A social history of the phenomenon known as New Age culture, "Children of the New Age" presents an overview of the diverse varieties of New Age belief and practise from the 1930s to the early 21st century. Drawing on original ethnographic research and rarely seen archival material, it calls into question the assumption that New Age is a discrete and unified "movement". Instead, via a detailed investigation ranging from Alice Bailey's neo-theosophy to the Findhorn movement, from the Philippines' Network of Light to New Zealand's Heralds of the New Age and America's underground subculture, it argues for a fresh understanding of New Age's influence as a variegated cultural force, emblematic of ever-shifting currents of popular sentiment.
Beginning with the interwar genesis of New Age idioms of global unity, utopia and occult gnosis, this book locates their inception within a wider 1920s and 30s fascination with "alternative" spirituality, virtuoso religion, and the secret lore of gurus and masters.
It proceeds to contrast the manner in which these concepts, with their Biblical overtones of revelation and apocalypse, fragment to become the preserve both of religious individualists' apocalyptic and Adventist prophecies, and of a new late 1960s counterculture stressing the Edenic bounty of earthly life.
Integrating history with ethnographic study, Steven Sutcliffe reveals the unities and fractures evident in contemporary New Age practice, split between terrifying prophecies of the world's end and the redemptive optimism of those who see the planet as a paradise regained; between a tool for human perfectibility, and a reminder of the untamed primordial forces still claimed to threaten human life.
Table of Contents
Introduction: On the Genealogy of the New Age: A Field Note; Part 1: Emblem Chapter One: The Life and Times of 'New Age'; Chapter Two: 'Oligarchy of Elect Souls': Alice Baileys New Age in Context; Chapter Three: The Nameless Ones: Small Groups in the Nuclear Age; Chapter Four: The End is Nigh: Doomsday Premonitions; Part Two: Idiom Chapter Five: Heaven on Earth: From Apocalypse to Self-Realisation; Chapter Six: A Group of Seekers: the Unit of Service; Chapter Seven: A Colony of Seekers: Findhorn; Chapter Eight: A Network of Seekers: Holistic Healing; Chapter Nine: The End of the New Age; Bibliography.