Aviva Directory » Faith & Spirituality » World Religions » Esoteric Religions » New Age

New Age refers to a wide range of religious beliefs that were formed in the 1960s, 1970s, or later, largely with an eclectic structure, and usually with an emphasis on the mind, body, or spirit.

New Age is a descriptive label that New Age groups rarely use for themselves. The New Age movement is a Western phenomenon.

As a strain of Western esotericism, the New Age movement was influenced by several older traditions, including the 18th-century occultist movement, spiritualism, and theosophy, as well as the 20th century UFO religions and the 1960s counterculture movement.

Beginning in the 1960s, the New Age movement grew through the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, mostly in the United Kingdom and the United States, and has remained primarily in the Western countries.

The New Age movement is by no means one central body, and New Age practices can be found at the periphery of several Christian churches, and many New Age churches are affiliated, to some extent, with various denominations.

For the purpose of categorization, New Age religious bodies that are clearly affiliated with another denomination should be listed within the category for that denomination rather than in this category. In some cases, that may be a judgment call. For the purpose of illustration, let's say that a New Age Church is affiliated with a Presbyterian body. In that case, it may have to be decided whether the church is more New Age or more Presbyterian.

Other New Age churches are associated with different religious traditions, such as various Pagan movements.

However, most of the sites listed here will represent distinct New Age religious bodies, some in association with one another, but others not, although most will include elements of other traditions

The New Age movement is difficult to characterize, and many of the descriptions that have been offered are disputed. It is a broad-based intermingling of spiritual and social elements brought together to form a utopian vision, generally with the goal of achieving harmony with nature and the earth, which may be known as Gaia. To many who are involved in the New Age movement, it is not so much a religion as a new way of thinking and understanding reality.

There are elements of religion and spirituality, however. New Age groups have often incorporated such traditions and concepts as seances as a way of communicating with the dead, out-of-body travel, reincarnation, meditation, angelology, and even contact with extraterrestrial beings, as well as the use of healing crystals.

Hinduism and other Eastern religions, the Hare Krishnas, Christian Science, and the Occult have influenced the New Age movement as well.

Despite Eastern influences, the New Age movement differs considerably from traditional Eastern mysticism. To the Hindu, the affairs of the world are in conflict with the spiritual, but New Agers have rejected this aspect of Hinduism. People, education, art, culture, and politics are important to most New Agers. They hope to change the world rather than drop out of it. New Agers are concerned about things that they perceive are threats to global survival, such as global warming, the arms race, and overpopulation.

Although many New Agers pay homage to Christianity, they are more likely to appeal to astrology than to biblical eschatology.

Aspects of paganism are common in New Age theology, as well. Many will appeal to an "earth mother" deity rather than to a biblical God or Christ, or there may be a belief in both, with the biblical God known as the "sky god," while the "earth mother" dominates their theological practice. Aspects of North American Indian traditions may also play into the mix.

The New Age movement has no central authority, and there are no authoritative definitions as to which sets of beliefs are to be designated New Age, and which are not. Most New Age groups don't consider themselves to be New Age, and might reject its use in reference to them.

New Age groups don't generally refer to their beliefs as a "religion," but instead refer to it as "spirituality." Even within an organized New Age group, individuals are likely to hold disparate beliefs. Generally believing that there is no one correct way to pursue spirituality, members are free to explore. They do so largely by combining bits and pieces of various traditions in order to form their own personal mix, a practice that has been referred to as a supermarket spirituality.

By its nature, there is no clear defining point as to the types of sites that are appropriate for this category. Sites representing spiritual groups whose beliefs and practices fit those described above should be submitted to this category unless another subcategory of World Religions would be a better fit. Submit to the category that most closely represents the topic of the site.

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