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New Age is the term commonly used to designate the broad movement of late 20th century and contemporary Western culture, characterized by an eclectic and individual approach to spiritual exploration and references the coming astrological Age of Aquarius. Self-spirituality, New spirituality, and Mind-body-spirit are other names sometimes used for the movement. [1][2][3] New Age is a term which includes diverse individuals, including some who graft additional beliefs onto a traditional religious affiliation. [3] Individuals who hold any of its beliefs may not identify with the name, and the name may be applied as a label by outsiders to anyone they consider inclined towards its world view. The New Age movement includes elements of older spiritual and religious traditions from both East and West, many of which have been melded with ideas from modern science, particularly psychology and ecology. New Age ideas could be described as drawing inspiration from all the major world religions with influences from Spiritualism, Buddhism, Hermeticism, Hinduism, Zoroastrianism, Shamanism, Ceremonial magic, Sufism, Taoism, New Thought, Wiccan and Neo-Paganism being especially strong. From this collection of influences have come a wide-ranging literature on spirituality, new musical styles and crafts—most visible in speciality shops and New Age fairs and festivals

There is no formal definition of the New Age movement. One academic study suggests that those who sample many diverse teachings and practices from both 'mainstream' and 'fringe' traditions and formulate their own beliefs and practices based on their experiences can be considered as New Age.[1] Rather than following the lead of an organised religion, "New Agers" typically construct their own spiritual journey based on material taken as needed from the mystical traditions of the world's religions, also including shamanism, neopaganism, and occultism.[2]

New Age practices and beliefs may be characterized as a form of alternative spirituality or alternative religion. Even apparent exceptions, such as alternative medicine or traditional medicine practices, often have some spiritual dimension—such as a conceptual integration of mind, body, and spirit.

The term New Age is used in a Western or modern context where the Judeo-Christian tradition and/or Positivism are dominant, so the use of "alternative" in New Age thought generally implies a contrast with these dominant religious and/or scientific beliefs. Hence, many New Age ideas and practices in the West contain either explicit or implied critiques of organised mainstream Christianity—emphasis on meditation suggests that simple prayer and faith are insufficient, and beliefs such as reincarnation (which not all New Age followers accept)—challenge familiar Christian doctrines, like those regarding the Afterlife.

The New Age is a wide menu of ideas and activities, from which participants in the subculture select their own preferred streams to patronise or identify with. The question of which contemporary cultural elements can be included under the name of "New Age" , or what it means, is much contested. 'New Age' channelers, for instance, have many points of similarity with Spiritualist mediums. Many spiritual movements, such as neo-paganism and transpersonal psychology partially overlap with it. Many groups prefer to distance themselves from the possible negative connotations of the "New Age" name, such as the media hoopla and commercialism, while others prefer not to use it at all. For example, key individuals in the New Thought Movement, such as Ernest Holmes, have focused on a more scientific approach and do not share beliefs in reincarnation, magic, or channeling. Major attempts to present the New Age as a values-based sociopolitical movement included Mark Satin's New Age Politics (orig. 1976),[6] Theodore Roszak's Person/Planet (1978), Marilyn Ferguson's Aquarian Conspiracy (1980), and Gordon Davidson and Corinne McLaughlin's Spiritual Politics (1994).

 

Source:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Age