The New Age movement is hardly novel! Its philosophy is rooted in
ancient traditions, often based on mystical experiences, each within
a different context.
Anthropologically, there have always been (wo)men within "primitive"
societies who were looked upon as possessing special knowledge and
power. Medicine men, or shamans, had undergone a spontaneous
catharsis, or were initiated and felt called upon to maintain
contact with the spirit world for the clan.
When communities became more complex and organized there was little
place for these loners.
Society began to specialize, people realized
and felt drawn to form groups, guilds, or societies, to ensure
continuance and growing perfection. Contact with the spirit world
was given into the hands of organized religion, which also provided
an established answer to
questions about the unknown and
People who felt endowed with special powers could hardly adapt
themselves to the corset of established faith. They went
underground. Yet they endeavored to contact kindred spirits and
pupils willing to follow in their footsteps to pass on the work.
Esoteric tradition became handed down in spiritual groups, communes,
or fraternities. Their mutual devotion resulted in a high degree of
perfection comparable to the guilds of craftsmen. In their mystical
experiences they beheld a spiritual reality that could hardly be
reconciled with the dogmatic representation given by the churches.
When passing on their experiences, they had to exercise extreme
caution, lest being accused of heresy. Yet knowledgeable minds would
understand their veiled writings, symbolic representations, or even
In spite of all hindrances and opposition, hidden (occult) spiritual
tradition reached unknown shores! One of them being Europe, where
interest in ancient traditions was revived at various times.
Interest in these traditions alternated. After periods of decline,
often as a result of cultural and political conditions, a growing
need for revival of old almost forgotten values followed.
tradition seems so tremendously powerful that it cannot be
suppressed. It develops in cycles of flourishing and decline - each
renaissance with a fresh approach, adapted to the spirit of the
Renewed interest in these spiritual, religious and magical
traditions had a tremendous impact on the minds of man. The latest
revival in a popularized form is that of the New Age movement in the
The following is a brief sketch of its origins, divided in the