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Spiritualiti – Agama ‘New Age’

23 May

Artikel berikut bersumber dari : http://www.mootmagazine.com/2012/01/31/spirituality-the-new-religion-for-the-new-age/

Spirituality: The New Religion for the New Age

Written by D G Mattichak Jr. (Moot Magazine 31/1/2012)

Only fifty years ago spirituality in the West was Christian. The vast majority of us thought of ourselves as Christian and attended church regularly. Up until that time Western concepts of spiritual revolved around saving your soul through living a good Christian life and the motto for God and Country represented the unquestionable twin pillars of society and symbolized all that was good. Now both institutions are under siege as we question the validity of the institutions of both church and state.

As Western societies across the globe abandon traditional Christian values the Church warns us of the creeping evils of becoming a secular world, preaching the message of salvation to a people that no longer fear for their souls and who have replaced the concepts of original sin with the new age concepts of being disassociated from our inner selves because of our disconnectedness from Mother Earth.

Our world view is developing into an almost universal humanism that preaches that the salvation of our culture can only be achieved by making amends for the horrors that it has committed on its path to being the dominant force in much of the world. We now find our spiritual fulfillment in supporting an endangered tribe of natives in Brazil rather than in fund raising to send missionaries to convert them to the One True Faith.

The liberalization of Western society finds its fullest expression in the modern cult of Celebrity that views almost random acts of humanitarianism by the day’s favorite pop icons as being steps on the road to new age sainthood and, driven by this buzz of celebrity media marketing, the middle classes rush off to follow in their footsteps by buying only eco-sustainable products from free trade producers in a 21st Century parody of alms for the poor. Our pop culture is drawn further away from its traditional values by the occulturalization influence that modern film and music has on the younger generation like the influence that the film The Craft had on young people in the 1990s, turning a whole generation onto Wicca.

At the same time the fundamentalist Christian right wing and their hellfire and brimstone message has become increasingly marginalized as extremist, especially with its growing addiction to sounding the alarm on an over estimated extremist Islam with Jihadist agendas. While the Dominionists are thumping their bibles and preaching the evils of an increasingly secular world that will be defenseless against the coming wave of Muslim invaders most of the middle classes are tuning out to their fear mongering to look for their spiritual fulfillment in other avenues, making the fundamentalists’ efforts almost self defeating.

But in all of this have the newly liberated seekers of enlightenment actually found a new path to spiritual fulfillment or have they just abandoned an apparently meaningless traditional faith for a meaningless five and dime selection of spiritually empty amusements? Have they just been taken in by spiritualism that has been packaged into a marketable product by an increasingly secular world?

Secularization: Fact or Fantasy?

Right wing politics across the Western world has been preaching from the soap box of traditional morals that we, as a society, are losing our traditional religious values. Religious organizations in Western countries are dealing with the issue of the secularization of modern society which they see as the main contributor to their dwindling congregations and the abandonment of traditional religious beliefs. When asked to explain this statistical trend, Professor Sabina Magliocco from California State University’s Department of Anthropology said; “foremost is a growing individualism and reluctance to accept aspects of any structure that are experienced as restrictive or not in harmony with the individual’s view of her/himself. This is accompanied by a disillusion on the part of many individuals with the messages and actions of mainstream religions — for example, the condemnation of homosexuality and sexuality in general, combined with sex scandals that have rocked not only Catholicism, but other forms of Christianity as well. Combine this with the influence of globalization and non-Western religious traditions such as Buddhism and Hinduism; for some, it all adds up to a sense of distaste for organized religion, and a search for a spirituality that can be tailored to individual needs.”

The real challenge for traditional religions in the 21st Century is the continued relevance of essentially agrarian religions with moral codes that were designed for small communities in an increasingly technocratic world ruled by intangible concepts not even dreamt of by philosophers of biblical times. In the past 50 years Church attendance in the US has fallen to record low levels with only 25% of the population regularly attending religious services and a surprising 22% never attending a religious service. One telling statistic shows that congregations are aging rapidly with the greatest percent of people that habitually attend church being over 60. This would imply that most of the existing congregation will begin die in the coming decades and with them so may the traditional public worship of Christianity.

But the same people that are no longer going to church on Sunday are not abandoning their religious beliefs altogether and in fact worldwide there are more people with traditional religious views than ever before. It is in Western industrialized, first world nations that the institution of religion itself is under siege.

