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New Age Blues and the Shadow

To: alt.magick.tyagi,talk.religion.newage,sci.psychology.transpersonal,alt.consciousness,talk.religion.misc,alt.satanism
From: (nyrltothp)
Subject: New Age Blues and the Shadow
Date: 24 Jul 1996 11:21:43 -0700

49960713 AA1 (in part inspired by personal email)

in reflecting on the new age as a kind of banished Christian syncretism,
and considering its lack of a 'dark side', I was struck by the following 
excerpts during my studies of my favorite (shadowy) subjects:

	Part 6
	'Meeting Darkness on the Path: The Hidden Sides of Religion 
	 and Spirituality'

        for most participants in the new age, the shadow has been
	conspicuous by its absence.  Seekers often are led to 
	believe that, with the right teacher or the right practice,
	they can transcend to highter levels of awareness without
	dealing with their more petty vices or ugly emotional
	attachments.  As Colorado journalist Marc Barasch puts it:
	"Spirituality, as repackaged for the new age, is a confection
	of love and light, purified of pilgrimmage and penance, of
	defeat and descent, of harrowing and humility."

	_Meeting the Shadow: The Hidden Power of the Dark Side of
	 Human Nature_, Edited by C. Zweig and J. Abrams (text by
	 the editors, page 130).

this has also been reflected in my limited exposure to the new age
community, within an annual local faire and through various 
explorations of local groups and popular books.  the dark is rejected, 
perhaps in consonance with the surrounding (and arguably underlying) 
Christian culture.

other articles within this section of the Zweig/Abrams book (which I am
now reading and heartily recommend, published 1991 by Tarcher/Putnam)
include the following text.  these strike me as hitting on important
points that I'd see discussed within the newage community at large:

	31. A Heretic in a New Age Community
	W. Brugh Joy 


	When I shared my... current impressions at one of the 
	[Findhorn] community's evening gatherings, I presented 
	a different picture [than previous years]... and a 
	difficult one.  I said that the forthcoming period was 
	to be a time for contraction and for the release of 
	physical assets.  The community had enjoyed a phase of 
	increase and abundance, but the counterphase of that 
	cycle was approaching.  Best to prepare for it ahead of 
	time, I said.

	I talked about the consequences of feeling "special"
	and how doing battle against the "evils of the world"
	not only creates the "enemy," but is actually a 
	projection of the darker aspects of the community
	onto the world screen.  Needless to say, the talk was
	not popular and I was fast falling into the "unwelcome
	guest" category....

	When we attempt to deny what *is*, to deny such things
	as the natural cycles of time and space, enormous energy
	is required.  That energy is then not available as a
	resource for other activities.  In this case, the denial
	by the vast majority of the members of the community of
	anything that threatened their external values and beliefs
	was evident.  The wisdom of recognizing both expansion
	and contraction was not part of the general belief system
	of the Findhorn community, as it is not part of the New 
	Age thought process in general.  Despite assertions by
	most partisans of the New Age that they are promoting such
	virtues as selfless service to the world, New Age beliefs
	in the specialness and innocence of the New Age are, in my
	opinion, regressive... toward the infantile, if not the
	fetal.  Such ideation tends to be self-centered... 
	concentrating, for example, on images that ignore the
	contribution of the destructive.

	Ibid, p. 150.

it is a focus upon creation to the detriment of destruction, on light
(in symbology and metaphor) to the detriment of darkness, which I feel
gives the newage community its most horrendous slant.  apparently some
with the newage community have realized this (and become heretics).

I would also include something from the next essay:

	John Babbs

	I went last night, as I have so manyk other nights, to one of
	these wonderful New Age gatherings.  And I don't think I can
	take it any more.  I get sick.  I must escape the torture of
	being blessed to death during evenings such as this.  There
	is something frighteningly unreal about them that I can't
	quite put my finger on.  All I know is that afterwards I want
	to scream profanities, drink whisky out of a bottle, go to
	sleazy blues joints, and chase wild, wild women....

	I guess I have been to over a hundred of these wonderful
	evenings.  Beautiful people.  Soft.  Gentle.  Spiritual.
	Visionary.  Fascinting.  But underlying all of this beauty
	lurks a darkness, only thinly veiled by beatific platitudes
	of sweetness.  I call this beast New Age Fundamentalism, a
	belief that I am right and everyone else is wrong, stupid
	or evil; a belief that I represent the forces of light and
	goodness, while everyone else is duped by the forces of evil.

	It is not ever actually stated.  It is veiled, but, still, 
	it is there.... What is so maddening about New Age Fundamen-
	talists is that their judgements and moralizing are hidden
	behind facades of New Age doctrine, behind smoke screens of
	"we love everyone" and "we are one."

	Ibid, p. 160.

I've felt within some newagers this smug self-satisfaction in 
certainty also (I suppose not entirely free from it myself at all
times), and eventually I've come to be accused of 'abandoning the 
cause' as I withdraw my support for newage activities (networking, 
admin support of local events, etc.).  

I suppose this is true, and yet I feel that these issues are those
which are most often pointed out by those who are critical of the
community, of its sometimes airheaded focus on bliss and 'positive 
energies' to the exclusion of real, hard, NEGATIVE human feelings 
like anger, sorrow and rage (negative in the sense of coming to 
endpoints, separations, breakage).  the same might be said of what
is called 'bambi wicca' in the Neopagan community.

newagers claim there is "room for everything" within its enclosure,
and yet too often I don't see that this "room" is actually 
*housing* the things which are most controversial, most difficult
and dangerous to our coveted ideologies and pie-in-the-sky ideals.

too often the new age is about shifting uneasily away from those
with the 'wrong energies' or 'bad vibes' without looking carefully
enough for my tastes at what makes these energies and vibes 'bad'
or 'wrong'.

public commentary welcome.


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