that people can create and controltheir own destinies. Yet, despite the role of saviour which technology has taken on, it isnot generally recognized as being anything other than enlightened, secular thinking.Many people,58Craig Gay, (Regent College, Vancouver) “All Dressed Up and Nowhere To Go’, lecture, U.B.C., Feb.25, 1992.59EI1u1, 73.60Ibjd61Gay.89“...do not believe in a sacred. They smile when the word isspoken, but they fly into a mystic rage when one conteststhe validity of technology, and from that point on they calldown doom on the contesting person.”62Technology is presented as being our slave, that which we control, but in reality it hasbecome the unimpeachable god.The other new sacred form is utilitarian individualism.63 While technology hasprovided great potential for what we can do, it has eliminated notions of what we are,therefore, the pursuit of meaning needed a new outlet. A new political liberalism wasbased on rationality, where power was in the hands of the people and they were todetermine their own ends and purposes. The new liberal states need not be controlled bymyth and mystery, because they are simply facilitators of utilitarian individualism,wherein people are not bound to accept anything except that which they want. Peopleare “...self-originating sources of valid claims.”M Hence it is supposed that this newdemocracy and utilitarian individualism cannot possibly be sacred because they do notimpose any particular concept of the good or the right. But this is false - utilitarianindividualsim is not sacred because it makes itself out to be God, but because “...thepeople accept it, live it, and look upon it as the great ordainer, the supreme andinevitable providence.”65It is sacred because people accept it, and orient themselves andothers in direct relation to it.66 Utilitarian individualism is a stand-in for deity becausepeople are sold on the concept of the individual which the liberal system promotes. Oneis not permitted to challenge the validity of a system with is supposedly neutral in itspromotion of what is good. While this appears to be the most workable of systems, in62E11u1, 73.63This sacred expression is portrayed by Ellul as being the nation-state. I have chosen to replace the conceptof the nation-state with the ideas of utilitarian individualism. This is done, because the notion of utilitarianindividualsim is more relevant to our discussion, and does not corrupt the central points of Ellul’s thesis. Itappears that the notion of the nation-state as a desacraliser is much more relevant to the French contextfrom which Ellul was writing than the North American and specifically the Canadian situation.64Michael Sandel, ‘The Procedural Republic and the Unencumbered Self, Political Theory, 12 (1), Feb.1984. (pp. 8 1-96): 87.65E11u1, 81.66Ibjd90reality it is far from neutral. The truth is, that no matter how neutral utilitarianindividualism appears it still promotes a certain conception of ‘self- a conceptionwherein the rights of the individual are supposed to be superior to any one conception ofwhat is good - and hence is based on values which must necessarily be justified.67 It isthis system of values which has ascended to the position of the sacred, and the valuesthemselves are beyond reproach.While we have demonstrated that science, technology and utilitarianindividualism have succeeded in desacralizing the church and nature, we must test themto see if they have truly fulfilled Ellul’s notions of sacredness.The first is that of providing meaning for life. Included in this are the necessaryfunctions of providing security from that which threatens. Technology clearly performsthe role of protection with great ease. Technology gives us the power to control much ofthe world around us, tailoring it to suit our needs and wants rather than us tailoring ourneeds and wants to suit the environment. Similarly it provides an optimism which leadsto utopian concepts of a world tamed completely by the marvels of technology.Technology has been unable to give meaning to life, so it is here where thephilosophers step in. Philosophers saw that in a world where God has been eliminated,that ultimate purpose and meaning could simply no longer exist. This meant thatmeaning and purpose became subjective, leaving humans entirely self-referential. Forphilosophers such as Nietzsche, this was a great relief,“0 heaven above me! Pure! High! For me this is yourpurity now: that there is no eternal spider and spider websof reason, that you are for me a dancing floor of divinecoincidences, that you are for me a table of the gods fordivine dice playing”68Nietzsche saw purpose in the elimination of meaning. For him freedom sprang from theunbinding of cosmic purpose from human consciousness. “The corrosion of steady67SandeI, 82-83.68Nietzsche quoted in; Raschke, 95.91moorings for human thought and hence culture... “69 was the license people needed tocreate their own, more valid and powerful meanings. The new liberal philosophy ofutilitarian individualism refuted objective morality meaning there was potentialjustification participation in activities previously declared immoral. Similarly itdemanded that reason be the guiding principle in all activities deemed to be amoral.It is at this point that fact and value became separated. Value became that whichwe believe and hold personally, a private affair. Fact became that which is public,objective forms of knowing which are, it is said value-free.70 Here the world becamedivided into the worlds of public I fact, the realm of science and technology, and private/ value, the realm of the individual. These two worlds were to kept separate from eachother, each one having its own sacred god to pay homage to.Meaning in the new order was derived to a significant degree from a combinationof technology and utilitarian individualism. Technology, (objective facts), becamesacred because it informed us of the mechanics of the world and the indisputable laws ofnature. Individualism, (the protector of subjective values), became sacred because itgave us the freedom to hold whatever subjective values we desired within this exposedand controllable reality. Legitimization and justification for group actions werepropelled by technology and legitimized by utilitarian individualism. For each, the limitsand boundaries of the system were tested during the sacred moments of scientificexperimentation and through experimentation with new forms of individualized morality(such as the dawning of the era of sexual freedom). The fulfilling of the roles of a sacreddomain made technology and utilitarian individualism legitimate (althoughunrecognized), expressions of the sacred in western society.69Jbjd, 96.70Lesslie Newbigin, Foolishness to the Greeks, (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans PubI., 1989).92A Note on the Modernists and SacralizationSeparate from the movement which I have just described as having its beginningsin the Enlightenment, is a series of artistic discourses in the early twentieth century.Included in this group are the Surrealists, the Cubists, Symbolists and others. Possiblythe only commonalties that can be drawn between these groups is that they were allreacting against the status quo. In order to differentiate these movements it is best todraw a line between rational objective strains and those that were subjectively oriented.The objective modernists are those such as the Logical Positivists and Bauhaus.The Logical Positivists, best known for forming the Vienna Circle, operated under theassumption that entirely objective knowledge was possible.“The logical positivists sought to ground a ‘scientific’,antiphilosophical philosophy that would set all reliableknowledge on strong foundations and isolate it from theunreliable.”71Furthermore, the positivists method was assumed to be the, “. ..only true route toknowledge.”72The positivists can be identified as extending many of the ideas whichbegan with the Enlightenment, specifically promoting the idea of objective knowledge.We can see it as being super-modernist in its “...commitment to ‘removing themetaphysical and theological debris of millennia”.73Along the subjectivist edge of modernism we find the Surrealists, the Cubists andthe Symbolists, who actually appear to be more anti-modernist in their orientation.These are movements which were grounded in the arts rather than in the sciences andfound their expression in poetry and other writing, painting, photography and film.Surrealism (which I will use as a representation of the subjectivist strain) can beconceived of as a challenge against everything, with specific stands against71peter Galison, “AufbaufBauhaus: Logical Positivism and Architectural Modernism”, Critical Inquiry.16 (4) Summer, 1990 (pp. 304-752).72R.J. Johnston, On Human Geography. (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1986.): 84.73Galison, 726.93positivism.74,war and religion.75 André Breton, (the recognized leader of Surrealism)writes,“Surrealism as I conceive of it, asserts our completenonconformism clearly enough so there can be no questionof translating it, at the trial of the real world, as evidencefor the defense.”76As much as they set themselves up against the world, Surrealists tried to assert what theythought was right. They did not want to be a philosophy in the scholarly sense, but triedto create a new conception of the world,77 through heightened self-awareness. This self-awareness was to be achieved through self-absorbing techniques such as dreams andautomatic writing. Breton accused the world of being “...only relatively in tune withthought...”78 and asserted that Surrealism was fighting the war against this ignorance ofself and reality.While the Logical Positivists were evidently in conformity with Enlightenmentthought to some degree, the subjective modernists saw the realism of a reasonedexistence as being “.. .hostile to any intellectual or moral advancement.”79It is clear thatboth camps were interested in desacralizing the church, yet their new sacreds were quitedifferent. While the positivists sacralized the scientific method, creating an overtScientism and completely rejecting any notion of metaphysics, the Surrealists and othersfell towards extreme subjectivity, promoting anti-Christian forms of metaphysics.Specifically the Surrealists openly participated in occult activities using the powers ofevil in a “cosmic revolt” against Christian conceptions of the supernatural.80 TheSurrealists still sought divinity, in the form of “The Supreme Point”, but this was a74Andre Breton, Manifestos ofSurrealism.(Trans. R. Seaver & H. Lane) (Univ. of Mich. Press, 1969): 6.75Michel Carrouges, Andre Breton and the Basic Concepts ofSurrealism, (1950) (Trans. MauraPredergast), (Univ. of Alabama, 1974).76Breton, 47.77Carrouges, 1.78Breton, 47.79Ibid, 6.80Carrouges, 28.94search for a deified self where spiritual reality and the “other world” lay in the depths ofone’s own consciousness. 81 An unusual connection, however, can be drawn betweenthe Surrealists and the positivists, this being that both sacralize experience. Thepositivists believed that there is knowledge (objective knowledge) only from experience.The Surrealists, on the other hand, believed experience was the route to subjectiveunderstanding, which to them, in the end, is the only real understanding.QUESTIONING MODERNISMAt this point it is important to point out to the reader that Ellul ends his bookcertain that we were (1975) still squarely in the modern era. In the epilogue he writes;“So we are in the most religious of all worlds, at the sacred heart of a technicaluniverse.”82 Yet Ellul points out that this technical universe is unsatisfactory, it iscreating as many (if not more) problems as it is solving. The religion of technique, to hismind, has failed. He does not foresee the next sacred, or even the decline or demise ofthe modem sacred, despite its failings. While Ellul ends his criticism in the modern era,I hope to show, by extrapolating from his ideas that there is indeed a new sacred on thehorizon, or at the very least the demise of the old.Science I TechnologyIn the world of science, it was in the height of the modem era, (the early decadesof the 1900’s) that some of the supporting blocks of a mechanical positivist science wereremoved. Aibert Einstein with his theory of relativity and later Heisenberg with hisuncertainty principle showed that absolute scientific answers were an impossibility.Heisenberg’s research showed that,“Scientists cannot obtain an entirely objective view of the81Raschke, 135.82E11u1, 203.95world, primarily because the scientist cannot removehimself absolutely from the scientific analysis orexperiment. All scientific work is phenomenological, thatis, to some degree conditioned by consciousness.”83This was a direct assault on the Enlightenment idea that there was only one answer toany one question, and consequently only one way to represent something. Somemodernist painters, composers and writers began to pick up on these ideas,84 taking on“...multiple perspectivism and relativism... “85 But Harvey notes that there was still abelief in a, “...unified, though complex, underlying reality.”86 This belief in an ultimatereality was most prevalent in the sciences. Even to this day it is assumed by many thatscience can be, and is, objective, despite the attempts of many writers to discredit thisidea. The successes of science have made it difficult to criticize. Science, however, hasnot had a perfect track record and it is the magnitude of its failures which has exposedsome vulnerable spots in its armour.The technology of modernism has not produced a mechanistic utopia envisionedor a world made peaceful by technology.“What upsets us, fills us with anxiety, and sends us intodeep trauma is not merely ‘future shock.’ It is the unendingvision of the most bloody of all worlds. Massacres are adaily occurrence, after we thought we had put an end tothat horror in 1945, that we would never again seeHitlerian concentration camps and the holocaust ofHiroshima, that perhaps we were putting an end to war.We have discovered the Soviet concentration camps.. .Weare living in a world of widespread warfare, sitting on apowder keg, and knowing that one mistake can bloweverything up. We are also living in a world of famine.”87One could add to this list the recent awareness of environmental degradation, thedwarfing of the individual in mega-corporations, nuclear disasters such as Chernobyl and83Norman F. Cantor, Twentieth Century Culture, (New York: Peter Lang, 1988.): 99.84Harvey, 28.85Jbjd, 30.86Jbjd87E1lul, 204.96a host of other technologically created problems. Regardless of the proof that sciencecannot provide ultimate answers to questions, it is becoming increasingly evident thatpeople are losing faith in the practices of science and its ability to solve problems.People are realizing that, “[f]aith in reason, science and technology have not led us toparadise”, but instead we have been led to nihilism and despair.88Lyotard demonstrates one of the ways in which science has lost credit in recentyears. He criticizes science for the way in which scientific knowledge gains and claimslegitimacy. He proposes that science discredits forms of legitimation which aredependent upon narrative. Yet Lyotard says that narrative is self-legitimating whilescientific knowledge “...can never validate itself simply by its own procedures...”89Science must receive justification and legitimation from society by answering thequestion; why should it exist and why should it be supported?90 Here Lyotard saysscience had two recourses. Firstly there is politics, where science claims the ability toemancipate people from their problems (specifically slavery and class oppression),leading to absolute freedom.91 Secondly there is philosophy where, “...knowledge is aprime part of the gradual evolution through history of self-conscious mind out of theignorant unselfconsciousness of matter.”92 The problem, however, is that since thesecond world war these meta-narratives (politics and philosophy) have lost legitimacy,hence, “[s]cience is no longer held to be valuable and necessary because of the part itplays in the slow progress towards absolute freedom and absolute knowledge.”93Lyotardwelcomes this and wants to press on to a postmodern science which, abandons“centralizing narratives.”94The sentiment of Lyotard is one which is gaining acceptance amongst many88Kathleen Agena, “The Return of Enchantment”, New York Times Magazine. Nov 27, 1987.89Connor, 30.90Ibid, 30.91Ibid.92Jbjd, 30.93Ibid, 31.94Ibid, 34.97people and his ideas are being taken from science and applied to other areas (as Lyotardhimself extends them to cultural diversity). The basic question which is being asked is;why should any one perspective on an issue be taken as the only correct one? (This ofcourse includes the scientific perspective.) Some have even gone as far to say that allpositions are correct and no one can say that anyone else’s view is wrong. The result isthat the there has been, “...a shift from the muffled majesty of grand narratives to thesplintering autonomy of micronarratives.”95Science has lost its position as an unimpeachable god. Through peoples’ refusalto accept technology as necessarily benevolent and the failure of scientific metanarratives, science and technology are feeling the push of a desacralizer.Utilitarian IndividualismWhat then about the sacred role of utilitarian individualism? Bellah tells us thatin the 1960’s there was a reaction to the expanding wealth and power to whichAmericans had become accustomed. Utilitarian individualism was focused primarily on‘means’ and people began to ask questions about ends.“There were of course some sharp questions about theunequal distribution of wealth and power, but beyond thatwas the question whether the quality of life was a simplefunction of wealth and power, or whether the endlessaccumulation of wealth and power was not destroying thequality and meaning of life, ecologically andsociologically.”96Bellah continues with a statement which fits quite well into Ellul’s conception ofdesacralization and sacraiization.“If the rationalization of means, the concern for pureinstrumentalism, was no longer self evidently meaningful,then those things that had been subordinated, dominated,95Ibid, 32.96BeIlah, 338.98and exploited for the sake of rationalizing means took on anew significance. Nature, social relations, and personalfeelings could now be treated as ends rather than means,could be liberated from the repressive control of technicalreason.”97It is not a far leap from this to the notion that the utilitarian individual was beingthreatened by a desacralizer, which would itself ascend to the position of sacred. Thedesacralizer appears to be subjective experience. Previously the individual, althoughfree to choose their own ends, was bound to the maintenance of reason and objectiveknowledge in a pursuit of maximizing personal benefit. The new individual is permittedto pursue subjective experience and other non-material ends such as community andenvironmental preservation, an idea foreshadowed by the conscious rejection ofmodernism displayed by the surrealists, cubists and symbolists discussed earlier.98At this time the traditional liberal conception of the abstract individual (laterredefined by John Rawls in 1971 in his landmark work, A Theory ofJustice99)started tocome under attack. The communitarian and feminist critiques of liberalism centeredaround the belief that it denies any status to obligations in its “primacy-of-rights”conception. 