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New Age Movement

NEW AGE MOVEMENT

NEW AGE MOVEMENT. The New Age movement was an international cultural current that arose in the late 1960s, when Eastern religions became popular in the United States. It combined earlier metaphysical beliefs such as Swedenborgianism, mesmerism, transcendentalism, theosophy, and often primitivist beliefs about the spiritual traditions of nonwhite peoples. As expressed by Baba Ram Dass (born Richard Alpert), its first recognized national exponent, the New Age movement propounded the totality of the human body, mind, and spirit in a search for experiences of transformation through rebirthing, meditation, possessing a crystal, or receiving a healing.

Stressing personal transformation, New Agers envision a universal religion placing emphasis on mystical self-knowledge and belief in a pantheistic god as the ultimate unifying principle. The New Age movement is perhaps best known for its emphasis on holistic health, which emphasizes the need to treat patients as persons and offers alternative methods of curing, including organic diet, naturopathy, vegetarianism, and a belief in the healing process of crystals and their vibrations. New Age techniques include reflexology, which involves foot massage; acupuncture; herbalism; shiatsu, a form of massage; and Rolfing, a technique named after Ida P. Rolf, the originator of structural integration, in which deep massage aims to create a structurally well-balanced human being. Music is also used as therapy and as a form of meditation. While the term "New Age music" in the mid-1990s was a marketing slogan that included almost any type of music, true New Age music carries no message and has no specific form because its major use is as background for meditation.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Melton, J. Gordon, et al. New Age Encyclopedia. Detroit: Gale Research, 1990.

York, Michael. The Emerging Network: A Sociology of the New Age and Neo-Pagan Movements. Lanham, Md.: Rowman and Littlefield, 1995.

John J.Byrne/f. h.

See alsoAsian Religions and Sects ; Cults ; Medicine, Alternative ; Spiritualism ; Utopian Communities .

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New Age movement

New Age movement. A diverse set of organizations united by their enthusiasm for the creation of a new era of enlightenment and harmony in the ‘Aquarian Age’ (in astrology the era or cycle of c.2,150 years when the constellation and zodiacal sign of Aquarius will coincide, following on from the ‘Piscean Age’ during which the same is true for Pisces).

New Age ‘teachings’ are characterized by an emphasis on monism, relativism, individual autonomy, and the rejection of the Judaeo-Christian emphasis on sin as the ultimate cause of evil in the world. Instead, New Age posits lack of knowledge and awareness as the root of humanity's problems. It is eclectic in style, gathering in a wide range of people and teachings if they reinforce the central concern.

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