ROBERT W. BROCKWAYTHE ROOTS OF NEW AGE
philosopher Emmanuel Kant, transformed modern philosophical thought. Essentially, they rejected blind faith in the authority of the Scriptures and the Church, along with Scholasticism.
During the late eighteenth century, a movement began in Germany called Sturm und Drang (Storm and Stress). It arose among students in universities such as Jena and Heidelberg, who let their hair grow long, defied conventions, and emphasized passion. They preferred a non-rational approach to literature and the arts and rebelled against the then currently fashionable approach called Classicism which was based on reason and order. Sturm und Drang gave rise to the Romantic movement, which flourished during the Napoleonic Era of the early nineteenth century. Not only German poets, but French and English poets and essayists transformed Romanticism into a general cultural movement which prevailed until around 1830.
Modern esotericism is essentially a product of Romanticism, but with roots, as we have shown, which can be traced back to the Hellenistic Era and, in some respects, much earlier. Romanticism was an intuitionist and emotionalist revolt against rationalism and the Enlightenment. It was, to some extent, also a revolt against science and technology. The typical Romantic was nostalgic for an imagined medieval past which never had existed.
A mechanistic view of the universe was profoundly unsatisfying to many. For instance, during his youthful years as a medical student at the University of Basel, Carl Jung typified the attitudes of many other intellectuals of his time. He was strongly oriented toward biology and chose medicine only because it was as near as he could come to biological research. He therefore went the whole way with natural science. However, he was appalled by the materialist philosophies of some of the German physicists who impressed his mentor, Freud. At the same time, he was in full revolt against the Protestant Christianity of his father, a Swiss Reformed minister; both by the more or less liberal form the latter professed and by the orthodox forms which he wholly dismissed. In the course of preparing his doctoral dissertation, Jung became fascinated by mediumistic experiments with a cousin who seemed to be “psychic.” Using home-made ouija boards, she made disclosures which supposedly came from deceased relatives. When Jung discovered that she was faking her evidence in order to please him, he discontinued the experiments completely. However, the experience sparked a life-long interest in the occult: astrology, alchemy, the I Ching, and other forms. He became convinced that there were underlying truths in occultism which were obscured by its apparent absurdity. For instance, he argued that astrology actually had nothing to do with the movements of the heavenly bodies, which were purely symbolic, but with inner, psychological cycles. For this reason, he often preceded therapy sessions by casting the horoscopes of his patients.
The Rediscovery of Gnosticism
As late as the eighteenth century, almost nothing was known of Christian Gnosticism save the very hostile descriptions of the movement by