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Author Topic: The term 'New Age' and criticism  (Read 16836 times)
Waldfrau
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« Reply #15: January 25, 2009, 05:06:56 am »

This is really a good example. I work with animal spirits.
I don't see why I shouldn't have the right to do it, if they're willing to interact with me, just because of what is or is not in my genes.
(After all we all have our origins somewhere and I'm not using any native american framework for it.)

Well, Starglade could now name me fluffy or new-agey for this. (Hope not  Cheesy ).
And it is very well possible, that there are persons out there I would name new-agey for what they do as regards animal totems.
*nod nod* I've got into unproductive conversations with this one: Newbie-me talking about animal spirits and another poster thinking I'm misusing NA or FN spirituality.

I can understand the problems that arise from flakey usage of NA or FN spirituality and I think one should treat living traditions in a sensible way. But it's overkill IMO to dismiss animal spirits completly just because you don't come from a NA or FN backround. Animal spirits aren't exclusivly NA or FN spirituality IMO. It's just UPG on my side, but I never had the impression the animals I'm working with were from the American continent or in anyway borrowed from another living tribal community. If I'm approached by something that might be an animal spirit I think it wouldn't be sensible to dismiss it with

'Hey, wrong adress, I'm no NA, you need to go there over the ocean.'
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Waldfrau
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« Reply #16: January 25, 2009, 05:15:20 am »

New Age came first and made all the mistakes thoughtful Neo-pagans try to avoid.
That's a really important aspect IMO. And maybe some newbies just look new agey or fluffy because New Age stuff or (Neo-)Wicca 101/burning times is the first thing they discover to strike some of their religious/spiritual interests. I don't think it's so much use to judge someone by where he/she started, but look at where he/she stops in the end.
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Waldfrau
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« Reply #17: January 25, 2009, 05:42:43 am »

The context I've always understood it in is that "New Age" involves an appropriation, by Westerners, of non-Western stuff.  As Marilyn says, it started in the Victorian era, with the expansion of the Empire to places like India; India was the "OMG so MYSTICAL" antidote to rationalist, mechanized Victorian culture.  A useful shorthand is that Neo-Pagans looked to the pasts of Western cultures, while New Age sorts looked abroad, to the East (Hinduism, Buddhism, etc.) and far West (First Nations people).  A good chunk of New Age concepts come from strains of Hinduism and Buddhism.
Thanks, that's useful to tell the difference.

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New Age stuff tends to have far more potential to be actively offensive and downright racist, because it involves ripping stuff out of context from *still-living* cultures and people, people who are minorities in the West.  If you misrepresent, say, the beliefs of the Vikings or ancient Greeks, it's annoying and you'll piss off people who know something about history, but it isn't contributing to the real world problems of living people the way "plastic shamans" and the like do.
True, it's basicly the same problem just with different consequences. IMO one solution for both could be to just not to claim to represent any belief coming from a different community. Maybe humans need some example to create something new (and I think in a social sense New Age and Neopaganism have been new developments in their time), but one could avoid to rely on those examples too heavily. Of course I'm fine with anyone continuing an old tradition in a sensible way, but one could avoid protests from living traditions or historians by just doing something more independent of existing or historical traditions. This requires though that not every similarity between an old tradition and a new path is accused to be stolen element xy.

I think there are two sides of that conflict. There are people who take pieces out of other traditions in a flakey way, but there are also those who cry 'they stole our xy' at every adaption even if it's thoughtful and century-old or even at just superficial similarities.
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« Reply #18: January 25, 2009, 07:04:27 am »

If I'm approached by something that might be an animal spirit I think it wouldn't be sensible to dismiss it with
'Hey, wrong adress, I'm no NA, you need to go there over the ocean.'

So true!
I don't want to get my butt kicked by the ones that decided to interact with me, really not.  Cheesy
(I just say big teeth, claws, horns....nope, I'll be good  Cheesy )
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« Reply #19: January 25, 2009, 09:12:44 am »


Since I'm the one who started that aspect of this conversation...

I'd say it'd be wrong, too, *if* they approached *you* and made it clear they want to work with you and you with them.

The problem I have (again, speaking ONLY for myself) is the folks who take the "ooooohhh shiny and I LOOOOOOVE otters!" approach without knowing the first thing about how totem animal work is done. Often they're easily spotted, because they're decked out with (I'll use otters, since they're my favorites personally) otter-everything from shirts to jewelry, with some crystal things tossed into the mix because they're sparkly.

I identify when them as a creature, for their playfulness and their ruggedness. I don't say they're my totem animal, because they're not. I don't work in that setting, I haven't before and I don't see it coming up any time soon. But that's *me*, not *you,* and I'd be on bad footing were I to criticize *you* for your work.

As someone else said upthread, "I know it when I see it." I'm not seeing it from what you're saying here--it's pretty clear you understand the framework, and don't just "really love otters." (Or whatever the animal(s) are. You see what I'm saying, I hope.)
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« Reply #20: January 25, 2009, 11:23:54 am »


I think there are two sides of that conflict. There are people who take pieces out of other traditions in a flakey way, but there are also those who cry 'they stole our xy' at every adaption even if it's thoughtful and century-old or even at just superficial similarities.

