Presents the first systematic analysis of the structure and beliefs of the New Age movement, and the historical emergence of "New Age" as a secularized version of Western esoteric traditions.
Recent years have seen a spectacular rise of the New Age movement and an ever-increasing interest in its beliefs and manifestations. This fascinating work presents the first comprehensive analysis of New Age Religion and its historical backgrounds, thus providing a means of orientation in the bewildering variety of the movement. Making extensive use of primary sources, the author thematically analyses New Age beliefs from the perspective of the study of religions. While looking at the historical backgrounds of the movement, he convincingly argues that its foundations were laid by so-called western esoteric traditions during the Renaissance. Hanegraaff finally shows how the modern New Age movement emerged from the increasing secularization of those esoteric traditions during the nineteenth century.
Wouter J. Hanegraaff is a Research Fellow at the Department for the Study of Religions at Utrecht University in The Netherlands. He is coeditor of Gnosis and Hermeticism: From Antiquity to Modern Times, also published by SUNY Press.
"There will be no book like this for some time to come. It should be on the reading list of any student of religion and brings into the foreground a needed agenda for those in the humanities and social sciences, and will be valued by all those who appreciate fine, clear writing. I wish I had written it myself. " — Antoine Faivre, École Pratique des Hautes Études, Sorbonne
"Finally, someone has mastered the vast literature of, and reality which is the New Age movement, and produced a comprehensive and authoritative survey of its major themes and most important leaders. Hanegraaff's effort should immediately become the foundation upon which future research of the movement will be constructed. " — J. Gordon Melton, Institute for the Study of American Religion, Santa Barbara
"This is the best critical study of New Age thinking hitherto available. An outstanding achievement. " — Garry W. Trompf, School of Studies in Religion, University of Sydney