In an ARDA Guiding Paper, The Decline of American Religion, Mark Chaves of Duke University wrote that “religiosity is not necessarily extinguished by industrialization, urbanization, or scientific knowledge.” This means that the established Christian view on the evils of secularization are unfounded but the same paper also indicates that- “there has been a rapid decline in the participation in traditional religions across the Western world with America being something of an exception, even though the statistics show that the same process is occurring there too, only more slowly.’ So if people are no longer participating in traditional religions but the impulse to religion is not being extinguished where are we finding our religious outlet? The short answer is that religiosity has been replaced in the West by spirituality, which is to say that they have spiritual beliefs but are not involved with, nor do they connect themselves to any conventional religious organizations. The emerging spirituality is diffuse and eclectic and seeks broad popular approval while it is often prevalent in trends or fads meaning that no one line of spiritual reasoning maintains any sort of predominance and an eclectic parade of cross cultural religious practices has become the norm.

Recent exposure of corruption in the churches and the attachment of fundamentalist Christian values to right wing politics has seen the Church become increasingly demonized by the mainstream media as the traditional values of established religion are being questioned and religious differences between cultures is being recognized as the major source of world conflict. Disenchantment with large, governing organizations including the churches along with a loss of faith, and trust, in leaders generally has seen the decline in respect for the clergy, especially in the wake of so much bad press about the poor conduct of some of its members. A growing awareness of the injustice with which the Christian Churches established their dominions and their wealth at the expense of foreign cultures only adds fuel to the fires of dissatisfaction with mainstream religion in the West in a time when cultural/political correctness has itself almost become a spiritual belief. But it might also be said that the very secularization that mainstream religions warn against drives people into the arms of the cults and dubious spiritual practices that are pulling at the fabric of our orderly society and its religious values.  With the increasing consumerism that is associated with new age practices it has been remarked that secularization using new age spirituality to drive an industry of Tarot readers and yoga teachers.

The Christian Church’s response to its straying congregation has taken a couple of routes. One has been to become more new age friendly and has led to the development of the Mega-churches like Hillsong which conflate the spiritual message with appropriate entertainment at stadium services to thousands of parishioners. Presenting a practiced, slick business presentation and more marketing than preaching, these Mega-churches use hard edged corporate strategies to recruit new ‘customers’ from among the gullible and disenfranchised. Often these groups exhibit all of the signs classically associated with traditional cults that remind us of those dark strange Christian cults that led to events like the Jonestown massacre and David Koresh’s tragic standoff with authorities in Waco. Instances like these erode away at the public face of Christian Churches driving the secularization that the churches themselves fear so much.

Another tack that many of the more fundamentalist Christian churches have taken is to paint themselves as being the standard bearers of the Christian faith and of traditional Western values in a modern crusade against the old enemy, fundamental Islamists. Even prior to September 2001 fundamentalist Islam had suffered from being demonized in the West, the attack on America merely gave the anti-Muslim lobby a platform to denounce Radical Islam in the mainstream media. People like Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch are accused of making outrageous claims about Islam’s Jihadist intentions and of making gross misinterpretations of what Islam really is. Spencer’s quoted remarks on Islam: “the only religion in the world that has a developed doctrine, theology and legal system that mandates violence against unbelievers and mandates that Muslims must wage war in order to establish the hegemony of the Islamic social order all over the world” are obviously a distortion of the truth but have been taken up by prominent right wing media personalities like Glenn Beck as the absolute gospel truth. Beck has evolved the whole evil Islam concept into a stage show that is as entertaining as it is misinformative but it also has touched a nerve with the guns and Bibles variety of Republican American that wants to blame someone for the country going to hell in a hand basket.

The Occulture of Western Culture

Statistics prove that Western societies aren’t any less spiritual than previously, in fact it can be argued that they are more spiritual than they have been in several centuries. What has happened is that the focus of religious beliefs has changed. Where we were once given religious guidance by our elders, modern Western households are likely to have no traditional religious practices carried out in them but are to be evolving into a general practice of spirituality that is eclectic and individual. This may be a reaction to the more secular world, balancing the technocratic confusion of modern Western culture against some sort of grasping at a spiritually apprehensible answer to the questions of why and who we are. The middle class interest in alternative therapies and earth friendly products has taken them closer to the eco-spirituality of new age spirituality as it has existed for the past few decades and has to some extent filled the void that was left by the abandonment of regular religious practices. In the 21st Century, with its incumbent time pressures, on Sunday morning we are more likely to do a yoga class and grab a fair trade coffee afterwards  than go to church as a form of spiritual practice. Can this budding spiritual consciousness coalesce enough to form a bone fide spiritual/religious movement? Is it really a spiritual revolution? In his book The Re-Enchantment of the West, Christopher Partridge indicates that the new age may not be as eclectic as it first appears, coining the tern occulture to indicate the source of much of new age spirituality’s inspiration in Western Hermeticism, and so makes the point that new age spiritual choices would seem to be driven mostly from within our own culture via the mass media.