100 They also claim that it “atomizes” people by “.. .disregarding the role ofsocial relationships and human community in constituting the very identity and nature ofindividual human beings.”101. Similarly they deny the liberal conception of humans asbeing fundamentally oriented towards competition, conflict and calculated selfinterest.’02 There was a perceived need in the 1960’s for greater social identity andcommunity. It is no accident that Jane Jacobs’ revolutionary book, The Death and Life of97Ibid.98lnterestingly these groups also foreshadowed the New Age through theirembracing of metaphysics,experimentations with altered states of consciousness and automatic writing among other things.99John Rawis, A Theory ofJustice, (Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press,1971.)100Charles Taylor, 1985: Philosophy and the Human Sciences: Philosophical Papers, Volume II,(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press): 188.101Marilyn Friedman, “Feminism and Modern Friendship: Dislocating the Community, Ethics, 99 (2).1989: pp. 275-290.‘°2jbjd99Great American Cities,103 (which called for greater community and diversity in urbanareas rather than existing patterns of land-use segregation), became the manifesto ofcommunity groups and some planning departments. There was a switch from inner cityslash and burn policies towards community planning, conservation and protection.104Communities such as Soho and Greenwich Village in New York were able to musterenough support to save their communities, although seemingly “run down”, from thewrecking balls of city hall.105 More extreme versions of community in the 1960’s werethe hippy communes which sprouted up, wherein participants lived in the closest andmost intimate of quarters with the other members.The decline of the acceptance of utilitarian individualism and its fruits werevisibly challenged in the form of protests, specifically against the Vietnam war. The warwas seen as “...technical reason gone mad...”106,and I would assert that it was also seenas utilitarianism gone mad (i.e. utilitarianism untempered by the ‘harm principle’107).The protests for racial and sexual equality were as much against the successes ofutilitarian individualism as against its failures since the successes were grossly unequalin their distribution. People were looking for the state to rectify these situations.Utilitarian individualism had created a consumer society (an unequal consumer society)which lacked any depth or meaning. The ends of the society seemed to be wealth andpower, but the state could not provide the populace with any system by which tocontextualize it. It was wealth and power for its own sake. Utilitarian Individualismfailed and lost some of its sacredness due to its inability to provide meaning and purposefor life.103Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, (1961) (New York: Modern Library1969).lO4j Caulfield, City Form and Everyday Life, U of Toronto Press, (forthcoming): 1.105Sharon Zukin, Loft Living, (Baltimore: John’s Hopkins Univ. Press, 1982.)‘°6Bellah, 338.107The harm principle states that a person is allowed to pursue their own ends provided that they do nothurt another person (Mill, 163).100FROM MODERNISM TO POSTMODERNISMWhile it is evident that the modem sacreds which I described above are still verymuch with us, it is increasingly evident, as we have seen, that these sacreds are losingsome of their ground. The feeling is that people are moving beyond the modern era.Some see it as a complete break with the modern era, others see it as a revolt against‘high modernism’, and still others see it as simply the, “...commercialization anddomestication of modernism...”108 For some it is an immensely positive movement,others feel it is hopelessly shallow and unacceptable. Despite this range of opinions,most realize that something has changed in the last twenty or so years, but trying to pindown what exactly proves difficult.For Jean-François Lyotard postmodernism is a, “...‘war on totality’, the absoluterefusal of any kind of universalism” 109, even universalism in science (a subject whichLyotard is interested in). Lyotard feels that, “...post-modernity means incredulitytowards all meta-narratives...”11°For Fredric Jameson postmodernism has more to dowith a, “fading of a sense of history”, where people do not know the past andconsequently live in a “perpetual present.”111 This break with history is caused by a lossof artisanal qualities in both the modes of production, and the resulting “depthless”products found in post-industrial society.H2For him the root of this new production isfound in the “centerless ubiquity”, of postmodemism’s capitalism, which he terms“multinational capitalism.” 13For Jean Baudrillard, postmodemism is commodification. He asserts that, “. ..itis no longer possible to separate the economic or productive realm from the realms oft08David Harvey, The Condition ofPostmodernity, (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1989.): 42.109Steven Connor, Postmodernist Culture, (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1989.): 39.110Charles Davis, ‘Our Modern Identity; The Formation of Self’, Modern Theology, 6 (2), Jan,1990: 160.111Connor, 45.‘12Alex Callinicos, Against Postmodernism, (New York: St. Martin Press, 1989): 128.13Connor 48.101ideology or culture...”114 because everything, including emotion, love and knowledge,has been consumed by the world of the economic. For him, everything is signs,everything is reality dismantled and reproduced, everything is simulation.115Michel Foucault in his promotion of postmodernism, “...set out to uncover thefundamental cultural codes that as anonymous forms of thought impose order uponexistence.”116 He sought to uncover the ways in which people are made into subjects andalso recognizes a relationship between power and knowledge in society.117As a reaction to modernism, postmodernism seeks to recover much of what waslost in modernism. In seeing the loss of meaning and purpose, postmodernism begins tosearch for a renewed sense of meaning in life. Similarly as modern institutions tookcontrol away from the individual (contrary to the desires of utilitarian individualism),postmodernism seeks to bring personal power and authenticity to individuals andinstitutions deposed by modernism. A product of this renewed search for meaning andauthenticity is a desire to explore understand, and glean meaning from history. In thenext chapter. we will deal with this issue more fully as we explore how postmodernismseeks to recover meaning in a society seemingly void of it. Similarly, we will see howthe postmodern project is mirrored by the New Age movement.CONCLUSIONIt is evident that the sacred expressions of modernism are still prevalent, andpossibly in control in this society currently. But as we have seen, this old view of thesacred is increasingly under attack. In the following chapters we will be examining theforms which are being created in the effort to provide a new sacred in society. We willlook primarily at the New Age Movement and at the avenues which it is exploring. We51.15Ibid, 56.116Davis 162.102will see how the New Age is attempting to recover a renewed sense of control andmeaning through the exploration of cultures removed in time and space from the west,through nature and through a renewed emphasis on the self. As a generalized descriptionof the events which have historically transpired, Ellul is largely in agreement withconventional secularization theorists. Ellul portrays the Christian church as being aninstitution which lost its once privileged and dominant role in society, with the powerbeing transferred to scientific and governmental institutions. The perspective Ellul takesregarding secularization theory, however, is peculiar because he portrays the changes inwestern society as being a substituion of sacred realms, rather than a shift away from thesacred and towards the profane as has conventionally been stated. This difference isgenerated largely from a different set of definitions which he attaches to key concepts.For example, where Ellul asserts that anything which organizes peoples’ perceptions ofthe world can be called sacred, most secularization theorists would assert that the sacredmust include some notion of religion or transcendence. The result of this is that toEllul’s thinking there will necessarily always be something which is sacred in society,whereas according to the conventional definition, the sacred can indeed cease to exist.The advantage which Ellul’s perspective gives us is that in the light of the NewAge Movement and other spiritual resurgences, we do not need to throw thesecularization thesis out. Where conventional secularization needs to be reversed inorder to accommodated such movements, Ellul gives us a framework into which suchdevelopments fit. Understanding this, if we accept that the sacred role of science,technology and the nation state are under attack in contemporary society, it musttherefore be true that there is a new sacred realm on the rise. In the following chapter wewill look at the areas in which people are looking for this new sacred, and two vehicles,the New Age Movement and postmodernism which are being used in this search.1o3Chapter Four -LIVING THE POSTMODERNINTRODUCTIONIn the previous chapter we saw how during the modern era meaning and sacredvalue were attached to science and technology as well as utilitarian individualism. Wealso saw how these institutions have been attacked in recent years, accused of not living upto the promises which they made. The sacredness of these institutions is being questioned.There seems to be a search for a new sacred, a new way of perceiving the world, a newplace from which people can derive meaning and security.This chapter looks at the New Age Movement and the contemporary academicconcept of postmodernism as being the vehicles which some people are using to discover anew realm of meaning and sacredness. It is apparent that many of the most significantpoints raised in New Age and postmodernism are in fact extraordinarily similar in nature.Despite this, few people have made attempts to draw connections between the two.’ This,it seems, is a substantial gap in the literature of each, since it is clear that they may eachprove invaluable in aiding an understanding and criticism of the other.Noting this gap in the literature, it is my intention in this chapter to demonstratethat there are substantial links between postmodernism and the New Age Movement andsimilarly each of these contemporary movements are efforts to create a. new search formeaning in the wake of the desacralization of the gods of modernism. Firstly, we willexamine the most central premise of each, which is the rejection of meta-narratives and theconsequential embracing of all narratives. Secondly, we will look at how both areinvolved in a renewed search for meaning in three central places: i) history and othercultures, ii) nature and iii) self. Thirdly I will provide some notes on postmodern and New1To date, I have only seen one short paper which deals directly with a comparison:David Lyon, “A Bit of a Circus: Notes on Postmodernity and New Age” Religion, Spring, 1993.104Age cultural parallels using the cultural critiques of Jean Baudrillard and the New Agecultural figure of Shirley MacLame.THE ROLE OF NARRATIVES AND META-NARRATIVESThe most prevalent and identifiable theme in postmodernism is the vehementdenial of meta-narratives and the embracing of all narratives. It is from these two notionsthat almost all other postmodern ideas radiate. There is a basic belief in the death (or nonexistence) of “Truth” and the consequential affirmation of all “truths” in the postmodernposition.This position is perhaps most forcefully asserted by Jean-Francois Lyotard, whosays, “[l]et us wage a war on totality; let us be witnesses to the unpresentable; let usactivate the differences and save the honor of the name.”2 Postmodernists believe thatthere is “.. .no universal reason.”3 This means that there is no single way to explain theuniverse, no single theory that encompasses all of reality. Furthermore, theEnlightenment, which gave us the meta-narrative of “reason”, is seen as being the creatorof totalitarian systems:“...not only Hitlerism and Stalinism of dreaded memory, butalso the colonial domination of Western reason inflictedupon non-European peoples and even upon alternativecultural spheres within Europe itself. The claim that reasonhas universal relevance, they argue, is insipidlytotalitarian.”4Although initially discussing science, Lyotard goes on to apply his ideas to world cultures.In line with his belief that postmodernism should be intolerant of meta-narratives he saysthat “...we must embrace and promote every form of cultural diversity, without recourse to2Jean-Françoise Lyotard, The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge. (Trans. Brian Massumi)(Minneapolis: Univ. of Minnesota Press,, 1984): 82.3Gregory Baum, “The Postmodern Age”, Canadian Forum, May 1990, (pp. 5-7): 6.4ibid, 6.105universal principles.”5The aim here is cultural plurality. All narratives are to be equallyvalid, and self-validating.“Instead of ‘les grands récits’ with their claim touniversality, there exist a multitude of small narrativesgenerated by the particular experiences of many tribes.Each tribe tells its own story. Each tribe has its owndiscourse and interprets its own world...”6Although Lyotard’s application is to world cultures, postmodernists often reduce the self-validation of narratives to the level of the individual.As we have already seen, the New Age Movement also embraces the acceptance ofany and all narratives, and refuses to accept meta-narratives. This is partially expressed bythe belief that all religions are essentially one in nature and that variations are onlysuperficial, not substantive. Ralph Waldo Trine (an important pre-New Age figure)writes; “...a Jew can worship equally well in a Catholic cathedral, a Catholic in a Jewishsynagogue, a Buddhist in a Christian church, a Christian in a Buddhist temple,”7 and headds, “[t]he sacred books, the inspired writings, all come from the same source - God.”8While this might suggest that New Agers believe that there is an overarching metanarrative (i.e., that there is a God who has ordained religious writings), New Agers arecareful to assert that there is no single way in which God can be expressed and in fact Godis whatever you make God out to be, including not having to conceive of God at all.Everyone’s conception of what or who God is or isn’t, is entirely self-validating. What isnot acceptable, however, are conceptions of deity that are exclusive and say that otherconceptions are wrong. New Agers discard all religious positions that claim exclusivityand look with favour upon all beliefs that are tolerant and accepting of any religious quest.They reject totalizing religion and accept as valid each person’s own personalinterpretation of spirituality.5Steven Connor, Postmodernist Culture, (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1989): 37.6Baum, 6.7Ralph WaldoTrine, In Tune With the Infinite, (New York: MacMillan [Reprint, 1986][lst ed. 1908]): 155.8lbjd 156.106Celebrations of Diversity and FragmentationA subset of the rejection of meta-narratives is the celebration of diversity andfragmentation. Postmodernism is a rejection of the modernist search for unifying theories,consequently it celebrates diversity and finds no problem in contradiction. Postmodernismspecializes in “radical eclecticism.”9It “...swims, even wallows, in the fragmentary and thechaotic currents of change as if that is all there In rejecting meta-narratives andaccepting all narratives, postmodernism opens the door for montage and pastiche, wherediversity is brought together to make the whole, with no effort to unify or standardize.Disconnection and diversity is not merely accepted, it is celebrated. Postmodernismattempts to recognize the messiness of life and the diversity of human culture with noagenda to tidy it up or create uniformity. It believes that reality is best experienced andmost peaceful when each element is satisfied in recognizing, but not changing, all theother elements and when each element has equal opportunity to represent itself.New Age shares a similar penchant to celebrate diversity. On the shelves ofBanyen Books, a major New Age focal point in Vancouver, there are books on topics asdiverse as:: Taoism, Witchcraft, Christianity, Islam, Satanism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Zen,Native Indian Spirituality, the environment, Tarot, Astrology, Gestalt Therapy, JungianPsychology, Druidic Literature, Gurdjieff, human potential, self-healing, hypnosis,meditation, reincarnation, past-life regression and spirit channeling. These diverse andcontradictory elements share a common goal and co-exist in apparent harmony onBanyen’s shelves, although historically many have been exceedingly hostile towards eachother. New Age seeks to create a spiritual pastiche, wherein the commonalties of all formsof spirituality are accepted, and differences are ignored.9Peter Fuller, “Towards a New Nature of the Gothic”, Art and Design, Vol 3, 1987: 7.10David Harvey. The Condition ofPostmodernhty, (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1989): 44.107Before moving on it must be noted, however, that New Age may be fundamentallydifferent from postmodernism in that it is ultimately searching for spiritual unity anduniversal oneness. The celebration of diversity and fragmentation is simply a method ofachieving peace and harmony during earthly existence. Postmodernism believes infragmentation and diversity for its own sake, with no appeal to future perfection orutopia.’1 This appeal, however, is paradoxical in its very nature since it is the opinion ofpostmodernists that the lack of a meta-narrative, or conversely the existence of this formof diversity and fragmentation is itself better than or preferable to modernism. Thissuggests that postmodernism is itself a meta-narrative which proposes a superior form ofsocial organization. This idea will be dealt with more fully in chapter six.THE RECOVERY OF MEANING: THE DISTANT AND THE PASTAs modernism slowly recedes from contemporary culture, one of the mostsignificant realizations to which people are coming is that modern culture was devoid ofmeaning. Utilitarianism and functionalism, the propelling fuels of the modern era, havecome up short of the mark. They did not bring the happiness they promised. What theydid bring was a culture blind to history, myth, story, legend, religion, emotion, andtranscendence. Postmodernism, sets itself up as being against, not just beyond, themodem era, it is not just “post-modern”, it is some respects “anti-modern”.’2(This “anti-modern” sentiment, however, appears only to be applied to aesthetics since moderntechnology is rarely refused in the aid of design or construction.) It seeks to recover lost orforgotten memories of cultural riches. As a result, philosophers, artists, musicians and allmanner of people have begun a search for meaning. Seeing the black-hole of meaning inwestern culture, many have turned their gaze beyond the geographically and temporallyIn so far as this is true, New Age can be seen as more modern than postmodern, since in an ultimatesense it celebrates its own unifying meta-narrative, one which postmodernism would