ROBERT W. BROCKWAYTHE ROOTS OF NEW AGE
CHAPTER SEVEN: NEW AGE IN THE PRESENT
Apart from the Y2 computer panic and lavish celebrations on New Year’s Eve 31 December 1999, there was only a little interest in the supposed transition from the second millennium since the birth of Christ to the third. The year 2000 was, of course, the last year of the twentieth century, something easily realized by simply counting from one to 100.
On January 1, 2001, the Age of Aquarius actually began. But there was absolutely no excitement anywhere on New Year’s Eve December 2000, either. Indeed, most New Agers were more excited about the approaching Age of Aquarius during the 1970s than they were when it actually happened.
The advent of the sign of the Water Bearer marked the beginning of a new age of spirituality according to astrologers. They calculate time in 25,000 year cycles divided into twelve two-millennial segments, each named for one of the houses of the Zodiac, the imaginary sequence of constellations along which the sun appears to travel during the course of the year. The Piscean Age, which began with the birth of Jesus, ended in the year 2000.
The reaction to the tensions and troubles of the new millennium affected people in varying ways. There are terrorists and Islamic fundamentalists in the developing nations, growing overpopulation, a murderous AIDs epidemic; thousands are dying in vicious sectarian wars, and the technological developments of the west are precipitating the world into a deepening ecological crisis, to name but a few of the challenges mankind must meet—and soon—in order to survive.
Times are not as good as they had been during the long postwar years of prosperity, and they threaten to grow worse. As one might expect, there is a great deal of grim apocalyptic thinking, and dystopian fears for the future. Perhaps the chief new development in these times is the growing popularity of alternative medicine in the United States, a facet of esotericism. This perhaps stems from the health anxieties of so many Americans living in the one advanced industrial country which does not have a universal health plan.
This is the grim backdrop for the religious and esoteric movements of the millennial age. Yet, by the turn-of the millennium, no really new alternatives had appeared. There were the declining mainstream churches, the burgeoning evangelical congregations, no longer quite as aggressive or as much reported on in the media as during the 1980s, remnants of all the other occult manifestations discussed earlier, and there was New Age.
The term “New Age” is astrological. It was coined by a Theosophist, Alice Bailey. It refers to no organized movement which can be identified with a prophetic founder such as Mohammed, or by an official creed and doctrine. Instead, it means different things to different people. Its immediate roots, as we