Walk into any home today and you are almost certain to find something which has been purchased from a New Age outlet. Crystals are of course everywhere. The Buddha himself may appear in home office, looking well-fed and smiling as he does duty as a paperweight or mantelpiece decoration. Wind chimes may mark entrance to a room or may be heard jangling merrily in garden. The design of either house or garden may well have been inspired by supposed minimalist principles of Zen Buddhism. You won't have to sniff too hard to catch heady aroma of incense from mysterious Orient. And if you look carefully you might even find a crystal ball or two. In one well-known UK charity shop I have even seen crystal balls stacked up next to cash register in much same way as supermarkets display shelves of sweets and chewing gum in area where you line up to pay for your groceries, cleverly taking advantage of those last minute impulse buys ("Oh, I'll just take one of those crystal balls before I leave!).
Never Fear! ***********
Look through phone directory and you will see hordes of jobbing alternative practitioners. Aromatherapists, Reiki experts, Shiatsu (no, it isn't a little dog!) and any number of other self-certificated experts all clamouring to have a go at curing your bad back or saving your rocky relationship.
Should you lose your appointment book, never fear! Find out what future has in store by consulting someone who will (for a fee) read your Tarot cards, your palms, tea leaves or probably with a little persuasion (or an extra fee!) contents of your trash can.
Doctors are yesterday's news. Better to call a hypnotherapist, colour therapist, graphologist or numerologist who can at one and same time (for a fee) tell you all about your past, your future - and whether you even have a future.
When you wish to relax at end of a hard day you can play special relaxation tapes of whales, waves breaking on shore or Australian aborigine didgeridoo music. Your home will of course have been designed down to smallest detail by a knowledgeable, highly-trained and very expensive Feng Shui consultant who probably charges more than your lawyer! Has world gone mad???
All of aforementioned distractions and more fit neatly into loose category of New Age. A lot of people are very serious about New Age interests and contrary to what you may think, I would be last to want to trivialise their beliefs. Whatever works for them is fine by me. Except for one thing. New Age practices have become so heavily commercialized that original spiritual components have pretty well lost their integrity by now and, in West at least, are little more than products and services in a very competitive market.
Ever since Madame Blavatsky and Theosophists (the forerunners of modern New Age Movement) signed their exclusive channeling deal with so-called Ascended Masters back in nineteenth century, religious and spiritual beliefs have been borrowed haphazardly from any number of world religions. Beliefs have been ripped out of their natural environmental and historical context. Ever since, those beliefs have been blatantly sold to a spiritually vulnerable public that has a big fat disposable income and could not wait to spend it.