Is the New Age Movement Quintessentially British?

Well, the short answer is “no, not really”. Actually there is no organised movement as such. That is, outside the minds of scholars trying to make sense of a range of spiritual and religious developments. However, the New Age did spring from the Beatles’ relationship with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, and the song ‘The Dawning of the Age of Aquarius’. So yes, New Age did sprout in England first, before spreading to the United States.

If It Is Not a Movement, What Is It Then?

One way to approach the question is to go back in time to the Hippie movement of the 1960s. The Hippies were decidedly counter-cultured, but they were in search of love and peace. Being against the established order, they did not fit comfortably into church pews, let alone the sedate rituals of the English Church.

And so they began to explore religious beliefs and practices outside the sphere of western culture. Just as the Beatles did when they visited India. These included mysticism, transcendental spiritual experiences, and inward-facing beliefs. Their esoteric practices ran counter to mainline religion, which values collective worship.

So Was It More of a… Disorganised Happening?New_Age_spiritual_gathering_for_the_summer_solstice,_IMG_5209

In a way it was. However, the bonds of pop music loosely held the threads together. Do you recall Woodstock, the defining moment when society woke up one morning to a new reality? Theologically speaking, the common denominator was, and still is a belief in all-inclusive divinity. This embraces the universe, and all life forms that dwell therein.

So Are New Agers a Political or Social Force?

The inward-looking nature of New Age beliefs places responsibility for divine growth on the shoulders of individual followers. There is no mother organisation to look after them, and indeed few rules for success. That said, the ‘movement’ is alive and well although we seldom see it. It is traditionally non-political, although this is changing with global warming, and the continued success of the Green Party.