reject.12Huyssen, 7.108close. Hence, postmodernism looks outside of western culture and the modern era inorder to find a more genuine culture.One area where this is manifest is in the world of architecture. When one looks atthe buildings from the first half of this century, it is evident that they stand in stark contrastto the buildings of previous eras, and indeed of the present era. The modern era was self-consciously new. In order to be new it had to meticulously expunge all symbolicreferences to past architecture and the social, religious and cultural symbols built into it.Modern architecture was a purposeful break with historical (architectural) continuity.3This, despite the results, was not done with malicious intent. Charles Jencks reminds usthat essentially humanist values were at the heart of modernist architectural efforts.’4 Itwas an attempt to create a single, over-arching and shared symbolic order. To create anew, progressive, and humanistic architecture (which in turn would help to shape society),all references to the regressive, primitive, and non-functional elements of the past wouldhave to be eliminated. Buildings were to express the new order, they were to be, in thewords of Le Corbusier “machines for living in”. ‘Ornament’, Adolph Loos proclaimed,was ‘crime’. Ornament was indicative of wasted time, it screamed of inefficiency, andhence was to be struck from true modem architecture. The new, shared, symbolic orderwas to be that of machines, of efficiency, of technology, and of human ingenuity.This new shared symbolic order, however, never really became popular.’5 In short,no one, excepting the “intellectuals”, and those wishing to keep up with modern progress(for example the architects and perhaps some politicians wanting to modernize theircities), bought the modernist line. Modem architecture was built for the “3 M monster”the “Mythic Modem Man” a creature which did not exist, despite the fact that everything13Linda Hutcheon. “The Politics of Postmodernism: Parody and History”, Cultural Critique, No. 5, Winter1986-7. (pp. 179-207): 179.14Charles Jencks. The Language ofPostmodern Architecture, (New York: Rizzoli, [4 th ed.], 1984): 23.15Fuller, (1987), 6.109was designed for jt.16 Humans did not fit into the buildings. The philosophicalfoundations of the buildings were too weak and the whole enterprise began to crumble.The modern project became essentially a tyranny. Modern architects played Godand set themselves over and above their creations.17 Their buildings were built as“ultimate” buildings, built by “ultimate” architects who were able to see society’s problemsand then prescribe the correct building to cure them. But the prescription was failing.Symbolic disasters of modernism such as the Pruitt-Igoe complex in St. Louis drove thispoint home. A low-income housing project, built as a “machine for modern living”, PruittIgoe was demolished due to the fact it had become un-livable.’8Modern architecture, itturned out, was repressive, not liberating. In short, it lacked humanity.In the exultation of technique, modern western culture replaced the search formeaning with the search for means. The ends of western culture was to create the ultimatemeans. The goal was to find the best technique, hence, once these ends proved hollow,there was nothing from which to rebuild. Postmodem architecture seeks to return toelements that have been stripped by modernism. Despite a world of opinion and debateover source and technique, it is evident that postmodern architecture is committed to thesearch for meaning. One of the ways meaning is being recovered is through the re-use ofthe symbols of earlier western styles and similarly through the use of styles from othercultures.Postmodern architecture celebrates everything which modern architecturecondemned. Ornament, art, style, symbol, fantasy, imagination, spirituality, and colour areall reinvested into the architecture. Rather than trying to break with the past,postmodernism seeks to reconnect with it, using a variety of styles. Some constructbuildings according to a pattern of “straight revivalism”,’9where there is an almost Xerox‘6Jencks, (1984), p. 24.17Hutcheon, p. 187.18Harvey, p. 39.19jencks, (1984), p. 90.110like copying of styles. Consider the winning proposal for the new Vancouver PublicLibrary central branch. The existing square concrete and glass building is to be replacedby a facility built as a replica of the Roman Coliseum. So too, In Disney’s Epcot center, inthe “World Shàwcase” one can walk from the Chateau Laurier to a British Street scene, tothe Eifel tower, to the winding streets of Marrakech and a Mexican Ziggurat, all in thecourse of a leisurely afternoon. Here one is exposed to an array of internationalarchitecture, reproduced on a grand scale, and to excruciating detail.Others are more concerned with being sensitive to context and hence follow apattern of “Neo Vernacular”,20where the style of the surrounding culture forms the designbasis. Given these and other styles available to the postmodern architect, an area ofgrowth in a city can become over whelmingly varied in architectural style.Consider Vancouver’s Fairview Slopes, in which Caroline Mills2’ describes amontage of styles. In Fairview Slopes there exist, in some strange unity, industrial themes(representing the neighbourhood’s history) beside representations of the Mediterranean(playing on the area’s topography and proximity to the water), a San Francisco theme(reinforcing the notion of Vancouver as “San Francisco North” - a notion that incidentallybegan with the 1960s counterculture), a theme of Bath and Brighton (representing aleisure resort), and row houses (eliciting notions of the urbane and cosmopolitan).22Yetdespite the fact that a variety of vastly different, and perhaps even totally contradictory,styles are brought together, an over-all sense of unity is achieved.There is, however, a definite limit to this fascination with history and othercultures. Traditions are not held on to absolutely, they are only imported when temperedby western conveniences and sensibilities. Tourists flock to ancient places, but get therevia modem technology, and “[m]edieval castles offer medieval weekends (food, dress, but20Jencks, (1984), p. 94.21Caroline Mills, “Life of the Upsiope’: the postmodern landscape of gentrification”, Society and Space,1988, Vol. 6, (pp. 169-189).p. 176.111not of course the primitive heating arrangements).”23There is a pattern of taking fromhistory the positive and the exciting, while leaving the uncomfortable or inconvenientbehind. Jencks reminds us that in architecture, any of these borrowings from the past areat least partially still modern as they are invariably constructed using modem techniquesand materials.24Postmodern critics have also pointed out the commercial use of nostalgia and theidealizing of past generations and societies in order to create pleasurable experiences. M.Christine Boyer writes,“Nostalgia is a sweet sadness generated by a feeling thatsomething is lacking in the present, a longing to experiencetraces of an authentic, supposedly more fulfilling past, adesire to repossess and re-experience something untouchedby the ravages of time.. .But it also fuels the desire to returnhome with bags filled with trophies commemorating thatinnocent and treasured past.”25“Indeed, a growing nostalgia for various life forms of thepast seems to be a strong undercurrent in the culture of the1970s and 1980s ...a growing fascination with pre-modernand primitive cultures... “26Mark Jarzombek also charges that the practice of using past styles has resulted in“historical shoplifting”,27 which “does not require any real intellectual work”.28 He statesthat the use of previous styles gives the illusion of “depth” and architects use the techniqueto gain undeserved scholarly legitimation.2923Harvey, 301.24Charles Jencks, What is Postmodernism?, (New York: Academy/St. Martin’s Press, 1986): 15.25M. Christine Boyer, “Cities For Sale: Merchandising History at South Street Seaport”, in M. Sorkin.(Ed.) Variations on a Theme Park: The New American City and the End ofPublic Space, (New York:Hill and Wang): 201.26Ibid 13.27M&k Jarzombek, “Post-Modernist Historicism: The Historian’s Dilemma”, Threshold IV, Spring 1988.(pp. 88-96). p.8928larzombeck, p. 89.29Ibjd, p. 89.112It appears, no matter how convincing critics might be, that this trend will notdisappear quickly. We live in a time and a culture where people have a rich “MuséeImaginaire.”3°We have all seen the great architectural achievements from history, we allknow what the cities of the world look like. Television, cinema and photography havegiven each of us a vast library of architectural styles in our minds-eye. It would be almostimpossible to create buildings that did not draw from this pool of knowledge. Similarly,given the state of technology, with computer aided design, advanced building materialsand the ability to produce “personalized” objects, we are able to produce a much greatervariety of structures than ever before. Consequently, “[we] are exposed to a plurality ofother cultures and.. .can make choices and discriminations from this wide corpus, whereasprevious cultures were stuck with what they’d inherited.”3The New Age too hearkens to past eras and other cultures to find meaning. Theysee the Christian church as being hopelessly distant from its spiritual roots, and harmfullyinstitutionalized and dogmatic, so they either disregard it altogether, or turn to moreesoteric or Gnostic style interpretations of it. Hence they see pre-modern history and non-western cultures as offering a journey into purer, more authentically spiritual times.Ancient cultures are seen to represent true spirituality and awareness. MarilynFerguson says that recent changes, which we now term “New Age”, are “...rooted in themyths and metaphors, the prophecy and poetry of the past.”32 The call is to achieve“ancient knowledge” and to learn the traditions, practices and beliefs of previous peoples.Like postmodern architects, New Agers have a wealth of history to draw from. Butrather than being a history of architectural styles, it is a history of religious practices andphilosophical ideas. Like the range of choices available to the postmodern architect, theNew Age offers what seems like the entire spiritual world to its practitioners. Hence, inthe promotional publication for “Banyen Books”, Vancouver’s premier New Age Book30Jencks, 1984, p. 95.31lbici, p. 95.32Marilyn Ferguson, The Aquarian Conspiracy, (Los Angeles: Houghton Mifflin, 1980): 45.113store, there are headings for Buddhism, Taoism, Zen, Hinduism, Alchemy, Astrology,Tarot, Divination, Cosmology, Shamanism, Native American Wisdom, Mythology, UFO’s,Celtic Studies, Gnosticism, Christianity, Judaism, Sufism, and Islam. It is a virtualsmorgasbord of world religious and spiritual thought, and like radically eclecticpostmodern architecture, all these styles hang together, in apparent unity with any internalcontradictions lost in the appeal of the over-all facade.Also, like postmodern architecture, often it is an ancient style coupled with modernconvenience that is sought. New Age is,“...Christianity without rules and dogma, easternphilosophies with no physical discomfort: New Age blendswhat applies and chucks out the rest.”33Much like Postmodernism, New Age seems subject to the selective use of history tosatisfy contemporary desire, often resulting in the trivializing of the borrowed practice.This has even been noted within the movement itself. Following an article entitled “Non-Natives on the Red Road”34 one reader of Shared Vision magazine responded angrily in aletter to the editor. Discussing the absence of, and the subsequent search for meaning inNorth American society, he wrote,“This search has, like the search for the New World,become another encroachment upon North Americanindigenous peoples. Not only have the lands beenappropriated, but now it appears the cultural and spiritualvalues have been appropriated too. The ever present needto ‘own’ is stronger than ever”35Like postmodern architecture, it has the potential to be a supermarket style belief systemwhere the participants are free to choose from the shelves of religion the new andimproved metaphysical product of their choice. Since the participant is free to adopt33Caroline Sutherland, “The New Age”, Vancouver, Nov. 1989. (pp. 54-60, 136): 136.34Ruth Raziel, “Non-Natives on the Red Road”, Shared Vision, 41, Jan 1992, pp. 6-7.35Shared Vision, 43, March 1992: 11.114whatever appealing aspects of religion they choose, they are then also free to discard theuncomfortable, demanding, restrictive or boring aspects of any spiritual tradition.Hence with the New Age we find that Jencks’ idea about postmodern architecture,is equally valid - we can have what we want, they were stuck with what they had.36 In theend, it is evident that postmodern architecture is making an effort to find a new “sharedcommon order” in the geographically and temporally distant. However, postmodernsociety is by design, pluralistic, making an “integrated culture” almost outside the realm ofpossibility.37As demonstrated by the “radically eclectic” nature of postmodemism, to talkof a symbolic order that could be drawn from world cultures, and at the same time sharedby them, is wishful thinking at best. For this reason I turn now to one other source for therecovery of meaning: nature.THE RECOVERY OF MEANING: NATUREAs in architecture, the world of art suffered a crisis of meaning at the hands ofmodernism. To describe the loss of meaning, Peter Fuller, uses the Greek word “kenosis”to indicate a “voluntary relinquishing of divine power”.38 Fuller, in his book Theoria,39(which documents the life and writings of John Ruskin and many of his contemporaries),studies how, with the onset of modernity, western art changed from an expression ofhuman relationships with creation and the creator, to a creation pointing only to itself, forits own sake. Initially it was thought the scientific method would confirm and strengthenthe biblical explanation for the creation and sustenance of the world. It was believed thatnature was “God’s second book”,4°and science, in the form of “natural theology”, was away to read that book. The accurate and scientific representation of nature was a way ofexperiencing and learning more of the creation and hence the creator. However, as the36lencks, 1984, p. 95.37Fuller, 1987, p. 8.38Peter Fuller, Aesthetics After Modernism, (London: Writers and Readers, 1983): 27.39Peter Fuller, Theoria: Art and the Absence of Grace, (London: Chatto and Windus): 1988.40Ibid, 33.115scientific method proceeded, with the theories of Darwin and others, it was evident thatthe gap between theology and science was widening. “Natural theology” saw unity,cooperation and purpose in the creation. Science, particularly Darwin’s natural evolution,highlighted brutality and competition.4’It was becoming increasingly difficult to holdhigher spiritual values and at the same time be true to nature, in the face of scientificdiscoveries.42As science became increasingly accepted, the world of art began to change.Science was no longer reinforcing divine revelation,43 therefore nature lost out to scienceand human achievement as a viable subject for the artists’ creations. Since there was nodivine in nature, since there was no divine at all, art was to be accepted as art for art’s sake.Beauty was now according to function or the aesthetic response it elicited.44 There wasnow nothing beyond the aesthetic experience of art. Art could not point beyond itself, itwas nothing more than the visual sensation it produced.45 The new art was nihilistic,46offering little hope, and avoiding any real discussion of meaning. Modem art Fuller tellsus, elicited aesthesis, (mere sensual perception), where once it had brought forth theoria,(the response to beauty with one’s moral being, which implied the witness of the glory ofGod).47 Modern art was profane, ancient art was sacred.48 This movement did not lasthowever.With the first and second world wars came tremendous public awareness of the artsand crafts movement, along with and an increased interest in neo-Romantic and othermore “traditional” forms of art.49 The landscape (threatened and injured by the war)41Ibid, 78.42Ibjd, 85.43Ibid, 114.Ibid, 46.45Ibid, 206.Fu11er, 1983, 28.47Fuller, 1988, 45.48Ibjd, 71.49Ibid, 198.116returned to the consciousness of artist and viewer alike.50 By the 1960s , with a broadcultural examination of modernism, artists were beginning to change their ideas (withFuller among them). Postmodemism brought with it a skepticism of the modernistconception of the “triumph over nature”51 by humans, hence nature, and its spiritualsignificance became a viable theme again.But what is it that nature offers artists as a theme? Fuller feels that legitimatepostmodern art must be dedicated to the rediscovery of a shared symbolic order.52 Inmodern art there was an aesthetic crisis “...[havingj its roots in the disruption of theshared symbolic order.”53 Fuller believes that since primitive times, human beings havebeen connected to each other and to their own identity though art. In turn the art wasconnected to a shared system of religious beliefs. Art confirmed religious beliefs in theorder of things, it gave a sense of meaning and purpose. It allowed the continuation of thebelief that the world was designed with them in mind. Science, exposing a world ofchance, separated people from design, meaning and purpose. The result was that, “[a]rtsevered itself from the ‘cosmos of hope’; it ceased to offer ‘another reality within theexisting one’... Therefore, Fuller believes that the postmodern project is to recover thespiritually hopeful and communal meaning that art once offered. Religious symbolism hefeels, however, is inappropriate. The new order needs to arise from an “ecology of themind.”55 He wants spirituality, without religion, arising from a shared recognition of thefact that the mind arose from nature. The mind, he suggests finds nature beautiful, and is50Thid, 198.51Jbjd, 213.52Not all of postmodern art, of course, deals with nature, much of the most visible postmodern art dealswith issues such as popular culture and consumerism, yet there is still an identifiable acceptance of naturalthemes in the art community.53Fuller, 1983, 19.54Ibid, 24.55Ibid, 38.117awed by the patterns found in it because the mind is its product,56 pointing out that there isa human impulse to unify and sanctify the total natural world.57Evidently many artists are exploring such themes. In the book, New Perspectivesin American Art, the author discusses transitions in the art world, and recalls herimpressions of an earlier Italian exhibition, pointing out the “recovery of myth, thesymbolic meaning.. .of fire and ritual, the organic harmony of art and of nature at its mostelemental...”58It is evident from the pictures of the exhibition it was written for that manyof the artists drew their inspiration from the spiritual and mythical qualities of nature.The New Age, similarly, finds recovered meaning in nature. New Age monisticbeliefs maintain the essential oneness of all things. This means that human beings and thenatural environment are essentially the same thing. One of the central sources for NewAge ecology is J.E. Lovelock’s Gaian hypothesis.59Using “Gaia”, the ancient Greek namefor Mother Earth, Lovelock gives scientific support to the belief in the essentialconnectedness of all things. “...Earth’s living matter, air, oceans, and land surface form acomplex system which can be seen as a single organism...” 