Popular music is perhaps the greatest influence on Western Spiritual identity and often different genres of music have affiliations with different sets of spiritual beliefs, while some cliques of musicians actively make the connection between pseudo-religious experience and their particular musical movement through events like the electronic dance sub-culture’s solstice parties at Stonehenge- linking their music to a neo-pagan eco-spirituality that equates to a bizarre self styled techno-shamanism that espouses an eclectic mélange of spiritual ingredients as the paradigm of acceptable religious practice for a new age.

Popular culture and its various undercurrents of counter-culture cliques tend to depart from traditional values simply because they aren’t ‘cool’, and are driven by the search for the novel or unique to hold up as the next big thing. Celebrity spiritual fads like Kabalah draw crowds away from their traditional faiths to explore the latest faddish flavors of spiritual wisdom being indulged in by the in crowd. If Richard Gere is a Bhuddist then there are acolytes chanting Om Mani Padme Hum right along with him, adding the eight-fold noble path to their bag of new age spirituality along with the crystals, rune stones, aroma therapy and every ology that makes up the new age concept of what is spiritual as Western society becomes incrementally more occultural. This occultural message from the icons of popular culture has pressed much that was once fringe spirituality into mainstream acceptance and many of the less structured new age spiritual beliefs are simply revived or derived from 19th Century metaphysics, merged with Oriental philosophies and repackaged into non-threatening bite sized pieces that can be explained in a five minute spot on a morning television variety show. Once occult practices like numerology and palmistry are now taught in workshops at the local community centre as we all open our third eyes and summon the kundalini forces to empower our chakkras.

The occult was once affiliated with socially unacceptable, secretive anti-Christian practices but the decline in the Christian influence and the occultural influence of contemporary pop culture have seen this view soften in recent years. Occult is no longer equated with cult which is now more likely to be associated with bible thumping, gun-toting fringe Pentecostals on a remote and isolated compound in the hills of California than with an imported Eastern Guru’s cash cow or a satanic lodge plotting in secret cabals. The influence of genuine, brainwashing cults are greatest in their lands of origin and Western cults are increasingly devoted to obscure interpretations of scripture and preparing for the apocalypse.

New age religions like Paganism and Wicca have become the most well known alternatives to traditional religion as the occult emerges from its concealed role in Western society and the witches come out of the broom closet. Popular films and television has gone a long way to making Wicca acceptable to the mainstream which in turn has attracted a growing number of young adherents from the traditionally reliably religious middle classes.

What is the New Age?

That we have entered the Aquarian Age is now so much of an accepted cultural milieu that it barely matters anymore whether there is actually any astronomical or even astrological basis in the assumption. Astrological ages were once obscure studies made by even more obscure astrologers and were never the concern of the middle classes whose ideas of astrology were entirely contained in what their stars said their day would bring when they consulted the horoscope column in the morning paper. The Aquarian Age truly arrived, as does so much new age philosophy, via the medium of entertainment when the 60s musical Hair chanted its message that we were at the dawning of a new spiritual age of man. The idea quickly grew legs regardless of the mounting evidence that there may be some doubt about the actual date of the beginning of the Aquarian Age and has become one of the core new age spiritual beliefs and the one that gave the emerging spiritual awareness movement its popular tag. But what is the New Age and what are these new spiritual beliefs that are emerging from it?

Making contact with the divine self is seen as the new age path to reconnecting with a holistic universe and overcoming personal alienation and isolation in a spiritually enlightened apprehension of the microcosm’s place in the macrocosm. This new cult of the Self coupled with the views held by contemporary youth that see traditional morality and cultural norms as old fashioned and look for technical or rational solutions to their problems rather than invoking a faith in a benevolent greater power as their grandparents once did. But that faith has been supplanted with a new self aware spirituality as people become less religious without diminishing in their belief in spiritual truth. In their book, The Spiritual Turn and the Decline of Tradition- Dick Houtman and Stef Aupers put it this way: “What we are witnessing today is not so much a disappearance of religion, but rather a relocation of the sacred. Gradually losing its transcendent character, the sacred becomes more and more conceived of as immanent and residing in the deeper layers of the self. At least in many places, religion is giving way to spirituality.”

