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Beliefs and Practices

Astrological Cycles and the Age of Aquarius

A common belief among the New Age movement is that humanity has entered, or is coming to enter, a new age known as the Age of Aquarius, which Melton has characterised as a “New Age of love, joy, peace, abundance, and harmony[…] the Golden Age heretofore only dreamed about”. In accepting this belief in a coming new age, the movement has been described as “highly positive, celebratory, [and] utopian”, and has also been cited as an apocalyptic movement. Opinions about the nature of the coming New Age differ among New Agers. There are for instance differences in belief about its commencement, with New Age author David Spangler claiming that it began in 1967, while various practitioners placed its beginning with the Harmonic Convergence of 1987, with others claiming that it will not begin until several centuries into the third millennium. There are also differences in how this new age is envisioned. Those adhering to what Hanegraaff termed the “moderate” perspective believed that it would be marked by an improvement to current society, which affected both New Age concerns – through the convergence of science and mysticism and the global embrace of alternative medicine – to more general concerns, including an end to violence, crime and war, a healthier environment, and international co-operation. Other New Agers adopt a fully utopian vision, believing that the world will be wholly transformed into an “Age of Light”, with humans evolving into totally spiritual beings and experiencing unlimited love, bliss, and happiness.

The Age of Aquarius is not viewed as eternal, but it is instead believed that it will last for around two thousand years, before being replaced by a further age. There are various beliefs within the movement as to how this new age will come about, but most emphasise the idea that it will be established through human agency; others assert that it will be established with the aid of non-human forces such as spirits or extraterrastrials. Participants in the movement typically express the view that their own spiritual actions are helping to bring about the Age of Aquarius, with a common belief also being that there are higher powers in the universe that are helping to birth the new age.

Luc Paquin

Beliefs and Practices

Astrological Cycles and the Age of Aquarius

New Age thought typically envisions the world as developing through a series of large astronomical cycles which can be identified astrologically. Although the concept of distinct ages has older roots in Western esoteric thought, the New Age movement adopted it from Theosophy, despite the fact that such New Age conceptions of ages are often looser and more eclectic than those in Theosophical doctrine. New Age literature often claims that humanity once lived in an age of spiritual wisdom. In the writings of New Agers like Edgar Cayce, the ancient period of spiritual wisdom is associated with concepts of supremely-advanced societies living on lost continents such as Atlantis, Lemuria, and Mu, as well as the idea that ancient societies like those of Ancient Egypt were far more technologically advanced than modern scholarship accepts. New Age literature often posits that the ancient period of spiritual wisdom ultimately gave way to an age of spiritual decline, sometimes termed the Age of Pisces. Although characterised as being a negative period for humanity, New Age literature views the Age of Pisces as an important learning experience for the species. Hanegraaff stated that New Age perceptions of history were “extremely sketchy” in their use of description, reflecting little interest in historiography and conflating history with myth. He also noted that they were highly ethnocentric in placing Western civilization at the centre of historical development.

Luc Paquin

Beliefs and Practices

Self-Spirituality and Channeling

Prominent examples of channeling in the New Age movement include Jane Roberts’ claims that she was contacted by an entity called Seth, and Helen Schucman’s claims to have channeled Jesus Christ. The academic Suzanne Riordan examined a variety of these New Age channeled messages, and noted that they typically “echoed each other in tone and content”, offering an analysis of the human condition and giving instructions or advice for how humanity can discover its true destiny.

For many New Agers, these channeled messages rival the scriptures of the main world religions as sources of spiritual authority, although often New Agers describe historical religious revelations as forms of “channeling” as well, thus attempting to legitimate and authenticate their own contemporary practices. Although the concept of channeling from discarnate spirit entities has links to Spiritualism and psychical research, in the New Age movement the Spiritualist emphasis on proving the existence of life after death is absent, as is the psychical research focus of testing mediums for consistency.

Luc Paquin

Beliefs and Practices

Self-Spirituality and Channeling

The New Age movement exhibits a strong emphasis on the idea that the individual and their own experiences are the primary source of authority on spiritual matters. Thus, it exhibits what Heelas termed “unmediated individualism”, and reflects a world-view which is “radically democratic”. As a result, there is a strong emphasis on the freedom of the individual in the movement. This emphasis has led to some ethical disagreements; while some New Age participants stress the need to help others because all are part of the unitary holistic universe, others have disagreed, refusing to aid others because it is believed that it will result in their dependency on others and thus conflicts with the self-as-authority ethic. Nevertheless, within the movement, there are differences in the role accorded to voices of authority outside of the self.

lthough not present in every New Age group, a core belief of the movement is in channeling. This is the idea that humans beings, sometimes (although not always) in a state of trance, can act “as a channel of information from sources other than their normal selves”. These sources are varyingly described as being God, gods and goddesses, ascended masters, spirit guides, extraterrestrials, angels, devas, historical figures, the collective unconscious, elementals, or nature spirits. Hanegraaff described channeling as a form of “articulated revelation”, and identified four forms: trance channeling, automatisms, clairaudient channeling, and open channeling.