60 Gaia is seen as a singleliving creature, of which all other life-forms are a part. Taking Lovelock’s biological cues,New Agers combine his science with closely related spiritual ideas. Gaia is presented as asentient being, hence, “...it follows that the trees, as well as, other plants, rocks, water, aresentient beings also.”61 Again, this belief system finds, if not its origins, at least asympathetic resonance in eastern pantheistic monism, wherein “God is the cosmos. God isall that exists; nothing exists that is not God.”6256FulIer, 1988, 227.57Ibid, 224.58Diane Waidman, New Perspectives in American Art, (New York: Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum,1983): 10.59J.E. Lovelock, Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth, (Oxford: Oxford Press, 1979).60Jbid, p. vi.61SheiIa Weaver, “Trees: Guardians of the Earth”, Common Ground, 11, Summer, 1985: 3.62iames Sire, The Universe Next Door, (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1988): 140.118Given the current importance of environmental issues, New Age can enter therealm of environmental activism through the broader (though not necessarily New Age)door of what is called “Deep Ecology”. Calling for a spiritual growth where humans seethemselves as One with the non-human world, Deep Ecology includes, but “...goes beyondthe so-called factual scientific level to the level of self and Earth wisdom.”63Deep Ecologyexplicitly sets itself up as being against the “Dominant Modern World view?. Thefollowing (Figure 4.1) comparison of the modern world view to the one of Deep Ecologyillustrates the difference between the two.Criticizing the modern world-view for being anthropocentric,M Deep Ecology suggeststhat “Ecotopia” can only come with “self-realization” and “bio-centric equality “. Self-realization is the idea that the self is seen as part of Gaia’s oneness; a “...realization of‘self-in-Self where ‘Self stands for organic wholeness.”65 Bio-centric equality is theperspective that, “all organisms and entities...are equal in intrinsic worth.”66 Deep Ecologysees the spiritual and physical embeddedness of the self in nature as essential. Like63Bill Devall, Deep Ecology, (Salt Lake City: Peregrine Smith Books, 1985): 65.64Ibid, 43.65Jbid, 67.66IbidFigure 4.1 - Modern World View and Deep EcologyDominant Modern World View-Dominance over Nature-Natural environment as resource for humans-Material/economic growth for growinghuman population-Belief in ample resource reserves-High technological progress and solutions-Consumerism-National/centralized communitySource: Deep Ecology, p 69.Deep Ecology-Harmony with Nature-All nature has intrinsic worthlbiospecies equality-Elegantly simple material needs-Earth ‘supplies” are limited-Appropriate technology; non-dominating science-Doing with enough/recycling-Minority traditionlbio-region119Fuller’s conception of legitimate postmodern art, New Age is seeking an “Ecology of theMind”,67 recognizing the inherent spiritual interconnectedness between the mind andnature.There are also other expressions of connectedness with nature that can be found inthe New Age. The adoption of North American Indigenous spiritualities and Wicca(witchcraft) demonstrate a turn to earth based religious understanding. Similarly, ecofeminist spirituality strongly emphasizes the concept of the maternal spiritual qualities ofthe earth.68As with Peter Fuller’s concept of the ecological mind, Deep Ecology and otherexpressions of New Age’s return to nature, call for a spirit of theoria where nature does notmerely elicit an experience, but rather serves to point to deeper spiritual meanings. Thetriumph of humans over nature is rejected by both, and is being replaced by a sense ofinterdependence and spiritual discovery.THE RECOVERY OF MEANING: SELFThe modern era was one that was guided largely by peoples logicailrationalthoughts. It appears that the postmodern era is striving to be one led by the soul, theimagination, and personal experience. In recent years there has been a tremendous declinein the level of trust people are placing in technology and bureaucracy. As a result,“[tihey rely upon a wisdom of their own, based on theirexperience of exclusion and marginalization. Theyrecognize that they must build their lives around humanvalues disregarded by society, such as solidarity,community, conviviality, and spirituality.”69Subjective experience is superseding reason and science as the controlling indicators inpeoples lives. The postmodemists recognize this as being an essential component in the67”Interview with Satish Kumar”, Common Ground, 19, Summer 1987. (pp 5, 6, 51): 5.68Judjth Plant, (Ed.), Healing the Wounds: The Promise ofEcofeminism, (Toronto: Between the Lines,1989)69Baum, 7.120postmodern project. One of the central projects of postmodernism is to empower theindividual, conceived as a combination of mind, soul and senses. For the postmodernist,the self is the locus for meaning. One draws from history and nature to find meaning, butsince one is free to be selective only that which is personally meaningful is ever trulychosen. The only essential is that the individual be able to find meaning and gain a bettersense of their place in the world.70 Each persons own narrative is to valued as equal toeveryone else’s, and each persons experiences are the only validation needed.The New Age Movement has a similar idea of the role of self, subjectiveexperience and subjective knowledge. Marilyn Ferguson writes; “...heretics are gainingground, doctrine is losing its authority, and knowing is superseding belief.”7’The NewAge Movement’s perspective is based on the notion that since individuals create their ownnarratives, their own personal experiences are the best and most valid interpretations ofthose narratives. “Experience and intuition are thus the final authorities for NewAgers.”72 These interpretations are almost invariably centered around being able toexperience one’s true divinity. One New Ager proposes to help you find your “soulpurpose,” and to teach you how to “expand your Five Senses to experience everydayrealities with passion and excitement - as life was intended to be lived.”73 In a courseentitled “Ascension as a Practical Possibility” one can learn the “process of achievingtotal union with our unlimited divine Self, which manifests as complete mastery onEarth.”74 Many of the New Age services revolve around training people to experience lifemore fully and richly though achieving greater awareness of one’s own subjective abilityto define existence.It is apparent that this experiential self-centredness for some can leadto pure hedonism.70Lyon, 1993.71Ferguson, 371.72Miller, 17.73Shared Vision, April 1992, 5.74Ibid, 32.121There is consideration of others, but in almost all cases other-centredness comesthough properly experiencing the self. New Age other-centredness comes from theirconception that there is a universal linking among all beings which is expressed in thepremise that, “All is One. We are All One. All is God. And we are God.”75 The way thatthis belief is practiced is uniformly manifested in believing that to treat yourself well is totreat others well. “Help Heal the World By Healing Yourself’,76 one advertiser writes,appropriately summing up the New Age version of other-centredness, where trueexperience of the other comes through the experience of “true” self.JEAN BAUDRILLARD AND SHIRLEY MACLAINE: IMAGE AND REALITYOne of the outstanding postmodern observers is Jean Baudrillard. Baudrillard, incritiquing contemporary (postmodern) society, especially the United States, introduces theconcepts of simulacrum and hyperreality.At the core, Baudrillard, sees postmodern society as,“...increasingly governed by images which the humansubject no longer creates or controls; images which comefrom “elsewhere” or from “nowhere” in the sense that theydo not appear from an identifiable human imagination.”77Steven Connor provides a useful summary of Baudrillard’s four historical stages throughwhich representation has passed.“Initially, the sign ‘is the reflection of a basic reality ‘.. .In thesecond stage, the sign ‘masks and perverts a basic reality’...In the third stage, the sign ‘masks the absence of a basicreality’... In the fourth, terminal stage, the sign ‘bears norelation to any reality whatsoever: it is its own puresimulacrum.”7875Chandler, 29.76Shared Vision, 16.77Richard Kearney, ‘Ethics and the Postmodern Imagination”, Thought, 62 (244), 1987, (pp. 39-58): 39.78Connor, 55-56.122Baudrillard depicts postmodern society and particularly American culture as beingcompletely embedded in this fourth stage of representation. America is a reproductionwithout an original, an image of an image. There is no real, there is only the hyperreal.The hyperreal is more than real, it is an image that has been made real by the fact that whatis real is an image itself. Therefore, what is real, is not, since it is only an image.Conversely, what is image, is not, since it refers to nothing that is real.“Reality is no longer considered the ‘original’ of theimage.. .the very distinction between the real and theimaginary.. .has been virtually abolished.. .Image and realityhave dissolved into a play of mutual parody - to the pointwhere we can no longer say which is which.”79Besides the entire capitalist system, this concept, has a few key manifestations.Baudrillard points to computers, and more importantly television and Hollywood. Inemphasizing the importance of Hollywood, he suggests that American reality was createdwith the screen in mind, even though reality was there first.8°While Hollywood appears tobe representing the world around it, the world is actually the creation of the imagespresented on the screen. Hence cultural reality has been caught in a spiral ofrepresentation with no real source, or, more accurately, the source is itself a representation.American culture is a representation of the silver screen, which is a representation ofAmerican culture.It appears, howver, that Baudrillard’s conception of postmodern culture has aspiritual twin in Shirley MacLame. It would be no surprise to Baudrillard that the mostprominent spokesperson for the New Age spirituality is herself a product of Hollywood.Where else can people with influence come from? If the American president of the 1980scame from the screen, why shouldn’t the spiritual leader?79Ibid, 39-40.80Baudrillard, Jean. America, (trans. Chris Turner). (New York: Verso, 1988a): 55.123“Reality is only what we create it to be.. .We are responsible for our experiencesbecause we create them,”8’MacLame learned on a life changing trip to Peru.“Everything is a thought form. Our planet is a thought form.It has a spirit. It’s evolving. The universe is a thought form.Our bodies are thought forms and our lives are just feelingsand thoughts.”82The belief held by New Agers is that we are all the creators of our own realities and thatearthly existence is only an illusion. Shirley MacLame believes the world is her creation.It appears, however, that she is only taking personal credit for what Baudrillard attributesto Hollywood. She has lived in a reality of cultural production, her world has created theworld, for her to believe that she is its author is not such a leap. Shirley MacLame isliving Baudrillard’s America to its limit. She is embodying his most basic points, thatthere has ceased to be a real in a world of pure simulation, and that things become theiropposites. Shirley MacLame is not a product of the world, the world is a product of her,even though the world came first. There is no real, there is no image, there is only theinterplay between the two.If the wider culture is a creation of the cinema, then so too are individuals.“...[Mjany Americans may have become reflections of the reflections that have beenbrought to them by media-oriented, postmodern cinematic society.”83 People have beenformed by the characters they have seen on the screen, but these characters are simplyimages. So too, Shirley MacLame is formed by images of characters, not cinematiccharacters, but the characters she herself claims to have been. Through the process ofreincarnation she claims to carry the memories and experiences of people she was inprevious lives. She records this musing while on her spiritual search:on a Limb, ABC Video Enterprises Inc., 1992, (Dir. Robert Butler).82Joseph Roberts, “Interview: Stuart Wilde”, Common Ground, 38, Spring 1992, 8.83Norman Denzin, “Paris, Texas and Baudrillard on America”, Theory, Culture & Society, 8, 1991: 131.124“1 really seemed to be two people - or ten people - I didn’tknow. Yet was I an actress because I was more closely intouch with some of the roles I had played in other livesT’84MacLame draws a striking parallel between the spiritual idea of reincarnation andBaudrillard’s idea of the simulated individual. She has become a person bound up in theidentities given to her by her meditative (cinematic) imagination.Baudrillard makes many points that seem to findresonance in the New Age. Consider Baudrillard’s use ofthe image of the Moebius strip, (Figure 4.2) In theMoebius strip, there is continuity between the close and thedistant, interior and exterior, objective and subjective, realand image, they are caught in the same spiral.85 Like Figure 4.2: Moebius StripHollywood and America, the Mobius strip represents things becoming their opposite, yetdoing so smoothly and imperceptibly.The New Age has its own Moebius strip. New Age has borrowed from Chinesespiritual history, the symbol of the T’ai-chi. (Figure 4.3) An almost omni-present symbol,the T’ai-chi represents the concept of the “Great Source” from whence all things come.This force is made up of opposites, the yin and the yang. These opposites that representgood/evil, brightldark, masculine and feminine, are the two primordial cosmic forcesunited to bring about a harmonious order. They are part of a “mysterious union” wherecyclically, like the seasons, each becomes the other. “Theseare dynamic operational agents, that are continually moving incyclical changes, from one to the other. Each element has itstime to rise, flourish, decline, and be taken over by thenext “86 Figure 4.3: T’aiChi84 Shirley MacLame, Out on a Limb, (New York: Bantam Books, 1983): 271.85Jean Baudrillard, Xerox and Infinity, (Trans: Agitac), (London: Agitac, 1988b).86Theodore M. Ludwig, The Sacred Paths: Understanding the Religions of the World, (New York:MacMillan, 1989): 423.125Similarly, on the cover of The Aquarian Conspiracy87 appears a design that, likethe Moebius strip, represents a ioop, where each path twirls around the loop, eachbecoming the other, where inside becomes outside, top becomes bottom. (Figure 4.4)Also, for Baudrillard, simulacra eliminate chance, all is response according to aplan, everything is a programmed action of response. So too for MacLame, the concept of“synchonicity” eliminates chance. Synchonicity, suggests purpose and intent for everyaction. “Everything is just happening as it should.. .1 do not believe in accidents”,88 she istold by her spiritual mentor. Chance simply does not exist and synchonicity, while lessrigid than a computer program, still suggests everything is a result of intent.America is a hologram, according to Baudrillard.89 “Information concerning theFigure 4.4: Cover Design from The Aquarian whole is contained in each of itsCosnpiracy, M. Ferguson. Illustrated by, DavidWestwood elements.”9°All of American reality, in its“plasticity and simplicity”9’is held togetherby the illusion that created it. Everything ispart of the hologram, everything isessentially made up of the same substance,everything comes from the same source,and if the source is interrupted, if the laserbeam is interfered with, “...all the effectsare dispersed, and reality along with jt,”92In the same way the concept of the hologram is utilized in the New Age. MarilynFerguson summarizes “holographic supertheory” as such...87Furguson.880ut on a Limb (video).89Baudrillard, 1988a, 29,90Ibid.91Ibid.p. 30.126“. . . our brains mathematically construct “hard” reality byinterpreting frequencies from a dimension transcendingtime and space. The Brain is a hologram, interpreting aholographic universe.”93 (Italics in original)Moreover, in eastern pantheistic monism, it is believed that the soul of the individual is thesoul of the cosmos: “Atman is Brahman “, (The universe is contained in each individual).Taken as somewhat more than the analogy that it is, this New Age “truth” about the natureof the universe is derived from the nature of actual holograms, wherein the entireholographic image can be reproduced from a mere fragment of the original (albeit withdecreased clarity).94For Baudrillard, America is the centre, the supreme power and it alone has beenable to conceive of and achieve its own utopia.