New Age and Spiritualism
This is not always a harmonious relationship.
Whilst most New Agers accept Spiritualism as the "Religion of the New Age",
Spiritualists often are aghast at the suggestion, that they belong to
the New Age movement. Here are the facts:
1. Spiritualism pre-dates the "New Age" movement
by some 100 years.
1.1 Spiritualism traces its origins back to the teachings of Emanuel Swedenborg.
1.2 The New Age has adopted many of Spiritualist teachings:
Swedenborg (1688-1772) conversed with spirits in the latter part
of his life. His books "Spiritual Diary" and "Heaven and Hell" are excellent
guides to the spiritual worlds. However within Swedenborgs religious understanding
Jesus Christ is God, whereas Spiritualism views him as a spiritual
teacher, a fellow-human, who first hand demonstrated survival.
- Swedenborg is said to have written several
posthumous works with the help of several mediums. In the first of these he announced
the arrival of Spiritualism.
- The New Age movement has no argument with
Swedenborgianism (to the chagrin of some Swedenborgians).
2. The New Age movement encompasses all kinds of teachings,
natural therapies, lifestyle choices, and paranormal activities, often at odds with each other.
2.1 Most of these activities are very ancient, for instance:
- Many Spiritualists see survival evidence as the
core of Spiritualism. This is not at odds with New Age thinking, in fact it has been taken over
by the New Age as a core teaching.
- Spiritualist activities include the development of powers
such as mediumship, clairvoyance, clairaudience, clairsentinence,
precognition, and psychokinesis. All of the above are welcome within the New Age movement.
- Spiritualists do not insist on
their 7 principles as a dogma, leaving their movement open to a wide range of people with differing
convictions - just as the New Age welcomes people with a variety of beliefs.
2.2 Some of the New Age activities are more recent in origin:
- Astrology, Numerology, Tarot, I-Ching, Palmistry and Dowsing
have been known for many hundreds, even thousands of years, as a means of Divination.
- Natural therapies predate western medicine, so does crystal-healing,
and healing by touch (an ancient practice in many religions).
- Meditation is as old as mankind itself.
- Most of these activities are not core-Spiritualist ones, however
Spiritualists often view them as legitimate, and practice them.
- Hypnosis (previously Mesmerism) is now claimed by modern
medicine as a standard therapy (opposed only by some hard-core materialistic conservatives). It is used in the New Age movement - for instance in
past-life regressions, and also practised by some Spiritualists.
- Autohypnosis too is now encouraged by modern medicine, in fact the best books on it are written by medical practitioners.
Spiritualist healers sometimes encourage it too.
- Creative Visualisation falls between meditation and autohypnosis.
It can be said to be one of the "siddhis" of classical occultism, however
it has been popularised in the fairly recent past by many New Age authors.
It is at odds with some of the divination practices, since it operates
on the assumption of free will, and uses the creator-spirit in each
individual to change the future in a desired way. By its very nature Creative
Visualisation is also controversial among Spiritualists, but is often practised too.
Far from being at odds with
each other, Spiritualism and New Age are compatible. They both are rooted in
very ancient practices, which have become popular again through the
emergence of the New Age movement in the 20th century. Thus Spiritualism
really is the Religion of the New Age.
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