Luc Paquin

Beliefs and Practices

Theology, Cosmogony, and Cosmology

Cosmogonical creation stories are common in New Age sources, with these accounts reflecting the movement’s holistic framework by describing an original, primal oneness from which all things in the universe emanated. An additional common theme is that human souls – once living in a spiritual world – then descended into a world of matter. The New Age movement typically views the material universe as a meaningful illusion, which humans should try to use constructively rather than focus on escaping into other spiritual realms. This physical world is hence seen as “a domain for learning and growth” after which the human soul might pass on to higher levels of existence. There is thus a widespread belief that reality is engaged in an ongoing process of evolution; rather than Darwinian evolution, this is typically seen as either a teleological evolution which assumes a process headed to a specific goal, or an open-ended, creative evolution.

Within the New Age movement, it is often unclear how divine beings are divided from those entities which are believed to exist between divinity and humanity. In the literature, there is much talk of non-human beings who are benevolently interested in the spiritual development of humanity, and which are variously referred to under such names as angels, guardian angels, personal guides, masters, teachers, and contacts. New Age angeology is nevertheless unsystematic, reflecting the idiosyncrasies of individual authors. The figure of Jesus Christ is often mentioned within New Age literature as a mediating principle between divinity and humanity, as well as an exemplar of a spiritually advanced human being.

Luc Paquin

MSC/MPC

Measure of Skill in Supported Conversation/ Measure of Level of Participation in Conversation (for partner with aphasia)

The MSC and MPC are two complementary measures designed to capture elements of conversation between adults with aphasia and their speaking conversation partners. The MSC provides an index of the conversation partner’s skill in providing conversational support. The MPC provides an index of the level of participation in conversation by the person with aphasia. The article A Set of Observational Measures for Rating Support and Participation in Conversation Between Adults with Aphasia and Their Conversation Partners presents the background to the development of the MSC/MPC, and includes preliminary psychometric evaluation.

Please click here to access the measures.

Kagan, A., Winckel, J., Black, S., Duchan, J. F., Simmons-Mackie, N., & Square, P. (2004). A set of observational measures for rating support and participation in conversation between adults with aphasia and their conversation partners. Topics in Stroke Rehabilitation, 11(1), 67-83.

Norma

Beliefs and Practices

Theology, Cosmogony, and Cosmology

Most New Age groups subscribe to the view that there is an Ultimate Source from which all things originate, which is usually conflated with the divine. Various creation myths have been articulated in New Age publications outlining how this Ultimate Source came to create the universe and everything in it. In contrast, some other New Agers have emphasised the idea of a universal inter-relatedness that is not always emanating from a single source. The New Age worldview emphasises holism and the idea that everything in existence is intricately connected as part of a single whole, in doing so rejecting both the dualism of Judeo-Christian thought and the reductionism of Cartesian science. A number of New Agers have linked this holistic interpretation of the universe to the Gaia hypothesis of James Lovelock. The idea of holistic divinity results in a common New Age belief that humans themselves are divine in essence, a concept described using such terms as “droplet of divinity”, “inner Godhead”, and “divine self”. Influenced by Theosophical and Anthroposophical ideas regarding ‘subtle bodies’, a common New Age idea holds to the existence of a “Higher Self” which is a part of the human but which connects with the divine essence of the universe, and which can advise the human mind through intuition.

Luc Paquin

Beliefs and Practices

Although there is great diversity among the beliefs and practices found within the New Age movement, according to York it is united by a shared “vision of radical mystical transformation on both the personal and collective levels”. The movement aims to create “a spirituality without borders or confining dogmas” that is inclusive and pluralistic.

Theology, Cosmogony, and Cosmology

Hanegraaff noted that the existence of divinity was “mostly an integral and necessary part of New Age ideas”. However, he added that within the movement, such ideas regarding the nature of divinity “reflect a marked aversion to rigid, doctrinal definitions”, with New Age theology exhibiting an inclusivist and universalistic approach which accepts all personal perspectives on the divine as being equally valid. This intentional vagueness as to the nature of divinity also reflects the New Age idea that divinity cannot be comprehended by the human mind or language. There are nevertheless a number of traits that are repeatedly associated with divinity in New Age literature, the first of which is the idea that it is holistic, thus frequently being described with such terms as an “Ocean of Oneness”, “Infinite Spirit”, “Primal Stream”, “One Essence”, and “Universal Principle”. A second common trait is the characterisation of divinity as “Mind”, “Consciousness”, and “Intelligence”, while a third is the description of divinity as a form of “energy”. A fourth trait is the characterisation of divinity as a “life force”, the essence of which is creativity, while a fifth is the concept that divinity consists of love.

Luc Paquin

CAMS

Developed with funding from the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, via the Ontario Stroke Network, the Communicative Access Measures for Stroke (CAMS) is a set of simple and practical measures, which may be useful in developing heath equity plans, accreditation planning, service quality improvement initiatives and continuing education needs assessments related to stroke care in various healthcare settings. The measures include three questionnaires for evaluating status and satisfaction with communicative access in stroke care:

  • CAMS1 Policies and Procedures
  • CAMS2 Frontline Practice
  • CAMS3 Patient Satisfaction

This tool will be in helpful in developing health equity plans, accreditation planning, service quality improvement, and continuing education needs for stroke survivors in various health care settings.

CAMS will be ready in Winter 2015.

Norma