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The New Age

Doctrines There are no central doctrines as, like Paganism, the New Age is made up of a myriad of differing religions and practices. However, underlying the concept of the New Age is an old astrological theory which states that, roughly every 2,000 years, a new age of world history begins under the auspices of a different constellation of the zodiac; at present, we are on the verge of the Age of Aquarius (the water bearer) and leaving the Age of Pisces (the dark and light fishes). Given commonly held definitions of the nature of Aquarius, everything is said to become more centred around the individual, and this includes religion; institutional, centralised, hierarchical religions, such as Christianity, are therefore believed to be outdated, atleast in their present form, though new forms of religions dating from the Piscean Age, such as small groups of Christians meeting together in each other's homes, may fit in with the principles of the new age of Aquarius. The pouring of the water from the jar of the water-bearer is thought to represent the pouring out of divine grace on the human race, leading to new powers and understandings and a deeper relationship with the cosmos.
These movements are characterised by a sense that a new age of spiritual awareness is dawning. They tend to be eclectic, drawing from such sources as world religions, especially the Eastern religions, from physics and cosmology, and from science fiction. Their teachings claim to revive ancient mystical traditions of East and West, and they emphasise healing, a balanced life-style and expansion of self awareness through meditation and personal counselling to find the god within. The fundamental message of the New Age is that we are more than we imagine - we are one with the divine and with all of creation.

History The New Age is a term used to describe various religious movements which emerged in the 1960s on the west coast of the USA and spread throughout North America and Europe. At this time there was an upsurge of interest in inner spirituality, especially among those belonging to the counter culture who were seeking to live outside society's norms, rebelling against its organisations and traditions, and trying to find a way of life in which they could encounter and develop their spirituality. Many journeyed to India and the East, in search of gurus, and gurus began to arrive in the USA from India.
However, widespread interest in self-spirituality led also to the development of more organised spiritual paths - in 1962, the most famous and long-lasting British New Age community was established at Findhorn, which has continued to grow and develop to this day; in the same year, the Esalen Institute was founded in California, and by 1970 it had spawned over 100 centres in the USA. Others include Soka Gakkai (1960), The Church of All Worlds (1961), Silva Mind Control (1966), The Inner Peace Movement (1964), and TM as a popular technique (1968).
The counter culture waned in the 1970s, yet the New Age continued and grew, especially in the 1980s and 1990s. Today, there is a huge range of New Age activities on offer, from management seminars in top businesses and industries, to direct action against environmental damage, and including meditation in various forms, many types of alternative healing, massage, aromatherapy, divination, crystals, drumming, chanting, dance and music, past-life regression, how to get rich using mind power, and self-transformation through various methods, to name but a few.

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