Yes, and it's important to talk about the difference b/w the shallowness of cultural appropriation b/c it's really cool and different from your regular world, and the very weird experience of being  called to something that is totally out of one's realm of experience. I am not a Hindu, but I have found it necessary for me to learn about Hinduism and the Hindu pantheon b/c Kali kept showing up in my life for *years before I realized She was calling me.
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« Reply #21: January 26, 2009, 03:11:05 am »

Is 'new age'/'new agey' a derogatory term like 'fluffy'? If people use it derogatory, what is it they mean by it? What do they critizise about 'New Age' exactly?

What kind of subjects are 'new agey' and what is not? Or is it a specific context that makes a certain subject 'new agey' while the same subject wouldn't be in a different context? So how do you recognize 'new age' stuff?

Do you think everything connected to 'New Age' in any way is bad on principle?

I detest New Agers and I usually use the term in that spirit. I get tired of saying: “No the Egyptian pyramids were not built by aliens/Atlanteans/the people who built Stonehenge and Easter Island, they were built by EGYPTAINS, you twit.” Generally, I equate ‘new age’ with ‘fluffy’.  That said, while not my preferred company, I typically find them to be more of an annoyance than a threat.

To me New Age topics is synonymous with 'the majority of the metaphysical section at Barnes and Noble' and usually inspires visions of revisionist history, magpie syndrome, and *shudder* 'the secret /law of attraction' crowd.

Occasionally, a New Age book or article will catch my attention for the sake of entertainment, but typically, I wouldn't touch the stuff with a ten foot pole. I just find it too frustrating.
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« Reply #22: January 26, 2009, 08:09:47 am »


I think you've managed to sum up my feelings pretty well.
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« Reply #23: January 26, 2009, 08:17:47 am »

I think you've managed to sum up my feelings pretty well.

Same here.
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« Reply #24: January 26, 2009, 09:17:48 am »

I get tired of saying: “No the Egyptian pyramids were not built by aliens/Atlanteans/the people who built Stonehenge and Easter Island, they were built by EGYPTAINS, you twit.” Generally, I equate ‘new age’ with ‘fluffy’. 

Sadly, at least 90% of the New Agers I have randomly encountered online or in person are like that.  They are all like that but it sure can seem that way after a while.  Many of the ones who aren't keep a low profile to avoid the prejudice the ones who are flakes have created.
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Waldfrau
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« Reply #25: January 26, 2009, 03:28:20 pm »

'the secret /law of attraction'
What's this?
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« Reply #26: January 26, 2009, 03:49:54 pm »

What's this?

The Law of Attraction on Sceptic's Dictionary. it's basically the idea that wishing for things really hard makes them happen. Oprah is a big fan and has had shows about it.
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« Reply #27: February 02, 2009, 07:09:09 pm »

Do you think everything connected to 'New Age' in any way is bad on principle?

Sometimes when I see this word I sometimes see it also as "The New Dark Age"
Trying to equate cheap merchandise with spirituality is always a losing proposition.

Shops that have crystals everywhere, pictures of dolphins, dragons or the like practically dripping from the walls, the air thick with incense and often cheap sythesized music in the background all designed to make you feel "something".

Meditation, totem animals and so forth..they are really nothing new, they have simply been reorganized, dusted with some shiny terminology and repackaged in new wrappings; all designed to entice the unwary and make them think that this is all something new and unique.

New Age is merely warmed over regurgitations of old concepts.
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« Reply #28: February 02, 2009, 07:29:38 pm »

Sometimes when I see this word I sometimes see it also as "The New Dark Age"
Trying to equate cheap merchandise with spirituality is always a losing proposition.


Always?  Much of the devotional and ritual supplies for religions like Vodou and Santeria, as well as folk magic supplies, are definitely cheap, and sometimes even look "tacky" by white bourgeois standards -- but they do serve a definite function.  In most traditional cultures that have a concept of "magic," especially ones that link magic with spirituality, spiritual-magical practitioners are professionals who get paid for their services.  Not all spiritual traditions are disdainful of the material and monetary, or see it as inherently exploitative.  The problems for those folks tend to be when outsiders come in and try and make money off their stuff to sell it to other ignorant outsiders.  However, the first thing that happens is that the price gets jacked up.

Or would you rather it be *expensive* merchandise?
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« Reply #29: February 02, 2009, 07:38:27 pm »

Or would you rather it be *expensive* merchandise?

Either way it is still merchandise and none of it has really anything to do with spirituality. Tools are nice but they are not spiritual or spirituality.
When any religion allows itself to be a tool of mass marketing then it is clear they have lost their original intent, that is if there really is one.

If one wants to think "wicca" or "Druidism" then it is the precepts for which it is remebered, not the tools and the flashy, blinky stuff. There IS a difference between a belief system and mere commerce and mass marketing.
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