Most academics refer to new age spirituality as an incoherent assembly of ideas and practices that draw eclectically on multiple religious traditions, styles and ideas simultaneously. New age spiritual beliefs have been referred to as pick ‘n mix religion or like a spiritual supermarket where you pick up only those things that appeal to your personal tastes. In the new age religious salvation comes in the shape of personal growth.

Recently scholars are changing their view on the incoherence of new age spirituality and when asked whether new age spirituality may become a recognizable religion Jesper Aagaard Petersen of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology said; “Looking at it from the perspective of history, this is not very different from established religious traditions, and so apart from the distinctly anti-dogmatic and individualistic stance (valuing orthopraxy and personal experience instead), there is in fact some sense in saying that new age is a coherent religious phenomenon – it is certainly looking the part. Nowadays, we have some agreement on important texts, pilgrimage sites, authors, holy people, actions, and so on, putting a new perspective on the pick ‘n’ mix eclecticism which is only one piece of the puzzle.”

The roots of the new age movement can be traced indirectly as far back as Swedenborg but it is more accurate to point to the spiritism movement that came to prominence in the late 19th Century through the likes of H P Blavatski and the Theosophical Society that she founded. Her claims to have contacted a supernatural intelligence that had given her spiritual counsel were secondary to the influence of Eastern Religions and mystical practices that she brought to Western European and American culture at the beginning of the 20th Century. Blavatski’s overtly Buddhist ideologies were soon followed by other exotic spiritualities that found their fullest Western expression in a legendary group of proto-new age spiritual seekers, the Hernetic Order of the Golden Dawn. From this point onwards the new age movement began to pick up momentum as two world wars exposed millions of Westerners to foreign cultures and practices, started the decay of faith in the Christian message and broke the long held bond between church and state in an increasingly secular world that used its scientific knowledge of the world to question traditional religious beliefs and attack religious institutions.

By the 1960s the growing disenfranchisement of the West’s youth driven culture with traditional Christian values, combined with a growing scientific awareness of the physical universe to bring about a cultural revolution that questioned all of our cultural values en masse and religious values were perhaps the hardest hit. A highly educated, well read generation of middle class kids all took up the Aquarian Age as their banner and tuned out to the moral codes of their parents to examine morality, spirituality and individuality for themselves. By this time a plethora of exotic alien spiritual practices had filtered into the West and the modern age had begun to suggest new lines of spiritual investigation unique to a technological new age. In this way new age spiritualities began to develop a certain range of beliefs that marked them as decidedly Aquarian. A general theory of holism, that all is One, and a belief in subtle energies, unseen and perhaps spiritual in nature, out of body and altered consciousness experiences borrowed from the ‘wisdom of the East’ and, of course, renovated occultism all began to make a sketch portrait of what was called generically, New Age Spirituality.

The same generation that was examining its culture’s religious and moral values was also highly politicized and so it was inevitable that the new age spiritual movement would also develop a political interest. In an almost ironic blend of religion and grassroots statecraft, new age enthusiasts connected spirituality with environmentalism to create a generic new age spiritual connection to saving the earth. In concert with the earth based affinities in new age circles was the equally potent and influential Feminist movement. The combination of eco-spirituality with feminism and a liberal smattering of occultism gave rise to the massive popularity of what is arguably the first genuinely modern new age religion, Wicca.

New Age White Witches: the High Priestesses of the New Age

Since those early days of the Neo-Pagan movement in the 1960s witchcraft has grown at an incredible rate to become a contender for being the first mainstream new age religion but at the same time it has also evolved into something that only resembles its original form in a very general sort of way. Although the entire new age movement accounts for as little as 0.4% of the population of the Western world, Wiccans in one form or another makes up one sixth of all new age adherents. Estimates put the number of witches worldwide at somewhere around half a million but in some countries the growth rate is as much as 143% per annum meaning that Wicca will soon be the third largest religion in the West. Even the largest of the new age cult groups, Scientology, has less than one tenth of that number of members. It seems that very soon Wicca and Neo-Paganism will leave the fringes of our culture to establish a new set of traditions that contributes to how Western culture will evolve in the new millennium.

