ROBERT W. BROCKWAYTHE ROOTS OF NEW AGE
squeaking of the gears. The ultimate outcome of Cartesianism, Capra asserted, was “reductionism,” the reducing of all things to the lowest common denominator, the material process.
True to their Gnostic roots, New Agers present holism as the alternative both to Biblical/Koranic dualism and post-Cartesian reductionist mechanistic materialism. Their alternative is the recognition of the all-pervasive spiritual qualities in all forms of life and in all inorganic matter. Not only do human beings pass over to the astral plane, but animals, plants, and inorganic matter pass as well, because all partake of the spiritual.
As Hanegraaf puts it,
All reality is ultimately derived from one Ultimate Source. The great diversity of phenomena is at some deep level linked together by virtue of a common Origin. The One Source of all being guarantees the ultimate wholeness of reality. The Source is associated with God, Great Oneness underlying all diversity.
Another facet of New Age has been the Green movement in politics. The ecological movement has esoteric origins based on the cult of Gaea, the neo-pagan earth goddess. The early ecologists of the counter-culture believed that the earth itself was a person, sadly wounded by the abuse of human exploiters. They founded the ecological movement to heal Gaea’s wounds
Feminism too has, as mentioned, an esoteric component. This was based on the theory advanced by Gimbutas and others that women were subjugated by men during the Bronze Age, when the Neolithic village, which was free of gender discrimination, gave way to masculine domination as symbolized by the subjugation of mother goddesses to patriarchal gods. This theory has an esoteric component, vaguely and subtly Gnostic, and much involved with concepts of spirituality. Sad to say, the theory is not supported by the evidence and has been rejected, but it is still taken seriously by some feminists.
Where the New Age is bound up with Feminism, deity is personified as the Great Goddess and her Consort, the masculine principle. All existence is encompassed by these two metaphysical entities. This doctrine is a late twentieth century phenomena, originating, as mentioned, in the Woman’s Movement. The Goddess and her Consort are complementary whereas, in traditional religious systems throughout the world, goddesses are almost invariably subject to the male deity. A prime example is Kali in the Saivite (Siva-worshipping) form of Hinduism. She is the shakti (occult power) spouse of Siva, exceedingly potent but nonetheless subordinate to him.
New Age Pagans are not true polytheists in the sense of believing in the objective reality of deities as distinct and independent entities. Instead, they regard all deities either as avatars of the transcendent One All or else