I've written a number of pieces that have been scathing, to put it mildly, towards the so-called "New Age" movement. I think I've called it everything from cultural appropriation to inanity. But unlike other critics of the people who comment on the issue I've shied away from the whole question of spirituality.
Many people insist that the rise in interest in all things "New Age" is due to the failure of the conventional religions to fill the spiritual needs of their traditional congregations. According to proponents of that theory, mainly those involved in the selling of "New Age" products, the baggage that accompanies Catholicism, Protestantism, and Judaism is what pushes people away from them.
Whatever excuse they want to use doesn't really matter all that much. The implication is that people are turning to alternatives for their spiritual comfort, and that is what's offered by the "New Age" folk. The thing is, though, if you walk into a "New Age" emporium you won't find anything that like a specifically "New Age" bible. You'll find books on Celtic, Native American, Tibetan, Hindu, Jewish, Ancient Egyptian, and every other kind of spirituality you can think of - with Guardian Angels and Faeries thrown in for good measure.
But are the people haunting those stores really looking for spiritual enlightenment or is it something else they're searching for; maybe even something they can't identify? They have the feeling that there is something missing in their lives but aren't quite sure what. They label the emptiness spiritual because it feels like their spirit is being deprived of something. I think it's something a little more concrete than spiritual deprivation.
In North America we celebrate the cult of the individual. We all strive to get ahead for our own purposes. We create ourselves as tools to fulfill the goals that we have established for ourselves. Even if we join with someone and bear children together, we are only trying to create an extension of ourselves.
Not to long ago (relatively speaking, in terms of the planet's history) man existed in tribal groups. We lived to together in small communities in the Mohawk Valley in New York State, the convergence of Tigris and the Euphrates, the mountains of the Himalayas, and the steppes of Russia. As a member of a tribe you belonged somewhere and played some vital role ensuring the continual existence of your people.