Wicca is the quintessential new age religion because it has its roots in the same sources as the new age itself. Growing out of a marriage of a substantial back-to-the-earth movement, Victorian scholarship on folklore, esoteric poetry and occultism, Wicca evolved quickly after migrating to America from its native Britain. Its female dominant congregation structure made it a natural adjutant to the radical and militant feminism that was growing in momentum at the same time. The eco-spirituality undercurrent of most new age beliefs is especially prevalent among Neo-Pagans whose connection with the Mother Earth forms the centerpiece of their spiritual views. This connection between modern witches and the green movement has subtly altered the original intent of Paganism which was once about fertility and is now about harmony with the natural world evolving the original conception of the religion to be more contemporary and of course eclectic.

The statistics show that women, the well educated and the young are the most inclined to be spiritual and Wicca’s startling growth can be attributed to its attractiveness to these groups of people. According to Prof. Sabina Magliocco from California State University’s Department of Anthropology; “The preponderance of women, the well-educated and youth in Pagan religions is no mystery. Modern Paganisms focus on the feminine divine, and offer women key liturgical and leadership roles. They require no belief; they are religions of gnosis and/or of practice. And they frequently foreground a strong environmental message that is attractive to many young people. Sexuality is celebrated rather than condemned; creativity is valued and rewarded; and there are ample opportunities to tailor practice to the individual by combining elements eclectically.”

Another of the strongest new age influences is popular and celebrity culture  and a great deal of Wicca’s present popularity can be attributed to the growing use of Wicca in film and television. Caroline Tully of Melbourne University said; “in the late 90s and early 2000s it (Wicca) was, to an extent, influenced by the film The Craft, as well as the Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV series… This coincided with a general boom in publishing simple ‘How To’ manuals on witchcraft from publishing companies such as Llewellyn in the USA and, in Australia, Fiona Horne’s books had a big influence on the D-I-Y witchcraft scene. These days however I’d question whether young people are still so much into witchcraft.” Sociologist Helen Berger at the AAR in November suggested that there was a falling off of young people in modern Pagan Witchcraft as they became more interested in Vampires, there is a correlation between pop culture television and young people wanting to be this or that ‘type’ of powerful person.” Eclectic High Priestess and celebrity Witch and Psychic, Lady Elizabeth Rose echoed these scholarly comments on the occulture of the young, referring to it as ‘media overload’ which also implies that the mass media influence may have run its course, but she went on to make a point that is pivotal to the explanation of the continued growth. When asked why youth saw witchcraft as ‘cool’ she replied; “Its cool because you can escape your reality, one that you may not necessarily like, and its cool because those who do find the practice of spirituality, actually find that being cool in the world of magick means to evolve and become a better and more loving individual.” This last shows that even if people find their way to Paganism via the plastic fantastic representation that Hollywood is feeding them that they find something enduringly inspiring in the practice that makes them stay. They might join because it is a fad but they stay because it has real meaning for them on some level.

The AAR seminar referred to found that overwhelmingly pagans were solitary practitioners that chose their practices in an eclectic way that suited their tastes. At the same time Berger indicated that she had yet to draw any conclusions about what any of this meant for the future of paganism nor whether it defined some new model of religious development. The statistical evidence that Berger produced that indicated the high incidence of online networking as a method of coordinating and communicating in the pagan community implies that are using very modern means to develop their religion.

Even if there is a faddish nature to some of its newest members, or perhaps because of them, Wicca has diversified into a wide array of different practices that all have little more in common than the word witch or pagan. The growing eclecticism has had such a large impact on Neo-Paganism that long standing, traditional Wiccan practitioners have said things like ’The Pagan Community’ is an imaginary entity most likely to be invoked by wannabe New Age Hitlers rushing to define their own particular practices as the necessary definitive ones for inclusion in ‘The Pagan Community’. This would seem to call into question whether there actually can be anything that is new age that can develop into a genuine inclusive community that replaces traditional religion but then, perhaps that is just the point of what new age spirituality is all about. Sabina Magliocco gave me her opinion that modern Paganism is “reclaiming a current of esoterism and spiritual experience that has existed in the West since ancient times, but has alternated between going underground and surfacing when the social climate was right. This is one of those periods.” If this is so what may actually be occurring is a metamorphosis of our religious traditions from an orthodoxy to an eco-spiritual orthopraxis that is the beginning of a modern Western form of mysticism.