“Americans are not wrong in their idyllic conviction thatthey are at the center of the world. the supreme power, theabsolute model for everyone... [America] is built on the ideathat it is the realization of everything the others have dreamtof - justice, plenty, rule of law, wealth, freedom: it knowsthis, it believes in it, and in the end, the others have come tobelieve in it too.”95Baudrillard sees America as a self-created, self-achieved utopia (a utopia whichBaudrillard himself does not accept). It has made itself the centre, it is its own idealcreation.In the same way, New Agers are able to make themselves the centre. This idea isperhaps nowhere more strongly expressed than in the image of Shirley MacLame standingon Malibu beach shouting, at first reluctantly, then exuberantly “I am God, I am God, I amGod.”96 She and others have sought for and then created their own utopia by permittingthemselves to believe in their own deity. They are the unabashed centre of their ownuniverse. Finally, Baudrillard points to the desert, America’s last frontier. In its93Furguson, p. 182.94Michael Perry, Gods Within: A Critical Guide to the New Age, (London: SPCK, 1992): 27.95Baudrillard, 1988a, 76.Out on a Limb (video).127emptiness, absolute freedom, aridness, and silence, it becomes the essence of America.97The desert is the opposite and the image of American “(un)culture”. Baudrillard looks atthe desert because in its arid emptiness it is American culture, while at the same time it isso much the opposite. If Baudrillard began his search in Hollywood and ended in thedesert, why should we be surprised to find that Shirley MacLame has made the samepilgrimage. Shirley MacLame is setting up her own spiritual retreat centre, called “ArielVillage” in Crestone, Colorado - an area of plains and brush at the foot of the Rockies nearthe desert sand of the “Great Sand Dunes”.CONCLUSIONWhen one considers the striking similarities between the New Age Movement andpostmodernism, it is evident that they are, in fact, two movements that share commonideals and common objectives. The New Age and postmodernism are both concernedwith the reinfusion of meaning into a world they perceive as being stripped of it by thecold, calculating instutions and ideals of modernism. They can also be portrayed, usingEllul’s framework, as two parallel attempts to dethrone the sacred idols of modernism,replacing them with new sacred idols, those found in nature, past and distant cultures andultimately in self.While in a Weberian sense, the New Age and postmodernism would berepresentative of a re-enchantment of society, a return to the spiritual values of the past, itis perhaps more accurate to view this situation in the sense outlined by Ellul, who remindsus that a de-throned spirituality cannot return in its original form, that if it is to return ismust somehow be altered. This is in fact true in New Age and postmodernism. Whilethere is a return to some forms of spirituality, including the deposed Christianity, it isapparent that New Age is bringing back transcendent spirituality in a form which issignificantly different from the pre-enlightenment world of Christianity. New Age97Denzin, 126.128spirituality, while including some aspects of Christianity is concerned most prominentlywith eastern spiritual traditions along with the occult, and other ancient and new spiritualexpressions. Similarly even these traditions are rarely adhered to in their original sense.New Age spirituality is ultimately concerned with the individual interpretation ofspirituality, with traditions merely serving as a convenient means of organizing ideas or asproviders of ritual and symbol. In the end, however, the New Age permits the altering oftradition and belief to suit the self, never demanding the altering of self to suit belief ortradition. Hence New Age is not the mere re-enchantment of the western world, a returnto the transcendent beliefs of this, or any other culture, it is rather the reinfusion oftranscendent spirituality in an entirely new form. It is the invention of a new sacred realmnot the restoration of a traditional one.1 2Chapter Five -MODERNISM. POSTMODERNISM AND NEW AGE: A COMMON PURPOSEMODERNISM AND MODERNIZATIONBefore I begin this discussion it is important to note that there is a distinction thatneeds to be drawn between the concepts of modernism on the one hand andmodernization on the other. Modernism, for the purposes of this thesis, can be describedas the formalized intellectual/academic concept that the universe is essentially a closedmechanical system wherein, given enough knowledge, science and technology wouldboth be able to understand all phenomena and be able to predict the outcome of anyevent. This was the world of scientific optimism which created all manner of technicalsolutions to the world’s problems. Modernization on the other hand is the “growth anddiffusion of a set of institutions rooted in the transformation of the economy by means oftechnology.” Both of these ideas orbit around the concept of technology, but wheremodernization is the natural unfolding of society in response to technology, modernism isthe belief that technology is a saviour.Having looked at the relationship between New Age and postmodernism (seeChapter Four) it is clear that there are significant differences which exist betweenpostmodernism, New Age and their antecedent, modernism. Both New Age andpostmodernism posit themselves as being reactions against modernism. This isundoubtedly true. There is little feeling of sorrow for the passing of modernism from theperspective of either postmodernism or New Age. It is clear that both are unsympatheticto the techniques of modernism, claiming that modern science and technology havecreated more problems than they have solved. Modern mechanism has created anunsustainable consumer society and modern rationalism has left a void of meaning in1Peter Berger, Brigitte Berger, Hansfried Keliner. The Homeless Mind: Modernization andConsciousness. (New York: Vintage Books, 1973): 9.130western society. New Age and postmodernism are convinced that modern techniqueshave failed.We must ask however, if we probe beneath the level of technique to the level ofpurpose, if there is any substantial difference between modernism, postmodernism andNew Age? The goal of modernism was ultimately to discover the means by whichhumans could solve all of their own problems. Modernism promised to eradicate hunger,cure all diseases (delaying and possibly even denying death), create completely efficientand profitable businesses, eliminate the need to work, control the environment, andconquer space. Modernism made grand promises that given enough time the inevitableadvancement of knowledge and technology would eventually give humans completecontrol over themselves and their environment.But are New Age and postmodernism really that different? As mentioned abovethey most certainly disagree with the techniques of modernism, but do they disagree withits ultimate purpose? New Age ‘and postmodernism also make promises, they too offercontrol. Postmodernism and New Age focus on the task of returning to people the controlwhich was wrestled away from them by the institutions of modernism: government, themedical community, science, corporations, the church and almost every other institutionwhich can be equated with the techniques of modernism. Modernism created experts,answers, techniques and hierarchies. These were meant to be the means by whichhumans would gain complete control over their world. Their perceived failure hascreated a new search for control. New Age and postmodernism are part of this newsearch. The goal is the same, the techniques are different.THE CHARACTERISTICS OF MODERNISMAccording to Peter Berger et al. the modern mind - modern consciousness - hasbeen formed primarily by two overarching features of the contemporary world:Technological Production and Bureaucracy. (For the purposes of this paper it is only131necessary for us to consider the first of these, although a discussion of bureaucracy wouldnot detract from it.)The Result: The Pluralization of Social Life-WorldsIn the realm of technological production it is evident that people develop ways ofdealing with the logic which that world demands. Eventually the individual who isoperating within this world will learn to differentiate between it and other parts of theirlife. People will act different and possibly believe different things depending on wherethey are. The end result is that they will begin to create a dichotomous self, one part ofwhich is dealing with and operating in the public realm of technological production theother part operating in and dealing with one’s private life-world.The individual learns that the realm of the public is one of anonymity, fact, anddetachment, whereas one’s private world becomes one of connection, values, and personalrelationship. The two worlds serve two different functions and the individual growsaccustomed to moving between the two worlds, sometimes developing completelydifferent, and possibly contradictory, patterns of behaviour. One only needs to think asfar as the stereotypical business person who “lets their hair down” after work, indulging invarious activities seemingly contradictory to their work persona. Furthermore, the factthat this distinction exists between the public and the private self does not preclude thepossibility that the individual may further pluralize each of these realms, wherein theymay have multiple public identities and multiple private identities.2The separation between public and private can occur on a multitude of levels, butpossibly one of the most significant separations occurs at the level of fact and value.Frequently in the realm of either bureaucracy or technological production an individual isfaced with many facts, completing actions or making decisions based on the empiricaldata and scientific knowledge. However, within this realm one’s religious, political or2jbjd 65.132social beliefs are suppressed. What one believes becomes irrelevant to completing thetask at hand and hence is discarded from the work-world and in fact the pursuit of suchthings in the work place is actively discouraged by employers. Similarly at home, in one’sprivate realm one is free to pursue value laden questions of religion, politics or socialconcerns without the constraints felt at work. It is at home that one is left to discoverone’s purpose or meaning in life.The Collapse of the Sacred CanopyIt is at the point of the separation of life-worlds that we begin to see howtechnological production and modernization relate to both the concept of secularizationand the New Age Movement. This relationship comes at the point of the widespreadadoption of technological production. As the consciousnesses of people began to getdivided between their work worlds and their private worlds, religion (which did not fitinto the public world of people’s work) began to take on the characteristics of a purelyprivate, free-time pursuit.In chapter three we saw how western society, up until the Enlightenment, hadbeen formed around the premises of Christianity. In pre-modern times one could beassured that their family, the people they worked with, and the people they just ran into onthe Street would have accepted the same basic set of beliefs (allowing for some variation,of course). Essentially everyone had the same concept of the nature of the universe andreality, everyone was under the same sacred canopy.3 The adoption of the modernistworld-view, however, in the public realm rolled back that sacred canopy. As themodernist world-view, as promoted and disseminated by modern science and philosophy,became more and more associated with the realm of public interaction it weakened thehold of the Christian perspective eventually relegating it to the private realm.3Peter Berger, The Sacred Canopy: Elements ofa Sociological Theory ofReligion, (New York: AnchorBooks, 1969)133The fact that the Christian sacred canopy was made into something private and notpublic meant that it became much easier for people to step out from under that canopyand adopt another world-view with which to order their private lives. The Christianworld view no longer had an exclusive hold on the consciousness of people. Thedominant Christian perspective on reality was having to share the stage. The sacredcanopy ceased to be unifying. People were free to adopt alternate belief systems, such asthe modernist world-view or even the world view of another religion.It is easy to see that the privatization of religion soon became the pluralization ofreligion. As the doors of religious experience swung open people were free toexperiment with multiple spiritual realities. As Berger, et al. suggest the resultingreligious atmosphere was one where...”[o]ne may be baptized a Catholic, marry in aprotestant service, and -- who knows? --die as a Zen Buddhist (or, for that matter, as anagnostic).”4Where there was once a sacred canopy there now exists only, “millions ofsmall tents; no global umbrella, only a bewildering range of pocket umbrellas for thosewho may care to have one.”5 The privatization of religion means that people are no longerautomatically part of some cultural religious system, but rather they must decide onreligion for themselves: “. ..faith is no longer socially given, but must be individuallyachieved.”6 (This, of course can equally translate into the option of a person having nospiritual beliefs.) The very concept of privatized religion is at the very core of New Age,in fact New Age could not exist in any society other than one which would tolerate andencourage a religious system which promoted pure individuality, a religious system whichdoes not try to define the sacred canopy, a system wherein there is no sacred canopy butrather the hand-held umbrellas mentioned above.4Berger, (1973), 81.50s Guiness, The Gravedigger File, (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1987 [19831): 97.6Berger (1973), 81.134A Single Life-World.Despite the attractiveness of an existence where religion is a private affair ratherthan a public one, there have always been large segments of the population whoalthough embracing a privatized faith, still saw the separation of the public and privaterealms as being problematic. Therefore modern society inevitably generates those whoare discontented with it. Already we have made reference to three significant populationswho can be considered discontents of modernism, namely those subscribing to the 1960’scounterculture, the New Age Movement, and postmodernism. I have already describedhow each of these groups has protested and reacted against the principles and practices ofmodernism. Here I would like to expand the previous discussions by adding that one ofthe main reasons for this reaction lies in the dissatisfaction with the separation of thepublic and private realms.As we have already seen, in the counterculture, postmodernism ,and the New AgeMovement there is a concerted effort to challenge and displace the dominant paradigm ofmodernism. So too, we have seen that each of the these movements deals with the attackon modernism in markedly different ways. Despite this, however, there does seem to beone area in which all three of these movements are commonly united in their fight, andthat is in the twofold approach of firstly breaking down the public/private dichotomy andsecondly replacing it almost exclusively with the private realm.Under the control of modernism it is the public realm which reigned supreme.Moreover, it was the experts (the scientists and bureaucrats), the high priests ofmodernism who were in full control of society. The private realm was one which hadlittle impact in society. Although people were free to do what they wanted in that realm,there was little chance that private activities would be able to change society.The reactions against this, in the forms of the counterculture, postmodernism andNew Age, have all been efforts to replace modernism’s public structures (technocracy,technological production, bureaucracy.. .et cetera) with private, small-scale and135individually controlled systems wherein the individual could take back control from theexperts. In the world of modernism it is the public realm of science and technologicalproduction which exercised the most control over the general public. In people’sinteraction with education, goverment, medical and financial institutions it was the logicof modernism which exercised ultimate control. It was the so-called experts who madethe important decisions relating to a person’s health and finances. It was the experts whowere making decisions of national importance, such as the decision to go to war.As we discussed earlier it was against this kind of control that movements such asthe counterculture were reacting. In doing so they threw off the mantle of public, expertordained, control and swung the pendulum to the other extreme bringing the private realminto the view of the public. Through public nudity and copulation (as extreme examples)the counterculture sought to reverse the encroachment of the public into the private bymaking the most private actions public. The experts were rejected and in response eachindividual asserted themselves as their own expert. Scientific fact and technology wereuniformly dismissed and replaced with individual experience as being the ultimatediscerner of truth.As is so clearly demonstrated by the counterculture, but equally present inpostmodernism and the New Age movement the discontents of modernism rejected thetechnique of science, technology and their guardians, the “experts”. They rejected theconcept of the public control over people’s lives. They rejected the dichotomy offact/value, public/private which this system had created. In response they sought to bringfact/value, public/private together by making the private ruler over all, giving ultimatecontrol to each individual.In all three of these movements a major theme has been the empowerment of theindividual, frequently with emphasis on those individuals who have traditionally beendenied access to power structures.136THE COMMON THREAD: CONTROLThe search for technique.As we have seen above, while in the modern era it was the experts who weregoing to save us, in the postmodern, New Age era it is the individual who becomes his orher own saviour. Each of us is responsible for ourselves and our portion of the whole.The differences between these two perspectives are indeed significant, and there is nodoubt that the two concepts are rooted in two very different ways of approaching theworld and its problems.Despite the differences, however, it is evident that the two perspectives actuallyderive from a common base. There is an underlying assumption, which unites the twophilosophically and practically. Both the modern world-view and the postmodern andNew Age world-views share the common impulse that the human race, in some way oranother will find the appropriate methods with which to bring about a better world.7There is the assumption that humans are capable of making the world a better place.Whether it be through advanced technology or advanced spirituality, both perspectives areoptimistic in the hope that there will be positive progress, if only people would practicethe correct technique.The New Age and Control.While it is evident that New Agers are embedded in the search for the recovery ofmeaning, it is also true that the purpose and meaning which they are finding are not thesame as that which traditionally has been found in the places where they are seeking.New Age meaning finds its home in the control of the past and the distant, the control ofnature and ultimately the control of self.7While the New Age Movement might see this as leading to a perfect, or near perfect world,postmodernists see this as being simply a way to make the world merely better, or perhaps simplymore equal.137Discovery of Control: the Past and the DistantModernism sought to limit the control of religion, spirituality and the past ingeneral by completely discrediting it. The method was the myth of progress, whichasserted that scientific discoveries and the advancement of human knowledge wouldeventually eliminate all problems in the world, thus condemning the myths and legends ofreligion and the past exclusively to the history books. Modernism controlled the past bypurposefully obliterating it, by rendering it useless. Modernism was a conscious breakfrom the continuous historicallspiritual lineage of the past.The New Age treats the past very differently, but it too puts definite controls on it.In the New Age the past and the distant are revelled in, they are borrowed from, they arelooked to, they are held up as examples for today, but like modernism, the New Age seeksto control it. As was mentioned before, when New Agers borrow from the past and thedistant what they take is usually tamed or adjusted to suit ideas of modern comfort orconvenience, it is never taken at face value.“...Christianity without rules and dogma, easternphilosophies with no physical discomfort: New Age blendswhat applies and chucks out the rest”. 