Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-6c8bd87754-5d2lc Total loading time: 0.395 Render date: 2022-01-16T11:21:04.900Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "metricsAbstractViews": false, "figures": true, "newCiteModal": false, "newCitedByModal": true, "newEcommerce": true, "newUsageEvents": true }

29 - The New Age

from IV - THE NINETEENTH CENTURY AND BEYOND

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 May 2016

Olav Hammer
Affiliation:
University of Southern Denmark
Glenn Alexander Magee
Affiliation:
Long Island University, New York
Get access

Summary

Introduction: “The New Age,” A Catchall Term?

In modern society, an astounding range of religious or “spiritual” alternatives to organized religion are available. A very incomplete list includes tarot reading, Reiki healing, swimming with dolphins, astrology, (neo-)shamanism, crystal healing, psychic phenomena, the recall of past-life memories, Aura-Soma remedies, fire walking, and various modes of “positive thinking.” Among the list of the spiritual, one also finds vast numbers of books, with titles such as A Course in Miracles, Conversations with God, and The Celestine Prophecy. The term “New Age” is often affixed to them all, at least by people who do not personally share any of these interests. Insiders will, on the contrary, often insist that the label is derogatory or even meaningless. Rather than seeing their own beliefs and practices as part of any wider social movement, many hold that they have embarked on a thoroughly individual quest. Scholarly literature hovers uncertainly between the two views, some authors insisting that there is a minimal shared discourse uniting these various practices and ideas, others rejecting “New Age” as a thoroughly vacuous term. One difficulty with the expression is that, in common with many other terms employed in the study of religion, it was a designation coined by the members of a particular religious milieu and has since become employed in a wide and not always compatible variety of ways.

The concept “New Age” is diffuse also because it consists of a combination of a common adjective and an equally common noun and has therefore historically been repeatedly used in contexts that would seem to have few points of contact with the modern concept. William Blake uses the term in a publication dated 1804, in a context that has roots in the writings of the eighteenth-century visionary Emanuel Swedenborg, and earlier. Other early references are Warren Felt Evans's book The New Age and Its Messenger (1864), and the literary magazine The New Age founded in 1894.

New Age as label for a utopian vision with an occultist tinge is a later creation.

Type
Chapter
Information
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2016

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

References

Bochinger, Christoph. “New Age” und moderne Religion: Religionswissenschaftliche Analysen. Gütersloh: Kaiser, 1994.
Hammer, Olav. Claiming Knowledge: Strategies of Epistemology from Theosophy to the New Age. Leiden: Brill, 2000.
Hammer, Olav. “New Age Movement,” in Hanegraaff, , (ed.), Dictionary of Gnosis and Western Esotericism.
Hanegraaff, Wouter J.New Age Religion and Western Culture: Esotericism in the Mirror of Secular Thought. Leiden: Brill, 1996.
Heelas, Paul. The New Age Movement: The Celebration of the Self and the Sacralization of Modernity. Oxford: Blackwell, 1996.
Kemp, Daren. New Age: A Guide. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2004.
Kemp, Daren and Lewis, James R. (eds.). Handbook of New Age. Leiden: Brill, 2007.
Lewis, James R. and Melton, J. Gordon (eds.). Perspectives on the New Age. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1992.
Rothstein, Mikael (ed.). New Age Religion and Globalization. Aarhus: Aarhus University Press, 2001.
Sutcliffe, Steven and Bowman, Marion. Beyond New Age: Exploring Alternative Spirituality. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2000.
Wood, Matthew. Possession, Power and the New Age: Ambiguities of Authority in Neoliberal Societies. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2007.
York, Michael. The Emerging Network: A Sociology of the New Age and Neo-Pagan Movements. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 1995.

Send book to Kindle

To send this book to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

  • The New Age
  • Edited by Glenn Alexander Magee, Long Island University, New York
  • Book: The Cambridge Handbook of Western Mysticism and Esotericism
  • Online publication: 05 May 2016
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139027649.030
Available formats
×

Send book to Dropbox

To send content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

  • The New Age
  • Edited by Glenn Alexander Magee, Long Island University, New York
  • Book: The Cambridge Handbook of Western Mysticism and Esotericism
  • Online publication: 05 May 2016
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139027649.030
Available formats
×

Send book to Google Drive

To send content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

  • The New Age
  • Edited by Glenn Alexander Magee, Long Island University, New York
  • Book: The Cambridge Handbook of Western Mysticism and Esotericism
  • Online publication: 05 May 2016
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139027649.030
Available formats
×