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“New Age” Philosophy is Fun!

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!

By Teri Drake-Floyd

An almost 30-something synestheste, foodie, genealogist and all around proud geek.

13 replies on ““New Age” Philosophy is Fun!”

If you haven’t read Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia by Robert Brezsny, I suggest you check it out. It’s really fantastic and fun and sometimes thought-provoking. Chapter titles and subtitles include: Dear Gorgeous Genius, Subvert Colonialism and When Did You First Realize You Are The Rain’s Teacher?

I think if you were going to describe me spiritually, you might say I was “new age” or leaning in that direction but then again I don’t label myself. I liked Celestine Prophecy but it was very simply written for my tastes, although the basic message behind it, about energy transference I believe is sound and very real.

As for horoscopes (which I wholeheartedly believe in) you won’t find a better writer than Robin McNaughton. Her books: Power Astrology, really approaches astrology from a view point that other astrologists don’t; that is, she describes both your strengths and your pitfalls. She tells you the best that you can be, the gifts you mostly have been born with or that come naturally to you, and she also describes your liabilities, the aspects of your personality that might hold you back and tells you how you can over come them. It’s not the ear candy newspaper horoscope either. Astrology is much more complicated than that. Her Sun Sign Personality Guide is very fun and well written with witty prose while the first one I mentioned has deep intellectual insight.

I have lots of new age books but none is better than A New Earth, by Eckart Tolle. In this book he talks A LOT about ego consciousness, which I think is very real and a plague on human beings, so to speak. He even talks about the collective ego consciousness. He describes the human race as suffering from a collective sickness and once he starts explaining what he means it’s hard to dismiss it. But you’d have to understand new age-speak to know what I was talking about!!!! Mostly his book is about being present in the now and not living in the past or the future.

As a writer who seeks to explain the word through words and descriptions, I try to capture ideas and frame them into an everlasting work of art so it’s a challenge to look passed all of that, you know, to “Free your mind” — my favorite quote from Matrix — and step outside of the story we are all telling ourselves and just be.

I totally believe in it all and numerology is very real. I’m an 11 by the way :) I sent out for a numerology report giving the person just my name and birth date and what I got back was amazing.

Anyway, here’s a little excerpt from Tolle’s A New Earth. I absolutely love it!

“You might say, “I know I am an immortal spirit,” or “I am tired of this mad world, and peace is all I want” until the phone rings. Bad news: The stock market has collapsed; the deal may fall through; the car has been stolen; your motherinlaw has arrived; the trip is cancelled, the contract has been broken; your partner has left you; they demand more money; they say it’s your fault. Suddenly there is a surge of anger, of anxiety. A harshness comes into your voice; “I can’t take any more of this.” You accuse and blame, attack, defend, or justify yourself, and it’s all happening on autopilot. Something is obviously much more important to you now than the inner peace that a moment ago you said was all you wanted, and you’re not an immortal spirit anymore either. The deal, the money, the contract, the loss or threat of loss are more important. To whom? To the immortal spirit that you said you are? No, to me. The small me that seeks security for fulfillment in things that are transient and gets anxious or angry because it fails to find it. Well, at least now you know who you really think you are.”

Thank you! I read it, am following you and reblogged as well.

I followed Baha’ism for a while, when I was still studying religions. I even have a Baha’i tattoo at the base of my neck.

I too have some telepathic inclinations, but I’m reluctant to talk about it with most people – I guess I fear that they won’t believe me, or think I’m ‘weird’. Nothing too fancy, just sort of knowing things before they happen sometimes, and getting ‘vibes’ about people. I can usually tell if a couple is about to break up, or if a woman is pregnant before she’s told me. Usually it’s much more strong with people I’m close to or spend a lot of time with.

You and your family definitely sound fascinating and awesomely open-minded!

I know the author of this piece means no harm, and she intended for it be a humorous piece, but there’s a part of me that’s twitching. Much of these “New Age” ideas originate in Eastern philosophies and religions. And these beliefs have been appropriated, repackaged, and sold to western (mostly White) minds. One man’s entertainment is another man’s snake oil is another man’s bastardized ritual practice.

Um, okay, or not okay.

Personally I take umbrage having to shop in the bizarre and weird section New Age section to find books about my native beliefs, such as Chinese zodiac and numerology. It may seem hokey to some, even hocus pocus, but these beliefs are as much part of East Asian and Southeast Asian culture as Christianity is to Amurikan culture.

Again it ‘s not an attack at Ms. Floyd per se, but the way this cottage industry is manufactured and sold.

I’m glad you posted this, because I was hoping someone would. In fact, I had considered broaching the subject in my article, but for length reasons, did not. I hoped someone would bring this issue to the discussion.

I am not particularly pleased with the way many Eastern religions (and others) are all grouped into the “New Age” category, either. I have a degree in Religious Studies and this is something that we came back to again and again in my studies. Eastern religious, magic, numerology, astrology – basic anything that isn’t white, Christian and black and white is considered “New Age” and seems to fall into some it’s-trendy-but-still-kinda-taboo territory, and that isn’t cool.

When I say “I’m not quite sure if I believe in” this or that, it isn’t to diminish the belief systems of others, but merely to say that I’m not sure (about anything, quite honestly, which is why I’m a sort of agnostic, I suppose). I didn’t mean to imply that I think it’s somehow invalid or not a true belief system with its own merits, just as other religions are.

I hope that clears it up a little. I completely agree with everything you’ve said and I’m so glad you brought this point into the discussion. :)

Thanks for the clarity.
And I say I’m a quasi Buddhist, but my family is steeped in folkloric beliefs/superstitious practices, so yes we believe in ghosts/goblins/spirits, reincarnation, karma, psychic gifts (which run strong in my maternal family, including me), astral projection, basically half of the New Age section.

Man, I loved Linda Goodman and star signs. I remember reading parts of it outloud to my parents and aunts/uncles during summers at the Jersey Shore. I’m sure they thought I was amusingly deluded.

Is this the book in which she claims you can become a ‘breatharian’? In just a measly 15 years, you can move from being a horrid carnivore to an enlightened being who just exists off the oxygen in the air. During the first five years, you transition to a complete vegetarian diet. During the next five years, you move to a diet of only fruits and fruit juices. And during the last, you wean yourself off the fruit juices and onto oxygen.

Prove her wrong, people! It’s only a 15 year long experiment!

Yes, the very one! She does talk at some length about becoming a fruitarian, and then a breatharian, where you can live for decades on nothing but air and your own flawless energy!

Sometimes I read things like that in her books and wonder if the entire of her work was written tongue in cheek, or if she was really just that much of a kook.

Oh, I love Linda Goodman.

Oh my gosh, I had no idea ‘breathairian’ was a real thing. My boyfriend sometimes (good-naturedly) makes fun of my vegetarianism and suggest breathairianism. I can only conclude that the stalwart hunter cowboy has read Linda Goodman. Plus he made fun of me for reading Louise L. Hay. He must have once been a new-ager.

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