New Age a recent (since 1920s) and developing belief system in North America encompassing thousands of autonomous (and sometime contradictory) beliefs, organizations, and events. Its roots derive from a variety of sources, Christianity, Eastern religions, transcendentalism, new revelations and the occult. It has no official leader, headquarters, nor membership list, but instead is a network of groups with a number of common world views. Nevertheless, it is estimated that worldwide there are over ten million followers of various New Age groups that hold to one or more of the major beliefs of the New Age.
The New Age Movement has a broad-minded openness to all religions, for its basic underlying philosophy may be said to be derived from a variety of Judeo-Christian beliefs. While some New Age organizations are concerned with the establishment of some sort of semi-theocratic government, many others are focused on individual spiritual development.
There are a number of distinctive views that are generally shared by all New Agers: all is one; all is God; humanity is God; a coming change in consciousness; all religions are one before God; the illusory nature of the material world; reincarnation and karma; the spiritual evolution of man back to his spiritual origins; continuing revelations from beings beyond this world; the need for meditation or other consciousness-changing techniques; divinatory practices (astrology, mediums, etc.); vegetarianism and holistic health;
While many New Agers eschew the material world as an illusion, many others attach great importance to artifacts, relics, and sacred objects.: Tibetan bells, pyramids, crystals, and a plethora of electronic energy devices. Crystals are the favorite New Age object. These are not only thought to have healing powers, but are considered programmable, like a computer, if one just concentrates hard enough. Other New Age symbols would include the rainbow; butterfly; pyramid; eye in triangle; unicorn; swastika; yin-yang; pentagram; concentric circles; rays of light; crescent moon; etc. Most of these symbols are derived from Christian or other religious sources.
New Age music is a term applied to the works of various composers and musicians who strive to create soothing audio environments rather than follow song structures. Born of an interest in spirituality and healing in the late 1970s, it is often used as an aid in meditation. The defining features of New Age music are harmonic consonance, contemplative melodies, nonlinear song forms, and uplifting themes. New Age performers may use traditional ethnic, acoustic, electric, or electronic instruments, or even sounds from nature. New Age compositions can sound like minimalist music or like lush evocations of the natural environment.
Below are highlights of what New Agers believe concerning
their source of authority, God, Christ, sin and salvation,
good and evil, Satan, and future life:
7. Reincarnation. Though there are some who do not teach it, the majority of New Agers believe in reincarnation -- that through a long process of rebirths, man will eventually reach perfection or union with God. Some New Agers believe animals are reincarnated humans, but most merely recognize the sacredness of all life. Along with reincarnation comes the doctrine of "karma" -- that what a person sows in this life, he will reap in the next life in his reincarnated state. This belief in reincarnation has led to believing in the power of "spirit guides" or "channels" -- those who allow spirits from another dimension to speak through their bodies. These entities always seem to repeat the three-fold message: (1) There is no death, (2) man is an expression of God, (3) enlightenment is the path to divinity.