The New Age Metamorphosis

The gradual shift away from Salvation towards Self that has occurred through the last century appears to be heading into a mainstream acceptance that is beginning to see the journey taken to find ourselves becoming a meaningful part of Western culture. The mistrust of leadership and lack of faith in establishment institutions across the board in the first world nations which has expressed itself in political protests in recent months has a spiritual counterpart that mistrusts clerics and has abandoned faith in god and country for the search for enlightenment via more personal and esoteric avenues. Establishment religion’s dire warnings of the world losing its soul in the rush to secularization can now be seen as an illusion that has been perpetrated by the Church in order to conjure an Orwellian image of the future without God. At the same time Western society has an emerging occulture, a set of spiritual beliefs that are as old as the religion that is being so carefully scrutinized and edited. The result is a growing spirituality that whilst having many common points also has a customized personal edge that gives it a uniquely 21st Century character. The growing distrust of fundamentalist Christianity’s political agenda has added to the disenfranchisement with the church that is growing, especially in younger people, and there is an increasing understanding that the world’s material problems aren’t going to be solved simply by returning to the Christian fold and reverting to some sort of twisted moral standards that are as much an illusion as the golden era of American culture that they are supposed to derive from. Fundamentalism in any form is beginning to develop an image through an explosive mix of sectarian extremism and religious moral restriction that is closer to a cult than a congregation. At the same time, new age spirituality’s individualistic nature tends to make it disinterested in cultism; instead new age spirituality inclines towards occultism.

The new age is neither new nor an age and represents an esoteric undercurrent that is always present in Western society but which has, in recent decades, been given the freedom to fill the void created by the decline in religious fidelity to established traditional faiths. In fact the emergent new age spirituality appears to be on the precipice of evolving into more coherence and as Jesper Aagaard Petersen of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology remarked; “The relative success of these milieus has to do with a range of macrosocial factors (consumerism, individualism, detraditionalization), but it is also evident that this success is built on mainstreaming and popularization, some of which is certainly market-driven…That said, there is a range of engagement and commitment to new age ideas correlating with the likelihood of joining stable groups.’ This indicates that the consumerism which has drawn so much criticism from the establishment may just be one of the binding elements in a coherent new age faith. Another arena where it is finding consonance is in the modern sciences that often produce new pictures of our universe that echo the words of wisdom in ancient Oriental philosophies, giving even greater depth of credence to a liberated, new age view of the world.

This is what marks new age spirituality as a very contemporary development that is an esoteric expression synchronous with other modern expressions of freedom such as the Occupy Wall Street protests and the uncensored information that can now be communicated over the internet that is being used to expose and usurp our corrupted leaders. If this developing spiritual awareness really is contemporary then it may also be the evolution of Western society that is occurring as an accommodation of the multicultural society that it has become and more foreign religious beliefs and practices become more familiar to us. More familiar, Witchcraft, Wicca or Neo-Paganism is the grassroots evolution of religion in the new age. Its eclecticism may see it change but that will also be the source of its growth and soon it will be a contender in the game of big religion. It will very likely not be the only new age religion, just the first. As Christine Kraemer, Chair of the Theology and Religious History department at Cherry Hill Seminary remarked; “Contemporary Pagan traditions honor the earth, the body, and sexuality as sacred and encourage women and sexual minorities to take on leadership positions. Those aspects set contemporary Paganism apart from many of the mainstream religions.” This seems to be the key to the power of the whole new age spirituality movement- it’s inclusiveness, which is in stark contrast to the exclusive nature of the traditional clergy.

As the whole point of the growing disenfranchisement that exists with institutionalized power is that it results from their failure to provide answers to the big questions, or to be able to cope with the crises that their decisions brought about, it seems unlikely that trend for religious decline will reverse. While the new age may be diffuse or nebulous at the moment, common sense suggests that our natural desire for structure and a plan will soon change that. As one traditional witch told me, remarking on the rise in eclectic witchcraft; “Interestingly a common cry from many eclectics and ‘spiritual people’ is (for) tolerance of all things. At best one could consider this delusional and at worst, hypocritical and dangerous. If everyone sat on the fence and tolerated everything we would most likely descend into a state of anarchy.” As new age spirituality is packaged into ever easier to digest bundles it will continue to become more acceptable to the middle classes and the evidence suggests that it will be marketed in monthly payment plans too as it becomes everything that we know the 21st Century to be.

New age spirituality is fashionable, savvy, exotic, occult, customizable and accessorizable making it the chic system of belief in a celebrity obsessed time. That in itself is enough to attract a horde of tradition trashing Generation Y acolytes with middle class money to spend on tailor made, transcendently spiritual experiences and rose colored crystal balls to keep the new age industry in the black. This may even give the new age movement the legs it needs to see the last days of its ancient enemy religion, but the question remains to be answered as to whether it will become the new opiate of the masses.

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