I admit it: I love New Agey things. Whenever I visit a library or bookstore, that’s always one of the first places I visit. The New Age section is filled with delights abounding for me. I could get lost in the bizarre world of the New Age section for days. I rarely buy books new, because I’m a cheap ass, and because I love the feel of a worn, already-read volume from a flea market or used bookstore. But when I do buy new books, it’s almost always from the New Age section.
Admittedly I don’t even know what “New Age” means. It seems to encompass everything from certain religions (Wicca, Paganism, Baha’ism, etc); self-help publications, especially relating to women; titles on numerology, astrology, auras and color therapy; ghosts and other mystical beings; psychics and telepaths and everything in between. Apparently “New Age” means anything weird. And for me, the weirder the better. Bring it ON!
I love exploring my world through the written page. I enjoy reading about different methods by which to measure your life. I do natal charts and am also interested in numerology and the practice of magic (though I don’t claim to have any special skills or powers – I’ll leave that to those more knowledgeable and talented). I love to read about people’s strange and bizarre experiences, practices and lifestyles. How much of it I believe, I don’t know – were I to actually stop to think and break it all down, I might surprise even myself. But to me, that sort of defeats the purpose and the fun of the entire experience, so I try not to analyze it too much. I think of it as being on a never-ending path of enlightenment and spiritual fulfillment. Not to mention it’s entertaining.
I’m going to talk about two books in particular that I’ve read several times over the years, both classified as “New Age” and both influential and interesting in their own special ways.
The first book, The Celestine Prophecy, is a favorite of my husband’s. He has read it and its several sequels more than once, and it is a book that he holds close to his heart. I’m a little more on the fence about it, but I agree that it is definitely thought-provoking and enlightening.
The book reminds me of a Dan Brown novel, in that its finer spiritual points are housed within a fiction novel; a story about a man who is facing some personal crises and decides to accept a strange invitation to Peru on a whim. What entails is a fight for survival and a lesson in spirituality. You know the drill.
In the book, the protagonist is assisting in a search for an ancient manuscript that contains “The Nine Insights,” a mystical and eye-opening guide to life. As the story unfolds, these insights are revealed one by one.
I can’t claim to have been moved by the entire book. Parts of it were rather Velveeta for me, but I did enjoy reading about the Fifth Insight – “Humans must learn to gain energy from the universal source, not other humans.” Sounds kooky, eh? It is, but it has its merits. The book goes on to explain that we, as humans, are always on the search for energy however we can obtain it. We’re greedy for it, desperate for it. There are multiple sources of energy and we learn how to obtain them in an honest, appreciative way.
It goes on to describe our “control drama styles,” which I found very thought-provoking and truthful. According to the book, “Everyone manipulates for energy either aggressively – directly forcing people to pay attention to them, or passively – playing on people’s sympathy or curiosity to gain attention.” In my life experience, this is true. Of the four control drama styles – Aloof, Interrogator, Intimidator, and Poor Me – everyone has one at the forefront, and one in the background, manipulating their interaction with others. For example, I’m an Aloof-Poor Me. Generally I’m very aloof and apathetic in everyday life, and it takes a lot to ruffle my feathers. I simply don’t react to much. But when I finally do, I can be quite dramatic, pessimistic and pitiful. My husband is also an Aloof-Poor Me, which is kind of hilarious. We’re both desperate to get each other’s sympathy and attention and yet are both too aloof and apathetic to ever give it. We’re a sad lot, aren’t we?
The whole thing is kind of reminiscent of this Friends episode where Rachel is obsessed with people who are trying to steal her wind. And yet, it kind of DOES make sense, doesn’t it?
The second book I wanted to mention is Star Signs, by Linda Goodman. Linda Goodman is a woman very close to my heart. She was a bestselling author, poet, astrologer, numerologist, and New Age guru. Though she claimed more than once to be immortal, she passed away from complications of diabetes in 1995 (or DID she?). I like to think she’s off floating on mountaintops in Tibet, subsisting on nothing but peaches and raspberries.
The woman was a kook, plain and simple, and I love her unabashedly. I discovered her by accident one day, when I was helping a friend clean out some books his mother had dumped at his house. Sun Signs, her book on astrology, kind of jumped out at me as I was cleaning up, and something told me to take it home. The very next day at a flea market I just happened to drop a hardback book on my foot as I was looking at something else, and lo and behold, it was Star Signs, also by Linda Goodman. It was one of those “like, whoa” experiences. I knew I should read this woman’s books immediately, and so I did.
Star Signs is hard to describe. It covers everything, from numerology, auras and how to clean them, color therapy for weight loss and wellbeing, deja vu and reincarnation, ghost stories (including one about the ghost of Nikola Tesla, which is wildly fascinating), how to become wealthy by giving away everything (yep, really), the third eye, becoming a fruitarian, the relationship between color and sound, lexigrams, and everything in between. All of these fascinating topics are interspersed with excerpts of her own poetry and prose. It is just a fascinating read. When I finished it the first time I felt like I was high on life. It just made me happy, and every time I read it, I feel that way.
My personal favorite part of the book is determining your personal “number” in the universe and how it goes on to influence not only your health status, but what colors suit you, your personality, and even your love life.
For various reasons I am a number eight. According to Ms. Goodman, as an eight, my preferred colors should be indigo, green, and dark brown (which are in fact my three favorite colors). Eights tend to have a predisposition to migraines, blood diseases, and are advised to avoid meat of all kinds for peak physical wellbeing. Not only do I suffer from migraines and am a vegetarian, but I had a very rare blood disorder called ITP when I was 17 that resulted in me almost bleeding to death. I had to have eight blood transfusions, was hospitalized for two weeks, and still get my platelets checked once a year. Spells of deep depression are also associated with eights, and herbs that may elevate mood for an eight are wintergreen and sage (two herbs that I adore).
You can imagine when I read this I got the heebie jeebies, in the best possible way. It always feels amazing to be validated in that way, to feel that you have a place in the universe, and that you fit into some mystical niche. The cynic in me says that it’s all just coincidence. You pick and choose the ailments, the moods, the color schemes that apply to you and its all just a bunch of hong kong fooey. A spiritual placebo, perhaps. And maybe it is.
Despite that, Linda Goodman’s Star Signs is one of my most read and favorite books on my shelf. I have pages and pages dog-eared, notes in the margin, and the cover jacket was torn and thrown away long ago. Whenever I feel like I need a little pick-me-up, a cup of coffee for my soul, if you will, I pick up her book.
So maybe I’m a little too cynical, aloof and eight-like to truly believe in all the New Age literature out there. But I sure do love reading it!