Beyond New Age by Steven J. Sutcliffe, Marion Bowman

By Steven J. Sutcliffe, Marion Bowman

The extensive variety of subject material comprises magical ritual, autonomous seekers and professionals, the Theosophical circulate, C.G. Jung, turn-of-the-century inventive and religious colonies, Iona and Glastonbury, substitute therapeutic, and the effect of secular and humanistic concept.

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Significantly, the fastest growth area here was amongst younger people (under the age of forty-five). Now the evidence suggests that seeking, and alternative spirituality in general, is - at least post19608 - largely an arena of younger single people. For example, York (1995: 191,183) reproduces figures from an 'occult' survey conducted in 1989 by the Leeds shop and contact centre 'The Sorcerer's Apprentice' which indicate that half its respondents were single people, and as many as 89% had become interested in occultism before the age of twenty-five: a very youthful and mobile constituency.

Now, the experiential, autodidactic and amateurist models of study and learning favoured by the majority of seekers and gurus only contribute to these fuzzy structural contours, since the main thrust of their folk episte14 15 16 - 29 - STEVEN SUTCLIFFE mology is towards the de-differentiation, de-classification and de-regulation of formal categories of knowledge and status. Hence, the basic message of the alternative healing and human potential networks of the 1980s, according to Ross (1992: 539), is that 'everyone has the potential to become the engineer/architect/designer of his or her own environment'.

G R O W T H , DISAGREEMENT A N D SCHISM The development of the movement became progressively more complex. In an attempt to provide a provisional taxonomy, I classify the groups that have links with Blavatsky's initiative as follows: 1. Controlled movements: groups whose membership is drawn wholly from the parent society but have their own organisational structures 2. Schismatic movements: groups which use the term 'Theosophy' in their title or claim to present or interpret Blavatsky's teachings directly, but have separated themselves from the parent society 3.

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