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ROBERT W. BROCKWAYTHE ROOTS OF NEW AGE

of what comprises the psychicworld.

Those occult practitioners who are candid about their arts often say that the tea leaves in the cup, the tarot cards, crystals, pyramids, or whatever devices are used are not essential. However, because clients often prefer such objects, the occultists make use of them. The actual “readings” are primarily psychic, the reader being gifted with what the Scots call “second sight” or intuition.

The esoteric and occult have been best explained by the aforementioned Swiss psychodynamic psychiatrist C .G. Jung (1874-1961) in terms of his theory of archetypes of the collective unconscious. In part, Jung developed this theory from his objective study of esoteric and occult lore, such as that of astrology and alchemy, and the phenomena evoked by mediums. More will be said about Jung’s theories later, but, for now, the essential point to grasp is that all psychodymic psychologists such as Sigmund Freud, who was Jung’s mentor, Alfred Adler, and others maintained that there is a deeper psychic dimension than the conscious mind, the unconscious. Freud held this was made up of repressed ideas which manifest themselves in neuroses, slips of the tongue (parapraxes), humor, and in other ways, and which could be apprehended through the interpretation of dreams as well as through the technique of psychoanalysis. Jung agreed that the personal unconscious is formed this way. He insisted, however, that the personal unconscious is like the tip of an island in a vast sea, and that the dark waters from which it rises constitute a universal, impersonal dimension of the unconscious formed in the course of human evolution and biologically rooted. Jung called this the collective unconscious and attributed to it the origins of our art, literature, religions, occult beliefs, and indeed, most of what we are.While this theory has its detractors and never has been accepted by mainstream psychology, many well-read occultists draw upon Jung’s thought in their explanations of psychic phenomena.

Spirituality and Religion

Today, many New Agers differentiate religion from spirituality. By the first they mean organized, structured, traditional, and doctrinal supernaturalism, involving clergy, sacred scriptures, formal liturgies, houses of worship, and other such features. By spirituality they mean the personal cultivation of inner experience, either independently or in the company of small, informal groups. Esotericism and the Occult are of the second category. All three (spirituality, esotericism, and the occult) refer to forms of inner experience (mysticism, for instance) which are very personal in character. The person who has these experiences is probably affiliated with a formal religious tradition, may even be a minister, priest, or rabbi. But the focus of what many people now call “spirituality” is on experience as such rather than on belief systems. Spirituality is not a form of philosophy.

At religion conferences the author has attended in Europe, there is often discussion of larger issues in religion which tend to be avoided at sessions of learned societies in Canada and those of the American Academy of Religion in the United States. Most Canadian and American scholars in the field of religion

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