At the age of six, I looked up at the altar in St. John’s the Evangelist Catholic Church wondering why there were only males leading the congregation. Being that I was female, I realized that I would never have a vital leadership role in the Catholic Church if I chose to. I became disinterested in Catholicism in kindergarten, even though I was required by my teachers and parents to continue attending mass two to three times each week.
Five years later, my parents allowed me to attend public school and to visit my friends’ churches. But I soon realized that their religions, as well as the majority of world religions, really weren’t much different than Catholicism. Because of this and other unexplainable rules and beliefs, I became disenchanted with religion.
When I returned to Minnesota in 2002, after living out-of-state for more than a decade, I had several good friends who had embraced New Age spirituality. Since I was eager to have some type of “spiritual” base and community, I looked into it. Yet again, I came to realize that New Age spirituality really wasn’t much different than any major religion.
I was drawn to the claims of the New Age movement – the focus of the individual’s approach to spiritual practices and philosophies coupled with the rejection of religious doctrine and dogma. But as I really began to examine the roots of New Age spirituality, I discovered that it’s not much different from the dogma I grew up with.
In the New Age movement, many still use the term God and refer to this entity as He, Him and Father. Humans are viewed as divine, and progressing toward a “Christ Consciousness.” Both of these terms limit our concepts of feminine power and energy and closely follow religious doctrine, which has been largely set up to sustain the patriarchal system.
Many major world religions also uphold some type of ethical guidelines, commandments or precepts to live by. Parents, teachers and bosses use the same concept to manage children, students and employees. It’s the concept of “cleaning your room so you can go out and play.” Sure, reasonable rules that respect others are helpful for a peaceful society. But it needs to be clear why these rules are in place. Religions typically use rules for social control with the belief that by honoring them, followers will be “elevated” in some fashion.
The law of Karma is similar to this in the New Age movement. Rather than give energy to the belief of Karma, why not simply entertain the concept of a self-fulfilling prophecy? Recognize that the results of our responsibility, or lack of responsibility, typically affect us in some manner.
Similar to the law of Karma, the idea that “you are the creator of your reality” is part of New Age spirituality. This statement places destiny into your own hands and away from external forces. It states that you have affected your current situation. Acknowledging that you can create good fortune in your life is very empowering. But this same concept becomes a problem when it is used to uphold guilt and shame and is steeped in the idea of original sin. If we use this concept to promote wallowing in the “bad” that has happened to us and how we are “bad” because we created it, then this concept is no different than the belief many religions advocate that humans are to be blamed for the imperfections of the world.
New Agers talk of ascension, higher, highest and movement upward toward a patriarchal idea of heaven, away from Mother Earth, which embodies the feminine principles of creation, nurturing, growth and power. New Age Spirituality also speaks of light and enlightenment. Light, in the very basic sense, comes from the sun, which again takes us upward – away from the feminine. The womb and the soil of the earth, from which life is created, are dark. Why is it that so many human beings have a fear of the dark? What is the belief that is lurking there? What is the fear?
Enlightenment is an 18th century philosophical movement characterized by the belief in the power of human reason. This term, so well-used, would literally keep us locked in the mind and in consciousness. The Sanskrit word, prajna, meaning pure and unqualified knowledge (beyond suffering) brings us to a more precise meaning than our English word, which involves reasoning, mind and thought, which is the root of suffering. A better term could replace enlightenment, such as awareness, perception or depth.
The New Age takes some of its concepts from many of the world’s religions, which have been drenched in the masculine voice and agenda. The Bhagavad Gita, one of the most important Hindu scriptures and considered to be one of the philosophical classics of the world, is a useful tool in ridding the reader of the need for outcome, but it is also a strong persuader in upholding war and aggression. By continuing to focus on the texts and icons from the world’s religions and the ideas of faith and hope, we bring the focus further away from the core and the depth of the self, which was the original concept and definition of the New Age movement.
In many ways, those in New Age spirituality are not fully utilizing the inherent knowledge that is within all of us. Many of us utilize psychics, readers, healers, teachers, channeling, products, oils, stones and other people and products to help us or guide us on our path. This can be very helpful as a support system. But we need to make sure we continue to embrace and step into our own power as we journey forth. Becoming dependent on external sources for our information is the antithesis of the independence that has defined New Age spirituality.
In a time when it is necessary to bring the focus back to the feminine, the earth, nature and the elements, we still remain far from our roots – our intuition and innate power. It is this feminine power that can bring about the necessary change we need as a society.
Take the opportunity to reawaken and embrace the feminine power that has been diminished for millennia in our patriarchal world, in dogma and in common language that has been perpetuated in the New Age movement. It is time to release the masculine traits – especially those of aggression, dominance, anger, destruction and control.
Take time to examine words and ideas before you say them. Don’t simply say something because it is common lingo used by the world around you. Doing that will keep you locked into dogma and doctrine. Be a critical, free thinker who can help us move forward into a New Age that actually enables us to step into our true depth and inherent power.