8In the New Age the religious myths and cultures of the past are used, but as we sawbefore, they are used very selectively. This idea can be taken one step further todemonstrate that the New Age seeks to take the past and the distant and control it so thatit is the individual who has the power over the tradition rather than the other way around.With the privatization of religion the door was opened not just to the adoption ofother spiritual traditions but perhaps even more so to what I previously calledsupermarket- style religion, wherein the individual shops the shelves of religion taking avariety of products, keeping only that which pleases the pallet. Hence within a world ofprivatized religion people tend to be “conversion prone”9 as they switch brands according8Caroline Sutherland, “The New Age”, Vancouver, Nov. 1989, pp. 54-60, 136: 136.9Guiness, 105. and Berger (1973), 81.138to taste and preference. Frequently the outcome of this process is that an individual willend up with a spiritual larder packed with an endless variety of products to be chosenfrom according to one’s feelings from day to day. New Agers tend to draw theirinspiration from a variety of spiritual sources and usually are quick to point out that theydo not participate in any one particular spiritual or religious organization. As a result,through eliminating the uncomfortable and through providing endless variety, the NewAge controls the religions of the past. If one spritual product goes sour it is simplydisposed of and replaced by another, fresher one. This style of spiritual consumerism isthe perfect reflection of a world in which the individual’s micro-narrative is the finalauthority. As with postmodernism, New Age must endorse each individual’s perspectiveon the world, and by extension must allow the individual complete freedom to movebetween micro-narratives, discovering, experiencing and disposing of them at will.The spiritual freedom to make such choices is derived from the control belief inthe relativistic nature of all religions, suggesting that all religions essentially derive fromone source and hence to define differences is to miss the point of them all. Such is thestance of “Stephanie”;“I am not a part of any organized religion. I have, I feel, afairly holistic approach to faith. I believe that whatever it isthat gives you strength, that’s great. If you are a Hindu, aBuddhist, a Jew, a Christian, whatever.. .if it gives you thatinternal strength you need, then that’s wonderful. I don’tfeel that there is one faith that is better than another.”;and “Becky”;“Every religion has its own definition of God. Everyreligion has its own definition for the same thing, it can’t besomething else.”;and “Barb”;“There is not any one writer, not any one path. I takeeverything that I read, that I am drawn to and what feels139right. What I can believe. I’d say I haven’t studied the Biblein any respect, but any New Age teachings from Jesus Icertainly pay attention to.. ..I just try and take fromeverything. I am open minded. I am open minded toeverything. I haven’t studied eastern religions but I know I’dget something from all of them.”;and “Chris”;“As far as organized religions out there, Buddhism wouldbe probably of all the ones I’ve read about.. .And of theBuddhist practice, more of a Zen Buddhist. Although it ismore of an attitude and relationship with life than apractice. There are no Buddhist temples that I go to.”;and “Glory”;“Now I would say that I just do my own thing. I’m notreally involved with any particular group. Although I wentout to see the Dali Lama and I support him whole heartedly.With the Reiki, again, that doesn’t interfere with anyreligion or race or anything.. .Just try to be a good personand honest and this kind of thing and set examples forpeople.”Others, like “Carmen”, have had a process of coming to terms with the spiritualitywith which they were raised, having rebelled from it and then later turning to a positionwherein they could accept it.“I practice TM and also just meditation as a whole is veryimportant, not just TM. You know that’s a technique,but.. .and yoga, the philosophy of yoga and you know yogaisn’t just postures, it is a whole way of being. You know Idon’t worship a guru or I’m not, just not that kind of aperson really. I think that each guru or spiritual leader,including Christianity has just incredible things to offer, it’swhen people start to use it for, you know, coming from afear based way of thinking or trying to control people orcontrol people’s minds, or then I don’t agree with it. ButChristianity, for a long time I could not even have the word‘God’ around me. I couldn’t stand the word God. Even if Ipicked up a book, it could be just the most spiritual bookthat ever.. .if I saw “God” and stuff in it, in the beginning, it140was just a big turn off to me, I just would not.. .Even LeoBascallia at times I thought, he’s a quack, right? Because hewas too religious, I thought, and yet now I don’t think thatway. I often, sometimes I even pick up the Bible and read ascripture from it and get huge learning out of it and I’ll pickup a book on Buddhism, which I’m really drawn to, thatwould be...if I was ever going to have a religion I think itwould be.. .but I think religions label people, so if you areBuddhist, you’re Buddhist, if your Christian, you’reChristian. That just creates more separation, rather thatseeing how similar we are. That then when we label eachother we start to see how different we are.”As I have described, for New Agers the issue of spiritual choice is intimately related witha desire to create control in their lives. Spiritual control is created by framing one’sspirituality in the context of free-form religion. By adopting a variety of spiritualtraditions New Agers are able firstly to control what religions they adopt and secondlythey are able to control what aspects of the religions they have chosen they will adhere to.Hence there is much discussion that portrays traditional religion, which has not grantedsuch liberal freedoms, as being controlling and dogmatic and hence not a true spiritualexperience (or if it is true it has not been experience in its fullness). Ironic, of course, isthe certainty with which they assert that they are non-dogmatic in their bold accepting ofall religions, hence dogmatically labeling all those who would not hold this position asbeing “closed-minded”.“It is no accident that I have moved from teachingcomparative religions to doing work that awakenssomeone’s spiritual essence, because I no longer think itappropriate for me, or necessarily for anyone else to try totake the spiritual frequencies that are coming in now andput them into a religious context with rigid ‘do’ and ‘don’ts’,very rigid rituals and so-on. So I don’t find therefore, myown spiritual practice involves tunnel vision, it never hasand it never involves the idea that there is one way of goinghome or that there is one spiritual practice that’s foreveryone.. .So I have been initiated into a system ofmeditation in ‘74 when I was over in India by an Indianmaster that I did for some time and then something141happened to the whole movement that I didn’t identify with,again a form of tunnel vision which I can’t buy into. I wasthen led to do TM meditation, which is a good sort of basicskill, but I don’t believe in the ideology of themovement.. .In other words my spiritual life tends not to fitinto traditional religious structures anymore. In other wordsit is not that I don’t identify with the Christian perspective,but that I don’t limit myself to that, is the way I’d put it. Iidentify very strongly with the Christ presence, but I wouldnever say I was merely Christian in that sense. I learn fromevery religious path...” (“Jill”)“The truth is found in all of them. ‘I am in all religions as astring through a set of pearls.’ I really like that. I see thatstring or that flow of truth in all religions and in allphilosophies. Although religions and philosophies can getcarried away with their dogma. Even the original string canget distorted or lost.” (“Christine”)“I was initially raised in the Methodist religion and therewere things about it that I loved and things about it I didn’tlike. I’ve always been something of a rebel and so thedogma and creed part of it never really sat well with me andI’ve never really understood why people make up rules andregulations. And who were these people to make up rulesand regulations and stand between what I believe is agreater force.” (“Leslie”)Some spoke very candidly about their perceptions of New Age Spirituality in comparisonto traditional religion, indicating their conviction that traditional religion is about beingcontrolled, whereas New Age spirituality is about the individual being in control of theirown spirituality.“There is no real comparison because religion is a controlissue, as far as I am concerned, whereas spirituality is avery.. .individual person’s experience with God. ..whateverthat looks like, and what those words might be for eachperson is different.” (“Jewel”)“Catholic religion never held any attraction for me at all. Idon’t believe in religion at all. From my learning throughchanneling I came to the understanding that religion is142following whereas New Age spirituality is leading yourselfand finding your own light within. Your own power ratherthan someone else’s.. .something outer.. .That is why I don’tbelieve in religion, because there tends to be a total lettingit.. .putting everything on a God rather than taking anyresponsibility for our choices and a lot of people wouldrather blame the world or blame the society for problems soit is very important that people start taking thatresponsibility for themselves.” (“Lorrie”)“I guess what I would call the New Age Movement in a wayis people looking for spirituality and maybe they didn’t findit in organized religions or the religions they grew up in, butthey are still looking. You can call it an inner connection ora higher-self or God or whatever.” (“Raj”)This control, however, comes through not just a self determined set of religious beliefs,but the deliberate reinterpretation of the traditional religions in order to suit the New Ageagenda.The “Source” is this ancient knowledge.. if you look at allthe religions in their pure essence, they are all basicallysaying the same thing it is just different flavors, but is allbasically the same. If you look at Christianity, for instance,I used to. ..getting the Nag Hamatti library, the one on theGnostic gospels. It was found in this copper cylinder theorigins of Christianity, what it turned into, not even 200years old when it started to change, the church got involvedin two totally different things and it was re-written to suitwhoever was in power at the time. Like Jesus, from what Ican see now, was very much into the heart as far as what heprophesied and what he taught. I also think that he spentsome time in India and studied under some of the mastersthere. A lot of the information I would say is from India.(“Rose”)While it is clear that the New Age reinterprets all religious traditions, it is apparent thatnone receives such a re-reading as historical Christianity. New Age writers frequently usethe Bible as a source for their philosophies, but do so only in so far as they provide143esoteric interpretations of its content. One author provided an appropriate summary ofhow some New Agers have re-written Biblical passages.‘It is written: man does not live by the bread of the Biblealone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God-- from channelers, from Gnostic gospels, from thescriptures of all the world religions.“So come to me, all you who are weary andburdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoga upon youand learn from me, your guru, for I am gentle and humble inheart, and you will find oneness for your souls. For myyoga is easy and my burden is light.“If anyone is thirsty for secret knowledge, let himcome to me and drink. Whoever receives my secretknowledge and becomes one with me, as the Scripture hassaid, streams of living water will flow within him.”1°In total, 24 of the 30 people interviewed could be categorized as being “eclectic” in theirspirituality. Many were able to recite a long list of spiritual endeavors with which theyare or had at one time been involved. Similarly, many also had a substantial list ofspiritual practices with which they were involved in some professional or semiprofessional level. The eclectic nature of New Age spirituality can be seen as somethingwhich could only exist in this society. The breakdown of the sacred canopy in westernsociety has meant the privatization of religion, which in turn has created an atmosphere inwhich people not only move from one spiritual tent to another, but it has also meant thatindividuals feel free to mix and match, creating a personal spiritual umbrella which bearsmore resemblance to a quilt than anything else. Furthermore, this spiritual blending canalso be portrayed as the rejection of traditional spiritual controls in favour of theindividual being able to exercise control over the spiritual tradition.Interestingly, recently it appears that New Age is not only rejecting traditionalreligion, but in keeping with the pattern of privatized religion, it seems to be also10Ron Rhodes, The Counterfeit Christ of the New Age Movement, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker BookHouse, 1990): 13,14.144rejecting group-oriented forms of New Age style spirituality. The first target of thisassault appears to be the guru oriented groups which were indicative of the countercultureroots of the New Age Movement. Such groups appear to be falling into disfavour withthe New Agers and are being replaced with a more personalized spirituality.“Sally” recounts her own progression from the “guru scene” to a place ofindividualized spirituality for which she provides astrological support.“So that was that. I started going to the guru scene in townhere. It was a man who lived in India called Kirpal Singh.And I had never met him. Kirpal Singh came to townprobably...this was 1974...So he came to town probably in1968, ‘69 or ‘70. And he initiated probably 600 people inVancouver. People flocked to him. It was a real Guruscene around the late ‘60’s and early ‘70’s. It is provenastrologically that that’s the time period that is really openfor gurus. Because there were gurus everywhere. Which ismuch different from today, when I think people really wantto be in their own power instead of giving their power awayby having...worshipping somebody.”So too, “Peter”, in describing his spiritual journey recalls his own feelings regarding thespirituality of the 1960’s and how things have changed.“I began to see that humanity was on the verge of a majorspiritual awakening and that there was an incredible needand a cry for individual empowerment in that process. Thatpeople be freed from gurus and cults and this wholebusiness of getting caught-up in other people’s stuff and thata vehicle needed to be created to kind of bridge their ownrelationship with their higher spiritual-self.”New Agers generally rejected the intensive guru-led group experiences of the1960’s, replacing them in the 1970’s and ‘80’s with the workshops, seminars and retreatswhich have made the New Age famous. Today, it appears that even these are too grouporiented and are consequently are also falling out of favour. “Sara” told of herperceptions of how the large New Age organizations have declined in popularity since the145early to mid 1980’s and then she gave some perspective on how she became disillusionedwith them.“It was a time when there was enough money floatingaround and people were quite interested. I think it hasreached saturation point now. I mean I still have a privatepractice, but we no longer have the organization. I think itmaxed-out. I think it had a long run of several years and Ithink there are still.. .But the big organizations.. .1 mean itwas a real heyday for group work. I was involved in ESTand The Sterling Community and The New World Networkall through the 80’s. Big communities with lots of peopleattracted to them and big events and lots of mixing ofenergy and different kinds of people and that seemed to bewhat was happening.“There still are some going. At least in my realityanyway, I decided that it wasn’t that healthy to be so totallyinvolved in a group that had a particular philosophy. Thatthe nature of it excluded other people who didn’t believe inthat belief system. These groups end up with a particularlanguage and way of looking at things that’s exclusive. Ijust decided for my growth that it would be better to not beinvolved in that.”“Claire” also recounted how her experiences with a New Age group early in her spiritualjourney were important but now feels that the group experiences were too restrictive.“That whole process was very enlightening. It also was.. .itwas an interesting process because I don’t think those.. .therewas a certain control in the group that I don’t totally think isappropriate, now, but I believe it was very supportive forme to go through that at the time. I would not go into agroup like that now. You get kind of caught-up in it andyou get a little bit distant from reality, but it was the bestthing I ever did because it broke me away from my patterns.“My basic understanding is that I don’t want to getstuck into any box again. I always want to be open to newways of looking at things.”Another shared this sentiment.146“Sometimes [I do seminars], it depends on where I am at.Like the networking thing I’ve gotten involved in that quitea bit sometimes. I’ve done so many workshops andprograms and stuff to do what I do now, that I rarely doanymore.” (“Jewel”)Others shared more general reservations regarding New Age groups that did notnecessarily derive from personal experiences but more likely from a position ofobservation.“I guess the part I don’t like about it is when I see the cultishthings happen or people getting lost in guru worship to thepoint where they completely lose sight of who they are andtheir purpose for being here. And also people who usesome of the concepts, or whatever of the kind of New Agespirituality, like there’s certain things that run though all thebooks like accountability and responsibility to yourself andto the environment, that kind of thing and I think thatpeople can really sometimes work those kinds of things andturn them around and use them against themselves andother people. And I also don’t like the cliquish way that alot of people in the New Age all of a sudden surroundthemselves with people who are only in the New Age, andto the exclusion of the rest of the world and everyone else. Ithink that we are here to live in the world and, yes, the NewAge and spirituality is a big part of that, you know. Forinstance, there’s meditation groups and things that aregoing on in book stores and various places and they are verycliquish. They have their meditation group and it is thesame group of people, which is great, I think that’s nice andthere is an energy that happens when people, for whateverreason, men’s groups, whatever. . . .you know, the power isin their hands it’s not in mine and its not in a teacher’s hand.I mean it’s like, everyone has the answers in themselves,they just have to get quiet enough to hear them. And whenwe form a group or a clique that is nice and comfortable forourselves, we’re not sharing peace and whatever with otherpeople who need it.” (“Carmen”)In general, there was a definite pattern that the interviewees have a perception that thedirection New Age spirituality is taking is towards an intense personal experience. Thoseinvolved in seminars they ones that relate to personal empowerment. But more often than147not spirituality has become an individual expression, unrelated to any kind of groupprocess. They key idea is one of going within rather than looking for answers fromwithout. People now lead themselves rather than following others.