During the early years of the last century, ideas from India and the east began to permeate the western consciousness and created quite a stir among groups of intellectuals and early American mystic seekers of truth outside the realm of the official Christian Church doctrines. These “new thought” groups sprang up quite quickly, included among them theosophy founded by Madame Blavatsky a Russian noblewoman.
Theosophy is considered by many to be the founding basis of the New Age movement in America and Blavatsky is often named as its founder. Other groups who did not follow the exact concepts of Blavatsky also appeared adding additional offshoots and countercurrents within the general movement of new thought at that time in history. These “new thought” groups can come under the general title esoteric eastern “wisdom” and eventually evolved into the core of the modern New Age movement you may be familiar with today.
Anyone who wishes to understand the New Age movement and its philosophical roots should review several books from the major New Age teachers including Blavatsky and my favorite, Ramacharaka, a self-professed Western initiate and yogi who wrote the best introductory texts - simple and thorough.
Those looking for the dark side of the New Age can easily see it in any of these books as well, though they are easier to spot in Blavatsky’s material and others who followed her such as the Gnostic, Samuel Aun Weor, who writes some truly terrifying occult books showing the dangers of the collective unconscious for the unprepared and unaware. Ramacharaka is definitely the safest option here, but the darkness of the original founders of the New Age movement can be seen clearly even with him, especially when he occasionally mentions the “great white brotherhood”, which I believe was at least partially a reference to secret societies that still subscribe to an unpleasant elitism, to say the least.
Much secret society information was passed on openly to the public through the New Age movement. This information became part of the generally circulating literature of the modern Occult movements. A great deal of fear surrounds these subjects, not only because the Church denounced all such knowledge (while keeping extensive volumes of this and other knowledge secret in its archives in the case of the Vatican), but because of the general lack of awareness of the darkness in humanity as a whole made these subjects dangerous to those who entertained reading about them without a degree of protection and self-knowledge, especially the heavier, darker texts such as Aun Weor’s books.