In a day gone by – but not too long ago – in every schoolhouse in the nation you could the strains of the same song being sung by students and teachers alike:
The Age of Aquarius.
When the moon is in the 7th house
And Jupiter aligns with Mars,
Then peace will guide the planets
And love will fill your heart;
This is the dawning of the age of Aquarius.
This was more than a song: it was an anthem; a theme song; a spirit was in the air. Materialism; naturalism were being replaced by or, illogically, joined by, a new spiritual quest. People were beginning once again to recognize that they are spiritual creatures, but they didn’t know how to define it; and felt that they couldn’t count on the
traditions of the West – like Christianity. So they sought wisdom from the East.
But neither esoteric spirituality, nor anti-Christian religion was new in what we call the New Age religions. Heresy was part of the Church from its very beginnings. This is why a series of “Ecumenical Councils” were held by the church over the first few centuries of its existence. This why such documents as the Nicene Creed and the Creed of Chalcedon came into existence, to clarify the difference between orthodoxy and spiritualist heresy.
One of the 1st heresies in the new Church was called Gnosticism. A secret-society type of religion with two different gods – a good one and an evil one, fighting for control of the universe. Gnosticism was also a popular movement, characterized by symbolic rites, mystic ceremonies, and the teaching of magic formulas. In the initiation into these associations strange formulas and rites formed an important part. Yet Gnosticism claimed to be Christian in character. Whenever possible, it appealed to the words of Jesus explained in an allegorical way, and to a so-called secret tradition handed down from the times of the Apostles. Many received its teachings as genuine Christian truth.
We see several modern cults with roots in the ancient heresy, most notably Mormonism and masonry; with their adherence to secret knowledge for a privileged class and emphasis on secret rituals and formulas.
But today, we associate spiritualism with something loosely called New Age religion. Though the New Age really escapes precise definition one thing we know is that it is not really new. It’s a blend of ancient heresies; humanism; eastern philosophies, native-American religions, and the fallout from the leftist counterculture of the 60s.
In the next few weeks we will look at a few of the common characteristics of the New Age.