“Well in this sort of New Age.. .1 think it is going from aplace where you think it is outside of you to coming backinside of you. I have noticed that workshops that arepopular now are ones that empower people. People want totake something home to chew. They don’t want to seesomeone and they leave town and that’s it.” (“Sally”)“But I think it is great because it is teaching people to leadthemselves rather than to follow someone else. That to meis what any good teacher out there will do. There are someteachers out there who do sort of promote a fear and afollowing. And I don’t agree with that because, that to me isnot true spirituality...” (“Lorrie”)“I think people are looking less at outside influences, evensay drugs or whatever they used then, and [arel goingwithin.” (“Barb”)“I’m not a person who likes to live.. .grab hold of somebodyelse’s trip and kind of go along like that. I like to run myown life. So I might go drop in and go to one of these anddrop in and go to one of those, but I’m not likely to embedmyself with a certain group...In the past I might have, would have maybe gotinvolved with a certain movement or group or whatever andthen found, Aah no, this isn’t really me, you know andmaybe try something else. But now I purely do the things Iam interested in doing...“I have taken many many many workshops overtime, but now it probably is decreasing. I think it is kind oflike an internalization, if you like, because initially all of usseek information externally, seek ideas externally and thenwe come to a point when we begin to develop some of ourown ideas or things that we’d like to research where wewant to focus our energy rather than looking for it fromexternal force.” (“Leslie”)“People are no longer satisfied with the group answer. Ithink it is a very individual search for connectedness toGod. People don’t want.. .it’s no longer.. .the ritual is nolonger sufficient. We want to explore further beyond theritual, we want to get to the essence of the experience andwe also are starting to notice that essence of experience isattainable and available through more than one door. It mayall be the same house, but there are many windows anddoors. I think some people get caught up in the trappings. Ithink some people have always been caught up in thetrappings...I?J think we are in the ‘Post-New Age’, in that peopleare no longer flocking to the workshops blindly. They’vegot a few workshops under their belt and are more selective.They are starting to get a lot clearer as to what specific areasof their lives they want to improve the quality of.. .(“Boris”)This pattern of the decline in the popularity of group experiences, such as seminars,workshops and retreats is confirmed in Common Ground magazine. In looking at thelisting categories of “Events” and “Ongoing Events” (Added in issue #21 - Winter 1987)it is apparent that there has been a dramatic drop in the number of events advertised sinceissue #34, (Spring 1991). (see Figure 6.1)6050Number of Listings in the CategoriesFigure 5.1 “Events” and ‘Ongoing Events”1 5 1014840NU30e2010\J : ‘\t15 20 25\30Issue number— —ongoing events”35 40- Events — Total”149This would support the notion that the 1980’s were a time of seminars and workshops,but as the 1990’s progress there is much less demand for that group oriented New Ageexperience and more of a turning inward for spiritual experience.“Boris” spoke of the “Post-New Age”, an appropriate term which can be given tothis pattern of change which seems to be marking experiences within the New Agecommunity. This seems to be the inevitable progression of the privatization of religion.As the sacred canopy of the western world was drawn back, people sought cover under avariety of smaller tents in the form of guru-led communes and other groups in the 1960’s.As people began to feel controlled and restricted within these groupings they fell apartonly to be replaced by the more fragmented workshops, seminars and retreats of the1980’s New Age movement, representing perhaps sacred pup-tents. But the progressionhas gone one step further. In a world of completely privitazable religion, even theseminars and conferences proved too stifling of individual expression and experience andhence the New Age Movement has fragmented even further to the level of the hand-heldumbrella, a world of completely private spiritual experience where experiential spiritualcontact with others is becoming the exception rather than the rule.This pattern of increasing fragmentation can only be described as the recovery ofcontrol over the realm of the spiritual. In the context of religion, people are gainingcontrol over the religions and traditions of the past by isolating themselves from anyinterpretations of religion external to themselves. New Agers exercise ultimate controlover religion by removing any sort of binding connection with others, especially thosewho may have been granted some sort of social legitimacy in the interpretation of thatbelief system or tradition. One can exercise complete control over spiritual traditions byensuring that they do not have to hear interpretations of that spiritual tradition whichconflict with their personal interpretation.1111This trend towards the privatization of spirituality is also bound-up inextricably with the concept ofcontrol over self, which I will address little later in this chapter.150Throughout all of this discussions and in the quotations from the participants thereare strong echos of postmodernism. In the ecclecticism, relativism and the exaltation ofmicro-narratives we see clearly the themes of postmodernism which were addressed inchapter four. Once again it is made clear that the connections between modernism andpostmodernism are more than mere coincidence, but rather a strong indicator of theircommon purpose.Discovery of Control: NatureIn the face of environmental catastrophe, New Agers deny the methods of moderntechnology, labelling them destructive of the planet, Gaia, Mother Earth. It is their firmbelief that if we learn to “tread lightly” on the planet it will ultimately be able to survivead infinitum. They believe that ultimately modern control is destructive of theenvironment, but in return they also advocate a control of nature, just a different kind ofcontrol. Seeing that modern technology is out of control and ultimately destructive theyseek to remove control from modernists and replace that control with their own brand.No matter how much more prudent or. beneficial their control is, it is still control over theenvironment.“Natural Systems, both as the source of physical nutritionand as the body of metaphors from which our spirits drawsustenance become central. Bio-regionalists ask us tounderstand ‘self-interest’ in its most basic sense to makecertain of the long-term sustainability of life on this planet.Our responsibility becomes one of enhancing the wholeEarth’s ability to function as a single self-regulatingorganism.”1212Bob Witzl, “Living Responsibly Where We Are, Common Ground, Issue #11, Summer 1985: 33.151In one particularly extreme example, “Celeste” described how she believes that humansare on this planet in order to assist Mother Earth through a particularly difficult situation.“If you want to take a look at it strictly esoterically, theplanet is in a period of transition. We are moving from thethird dimension, into the fourth dimension and into the fifthdimension. Scientists know this, they are not telling peoplein general that this is what’s happening. Scientists knowthat in a few years we are going to come in contact with ameteor, I believe it is a meteor of humungus proportions. Ifthe planet herself has not been able to shift her trajectory,(which is possible for her to do and she is in the process ofdoing that right now), we’re not going to collide with thatmeteor. The transition of the planet into the fourth and fifthdimensions is going to be enhanced. A lot of the work weare doing right now on the planet, those people whomeditate, those people who work with alternative healingand counselling, those people who are in tune consciously,spiritually aware, working with channels and psychics andall that realm.. .A lot of the work that is being focused rightnow is being focused on the planet herself to assist herthrough this transition. Assisting ourselves and ourpersonal growth, assisting the planet through her personaltransition. The planet, everything on the planet, includingourselves, is sentient in one way or another. It is energy.Scientists can prove that scientifically. This table is energy,it is moving, it just appears to be solid. We believe it is soand so it is. The planet herself is conscious, [a] sentientbeing. She has made agreements with humanity to serve aspecific function for a specific length of time. Thoseagreements were mutual and there are those people on theplanet who have come here for the specific purpose ofassisting her through this transition.”While it remains true that there is a sense that humans are intimately involved in thenatural environment and both are capable of, and should exercise responsible control overit, this control is also imbued with an admirable sense of reverence. Nature is notperceived of as object but rather a partner. As opposed to the type of control the NewAge exercises over religions, it seems to treat nature much more respectfully.152“I have learned with the natives, learning more about natureand to honour nature. That’s a big thing, to honour nature.If you go out to pick flowers, ask the plant’s permission.Ask the tree’s permission.. .If you pick a stone or a shell offthe beach, ask permission that you can take it with you.”(“Glory”)The underlying principle, however, still remains. There is still a belief that humans bothcan and should exercise control over the environment, even if that control is manifested inthe exercise of restraint.As an example of this, one only need look as far as the renewed interest inalchemy which is part of some New Age circles. Andrew Ross points out that at its corealchemy is perhaps as close to modernism as anything else.“Alchemy, after all, was nothing more than a method fortransmuting nature into energy, and few could deny that thishas become one of the technological projects, with avengeance, of modern science.”13Discovery of Control: SelfUltimately, however, the ultimate level of control comes down to control overself. We have seen already how the New Ager seeks to deify self and consequently tocreate for self a perfect mind and body. The desire to be perfect can only come down to abelief that the self and the world around the self is ultimately perfectable and completelycontrollable.Perhaps the most obvious manifestations of the New Age pursuit of ultimatecontrol over one’s own body is apparent in the field of health-care. This comes at twolevels: firstly the desire of the New Age to recover the very field of health-care frommodern science, and secondly the desire for individuals to be able to control their ownbodies.13Andrew Ross, Strange Weather, (London: Verso, 1991): 24,153The feeling of the inadequacy of western medicine is exemplified by personalexperiences such as “Rose’s”, wherein western medicine paled beside New Age-stylehealth-care.“I guess it was about eight years ago now, I had a prettydramatic experience where, because of different events inmy life, different things were happening in my life, I gotCandidas and western medicine didn’t even recognize that Ihad it. They didn’t recognize if it was a valid disease or not,but it was precipitated because I was on the birth controlpill and I had a lot of amalgam fillings in my mouth and Ihad two minor surgeries in that month.. .It was time for achange. This in a lot of ways is like the death card, which iswhere, in the Tarot, where you die to be reborn into a newlife.. .Then I heard the name of this naturopath from twodifferent sources and I thought, “well there is nothing left tolose and.. .on meeting him, he has an energy, an aura abouthim, he looks like he could have been a Mayan Priest.. .1 feltI didn’t have anything to lose so I was going to let him dowhatever he was going to do to me. That involved taking asaliva sample and analyzing it and Vega testing as well. Heprescribed various vitamins and homeopathic remedies andthen he did something that I think was similar to Reiki, but Iwasn’t really sure what it was. It involved sound. Eventhough it seemed totally off the wall to me at the time, Iwent along with it because I was starting to get better. Iwould say within a month there was a dramatic recoverywhere I was getting much better.” (“Rose”)Many of the interviewees gave their perspectives on the need to recover the fieldof health-care from the realm of science and to re-situate it the realm of personal,individualized control. This perspective was echoed by “Lisa” following an in-depthdescription of the benefits of “Breathwork”.“...so it is a natural way and it puts you in touch with yourinner-being. It puts you in touch with the god in you.That’s the value and it’s not going out there and having apsychiatrist or somebody telling me, ‘blah blah blah blah’.You know, it is my own inner being doing it, which I like. Ilike being in control.” (“Lisa”)154Control is certainly the premier issue when considering health-care as the followingquotations demonstrate most forcefully.‘The Healing Power Within You / We believe thateveryone has the power within themselves to heal everycircumstance and situation in their lives.”14“...1 kind of see it as there was this progression and thislearning and discovery that man has been doing over theeons and along came western medicine and profit marginsand it got a real shit-kicking and it was purposefullysuppressed. I see New Age as a resurgence of.. .and what isreally, quote-unquote, New Age is the reclaiming ofpersonal power. ‘Doc. What’s wrong with me? Go ahead,no, don’t bother, give me the anesthetic, wake me up whenit is over.’ That is going to become a thing of the past.”(“Chris”)“I’m seeing now.. .is the ‘the Weliness Show’, what you call a‘straight’ fair. Grannies coming in with their husbands. ..andthey know nothing, absolutely nothing. But they want toget better. So they’re dipping into this a little bit at the edgeof the New Age. And they’re open. They want to learn.They sign up for workshops. They want to know all aboutthese things. People are tired of being sick and they’relosing a lot of respect for the medical profession and they’rereally searching and looking. So that to me was an eyeopener, to see all these older people...you know seeingpeople like us doing Reiki or Shiatsu and want to knowmore about it.” (“Glory”)“I think that there’s a lot of peace to be found in the NewAge things. And I think, even as far as holistic medicine, itgives people hope, it also turns people towards aresponsibility towards themselves, rather than putting all theresponsibility on a doctor to cure me, or having our.. .even ifit is a small little headache or whatever, having it fixed forus with a Band-Aid, an aspirin or whatever and people arelooking at what’s the underlying cause of that. I think themore that they clean out what that stuff is, and it doesn’thave to be big dramatic things, the more peace that we will14Common Ground, Issue #29, Winter 1989/90: 14.155have. We store things in our bodies at a cellular level anddeeper.” (“Carmen”)“The other thing that is interesting is that people are lookingfor their own answers as well as taking responsibility fortheir own health in a lot of cases. They are not wanting tojust go to the doctor and have pills given to them andsaying, ‘This will take care of it.” (“Gerald”)“I think [The New Age Movement] is just making abeautiful big mattress so that when the crash comes, it’s abig mattress to land on. It means that society is educatingitself in the.. .to be their own doctor, to be their own lawyer,to be their own whatever.” (“Becky”)“I believe that everything has to maintain a balance, naturehas to maintain balance, we have to maintain balance. ifthings go too far one way to an extreme that there is a waythat there is a way that comes to bring it back, you know?more in balance in being centered. It has gone to theextreme, I personally see, in the medical profession andhaving been involved in that as a nurse and seeing that theydo a lot of good but there is room for more, way more thanwhat has been previously there. Also I believe this aboutfinding out we are all responsible, we are all powerful, weall know what we need to know. We have got to takecharge individually and hopefully by doing that individuallywe can make a difference out there in the.. .making it moreof a balance.“We are all our own expert and we have a right tomake our own decisions and choices and do that responsiblywith concern for not only ourselves but others.” (“Jewel”)“I don’t think that any of this is that new, I think what it is issuppressed, for whatever reason. Now it is coming to thesurface again. A lot of it was suppressed by the medicalprofession for control. The same with the churches, theysuppressed a lot of things and changed a lot of things, againfor control. And now with mass movement andcommunication and that, people are not willing to justaccept what one person tells them. They use their ownjudgmentI think all of this is wonderful and great and I’m not going toput down the medical profession because if I went out there156and was hit by a truck, I’d probably go to the hospital and letthem do a certain amount on me.” (“Gerald”)Perhaps the most illuminating discussion on the issue came from “Chris” who shared hisfrustrations about western medicine and the need to re-claim personal power and control.“...we have surrendered to the medical model and said, ‘youtell us’. Socially we have surrendered to the scientists andsaid, ‘well, you give us the meaning,’ and, ‘Oh, you canfigure it all out, well great.’ What that did do that waseffective, I think, was it gave us an alternative to religion,which used to be where we were supposed to find meaningin life. Polishing our relationship with God and throughparables, our relationship with each other and all of that.That didn’t work either. It is about the individual in allthose levels, reclaiming that personal power.“It is the concept of, ‘wait a minute, they didn’t giveus the answer, so we are done with that now and now weget to...’ and I’m sure some of it will be new ideas and someof it will be the ideas that have worked over the ages as faras who we are as people...“We are going to figure it all out and we will be ableto come up with the answers and perhaps, due to the age ofreligion and how long it has been around that it is like,‘well, we’re not getting the answers there, let’s see if thescientists can give us the answers’, and fortunately wedidn’t give them the 7000 years we gave everyone else, wegave the church and what not. But it is true, they’ve beengiven a real good crack at it and.. .one fellow was talkingabout western medicine in terms of an experiment that hasfailed miserably. I don’t view it as quite that. There is somemodern medicine being used in the hospitals in China, veryvery effectively and they are not about to give up theoriental medicine. They say, ‘Hey forget that stuff, we’ll usethe herbs, but we love these sharp scalpels’“There is no way I would poo-poo what they can doto some poor fellow who gets an eye injury at work.. .anddoctors go in there and patch it up and you can’t even tell...That is modern medicine, I’ve got to take my hat off to that.“A concept that I have though in terms of [modern]medicine is that if you’re not going to die inside a week youshould stay away. If you’ve got a week to figure stuff outthen chances are you are going to be able to find somethingelse...157“...a broken arm is a crisis. It is like you need totake care of that right away. That is what our emergencyroom should be filled with. Unfortunately we get people inthere with all sorts of boils on their butt and they expect adoctor to take care of it.“[New Age medicine deals with] things that aregoing to happen that you have got some time. That boil isnot going to kill you in the next week, get a poultice from anaturopath. So instead of using an antibiotic, which affectsthe whole body, get a poultice, pot it on your butt and it willsuck that boil right out of there. That is a more appropriateway of addressing.... Of course the true new Age approachwould be to also ask, “what’s going on with your butt thatyou need to be producing these boils?”...“That’s another thing that our modern medicinedoesn’t have is that it doesn’t have the time. The initialsymptom is presented to the doctor and that is what they tryto treat. If the doctor took an hour to try and chat it out withthe person there would be all this other stuff that isn’t beingdealt with, like, you know, ‘How are you”The decision to exercise control over one’s self has led to what may be considereddrastic actions by some people. A number of the women interviewed made decisions todiscard western forms of birth control in favor of simply “choosing” not to get pregnant.“So anyway. ..So I was on the pill at the time and one of thefirst times we made love [my boyfriend] said, ‘what’s thisshit! Get rid of it.’ So I threw it in the garbage, or he did.And I wasn’t on any contraceptives for a few years afterthat. I never got pregnant, but it was the whole mentality ofnatural foods or natural living. Because it is crap really,those.” (“Sally”)This same decision led one woman into a situation fraught with irony. Moreover thissame situation demonstrated in a particularly cold way the extent to which private controlcan exclude the consideration of others.“I quit using birth control and I said I don’t need thisanymore. I knew I could control my own body. I don’t needto get pregnant if I don’t want to get pregnant. And I gotpregnant twice, but at the same time I simply talked to thefetus and said, ‘OK I don’t want this. This is notappropriate.’ And both times they just left. There was no158chemical intervention. There was no medical intervention.It was strictly me. My energy. My body. My knowingness.My self. Working with my self, and nobody outside wasdoing anything. I did it for myself.” (“Celeste”)Another manifestation of the recovery of control over the self is evident in theNew Age’s teaching that individuals are personally responsible for everything thathappens in their lives. For many this concept derives from the eastern concept of Karmawherein all the “good” and “bad” which occurs in a person’s life is the working out of asystem of cosmic justice. Karma is a philosophical/religious idea that says that what aperson does in one life-time will return to them in a later life-time. For example if youare a murderer in one incarnation there is a good chance that in order to learn thenecessarily lesson you may well be murdered in a subsequent life. Similarly if you arebenevolent in one incarnation you will probably be the recipient of benevolence inanother life. If you were once rich, you may later be poor and so on. Furthermore theoutplaying of these event are not merely caused by the whims of some distant cosmicjustice, they are in fact the deliberate choices of the people who experience them. Henceone can not blame a past-self, one has to accept the experience as being something theythemselves chose in order to have a valuable learning experience.To create your own reality means to be in total control of your life. For NewAgers the ultimate source of meaning, purpose and reality is found in self. As one writerputs it,“...new consciousness is a spirituality of co-creation, ratherthan a spirituality of receiving only gifts of the abundance’sfrom that which is the creator.“As a supplicant, which is the old, more traditional way ofdoing things, you have to beseech and pray and hope Godwill hear your prayers and hope God will respond to themand take care of you in whatever capacity, as a father orparent would take care of a dependent. Whereas, to be a159participant is to say ‘I can create my own reality. I have thefacility, the technique, the understanding.”15This philosophy fits perfectly with the concept of a totally privatized religion. God is nolonger a personal being who exists beyond self, God is self. There is no need toultimately look beyond self. Meaning and purpose are all derived from self, leaving theexterior world as a source of inspiration and ideas, yet since cosmically the exterior worldis ultimately one’s own creation, one’s own reality, it becomes yet one more expression ofself.“Where else do I get inspired? I guess I get it a lot inside, itis basically me and myself. I’m carrying around my sourcenow which is great. It is like a battery which I’d have tohook up other places before, but I’m sort of like self-sufficient now, in this body and spirit.” (“Sally”)“[Where do I go for inspiration?] To myself. To myself. Ido the Reiki. . .and this is like getting in touch with myhigher-self. And this is where I’ll get my answers. Youknow, we have all the answers. It’s to believe that and I’vegotten to that stage where I don’t feel I have to go outside. Idon’t go to readers anymore, any of that stuff. I reallybelieve we have all the answers and this is what I tell all myclients; they have the answers. It’s just to love yourselfunconditionally. Trust you instincts.” (“Glory”)“If there is anything that this New Age or this metaphysicalthing can give people is that they have the power withinthemselves. That we all know our own answers and ourown truths.” (“Carmen”)The logical outcome of the concept that you create your own reality is the strongbelief that the individual is the creator of, and hence is responsible for every action, everyexperience which one has.“A lot of my focus in on power. Growing inner-power andjust feeling very connected because I feel a lot of whatpeople go through on earth, and certainly what I wentthrough in my youth is a feeling of separateness. Part of15Joseph Roberts. “Creating Your Reality: an Interview with Lazaris”, Common Ground, Issue #26,Spring 1989, pp. 12-13: 13.160what I am here to remember and help other peopleremember is that we are One with everything around,literally everything. And that we also create our ownreality, and that is a big part of my.. .where I live and theyway I teach, taking full responsibility for everything in mylife and not being able to blame anyone for anything that Icreated. I mean, if it is raining I take responsibility that Ihave created this in my existence this day. If someone iscreating a tight situation with somebody I takeresponsibility that I am creating this for a reason and I try tolook inside either through meditation, or talking to my spiritguides, why am I creating this? What am I learning fromthis? So I really trust them. There is always a learning forevery situation. That is why I don’t believe in religion,because there tends to be a total letting it.. .puttingeverything on a God rather than taking any responsibilityfor our choices and a lot of people would rather blame theworld or blame the society for problems so it is veryimportant that people start taking that responsibility forthemselves. Part also of what I’m teaching and I’m alsogoing to do more writing, is to get that responsibility outthere and to realize our.. .find our own power inside andfeeling one with everything around us will help us to makeour choices and take responsibility and ultimately, worldpeace. (laugh)” (“Lorrie”)“I find more and more, the people I am associating withwho are positive thinking people. When you get intopositive thinking you don’t want to be around a lot of sickpeople, you know.. .The people who are into different waysof thinking, tend to drop away because they don’tunderstand your way of thinking. You know, we havedifferent ways of saying things.. .when something happensto you, you kind of say, “well, what did I allow to happentoday?”...you see that you have a part in that. Things don’thappen to you. So other people who don’t understand that,you just can’t talk on. ..it’s really interesting how thathappens. I do have some friends we play cards with thatdon’t understand those kinds of principles and it is veryinteresting listening to them, and I find it fascinating andI’m just glad I’m not there.” (“Claire”)“I know I’m here to help people and nursing I didn’t feel Iwas doing that, so what I’m doing now I feel like I’m doingfar more than I ever could have if I’d stayed working in a161hospital setting. I can’t stand sick people anymore. (laugh)Because my whole belief system has changed to the pointthat, ‘Hey, you are responsible for this illness’ and thetraining that I received was quite opposite to that, ‘Heyillnesses just happen to you,’ and I don’t believe that at all.I’m OK with sick people, I’m very compassionate withthem. I think part of that is they are going through that tolearn something. And it might be that their learning mightcome to the fact that ‘Hey, I can change this. I don’t have tobe a victim of this disease or sickness or whatever. Thatmaybe there is a different way to look at or maybe there issomething I can do to let this go, [that] kind of thing.’ It justcomes to knowledge. Being given knowledge andawareness. When and if they are ready because not everyone is ready for that, because not everyone is ready forthings.” (“Jewel”)This philosophy causes the people whose lives aren’t yet perfect to ask what it is that isgoing wrong, or what they have done or not done to end up in this situation.“You either have all you want in your life right here, rightnow, or you have the excuses why you don’t.“If you don’t have all you want in your life right here, rightnow, then you haven’t given yourself permission yet. Youhaven’t empowered yourself to have it all yet...!”16Sometimes, however this philosophy can begin to sound quite cold and heartless whenthe most severe of life’s issues are dealt with.“This is the victim versus being responsible for our livesidea and that the. ..We’re talking sweeping generalities here,but you’ve got the single mother who, you know, ‘Woe isme. I’ve got this child, I’m stuck in this situation and.. .thatass-hole ran out on me.’ And all of that - Victim, you know,gets in a car accident, ‘I’m a car accident victim.’There is the other side of it where, we’ve createdexactly where we are. And there is the other approachwhich is a blend of haphazard life just unfolding or morespecifics around, you know, we are actually in control, incharge of our lives.” (“Chris”)16Common Ground, Issue #30, Spring 1990: 13.162This, can be amplified in even more drastic situations, the explanations for which becomevery difficult to accept. For example, “Debby” described how she had been abused as achild and in seeking answers to the situation she.....wanted to do past-life regression to see what kind ofKarmic things had caused that event in my life. Why I hadselected that. Why I had chosen to be abused...”Similarly, “Lisa” tells of her experiences with this philosophy.“...I read the book called, “The Nature of Personal Reality”,by Zeth, and that book changed for me.. .1 had always been avictim, a victim of men. And in that book it said I was thecreator of everything that happened to me in my life. Ithought, ‘Wow’, I went, ‘If I’m the creator of this wonderfulmess...’ you know, ‘Then that means I can create somethingdifferent for myself, Then this means, if this is true, if whatI am reading here is true, And I knew that what I wasreading was true, because my whole being went, ‘Oh this ishow it is’. If I can make this big a mess then I can alsocreate joy and happiness in my life. It kind of opened thedoor, that I was willing to take responsibility for my liferather that blaming my step-father or husband for myunhappiness. I started taking personal responsibility...“[Later I was raped at home, by a man with stockingon head and a knife]...“It healed me. It healed me at a level that I can’tbelieve. At first because I was in a place of takingresponsibility.. .1 have a different view point, but back then Ifelt responsible for everything, like, how did I create this.So I was always saying, ‘So how did I create this one?’ So itreally hurt because I couldn’t figure it out and after a week Iremember phoning the police because I realized I heard thatsomeone else had been raped and I realized I needed to.. .yesI had created this, but this man had to be stopped in what hewas doing...”“Lisa” continued to struggle with this experience and much later began to change herperspective slightly.“What these ‘Life Expansion’ courses are is like the nextlevel of the Course in Miracles. It takes it a little beyond,where instead of saying, you know, ‘everything you create is163your creation’, that some things happen to you where, ofcourse you wouldn’t have created it, but it is how yourespond to it.. .it is not like everything is your idea. There isa little difference there which I think makes a lot of sense.”To varying degrees of extremness, New Agers seek to take total control of theself. The manifestation of this belief seems to revolve around the accepting of personalresponsibility for all aspects of an individual’s life. The is evident is the recovery ofhealth-care from the realm of science and re-positioning it with individuals. The belief isthat both sickness and health are the responsibility of the individual. People’s well-beingis the result of their own actions. Sickness is a “dis-ease” of the spirit, a relinquishing ofone’s life to external powers, a giving away of one’s control over self. Well-being is therecovery of control. A person is free of sickness when one is in complete control of self.The ultimate end of New Age seems to be the total empowerment of individualsand as a logical extension of this, these individuals are to have total control over the past,the environment and ultimately their own self. In considering the locus of control, it isevident that New Age and its correlate postmodernism are direct rejections of modernism.Modernism sought to have all control situated with the experts, the people whounderstood science and technology. In considering the basic underlying principle of“control”, it becomes clear that in fact these movements are simply different methodsused in a common search. Modernism and its declared enemies -- postmodernism andNew Age -- are all based on the premise that humans can control everything, that thehuman race can and should consider itself capable of improving and controlling theworld.NEW AGE AND SCIENCE: PROVING THE CONNECTIONThe New Age frequently names science as one of the major culprits in the creationof a world gone astray. Science has separated people from the land, it has replaced mythand religion with cold facts and figures, it has created “the bomb” and has removed164meaning from the world. The feeling that science has failed in its promises is strongamong New Agers. Science has failed to deliver, but it is also portrayed as havingsuppressed other ways of thinking about the world and hence the New Age is attemptingto recover the ‘more authentic, more natural pre-scientific ways.“It’s the idea that there is a breakdown of the traditionalwestern way of seeing things. There has been a breakdownof faith in the western religions.. .institutionalized religions.When that faith, like when the technological progress camealong and. ..so everything has been breaking down, werealize that technological pathway has been a dead-end andscience is not saving us in the way we hoped it would.Science does not have all the answers. The institutionalizedreligions do not have all the answers. As a matter of fact,both of these alienate our whole sense of self from who wereally are. We’ve been programmed to be this and that andthe other thing the moment we’re born and then we find outwe’re really messed up. Like all the mental institutions, allthe mental health. It is a total breakdown of an old way thatis no longer working.” (“Christine”)“New Age is a reawakening of some of the spiritual values,I feel that we always had before science, the success-drivenmotive of science came along and sort of painted over a lotof the stuff we had been involved in before. It is also abringing up-to-date of those older spiritual values as well.Of course some of them are not useful in the context of amodern society where science has had its hold on us foralmost two-hundred years. I mean a really significant hold.”(“Marina”)“As civilization grew and we became reasoning,independent beings (or simply puffed up with our ownsense of self-importance, depending on how you look at it)we became increasingly separated from this early sense ofmystery. Mystery was replaced by science, and we began todisassociate works that we considered our own creationfrom that of God and the Universe and Everything Else [sic]we didn’t understand. Viewed through “enlightened”scientific eyes, music became more mechanical and down-165to-earth. There were, however, some composers who neverlost their sense of perspective. “17Some take on a perspective that isn’t so much centered on an inherent inadequacy ofscience, but rather that there are cosmic explanations for the current anti-scientificsentiments. For “Becky”, science is just not able to keep up with this cosmicallychanging world. When asked about science she thought that it was...“...too slow. It’s too slow. Pm being very kind, I’m sayingit’s just too slow. It is too slow. And if you want the NewAge reason for that it’s because.. .0K, this is the latestscuttlebutt, OK, in the psychic centres, the psychic circles.It’s that this planet and all our planets, our planetary systemis floating through the universe. It’s not in one corner of theuniverse doing nothing. Its actually moving through theuniverse and starting a couple of years ago it has movedinto a hot-spot in the universe. The energy isaccelerated.. .You can see what that means. It means thatthe energy upon which society built institutions, structures,mental and physical, theology, the energy foundation thatthose were set-up on and during no longer exists. We havemoved into another energy field... .so why should we besurprised when those structures suddenly crash?”There are others who just feel that science isn’t able to cover everything, that some thingsare simply outside of grasp.“I am interested in a wide range of subjects that.. .1 believethat science doesn’t know how to prove, but that doesn’tmean that they don’t exist.” (“Leslie”)Despite this consistent perception that science is not what it makes itself out to be,the New Age seems to contradict itself by frequently turning to it for validation. Majorworks like Fitjof Capra’s The Tao ofPhysics’8,and others like The Tao of Science’9,The17Brian Tate, “Inviting Music into our Homes,” Common Ground, Issue #33, Winter ‘90/91: 14.18Fritjof Capra, The Tao ofPhysics, (Oxford: University Press, 1983).19R. G. Siu, The Tao ofScience. (Cambridge Mass.: MIT Press, 1957).166Dancing Wu Li Masters,20 and, The Eye of Shiva2’ explore intensivley the relationshipbetween the realm of science and New Age belief systems.Along a much more popular vein New Agers frequently use the terms ‘science”and “scientists” seemingly to bring validity to whatever is being spoken about. It seemsthat within New Age there is need for scientifical approval.“If you want to take a look at it strictly esoterically, theplanet is in a period of transition. We are moving from the3rd dimension, into the 4th dimension and into the 5thdimension. Scientists know this, they are not telling peoplein general that this is what’s happeni